It is fitting that the year internationally defined by the COVID-19 pandemic ends on the Rotary month of Disease Prevention and Treatment. After over a year of our global humanity working together to slow the spread of the virus, social distancing, and keeping our communities safe, we can finally celebrate the beginning of the end of this pandemic this month. On December 8th, the first person was vaccinated for COVID-19. Just 2 weeks later, over 2.4 million people worldwide have been vaccinated.

As the year makes a close, RAGFP would like to send a giant, special “thank you” to all who have taken action for peace in a year of full of peace obstacles. First of all, we would like to send our warmest, most sincere, awe-inspired gratitude to all of the healthcare workers, medical staff, and hospital staff for working tirelessly on the front lines of this healthcare crisis. Thank you to all the scientists, researchers, and academic institutions for finding several successful vaccines to cure the world of this pandemic. Finally, thank you to all the essential workers, teachers, volunteers, caregivers, and peacebuilders who quickly adapted to the health restrictions and created solutions for our communities to continue to operate for the greater good. It is this unity to help our families, friends, neighbors, and strangers to stay healthy during these difficult times that give us hope and inspiration that Peace is Possible.

We must continue to spread vaccination enthusiasm and trust our medical scientists. Just as we’ve done with Polio, we need to continue the momentum of the covid-19 vaccination by motivating our friends, family members, and our communities to become vaccinated as well as continue to abide my health restrictions.

Read the letter from RAGFP Executive Director, Reem Ghunaim below.

Letter by RAGFP Executive Director, Reem Ghunaim

Dear Peacebuilders,

This holiday season is unusual compared to others in the past. We are ending a year that revolved around a universal challenge that we all had to face together, regardless of who or where we are.

2020 has been a challenging year for people around the world. Although it is a time of difficulty, with reflection, we can learn much from these challenges. Many people around the world suffer each year due to wars, conflict, tribalism, division, disease, and poverty. This year, COVID-19 did not discriminate based on if we were in regions of war or peace. We all had to shift our attention and focus our energy to address this problem together.

When we reflect on the challenges of 2020, such as COVID 19, social injustice, discrimination, violent conflicts, environmental disasters, and political tensions, we realize there is a common theme underlying all these phenomenons: separation, isolation, and fear. We experienced this year how much we lose when we are not united and together. When we are not united by our common priorities for education, health, development, and peace, we are focused primarily on survival rather than thriving with opportunity and prosperity.

It is vital to also remember the accomplishments we achieved when we came together during this unprecedented year. We are ending this year on a high note of discovering and producing the COVID-19 vaccine that was a result of all the tireless hard work and expertise of our heroic healthcare workers, scientists, and researchers.

Science is one of humanity’s common frameworks and is key to its civility. When we embrace science, we are enlightened and make the best decisions based on facts, logic and defined methodologies. As we reflect on the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine and this scientific gift to humanity during the holiday season, let’s reflect on the power of utilizing scientific frameworks to lead peace in our world.

Science was behind Rotary’s biggest and most recognizable achievements. We are so close to eradicating polio. This year the African continent officially became Polio free after four years of no reported cases. This is a major stepping stone for our world as we have helped 90 percent of the global population become Polio free. This effort was led by Rotarians who utilized scientific approaches to public health. They gathered tremendous support from partners, foundations, global organizations and governments. Their scientific approach harnessed inspiring momentum towards the benefit of humanity.

Polio eradication and the vaccination of COVID-19 are important reminders that scientific approaches to problems act as unifiers for humanity. Science is also about imagination and innovation. The world we live in today is possible due to powerful ideas that stood the test of time and produced results benefiting all of humanity. We can imagine the peaceful world of tomorrow led by scientific approaches. As a global community of peacebuilders, we can create opportunities for scientific approaches to peace. We are positioned to think across sectors and collaborate across disciplines.

This idea is within our reach. This year, I worked with a group of Artificial Intelligence thinkers, researchers, engineers, and computer scientists to help clarify the impact of COVID-19 policies on vulnerable populations. Our research predicted the current impacts of COVID-19 policies and their effect on vulnerable populations in advance. When we anticipate the future, we can be prepared for the obstacles. We can challenge policies, change course when necessary, and create accountability to reduce corruption. We can also create innovative solutions for fostering peace. We need to continue using our scientific imaginations and own the future we envision. We have the potential to spark new ideas to make the impossible possible and not settle with only our capabilities of the present.

In the next six months and during 2021, our world will be striving to reset and recover from COVID-19. The vaccine was achieved in such a short time due to collaboration, imagination, innovation, scientific approaches and unity. Peacebuilding happens at all levels, but we should realize that working with scientists in many fields is a vital element to peacebuilding. We need to become more intentional about utilizing scientific resources towards peaceful goals.

We have many gifts this holiday season. Among them are the gift of our families and loved ones, the gift of unified communities, and the gift of scientific progress and imagination towards a better future. As 2020 concludes, we are thankful for these gifts and their demonstrated importance towards building world peace.

Wage Peace,

Reem Ghunaim 

Executive Director

Learn how your Rotary Club, Peacebuilder Club, and District can respond to COVID-19 in 2021.