At 3.15 am, 28 March, Margaret Hepworth’s phone beeped with a message from Lahore, saying a school she had visited just a month before was ‘marked safe’ following the suicide bomber blast which killed 72 people.
Margaret spent the rest of her night on Facebook messaging her friends. ‘For the people of Lahore, Pakistan, my heart goes out to you.’ Then quoting a line from The Gandhi Experiment (her workshop approach to education): ‘To the people who perpetrate these acts, if you want your cause to be heard, to be known, then speak, because your violence deafens us.’
Inspired by her visits to India and teamwork with Indian educators (see Newsbriefs Feb 2015) Victorian educator Margaret launched The Gandhi Experiment last year to introduce non-violent peace-building into schools, here and overseas. Invited to present at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Open University in February, she held four workshops in schools on the same visit.
One day after returning to Melbourne she was in Dandenong, planning with Nazer Nazir, an Afghan graduate of Life Matters who started the Afghan Australian Initiative (AAI), for a school conference which, on 9 March, brought together 80 people – Afghan refugee youth and local students – to workshop on ‘Global participation – it starts with us’.
In between, on 27 February, Margaret and IofC volunteers also supported the AAI at their workshop for Afghan women on ‘Positive responses to negativity’, funded by Dandenong City Council. It was also attended also by Yvette Shaw, senior community engagement officer working on a social cohesion under the department of Premier and Cabinet, and by local MP Gabrielle Williams.