6:00 PM18:00

Celebration of the 100th Anniversary Birthday of Nelson Mandela

In reverence to UN High Level Summit honoring President Nelson Mandela during the anniversary of his 100thbirthday


                                    Speaker: Ambassador Isaiah Chabala, Zambia

                                     Former Permanent Representative of Zambia

to the United Nations

in New York and in Geneva

 Organized by

the Dorset Village Library, 

Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance (YANA), New England, VT chapter,

Grace Initiative

                     (September 7, 2018, 6:00 PM)

Before the official opening of the General Assembly, when all world leaders will convene at the UN, the UN will pause to reflect on the 100thanniversary on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela – a leader imbued with a moral force.[1]  His life was indeed remarkable. Not only did his leadership triumph over apartheid and revenge; his leadership exemplified all that was possible through, forgiveness, democratization, reconciliation – so that all people, “the exalted and the wretched of the earth, can live as equals.”[2]

Even during his imprisonment, which few could bear, his steadfastness was a catalyst for the international community to move toward coexistence. It is no wonder he received the noble peace prize in 1993.[3]  The peaceful election leading to his presidency in 1994, truly symbolized a joyous aspiration for the human spirit. In this regard, his legacy clarified and confirmed that inter alia: discrimination is not acceptableapartheid of any kind is unlawful; and, violence to gain objectives is unjustifiable.

Therefore, for this humble event we will reflect on Nelson Mandela’s goals and achievements and “his capacity for seeing the best in people and his belief in the dignity of humankind.”[4]



[2]Sampson, Anthony,Mandela, The Authorized Biography(Alfred A. Knopf, 1999) p. 239.

[3] He shared the prize withFrederik Willem de Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa."

[4]Ibid., 516.

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to Oct 26

Peace Conference 2018, Washington, DC Oct 24-26

During Peace Con 2018, Grace Initiative will host a workshop on October 26, at 10:45


 “Circles of Trust”©

Healing, Empowering and Transforming

Lives of Rural Women

For Sustainable Peace


 Workshop on October 26, 2018: Circles of Trust, Conflict Prevention and Restorative Rural Development 




The framework for the panel and the participants’ engagement includes: UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, respectively S/RES/2282 and A/RES/70/262, which called for sustaining peace by “preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.”  Further, it integrates global agendas such as the UN GA High Level Meeting on Peacebuilding,  held 24-25 April 2018, which underscored the axiom that we must work “to save peace while it lasts, not to deal with the situation once peace is lost.” Also, it adheres to the 2030 Agenda goals, especially SDGs 1, 5, 12, 15, and 16.   With this as our framework,  this workshop on “Circles of Trust”, integrates women and peacebuilding and conflict prevention, through transforming and sustaining grass roots rural communities.

The overall discussion will emphasize and explore how sustaining peace should in practical terms include conflict prevention, and why and how this includes the full integration of rural communities and especially rural women. 

Our strategy

This proposal calls for pilot project to integrate holistic goals of the Peace Accord for transformation of causes of the conflict especially in rural areas and the impact on women and girls.  To this end, our pilot project calls for integrating the goals of restorative justice of community healing, of governance through peaceful discourse, and rural sustainable development through community supported agriculture and value added crops, for nutrition, sustenance and income generation.  This project’s goals include transformation of causes of conflict, promotion of peace and the prevention of conflict through healing, empowering and transforming lives[1]of rural women, including internally displaced. Rural women endure victimization from: conflict; forced displacement[2]; domestic violence; lack of nutrition and employment.[3]We envisage this transformation via: “circles of trust,” evolving through engagement, training and crop cultivation, including verified medicinal plants,[4]the oldest form of health care.[5]The program is about restorative strategies integrated[6]with rural agricultural development. In countries, which face crime and victimization due to illicit, crops, our strategy offers an alternative especially for small farmers.


The programme focuses on women and girls’ leadership for rebuilding rural communities through healing and engagement combined with agricultural practices that comprise a purpose of fostering sustainable and resilient communities for an enduring peace. It integrates restorative justice theology of healing, combined with sustainable agricultural mechanisms for women and girls who are trying to rebuild their lives, families and communities after conflict and or extreme hardship due to violence or criminal activity. During conflict and violence, women and girls are at high risk of discrimination, gender-violence and extreme poverty

Restorative rural agricultural development builds from the necessityfor healing and for rebuilding of relationships, communities and societies after conflict, violence and extreme poverty. Its goals are transformational with objectives of community reconciliation, sustainability, and resilience.   

In addition to healing, community agricultural provides local food sources, providing directly nutrition and sustenance.  According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), malnutrition and food insecurity is on the rise. The food security situation has worsened most notably in situations of conflict and conflict combined with droughts or floods. To this end, our project also aims to promote peacebuilding , conflict prevention and to provide a local source of food security.[7]

Our proposed program proposes 

As part of the healing and sustainability process, we propose community sustainable farming. We firmly believe that agriculture offers a variety of healing benefits as it provides those involved with purpose and opportunity as well as physical and psychological benefits.”[8]For example, through the CSA, women will learn about sustainable and organic farming, which in turn, will provide them with skill building, sustainable consumption and income alternatives for them, their families and their communities. This will ultimately result in high self-esteem for women who can become leaders for peace. 

