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Week of December 24, 2002

Program 0252


Kosovo Pied Piper | Transcript | MP3

Dalai Lama | Transcript | MP3

Humanitarian Protection | Transcript | MP3

Heifer International | Transcript | MP3

This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

LIZ SHROPSHIRE: I decided to take the penny whistle and harmonicas with me so that they, the kids could own them, they could keep them in their pocket—nobody could take it away from them.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, Kosovo’s Pied Piper.

KEITH PORTER: In 1999 one Los Angeles music teacher traded in her big city life for war-torn Kosovo.

LIZ SHROPSHIRE: It’s just amazing. I never would have thought that, that all these lessons that my mom kept making me take as a kid, that all these things that I’d done would actually end up being something that, that I could use to, to bless, now, you know, thousands of kids.

PORTER: In this special edition of Common Ground, hear how music is changing the lives of thousands of children in the Balkans.

LIZ SHROPSHIRE: Music is amazing because music doesn’t just stay right at the front of your brain. Music goes all the way down in your soul.

MCHUGH: Liz Shropshire’s inspiring story—coming up next.

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Kosovo Pied Piper

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MCHUGH: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program on world affairs. I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. With the brewing conflict in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan fresh in our minds it’s easy to forget NATO was fighting a war in Southeastern Europe less than four years ago. Last month, Kristin and I traveled to Kosovo to assess the post-conflict reconstruction efforts. Two hours from Kosovo’s bustling capital, Pristina, we found an amazing story of hope. Kristin has this exclusive profile of one American woman making a difference note by note.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

MCHUGH: The sounds of children gleefully singing youthful favorites.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

MCHUGH: But this is not a young music class in Middle America. These children are all victims of the war in Kosovo.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

MCHUGH: Today, these ethnic Albanian children live with their families in Slovene Village—a transit shelter camp on the outskirts of the western Kosovo city of Gjakove. Three and a half years ago their singing was silenced.

[The sound of jet military aircraft, exploding bombs, and anti-aircraft fire.]

MCHUGH: In 1999 Slobodan Milosovic’s relentless 10-year drive to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of all Albanians and other non-Serbian minorities was brought to a violent end with a 78-day NATO-led military campaign.

[The sound of crying children and refugees on the move.]

MCHUGH: Ten thousand people died. Another 500,000 were left without homes. And at the height of the bombing campaign nearly 1 million people fled Kosovo, many ending up in squalid refugee camps in nearby Albania and Macedonia.

SHROPSHIRE: I was just really moved by this.

MCHUGH: The chaos in the Balkans struck a chord with Los Angeles composer and music teacher Liz Shropshire.

SHROPSHIRE: It was in April of 1999 and I was planning a trip to Austria. I was going to go backpacking for a month, when I heard an NPR report about the refugees from Kosovo who were leaving and walking into Albania. And they were, they were telling a story that actually I heard over and over and over again after I got here, from people that had had almost the exact same experience. Where they’d been in their village, the women and men were separated from each other, and the women and children were forced to walk to Albania and they weren’t allowed to even look back.

And I thought, you know, “I’m already planning to go to Europe. I’ve always wanted to go help someplace. I could just go to Albania and help in the camps.”

[The sound of a clacking keyboard in the background.]

MCHUGH: Unfamiliar with foreign aid work, Liz searched the Internet for humanitarian organizations responding to the Kosovo crisis. A few referrals later she found Balkan Sunflowers, a grassroots organization originally founded to help refugees of the war in Kosovo. The group aids people like Liz in setting up Kosovo reconstruction efforts.

SHROPSHIRE: So I went home and I was talking to my best friend and I said, “I don’t know what to do about this.” And she said, “Liz, don’t be stupid. Don’t just go to go. Why don’t you go and do what you could do best. Why don’t you take a music program to these kids?”

MCHUGH: With just a few small donations and profits from church yard sales, Liz finalized her musical humanitarian relief plan.

SHROPSHIRE: So I ended up going with about $5,000 worth of musical instruments. I had four keyboards that were actually donated by my church. Five hundred pencils, a recording Walkman, a boom box, a hundred penny whistles, a hundred harmonicas. I decided to take the penny whistle and harmonicas with me so that they, the kids could own them, they could keep them in their pocket—nobody could take it away from them. It could just be theirs. It would be really easy to transport, something that they could very easily learn in the amount of time I would have there with them.

[The sound of children playing harmonicas.]

