By Reem Ghunaim and Mike Green, members of the Rotarian Action Group for Peace
We launched our Peacebuilder Clubs program at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto. Peacebuilder Clubs were pioneered eight years ago by past Rotarian Action Group for Peace (RAGFP) Board Member and Past District 5100 Governor, Mike Caruso as a way of building support for the six Rotary Peace Centers around the world. With the support of RAGFP, District 5100 registered 21 Peacebuilder Clubs in Oregon and Washington, USA. Last year our RAGFP leadership team was determined to champion this program in Rotary clubs worldwide as an essential call to action for Rotarian peacebuilders.
Peacebuilder Clubs allow Rotarians to gather regularly and focus on peace, discuss peace action, and educate their community about Rotarian principles of peacebuilding. Peacebuilder Clubs establish peace projects and initiatives within Rotary clubs and districts that often involve bringing together local community members who may never have opportunities to meet otherwise. Since we first introduced the program at the Toronto 2018 Convention, Peacebuilder Clubs have formed in Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Serbia and throughout the United States. Rotarians understand how fellowship through Rotary is a force for good and positive change in our world.
Below are some examples of what Peacebuilders Clubs are doing:
- The Rotary Club of Bornheim in Germany became a Peacebuilder Club in September 2018. The club is involved in many projects and initiatives that fill important gaps and build bridges of hope for immigrants and displaced youth caused by the refugee crisis in Europe. According to Reuters, since 2014 more than 1.6 million people seeking asylum have entered Germany. The club is working on a global grant project that aims to integrate refugees, especially children who arrive in Germany unaccompanied, into communities and the greater society by promoting peaceful political dialogue between strangers, neighbors, and immigrants. The club is also working on educating youth and promoting participation in the democratic process.
- The Rotary Club of Three Creeks in Vancouver, Washington, USA is a Peacebuilder Club active in Rotary Peacebuilder District 5100. As public political discourse took a turn for the worse in the United States, their Peacebuilder Committee Co-Chair Dan Sockle began wondering how Rotarians can share Rotary’s guiding principles of friendship and service with non-Rotarians of all political backgrounds and opinions.
Better Angels is a program that Dan, RAGFP members, and other Rotarian peacebuilders are using to inspire peaceful and healthy political discourse. Better Angels offers events and education designed to “depolarize America.” Their Red/Blue Workshops visit cities across America and feature activities, listening exercises, and co-operative skills training designed to get people talking and listening to one another.
Establishing Peacebuilder Clubs is a major part of our mission at RAGFP. As part of the world’s greatest humanitarian organizations, we are all peacebuilders. Please join us on this path. Download the step-by-step Peacebuilder Club instructions to recruit and establish a new Peacebuilder Club.
Join or donate to Rotarian Action Group for Peace to help engage, empower and educate Rotarian peacebuilders around the world. For details, contact the Rotarian Action Group for Peace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also get involved with The Rotary Foundation’s Peacebuilding District effort to support Rotary’s Peace Centers. Learn more.