Pillar of Peace: Acceptance of the Rights of Others

This category within the IEP’s Pillars of Peace includes both laws and freedoms, as well as cultural norms that govern expected behavior of citizens within a society. It refers to levels of tolerance between different ethnic, linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic groups within a country or region. Peaceful countries display a high degree of commitment to human rights and freedoms, and this coincides with other indexes that measure human rights. Universal value and acceptance of others can also be measured in explicit prevailing societal attitudes towards fellow citizens, ethnic groups, genders, and immigrants.

Rotaracts Lead the Way to Tolerance For Refugees

The mission of Rotary “encourages conversations to foster understanding within and across cultures.” Rotary trains adults and young leaders to prevent and mediate conflict and help refugees who have fled dangerous areas. This mission leads directly to positive peace actions which cultivate the ethical treatment of refugees and minority groups around the world.  Since Rotary’s founding in 1905, these peace actions have advanced this IEP Pillar of Peace: Acceptance of the Rights of Others.

One great example is the Rotaract Club of Nakivale, located in Southwest Uganda. It is the very first Rotaract club established within a refugee settlement or camp. Many of its members have suffered tragedy and loss. Yet, these young Rotaracts went right to work establishing Rotary’s Four-Way Test as a means of welcoming those seeking refuge from surrounding conflict zones.

Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored organization for leaders ages 18 to 30. Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Kiwatule in Kampala and the Rotary Club of Roseville, Minnesota, agreed to work together to get the club started and support its growth.

Their first peace peace project launched in 2017. The project was designed to assist many new arrivals, including those who had survived incredible journeys to escape violence in other areas.

Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to provide refugees with constructive opportunities. Photos by Emmanuel Museruka

This group of Rotaracts certainly offer acceptance, but they also provide basic needs, business opportunities, and empowerment to refugees who might otherwise feel forgotten in a troubled world.

According to Rotary International: “Its founding, and the role it has played in the lives of its members and their fellow Nakivale residents, is a tale of young people who’ve refused to let conflict stifle their dreams; of a country that sees the humanity in all the refugees who cross its borders; and of a spirit of service that endures, even among those who’ve experienced unspeakable tragedy.”  Read the original article here.

Rotary Community Corps Paves the Way To Acceptance 

Rotary Community Corps mobilizes more than 200,000 volunteers across 92 countries, the Rotary Community Corps expands Rotary’s reach by bringing the knowledge and talents of local people to projects in their communities. Sponsored by a local club, corps members are not Rotarians but can tap into the Rotary network. Even today, most of the 9,400 RCCs are concentrated in India, followed by the Philippines and Africa. About 60 are sponsored by clubs in the United States; Canada hosts four. Every community corps differs in size and scope.

Rotary Community Corps serve Rotary’s mission of “encouraging conversations to foster understanding within and across cultures” by bringing together community members, from differing backgrounds, who may otherwise never engage with one another.

The Rotary Club of Parker, Colorado, launched a Rotary Community Corps service project to assist disabled adults. The project opens doors of acceptance for those whom society may undervalue or overlook, when it comes to the great contributions they have to offer within their communities.

“Once they leave the public education system, people with developmental disabilities in the United States often lose their social support system and opportunities for friendship and personal development,” says Kam Breitenbach, a member of the Rotary Club of Parker.  “When they turn 21, the school district is done. There’s no place for them to learn or do any leadership activities.” So in 2010, she asked her club’s board of directors to consider starting an RCC for adults with developmental disabilities. The program is still going strong.

The Parker RCC’s projects always keep them busy. Members help put on homecoming dances, they stuff goody backbacks for schoolchildren, and fill grocery bags for local food pantries. The Corps even organized a holiday breakfast at a local senior center.

All of the projects add value to people’s lives within the community. Yet, the reciprocal effect is that these Rotary volunteers gain acceptance, prestige, and even self-confidence.

“Expecting success from people with special needs yields dividends in self-confidence,” says Breitenbach. “When we first started we had a member, Doug, say he would not run for office in the RCC because he didn’t want to be put on the spot.” Breitenbach encouraged Doug to answer questions about an RCC ShelterBox display at a community event called the Parker Days Festival.

“Doug said that changed his life,” she says. “Because he found he could talk to people and they would listen.” Doug became the RCC’s sergeant-at-arms for four years.

This is only one example of how Rotary Community Corps works to advance the IEP’s Pillar of Peace: Acceptance of the Rights of Others. Direct community engagement bridge cultural norms (behaviors we expect of one another), because they dismantle prejudices. People working together for a common cause, with those from differing backgrounds, are more able to find shared human bonds that foster positive peace.

Read the original article here.