MCHUGH: Liz Shropshire grew up in a military family. As such she was always on the move and lived in a variety of places. After college she settled in Los Angeles. Liz shared her passion for music with as many people as possible. She taught emotionally disturbed children for half a decade and aided youth affected by the 1992 riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. But she says, nothing prepared her for what she was about to experience in Kosovo.

SHROPSHIRE: My plane ticket was going to Belgium and I had no idea how far Albania was from Belgium. I just thought I would take a train and it would be easy because it was all Europe. And it’s about as far as you can possibly get, from Belgium to Albania. And when I got to Albania the refugees, of course, had already returned, because I was going in August and the refugees had returned in July. So, but you couldn’t come right into Kosovo. You had to go into a neighboring country. So I flew in on a UN flight and my instruments didn’t arrive with me. They, they came separately because the flight wouldn’t take the instruments. I’d never done anything like this. Just going into Albania was enough of a shock for me. And then to come up here where everything was destroyed was, was quite a shock.

[The sound of barking dogs and yelling people.]

SHROPSHIRE: It was just a madhouse. Kids were sitting outside smoking. They were sitting inside smoking. They were running up and down the halls. And then I started teaching music and so I had penny whistle, harmonica, and drum class, and singing class.

[The sound of children singing, learning notes by singing basic scales.]

SHROPSHIRE: About the third day I was here, maybe even the second day, I just, I just thought, “This feels really right to be here. It feels more right than anything I’ve done for the last 10 years.” And I could do more good here than I could do anyplace else that I could imagine being right now.

[The sound of children singing, learning notes by singing basic scales.]

SHROPSHIRE: At the same time I was, I was doing this program in the school, I was also doing a program in one of the camps, one of the transit shelter camps. This was called The Brick Camp. It was a brick factory that the people had converted into a camp. They were kids who, who were pretty much in the worst possible condition you could be in. They’d not only lost their home but many of them had lost their home a couple of years before. So they’d been living in the mountains. They’d been hiding with their parents, even before they were forced to go to Albania and live as refugees there. And then they came back to nothing.

[The sound of children singing a Albania folk song, accompanied by guitar.]

MCHUGH: Liz’s trip was scheduled to last four weeks. She stayed for six.

[The sound of children singing a folk song, accompanied by guitar. Ms. Shropshire is interrupting the piece, giving the children specific music directions.]

SHROPSHIRE: This last week of my classes the kids just kept saying, “Liz, you can’t quit. You can’t, you can’t leave us. You just started. We’re getting into this. And you can’t leave us now.” So, so I promised them all that I would do everything I could to come back. And then I didn’t know when I would come back but that I would come back. And I thought I would go home, save my money up, and I would try to come back some time in the future. And then I went back to America and I was, I was kind of at a loss. I really felt like I was supposed to be here but I didn’t know in what capacity.

MCHUGH: Liz kept her promise. Back in the States she shared her story of her time in Kosovo through speaking engagements. Liz’s goal was to raise enough money to return. To her surprise, people responded. Soon she had a volunteer accountant, a pro bono lawyer, and nonprofit status. And so the Shropshire Music Foundation was born. True to its roots, the organization is a small web of volunteers scattered across the United States. A few, like her Web designer, Liz has never even met. All have aided her in returning to Kosovo.

SHROPSHIRE: And then I came back with, with a lot more instruments and based myself back in Gjakove, working these same kids that I’d worked with before. Plus we started expanding to work with a lot more kids.

[The sound of Yankee Doodle played on a penny whistle.]

SHROPSHIRE: Probably the biggest gift of all is to me that I get to do this. It’s, it’s just amazing. I never would have thought that, that all these lessons that my mom kept making me take as a kid, that all these things that I’d done would actually end up being something that, that I could use to, to bless, now, you know, thousands of kids.

[The sound of an Ani Mori Nuse song played on a penny whistle.]

MCHUGH: Coming up, an evening of song and dance in Slovene Village. Plus, we’ll hear from people whose lives have been changed forever by Liz’s work. And, Liz shares her dreams for the future. This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

[The sound of an Ani Mori Nuse song played on a penny whistle.]

MCHUGH: In 1999, Los Angeles composer and music teacher Liz Shropshire traded in her big city life for war-ravaged Kosovo. Her mission was simple—help children forget the horrors of war, with music. And with little more than an airline ticket, 100 penny whistles and 100 harmonicas, Liz made her way to Gjakove, one of the hardest hit cities in western Kosovo. What started as a four-week humanitarian trip is now a lifetime passion to teach music as an instrument of peace.

[The sound of a truck rumbling to a stop.]

MCHUGH: Gjakove, nestled in the foothills of the North Albanian Mountains, lies just east of the Albanian border. Ninety-seven percent of its 60,000 residents are ethnic Albanians.

