Peace Mala

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The Peace Mala Youth Project for World Peace
PeaceMalaLogo.png
Abbreviation Peace Mala
Motto Creative Education that Empowers and Embraces All Uniting the World in Peace
Formation November 27, 2002; 11 years ago (2002-11-27), UNA Temple of Peace, Cardiff, Wales
Type Charitable organization
Legal status
Non-profit
Headquarters Peace Mala Registered Office
Location Morriston, Swansea, Wales, UK
Pam Evans
Key people
Pam Evans Founder/Director
Norma Glass MBE Director/Secretary
Martin Green Director
Pam El-Hosaini Director
Website www.peacemala.org.uk

Peace Mala (The Peace Mala Project for World Peace), is an organisation based in Morriston in Swansea, Wales dedicated to fostering inter-cultural and inter-faith tolerance through the manufacture, distribution and wearing of a symbolic mala (bracelet) whose beads represent various faiths.

The organisation's stated aims are "promotion of understanding, respect, friendship, tolerance and peace between all communities, cultures and enlightened, compassionate faiths".[1]

The Peace Mala bracelet[edit]

A Peace Mala is a symbolic bracelet used to promote the message of the Golden Rule of mutual respect recognised by many spiritual paths. It consists of 16 beads, forming a double rainbow, which represent Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Judaism, Bahá'í, ISKCON, Zoroastrianism, Tribal and Native Religions, Jainism, Earth Religions, Taoism, Hinduism and Yungdrung Bön. The central white bead represents the wearer and whatever path they follow, with two knots on the elastic thread: one symbolising the wearer's uniqueness, the other a reminder of causality and the path of peace and friendship to follow.[2]

History[edit]

Peace Mala was founded in 2002 by Pam Evans, former Head of the Department of Religious Studies at Coedcae Comprehensive School in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales. The idea arose from class discussions about the contribution of the "9/11" attacks in New York to Islamaphobia, racism, religious intolerance and fundamentalism worldwide, as well as local effects exemplified by the experience of the student Imran Sheikh: "I suffered from racist taunts and our local mosque was attacked following September 11 and that is when the Peace Mala all started."[3] In 2005 Evans gave up her position as Head of Department at Coedcae School to focus on her work with Peace Mala. On 16 November 2006, (25th Shawwal 1427 AH), Evans was awarded the Noble Soul Award 2006 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to challenging Islamaphobia in schools. The award was presented by RAHMA (Racial Attacks and Harassment Monitoring Association) on the International Day of Peace.

Launch[edit]

Peace Mala was officially launched in the UNA Temple of Peace in Cardiff on Wednesday 27 November 2002 by Archbishop of Wales Rowan Williams (later Archbishop of Canterbury). He was joined by members of the fourteen faiths represented on the Peace Mala bracelet, whose procession opened the ceremony, along with NGOs, students and teachers of schools from across Wales, lecturers from the University of Wales, and pupils and staff of Coedcae Comprehensive School.

Awards[edit]

Through the promotion of peace, tolerance and respect, Peace Mala has received numerous awards for their work, notably The Prince's Trust Millennium Award in 2003, the Co-op Community Dividend Award in 2003, the ChildLine Cymru CHIPS Friendship and Respect Award in 2003 (1st Prize), and the Carmarthenshire Police Community Challenge Award in 2004. In 2004 Peace Mala was also awarded First Prize in the CEWC-Cymru "Right-On" National Competition to promote Human Rights in Welsh schools. In 2006 Peace Mala was awarded a grant by Awards for All (Wales) in support of the Peace Mala Awards for Youth.

Charitable status[edit]

On 21 February 2007, Peace Mala, already a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital, was entered in the Central Register of Charities as Registered Charity No. 1118053.

Patrons[edit]

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was patron of Peace Mala from 2003 until 2008, and was succeeded by Lama Khemsar Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of the Yundrung Bön Study Centre.

