It feels like a dream, because it is. The beginning of a new dream for all those in attendance. Having gone through “The Principles of Reconciliation” everyone finished the conference with additional new skills and commitments of how to go forward in their own lives, personally and professional, to build peace. I don’t think I ever actually used the word ’empowered’ during the conference, but certainly that is the word that many were using to describe to me how they felt when it concluded today. Even though our time together has ended, it really has just begun.
I am exhausted, joyous, and in a state of awe at what we accomplished together. The Ambassador Dr. Mussie Hailu, as regional coordinator for the United Religions Initiative, started drafting an appeal and proclamations from those in attendance calling government, religious leaders, women, youth and media is promoting the cause of peace in Northern Nigeria. Simultaneously a group of the participants-journalists, poets, musicians, religious leaders, NGO founders, from all walks of life that were present, collaborated in compiling a draft of ideas that were then integrated into the final draft. All conference attendees approved the final appeal.
There again are more stories to tell than is possible at this moment, but my heart is telling me that history has been made and that we will remember this time with great fondness and genuine pride. I am sure the ripples will go out through education in numerous forms, whether through community churches and mosques, NGOs or governmental organizations and with educators themselves who committed to implement peace education into curriculum. The seeds of hope have been created, it remains to be seen what garden grows from this momentous gathering.