Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 186
Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.
Security Council extends mandate of UN committee on weapons of mass destruction
20 April – The Security Council today extended for 10 years the mandate of a committee tasked with monitoring a United Nations resolution on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and requested it to carry out a comprehensive review of the implementation of the text.
The Committee was created under Security Council Resolution 1540 of 2004, which imposes binding obligations on all States to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery and by establishing appropriate controls over related materials.
In a unanimous decision, the Council adopted a resolution extending the Committee’s mandate until 25 April 2021.
Resolution 1540 obliges States to refrain from supporting by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.
UN war crimes tribunal convicts two former Croatian generals over atrocities
15 April – Two former top Croatian generals were today convicted and sentenced to lengthy jail terms by a United Nations war crimes tribunal over atrocities carried out against ethnic Serb civilians during a military offensive in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.
Judges serving on the ICTY trial chamber found Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac guilty of various crimes against humanity, including murder, persecutions, deportation and plunder. Both were acquitted of charges of inhumane acts.
joint trial of the three former generals was one of the ICTY’s
longest, beginning in March 2008 and concluding in September last year. The
tribunal, which is based in
UN panel pays out $880 million in reparations for
A destroyed Iraqi battle tank amidst other vehicles on
the highway between
28 April – The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses due to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, today made $880 million available to nine successful claimants.
The latest round of payments brings the total amount of compensation disbursed by the Commission to $32.2 billion for more than 1.5 million successful claims of individuals, corporations, Governments and international organizations, states a news release. Successful claims are paid with funds drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is funded by a percentage of the proceeds generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products.
The Commission was established in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. It has received nearly 3 million claims, including from close to 100 governments for themselves, their nationals or their corporations.
Meaningful cooperation with the International Criminal Court should follow
Human Rights Watch noted that
the commitment comes as
The ICC is a permanent international court with jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, requires states to cooperate with the court, which includes the execution of arrest warrants. The ICC has no police force and thus depends on member states to enforce its orders.
UN fights to end sexual and gender-based violence
April 21 – The UN has begun
training its peacekeepers on how to fight against sexual violence in war. With
the growing use of sexual violence as a terrorization tool in war, the UN has
come under criticism for not fully realizing the breadth of the crisis. To address these concerns, the UN has begun
to incorporate gender training in all of its programs. It has also begun to
present its peacekeepers with real-life situations before they deploy and to
educate them about best practices. The UN also runs education campaigns through
its group “SAY NO—UNiTE to End Violence against
Women.” Launched in 2009, the SAY NO campaign is now run by UN Women. The
movement has made significant gains in
For a list of InterAction members working in gender equality, visit our page Where our Members Work and add the term “Gender Equality” to the issue area search box. For more information on InterAction's gender equality and integration work, see our Gender Equality webpage and its subpages. InterAction is the largest coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), with more than 190 members working in every developing country. Members are faith-based and secular, large and small, with a focus on the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations.
On April 19 AFSC’s Racial Justice Through Human Rights (RJTHR) youth
group accomplished their goal when
The RJTHR group was initiated
by the AFSC’s Pennsylvania Program. The RJTHR youth
partnered with Pittsburgh Cares and its
A Human Rights City is one in
which the human rights of all its citizens are respected and where the citizens
as well as the City Council work towards
better living conditions in that city.
The idea of calling on
Pittsburgh City Council to proclaim
Caritas co-hosting launches of the new Sphere handbook
April 14 - Caritas will be co-hosting or participating in launches of the Sphere project’s new handbook “Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response” in various locations around the globe on 14 April. The Sphere Handbook establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response such as water, food, shelter and health. It offers common language and provides guidance for effective and accountable humanitarian response and advocacy.
“Caritas is a founding member of the Sphere project and has always since then been a board member of Sphere. Caritas took part in drafting the original standards and has been involved in every revision of the standards,” said Alistair Dutton, Humanitarian Director at Caritas Internationalis. “The Sphere handbook is a normative document for all the member organisations of the Caritas confederation and we at Caritas Internationalis insist that all the Caritas members apply those standards.”
