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19 February 2023: Maja Koene International Peace Award, CESCI India

Updated: Jul 26, 2023


The Centre for Experiencing Socio-Cultural Interactions, CESCI, India and Switzerland,

awarded its annual Maja Koene International Peace Prize for 2022 on 19 February 2023 to Dr. Rama Mani, in her capacity as Co-Founder of the Home for Humanity movement, as well as the Founder of Theatre of Transformation Academy. The award ceremony took place at the beautiful, rural CESCI campus in Madurai, South India and the award was handed over by the eminent statesman, S.C. Behar, President of CESCI together with Dr. P.V. Rajagopal, Founder of Ekta Parishad and Dr. Jill Carr Harris, Coordinator-Co-Founder of Jai Jagat.




The Maja Koene Peace Award honours the Home for Humanity movement’s contribution to peace and unity. The award certificate states:

Home for Humanity is “ a cross-continental organization that builds belonging in communities. Through study and interaction, these homes for humanity, from diverse cultures and all continents, have fused into a network of change agents focused on transforming our relationship to the earth.”






The award is also a recognition of the impact on peace of the Art and Science of Integral Transformation that underpins the integral educational approach of the Home for Humanity

movement, combining the two approaches developed by the two co-founders of Home for Humanity: Integral Development theory and practice developed by Professor Alexander Schieffer, and Theatre of Transformation methodology, developed by Dr. Rama Mani.

In this regard, the award certificate states: “Dr Rama Mani also enacts and embodies real-life testimonies of people who have gone through a transformation and through mini-dramas she shows that if common ordinary

people can engage in change, it is possible for everyone.”

CESCI was founded by Maja Koene, a young Swiss psychiatric nurse and photographer.

During her travels in India, Maja discovered the remarkable work of the Ekta Parishad

movement founded by renowned Gandhian activist, Dr. PV Rajagoal, India’s largest

movement for claiming the rights and restoring justice to landless peasants and labourers and Adivasi (Indigenous) populations across the country. Maja stayed in India to support the movement and invested all her savings to set up CESCI in Madurai as a unique, artist mini-village where social justice leaders and grassroots activists from India and abroad could meet, exchange, learn, discover each other’s cultures, and develop peace strategies through art and culture. Sadly, she died at the young age of 54 in 1999. However, this beautiful campus is still at the heart of the Ekta Parishad movement.


The Award ceremony on 19th February fittingly took place as part of the culmination of the 2-week long Arts for Social Activism festival at the CESCI campus. A large group of social justice activists and Adivasi grassroots leaders from numerous states across India associated with the Jai Jagat movement had worked for two weeks to develop theatre for social activism, and they offered their riveting final performance on the day of the Award ceremony.

As part of the social activists’ theatre programme, Rama offered an interactive Theatre of Transformation workshop to support the social activists in recognising and strengthening their innate power of art and creativity for social change. Rama also offered a performance, accompanied by musicians from the Ekta Parishad group of activists, bringing to life some of the Homes for Humanity from all continents and their work to promote peace in their communities.

Expressing her gratitude and appreciation for the Maja Koene Award, Dr. Mani stated,

“Receiving this award from CESCI and the Ekta Parishad movement for social justice,

and furthermore, an award that honours the memory of Maja Koene, who gave up

her life of comfort in Switzerland to support Ekta Parishad and work for the most

marginalised of India’s people, means more to me than receiving the Nobel Peace

Prize.

My beloved father, SV Mani - who at age 90, has traveled with my mother, Saroja

Mani, to Madurai today to be with us for this award ceremony - always dreamt that I

would receive the Nobel Peace Prize one day. But today, I can say to my dear father

and to all of you, that this peace award, given to me by all of you who truly live,

embody, practice and promote peace and justice, day after day and year after year in

our troubled country, means more to me than the Nobel Peace Prize. I am deeply

honoured!”


The stay at CESCI was a deeply meaningful occasion to deepen the relationship between the outstanding Ekta Parishad and Jai Jagat movements on one hand and Home for Humanity on the other. They will be invaluable partners and supporters in the One Home Journey, lending their decades-long expertise to ensure that the One Home Journey is of true benefit to the world’s most marginalised.


Fittingly, on the very day of the awards, the public announcement was made that Dr. PV Rajagopal had received the prestigious NIWANO Peace Prize. As the Home for Humanity movement, we extend our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Rajagoal and the entire Ekta Parishad movement for this highly deserved global recognition.


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