Stories to spark hope this solstice
It’s the winter solstice—the longest night, and a time to look ahead to the return of sunlight! It’s also a moment to connect with our own inner light: an idea that runs through many faith traditions worldwide.
Today, we’d like to share a few of the stories that keep our spark of hope alive at Karuna Center. We are all living through extremely challenging times: Let’s take a moment to embrace and celebrate the possibility of peace.
We hope you’ll step up to support communities who—like the people in these stories—are building more inclusive, resilient, peaceful societies out from the shadows of armed conflict and mass violence.
The horrors of violent conflict in the past year have made it harder to see the path toward lasting peace, but it is still there. In the new year, we are planning to expand Karuna’s support for communities who are walking that difficult road—and to do this, we are counting on your support.
We wish you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season!
A few of the stories that inspire us today:
✨ Using dialogue to stop farmer-herder clashes
In this video, herders’ association leader Mr. Musa Mohammed Gambo explains how our project has worked with farmers and herders to increase their skills in dialogue. As a result, they are developing new systems to prevent deadly farmer-herders clashes in their area.
Through the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, which we lead in partnership with Neem Foundation in Nigeria, community dialogues have transformed relationships in many ways. Mutual agreements between farmers and herders are preventing conflicts over land use as climate change threatens their access to vital resources.
Participants in a December 2023 dialogue refresher training in Zamfara state, Nigeria.
✨ Former violent extremists, now spreading compassion
Our Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism in Schools (BRAVE Schools) project brings special insight into its work to help U.S. youth steer clear of violence and hate: The project’s lead trainers, Tony McAleer and Robert Orell, themselves became involved in violent white supremacist organizations in their youth.
Tony and Robert have since devoted themselves to using their experiences to lead others awayfrom hate movements. As Tony (above right) explained of his own journey away from neo-Nazism—with guidance from a Jewish-born counselor:
“As I got to connect to my own humanity, I began to recognize the humanity in others better. And the more I recognized the humanity in them, the more I could see my own humanity, and I went down this journey of mutual understanding until I got to a place where I could see myself in the other and the other in me.”
✨ Local peacebuilders who do not give up
We have heard local peacebuilders say they do not have the option of “giving up” because future generations depend on them. Nobody illustrates this more powerfully than the joint Israeli- and Palestinian-run Combatants for Peace (pictured above during workshops with Karuna Center in 2014). They recently co-wrote a public letter to President Biden about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and they continue to shine light on the arduous path to peace.
Combatants for Peace is one of six local peacebuilding organizations that we have been able to support over the past year with modest grants through the Paula Green Legacy Fund, established in 2022 to honor Karuna Center’s founder. Global economic hardships have hit local organizations hard, and it has been an honor to help their vital work carry on.