SHROPSHIRE: In Gjakove 50 percent of the children stayed the entire time during the NATO bombing. They weren’t—they either weren’t allowed to leave to go to Albania, or they, they had heard the stories about the girls being raped and the men being killed on the way out. And so their families chose to keep them here. Now, that’s 50 percent of the kids that stayed there But 100 percent of the children in Gjakove—100 percent of the children here—lost a family member in the war. So these kids in Gjakove and in the villages around, the things that they’ve seen and experienced are really horrific.

[Liz leads her class in playing Oh Susanna on their harmonicas.]

MCHUGH: Volunteer training is one of the hallmarks of Liz’s Shropshire Music Foundation. Once a week she trains interested local youth in the skills needed to run several Shropshire music programs. These volunteers, many of whom originally attended Liz’s classes as students, now assist her in teaching the art of singing, harmonica, and penny whistle throughout Gjakove.

[Liz leads a harmonica class, giving instructions to the students. Then the class begins to play the Alphabet Song on their harmonicas.]

SHROPSHIRE: I just am filled with so much love for these kids. I mean, they’re in high school. They could be, like their friends, just hanging out, just thinking about themselves. And instead not only, not only do they volunteer but they write lesson plans. They practice the instruments, they prepare themselves to be able to teach the kids. So they’re putting in all of this time outside of just even the volunteer time. First of all to learn their instrument. They have to put a lot of time in because they all have to learn how to play the penny whistle and the harmonica. And these kids are 14 years old. Not all of them. I mean we have, we have some, we have one boy that’s 20. But the others—or 21—but the, the others are 14 and 15 years old. And these kids are doing this. It’s, it’s amazing.

[Liz is leading her class of volunteer teachers, asking what song they want to play.]

MCHUGH: On this Tuesday, half a dozen local volunteers are gathered in Liz’s modest rented home in the heart of Gjakove to prepare for the weekly Slovene Village singing and harmonic class.

[The sound of children playing and talking.]

MCHUGH: The frenzied rush of cheering children as Liz’s jeep enters the compound signals the start of class.

SHROPSHIRE: Slovene Village was a newer camp. It’s like the Brick Camp. A transit shelter camp. They were pre-fab buildings and it’s, each building looks like a long trailer. And it has three rooms and a kitchen. And each family gets their room. And the room basically fits four bunk beds. That’s it. These are, these are pretty much your families that are the very worst off.

[The sound of children playing and talking.]

SHROPSHIRE: The camp kids are my favorite kids in Kosovo. You know, they’ve lost everything and yet you wouldn’t know it just from talking to ’em. They come into these music classes and they, they just get taken over by the music. I mean, you can see they are totally 100 percent into this music. And they love it. And they walk around the camp singing. If I see them someplace they’ll start singing one of the songs or they’ll say, “Hey, Lisa, come here!” And then they’ll, they’ll want to sing one of the songs, or if we do like a clapping game with the song they’ll want to do it with me.

[The sound of the children singing “The Popcorn Song.”]

MCHUGH: Liz holds class in a sparsely furnished, stark white rectangular room in Slovene’s recreation center. On this evening, 17 boys and girls ranging in age from three to 21 sing their hearts out in the chilly makeshift classroom. Despite full power the room temperature never warms up. Children lucky enough to have a coat keep it on for the entire two-hour session.

[Liz, leading her class.]

SHROPSHIRE: The children in Slovene village are learning several songs in English, even though most of them speak no English. And although Liz has a solid working knowledge of the Albanian language she still conducts most of the class in her native tongue. Besi, another one of Liz’s volunteers, provides translation.

[The sound of Besi translating in the class between Albanian and English.]

MCHUGH: Liz has all the skills of a proper English nanny. The students sit up straight on command and rarely stray from her instructions. Even the youngest child, a blonde boy with natural Shirley Temple curls, manages to keep near perfect rhythm, even though his head is barely above the table. Liz’s spunky Mary Poppins style is the spoonful of sugar these children desperately need.

[The sound of children singing the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” from the movie musical Mary Poppins in English, then in Albanian.]

SHROPSHIRE: It was just sort of a whim. I just had this song in my head. We just sang it for the kids. And I thought they would just laugh and think it was really funny but that they would never want to learn this. And I said, “Do you like it?” And they said “Yes!” And they said, “Please teach us this song.” So they learned this song in English. And just saying supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, I mean that took, you know, 10 minutes just to be able to say that song. And then they learned all the English verses. And they were just loving this song. So then they kept saying, “What does it mean? What does it mean?” So then I, then I started thinking “We’ve got to put this song into Albanian.” And now they love this song because they’re singing it in English and they’re singing it in Albanian.

