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PeaceJam UK; 'Peace Day' - 16th March 2024

Updated: Apr 9

On the 16th of March, members from PeaceJam UK and PeaceJam Europe got together to put on something very special... A PeaceJam UK; 'Peace Day'!

The Peace Day was a chance for participants to learn about the amazing work of our two international guests; Mea Gurgenidze from Georgia and Salim Mbusa from Uganda (living in Germany), who are both members of our European Youth Team. We also had Thomas Bwamble, President of Winchester Rotaract and currently studying at the University of Winchester, who talked about his move from Uganda to Winchester and the Rotaract Club.

Next was a workshop run by PeaceJam UK and Europe Lead, Luke Addison, and we screened the PeaceJam legacy film 'Contagious Courage' about the life of Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams.

The event was very successful and our participants and members really enjoyed learning about the international initiatives, taking part in the workshop and watching the Betty William's film and having a discussion about it afterwards. Both Mea and Salim are members of our PeaceJam Europe's European Youth Team; And we realised that the weekend could also serve as an opportunity for our members to get together as several of us had been meeting online since as far back as August 2023 but never actually met in-person! Mea is an amazing young lady who is our leader of PeaceJam Georgia; which set up last August and her and her team have been so busy putting together a project for Internally Displaced People across Georgian regions and Salim is equally as amazing and currently living in Germany working with Act for Transformation;

On the day, we had around 20 volunteers and members attend and we started the day with teas and coffees and refreshment and then we went straight into Thomas, Salim and Mea's presentations;

Following the presentations, PeaceJam UK & Europe Lead Luke Addison, led a workshop for the participants. Luke is a Drama and Peace Education teacher and his workshop was focused on cooperation and team-building as the participants had to imagine being shipwrecked on a desert island and working together to survive! Fortunately, all participants worked together and stayed friends after the workshop!

Following the workshop, we had a light lunch and then it was time to screen the Betty Williams' film 'Contagious Courage'. The film itself is part of the PeaceJam Legacy film series of which there are currently 6 films about the lives of our PeaceJam laureates. You can learn more about the films here; And here is the link to information about Betty's film; The participants really enjoyed the film and we had a good discussion after it around the troubles in Ireland, Betty's legacy and divisive issues that we are seeing in the world today. We chose the Betty Williams' film because she was our last Laureate at our 2019 annual PeaceJam conference and then we discovered that the 16th of March was the exact anniversary of her passing in 2020. So, this was very poignant for us and we used some time after the film to reflect on this.

Following the film, we went outside to take a photograph of the team and participants of the day! We also had something very special with us throughout the day and that was a Rotary 'Peace Pole' which had been kindly given to us by Winchester Rotary member Richard Spawlding. A Rotary Peace Pole is part of an international initiative to promote one of Rotary International's global key focus areas; Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention. A Peace Pole is a monument that displays the message and prayer "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in several different languages and you can learn more about the initiative here;

After the photo and our participants said goodbye, PeaceJam UK and Winchester Rotaract members decided to take our international guests to see more of Winchester so we went on a little trip to St Catherine's Hill and then out to see some pubs in Winchester City Centre!

After a successful visit to several Winchester pubs on the Saturday evening, our team woke up early on Sunday morning to visit the Winchester Rotary Club's 'St Giles' Hill Graveyard Project'. The graveyard is part of Winchester Rotary Club's Environmental Committee's initiative and is managed by Rotarian Dave Stewart and his wife, Anna. You can lean a little more about the graveyard project here; We did a few hours of work with Dave and Anna and then finished with tea and biscuits!

And finally, we had a little bit of time before Mea flew back so we took her for her first ever visit to London! We walked from Waterloo to Parliament square to Buckingham Palace to Camden, London Bridge and then back to Waterloo! We definitely managed to "see London in a day!" Mea really enjoyed the visit and said; "My trip to the UK was one of the most interesting and enjoyable trips of my life! I had never been to the UK before and I was so fortunate that the week before the UK visit, I actually went to the USA for a sponsored youth program! So, to see the USA and the UK together was amazing! But my time in the UK was so fun and it was great to meet and be looked after by the PeaceJam UK team! It was absolutely an unforgettable experience!"

Thank you to all volunteers and participants of our PeaceJam Uk 'Peace Day'! We look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday 3rd of July for our PeaceJam Winchester conference. You can read more details about that here; Luke Addison PeaceJam UK & PeaceJam Europe Lead

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