In addition, the program provides an alternative and cost-effective mechanism for facilitating and fostering peacebuilding through innovative community agricultural practices. This program combines qualities of restorative justice, such as story-telling and healing with relationship building, engagement, social cohesion with community agriculture endeavors which promote sustainable and resilient agricultural practices [9].  This project considers land management, alternative low cost energy and green technology, and programs such as community supported agriculture (CSA).  It incorporates community healing and reconciliation.



We suggest a mixture of crops for nutrition, health and revenue.  Further, we propose cultivation of medicinal plants, which also offer healing as well as income.  In addition, this type of crop production does not require a large land plots. 





[4]The Social Protection Department has approved the use of medicinal plants as an alternative medicine and lists in the Colombian Vademecum of Medicinal Plants, the species that have been approved for a specific use and their verified pharmacological activity, “Folk medicine in the northern Coast of Colombia: an overview”, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethno-medicine. 7. 27. 10.1186/1746-4269-7-27.






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12:30 PM12:30

United Nations Commission on Status of Women

The Permanent Mission of Iraq, the Al-Khoei Foundation, the Grace Initiative, the Yale Alum for Non-profit Alliance (YANA) New England                                   

United Nations Commission on Status of Women

                                                               March 22, 2018

                                                              12:30pm -2:00 pm

                                                    United Nations Church Center

                                                            777 UN Plaza, New York, NY

Restorative Rural Agricultural Development

for Empowering Women and Girls and Advancing Peacebuilding

UNCSW focuses on an Alternative Approach for Empowering Women and Girls in Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention through innovative community agricultural practices. Our approach is called a Restorative Rural Agricultural Development (RRAD). The programme focuses on women and girls’ leadership for rebuilding communities through healing and engagement combined with agricultural practices that comprise a purpose of fostering sustainable and resilient communities for an enduring peace.

Restorative rural agricultural development builds from the necessity for healing and for rebuilding of relationships, communities and societies after conflict, violence and extreme poverty. Its goals are transformational with objectives of community reconciliation, sustainability, and resilience.   



Ms. Sahar Alsahlani, Al-Khoei Foundation                 Welcome


Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Founder, Grace Initiative            Welcome



Ms.  Jessica Scott, UN SDG Academy                                   Moderator


Ambassador Isaiah Chabala,                                      Visionary Empowerment for Zambia         

Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Ms. Zaytoon Faraj,

Iraqi Delegation UN CSW                               Iraq’s Strategy for rural women and girls     

Ms. Rita Reddy, UN DPKO Adviser                             Discussion on Women  in Timor-Leste

Former, Gender Adviser, UNMIT                              

Former, Director of Civil Affairs,


                                                                                                                                             Yvonne Lodico                                                             Introduction to Vermont goals for women (YANA VT)                                                                      and rural development

Representative Amy Sheldon                                     Legislative initiatives for inclusive,

Middlebury/Addison                                                   sustainable development.

Ms. Heidi Lynch                                                           Community Supported Agriculture (CSA),

Vermont Farmers                                                       as a provider of health care                                                                                                                                 

Ms. Amy Frost                                                            CSA and Social Justice

Circle Mountain Farm


Ms. Sahar Alshlani                                                      Conclusion


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Boston Forum on Coexistence in a Democratic Society
9:30 AM09:30

Boston Forum on Coexistence in a Democratic Society

  • Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The Initiative for Governance, Reconciliation and Coexistence (Grace Initiative) is convening a Forum to address intensifying differences in the US regarding the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and inclusion.  The Forum draws from a recent Pew Research Study that recently found that Americans are more divided than ever over about social issues such as safety net, race, and immigration. To develop policy and to protect fundamental freedoms and rights, we need to find common ground for addressing collective challenges in our democratic society.

Our goal is to develop a strategy for a road map for coexistence in one of the world’s oldest democracies – the US. We hope to take up concerns, hopes and fears.  The Forum will provide a platform for strategies for promoting dialogue, countering extremism, and fostering healing to halt the rise of divisiveness. Also, we will examine how the globally endorsed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, especially for peaceful and inclusive societies, applies in the US.

This Forum will comprise of international and national experts in democracy, coexistence, immigration, psychology, and social justice. Speakers include:

Dr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer at the United Nations for International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA); Dr. Theodore Johnson, Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Associate Professor in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence; Rabbi Or Rose, Director, The Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership, Ms. Marion Davis, Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition (MIRA Coalition); Mr. Syed Meesam Razvi, al-Kohei Foundation;  Representative from the Mayor’s Office.  Also, Greta Hagen of UU Urban Ministry will welcome everyone.

Please RSVP at: No cost, but donations welcomed.

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