Gandhi-Mandela-Freire Fellowship Programme
Self and Eco-Socio-Spiritual Transformation.
The Grounding of Peace, Reconciliation, Civic Engagement, Sustainability, Social Communication, Creative Regeneration and Engaged Spirituality in Compassion . Fostering Dialogical and Inclusive Community, Common Good and Eco-Socio-Spiritual Futures in Public and Private Spaces.
Jointly initiated by the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, India and the Loyola Institute of Peace and International Relations, Kochi, India. The Indian Social Institute holds a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The fellowship has been further developed, nurtured and now based at the Multiversity Platform, Loyola Extension Services, a registered charity as well as the social lab and incubation centre of Loyola College of Social Sciences (LCSS), Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), India. A (growing) number of like-minded institutions have offered moral support for this effort. (Note: This website belongs to the Multiversity Platform, Loyola Extension Services/LES Multiversity, Loyola College of Social Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram, India.)
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Introducing Myself, Briefly
I grew up between two sides of the same world. One is where there is richness in the diverse ethnics groups, cultural and religious heritages; beautiful ranges of mountains, evergreen forest, natural resources and four seasons of weather … Alongside with this beauty, the other side has 70+ years of continuous civil war, inter-ethnics armed conflict, drug war, human trafficking, systematic rape, highest deforestation, environment degradation, natural resource depletion and much more. Together with generational trauma and collective trauma, there are many inspiring human stories of resilience, collective responsibility, great compassion, leadership and followership, and transformation. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, I got a chance to witness these strength in my grandmothers who were traditional peacemakers in mediation, and my mother who was the only female medical doctor working in war zone. However, like many parents, my parents send their children out to a faraway land for our safety and better future. So I was sent out to big cities in Myanmar, then Thailand and England for further studies. After receiving my MBA, I started working in corporate which helped me realize that a big part of me was missing. Serving the same group of elite who exploited the lives and livelihood of many people inflicted the deeply wounded part of my life and challenged me to look for my purpose. After intense search inside my own story, I was clear that I can never escape until I turn back to work on resolving the core and roots of these issues. This process of self-discovery inspired me to work in peacebuilding.
Nang Loung Hom
I am now in this moment of my life feeling aligned with my purpose to serve people who are hurt. To channel my compassion for social suffering into action, I founded a network called mocanachãyã working on Dhamma approaches to transforming social suffering. In Sri Lanka, where I reside now, I serve as a director at Walpola Rahula Institute working on social healing. I also commit myself to two amazing organizations in Myanmar: SAYA Foundation and How She Did It, as a Mindfulness and Wellness Advisor by working at grassroot level in creating inclusive society for teachers and women. I am a trainer of Ethics education for children from Arigatou International, executive committee member in INEB and Dialogue Fellow from International Dialogue Center (KAICIID). I am a co-founder of Suppiyā Mittatā , a philanthropy work on providing healthcare support in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. I am a citizen artist aspired to work on arts and healing. I am a mother of two wonderful children Praneeth and Vidya.
Why Do I Want To Do This Course or Undertake this Learning Journey?
The experience of going through COVID 19 pandemic and military coup in Myanmar taught me so much to reflect critically on the nature and impacts of peacebuilding work. I came to realize the importance of understanding the roots and dynamics of social sufferings from the lenses of spirituality and sacred wisdom from its own regions and contexts.
In Myanmar, Sri Lanka and some parts of the world, the depth and complexity of socio-political conflict are immerse. The works of peacebuilding need to evolve from the high quality of morality, mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom. So that, we can work on transforming of the roots causes with the inclusiveness and compassionate approaches.
Insight meditation practice, Vipassana, taught me the power of mindfulness, equanimity and compassionate mind in healing and purifying of oneself, restoring the harmonious supportive relationship with fellow human beings, animals and nature and transforming the sufferings. The practices of knowing oneself and others, seeing beyond the visible surface, and understanding the causes and conditions of social suffering make me reflect the social science framework of peacebuilding require more integration of spirituality , and wisdom from religions and traditions of the regions.
My understanding on the importance of embodying strong morality, mental clarity, compassion is evolved through encountering in social suffering and the practice of meditation. I have been looking forward to learning in such well-designed fellowship and engaging in the community of praxis. I strongly believe that the learning journey in the Fellowship on Conscience and Compassion will greatly help me to understand and heal myself in relation with trauma which have been accumulating from many injustice and violence experiences in childhood at war-tone region to the recent military coup and NweOo Revolution in Myanmar. The seven decades long civil war and various atrocity and oppression happening in Myanmar has left not only physical injuries, but largely on moral and spiritual injuries.
Additionally, with the names of charity, development, social works, peacebuilding work, there are many damages have done unconsciously as well as intentionally, to societies due to lack of respect on human dignity, transparency and corruptions. The learning and experiential engagement through this fellowship will strengthen and reassure my practice of moral conscience as a personal level as well as in working with peacebuilding setting.
The knowledge and wisdom from this fellowship will strengthen my understanding of suffering in society and how to create social mechanism and culture in nurturing compassion and conscience in community. I am looking forward in discovering myself, evolving the best potential of my heart, healing my innerchild, reconnecting with others to understand through many sessions of Deep Skilling Orientation. It will be truly honor and grateful to grow relationally and spiritually through meeting with teachers, mentors, classmates as well as working in students-Led projects and many series dialogues.