Since its first trial edition in 1998, the Sphere Handbook has been translated into more than 40 languages, becoming the most widely known and internationally recognized set of standards for humanitarian response. The revision that led to the 2011 edition of the Sphere Handbook involved more than 650 experts from some 300 organizations in approximately 20 countries.
A PDF version of the new handbook in English can be downloaded from the Caritas Europa website from 14 April on. Translations in French, Spanish, Russian, German, Arabic and possibly other languages will also be available in June or July.
4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries
The Fourth United Nations
Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) will take place 9-13 May,
1. Assess the results of the 10-year action plan for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on LDCs in Brussels, Belgium, in 2001. 2. Adopt new measures and strategies for the sustainable development of the LDCs into the next decade.
Preparations for the conference are in progress, with activities at national, regional and global levels. It is an inclusive process involving the participation of all stakeholders, including governments, international organisations, civil society organisations, academia and the private sector.http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/ldc/home?dm_i=935,EVNF,13XPNY,174QH,1
April 28 – ACDI/VOCA has won a
three-year, $3.7 million Smallholder Oil Palm Support program (SHOPS) in
With a focus on the key
agricultural counties of Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bossa, SHOPS has
the potential to "fast track" improvements and increase productivity
along the entire value chain of
While there has been an
increase in plantation-grown oil palm in recent years, half of
* increase the productivity and
* improve the marketing and trade capacity of this sector
* improve the enabling environment and market support functions
ACDI/VOCA’s partner Winrock International will provide technical assistance regarding agricultural production, processing, marketing and support functions.
FSTE launches ESG ratings
April 12 – FTSE Group, manager of the FTSE4Good Index series of responsible investment products, has launched a new data service to objectively measure the environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices of over 2,300 public companies worldwide.
The new FTSE4Good ESG Ratings are designed to provide institutional investors with a flexible and granular scoring model which will help them understand a company's ESG practices. FSTE says the rating will cover multiple dimensions of a company's practices, measuring against six ESG themes, including environmental management, climate change, human and labor rights, supply chain labor standards, corporate governance and countering bribery. The firm said the new ratings will provide a tool for active portfolio management, manager selection, company engagement, risk management, company research and corporate ESG benchmarking.
The new ratings criteria are publicly available and follow a clearly defined methodology, FSTE says. The firm said they are over seen by an independent committee made up of experts in the investment community, academia, the business community, unions and NGOs. The ratings are re-assessed twice a year.
"The new ratings service provides an easy to use and objective measure of corporate ESG practice and risk," said Mark Makepeace, Chief Executive of FTSE Group. "Today we are also highlighting those companies that, based on our Ratings, have leading ESG practices."
New African Development Bank and World Bank report says 40 billion dollars remittances by African migrants in 2010 helped reduce poverty at community levels
Development Bank and World Bank present report findings at IFAD headquarters in
The report titled “Leveraging
Two-thirds of migrants from
sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the poorest, move to other countries within
the region, while more than 90 per cent of migrants from
The principal destinations for
African migrants are
The full report and the latest migration and remittances data are available on World Bank website
Investors press immigration reform
by Jerilyn Klein Bier
April 6 – With a number of states contemplating anti-immigration legislation and the federal government cracking down on undocumented workers, a coalition of institutional investors with more than $145 billion under management is enlisting Corporate America to help find better solutions.
Recently, more than 60
institutional investors, including many leaders in the socially responsible
investing space, penned a letter to the CEOs of 150
major companies in the
The coalition is hopeful that
elected officials will put aside partisan politics long enough to support
comprehensive immigration reform that’s critical to advancing the
The investors initially selected 100 of the largest companies and then targeted additional ones in the agriculture, technology and leisure industries because of their heavy reliance on immigrant workers.
Save the Children sends response team as tornadoes force children into homelessness
“History shows that the tornadoes’ longest and deepest impact will be on the region’s children,” said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of Save the Children. “It’s crucial we move fast to uncover the situation for children and protect them today and in the weeks and months ahead.”
