The groundwork for peace

Following the news is challenging these days. Stories of war and violence are deeply discouraging. It breaks my heart when I hear about innocent bystanders, particularly women and children, who are caught in the crossfire of conflict.

Is there anything we can do about it? We certainly can’t turn away from the problem. I think in these times, we need to shift our focus from what we can’t change to what we can do. We can also support what we know works.

February is Rotary’s Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Month. It is one of our areas of focus because peace is central to everything we do in Rotary. Even though most of us aren’t diplomats at the negotiating table or peacebuilders working on active conflicts, in Rotary’s singular way, what we do works to promote peace and prevent conflict somewhere, every day.

Every Rotary member should remember this during the month of February: When you support any of the areas of focus of The Rotary Foundation, you are contributing to peace. Foundation grants that address fundamental issues — such as a global grant focused on enhancing basic literacy in a community — will cultivate a better understanding of the world and lead to greater economic stability, laying the groundwork for peace.

You can say the same for all the areas of focus, from the environment to economic development. They help stabilise communities, lift families out of poverty, and foster the pursuit of education.

Peace is and always has been inter-woven into the fabric of Rotary beyond our projects, too. In 1999, when we established the Rotary Peace Centers through a visionary initiative of our Foundation, we reaffirmed this commitment. This month, we are once again renewing that vision, with Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul, our host partner for the newest Rotary Peace Center, as it takes its first steps to prepare for the initial cohort of students arriving in early 2025.

All along the way, as Rotary has evolved into a global force for good, it has championed peace and understanding in countless ways, and our Foundation remains the great driving force behind that vision. It will be part of Rotary’s eternal legacy.

And by supporting our work, you will be able to say that you are a part of that legacy. You can directly support it by visiting rotary.org/donate and selecting peacebuilding and conflict prevention as the area of focus.

So, yes, there is a lot you can do to support peace and prevent conflict. The next step is up to you.

Barry Rassin
TRF Trustee Chair

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