• Event highlights strategies for world peace
By Naomi Klouda
Peace comes in small and big stages each time a problem gets solved, like the polio vaccine program that the Rotary developed which saved millions of lives and continues into the present day in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Each year the Rotarians focus on peace forums, a conference that includes teens in workshops and discussions to help the next generation learn and think about strategies toward peace. The Downtown Rotary meeting from 6-7 p.m. tonight at the Bidarka Inn features scholarship winners who will talk about the coming conference.
Six teens were selected for travel scholarships to attend the Rotary International Peace Forum in Honolulu Jan. 25-27. The teens are Taylor Ellison from Anchor Point, Amelia Tyrer from Homer, Ivana Ash, from Nanwalek, Traven Apiki, McKenzy Haber and Katherine Dolma, all from Homer.
Three of these scholarships came from Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club, and two from Homer Downtown Club (from donations from Steve and Noko Yoshida and from the Club), and one personally was donated by Jane Little, a member of the Homer Downtown Club.
The Clubs have contributed to flight expenses, and individuals within the clubs have contributed mileage and/or companion tickets, said Rotarian Vivian Finlay.
The Yoshidas, long active in Homer, have moved to Honolulu and are helping to coordinate the young people’s stay in Hawaii.
A Global Peace Forum is an opportunity for people of different ages from different parts of the world to gather to share ideas and develop strategies to progress toward a more peaceful world. Honolulu’s forum is encouraging the next generation of leaders to leap into the limelight and share their dreams for the next step in the journey.
It’s the vision to convene Rotarians in locations most impacted in World War II where healing is most visible. A forum in Berlin took place last week and one is planned for May in Hiroshima. Honolulu was chosen because Hawaii is an example of how people from different ethnicities can live together peacefully.
The event is intended for a new generation of decision makers – young adults who will shape the course of the future. Rotarians and participants in Rotary’s global programs are also encouraged to attend to lend their unique perspective on Peace Through Service.
This is where the link between polio and peace illustrates the group’s work. Rotarians took on the polio eradication project in 1985, Homer’s Vivian Finlay explained.
“In recent years we now have major partners which include: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many nations’ governments,” she said. “Rotarians have contributed millions of dollars toward this project, and also provide a great deal of the volunteer person power for the gigantic National Immunization Days that are held in the endemic countries – which currently are only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.”
During some of the NIDs, millions of children receive the immunization drops in one day.
“It is an amazing effort. There is a parallel between peace and polio in several ways. One of the ways, is that Rotarians broker cease fire days on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border so that the NIDs can be held,” Finlay said.
To contribute to programs, Rotary club fundraisers provide money for various projects. The Rotary Club of Homer Kachemak Bay has the community Health Fair as their major fundraiser. Finlay belongs to the smaller club, the Homer Downtown club.
“One of our fundraisers, as an example, is the Christmas Sale and Swap event,” she said. The Swap is Saturday, Dec. 8 at Paul Banks Elementary school, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.”
The public is encouraged to purchase holiday decorations and/or gift items, and/or exchange their own decorations for credit to buy other items at the sale. The Downtown club supports various youth focused activities in the community, such as the R.E.C. center programs, and these Peace Forum scholarships.
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