[The sound of children singing the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” from the movie musical Mary Poppins.]

SHROPSHIRE: We’re not just teaching kids how to sing some songs. We’re teaching them how to read rhythms, how to read notes, how to clap the rhythms. One of the first things that we do with the kids is that we teach them the whole note and half note and then we teach them to say “la” for four beats. So, so we’ll go, “la” [the sound of clapping], and they clap while they’re saying “la.” Just doing that simple exercise, they’re doing two things at the same time. They’re speaking and they’re counting. And they’re, and they’re aware that they’re doing two things at one time. Then you start introducing the actual notes that they’re playing. Now they’re, you’ve added another thing. Then, then you have them start blowing on an instrument. They’re doing another thing. By now they don’t know what they’re doing. All they know is that they’re having a really great time, but they’re using parts of their brains that they’ve never used before.

[The sound of the children singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight in Albanian.]

ESUF FIDORI: [via a translator] We learn songs and we learn how to play harmonica. I think she’s a great teacher. And she’s a really good friend.

MCHUGH: Tonight, 13-year-old Isoff Hidori enthusiastically and flawlessly executes the rhythm section of Liz’s rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight—a task that would have been impossible two years ago.

SHROPSHIRE: We call him “Lum.” That’s his nickname. And Lum used to be a really big problem. You didn’t want him in your class. You didn’t want him—you know, he just, he just would disrupt absolutely everything. But I loved this kid, you know. And, and when I’d go to the camp I would always go out of my way to just hug this kid and put my arm around and just tell him how good he was. Well, his behavior started getting first just to, just because it was me. But what’s exciting is that now it’s not just good for me; now he’s good in school. And this year he got elected class president.

MCHUGH: Lum’s mother Floria [sic] now considers Liz one of her best friends. She believes music is helping to heal her son’s soul.

FLORIA: [via a translator] I have three children, one daughter and two sons. All three are participating in Liz’s program. After the children come from the classes they’re really happy. They always talk about happy things. It’s a really good program because it’s the only program in the camp.

[The sound of the children singing Skip To My Lou, followed by applause.]

MCHUGH: The first hour of singing class ends with a frenzied rendition of Skip To My Lou. And after a few brief class photos several younger students scurry outside and the older pupils hurry back to their seats. With the first hour of class over, Liz hands the reigns to 21-year-old volunteer Burim Vraniqi. Burim, a handsome and well mannered ethnic Egyptian, leads the evening’s harmonica instruction.

[The sound of Burim teaching the class’s harmonica lessons, followed by the sounds of harmonica playing.]

MCHUGH: Prior to meeting Liz, Burim didn’t even know how to play the harmonica. Now, he can’t imagine life without it.

BURIM VRANIQI: You know, the music is something like magic. They didn’t have this, this activity before. I can see that they, they are changed a lot because like I said, before they, they always thinking about the war and talking about war and talking about the bad things. But now they are thinking about the music, how to learn, how to learn to play harmonica, how to learn the new song and how to sing this song. And they don’t have time now to talk about the war, ’cause they already forgot the wartime.

[The sound of Burim playing on harmonica Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair.]

SHROPSHIRE: Burim is probably the most natural teacher that I’ve ever seen. He is so patient with the children. I love watching him teach.

MCHUGH: Burim is one of Liz’s countless success stories. He is one of a handful of local ethnic Egyptian students heading to university classes next year. Burim plans to pursue a business degree but promises music will never stray far from his heart.

VRANIQI: How long, I am planning to be volunteer. If I can, I can be for all of my life. Yeah, I want to stay here. And help my people, too.

[The sound of a harmonica playing Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair.]

BELKIZE PENI: [via a translator] I am a teacher, a music teacher. With Liz’s training I’ve had a lot of success.

MCHUGH: Belkize Peni is a true believer. Belkize, shy and petite ethnic Albanian, lost her job as a music teacher in the mid-1990s as the Serbs segregated or closed schools throughout Kosovo. Thousands of ethnic Albanian and other non-Serb students were forced from their classrooms. Many ended up in makeshift home or neighborhood schools. And those who did attend class were often subjected to severe discrimination and violent reprisals. The situation left many teachers like Belkize with little confidence to instruct in post-conflict environment.

PENI: [via a translator] I was out of work for seven years. When I was offered a job I lost my self esteem. But Liz taught me the harmonica and the flute. Then I understood I was worth something. Now I’m really happy and have my self esteem back. Everywhere I go people like me now and love me because of the things I did for them.

