Stories from Rotarian Action Group for Peace provide inspiration for peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

Excerpts from an article by Reem Ghunaim, Executive Director of Rotarian Action Group for Peace (RAGPF)

. . . This is our 2nd annual Top 5 RAGFP Membership Countries newsletter. It highlights only a fraction of the stories you generously and courageously create on the ground, daily, in 74 countries around the world. Thank you for leading countless stories such as these every day in your Rotary clubs and districts. Your stories are our inspiration at RAGFP. We hope you enjoy reading and learning from each other’s experiences, initiatives, and ideas. . . .


RAGFP member Caroline Millman, (pictured right with Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum)

[United Kingdom]

RAGFP Board Member Alison Sutherland is current chair of our Peace Education Committee. She wrote an article for The Rotarian Magazine UK  that exemplifies all Rotarian peacebuilders. She sat in busy traffic one morning, noticing a group of people outside an old building in her home town of Cardiff, Wales, and recognized an opportunity of Rotarian service. These were refugees seeking asylum and she found a way for Rotary to help them. She assisted Rotarian partnerships that currently integrate many of the 1,000 foreign refugees per month who arrive in Cardiff into their community. The Welsh Refugee Council now refer refugees who wish to integrate into British society to the City of Cardiff Rotaract.

Alison says many of these immigrants “did not always fall within the prescribed Rotaract age range,” yet Rotary created a space for them. Rotarians in her District 1150 now help provide refugees in the UK with English classes, sports and craft facilities, community social events, and even help asylum seekers with complicated government form fillings. Alison demonstrates how Rotarian peacebuilders are committed to meeting the basic needs of their communities as their approach to creating peace. Read More

RAGFP member Caroline Millman, (see photo above), is the Chair of PeaceJam UK. Caroline works with PeaceJam UK to tailor teacher-friendly curricula materials for youth, based on the lives of the Peace Laureates. All of their curricula features global “Call to Action” projects aligned with high-quality service-learning standards and is linked to the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign established by the Peace Laureates. PeaceJam is an international education program for schools and youth groups. It is unique as it is the only educational program working directly with Nobel Peace Laureates. PeaceJam itself has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times. Their aims are to teach and inspire a new generation to be active citizens and agents for change. . .

[India and Pakistan]

RAGFP members in Districts 3011 and 3070 (India) and District 3272 (Pakistan) have joined forces with Rotarians in six other Rotary districts worldwide to build a Peace Park in the disputed border zone between India and Pakistan. The Indus Peace Park Project seeks to promote peace and international cooperation along the border.

The Indus Peace Park Project was conceived in 2015 when a Rotary District 5080 Friendship Exchange group was unable to attend certain events in the region, due to border tensions between India and Pakistan. RAGFP members came together to provide peace action.

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Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

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The Indus Peace Park Project seeks to secure an area of 10 hectares (25 acres) of land (5 in Pakistan, 5 in India), on either side of the border. To be maintained by Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors from both countries. The park will be a neutral location where everyone can gather in a spirit of lasting peace, cooperation and goodwill. This project and the RAGFP members who lead this project emphasize the notion that “if Rotarians didn’t change the status quo- who else would do it?” This mindset is demonstrated in our live-stream videos recorded with park organizers at the RI Convention 2018 in Toronto.

Rotarian Action Group for Peace is a partner in this project. RAGFP leaders are signators of a global petition to show political leaders on both sides of the border there is overwhelming worldwide support for this Peace Park within the disputed borderlands. You can also sign the petition here, and provide financial support. Learn how your Rotary club or district can support The Indus Peace Park.  Read More . . .

[Australia]

Rotary E-Club Melbourne conducts their weekly Rotary meetings online and then go “into the field,” as they close their laptops and seek peacebuilding opportunities in their local community and globally. They often travel together internationally to remote locations so they may personally identify opportunities for Rotarian service. They sponsor water and sanitation projects in underdeveloped areas of India and visit these areas to see for themselves “if the toilets are working.” They promote peace in local schools, actively recruit fellow Peacebuilder Clubs throughout Australia, and consider personal engagement as the most important philosophy in all of their peacebuilding activities. . . .

[Canada]

. . . a national “culture of peace” is cultivated by Rotarians who form community peace partnerships and alliances throughout their country. The Rotary Club of Winnipeg is a RAGFP Peacebuilder Club. . . . Their peace initiatives focus on the value of human rights, comprehensive peace education, and include, Peace Days 365 including Festival of Peace and Compassion, an annual festival of events celebrating of the United Nation’s annual International Day of Peace. This Peace Days Festival is a nearly month-long schedule of daily events leading up to, and extending beyond, September 21st each year.

The entire community of Winnipeg and District 5550/WPP is involved in hosting peace-centered events that focus Canadians upon shared values of human dignity, compassion for one another, and respect for our environment. Peace Day 2018 events featured a film premiere of the Canadian TV series, First Contact, and the series built bridges between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians across the nation.

Their peace education in human rights programs helped foster Canada’s very first interdisciplinary Master of Human Rights program to be offered at The University of Manitoba in 2019. These Rotarian peacebuilders and RAGFP members provide examples of how all RAGFP Peacebuilder Clubs can develop effective peace projects and initiatives within their own local communities around the world. Read More . . .

[United States]

There are now 78 RAGFP Peacebuilder Clubs spread across the continental United States, in Alaska and the Pacific. . . . The Rotary Club of Boulder [Colorado] has set their next century of Rotarian service on peacebuilding. Their peace initiatives allow school children to access engaging peace education, focus their community upon peace in public spaces, inform social justice in Colorado, and introduce innovative minds from around the world to Rotarian peacebuilding. They also contact and recruit other Rotary clubs in their district to become active Peacebuilder Clubs offering mentorship and an example of excellence. 

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