We may chuckle to ourselves about the standard beauty pageant contestant’s answer to such questions as “If you could get world leaders to work together and achieve one thing, what would it be? Every one of those stunningly beautiful contestants answers “world peace”. Indeed even Gracie Hart (aka “Miss Congeniality”) answers “harsher punishment for parole violators” but quickly adds “… and, world peace”. In all our wishes and prayers, “world peace” gets a mention, along with health, wealth and happiness. However, to many, the concept of World Peace is a mere pipe dream.
Featured Image (above): Kathryn Borrelli, Raina Fox, June Sturges and Anne Matthews at the Rotary markets
Currently, conflict and violence displace millions of people each year, with half of those killed in conflict being children, and 90 per cent civilians. It is worth stopping to think about this staggering figure! 90 per cent of the deaths are civilians! Rotary International lists Peace and Conflict Resolution as one of its main causes. Through service projects, peace fellowships, and scholarships, Rotary members are taking action to address the underlying causes of conflict, which include poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.
Each year, Rotary pays for 100 of the world’s most dedicated and brightest professionals to study at Rotary Peace Centres. Through training, study, and practice, Rotary Peace Fellows become leaders and catalysts for peace and conflict resolution. Many go on to careers in national governments the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and World Bank. Presently, our Club is hosting Raina Fox who is studying for a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict at the University of Queensland, which is a designated Rotary Peace Centre.
Raina is an inspirational young woman from Minnesota USA and has dedicated her life to working for “world peace”. She says that peace is not just about the absence of wars but also about the absence of injustice. Raina’s aim is to support people who are leading work in their own communities towards durable peace and human rights for people of all social identities. She is a strong advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.
Raina with President John Oxenford who is also her Counsellor for her time
They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. As part of the degree, Raina has to complete an internship over the academic year break and has chosen to do this internship at the United Nations Development Program in Amman Jordan. Raina told me she likes to ask what people need rather than say this is what we are going to give you. Perhaps a good rule for us all.
Last year’s Peace Fellow, Laurie Smolenski, completed her Master’s degree and is now working at the Institute for Economics and Peace; a World think tank dedicated to developing metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic benefits. We wish Raina and all our Peace Fellows every success in their careers and in achieving “world peace”.