By Anne Riechert, a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University
Saturday morning, Paul Knyff shared his favorite Rotary moment with the more than 1,800 Rotarians attending the first Rotary Global Peace Forum in Berlin. Having been involved with Rotary Youth Exchange, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) and the Rotary Peace Centers program for more than a decade, I asked myself what my favorite Rotary moment had been. It felt a little like picking a favorite child. I would like to share with you, however, my favorite moment from the forum.
Friday afternoon, I was almost done setting up my We Have a Dream exhibition in the forum’s MarketPlace of projects, when an Italian Rotarian approached me. One particular drawing had moved him. An 11-year old Massai girl in Kenya had made the drawing. Her wish was to become a lawyer, when she grew up, and her dream was that justice would be done in Kenya.
Being a lawyer himself, the Rotarian felt he might be able to make a difference. My limited Italian and his limited English, however, made communication difficult, but with the kind help of his bi-lingual granddaughter, we were able to talk. The Rotarian decided to reach out and wrote a letter to the girl, letting her know that she should contact him and let him know how he could assist her making her dream come true.
Although a lot of wise words and good intentions were shared from the main stage of the forum, that small act of compassion clearly manifested to me how Rotarians across the world can build peace.
Peace can indeed be a difficult concept to comprehend, but to me peace is a verb, not a noun. Peace is the small actions, which we can all do, everyday, to reach out and use our competencies, networks and knowledge to assist people in need.
If you are interested in doing more peace related work through Rotary I highly encourage you to join the newly established Rotarian Action Group for Peace or learn more about the Rotary Peace Fellowship.