The response team will assess the needs of children, and partner with local communities to ensure children and families are able to access child care, and that damaged child care centers will get the support needed to recover and reopen.
Save the Children will focus
the majority of its assistance in the most gravely affected states of
Henry Schein activates disaster relief hotline to support customers affected by tornadoes in the south
Company establishes matching relief fund through Henry Schein Cares
Melville, N.Y., USA, April 29 - In the wake of tornadoes that have claimed hundreds of lives and created a swath of devastation across the Southeastern United States, Henry Schein, Inc. (NASDAQ: HSIC), the largest provider of health care products and services to office-based practitioners, today announced that it has activated its disaster relief hotline for dentists, physicians and veterinarians who have experienced operational, logistical or financial issues as a result of the disaster.
In addition to activating the disaster relief hotline, Henry Schein has established the Tornadoes Relief Fund through the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. The Fund provides a way for Team Schein Members and others who are interested in supporting the relief effort to contribute. Henry Schein will match all donations contributed to this fund by Team Schein Members, and the proceeds will be applied directly and completely to relief efforts.
Because tornadoes typically
strike many regions of the
Handicap International awarded $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize at Global Philanthropy Forum
International jury selects largest NGO that aids and advocates for people with disabilities
The 2011 Hilton Prize was
formally presented at a special ceremony at the Global Philanthropy Forum's
10th annual conference in
The organization's services range from clearing landmines to providing artificial limbs, psychological and economic support and training of local staff.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement in
2 May - The death of Osama bin
Laden, announced by [
The United Nations condemns in
the strongest possible terms terrorism in all its forms, regardless of its
purpose and wherever it is committed.
This is a day to remember the victims and families of victims, here in
I remember personally,
vividly, the day of 11 September 2001. I
Personally, I am very much relieved by the news that justice has been done to such a mastermind of international terrorism. I would like to commend the work and the determined and principled commitment of many people in the world who have been struggling to eradicate international terrorism.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a global counter-terrorism strategy, and on the basis of that, we will continue to work together with Member States of the United Nations to completely eradicate global terrorism. Thank you very much. I need your support. Thank you.
ICBL-CMC launches ‘Investing in Action’ to support local campaigns in 2011
Geneva/London, 27 April - On 20 April the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) launched ‘Investing in Action’, a local campaign support project that will provide organisations with funding for campaign activities throughout 2011.
The ICBL-CMC will allocate financial support to member organisations, to encourage and enable local campaigning in support of the universalisation and implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Last year, both the ICBL and the CMC ran projects that disbursed funding to strengthen campaign activities carried out by member organisations.
This is the first joint grant scheme for the ICBL and CMC, following recent changes that have been made to ensure the transition for both organisations to a more unified structure.
April – The United Nations peacekeeping force in
Path launches large-scale ramp project in
Posted by: Karen Matthee
April 19 – When more than
800,000 Afghans are severely disabled, it's easy to see why there's a drastic
need for schools, hospitals, government buildings and places of worship to be
made accessible to them. But people with disabilities in
UN-backed disarmament process for ex-fighters from
April – More than 1,000 former fighters from
joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) will
provide medical tests and HIV/AIDS counselling to
participants as well as logistical support to the wider programme,
the mission reported in a press release. When the former fighters register and
hand over their weapons, they receive some material support and occupational
training to help them earn a living again in civilian life. The ex-combatants
are drawn from the ranks of both the military and several rebel groups in
By Ryan Hyland
Rotary International News, 29
April – Rotarians in East Africa and a Rotarian Action Group dedicated to
fighting the spread of AIDS will team up on 30 April to provide health
services, counseling, and HIV testing to thousands of
The project is being
coordinated by District 9200 (
"I wanted to do something spectacular that would cut across the district and reach into our communities," says Stephen Mwanje, governor of District 9200, who is helping to coordinate the event. "HIV/AIDS is the most serious health problem in these countries and the leading cause of death for adults. This day is about Rotary becoming more involved with this disease."
