Two Kochi school students learnt that peaceful protests work wonders even before they headed to the Fifth Asian Girl Child Peace Camp.

Two school students from Kochi, representing India, and their guide, proved that peaceful methods of protest win ultimately, even before they landed in Nepal to attend the Fifth Asian Girl Child Peace Camp. They narrowly missed their connection flight from Delhi to Kathmandu, since the plane from Kochi reached Delhi late. The airport officials refused all help.

Peaceful protest

Here were three girls all by themselves, but brave and determined. “We decided to protest and pushed in our entire luggage into the airport's office room, refusing to budge till a decision was taken. After a few hours, they finally agreed, rebooked tickets for a flight on the next day and also arranged food and accommodation in a wonderful hotel nearby,” said Gopika Jairam, a Std XII student of Bhavan's Vidya Mandir, Eroor.

“Although it took us all our energy and patience to do this, this was proof that strong-willed, patient and non-violent protests for justice will win,” said the other team member, Maansa Bhalotia, a Std IX student of Toc-H Public School, Vytilla. After all, peace comes piece-by-piece and the conviction in what you speak and do is very important.

At the camp, they learned another aspect of peace — non-violent communication. They understood that speaking politely and controlling negative feelings can avoid conflicts.

Fun-filled learning

The Kochi students and their guide Anupa from the Cultural Academy for Peace (which coordinated the programme from India) enjoyed every moment at the peace camp and learned lessons for a lifetime. The Academy has constituted peace clubs in 10 Kochi schools.

At the Kathmandu camp, the duo from Kochi made a power-point presentation on “The best of India” and Mahatma Gandhi. Then came the surprise — the campers from different countries were taken to interact with the President of Nepal at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. They also interacted with Miss Nepal 2009.

There were also sessions on pottery, mural painting (on the theme ‘peace') and dance. A visit to an old-age home was among the highlights of the camp. “We tried to bring a smile on the face of the residents, by singing and dancing with them,” said Ms. Bhalotia.

An old woman requested Ms. Jairam to take her photograph. “I played back and showed her the snap. She was thrilled to see her picture and said, ‘I have not seen myself in years…' It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it.” At a stress-release session, the campers learned about handling emotions better and combating stress. There were skits, role-play enacting and tableaus on topics like child abuse and violence against women.

The ultimate lesson they learned was that cooperation, understanding, patience and trust are the signs of a good team. A determined team with these virtues embedded in it will reach its goal, no matter what the obstacles are.