75 Years of Stories
As we launch a series of 75 stories, celebrating 75th anniversary of Initiatives of Change in Caux, Yara Zgheib from Lebanon reflects on this special place at the heart of Swiss Alps which has changed lives of many people from all over world:
'I stepped off the mountain train with a heavy blue suitcase; I was angry and tired and grieving. I was 21 and had lost so much. I had not had lunch, or much sleep. I had no expectations. A stranger took me to an empty dining hall and offered me a sandwich.
I found myself suspended between the blues of lake and sky. I spent the rest of the month serving meals to hundreds of people. I also dined with rebels, musicians, students, activists, coffee bean farmers, priests, sheikhs and a former Vice-President of her country. I folded linen, washed plates. For the first time in my life, I was quiet.
But my story is not special, or mine. It belongs to this conference centre. It is 75 years long and contains hundreds of thousands of train rides, walks, talks, teas, conversations, and quiet moments of giant transformation.'
1977: Alec Smith and Arthur Kanodereka – ‘Now I call him brother’The two colleagues who visited the conference centre in Caux in 1977 from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) could not have been more different. One was Alec Smith, the renegade son of the white Prime Minister, ... Read More
1976: Alison Wetterfors – A skeleton in the soup potCooking for hundreds of people takes skill and courage at the best of times – and all the more so when your team speaks several languages and includes people who have rarely cooked before. Read More
1975: Conrad Hunte – ‘Take courage!’The West Indian cricketer Conrad Hunte was often at the conference centre in Caux in the years following his retirement from first class cricket in 1967. So much so that he once said that he was havin... Read More
1974: Vendela Tyndale-Biscoe – ‘A life you could never dream of’When she came to Caux in December 1974, Swedish actress Vendela Tyndale-Biscoe (then Lofgren) had everything she had ever thought she wanted. That year, at the age of 24, she had been given a permanen... Read More
1973: Kim Beazley – ‘Essence of intelligent statesmanship’In 1973 Australia’s national elections brought a Labor Government to power, and Kim Beazley – a familiar face at Caux – was appointed Minister for Education. Beazley was determined to ensure that ever... Read More
1972: Nagia Abdelmogney Said: ‘Language of the heart’In 1972, three Egyptian students arrived in Caux. Their visit sparked a remarkable series of exchanges in which more than 200 Arab and British students took part over the next decades. Read More
1971: Canon Wi Te Tau Huata: ‘It felt as if a ton had fallen from my back’For Caux’s 25th anniversary in 1971, a charter plane brought 124 people from Australasia and the Pacific, including a group of Māori from New Zealand. As it flew up the coast of Italy, their leader, C... Read More
1970: Karl Mitterdorfer – ‘Violence is not a solution’Part of Caux’s magic is the chance it offers for people from conflict areas around the world to learn from each other. In the summer of 1970, meetings took place between groups from Northern Ireland a... Read More
1969: Çigdem Bilginer – ‘I was not the centre of the universe any more’Militant Turkish student Çigdem Bilginer arrived in Caux in 1969 dissatisfied after taking part in student riots against the establishment and the Americans. ‘The American ambassador’s car was burned ... Read More
1968: Ramez Salame – ‘I gave away my gun’Ramez Salamé was a 21-year-old law student from Beirut, Lebanon, when he took part in a leadership training course for young people in Caux – a precursor of the scores of similar programmes which have... Read More
1967: Teame Mebrahtu – ‘It’s immaterial where I live’Teame Mebrahtu came to Caux in 1967, five years after his homeland of Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia. The liberation struggle – which was to continue for three decades – was gaining momentum. Resentm... Read More
1966: Buth Diu – Not who is right but what is rightIn 1966, a senior Sudanese politician, Buth Diu, presented the London headquarters of Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) with spears and a hippotamus leather shield, as a token of his desir... Read More
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