The Coimbatore Peace Festival, organized by Shanti Ashram in India, was the scenario for the premiere of the animated short film about one of the winners of the Learning to Live Together Global Awards. The festival was held in August 2019 and it was a unique opportunity for hundreds of people to get to know more about the inspiring story of Arun.
In 2018, and in the framework of the 10th Anniversary of the Learning to Live Together Programme, Arigatou International Geneva granted different awards to recognize the work of our partners and collaborators in the field. The Food Bank, a project initiated by Arun (when he was only 14 years old) together with several other children, was awarded for the Most Inspiring Children-led Project, for having impacted the lives of thousands of people by caring for the needs of those affected by poverty in Coimbatore.
One of the strongest components of the Learning to Live Together Programme is that children and young people are empowered to take action and develop their own projects for community engagement and transformation.
After participating in an LTLT workshop, Arun had the opportunity to reflect on empathy, respect, responsibility, and reconciliation. This allowed him to become more sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable and encouraged him to work collectively with others to start collecting food to support disadvantaged people in Coimbatore, and especially people affected by HIV.
With the help of other children from different religious traditions and the constant support of Shanti Ashram, Arun’s project grew quickly to become a food bank that supports many families in Coimbatore. Nowadays, the food bank collects and distributes up to 450kg. of rice, dhal and other goods every month.
As winners of the LTLT Global Awards, Arun and other young people from Shanti Ashram, had the opportunity to work with Ms. Soufeina “Tuffix”, a German-Tunisian psychologist and self-taught comic artist and illustrator. She traveled to Coimbatore to learn about Arun and the food bank in order to create an animated film about the project.
After months of work and reflection, the film was launched in August 2019 as a tribute to the commitment of Arun, other children and Shanti Ashram, and as evidence to show what children can do when given the space and opportunity.
We would like to express our gratitude to Ms. Soufeina “Tuffix” for participating in this project, and Mr. Vijayaraghavan Gopal and all Shanti Ashram team for constantly supporting and believing in the power of child-lead projects and initiatives.