MCHUGH: Belkize says this happiness extends to her students.

PENI: [via a translator] It was a really big change for kids in Kosovo because they had for the first time an instrument in their hand. All of the things they had in the war, that they’d seen in the war, they’d forgotten with the instruments.

[The sound of a harmonica playing “London Bridges” song.]

SHROPSHIRE: Well, this year again we were running low on funding. I was thinking, “Okay, maybe this year is our last year.” And right after I got here in May one of the local men—his kids were in my first classes—and he said, “Please don’t go. This is when we really need you.”

MCHUGH: Liz Shropshire has assisted more than 4,000 children in the Gjakove area since late 1999. And she has managed to do it all on her life savings and small donations.

SHROPSHIRE: We’ve never had more than $50,000 a year. I mean, $70,000 is our goal. Our goal used to be $100,000. We’ve narrowed it down to $70,000 but we’ve never raised more than $50,000. And this year we’ve probably only raised about $35,000 or $40,000. We’re pretty low budget. But we’re also, that’s also one of the great things about us. I mean, the money goes into the kid. It doesn’t go into anybody’s pocket. It just goes right here into bringing this program out for the kids.

MCHUGH: Every winter Liz packs up her Gjakove home and heads back to the US to launch another round of fundraising. While she is away her dedicated corps of volunteers keep the program up and running. All the while she dreams of the day she can expand her reach even further.

SHROPSHIRE: Our goal is to continue. We’ve got this great corps of local volunteers. And our goal is to eventually turn the program completely over to them and continue to fund the program, but they, they take over the program and run it and maybe I’ll come here, you know, one or two months out of the year to check on things, see how things are going. But hopefully by then we’re in another country doing the same thing.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

SHROPSHIRE: Music is amazing because music doesn’t just stay right at the front of your brain. Music goes all the way down in your soul. And when you’re really making music, you’re really singing with all your heart or you’re really playing an instrument everything that you have in you is giving to that. It’s not just, it’s not just something that you’re doing intellectually. It’s, it’s everything about you.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

SHROPSHIRE: For me personally, you know, when people say to me, “Oh, you’re such a good person for doing this,” and stuff, I just think, it’s just ridiculous. Because really this is, this is for me a dream come true. The fact that I get to do this is the most amazing thing for me. I, I can’t imagine my life anymore not doing this.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain, now in Albanian.]

MCHUGH: For Common Ground, I’m Kristin McHugh, Gjakove, Kosovo.

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain, now in Albanian.]

PORTER: For more information on Liz Shropshire and the Shropshire Music Foundation visit her Web site at

[The sound of children singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain.]

PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

KEITH PORTER: I’m Keith Porter.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, questioning the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

DALAI LAMA: I believe all the major religious tradition have same potential to give peace and happiness to all people.

MCHUGH: Plus, honoring humanitarian aid workers—and the year-round gift of life.

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Dalai Lama

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PORTER: Thousands from more than 70 countries gathered in Austria this fall to watch the Dalai Lama of Tibet lead the largest of Buddhist rituals—the Kalachakra—aimed at promoting peace and tolerance. It was only the third time the ritual had taken place in a European country. But the Dalai Lama’s visit was overshadowed by allegations that despite its pacifist image, the Kalachakra text and ritual actually promote a religious war for world domination between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Karen Engel reports from Graz.

KAREN ENGLE: The clicking of flashbulbs, as the Dalai Lama arrives in Graz for his first meeting with the press. Throughout his visit in Graz, either before the press, at a public lecture attended by 8,000 people, or with his meetings with government leaders, the Dalai Lama’s main message remained the same.

DALAI LAMA: I believe all the major religious tradition have same potential to give peace and happiness to all people. And I think the method to achieve happy life, happy humanity, also more or less—that is the practice of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment—these are the main method to achieve happy day and happy life and happy human community.

ENGLE: And at an inter-religious meeting between members of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Islam communities, the Dalai Lama emphasized the common values shared by all.

DALAI LAMA: Of course, in the philosophy field there are differences but the real sort of goal and main method is more or less same. So therefore when we know each other closer then we develop some kind of feeling of a closeness. And through that we measure respect among different traditions.

ENGLE: But some of the Dalai Lama’s critics say the Kalachakra Tantra does not promote religious harmony. In their book, The Shadow of the Dalai Lama, Victor and Victoria Trimondi, say the Kalachakra text opposes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, uses aggressive, warlike, and sexually disturbing imagery, and envisions a global and apocalyptic war between Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

[The sound of Buddhist monks chanting.]

