Gang Members in Ecuador Embrace Peace Education

Prem Rawat Attends Peace Education Forum in Ibarra, Ecuador

Jun 06, 2013, 07:40 ET from The Prem Rawat Foundation

IBARRA, Ecuador, June 6, 2103 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Angel Castillo, District Director of Education, welcomed Prem Rawat on June 3, 2013, at a Forum for Peace Education held at the Ajavi Hotel in Ibarra, Ecuador. Attended by government officials and dignitaries including Celine Andres, representing Minister of Education Dr. Augusto Espinosa, the forum signified the official inauguration of the Peace Education Program in Latin America. Prem Rawat, internationally renowned Ambassador for Peace, set the tone with an empowering address that focused on the necessity for and attainability of peace.

Prem Rawat's presence at the Peace Education Forum signaled an important manifestation of Ecuadorian governmental policy on the subject of peace and wellbeing. The 2008 constitution cites a commitment to "peace and solidarity with all peoples," and "the right to a culture of peace" amongst its principal duties, even referring to the nation as a "territory of peace." In an effort to support these goals, Prem Rawat was invited to speak at a number of peace conferences in Ecuador.

The atmosphere at the Peace Education Forum reflected the country's desire to make peace a reality, with government officials and dignitaries participating in a lively panel discussion centering on Prem Rawat's statement, "Peace is not only possible but inevitable."

Prem Rawat's message of peace also reached gang members in the Ibarra neighborhood of Alpachaca, resulting in a remarkable change in gang behavior. After watching videos of Prem Rawat's addresses, the young gang members renounced gang and criminal activity in favor of promoting Rawat's message of peace, coordinating it with positive community outreach on special days such as Mother's Day and Christmas. Gang members attended the Peace Education Forum and told the audience how Prem Rawat's message had inspired them to exchange violence and drug abuse for tolerance and understanding.

After the forum, gang member Jefferson Morejon said, "We are one of the groups that want change…. We don't want violence; we don't want more dead people on the streets. We want everyone to follow Prem's message, which is peace." The leaders of this gang now engage in weekly anti-drug and anti-violence programs in area schools, using their talents of rap, dance, and multimedia communication to share their transformation toward peace.

The need for a curriculum of peace within the national educational system was high on the forum's agenda. Inroads have already been made toward incorporating peace education into the education system in Ecuador. The Prem Rawat Foundation's Peace Education Program (PEP) was recently launched in Ibarra in April, when a group of 24 teachers and education department administrators began the 10-week PEP course. Dr. Castillo made the following remarks: "Education should be directed not only to the intellect. It should also strive to make you aware, to live consciously. This is our understanding of Prem Rawat's message. And we're trying to share it through education in Imbabura Province."

PEP was initially developed for prisons and correctional facilities, but after remarkable success within the prison population, the program extended its reach to colleges, hospitals, libraries, and many other organizations worldwide. Currently 9,000 people in 20 different countries are attending PEP classes each month.

Interactive workshops and visual materials form the basis for the program, with the end goal of participants developing resources for individual peace and understanding the connection between individual peace and the wider society. Topics of the course include: self-awareness, inner strength and resilience, choice, clarity, appreciation, and peace.

On June 5, an International Peace Festival was held in Otavalo in celebration of Prem Rawat's tour of Ecuador. With over 4,000 people expected to attend, including representatives from Kichwa pueblos, the much-anticipated event will be an opportunity for many to hear Prem Rawat speak for the first time and will conclude his multi-stop visit to Ecuador.

About The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF)The Prem Rawat Foundation promotes Prem Rawat's message of peace and his vision of addressing fundamental human needs so that people everywhere can live with dignity, peace, and prosperity. For more information, visit:

SOURCE The Prem Rawat Foundation