The fourth day is devoted to the idea of forgiveness, how it relates to the process of reconciliation, and the ways in which it can be applied to peace leadership. Zebari, a Muslim Kurd, joined BL4P for the week-long camp in Iraq, along with 30 other Yazidis and Kurds—the majority of whom are currently living in refugee camps. Zebari shared his story of forgiveness with a crowd of Egyptian and Kurdish Pastors, Kurdish Muslims and BL4P volunteer workers. “ISIS is responsible for the death of five of my family members. There was an attack in Mosul and my cousin and my uncle both died in this attack. My father and I were shot as well, but we survived… obviously,” Zebari said with a shaky laugh, according to DeMicco. Then, gathering strength, DeMicco said he continued. “I do not want to carry the heaviness, I want to release the bitterness and the hate and live in peace. We should forgive them.” “I want to be a man of peace, so I forgave them. ISIS.” DeMicco has found it both humbling and inspiring to hear about the compassion and courage of people affected by a long, devastating conflict, as they work to carry the process of peace in their own unique ways. “This forgiveness session always incites the most powerful moments of transformation,” said DeMicco.
The last two days of camp are spent in service to the community, to foster a collaborative spirit. Participants return to their local communities and inspire peace through acts of love and service at a grassroots level. They have banded together to form local chapters, visiting orphanages, hospitals, and schools, hoping to break down cultural tensions and encourage reconciliation amongst their people. In Turkey, Peace Campers worked with Kids’ Paradise
to create a program with games, activities, and art therapy for roughly 250 Syrian children. In Iraq, they performed a day of service at the Grace Community Center with Samaritan’s Purse, working with 350 children from the surrounding refugee camps. Since the camps ended this summer, attendees established seven local chapters
in cities around Turkey and two chapters in refugee camps in Northern Iraq, inviting others to join their efforts.
So, how does a person go from getting a master’s degree in teaching from UD to becoming an agent of change in some of the most dangerous countries in the world? “My time at UD prepared me to be a teacher; building lessons, creating curriculum, managing a group of people and forming meaningful, professional relationships with students- all of this has contributed significantly to what I have to offer BL4P,” said DeMicco. Upon graduation, DeMicco obtained a teaching position in Colorado. She wanted to provide her students a global perspective, so she co-sponsored a course called Project Justice to raise awareness about Syrian refugees. They raised $5,000 for classroom supplies, and in 2015, DeMicco traveled to Turkey where she worked alongside volunteers dedicated to providing stability and education for Syrian children.