Prof. Lia Diskin is the founder of the Palas Athena Association – a Brazilian NGO dedicated to developing, fostering, and managing community-oriented programs and projects in the fields of Education, Healthcare, Human Rights, Environmental Preservation, Social Welfare and Culture of Peace.
What is even more special is that Prof. Lia Diskin has been creating, supervising, and carrying out many programs and actions are in line with Gandhian ideology. For example, she has been organising ‘Gandhi Week’ every year since 1982 without a single interruption.
The objective is to promote a continuous revival of Gandhi’s ideas and invaluable examples.
Every year, the theme would be – Truth, Non-violence, Prayer; the religious, spiritual and political aspects of Gandhi and their integration; ‘Gandhi and Politics’, ‘Gandhi and Faith’, ‘Gandhi and Himself’; ‘Gandhi – a man ahead of his time’; ‘Tolerance through daily practice in action, feelings and words’; ‘Peaceful Conflict Resolution’; ‘Role of Gandhi in the Independence of India’ etc.
Panel discussions and conferences have also been held with social and Gandhian philosophers.
Art, drama, songs, dance and visual media were extensively used to impart the ideas and life experience of the Mahatma. Concerts, dance workshops, and meditation meetings were designed to highlight aspirations for peace and transformation.
Two notable events of Gandhi Week were the launch of the translation of the Mahatma’s autobiography “Autobiografia – Minha Vida e Minhas Experiencias com a Verdade” and a special event at the Agua Branca Park for all ages designed to teach and inspire simpler living, solidarity, responsibility, and tolerance.
As an acknowledgement of the work done by Association Palas Athena under the leadership of Prof. Lia Diskin in disseminating the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi over the past 25 years, the Government of India presented the State of Sao Paulo with a full-size bronze statue of the Mahatma.
The statue was placed in the centre of the Tulio Fontoura square, beside the Sao Paulo State Legislative Assembly and in front of the biggest park in the city. The square, now renamed as Gandhi Square, is the stage for peace manifestations of the local community.
Prof. Lia Diskin has also created many programmes to spread the ideals of the Mahatma. In 2009, under the ‘Peace Wants Partners’ programme, Prof. Lia Diskin created several cultural and recreational activities designed to allow participants to experience the three basic principles of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy.
In association with the ‘Priceless Values’ program, the ‘Gandhi and Non-violence’ program has already trained 40,000 teachers of the public network of schools, providing them information on pacific resolution of conflicts and the fostering of dialogue as a means to approach persons and create a means by which they can be together, form bonds and co-operate.
Another programme, in partnership with UNESCO, was created in 2003, called ‘Peace in Action’ – to provide training for teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are willing to create ‘Culture of Peace and Non-violence Dissemination Centers’ in their schools.
Another major initiative was the ‘Gandhi Network’, in which 1500 participants attended as representatives of over 500 Brazilian cities.
The constitution of the ‘Gandhi Network’ was approved by 14 states, along with its goals to impart training, information, and guidance on a culture of peace-oriented activities and knowledge and to promote and disseminate a culture of peace skills, abilities, and talents.
In the year 2010, Prof. Lia Diskin was honoured with Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.
Prof. Lia Diskin
Rua Leoncio De Carvalho, 99-04003-010 Sao Paulo, Sp –Brazil
Phone: (5511) 3266-618 Fax (5511) 3287-8941
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)