Ashoka Fellow
Sri Lanka,
Fellow Since 2003
Butterfly Peace Garden


This profile was prepared when Paul Hogan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Paul Hogan is conceiving a way for child victims of war in Sri Lanka to connect with their inner psychological selves via the outer material world. By helping war-affected communities to establish institutions to deliver locally devised therapy to traumatized children, Paul Hogan is planting the seeds for a healthy, nonviolent, and tolerant society. His techniques, which are constantly evolving, rely on participants' creativity rather than on large amounts of resources.
Paul has established the Butterfly Peace Garden in Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka, as a psychological cue for safety. Amid the destruction of war, the garden is a refuge. Here children from warring communities are brought together, encouraged to free their imaginations and share them with others. Over time, the children embark on journeys of self-exploration with important consequences for themselves and their peers. The garden and its programs are in every respect shaped by the wants and interests of its child clients, rather than by adult expectations of what children need, as in conventional psychological institutions. In the garden the children are the "natural leaders." The garden is truly and singularly theirs.
The children are also the garden's agents for healing the wider society. Parents, teachers, religious leaders, soldiers, staff at the garden, and passersby are reinvigorated by contact with the child participants. They learn from the children about how to deal with adversity, fear, and conflict. "Ironically, since the very reason for the existence of the Butterfly Garden is the healing of children affected by war, it is the children themselves who are the primary bearers of healing," writes Paul. "Most adults who come to the garden carry more inimical psychological and cultural baggage with them than do the children." It is the children who lead the way out. As the lessons learned in the garden go beyond its wall, the change within leads to change in everyone. It is this continuous flow from the individual to the community that ultimately mends the damage caused by war, and it is the quality that makes the Butterfly Peace Garden a uniquely valuable model.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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