Rowan Williams[edit]

Williams and Evans first met when he visited Coedcae School to give talks to the pupils about his work as Archbishop of Wales, a position now held by Barry Morgan. Williams was one of the first persons to be contacted by Evans when she came up with the idea of the Peace Mala. One of Williams's final acts as Archbishop of Wales was to join 14 other religious dignitaries in the launch of the Peace Mala in November 2002.

In 2003 Evans invited Williams to be a patron;[4] he held the position until 2008.

Lama Khemsar Rinpoche[edit]

Lama Khemsar Rinpoche also visited Coedcae School prior to his involvement with Peace Mala. Rinpoche left Tibet in 1959, and is the first resident Lama of the Yungdrung Bön tradition in Europe. He also teaches widely in the USA.

Evans invited Lama Khemsar Rinpoche to be a patron of the organisation,[5] and he accepted.

Since then, Lama Khemsar Rinpoche's students have made use of the main room in the Peace Mala Registered Office for their weekly Bön Zogchen Ngöndro prayers and meditations. The Tibetan room at the centre is often used by Rinpoche when he visits Wales.

Website[edit]

The Peace Mala website was created in 2002 using money granted by the Princes Trust Millennium Award. It was designed and published using 100% solar power by the web publishing company Arcania. The website includes news articles relating to Peace Mala activities and endorsements from prominent religious leaders, political dignitaries and celebrities including the Pope John Paul II, the 14th Dalai Lama, Jillian Evans MEP, Sir Mark Tully Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bonnie Tyler and Barbara Dickson.

Registered office[edit]

On Wednesday 18 August 2004, the Peace Mala Registered Office was officially opened during a ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor and Consort of the City of Swansea.[6]

The registered office is used as a base for Peace Mala activities including workshops and public talks. Yungdrung Bön practitioners in Wales also use the centre for their weekly Bon Zogchen Ngon-Dro prayers and meditations. Yungdrung Bön (meaning Eternal Light or Enlightened Teaching) is the pre-Buddhist Bön faith of Tibet.

Peace Garden[edit]

Attached to the registered office is a peace garden with many features including a shrine to Saint Francis of Assisi, Buddhist statues and prayer flags, a miniature Zen-style stone garden, water features, and a tree area which has been blessed in a ceremony led by Witches, and Druids. There is also a tranquil area facing Mecca, which is dedicated to the Muslim faith.

Aims[edit]

Peace Mala outlined its "Main Aims" as:

  • Education for global citizenship through the promotion of understanding, respect, friendship, tolerance and peace between all communities, cultures and enlightened, compassionate faiths.
  • Peace Mala supports human rights, confronts bullying and all forms of prejudice.
  • Peace Mala raises awareness of issues of global interdependence and encourages active compassion by learners that will effect positive changes locally and globally.

Educational work[edit]

Peace Mala works to engages with schools to educate youths into becoming "global citizens through the promotion of respect, friendship, tolerance and peace between all communities and faiths".[7]

International Awards for Youth[edit]

In 2006 Peace Mala launched the Peace Mala Awards for Youth. The awards and competition encourage young people "... to become aware of and involved with issues of peace, justice, tolerance and friendship.".[8] The competition focuses in issues of equality, human rights and global citizenship.[9]

The Youth Awards allows entrants from educational institutions, youth groups and faith groups. Two prizes are awarded: one for juniors (5-11) and the other for seniors (12-18). The awards were accompanied by cash prizes, and occasionally donated gifts such as commemorative framed posters signed by Gary Marlon Suson from the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.

In 2007 the Peace Mala Awards for Youth became an international competition with youth groups in the USA taking part in the project.[10] In 2009 the Awards were superseded by the Peace Mala Accreditation.

