Zambo’s Summer Peace Camp begins

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zabida/24 May) — For those who heeded its siren call, this is the summer when peace will perhaps begin to bloom for ever in their lives. “And we will achieve that,” peace advocate Dr. Grace Rebollos told the over a hundred youth campers in her welcome message to them, “by learning to connect with others and to fill the inner self which we all have with the mechanics of peace-making.”

Rebollos, vice president of the Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), the organizer of the Summer Camp at the Nuestra Senora del Pilar Retreat and Lay Formation Center in Mercedes, delivered the speech on Sunday (May 24) to welcome this year’s participants.

Since 1999, PAZ has been conducting the summer peace camps – sometimes twice a summer – “to start the youths early on on the beauty and power of personal and social peace,” Dr. Rebollos said. This year, the participants are all high school students – officers of either their individual peace clubs or student councils – from18 national high schools and others from a few barangays plus the Akay Kalinga Center for street children.

“In this camp, we will learn the how’s and why’s of making choices between peace and violence, to understand that peace is a gift from God to be nurtured and shared with others,” she said. “This, amidst our differences from one another, which sometimes is a source of conflict but also the source of our distinctiveness and the beauty, rhyme and reason to our social and personal lives,” Rebollos added.

During the four camping days, participants will listen to talks on topics of sociology of peace and conflict, ecological care, and the culture of peace, with a workshop on the special roles of women and youth. They will also go on a “nature adventure” to do river and coastal cleaning, mountain trekking, mangrove planting, mural painting and spelunking. The camp-out will be capped with an exit peace planning, to map how they will apply their learnings in the community.

The training is facilitated by a team of former peace campers who are now members of PAZ’s Youth solidarity for Peace (YSP), with PAZ program coordinator Rosie Montojo as camp directress. No fees are collected from the participants. It is one of the projects funded by the current four-year peace-building and community development program of the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para Desarollo and Manos Unidas.

Claretian priest Fr. Angel Calvo is PAZ president.

Rebollos narrated the World War II Holocaust experience of German Jewish psychologist Viktor Frankl who in his book titled “The Meaning of Life” narrated how he adopted to survive harsh prison conditions in the hands of his Nazi captors by developing a philosophy of love and forgiveness. [Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA)]