In February 2018 RWF took part in the meeting of Foundations for Peace network (FFP) in Indonesia.
From the very beginning internationalism has been a part of our politics. Apart from being one of the criteria of grant-making, and one of the reasons to take part in solidarity and support to refugees, it is also reflected in the international cooperation with similar funds. RWF has been a member of the network of Foundations for Peace since 2006.
FFP gives us a chance to exchange experiences with foundations working in (post)conflict regions, to get reliable information from the field and understand the situation better, as well as to convey our local experiences that often remain ignored or get misinterpreted in dominant local and international narratives. FFP is an important resource center, a space to think together about practices at local level and models of work, a place of meeting and political learning.
This year Indonesia for Humanity (IndonesiaUntuk Kemanusiaan) organized the network meeting in Yogyakarta on the island of Java.
We had a chance to get familiar with the everyday life of local people, remains of colonialism, attitudes regarding the business climate that suits the foreigners, poor labor conditions, severe social inequalities, position of women, as well as change of relationship towards other religions, but also with art, crafts, local food and customs.
On the first day we got familiar with Indonesia in the local cultural center Kedai Kebun, learning especially about the massacre from 1965-66 intended to destroy the communist party and imprison everyone suspected (very often unfounded) to be related with the party. Dr Baskara Wardaya, a lecturer at the Sanata Dharma University held a lecture, and the fund director Kamala Chandrakirana facilitated the discussion. We heard how military leaders agitated against communists labeled as „ungodly people“ whom the people should feel „obliged“ to get rid of. It coincided with the volcano eruption, which was interpreted as the „anger of Gods“ because of the presence of communists. But the reason for this misuse of religion lies in the fact that communists advocated for the land reform, and it would mean that the mentioned leaders would lose a lot. With the support from abroad, Indonesia suffered a massacre, and there is still no political will to talk about it in the appropriate and public way. We had a chance to see the trailer for the movie You and I, about two women who met in jail and after being released started living together and taking care of each other. After the trailer we had a chance to talk with the young author whose grandmother was imprisoned. Other movies recommended to us when it comes to this subject were The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014). Then we met a group of women who survived jails, listened to their stories and traditional singing telling about the experiences of survivors.
This song written by one of the performers in 2017 tells about hope, finding peace with ourselves, mutual support, need to speak publicly about the event and to shed light on what happened, as well as about the expectation of intergenerational solidarity, i.e. of young ones to go on working on the subject.
That evening in the gallery of the cultural center the exhibition was opened on the work of peace funds, members of FFP. Reconstruction Women`s Fund presented its programs, politics and the way of work, the groups it supports, and also answered the questions about situation in Serbia and the region.
In the following days we discussed experiences in local contexts, presented achievements and challenges, and discussed scopes and potentials of different models of building and maintaining peace and strengthening the solidarity within the community in specific contexts. We also talked about the ways of working with the groups of trauma survivors, the necessity of work at the existential level (providing basics and meeting the primary needs), as well as about creating the spaces where people can talk about their daily life and connect to each other. We also paid attention to global trends such as the so called development for democracy, which was nothing more than the contemporary practice of imperialism: first work on the development (of business environment, work models, technology, infrastructure etc.) which actually favors rich to become richer, i.e. creates the conditions that suit the best the elites and big investors, and democracy is expected to magically appear afterwards, helping deprivileged classes (without mentioning that different social classes need different democracies, and the one we are being served with is not the democracy that would question the existing systemic inequalities). Therefore, it is a concept of development that flirts with social and other inequalities, without targeting their causes and while presenting no alternatives, but only constructing the idea of issues and solutions that might be just a buffer zone for the growing social discontent. Critical approach to such policies and models turned out to be one of the main characteristics of the Network, which members keep experimenting in the field and develop specific knowledge, but with caution and keeping the distance toward models imposed from „above“ which in the long run downgrade the position of population living in (post)conflict areas.
In addition to reflecting on common/regional activities we have had, we made plans for future joint actions and advancing the learning and advocacy at the level of Network, which we will report on when the time comes. One of the common aspirations is to work with younger generations that perhaps don`t understand neither the situation nor its historical background good enough, but are interested in social justice. For that purpose there are being developed the different models of including them into the work with the community on building and maintaining peace, i.e. struggle against militarist, fundamentalist, patriarchal and exploiting politics and tendencies. We are about to learn more about strategic communications with different targeted audiences on the subject of peace building, developing economy of solidarity at local level, funding by the community and for the community and testing different models of community capacity building.
One of the main values of this Network lies in the fact that it exists for over a decade but it doesn`t change the strong awareness that everything has to be questioned and adjusted to people whom the foundations exist for and to the situation in the given moment. The facts that it is rooted in the local context, on one hand, and belong to the international community, on the other, give this Network the possibility to be the focal point for information, learning and innovations in the field of building and maintaining peace and working with the population in (post)conflict areas. For RWF as a feminist peace foundation this kind of meetings are immensely important since they help us in assessing our work, spreading the voice of women`s peace groups from Serbia, and gaining additional knowledge on how to keep coping with everything political and economic changes bring us. Being surrounded with such inspirational people is the wind in our sails and a reminder that it is always possible to find cracks and remain consistent with the values of peace and solidarity.
Marija Jakovljević, program development coordinator, in charge of cooperation with the Foundations for Peace