Throughout the district,
thousands of Rotarians will volunteer at more than 225 testing sites. They will
provide family counseling and testing for HIV, as
well as for diabetes, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. Volunteers will also
supply insecticide-treated bed nets, deworming
tablets, and sanitary pads. According to Marion Bunch, who founded Rotarians
for Fighting AIDS, HIV testing carries a stigma in many parts of
Two of the action group’s global partners, Family Health International and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, are providing technical support for the effort. The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has donated US$100,000 for operational costs. (...)
It's Immunization Week
April 21 – More than 180
countries across Africa, the
During the week, polio
supplementary immunization campaigns are taking place in
This unprecedented collaborated effort between the regions is building public and professional awareness of the value of immunization as well as saving lives.
Geneva/Abidjan, 20 April – The
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross Society of
Recent fighting and other
Since 25 March, two mobile
clinics have been delivering services throughout the Toulepleu,
Bin Houyé and Zouan Hounien areas in western
Schools get much needed guidance for coping with suicide
New toolkit addresses concerns of staff, students, and parents
Developed by a team of national experts, including clinicians and crisis response professionals, the online toolkit draws on scientific research and best practices. It includes common warning signs and causes of suicide and emphasizes that schools should inform students about the connection between suicide and underlying disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It recommends that administrators remind the community about available mental health resources, including hotline numbers and local counseling services.Other toolkit recommendations include talking with students in small groups to help them manage their emotional responses and monitoring social media to help identify other students who may be at risk.http://www.edc.org/newsroom/press_releases/schools_get_much_needed_guidance_coping_suicide
Coca-Cola Hellenic hails successful EU Sustainable Energy Week
During the week, Coca-Cola Hellenic held 32 events across eight European countries to share its experience of becoming more energy efficient. People were invited to take part in activities ranging from guided tours of the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants the company has installed to provide clean energy for its bottling plants, to planting 15,000 trees.
Coca-Cola Hellenic is recognised by Dow Jones Sustainability Index as being in the top 10% of the most sustainable companies in the world. A longstanding participant of the UN Global Compact, it has also been consistently listed on the FTSE4Good Index since 2000 and works with over 200 stakeholder organisations at local, national and international levels in pursuing sustainability goals. http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/32128-Coca-Cola-Hellenic-hails-successful-EU-Sustainable-Energy-Week
to commence to install sewage pipelines, Cremisan
area in Beit Jala,
April 28, Cremisan, Beit Jala – Today, ANERA signed a contract to install sewage collection pipelines for Beit Jala’s Cremisan area. The project is being implemented by ANERA under the Emergency Water and Sanitation and Other Infrastructure (EWAS II) Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Cremisan area is the only part of Beit Jala that is not connected to the main sewage network. Wastewater is collected in deteriorated septic tanks which leak, causing major problems such as the contamination of drinking water, the spread of water-borne illnesses, and environmental pollution.
With USAID funding amounting
to around $475,000, ANERA will install over
For more than 40 years, ANERA
has been a leading provider of development, health, education and employment
programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the
Geneva/Abidjan, 21 April –
Within the next few days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
will bring in to
"Supplying the population
with potable water remains a major challenge," said Ione
Ramel, ICRC deputy head of operations for North and
According to Mr Ramel, "95 per cent of the lime we are bringing in
will be used in the water treatment plants that supply the five million people
A water project supported by the
UN-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) in eight villages of
project is part of broader UNAMID-backed recovery projects, which include
training midwives and helping to improve health and education in villages.
