Originally featured in the February Rotarian Magazine
The Rotary Peace Centers program is Rotary’s long-term response to conflict. Rotary Peace Fellows work to address today’s most pressing global issues, including their work in Rotary’s six areas of focus. Read their stories and see how investing in the peace fellowships pays lasting dividends.
Saving mothers and children, fighting disease
Adrien Lokangaka grew up in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lacked many things–but when he needed it, he had medicine. What does public health have to do with peace? Everything, Lokangaka says: “Congo is a country that has been devastated by war. People need not only the end of war, but they also want to be free from the consequences of war, and one of those is bad health. I am helping to improve health outcomes among the population, so that they may be at peace with themselves.”
Growing local economies
After her Rotary Peace Fellowship, Summer Lewis took a job in Oaxaca, Mexico, as the international program coordinator for Coffee Kids, a nonprofit that works with coffee-farming communities in Latin America. In January 2015, she co-founded True Roots Consulting to foster social responsibility programs. “My real interest was in preventing conflicts by addressing the root of the problem, such as when people can’t meet their basic needs and resort to violent measures or to migration. People ask how one little project in one little community makes a difference. But you can’t think of it like that. … Think about all the Rotary clubs carrying out projects in communities. Now you’re talking about changing the world.”
Providing clean water
Growing up on his family’s farm in Lusaka, Zambia, Muyatwa Sitali understood the power of water in his own life. But it wasn’t until Sitali began his Rotary Peace Fellowship that he came to realize the profound and far-reaching need for clean water globally. “Too often, the cause of the conflict was the result of inequality,” Sitali notes. “Providing water and sanitation may not guarantee peace, but it reduces the chance of grievance that leads to armed conflicts.” After his fellowship ended, Sitali was a consultant for the World Bank and now for UNICEF. He has teamed up with Rotarians to provide basic resources to communities recovering from violence.
Growing up in India, Sachin Rane dreamed of being a police officer like his father and grandfather. Rane became a Mumbai police officer in 1991. In 2013, Rane was selected for a short-term Rotary Peace Fellowship at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. There, he studied international human rights law, security sector reform, theories of neutrality, racial discrimination, and the importance of neutral third-party intervention in conflicts. That year, Rane put what he learned into practice when he was selected to be a crime investigation officer at the UN Headquarters in Juba, South Sudan, a new nation still suffering from decades of civil war. “After the training I received in the Rotary peace course, I have become more people-oriented rather than a rigid law enforcer,” he says. “I try to study the causes that lead to an incident.”
Rabia Raja founded Sunshine Consulting Welfare Organization, a Pakistan-based nonprofit that brings educational resources to the country’s rural schools. “Education is something that cannot be taken away; it’s a part of you as long as you are alive — you don’t lose it. You only add to it.”