HUMANITEA , An Infusion of Peace
In May of 2012 we met with Tony Balis, founder of The Humanity Initiative (established 1987) at the Dobrá Tea Room in Vermont (USA). We discussed combining forces to create a campaign to help people in tea-growing areas that have been devastated by war, such as in Sri Lanka, Nepal or certain African countries.
This effort would include not only selling a new tea called “HUMANITEA”, but also introducing a sticker campaign in which we invite Dobrá Tea customers to make a contribution of one dollar or more with each purchase. In return you receive a sticker that says “Sip Tea, End War”, which helps to spread this idea.
We believe that this income and other direct subsidies not only will help fund reconciliation councils in selected war zones, but also will bolster worldwide efforts to create public awareness of the real possibility of ending war within ten years. The Humanity Initiative (THI) plans to promote this “infusion of peace” through radio, television and social media as well (www.humanitea.org).
In February of 2013, THI invited The Karuna Center for Peacebuilding to lead the effort to identify and foster the peacebuilding programs that will receive financial support from the HUMANITEA initiative. Since 1994, The Karuna Center has provided people in more than 25 conflict-affected countries with practical tools to create a peaceful, sustainable future (www.karunacenter.org).
Our first beneficiary will be in Sri Lanka, an island nation torn apart by a 26-year civil war that claimed over 80,000 lives. Karuna Center has partnered with the Sri Lankan organization Shanti Sena to repair the social fabric in war-affected areas and prevent future outbreaks of violence. Shanti Sena is a Sanskrit phrase meaning “Peace Army.” Gandhi coined the term when he conceptualized a nonviolent volunteer peacekeeping program dedicated to minimizing communal violence.
Karuna Center and Shanti Sena are working with local religious leaders from Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim villages to bring together ethnic communities who were on opposite sides of the war. Through carefully guided interfaith dialogue workshops, these religious leaders are replacing the suspicion they once held towards each other with a warm and deepening trust.
Dobrá Tea donates 100% of the funds obtained from the sticker campaign to the HUMANITEA initiative. Thus, with the support of the whole Dobrá Tea community, Karuna Center and Shanti Sena are helping new Interfaith Councils to thrive where war has left deep social wounds. These councils build cooperation between villagers that were once pitted against each other by organizing local skill-building classes, microenterprises, volunteer work days, and cultural exchanges that support a new generation of interfaith, inter-ethnic and enduring peace.
In Sri Lanka, tea infuses life, and interfaith partners are now infusing village life with peace. Religious leaders who do not speak a common language walk arm-in-arm during workshop tea breaks, smiling kindly, while the interpreters rest. People now stop and stare at the unlikely (but now more common) sight of a Hindu priest and a Buddhist monk together, relaxed and sipping tea by the side of a busy street, sharing ideas for rebuilding their country.
The HUMANITEA campaign has a much broader dimension as well. Our main goal is to create thousands of small tea-drinking gatherings all over the world, each devoted to taking action to diminish the threat of war. We are encouraging local inhabitants, wherever in the world they may be, to organize, once a week for example, a tea party that will combine the ancient serenity of sipping tea with the opportunity to listen well to one another, to look into each other’s hearts and to encourage thinking about how to best protect their community – and thus the entire planet – from the unnecessary scourge of war.
So by purchasing an oval sticker, we believe you will be helping to create an international change of consciousness that will end war. We thank you for your every contribution!