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GNRC-Chile Ethics Education Pogramme expands to four cities

The city of Concepción in Chile was the host of a workshop on Ethics Education held from 14 to 19 July 2014. This was part of a series of workshops in Latin America and the Caribbean that promote “building a culture of peace in the family, school and community.”

Participants from Santiago, Concepción, Tome and Valdivia, commitment to the mission of the GNRC, were trained in the conceptual and pedagogical approaches of the Learning to Live Together Programme. The training provided an opportunity for discussions about the challenges that children and youth face and the violence that affects them, as well as spaces for an interreligious dialogue with emphasis on spirituality.
30 participants coming from 10 institutions working on different aspects to promote children’s wellbeing and from different religious affiliations:  Baha'í Faith, Budhism, Christianity: Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Mennonites, Islam and Lamaism, participated in the workshop. This variety of religious backgrounds contributed to enriched discussions on various aspects of spirituality and the openness of the participants to learn more about each other’s faiths and discuss the misconceptions.
From the interreligious discussions, reflections pointed to the need for more exploration towards the faith experiences of youth, who are more open and attracted to enter in dialogue with people of different beliefs. From this workshop two elements stood out that have been encountered in the region: 1) Youth are looking for experiences that transcend from the purely material, but don’t accept conventions that do not relate to their daily lives and experiences; and 2) Tendency among many youth to declare themselves as “non-religious” or “non-believers” of a specific religion, but at the same time in search for a faith that is consistent in aspects of science, belief and spirituality
A young man in the audience articulated the above issues in saying that, “there is an energy that is ingrained in all that exists.” He further elaborated by saying that that energy transcends the tangible and the material.
Some of the main issues of concern and discussion were relating to: the school and how bullying and violence, drug trafficking and abuse disrupt the lives of children; in families where violence is prevalent as well as parents not spending the necessary amount of time with their children, which hampers their development process; in the community where peer-pressure on substance abuse is prevalent as well as forms of violence; in the religious aspect, where as stated by a Muslim representative, there is no knowledge of the religions which leads to prejudice and ostracism.
The problems for a healthy and comprehensive development of children in Latin America are similar in all countries. The same areas in which their lives unfold can provide protection and support their development, though they can also be areas of conflict, risk, aggression and impediment to their comprehensive development.
All participants agreed in implementing the Learning to Live Together Programme and the Day of Prayer and Action for Children. For this purpose, three geographical groups were set up in Santiago, Concepción-Tome and Valdivia. They all agreed on the implementation of the LTLT in existing formal education, religious classes and through the religious institutions. 
Special thanks to the facilitators of the workshops Mónica Bernal, Marco Laguatasi, Marta Palma, and Mercedes Román. Thanks to SEPADE for their help in preparing the workshop and logistical help. We thank the coordinator of the GNRC-Chile, Pastor Víctor Rey for his support.