I always look forward to February, the month of Rotary’s anniversary, as a time to remember our history. What began as a small gathering in a Chicago office in 1905 soon transformed into a global movement — one that you and
I are a part of today.
February is also Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Month, when we celebrate a core Rotary concept: the pursuit of global peace and understanding.
Through our global and district grants, TRF is a force for peace — as are all of you who use those funds for projects.
A grant that promotes literacy can lead to greater understanding and economic security in that community and beyond. This lays the foundation for peace. When communities aren’t fighting over scarce water resources, because they have a working pump system, they can instead pursue education. Promoting peace is interwoven in all that Rotary does. The work of actively building peace and understanding has been a hallmark of Rotary since its earliest days. But with the creation in 1999 of the Rotary Peace Centers we began a bold new chapter in this story. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural class of peace fellows; the innovative programme continues to merge a strong, academic understanding of the roots of conflict with practical tactics for solving real-world problems.
Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rotary Peace Centers were able to adapt, ensuring minimal disruptions to the programme. Now, students at our seven centres are resuming their normal activities. This includes young peacebuilders at our newest centre at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, who are preparing to apply their new knowledge and skills in a region that’s in need of peaceful solutions. The peace centre programme keeps growing. Our search committee is researching potential locations in the Middle East or North Africa to establish our eighth centre, with plans for its launch as soon as 2024. This is a significant step for Rotary’s efforts in global peace education, as we lay the groundwork for the next generation of fellows to pursue peacebuilding in that region. And we aren’t stopping there: Our goal is to open a Rotary Peace Center in Latin America by 2030.
In the last 117 years, Rotary has grown to become a global force for good — promoting peace and understanding in all of our endeavours. The staying power of Rotary, the Foundation, and our decades-long commitment to peace are things that are worth celebrating, supporting, and sustaining for the generations that will follow us.
John F Germ
Foundation Trustee Chair