“Aaghaz-e-Dosti” (the literal meaning of which in Hindi/Urdu is ‘beginning of friendship’) is a citizen’s initiative that works against all odds to create havens of peace and friendship between the two traditionally rival communities (in India and Pakistan). They have been working at this relentlessly for the past four years. The team is comprised of students and young professionals, mostly women, from both sides of the border, who volunteer their time. Other chapters of this organization are present in many cities from both countries.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is focused on citizen diplomacy and works primarily through peace education aimed at familiarising people about the ‘other‘; countering stereotypes of a homogenised and negative image of the other; educating on issues of conflict and the existence of diverse views…
In a country where almost half the population is illiterate and there are an estimated three guns per person, Sheikh Al-Marwani uses both technology, workshops and theater-based awareness campaigns to get his anti-gun message across while proposing peace and tolerance. Sheikh Al-Marwani started his peace mission twenty years ago, when he established the Dar AL-Salam Organization, or the Peace House, in Yemen.
The growing culture of extremism and terrorism is the most dangerous problem causing widespread human rights violations, but this has not dissuaded the Sheikh from his mediation work for peace and social cohesion.