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.'
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
1965: Robert Carmichael - Industry which puts people firstIn 1965, the first freely negotiated agreement between industrialized and developing nations on the price of a raw material was signed in Rome. This pioneering accord was in large part the work of an ... Read More
1964: Daw Nyein Tha – ‘When I point my finger at my neighbour’You never knew who you might meet in the Caux kitchens in the 1960s. The kitchen which prepared dishes for Asian guests was presided over by a small Burmese woman in her 60s. Few would have guessed th... Read More
1963: Muriel Smith – A voice for racial healingNear the coffee bar in the Caux Palace stands a grand piano, the gift of American mezzo-soprano Muriel Smith. She was a familiar face at Caux conferences in the 1960s, filling the meeting hall and the... Read More
1962: Chief Walking Buffalo – Respect and protect Mother EarthIn 1962, a documentary about a remarkable 62,000-mile journey was premiered in Caux. Two years before, Chief Walking Buffalo of the Nakoda (Stoney) Nation and Chief David Crowchild of the Tsuut’ina (S... Read More
1961 - Patrick Colquhoun: ‘That week changed my life’‘Papers about Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) sent to me by a friend over the previous three years invariably ended in the bin,’ wrote Patrick Colquhoun. But his first visit at the confe... Read More
1960 - Cyprus: 'Hope never dies'There are few problems in the world that have not found some echo in the conferences and encounters in Caux since 1946. In 1960 Cyprus gained its independence, after several years of sometimes violent... Read More
1959 – Lennart Segerstråle: ‘Art must be dangerous to evil’In 1959, a vast fresco was unveiled on the wall of the dining room of the Caux Palace. Its creator, the Finnish artist Lennart Segerstråle, chose the universal image of water to represent his vision o... Read More
1958 - Angela Elliott: At school in CauxAngela Cook (later Elliott) arrived in Caux in 1958, aged four. She was one of some 40 children who lived in Caux at different times between 1955 and 1965, attending a small chalet school just up the ... Read More
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