“My Proposal for Peace.”

Sept. 21, 2021

The number of armed conflicts around the world is at record high. While adults sit around the table searching for solutions, children are taking matters into their own hands. Children like Maria, Andrea, Dante and others from our Peace Circus project in Colombia…

Today is the International Day of Peace - 24 hours devoted to non-violence and a collective ceasefire. Yet, with some 41 high-intensity conflicts in full force globally - 16 of which are classed as full-scale wars - the day offers little more than a momentary respite.

Despite this bleak outlook, young people are speaking up like never before - putting forward new and creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems and strengthening the ideals of a peaceful society. That is exactly what children from our Peace Circus project have been doing...

"When I grow up, I'd like to see a Colombia where we can all live together without fear."

Moving Community Circus

So, what is the Peace Circus?

The Circus is the stage where children and teachers come together to embrace peace through creativity - taking everything from visual arts to acrobatics, theatre, music and dance to a local audience. This eye-catching circus takes its show on the road for three whole years, moving from village to village to develop and share children’s unique artworks as well as their ‘peace proposals’.

That’s where the 'Peace' part comes in. During the program - which also includes life skills and peace education modules - each child is tasked with selecting an obstacle towards peace in their community. Next, they set out to develop a solution based on their learnings along the way.

Violence and its Effects

Young people like Mildred (13) in Colombia. Growing up in the remote region of Alto Putumuyo, Mildred has witnessed the effects of the country’s 52-year conflict firsthand. Violence and the uncertain environment that comes with it have had huge consequences for rural communities across the region. Many families live in abject poverty - with children forced to work long hours growing coca in the fields.

Here they are exposed to a number of acute threats including recruitment by gangs and armed groups - an increasingly attractive offer given the lack of opportunity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that’s not stopping Mildred. She has a dream to unite her community through education - and the Peace Circus is helping her do just that.

Education as a Force for Peace

When War Child arrived in her area, Mildred jumped at the chance to join. She had been struggling to stay positive when the pandemic forced her school to close - taking her love for learning along with it.

These days, she’s hopeful about what’s next - and not short on words of wisdom. “I think it’s very important for children and youth to talk about peace. It teaches us that we should live together”. That’s exactly what she described in her proposal - the need for all children, no matter where they are, to be able to access an education. Mildred: “My dream is that we are all united at school; my teachers, my friends, my people…

As long as we can learn, we can achieve peace.”

The Peace Circus recently came to an end. Our team in Colombia are currently exploring funding opportunities so that we can deliver this one-of-a-kind project once again. Interested in collaborating? Please reach out to our Country Director, AnneMarike Smiers via the 'Contact' section here.