Several thousand water hippos will be dispatched over the next two weeks,
mainly to women heads of households, the vulnerable and people living far from
water points, says UNAMID. The barrel-shaped water carriers are designed to
reduce the physical burden of carrying water and would benefit women and
children who are mostly in charge of water collection in
Business, government meeting ends in emissions reductions commitment
summit’s nearly 700 representatives from business, governments and NGOs were
included in the declaration, delivered by H.E Hatta Rajasa
There are 534 rhinos in
The positive result of the National Rhino census 2011 is an indication of the successful conservation efforts of the Government of Nepal in partnership with conservation partners. WWF Nepal is very pleased to see our investment being paid off, says Mr. Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. Even though the current census shows the rise in rhino number we cannot be complacent and therefore continuous efforts from all sectors is essential to protect endangered species like Rhino and their habitat. (…)
Religion and spirituality
launch silver jubilee year for
More than 400 guests – including government officials, along with representatives of the diplomatic community and non-governmental organizations – gathered at the House of Worship for the festive inauguration of its silver jubilee year. "When I am in this beautiful Baha'i temple environment," the former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Kalam told the gathering,
Former President of
House of Worship, popularly referred to as the "
Further events are planned throughout
the year in every state of
Second Euro-Mediterranean Abrahamic Forum conference - 12-15 May
under the theme "Building the Network: Social Responsibility in our Religious Traditions"
The conference will take place
The Euro-Mediterranean Abrahamic Forum aims at the building of an active and effective network of religious leaders and practitioners committed to interfaith dialogue and encounters and working towards the establishment and reinforcement of harmonious inter-communal relations between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Euro-Med region.
Rotary selects more than 400 university students to study abroad
One of the world's largest privately sponsored international scholarship programs focuses on humanitarian service, personal diplomacy, and academic excellence
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships provide undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to study at universities in the 200 countries and geographical areas where Rotary clubs are active. While abroad, scholars participate in community service projects and speak at local Rotary club meetings and conferences, schools, civic organizations, and other forums where they serve as “goodwill ambassadors” for their home countries. In 2010-11 nearly 500 scholars from some 50 countries studied in more than 60 nations, at a program cost of approximately US$12.5 million.
As one of the world’s largest privately sponsored international scholarship programs, Rotary Ambassadorial scholars focus on humanitarian service, personal diplomacy, and academic excellence. Since 1947, approximately 40,000 students from 130 countries have received scholarships at a cost of more than $532 million from the program through the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Alumni include former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Philip Lader, Goucher College President Sanford Ungar, former US Ambassador to India David Mulford, and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert. Contact: Elizabeth Minelli: email@example.com
Winners of 2011 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards:
giving to be held in
The awards to the 27 winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards assigned by the European Commission and Europa Nostra will be presented on 10 June during a ceremony at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and president of Europa Nostra.
Out of the 27 winning
projects, six will be named as 'grand prix' laureates at the ceremony as 2011’s
most outstanding heritage achievements. The 27 winners were selected from
nearly 140 submitted projects in 31 countries. The final choice was made by
juries composed of independent experts from across
Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to growth and job creation. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide international tourism has a cultural dimension.
Seven years after it was first
mooted, the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) is finally
getting off the ground. President Bingu wa Mutharika laid the foundation
stone this month (9 April) in the southern district of Thyolo.
MUST - formally known as the Lilongwe University of Science and Technology -
will be built with a loan of US$70 million from
Construction, which will take 20 months, was due to start last year following an announcement by Mutharika on 25 August. Collaborations with the Association of Commonwealth Universities and UNESCO will strengthen the university's capacity and ensure access to the latest scientific and technological developments, he said. Faculties will include an academy of medical sciences, a technology institute and a school of climate change and earth science. In addition, a teaching hospital will provide care for patients from surrounding communities.
* * * * * * *
Interview by Sergio Tripi
This is an exceptional story. Let us begin with their press release that was spread globally.
Wings of Hope nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize
Since 1901, the Nobel Committee has selected nominators from around the world to determine the individuals and organizations that will be nominated. These nominators are the only persons who can offer candidates for consideration. Wings of Hope’s unique philosophies and commitment to world peace came to the attention of a nominator, who selected the charity for nomination. (...)
Wings of Hope programs have expanded significantly since the charity was formed in 1962. Their domestic and international programs assist over one million people annually. Wings of Hope is a non-profit, non-sectarian and non-political organization operating 155 bases throughout the world. (...) www.wings-of-hope.org
The birth of this charity and its almost fifty years of activity are very well outlined by the following passages from its web site and express in a synthetic way a wonderful story based entirely on a deep love for humanity.
