Building Peace, South East Asia
“When I go into the town to buy rice and fish the Christian boys beat me up,” says Rasheed, a 12-year-old from the troubled island of Mindanao, Philippines. “It’s the same in the village where I was born. The Muslim boys would beat up the Christian boys because there were very few Christians there.”
Badu, the Little Girl and Squirrel are back, but the disaster that unfolds this time is the threat of conflict in their community. A stranger has arrived in their village: he’s given a job, which he does well. Better, indeed, than Badu. From these small seeds comes resentment. Rumours spread, the community mobilises, and a fire is started to destroy the stranger’s work.
Laida is an interfaith community worker who presents The Two Gardens to children and young people in Mindanao, with its long and troubled history of conflict between Muslim and Christian groups. “Even though we might have peace talks, there’s a constant fear they will break down and conflict will resume,” she says.
“Having a film like this here is so important. It helps introduce concepts of conflict and peace in a way that makes sense within children’s day-to-day life, and we now visit many schools of both faiths in the region. We’re also using it as a way to begin discussion with adults – it’s amazed us how useful it has been.”
Children like Rasheed love the film. Through it, they grow to realise that if you think bad things about people who are different from you, things can get out of hand. Indeed, it is sometimes surprising how quickly this can happen.
The film, developed in partnership with JRS, the Jesuit Refugee Service, is currently being used in unsettled regions like Aceh, Indonesia, as well as Mindanao. The concept also marries well with The Tales of Disasters series, mitigating against possible tensions as an influx of displaced people enter a new community following a disaster event.