In Memoriam: Nanko Van Buuren (1951 - 2015)

The life of Nanko Van Buuren is remembered as a shining example of courage, vision, compassion and unwavering commitment to social justice and reconciliation. Many owe their lives to him, and he devoted his own life in service of improving the lives of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He ventured into places that others were afraid to tread, built bridges across seemingly insurmountable social divides, devoted himself to even the most precarious and difficult social problems, and transformed the communities where he worked.

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Emmanuel Economou
Girl Band Tops Israel Charts with Arabic Love Song

An Israel girl band has made history when their debut single became the first ever song entirely in Arabic to top the Israeli music charts last year. Habib Galbi by the band A-WA, a group made up of three sisters, are descendants of Yemeni Jews who relocated to Israel after its establishment in 1948.

A-WA initially posted an online music video of Habib Galbi (Arabic for “Love of My Heart”), without mentioning they were Israeli Jews. “We wanted people to come to us with an open mind,” said Tair Haim. “We just wrote something like, ‘We are bringing you a fresh desert breeze.’”

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Emmanuel Economou
The Somali Australian community: Poetry and peace

Somali people are defined as a society of poets who express their feelings, and emotions positively through poetry.

The Somali Australian community will celebrate Cultural Diversity Week, promoting peace and constructive dialogue in Banyule. Cultural Diversity Week also provides an environment of social harmony, and shared understanding between the Somali Australian community and the wider Australian community through poetry.

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Victoria Baldwin
Beyond Right & Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness

This transformative documentary shares the uplifting stories of survivors of three major conflicts as they balance forgiveness with the need for justice. The film is being screened at Nova Cinema, Carlton  at 4.30pm on Saturday 21 March - Harmony Day.

The documentary will be followed by Q&A with award-winning filmmaker, Lekha Singh alongside IRA Bombing victim, Jo Berry.

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Victoria Baldwin
Global Reconciliation and IBISS: Working in Rio de Janeiro's Favelas

This story published in the Guardian is about the work of one of Global Reconciliation’s partner organisations – The Brazilian Institute of Innovations for Social Health (IBISS). Over the past 20 years, IBISS has been working to support people living in Rio de Janeiro’s ‘favela’ communities. IBISS delivers social inclusion and reconciliation projects including in the areas of health, education, sport, the arts, legal services, and street work.

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Victoria Baldwin
Islam in the Australian Community: Resisting the Politics of Fear

In October, 2015 Global Reconciliation initiated an Alliance for Community Harmony, holidng a public forum entitled “Islam in the Australian community: Resisting the politics of fear,” on the 25th October at the Elm Street Uniting Church in North Melbourne.

The forum was the first of a series of actions arranged by Global Reconciliation, and was led by representatives of many organisations including the Islamic Council of VictoriaLiberty VictoriaInitiatives of Change and the Greens.

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Ancient cultures, new futures: a photographic exhibition

Sri Lanka has passed through one of the most tragic periods of war and division in its long history. Despite undoubted progress with economic reconstruction, the painful memories and the reality of continuing conflict remain everyday realities.

This exhibition seeks to contribute to the much-needed process of healing by supporting dialogue and reconciliation across the boundaries of continuing difference. Rather than focusing on the familiar images of war, destruction and personal suffering, or on post-war reconstruction and the growing material wealth, it seeks out ambivalent images that encapsulate both the challenges facing the country and the hopes carried by all for a different kind of future.

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Victoria Baldwin
Brazilian women are using football to escape the favelas

For decades, women’s football was banned in Brazil. Now ex-drug traffickers are tackling prejudice in the game by training future soccer stars from the favelas.

The Astroturf on the football pitch in Rio de Janeiro’s Penha favela complex is torn and covered with litter, while graffiti on the bullet-ridden, pockmarked walls vows “death to the police”.

“Stray bullets are part of my life here,” says Jessica, a 17-year-old football coach. “Sometimes you have to jump into a house to dodge them.”

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Victoria Baldwin
Dialogue helps overcome difference in an atomised world

In the wake of 9/11, it seemed to Paul Komesaroff that something was being lost from the world.

What was being lost, he feared, was the ability of people to communicate, to enter into dialogue, across what he calls ”difference” – cultural, racial and religious difference. As well as being a professor of medicine at Monash University, Komesaroff is the director of the university’s Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society.

After 9/11, his concern initially manifested in a ”loose workshop” – organised by Komesaroff and colleague Professor Paul James from RMIT – which was held in Melbourne in 2002. These workshops were then held overseas. In 2006 in Sarajevo, precisely because they were from outside that country, the two Australians persuaded both Serbs and Muslims to attend.

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Victoria Baldwin
Melbourne-backed bid for global reconciliation

An international summit bringing together more than 300 reconciliation experts from around the world to tackle global cultural, racial, religious and political difference will be launched at RMIT University this week.

The launch of the Pathways to Reconciliation Summit at RMIT Storey Hall at 5.30pm on Thursday, 1 October, will include the inauguration of the Global Reconciliation Desmond Tutu Fellowships and a performance by the gifted and inspiring artist, Archie Roach.

Supported by HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan, RMIT and Monash University, the Pathways to Reconciliation Summit will be held in Amman, Jordan, in December.

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Victoria Baldwin