By Azka Asif, RI Programs Staff
Millions of people all over the world are currently displaced by armed conflict or persecution. In fact, 90% of casualties in armed conflicts are civilians, half of which are children. Through service projects and Rotary programs, the Rotary family is committed to pursuing projects that address the structural causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.
Rotarians train adults and young leaders to prevent and mediate conflict, and aid refugees who have fled dangerous areas. During February, Rotary Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Month, we’re celebrating our commitment to build peace and mitigate conflict. Here are just a few examples of how Rotary members are working to create a peaceful world:
- Each year Rotarians from District 5100 are involved with the Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP) which brings together Turkish-speaking Muslims and Greek-speaking Christians in Cyprus. Historically these communities have been divided by a United Nations buffer zone since 1974. CFP is a year-long peace-building and leadership training program with a four week cultural exchange component in the United States. By developing cross-cultural friendships, participants build mutual respect for each other, breaking down historical stereotypes and mistrust. Upon returning to Cyprus, these young leaders encourage their communities to embrace the idea of Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking Cypriots living together peacefully.
- In an effort to create a welcoming environment for refugees fleeing to Germany, the Rotary Club of Altenburg’s Weltcafé (World Café) project aims to unite the local community with refugees. The cafe offers a space for Rotarians, Rotaractors and community members to get to know refugees while knitting,singing, dancing or helping them find a job. A lawyer and social worker also offer free services to participating refugees.
- The Rotary Club of Abuja Kubwa in Nigeria aimed to raise awareness in their community about violence before, during and after general elections. During the campaign, fliers were distributed promoting the importance of peace during elections and calling on residents to follow the rules when trying to win votes.
- Rotaract MUN is an annual international Model United Nations conference for youth participants from all over the world. Originally founded by the Rotaract Club of Baia Mare in Romania, the conference is held in a different city and hosted by a different Rotaract club each year. The conference aims to promote and encourage awareness, understanding, tolerance and acceptance of different people, cultures, beliefs and attitudes.
Throughout the month of February, encourage fellow Rotary members to check back here for tips, resources, and inspirational success stories to help plan club and district peace and conflict resolution projects. Add your voice to the conversation by using the blog’s commenting feature and share how your club peace and conflict resolution initiatives on Rotary Showcase.
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- 2016 Presidential Peace Conference to unite leaders within Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution
- Serving with ShelterBox in times of disaster