A dear friend, Sheri Wander, has sent this letter to friends and family, asking for support to fund a trip to Kenya later this month. Why send a woman you don’t know to Africa? This woman is one of the two North American representatives to an international peace organization’s upcoming conference. Yeah, so what? Well, as we continue in our daily lives, listening to but not really considering the realities around the globe, this woman dedicates her life to bringing a non-violent presence to repressive (and often violent) areas.

I believe in her work and I think others should too. She has (and probably will continue) to put herself in personal risk to bring a safe existence to those in this world who can only (currently) dream of a living in a non-violent state or territory. Please join me in supporting her efforts.

Furthermore, I encourage you to become more involved in your world, to consider events that are not immediately before you, get involved in local organizations that practice non-violent peace work, and become, in general, someone who is a champion and a vehicle for non-violent solutions and positive change in this world.

If you find yourself interested or moved, I direct you to the MPT’s webpage:

http://www.michiganpeaceteam.org/

Dear Friends,

I want to share with you some stories about the exciting work I am doing with Nonviolent Peaceforce, and why Nonviolent Peaceforce – an international unarmed, trained professional peacekeeping force – gives me hope for a more just and nonviolent world.


 

Nonviolent Peaceforce – Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the recruitment of child soldiers continues to be a serious problem. According to UNICEF, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) recruited over 700 children under the age of 18 during 2003. The median age of LTTE casualties is 16. When approached by community members, a Nonviolent Peaceforce team accompanied a group of mothers and a local human rights activist seeking the release of children allegedly abducted as child soldiers. NP team members provided a supportive international presence while the mothers and the insurgency leadership negotiated. By nightfall of the second day, 26 children were released with their bus fares home. On their way home, the NP team met a representative of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Batticaloa, who praised them for their role and stressed the value of rapid responses like this to improve human rights situations. He also said that he believed NP to be on “the front line” on such issues.

While a strong NP team remains “on the front line” in Sri Lanka, we have also expanded our work to other areas of the world.

Nonviolent Peaceforce – Guatemala

Death threats against my friend and former NP Governance Council Co-chair, Claudia Samayoa, and five of her Human Rights Worker colleagues increased and became more severe with the approach of elections. In early March 2007, Claudia submitted a proposal to Nonviolent Peaceforce asking for accompaniment for her and her colleagues for about 10 months surrounding the elections. Within the month of March, NP recruited a Guatemala Project Leader, raised more than the seed money needed to begin the project, and began recruiting additional volunteers to serve as field team members in Guatemala. In April, the first team arrived in Guatemala, ready to get to work.  Never before has NP been able to respond so quickly to a request for our assistance! Within one month!


In light of the horror we hear on the nightly news, stories like this give me hope. And knowing that I have been, and will continue to be, a part of making stories like this a reality makes proud.
I want to ask you to also be a part of making stories like this a reality.

 

As some of you know, I have been serving as one of the 2 North American Representatives to the International Governance Council of NP. The IGC will meet this September in Nairobi, Kenya, followed by a conference and a meeting of all member organizations of NP. Such meetings are costly, but, for a truly global organization, they are necessary to ensure our work continues, and continues to grow. We simply cannot create the structure and capacity to support our team in Sri Lanka and continue to expand as needed in other areas without time to work together.

 

I will be traveling to Kenya to represent North American Member Organizations at the NP International Governance Council meeting. MPT will also send Saryah Namaste to directly represent MPT. We estimate costs for the trip to be around $7000. I need help from you to pay for this trip.

 

By making a thoughtful and generous contribution you are, in a very concrete way, becoming a part of Claudia’s story, and you are playing a real role in ensuring the structure and capacity are there for reuniting children with their families.

 

Your tax-deductible contribution can be made to Michigan Peace Team (please note “NP” in the memo space) and mailed to our office at 1516 Jerome Street, Lansing, MI 48912. Any money raised above the cost of the trip will go to continue MPT’s work, including our work as a member organization of Nonviolent Peaceforce.


 

In Peace and Hope,

Sheri Wander


 

PS – Another great—and needed—way to contribute is to help me get the word out about this important work. To have hope people need to know stories like those above. Do you belong to a faith community or other group that might like a speaker? Would you consider hosting a house party? I will be available after my trip and I would love the opportunity to tell others about this exciting work!

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