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.'
2008: Learning to be a Peacemaker – ‘An eye-opener to the world’2008 saw the launch of an unusual course on Islam’s approach to peacemaking for young Muslims and non-Muslims, devised by Imam Ajmal Masroor from the UK. The course’s coordinator, Peter Riddell, descr... Read More
2007: Mohamed Sahnoun – Healing wounded memoriesThe Algerian diplomat Mohamed Sahnoun was President of Initiatives of Change International from 2006 to 2009 and founded the annual Human Security Forum at Caux. Read More
2006: Zeke Reich – Across walls of fearZeke Reich is a psychotherapist at a community mental health clinic in Washington DC who has been to the IofC conference centre in Caux several times over the years. He remembers an encounter which ha... Read More
2005: Omar Salad Elmi – Clearing the cloud of mistrust‘There are two people in the Somali delegation whose names include Omar,’ said the man from the allocation team at the Initiatives of Change conference centre in Caux. ‘As we didn’t have any informati... Read More
2004: The Housekeeping Team – ‘My dream of serving the world came true’Before you arrive in your room in Caux, someone from the housekeeping team will have been there before you, to check that it is clean, that the bed is made up and the light bulbs work. If you can’t wo... Read More
2003 : Burundi – Ten years of political dialogueBetween 2003 and 2013, Caux was the scene of seven political dialogues between deeply divided Burundian leaders. They brought together representatives of political parties and armed rebel movements, f... Read More
2002: Erika Utzinger - 200 metres of historyThe archives of the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre, now held by the Canton of Vaud, are an endless source of precious information. Swiss archivist Eliane Stallybrass describes the work to preserve... Read More
2001: Cornelio Sommaruga - ‘Grüss Gott’'I first met Cornelio Sommaruga at a private dinner party. He was then head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and was just back from Cuba, where he’d met with Fidel Castro, in the... Read More
2000: Angela Starovoytova and Kostiantyn Ploskyi – Taking off the masksAround the turn of the Millennium, many young Ukrainians came to Caux. Some of them took leadership in Foundations for Freedom (F4F), a programme for young people which offered courses in the values w... Read More
1999: Gente Que Avanza – Latin America hits townIt was a Red-Letter Day in July 1999 when more than 40 young Latin Americans burst through the front door of Mountain House, Caux, and hugged everyone in sight. Gente Que Avanza had arrived – and Caux... Read More
1998: Ningali Cullen – Journey of HealingWhen Ningali Cullen came to Caux in 1998, she brought news of a growing people’s movement in Australia to acknowledge the truth about their history. Read More
1997: The Māori Queen – ‘Our people are moving forward’She was a queen with the vision of a better future for her people. Discover the story of Māori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and her visit to Caux. Read More
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