GCJ Kashmir 2018
Global Citizen Journey returned to India in October with ambitious and adventurous plans to visit one of the most beautiful, diverse and contested areas of India. Little is known about Kashmir in the west that hasn’t been sensationalized or biased.
We took a 2.5-week journey with most of those days in Kashmir (Oct 1-12) after a short visit in Delhi (Sept 26-Oct 1). We had 10 delegation members from the west (USA) joining with two from India outside and Kashmir and then 10 from various parts of Jammu-Kashmir-Ladakh. We met our goal to have individuals from different religious, political and ethnic groups with this deliciously diverse group.
We spent most of our time in the beautiful city of Srinagar in Kashmir where we learned about what the daily realities and challenges from the people who live, work and interact with their neighbors on the ground. We visited the rural schools where GCJ had donated desks, benches, notebooks and school supplies as well as filtered water: what a great day, sharing stories, songs and activities with the children! We engaged in the skills and teachings of compassionate listening in our circle time, to hear each others stories and develop our skills. We hosted a Town Hall meeting attended by 100 citiizens from the larger community utilizing World Café and Open Space dialogue processes to engage around the challenges of Dal lake and the environment. This was followed by a community supported lake clean up the next day. We also set up an eye clinic, dispensing hundreds of reading glasses. We spent a few days retreat in the great mountains near Pahalgam and engaged in deep dialogue, especially around gender and the impact of our cultural roles and conditioning. Our local sponsor ELFA International (Education and Livelihood for All) connected us with local Kashmiri leaders, nonprofits and organizations so we could learn, explore and listen together.
We were pleased to foster dialogue and relationship building while finding bases of unity, a common purpose, and a creative process as well as projects that were meaningful to the Kashmiri people.
We came as a delegation with courage, hope and humility as our assets. We will continue to work with ELFA to support their ongoing work.
To find out more about this delegation and GCJ trip to Kashmir, India in 2018 please contact Susan Partnow and Irene Michon, trip coordinators. You can connect with us on Facebook or by email: Susan Partnow email@example.com and Irene Michon firstname.lastname@example.org.
Host Partner: ELFA International
ELFA international is an independent and impartial aid, education and development organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster to respond to the essential needs of youth, women, children and other vulnerable groups. ELFA international is a not-for-profit organization with no religious or political affiliation.
Chief Executive, Mehran Khan, has worked with many international organizations including Mercy Corps, Childline India and Handicap International. Mehran has implemented projects on economic development, youth leadership, juvenile justice, disability rights and conventional weapons risk reduction (CWRR) and has also worked with donors such as USAID.
Our project coordinator for the Kashmir Delegation, Rabia Yousuf, works for ELFA as Assistant Program Officer. She has a Master’s degree in International Relations and was previously engaged in projects related to emergency response during floods as well as the political and economic status of Kashmir.