Tenth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 2004

Workshop 13: Women Working for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence

Led by Evelyn Nana-Fosu Randall (Ghana/USA)

3.13

Report by Carol Carder Krehbiel (USA)

This workshop was originally to have been facilitated by Lynnet Martin (from Bangladesh) Due to Lynnet's last minute travel problems, Nana-Fosu Randall was asked to fill in.  Nana introduced herself, in rhyme, as Nana from Ghana.

Part I

Nana spoke about her 29 years of experience working with the United Nations and her assignments in some areas of conflict, such as the Middle East and Africa. She mentioned the tremendous waste of oil and life and the hatred in Iraq and Kuwait.

After she returned from her service in Kuwait and Iraq, Nana and her husband (John Randall) started a school in her hometown of Kumasi, Ghana. It is a school where non-violence and conflict resolution are taught along with other peace building skills. The school now has 700 hundred students, ages 3 to 14, and 62 staff. John William Montessori School is a family and community affair. The parents are part of the engine that runs and supports the school. The school web site is jwms.org

Part II

In 2001 and 2002, Nana worked in West Africa as a United Nations official because of the wars and conflict in the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, the Congo and Liberia. She supervised and often visited refugee centers.  Wherever there is a war, it is the children and women who are hurt the most, Nana explained.  A short video was shown which illustrated how innocent civilians suffer horrible acts at the hands of the military. It showed where social structures are breaking down and millions of people are forced to live in abject poverty and hopelessness. Many children are crippled by the ravages of war.  Some children who have no legs were on boards with wheels playing soccer by using their hands to kick the ball.

Once Nana saw 5 young women in wheelchairs sitting in front of a supermarket on a main street in Liberia and one of them was trying to feed her child.  Some of them did not have hands and feet.  It was unbelievably sad.  The woman, with the child, told Nana that in an armed conflict some insurgents drove people into the bush.  The young woman was shot and pretended to be dead.  She dragged herself along for about two weeks until she finally reached help.  By the time medical personnel saw her, she had gangrene and her hands had to be amputated.

Later, still in Liberia, Nana saw many people without hands or arms.  These had been chopped off so the people could not vote because someone wanted to be president.  Power is more addictive than any drug.  Those in power are so afraid that someone will do something to them for the destruction they cause.

Part III

There was an active question and discussion period amongst the participants.  We learned that on 5 June 2004, Nana launched in a new Non-Governmental Organization based in Accra, Ghana: Voices of African Mothers.

Voices of African Mothers calls on African mothers to say no to violence, crime, conflict, war and separatism; promotes conflict prevention; helps women engage in dialogue on peace building; and advocates on behalf of women and children in Africa. When Nana visited war torn areas it was evident that women and children were suffering tremendously. Wars do not build nations, they destroy them. Wars bring unnecessary pain, hunger, distress and suffering, says Nana. There is an alternative to war.  This is the promotion of peace, the sharing of resources and creation of understanding among all peoples. The website for Voices of African Mothers is vamothers.org.