It has been an interesting and fruitful time here in Delhi. And we are eagerly anticipating our travel soon to Kashmir, where we will be meeting the 13 Kashmiri delegates with whom we will be living and working. That really is the heart of this project.
While in Delhi we have been meeting together in our own process of developing compassionate communication skills. And we have met with some very motivated people locally dedicated to being truly helpful in their communities.
One that impressed me greatly was an afternoon with Action India, http://www.action-india.org. It is organized by a group of women determined to have an impact on widespread domestic violence. It originated in Delhi but is catching on elsewhere. It is a grassroots cooperative in which when abusive incidents are reported to them, they actively involve themselves in protecting the targets with direct confrontation and peer and community pressure.
From the AI website:
Action India founded in 1976, has taken many big and small path breaking initiatives by grassroots women, which clearly indicates the strong potential in women to become change agents in the process of social transformation. Action India sustains a balance between community based work and the universal struggle for women’s rights. While protesting against wrongs, Action India simultaneously creates alternative modes of self-help, self-esteem and self-assertion.
They provide a hearing system in which both persons involved come before a council of women who have been doing this work as volunteers, some of them for over 20 years. Though the council has no legal status, they do command a great deal of respect within the community and in that way are able often to positively influence the situation. When a plan or agreement is arrived at the community continues to monitor the situation and respond if needed, confronting the offender if promises are not kept. We were invited to sit in on one such process involving a couple in a situation that really highlighted the difficulties lack of opportunity for educational and vocational advancement places vulnerable women in. In this instance I appreciated the way in which the council really listened to both parties fully. I am very impressed with the courage, dedication and commitment of the women involved with this group and its purpose, many of whom have experienced abusive situations themselves.
We have also been in meetings learning about the complexities of Kashmir, including a briefling at the American Embassy in Delhi. It is helpful to be very aware of the sensitivities, challenges and conflicting interests in the region. As in all of GCJ’s projects our focus is a humanitarian one. We do not take sides or advocate for any faction in internal disputes. But we are motivated by a sense of compassion for those impacted, in this instance children in several schools in rural Kashmir. We are interested in learning ways to have meaningful communication and a deeper understanding of one another. And for that we look forward to soon meeting our counterparts from Kashmir-Jammu areas.
Peace, love, blessings, Dennis