EPAZ: Schools for Peace

4 May 2018

Escuelas por la Paz (EPAZ) seek to work for peace involving personal change and a strengthening of the society, through mutual exchange, knowledge and jobs in Ecuador. The goal is to grow and multiply this idea elsewhere.

After the 2012 Genfest in Budapest (Hungary) a proposal was launched to host the United World Week (UWW) in different countries on 5 continents of the world. The first city to be held it was Jerusalem (2013), then Nairobi – Kenya (2014), India (2015) and in 2016 it was in Quito and other cities and towns of Ecuador.When the UWW in Ecuador ended, and as a result of wanting to generate something that would last in time and generate future sustainability, the idea of a project for peace arose. It was called “Schools of Peace” (Escuelas por la Paz – Epaz), and it was based on the 5 principles of integral rationality of the Andean Culture: the relationship of the person with him or herself, with the community, with objects, with nature and with his spirituality.

The Salesian Family Association, together with the local youth of Salinas de Bolívar, have loaned an apartment to Epaz. This will be the headquarters of “Escuelas de Paz” of Salinas, where local young people will be able to perform the project and Epaz in Quito will do the training and give support. This space will be used for two purposes: the opening of a Museum that will show the cultural and archaeological wealth of the place (given as a loan), also to be able to collect their stories and help the community to heal ancestral wounds and own the beauty of their roots. And secondly, to generate jobs, as well as creating a place of fraternity of the various groups of the place, which are now in conflict.

The idea was born from a necessity that the Youth for a United World saw in our city, and the reality of the social inequity that surrounds Latin American’s society. So we decided to approach people to establish a contact to build something together. Understanding that it is not a matter of going to a place and telling them what to do, but instead going to listen, be a part of that place to build a new reality from it”, says Catalina Hinojosa, one of the youth who is leading the project.

Thus the Schools of Peace (EPAZ) were born, seeking to promote the universality of peace to address the problems of violence, war and lack of respect among people. Its mission is to promote unity in diversity through relational dynamics. It dreams to become a reference point of love through the creation of peace areas in different countries and regions.

EPAZ challenges to contribute to a change of mentality, which aims to work for humanity and with humanity itself, giving priority to those who do not have a voice. To this extent, there is an exchange of knowledge, experiences and thoughts of human beings, each of these interactions contributing to build EPAZ.

“The goal from now on, even if it is not easy, because we are just beginning, is to launch these Schools for peace. The dream is to become like the ISO regulations, but with the measure of peace, establishing it according variables. Afterwards we want these to become like multipliers of peace around the world. The idea is to work internationally, not just in Ecuador”, explains Catalina. One of the next goals is to obtain the status of Foundation, in order to have a legal status that can allow them to grow, under the name “Ecuador por la paz (Epaz) – Un camino para la paz y la interculturalidad” (Ecuador for peace – A path to peace and inter-culturality).

By Anita Martinez

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