SAVE: Making a difference

When Ajmal Amir Kasab sought his mother's blessings before he set sail for the Mumbai carnage, could she have stopped him from killing innocent people? The answer, according to SAVE (Sisters Against Violent Extremism), is an enthusiastic yes!

Rupa Gulab  Mumbai Hardnews

SAVE is a unique initiative that was started in Vienna by 35 women who came in from all over the globe. It is the first women anti-terror platform highlighting the power of women to become change agents. Dr Edit Schlaffer, the founder of SAVE, firmly believes that "Women can sense the early warning signals and can serve as alarm bells when the men in the family take the wrong turn." Women play an all-important role as nurturers in families and communities- they must not underestimate the power they have to make the world a better place.

The SAVE initiative was launched in Mumbai on February 3rd at the Press Club of Mumbai to provide a platform for victims and survivors to share their grief and more importantly, their resilience. The purpose, according to Dr Schlaffer, is to understand that there's no safe space in the world anymore and any of us could victims too someday. A frightening thought, but a reality nonetheless. The intention is to come together and understand each other to prevent further loss.

The workshop was attended by victims, survivors, heroes, academia, journalists and grass root activists of Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Hardnews publisher and film-maker Archana Kapoor who spearheads the SAVE initiative in India, aired a 10 minute documentary film featuring victims and survivors of terrorist attacks  from all over the world. A senior journalist whose wife was killed in the attack on the Taj Hotel revealed to Hardnews that the last text message he got from her was a chilling, "They are in my bathroom." A man whose son was killed at the simultaneous CST carnage whispered that he wished the terrorists had got him instead and spared his son. A victim of the Delhi terrorist attack said that terrorists have no religion- members of all communities suffer when the bombs go off.

An animated discussion followed thereafter. Participant Hasina Banjo, survivor of the Ghatkopar bomb blast said, "Enough is enough! The terrorists have had enough of media attention, now it is for the women both victims and survivors to take centre stage. We need to mobilise women for change." The War on Terror was denounced vociferously. Dr Schlaffer remarked in a tongue in cheek manner that violence is a male testosterone approach and leads to even more violence. The right way would be to counter violence with words to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding. ‘Trust in the power of words, not weapons,' is the guiding mantra.

This all sounds very pretty on paper, but is it possible for SAVE to actually save and heal the world? The answer, once again is a resounding yes. Consider a few of SAVEs success stories:
A member of an Islamic terrorist group in the UK was made to see the error of her ways. She is now one of the biggest supporters of SAVE. Two mothers from Israel and Palestine who had lost their children to snipers and rockets, were brought together.  They both affirmed that understanding each other was a better tool than the ‘an eye for an eye' tactics that their governments practised.

Plans are on the anvil to bring together victims of the Marriot Hotel attack in Pakistan and the Taj and Oberoi attack in Mumbai. This is with the fond hope that dialogue between them may lead to better understanding between the two fractious nations. The workshop ended with Dr Schlaffer expressing her heartfelt belief that SAVE will make great headway in India- ‘It is the land of Mahatma Gandhi, after all.'  The baton was handed over to Archana Kapoor, who feels that this is the right time to create a network of women who believe that they can make a difference. She hopes to get support from schools and colleges to run this campaign and also start a Rupee One SAVE membership drive for women in the near future. So, women of India, believe in yourselves and unite- not just to save your families, but the world!