Coventry Peace Festival returns

 

The Coventry Peace Festival returns once again this year with even more events for residents to take part it. The two-week event has so far included poetry sessions, film viewings and a range of craft activities for kids to take part in.

Being the leading city for peace and reconciliation, Coventry annually hosts the Peace Festival to commemorate the bombing of the city during World War 2.

This event aims to bring the community together in the hopes of maintaining and spreading peace and reconciliation throughout the community, as well as to the rest of the UK.

The festival kicked off with the Peace through Poetry sessions at libraries across Coventry on November 1 and will end with Poetry competition on November 14.

Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, cabinet member for Policing and Equalities said the event helps to bring people together and showcases Coventry as a peaceful city. “What it does is that it shows Coventry and its people’s commitment to peace all around the world. It just reinforces the way we and our people are to other communities and how people live together in peace”.

He said the event is gaining a wider audience each year as more people participate. “What is happening is that more and more people who get to know about any event the more interest that is aroused around the event and more people tend to take part”.

Councillor Khan went on to say that it is important for Coventry to not lose focus and maintain its status as the centre for peace and reconciliation. He said “I think what we have to do is remain focused on the work we are doing to foster pace and reconciliation and partnership working amongst different groups of people and individuals. You’ve got to keep working on that, make sure you don’t forget the purpose and aim of it and encourage as many people as we can to get involved in this kind of work in this area so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside”.

Click here to see the full list of the events taking place

One of the events that taking place is a photography exhibition by Elaine Stapleton and Lisa Dundis called ‘Home’, held in the old Coventry Telegraph building on Corporation street.

Elaine Stapleton (left) and Lisa Dundis (right)

 

The exhibition, a collection of images taken by Lisa and Elaine, is focused on Palestinian people and their perception of where ‘home’ for them is. Lisa explained more about their project: “so we’ve got two exhibitions, one is called ‘Home”, where we asked Palestinians where home is to them and we also asked Palestinians in the diaspora so those that are refuges that have possibly never been born in Palestine but identify as Palestinian, where home or what home is to them. And what we found is that it’s quite difficult for them to answer. And the other exhibition we have is ‘hands of hope’ which is arts that kids have done on their hands and handprints in Palestine”.

 

Elaine and Lisa started their ‘Working with villages in Palestine’ project in 2014 with the aims of helping the people of Palestine and have since then been going back every year to ensure their projects are still in operation. “We make sure that if we run a project we will go back the following year to check that it is still there and you know it does make a big difference to them”, Elaine said. “We started about four years ago. So we were in Palestine prior to four years ago and we just wanted to see what it was like and what was going on in the country and I was actually there when the bombing in Gaza happened and I just wanted to go back to do something and Lisa said come on let’s go and we’ll buy something, even a goat and it just moved from there.  So we buy sheep, goats, trees, grapes, anything with self-sustenance really”.

Lisa explained that volunteers are welcome and have the option of joining them in Palestine to help their efforts. “We all self-fund, so one hundred percent of what we raise is spent on the ground in Palestine and then we have volunteers come with us as well so every year we have new faces coming with us to experience the hospitality of the Palestinians so we try to stay in guest houses or family houses so you get a real authentic sort of experience. So we do travel most of the country, well what is left of Palestine, we do travel through most of it”.

Lisa and Elaine both agreed that the Peace festival is seeing more people getting involved and there is a growing interest around the events each year. “We always see new faces. It’s always great because part of what we do obviously is helping people out in Palestine but we also see it as educating people here because a lot of people aren’t aware of even where Palestine is, let alone what is happening there really. We hope the exhibition opens people’s eyes and they ask questions. That’s what we really want”.

“This is the second year we have participated in the festival. There are some amazing events going on. There is almost too much crammed into two weeks. There is so much this weekend that I’d like to take part in but I can’t because we need to be here”, said Lisa.

The exhibition will go on until November 12 and all proceeds donated will go towards Elaine and Lisa’s projects in Palestine.

To find out more or to donate, visit their website http://www.working-with-villages.com/.

 

Raisa Ismail

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