Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Peace education for Maluku victims

AMBON, Maluku: Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) grouped in the Humanitarian Association for Maluku (Humanum) have launched a peace education program for the children of victims of the four-year religious conflict that erupted in 1999.

The program aims to free the children from the trauma they experienced during the fighting, which first broke out on Jan 19, 1999, Humanum coordinator George Corputty said.

"This peace education will hopefully encourage the children to continue their studies and enjoy their childhood," he said.

Unlike normal methods of teaching, the peace education program focuses on singing, playing and sharing the children's feeling, he said on Monday.

At least 846 children, aged between 6 and 16 from nine refugee camps on Ambon island have been taking part in the program over the past few months.

Corputty said the funding for the program came from the people and non-governmental organizations committed to peace, including foreign ones, he said.

"The funding is not big as volunteers and NGO activists are not teachers but friends who are ready to play with and tell the children stories," he said.

Corputty however did not mention the size of the funding needed for the program. --Antara