Wings of Hope is a recognized international resource. We specialize in implementing Poverty Reduction Strategies for a defined region. This is accomplished by establishing a base of operations and partnering with the poor being served. The services at each base are customized depending upon the needs of the region.
The common denominator is always health care and a transportation system, typically a small bush airplane. The beginning of any Field Base is a listening process. We are contacted by someone who wishes to obtain assistance for a region: a tribe, or a group of villages. That begins the dialog where we learn the who-what-where-when-how of the situation in the field. The goal is to always have them in charge of any decision and to not impact their culture – unless they wish.
Once a decision begins to form in favor of giving assistance, then the actual process of installing a Field Base starts. The goal of any Field Base is to get to a point where Wings of Hope is not needed.
Volunteers are always needed both in
Wings of Hope was founded in 1962 by four
They formed Wings of Hope and after two years dispatched a completely refurbished plane to her. During this process, word spread throughout the world. Requests came in from remote and isolated areas pleading for assistance. So, they formed the philosophies we still use today:
1. Be totally non-sectarian
2. Have no politics
3. Give no regard to race
4. Be composed of volunteers who share the burden of providing only Humanitarian services
5. Establish programs that work to alleviate the causes of the problem
6. Accept no donations from the federal government
7. Work with and for the poor
This remarkable charity brings Peace and Hope in 45 countries around the globe. Three examples:
It is easy to believe that no matter where you live in
Wings of Hope established the MAT program to serve these poor and even those not so poor but who have limited coverage’s from their insurance providers.
For the last ten years Wings of Hope has been serving the five tribal
groups: Huaroni, Zapara, Kichua, Achuar and Shuar Ecuadorian. They are spread out in
The indigenous people have had a similar experience as the North
American Indian tribes. They are poor, do not speak the common language and
have been severely abused. About ten years ago several oil companies (the
reason the town of
Wings of Hope was instrumental in working with the tribes and Ecuadorian government to bring Humanitarian aid. We call this delivering humanity. This could mean having a pilot to fly among the villages delivering construction material, providing medical supplies, or transporting the sick or injured to hospital. The delivery could also provide skilled volunteers to a village to provide a service the village does not have – for example: an inoculation campaign, sustainable food programs, or a source of fresh water. This is being done in varying degrees throughout the rain forest.
The challenges to treating the problems in
When asking Zambians how Wings of Hope can help, their replies are “save
my life – give me something to hope for
besides an early death”. We again ask
what do you need, and the response is thoughtful silence. Their voices are silent because Wings of Hope
The interview - I asked a few questions (here in Italics and bold type) to Douglas Clements, President of Wings of Hope, and these are his answers.
In spite of a certain social progress made in many parts of the world, there are still very difficult problems to be solved in various fields. What new values and what processes of change will be necessary to ensure a life worthy of living at all levels?
Douglas Clements - As always, questions on “life worth living” are not easy to answer. That is because of the great diversity in the peoples of the world and how that “worth” is measured. Therefore, Wings of Hope doesn’t work in regions of the world using our yardstick – we use what the people of the region use. We wish them to achieve their dreams, not our dreams. So while over the years, the standard process of international affairs has produced progress, it is often a ‘shoe-horn’ fit because most agencies don’t customize programs based upon the needs of the people being served.
Tolerance, understanding, and always very private discussions of what
each group of people desire, along with a more dynamic and creative way of
achieving their goals, can result in a higher level of success than the
standard more commonly used process. Instead of trying to copy what is
successful in Europe or
Wings of Hope also works more directly at the ground level of society. We ask the poor what they wish to change and what thoughts they have as to how that change could be implemented and then slowly work at that level installing processes to achieve that change. The higher levels of government are always involved and made part of the solution, but we do not funnel money to these higher levels of government. Using this process, very little is diverted to non-program endeavors.
