Bloomington-Normal could soon be home to an international peace effort. Friends Forever, based in New England, is looking to expand its outreach. The organization helps bridge culture gaps by breeding familiarity between children caught up in sectarian violence. Executive Director Steve Martineau says children, traditionally from Northern Ireland or the Middle East, are brought to America to live together for two weeks.
"They slowly begin to stop seeing each other as Jew, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic, and before they know it, about eight or nine days into the program they realize I can't believe I've been side to side and back to back with you, this person I thought was irretrievably my enemy and now we realize that we are bosom friends."
Martineau says campers generally return to their homeland with a new outlook. He says a series of mandatory follow-up meetings help perpetuate that feeling. Martineau was invited to the twin cities by a local rotary club. He says excitement here for the effort is "off the charts."
Listen to an interview with Martineau about Friends Forever.
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