By Paul Bersch and Anastacia Stevents, Rotaract
Members of the Rotaract Club of Milwaukee attended the annual Rotary’s United Nations Day on November 3rd in New York City. The one-day event celebrates Rotary’s international efforts and its longstanding relationship with the UN. Speakers included RI President Sakuji Tanaka, Rotary Peace Fellows, and representatives of clubs and organizations presenting on topics ranging from clean water to human trafficking.
|Rotaracter Anastacia Stevens with RI President Tanaka.|
The conference's theme was President Tanaka's mission: Peace Through Service. Each of the six panels provided insight into Rotary's peace-building initiatives, including organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and Mercy Ship.
Other panelists included Rotary Peace Fellows Arthur Romano and Kirandeep Sirah. Romano and Sirah described how they promote peace and conflict resolution through education – Romano by teaching children to challenge violence and Sirah through art and folklore at the Glasgow Museum. Stephen Martineau described his organization, Friends Forever, and its efforts to build ties between conflicting groups. He spoke inspiringly of his success teaching conflict resolution to teens from areas such as Northern Ireland and Israel.
Initiatives to bring about change in Egypt and Darfur were also at the forefront of discussion. Patricia Parker, founder of Kids for Kids, spoke about her organizations’ sustainable community development in Darfur. The organization gives families tools needed to support themselves, including kid goats and donkeys whose offspring are distributed around the community. Nevine Abdelkhalek, PH.D spoke on Women and Social Peace in Egypt, outlining how women are gathering to promote gender equality in Egypt (50% of Egyptian Rotarians are woman).
Despite the widespread devastation of Hurricane Sandy that struck only few days earlier, over 1,000 Rotarians, UN delegates and Rotaract members were able to attend the conference. The disaster’s widespread reach was plainly evident, from gas lines that stretched down several city blocks to military convoys hauling supplies to affected areas. Local Rotary groups reported on the devastation in their districts: food shortages, power outages, and destroyed homes. But they also told stories of Rotarians' quick response to the disaster: local clubs volunteering to help with the cleanup, and offers of funds and supplies from around the world.
The Rotaract Club of Milwaukee would like to thank the A.D. Robertson Fund for the United Nations, a fund within the RCM Community Trust, for sponsoring their attendance at UN Day, as well as for their continuing support of our club's activities.