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09/08/2007

"Nobel Women's Initiative" conferance

By Robi Damelin

So you think we have problems, spend 4 days in the company of some of the most extraordinary women in the world some of whom were awarded the Nobel Prize and I am sure a new global perspective will occur.
 
Nadwa and I were invited to take part in a conference in Gallway Ireland, "Nobel Women's Initiative" First international conference, Women Redefining Peace in the Middle East and Beyond.
 
Betty Williams, Ireland, Prof. Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Ireland, Prof. Jody Williams, U.S.A., Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iran and Prof. Wangari Maathai, Kenya were there to meet us and what an impact they have had on my life. They shared their work and life in such a modest and simple way it is awe inspiring.
 
Women from all over the world came to share their work on the ground and their academic knowledge , hearing of the trials and tribulations of life in Burma and the terrible systematic sexual violence used as a weapon by the Burmese junta.  Learning about Sudan and Kosova , Iraq and Iran and the manipulations of the oil Industry in Iraq opened my eyes to a much broader picture.
 
Much is to be learned from the Irish women who worked to tirelessly for reconciliation .  I was fascinated by their work with Irish Prisoners, (many with blood on their hands) who were eventually released as part of the "Good Friday Agreement"  and who are today some of the most ardent workers for Peace.
 
After Nadwa and I spoke we had a standing ovation, and we were presented with a "Nobel Women's Hat" which I will treasure. One of the most moving reactions was from a young Muslim lady from Sudan who came to talk to me and said," I have never touched a Jew in my life and have never spoken to an Israeli, but I would like to give you a hug".  Thereafter we traveled from Galway to Dublin in a toy plane, and who should sit next to me? My new found friend from the Sudan, who has a distinct fear of flying, and guess whose hand she held.
 
For all those who think all this traveling is fun, 11 flights in three weeks is not my idea of a lark, after Ireland the Exhibition in Bellevue near to Seattle opened.  Ali and I had such an intense time lecturing and taking people on tours of the Exhibit , we were totally worn out. The Exhibit was set in a wonderful room of the Museum and the bowls placed on small tables it looked stunning and I was very proud of being part of the project, of living with the bowls for nearly a year in my house, of carrying them back and forth, of being able to raise the money to keep the Exhibition together, managing to get the Swedish Representatives to sponsor us at the United Nations, the next venue for the Exhibit , and for creating together with many other wonderful new friends, new opportunities for spreading our message of Reconciliation, and thanks to Riva Saker and AIDA having the final auction in Chicago in November.  It is to be hoped that we will manage to raise enough money to support the education project and other new ideas for 2008.  I for one will do my best to see that we sell all the bowls.

Robi Damelin, June 2007

* In the photo; Robi Damelin and Amira from Sudan.







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