Peru: Peace grows with Pamela and Gladys

Gladys and her daughter successfully participated in a conflict transformation course.

"Throughout my primary school years, I was bullied by my classmates," says Pamela, a 14-year-old Peruvian girl. Out of shame, she didn't dare talk about it with her parents. Pamela's mother Glayds says: "We hardly realized what was going on inside our daughter. At the time, my husband and I were on the verge of divorce and living separately." Pamela lived alternately with her mother and father. She says, "I suffered a lot when my parents were separated."

The "Centro de Espiritualidades EMAUS", partner organization of Mission 21, works with teachers, students and families to prevent and resolve conflicts. When Pamela's family began participating in EMAUS activities in 2016, many things changed: the parents' relationship improved thanks to EMAUS workshops and family therapy, and today the three of them live together again: "We have grown closer again, listen to each other and solve our problems without violence," says mother Gladys. 

Pamela began to open up to her parents. EMAUS activities improved her life holistically: "Today I am much more social and less shy than before. I find it easier to make friends and trust people." 

Pamela joined the EMAUS leadership team and now helps peers who are in a similar situation. Her mother also volunteers for EMAUS. The participation of volunteers like Gladys and Pamela is very important. Because the need is great, in the Puno region many families are marked by violence and strife. "In rural areas of the department of Puno, poverty is widespread," explains Claudia Quispe, program officer at Mission 21 for Peru. "Everyday problems, excessive alcohol consumption and sometimes lack of or inadequate communication lead to tension and violence in families. Beating the children, for example, is considered a justified educational measure by many."

For adolescents in particular, physical and psychological violence is traumatic and has a strong influence on personality development: how people grow up has a major impact on how they later move in society and what kind of relationships they have. Mission 21 and its partner organization are working to break this cycle of violence in Peruvian families. 

The project against violence in families and schools aims for a more peaceful society overall. Because in order for the "big" peace to grow, there also needs to be peace on a "small" scale, within one's own four walls. "With good communication, anything is possible," says mother Gladys. 

Text: Mara Wirthlin

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