2006 winners
Winners: Ysgol Gynradd Brynaman, Carmarthenshire; Pontygof Primary School, Ebbw Vale
Highly Commended: 1st Llansamlet Brownies; Ethnic Youth Support Team, Swansea; Swansea College, Ty Coch Campus
2007 winners
Senior winners: St. Michael's School, Llanelli
Highly Commended: Salem Youth Group, Pennsylvania
Junior winners: Trallwn Primary School, Swansea
2008 winners
Senior winners: Coleg Sir Gar, Graig Campus, Llanelli
Highly Commended: Rhyd-y-Gors Secondary Support Service, Carmarthenshire
Junior Winners: Woodheys Primary School, Sale, Cheshire
Highly Commended: Hafod Primary School, Swansea; Rhys-y-Gors Primary Support Service, Carmarthenshire; Brynamman Primary School
2009 winners
Senior Winners: 1st prize: Youth Inclusion Programme, Port Talbot; 2nd prize: Trinity High School, Renfrew, Scotland; 3rd prize: Step-Ahead Education Centre, Swansea
Junior winners: 1st prize: St Helen's Primary School, Swansea; Hafod Primary School, Swansea; 2nd prize: Coaltown of Balgonie Primary School, Fife, Scotland; 3rd prize: St Joseph's Cathedral School, Swansea
Highly Commended: Clase Primary School, Swansea

Accreditation for Schools, Youth Groups and Community Groups[edit]

In September 2009 Peace Mala celebrated the last Youth Awards ceremony, where the Awards were replaced an accreditation for schools, youth groups and community groups. As the Awards had focused on competitive engagement by schools and some youth groups, the accreditation would be more cooperative and inclusive. Schools and groups are encouraged to include the vision and objectives of Peace Mala within their ethos via the seven criteria and accreditation is awarded when the seven criteria have been successfully fulfilled as outlined in the self-assessment form available to applicants. These seven areas are intended to fit into the school, youth group or community group's values system and are in line with the objectives and vision of Peace Mala.

Applicants for accreditation are judged against seven key criteria:

  1. Community cohesion and global citizenship
  2. Needs and human rights
  3. Interdependence
  4. Active compassion
  5. Celebrating diversity
  6. Environmental responsibilities and sustainable change
  7. Conflict resolution and peace education

Interfaith engagement[edit]

Along with education and youth engagement, with the religious nature of its founding, Peace Mala engages regularly with interfaith and diversity engagement and occasions. Awareness events and fundraisers are regular occurrences.

Pilgrimages[edit]

Pilgrimages have been used by Peace Mala as a means of promotion, but also as a means to engage communities in interfaith involvement and raise awareness of local areas of interest and community diversity.

Santiago de Compostela[edit]

Gower[edit]

In May 2011, volunteers discovered a route map which may have been a pilgrimage path linking the Celtic churches of the Gower Peninsula, as well pre-Christian sites such as holy wells and cromlech stones. A pilgrimage was organised, therefore, the next year to celebrate Peace Mala's first decennial year. The pilgrimage included one pilgrim who was joined at different legs of the pilgrimage culminating in a ceremony at St. Rhidian's Church in Llanrhidian. For the pilgrimage, Pam Evans traveled to Kildare to receive the flame of Brigid of the Brigidine Sisters of the Solas Bhríde hermitage; she then received the World Peace Flame at the Dru International Training Centre for Education and Wellbeing in Snowdonia National Park; finally, various faith representatives attended a ceremony where a flame was blessed at the shrine of St David at St David's Cathedral by The Very Revd Jonathan Lean. These three flames were used during the start of the pilgrimage, where the lights were blessed by The Rt Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon; as well as at the end, where the flames were blessed by numerous faith representatives including Muslim, Druid and Buddhists, as well as ISKCON sannyasa who greeted the pilgrims with kirtan.

