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.'
1991: Anna Abdallah Msekwa – Creators of PeaceThe 680 women – and some men – who packed the Main Hall of the Caux Palace for the launch of Creators of Peace 30 years ago came from 62 countries and a mind-boggling variety of backgrounds: a Mohawk ... Read More
1990: King Michael of Romania – ‘Evil cannot last indefinitely’In the summer of 1990, six months after the overthrow of Communism in their country, 30 young Romanians came to Caux. It was their first time outside the Eastern bloc, and they had been hesitant about... Read More
1989: Michel Orphelin – Theatre of the heartIn spring 1946, when the first small group of Swiss visited the derelict hotel in Caux which was to become the Initiatives of Change (IofC) conference centre, they realized its ballroom could become a... Read More
1988: Joe Hakim and Marie Chaftari - ‘I am not a victim’The Caux summer of 1988 at the Initiatives of Change conference centre began with a Mediterranean Dialogue, attended by people from all over the region, followed by a 10-day ‘youth training session’. ... Read More
1987: Mother Park Chung Soo – ‘A new door began to open’Mother Park Chung Soo, a Won Buddhist nun, has been called the ‘Mother Teresa of South Korea’. She was already involved in humanitarian work in Korea when she came to the Initiatives of Change confere... Read More
1986 - Work Week: A facelift for the Caux PalaceAs plans for celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Initiatives of Change conference centre in Caux got underway, Eliane Stallybrass began to dream. In 1946 the pioneers of Caux had volunteered their... Read More
1985: Renée Pan – Dropping the burden of revengeRenée Pan, a Cambodian refugee living in the US, came to Caux in 1985 on a mission – to learn how to forgive. Read More
1984 - Amie Zysset: The great adventureAmie Zysset from Switzerland was the heart and soul of the international family conferences which took place in Caux from 1978 through the 1980s. She died – aged only 60 – after many months in hospita... Read More
1983: Folker and Monica Mittag – Found in translationThe wedding of Folker and Monica Mittag in April 1983 resulted from an encounter in Caux ‘which changed our lives for ever’. Folker was a German businessman; Monica a Swiss interpreter. Discvoer how t... Read More
1982: Paul Tournier – Medicine of the personOne of my most powerful memories of well over 50 years of Caux conferences comes from 1982: sitting in a translation cabin, looking down on the Great Hall, and interpreting from French into English fo... Read More
1981: Stanley Kinga and Agnes Hofmeyr – ‘It came into my heart that I must tell her’When Agnes Hofmeyr sat down to dinner in Caux with her compatriot, Stanley Kinga, in 1981, she had no idea of the bombshell he was about to drop. Read More
1980: Su Riddell – A new start in lifeIn July 1980, a one-man show about St Francis, Un Soleil en Pleine Nuit, premiered in Caux. It starred French mime artist Michel Orphelin, and was written by British playwright Hugh Steadman Williams,... Read More
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