A Note on My Encounter with the Online 'Tool', UNFOLD NEST
It is just a perfect timing to reflect and understand deeply on my life through the guide of “Unfold Nest” after going through personal challenges like thyroid lobectomy and double pneumonia COVID in a month gap, losing a loved one and spread infection to my children, and other family members as well as the external challenges like pandemic and military coup back in my home country.
In the beginning and end of every paths, I spend an hour of meditation to settle my thoughts, recollect my energy, and prepare myself to be centered, authentic, sincere and courageous in this inward journey. Every series of reflective questions in each paths are transformative, healing and bring hope. It doesn’t just make you in touch with unhealed wounded self, but it gently bring forth to the power of present and envisioning of future.
I started journaling on every questions prompted in each paths in this wanderer’s map. Quantitively, I have written around 50 pages of journaling. But the impact is far beyond measured.
“A room of your own” took me to the deepest level of not only self-discovery but touch on healing and nourishing my wounded self. The reflective questions like “How is my body?” made me cried out like a small child in her mother’s arms. As much as the vulnerability in physical body after sickness, I came to connect with the evolving of resilience, patience, gratitude and ultimate strengths to celebrate.
My childhood and early teen life was in prolong civil war affected region witnessing the atrocity of armed violence, rape as a weapon of war, human trafficking, drug war, and all sort of human rights violations. Even though I came out from the region for 26 years and able to return again to serve the communities as peace practitioner, the reflective questions around the past like “the scars and wounds that I want to heal?” , “challenging memories in my life journey?”, “Did I hurt anyone in the past?”, took so much of time, energy, courage, and self-compassion to search within layer by layer. I realized how deeply I was wounded, kept neglected for so long, and how much of healing required from journey of coming out from the region to escape, and going back to the region to serve. At the same time, I feel I am in the safe space and I could trust in the process of this gentle journey in wanderer’s map.
The Ted talk of Jen Oliver on “How to love yourself to the core”, make me realized the importance of supports system and community in protecting destructive narrative female body and identity, body shaming, social norms and forces in patriarchal societies. My identity as female has always been vulnerable and marginalized from the time of being a girl child in war region to female peace practitioner in religious peacebuilding setting.
However, the documentary of “gender diversity and identity in Queertopia”, opened my eyes and heart on the challenges of the gender groups beyond the rigid label of male and female. I come for typical Myanmar culture where there is notion of male are superior than female, and “the others” in gender are perceived abnormal. Even though I don’t accept this social norm on gender, I came to realize that I am carrying unconscious bias. This documentary awaked ignorant and stereotypes in me on “the others” in gender. Purl – Pizer sparkshorts video from “the boat” make me empathize on loneliness and outcasted feeling of conscious social selves. The end part of this video inspire me to imagine the society on moving from unconscious social selves to harmony of selves in diverse gender diversity.
I have been involving in facilitating interreligious dialogue, organizing houses of worship visits, and coordinating joint actions with religious communities on the core issues of the regions. However, the reading materials and resources on the path of “the cross road” make me realized that addition to my limited awareness and understanding on gender diversity and identities, I need to strengthen my knowledge, understanding, connection and solidarity in religious diversity. It is more important in the context of Myanmar and Sri Lanka where religious identities are used to divide society and provoked hatred, fear and suspicious among people. I understand that we need to go beyond than the surface of similarity and commonality of different religions. We need to critically, constructively, collectively look into the challenges and roadblocks in each religions. And work together to transform it.
Reflective question on the issues and challenges facing in community, and how can I critical consciously position myself in this context , prepared me well to related better on the burning issues in both my home country and host country. The documentary of “The story of Stuff” and “Soyalism” make me critically look into the context of my two countries and realized the importance educating our citizens to strengthen structural awareness and system thinking.
Documentary on “former child soldiers struggles …” make me understand the amount of works we, as Myanmar, need to prepare for reintegration, rehabilitation, healing of many citizens taken by force by the military and armed groups, as well as those voluntary took armed in this NweOo revolution. In addition, remaining citizen are drowning with the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, survival guilt, deep rooted fear, anger and collective trauma.
The bridging of the paths - “a room of your own” to “the house of pilgrim” and then with “the mountain” helped me to zoom in the context to understand the depth of reality and zoom out to see the issues holistically rather than overwhelmed in with adversity. “Who am I” poem make me to move out from the feeling of powerless victimization to empowered individual with power within to transform, heal and envision.
Journaling on reflective questions, videos, and materials in “The possible village” and “the mountain” make me realized how critical situations we, human, are in relation with nature to hear “the earth is crying”. And the urgent and important of our collective responsibility to take strong and sustainable actions on ecology and environmental issues. I have been practicing conscious consumerism and working on EcoTemple initiative in my small circle of influence. I was content in my own bubble. After reading the materials and watching videos on these two paths, I start to see clearly that these small scales and insignificant actions are not enough on this burning issues.
The COVID 19 initiatives on “Quaran Tent” for home quarantine, “COCO” the logbook for children”, “Radio COVID” on alone together for elderly patients are so inspiring. They are simple yet powerful initiatives. In Myanmar, despite of the intensity of military coup, there are some unique local initiatives around “food and medical supplies”, “funeral service and religious rites for departed ones”, “supporting homebased learning for children”, during the high of pandemic. Inspiration from “Pay it forward day”, documenting these creative, compassionate and courageous acts of ordinary people would restore hope and resilience of humankind in this pandemic.
Note: UNFOLD NEST is an online 'tool' for self-exploration, created by a group of young people from Latin America, Africa, and Asia.