“Del fuego, su palabra”. Of fire, its words, reads the public school wall painting spanning half a block by the town of Cheran’s main square, where the orange, yellow and red colours of flames dissolve into exuberant nature painted in vivid tones of green with white calla lilies (alcatraces) flowers topping it. Cheran is a community in the central state of Michoacan, in Mexico.
Casimiro Leco is the name of the town school the citizen’s council of Cheran has lent us to harbour this chapter of Children’s Peace Theatre (CPT). The slogan on the wall could not be better suited to our task here, one of transforming conflict into peace in the children of this community with a recent past of civil turmoil and uprising to protect their forests from the indiscriminate felling under authorities corruption that did away with 20,000, out of a total of 27,000 hectares, in under five years. It is the poder of speech, of words, and the existence of a space to create in Art, that will help transform the conflict they have undergone, by transforming their children.
It is been here that we have been actively engaged in facilitating change in children, utilising art and the three C’s CPT framework in a Peace Camp workshop. The concept was introduced playing with the children, – ages 7 through 12 -, arranged in three groups. Nano (Fernando Lara) explained Compassion, Courage and Creativity to all. Each group drew and or wrote their ideas on the meaning of their assigned “C” word. The result was exchanged among groups and read aloud, for all to make them theirs. It is recurrent mentioning and guide’s group observation, that produces their affirmation in children, that can therefore change their behaviour accordingly, becoming powerful, compassionate and collaborating beings.
As we enter the last of the two weeks planned and possible for this Peace Camp in Cheran, activities increase for children to work in and a sense of accomplishment arises in them, the feeling of running out of time to present their play to their community this coming Sunday, June 15th., does also. This leads to a very busy group of amazing children where issues on sharing, leading, controlling and minor physical engagement happen and need to be addressed in favour of attention span, respect for other peers talking and ideas, focus and going with the groups creative flow.
Revisiting Compassion – one of the three C’s – ensuring the conflict caused by this behaviours is exposed, and not the children personally, becomes of the essence. With the conflict understood by all through guide facilitation, Courage – a second C – is recognised by the group applauding of the child’s act of accepting his or her distraction, preventing his or her listening and commenting on the idea being spoken or stopping the creative flow of the group in its task at hand. This is as long the child in question has made a promise to address and correct such behaviour. The latter requires Creativity – the remaining C -, of course. Assigning more tasks to this child or having the child explain his or her ideas to the group, once participating and listening, proves useful. It is through understanding and accepting peers that group achievement is reached and positive feedback manifests for children as an individual work of art or a joint group one, that are usually above expectations and bring about a sense of accomplishment, closing the loop on their learning.
And it is this framework and the act of Love of a community like Cheran, their children and facilitators, that will put us on stage this coming Sunday so may their fire speak words of wisdom, beyond violence and resentment, bringing their greenhouse seeds spouting life back to their soft hills rain forests.
It will have taken us two weeks to have finished a Peace Camp with them. It took them – the P’urhepecha people – two and a half years to get past conflict and look into a brighter future.
We are honoured to have been invited by the community of Cheran.
Please watch some photos of these unforgettable days past, below.
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Love and the Three C’s in Cheran by Juan Ayza M. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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