Anne-Sophie, aged 15

You can contribute to peace: what actions are you taking in your surroundings, your school, and your city or at the international level?  

Being a peacemaker doesn’t only consist of being someone who can stop wars. Anyone can be a peacemaker, whether you can bring a fight at home to peace or you can resolve a conflict at school. Personally, I feel that peace doesn’t only have to be the stopping of conflicts or rivalries, it’s also being able to put a smile on someone’s face, and making them feel safe and tranquil so that their state of mind is at peace.

At home I’m usually the one to stop the silly fights between my mum and my younger sister. I don’t call myself a peacemaker for that, but in a way you could say I am. No one wants their own house to have a restless environment or aura to it, so in a way I try to make a tranquil environment.

Before moving toGeneva, I lived inMumbai,Indiaa city full of poverty and struggles. The last two years of my time spent there, I worked at an orphanage for children who were exposed or at risk for being HIV positive called ASHRAY. It may seem that that’s more like charity, but after working there I realized my peers and I brought peace to these children. They knew they could count on us every other Tuesday and Thursday. One of the most touching things I experienced was when I arrived at the orphanage one afternoon after school, and there were three, two years olds who had just been dropped off at the orphanage. The carers told us it was useless to try and cheer them up, because all they did was cry and shout for their mother. A terrible thing to experience, and child yearning for their mother, who had either already passed or left the child because she couldn’t take care of it anymore. It was hard to watch, and so the other girls working at the orphanage and I decided that we should at least try and make them happy again.

One by one we held their hands and dragged them to our imaginary dance floor, where all the orphans danced to their favorite Hindi songs. At first, the three children would only stand on the dance floor and watch the others and then run off to the corners of the room after a few minutes, but as we held their hand and pulled them with us to the dance floor every time they stopped crying, and it became a little game. They’d run to the corners and wait for us to come get them and when we finally did they’d come and dance with us. After a few minutes of running to and fro from the corners, I decided to pick up a little boy called Sachin. At first he was a bit uneasy, but I looked him in the eye and told him it was okay, which he obviously didn’t understand because he only spoke Hindi. The smile on his face when I danced and attempted to sing along to “Sheila Ki Jawani” was priceless, and I can still remember him giggling at me. Putting a smile on these children’s faces made me feel so wonderful, I had brought peace to that little two-year-old boy who had probably lost all hope. I made him happy again, and for me that counts as an act towards peace.

The 26th of November 2008 is a date that I will never forget. Late in the evening two hotels in Mumbai were attacked by terrorists. I wasn’t in the hotels, but I was close enough to feel the very light vibrations of the bombs. Luckily no one in my family was injured, but one of my very close friends lost both his parents on the first night of the attacks. School was canceled for 4 days, and everyone was warned to stay inside their house, for safety reasons. The feelings of uneasiness that went through my family and I are indescribable, but what can’t be described at all is the feeling I got when my parents told me that my friend had lost his parents. As soon as the attacks stopped, I went to him with everyone else who was close to him and helped him through what I can only imagine to be the hardest time in his life. I was there when his little sister found out the truth, and never do I ever want to experience something like that again. My school worked for months to bring back peace in Mumbai, and to our school community. We set up barriers around the school, to make us students feel safe again, we wore a white article of clothing almost every day for a month, as a sign of respect for my friend. Physical peace wasn’t necessarily achieved, but our states of mind were all at peace after a while because we all tried so hard to make sure something like this could never happen again.

Neither of my examples may be stopping wars or big conflicts, but I still feel that I contributed to making someone or a place feel at peace with my actions.

About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
This entry was posted in 15 year old winners, 15 year olds. Bookmark the permalink.

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