DR. ALEXANDER BERZIN: Each day is slightly different but what they started doing was first to ask permission to use the ground on which mandala will be erected. And then asking permission to bring in the disciples into this ground. And then there are a lot of ceremonies to consecrate the ground and to consecrate the powder with which they are making the mandala and to consecrate….

ENGLE: Buddhist scholar Dr. Alexander Berzin is describing what goes on during the different morning rituals of the 10-day Kalachakra ritual. Central to the Kalachakra, which means “the Wheel of Time,” is an elaborate mandala in colored sand which depicts a temple of the Buddha and serves as a meditation aid.

BERZIN: Kalachakra emerged in the area between Afghanistan and Kashmir at the end of the 10th century.

ENGLE: Berzin lived and studied close to 30 years in the exiled Tibetan capital of Dharamsala in India. Fluent in Tibetan, Sanskrit, and Chinese, and a renowned translator, teacher, and writer, Berzin is one of the foremost authorities on Buddhism in the western world.

BERZIN: At this time there was a tremendous fear in the Islamic world and Christian world of a coming apocalypse and the end of the world. The Christians believed it would happen in the year 1000, the Muslims believed it would happen in the year 1100. The Buddhist system of Kalachakra is intended to help people overcome this fear. Buddhists at the time in this area, were basically under the influence of an Islamic kingdom in Baghdad. There was a rival Islamic kingdom in Egypt. The one in Egypt was claiming that they had the messiah. The ones—the Buddhists that were under in Baghdad were very afraid of that.

So they were talking about this type of situation and saying that when you have fear of this—that then one should try to see that this is parallel to an invasion and apocalypse and so on of, you know, internally, with one’s own disturbing emotions and so on. And so one can follow a spiritual path which is going to help one to overcome this fear based on an external situation and the internal situation, which is parallel to that. And so it’s by no means calling for a holy war or a crusade or anything like that. This is really quite a distortion of the whole system.

ENGLE: In a new book just published , called Hitler, Buddha, Krishna the Trimondis argue Tibetan Buddhism inspired and abetted Nazi ideologues. Dr. Alexander Berzin.

BERZIN: Hitler himself was interested in trying to find some sort of help from some mystical land to try to help him gain victory. But because of that, I mean to say that, you know, Buddhism itself is a philosophy behind Hitler is absolutely absurd. And when they sent an expedition, Nazis to Tibet, of course they received no cooperation.

ENGLE: Neutral in World War II, Tibet remained largely secluded from most of the world until Chinese troops marched into the country in 1950. In 1959, the Dalai Lama, who is considered both the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, fled to Dharamsala, India, after a failed uprising against China. According to the Tibetan government in exile, more than a million Tibetans lost their lives as a result of the Chinese occupation, and almost all of Tibet’s monasteries—some 6,000—were destroyed. Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns continue to serve long prison sentences for their religious convictions, while lay Tibetans are discouraged from practicing their religious and cultural traditions. These conditions led the US House of Representatives to pass a resolution in October calling for “a negotiated solution for genuine autonomy that respects the rights of all Tibetans.” Yet despite the extremely adverse conditions in Tibet, most Tibetans still support the Dalai Lama’s policy of non-violence. Nawang Chapelle works for the Tibetan government from Geneva, Switzerland.

NAWANG CHAPELLE: Through this path you can achieve a lasting peace. This is this only way. And of course, Tibetans have remained nonviolent in their struggle and will continue to remain nonviolent in their struggle. Because they know that this path will, you know, give them lasting peace in their homeland.

ENGLE: Chapelle was encouraged by a recent meeting of the Dalai Lama’s emissary with Chinese leaders earlier this year as a first step towards dialog. Meanwhile, in Graz, the Dalai Lama had one more thing to say before he left Austria.

DAILAI LAMA: According to Buddhism, we ourself as our own master. So ultimately all responsibility is on our shoulder. So therefore try to be a warm-hearted person, so that wherever we live individual himself or herself will be more happier. And through that way your friends, your companions, also get more peace. So that my wish. Thank you.

ENGLE: For Common Ground, this is Karen Engel in Graz, Austria.

[The sound of Buddhist monks chanting.]

[Musical interlude]

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Humanitarian Protection

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MCHUGH: There are hundreds of humanitarian relief organizations operating around the globe. All are working to help communities cope with a variety of issues including AIDS, extreme poverty and ethnic violence. And, increasingly, humanitarian aid workers are caught in the crosshairs of global conflicts. Kidnapping, rape, and even murder are now everyday threats for aid workers. Former US National Security Adviser Anthony Lake says these workers need more protection and greater recognition for their sacrifices. Common Ground‘s Cliff Brockman recently talked with Lake.