At each of the sites visited, the main pilgrim lit votive candles and recited a prayer composed for the pilgrimage. She was joined on various days by school children as well as fellow pilgrims.[11]

Llangyfelach "Forgotten" Monastery[edit]

On Thursday 9 May 2013, Ascension Day, Peace Mala led a one-day pilgrimage as means of a revival of a postulated pilgrimage route to a now-defunct early Celtic monastery founded by St David on the site of the current parish Church of St David and St Cyfelach in Llangyfelach.[12]

The participants in the pilgrimage included pupil from St John Lloyd Catholic School in Llanelli, Hafod Primary School in Swansea and Catwg Primary School. Also in procession were dignitaries from numerous faith, including The Rt Rev'd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, as well as representatives from the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion and Kagyu Tibetan Buddhism among many others.[13]

Festival of Interfaith and Culture for Education[edit]

The Peace Mala Festival of Inter-Faith and Culture for Education was held at the award winning, beautifully restored setting of The Monastery Manchester in Gorton on 4 October 2010. The festival was organised by Laura Daniels, Head Teacher of Woodheys Primary School in Sale Greater Manchester, one of the first accredited schools in the UK. Daniels came on board as an educational ambassador for Peace Mala in 2008.

The festival brought together Peace Mala with the Greater Manchester Authorities and representatives of local Faith and Peace groups to celebrate humanity, unity and diversity. Messages of support came from the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government, the Archbishop of Wales and the former Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Other support was shown by organisations including One World Week, The Interfaith Foundation, Spiritual England, Trafford CYPS and Redeeming Our Communities Manchester.

Many schools, cultural communities and representatives of faith communities took part. Guest of honour and main speaker was Terry Waite CBE.

Recognising Achievement for Service to Wales[edit]

On 10 June 2010 the founder of Peace Mala was honoured with the Recognising Achievement for Service to Wales. This award was first introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2009. The 2010 Award for Promoting Tolerance was carefully selected to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of the death camps in Auschwitz and elsewhere. Evans received this honour from the First Minister Carwyn Jones AM in recognition of her work with Peace Mala and her positive stand against all forms of inequality and intolerance.

Peace Mala units at Primary and Secondary level included in the new Religious Education Agreed Syllabus for Trafford Education Authority UK

On Wednesday 9 February 2011, the founder was invited to take part in a full day of meetings with Trafford Education Authority to discuss the inclusion of Peace Mala units at primary and secondary level for the new RE Agreed Syllabus. This proved highly successful with ideas being shared between teachers and RE advisors including Steve Illingworth (Independent Educational Consultant and Education Link Officer to Salford SACRE) and Erica Pounce, School Improvement Partner and Link Advisor for Primary Education. Pounce reported that they had worked as a Collaborative with other Greater Manchester SACREs but had also developed a distinctive local flavour, which is where the Peace Mala Units would sit as an optional unit and as an example of a compelling learning experience. The New RE syllabus for Trafford Education Authority, including units on Peace Mala, was launched on 24 March 2011.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Pam, Using the Peace Mala to Pray for World Peace (Morriston: Peace Mala Publications, 2008)
  • Evans, Pam, Sharing the Light: Walking for World Peace With the Celtic Saints of Gower (Morriston: Peace Mala Publications, 2012). ISBN 978-0-9572934-0-3

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From the 'Main aims of Peace Mala'
  2. ^ Official description of the symbology and representations
  3. ^ Word spreads of 'peace mala', BBC Wales interview upon winning first prize in the ChildLine in Partnership with Schools (CHIPS) initiative.
  4. ^ According to the Peace Mala account
  5. ^ According to the Peace Mala account
  6. ^ Official account of the events
  7. ^ Brown, Alex, "Youngsters honoured for promoting peace", South Wales Evening Post, 22 Sep 2009
  8. ^ Peace Mala, PEACE MALA NATIONAL AWARDS FOR YOUTH Award Winners 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-18
  9. ^ "Peace Mala International Youth Awards", Positive News, 17 Oct 2007. Retrieved 2013-04-18
  10. ^ Byrne, Kay, "Peace hopes win top prize", South Wales Evening Post, 27 Jul 2013
  11. ^ "Pilgrims step out on peace walk", South Wales Evening Post, 26 Jul 2012
  12. ^ Lewis, Paul, "Old tradition revived by pilgrimage", South Wales Evening Post, 10 May 2013
  13. ^ Evans, Pam, "Peace Mala Pilgrimage to Saint David's Forgotten Monastery", Diocesan News: The Diocese of Swansea & Brecon , Issue № 18, June 2013