Dear Rotary leaders,
Conflict and violence displaced more than 68 million people in the past year, and half of these are children. We Rotarians should refuse to accept conflict as a way of life. Rotary projects provide training that fosters understanding and provides communities with skills to resolve such conflicts.
Through our service projects, peace fellowships and scholarships, our members are taking action to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education and unequal distribution of resources.
For me, peace is giving food to the hungry, limbs to the handicapped, sight to the blind, home to the homeless, water to the thirsty and opportunity to learn for the illiterate.
If we want a society to be at peace, a society which is progressive, where each individual lives with dignity, then we have to be the torchbearers to take this forward. I challenge each Rotarian to be a smile creator, a wizard of goodness, and lend a hand to the needy.
Rotary’s most significant effort to wage peace is the Rotary Peace Centres programme, established in 2002. Each year, the programme trains some of the world’s most dedicated and brightest professionals, and prepares them to promote national and international cooperation and resolve conflict. They include graduates of a two-year Master’s degree and a three-month professional certificate programme at Rotary’s partner universities.
Today, more than 900 peace fellows are applying their expertise in various fields. They’re settling border conflicts in West Africa, developing aid programmes at the World Bank, drafting legislation to protect exploited children in Brazil, providing security for diplomats, and taking up other career paths devoted to peace.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work it.”
So I urge each one of you to be an angel of giving.
RI Director, 2019-21