ANTHONY LAKE: The nature of conflict today, which more and more is internal civil conflict, which goes beyond sometimes simply affecting civilian populations to seeing actual targeting of civilian populations. And that means that the international humanitarian workers are both more needed, because there’s more civilian suffering in these conflicts, but also it’s more dangerous. Because increasingly they are on the ground witnessing these terrible atrocities and the thugs who are committing them want to get rid of the witnesses and therefore go after the humanitarian workers.

CLIFF BROCKMAN: What types of attacks or incidents are we talking about?

LAKE: Often simple murder. Simply targeting people. We’ve seen it in eastern Congo, other places, where they, the thugs thought that the humanitarian workers would go and tell the wider world about what they had done. Sometimes for specific purposes they will hold them hostage or kidnap them. Which we’ve seen from Chechnya, again to a number of African situations and elsewhere. We saw in northern Afghanistan recently the rape of a UN worker, which may have been simply a rape. It may have been some sort of statement, terrorizing action. And then beyond all of that there is simply criminal activity. Because these are the tough neighborhoods of the world. And there are the usual assortment of murderers and thieves there.

BROCKMAN: There are international laws to protect these workers?

LAKE: Under the UN Charter, UN personnel are supposed to be offered certain protections. There’s an international convention on the protection of UN workers that was passed in 1994, came into force in I believe 1999. And under that convention a government on whose territory one of these incidents takes place either is bound to extradite the miscreants or to prosecute them there. But as of a couple of years ago, only 30-some nations had subscribed to the convention. And in any case, the problem is not the existence of the laws, the problem is in implementing them. In the end, the UN cannot implement it. It has to be the governments. And governments just don’t pay attention.

BROCKMAN: What should we do to encourage these nations then, to implement these laws? The ones that haven’t implemented them?

LAKE: Well, I would hope that first of all this would simply become more of an issue. Because it receives very little public attention. And it needs much more of it to build a, any kind of political momentum for doing more. Frankly, I think one of the reasons why it doesn’t receive more attention is the fault of the humanitarian workers themselves. And I admire them for this. Part of the ethos of doing this is you don’t call attention to yourself. You do it because you’re driven to do it and to hell with the risks. I did an op-ed piece on this in the New York Times and the letters from humanitarian workers were in a sense negative about the column in the sense that many of them argued that the column should have been about the civilians who are suffering in these conflicts rather than the workers themselves. Good for them believing that. And yes, they’re right—millions of civilians are suffering from these conflicts around the world. But the result of this attitude of “Aw shucks, I don’t want to call attention to myself,” is that it doesn’t get much attention.

BROCKMAN: You’ve proposed a memorial to honor humanitarian aid workers who’ve died in the line of duty. Tell us about that.

LAKE: Well, when I was National Security Adviser I was always very moved when I would go to Arlington National Cemetery when we were burying one of our own who had died abroad. And when I was in Geneva doing some work with the ICRC—International Committee of the Red Cross—during a break I wandered around their grounds and discovered a small memorial garden that they had dedicated to their own people, who are at great risk. Because the ICRC, even more than most UN workers, are really in harm’s way working during wars with the victims. And it struck me that there is not such a memorial at the United Nations for the hundreds of UN workers who have been killed. Who are every day doing this heroic work in these very, very bad areas. So, I decided one thing I could do would be to write an article. The good news is that in fact work is under way now in planning such a memorial. Not because of my article.

BROCKMAN: Is there enough funding for this memorial?

LAKE: I think there’s probably enough funding for the memorial. I hope so. And if not I think it’s such a good idea that there will be. What there is not enough funding for is the UN’s efforts to protect its workers. It’s really an outrage. There is an office at the UN that works on security issues. It’s personnel has gone from something like eight to about 12 or 15 people, who are charged with the security of 70,000 to 80,000 UN personnel. They have less security people abroad than there are high-risk posts. They began to open a fund a few years ago to try to get additional money beyond their usual UN budget, to help to fund security efforts on behalf of UN personnel. And a very small number of governments have pledged to make contributions, and those contributions are quite minimal. So there’s a lot more to be done there. I know that the Secretary General is very concerned about this. The Deputy Secretary General, Louise Frechette, has a group that is working on this problem. But like all problems, in the end you solve them not just through good plans and policies but through resources. And they’re very severely limited now.

