On the 23rd of June the Gandhi Voyage travelling group reached Brazil, a country known for its energizing samba, colorful carnival and fantastic football.
Following the visit to Mexico, Prof Rajmohan Gandhi and his team arrived in Colombia at a time of national significance. The final run off in the Presidential elections added a sense of urgency and importance to a brief but fruitful time in Colombia.
The Latin American leg of the ‘Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery’ began last week in Mexico City, one of the world’s most populated cities. Mexico is winning on the football field, and the surge of nationalism and pride accompanying their team’s success is palpable. But beyond the flag flying and painted faces of green, white and red, are Mexicans ready to take the next steps as a people, ‘from patriotism to citizenship’ to claim their history, take responsibility for their challenges and become the leaders in world they should be?
Barack Obama made overcoming the ‘trust deficit’ one of the themes of his Presidential campaign. It was a theme of his State of the Union address last January. The phrase has been applied over and over, not just in Washington, but in situations around the world.
Fifty days on the road, through seven countries on three continents, leave a bewildering array of impressions. Dodging volcanic ash, as well as man-made obstructions, we were treated to a rich diet of experiences – and inspired by meeting many heroic individuals.
This ‘Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery’ began in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population. The genuineness and naturalness of the faith in God of the young Indonesians who invited us was most striking and hope-giving. Here was Islam with heart, with compassion, with warmth.
When Rajmohan Gandhi, President of Initiatives of Change International, gave a public lecture in Tokyo last week on Japan’s role in the world, the choice of venue – the Ozaki Yukio Memorial Foundation – was highly symbolic.
‘Trust may not succeed in one week, one month or maybe even 10 years, but I think the world should know that there is a grassroots movement for trust in Ukraine.’
Rajmohan Gandhi’s final thoughts for Ukraine were a fitting conclusion for the first ‘Week of Trust’ that was celebrated from Kiev to Crimea on April 19-26. Gandhi and the Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery were special guests in support of the people’s movement led by Foundations for Freedom, the local Initiatives of Change team in Ukraine.
For a country that has experienced years of oppression, like Romania, freedom is not taken for granted.
‘What is freedom?’ probed one student after Rajmohan Gandhi’s address at a university in Baia Mare, a northern Romanian city of 130,000 that was once a major mining centre. Prof Gandhi replied that ‘if the state tells me what to do, I say I will resist. But if my conscience asks me not to do something, I want to obey it. Then I find I have inner freedom.’
The realities of Norway contrast in many ways with the situations in Egypt, Palestine and Israel, which the Gandhi Voyage visited before arriving in Oslo.