ASSISI, Italy, JULY 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The 2004 Assisi Peace Prize was awarded to two women — an Israeli and a Palestinian — whose friendship is a symbol of the longed-for peace in the Holy Land.
Angelica Edna Calo Livne, Israeli educator and journalist, and Samar Sahar, Palestinian director of an orphanage, are also among the candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sahar, a Christian, was born in East Jerusalem and studied management at the University of Bethlehem and in England. In 1995 she participated in the Columbus International Program with a group of Palestinians on a peace mission to Ohio.
She has received several awards for her contribution to the dialogue between the two peoples and has dedicated her life to work with children, following in her parents’ footsteps. They founded the Jeel-Al-Amal Home of Bethany, which is the most important institution of assistance to children in Palestine.
Sahar also founded the Lazarus Home for Girls, to help orphan girls and women in difficulty, and a “bread oven” in Bethany to enable Israeli and Palestinian women to work together baking the “bread of peace.”
Father Vicenzo Coli, Custodian of St. Francis’ Basilica, awarded the prize.
Calo Livne, born to a Jewish family in Rome in 1955, has been living in an Israeli kibbutz, on the border with Lebanon, since she was 20. Married and the mother of four sons, for years she has been a teacher in multicultural schools, and in schools for difficult boys. She has also taught at the college level and has worked on programs that enable the elderly to recount their life experiences to young people.
She describes herself as an “educator of peace through art.” To this end, in 2002 she created the Rainbow Theater, made up of young Jews and Arabs — Christians, Muslims and Druses — who with mime and dance narrate what goes on in the mind of an adolescent living in a country at war.
Calo Livne told ZENIT about the case of a girl who on one occasion “began crying out a disturbing monologue in which she recounted her experience during the last ‘holidays’ in Mombassa, Kenya, with her parents and little brothers when the wonderful hotel in which they were staying was turned into a scene of death and horror after an attack against Israeli citizens.”
To illustrate her work, Calo Livne quoted a letter written by 21-year-old Nemi: “Four of my best friends have died in an attack. When I heard about it, I didn’t want to take part in the show. I no longer believed in anything. I did not feel like doing anything. But I had to react. We must continue to believe in something. We cannot stop dreaming.”
Sharif Balut, a 21-year-old Christian Arab, wrote: “I come to the Rainbow Theater because I believe in peace. Because I believe that we will be able to live together, because we are different and through my friends I know new worlds. I look forward to this meeting all week because it enlarges my heart. To dance, laugh, joke and recite with them makes me happy!”
Calo Livne said: “I believe profoundly that our work is a message of confidence in the future, a victory of good over evil and over the darkness that continues to shroud the world.”