MCHUGH: Anthony Lake is the former US National Security Advisor. He spoke with our Cliff Brockman in Washington.

[Musical interlude]

PORTER: Coming up next—the alternative gift of life.

MCHUGH: You’re listening to Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

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Heifer International

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PORTER: Holiday shopping season is over, and if you’re like most Americans you’ve spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars on gifts for family and friends. The excesses of the holiday season, the piles of presents and the tables filled with delicacies have prompted some to wonder if there are alternative ways to honor the holiday spirit of generosity year-round. One alternative gift program is run by Heifer International. The group promotes what it calls the “most important gift catalog in the world.” Priscilla Huff spoke with a community coordinator with Heifer International, who experienced the joy of its gifts firsthand in his home nation of Cameroon.

[A choir singing The Twelve Days of Christmas: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French hens, two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree….]

PATRICIA HUFF: This familiar Christmas carol highlights the value of livestock as a gift to a true love. In medieval times, these presents would be welcome, but in suburban America, where would you put…

[Lyrics from The Twelve Days of Christmas: “Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree…]

HUFF: Children would probably prefer the latest video game or a Barbie doll or something else they’ve seen advertised on TV. But for Umaru Sule of Cameroon, the gift of cattle was priceless.

UMARU SULE: It means life, because we was just struggling, y’know, the economy was just cattle.

HUFF: Those cattle had all died, when Cameroon’s Lake Nios exploded on August 21, 1986, spewing a poisonous cloud of carbon dioxide across this rural region of Central Africa. Umaru Sule was a member of a tribe which subsisted by following small herds of cattle, their only source of income.

SULE: They were devastated, actually, losing all the cattle. They had nothing, no skills, nothing else to do, they could not even grow crops, you know, simply corn. So they didn’t know what to do and we were worried after the relief ended, what would happen.

HUFF: What would happen is that Heifer International arrived with their gifts of livestock, as Sule explains.

SULE: They were high quality, they call in Cameron ‘gudalis’—they’re the zebu. We could not afford them because they were expensive and big. And then, in addition, the Heifer imported 68 head of cattle from Kenya, crossbreds, dairy crossbreds, as well as four bulls, for beef production. In East Africa, they are called ‘borantz’.

HUFF: Heifer’s gift did not stop with delivering the cattle. Heifer’s consultants trained his fellow tribe members on how to care for these new cattle.

[The sound of grazing cattle.]

HUFF: Sule’s tribe was so moved, so inspired, they decided it was time to settle down and live in a village.

SULE: Today, they have gone 100 percent into beef production. They go into dairy. The children go to school, unheard of 15 years ago. And then they have access to health care. Now they have access to all the people, Heifer people as well as visitors, so it means a lot, it means opening the horizon.

HUFF: Heifer’s gift of education was extended to Umaru Sule, himself. He came to the United States after graduating from high school at the age of 27, first to earn a bachelors, then a master’s degree in agriculture. He’s taken his knowledge back to his tribe and he’s seen the results.

SULE: The herd has grown. Passing on the gift continues, today, and everybody in the community has received, except the young children, including the women, who could not own a cow before, but today, they do.

HUFF: One head of cattle for a member of Sule’s tribe in Cameroon is listed at $500 in Heifer International’s catalog. But, if you’re in the market for a gift for your true love.

[Lyrics from The Twelve Days of Christmas: “Six geese a-laying!”]

HUFF: Those birds will set you back just $20. Heifer International also offers the gift of sheep [The sound of bleating sheep] and pigs [The sound of oinking pigs], chickens [The sound of a rooster crowing] and a whole Noah’s ark of creatures. You don’t even have to buy an entire animal. For just $20 you can get a share, which is combined with other donations. Heifer calls these gifts “living savings accounts,” because they can provide eggs or meat for protein or feathers for crafts or wool for blankets or even manure to fertilize gardens. Umaru Sule has seen how his village has grown and diversified its economy and food sources, farming vegetables and the women setting up sewing projects. He’s now a community coordinator for Heifer International for the mid-Atlantic region in the US, raising funds for more alternative gifts.

SULE: It does not end, and that’s the beauty of it. The beauty is that someone receives, because its a humbling feeling, particularly from America someone coming, to extend a hand, and then you receive. And then the next few years, depending on what species of animal you receive, you are a giver. It brings people together, it’s a humbling time, when you get a community coming together, you know, sharing from the original seeds. It does not end, it goes on and on and on and I think that’s a good philosophy to help people help themselves.

HUFF: For Common Ground, I’m Priscilla Huff.

Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.

Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security

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