Although this is rather simplistic, it works very well. If you want to assist the town Blacksmith in being successful, you don’t need endless discussion or meetings with the Town Council; you simply need to bring him a horse. He’ll take it from there.
The conquest of peace is the result of the belief in new values and the
consequent adoption of new behavioural patterns on the part of the people. What
major positive changes in the field of solidarity have occurred in your country
over the past 40 years, i.e. since Wings of Hope was established? And in the
various parts of the world, where are your operations most concentrated: Central
and South America;
DC - Solidarity in thought is an evolutionary process and care must be
exercised when casting a tight net around what people believe or perceive.
Human principals are often founded upon instant knowledge and thus can change
as that knowledge base varies. We all may certainly believe in Peace and Hope
for all men, but the definition of that Peace and Hope, as well as the journey
to get to that point, is filled with numerous choices and paths to choose. The
successful choice is one that is a path that tolerates dialog and builds
consensus, tempered by the truth that alterations will be inevitable as we
Since it seems people learn best when learning the hard way, countries
and their leadership unfortunately, often learn successful processes after
painful failures. For example:
Today, the leadership of these countries usually believe that being a Democracy is an essential part of the quest for Peace and Hope. But that isn’t technically correct. A benevolent King or dictator can be very successful helping their subjects achieve Peace and Hope. Of course, it is rare for a King or dictator to be benevolent, but nonetheless, the key to achieving higher levels of Peace and Hope don’t necessarily reside in the form of government a country enjoys. It is the philosophy of that government and its willingness to constantly adjust the course of future history as they make the journey to Peace and Hope. Being patient, kind, inclusive and ever mindful of serving the people of their region are all Hallmarks of a successful process. Each region can then realize their dreams more rapidly without resorting to violence to force any specific set of dreams upon a populace.
Wings of Hope was established in 1962 and the world has, at once, changed considerably and very little in those 50 years. Major disagreements in philosophy or culture are, sadly, still often solved the same way we did thousands of years ago: with violence. Yet much more interaction takes place now due to expanding capabilities in human communication and knowledge of each other’s cultural differences. Wings of Hope has been very successful, in some regions, in reducing the amount of violence extended to solve a problem and we are ever hopeful more will be done over time.
This is what drives us to introduce a new major world project: The “Barua ya Mradi wa Amani” This means “Letters of Peace” in Swahili and is the first ever global compilation of thoughts as expressed privately, by 100 of the most powerful and influential people on the planet. The short list of contributors will include some very controversial figures and they qualify because they are in some position that allows them to influence large segments of people. Their thoughts, written in their own words on no more than two pages of text on achieving Peace on Earth, will be bound and published and then distributed to all countries at no cost.
The goal is to once and for all, share a dialog, without editing or commentary to posture these private thoughts, regardless of how controversial they may be. Sunlight and public discourse are wonderful cleansing filters. Exposing thoughts, even undesired ones, causes them to become more refined and pure. Too often what we, the public, hear is filtered by editorial comment or views, causing ideas to be more politically correct and not those of the originator.
Wings of Hope wanted to live up to the expectation of what a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee should do and what better way than to share international thoughts from those who can actually make Peace happen.
Wings of Hope is an all-volunteer charity with 154 bases in 45 countries and a task force of over 3,000 people spread around the world; more than 600 at the headquarters alone. What is it that attracts them; how long do they stay on average; and what makes them stay?
DC - Volunteers come to Wings of Hope from every walk of life and experience. The principal reason is of course because they have a resonance with our core philosophies: Non-religious, non-political and non-racial and having 90 cents of every dollar go towards Program Services. These coupled with our Mission Statement that we implement Humanitarian Programs for a more peaceful world, is what motivates them. Yes, many of them may have lesser reasons for assisting such as their interest in their own particular region and the issues they face there, but it always starts with the overall concepts that Wings of Hope promulgates.
Why are media still not sufficiently aware of the formidable expression of voluntary service in today’s society? What will make them more attentive to this profound social transformation, still not predominant but nevertheless constantly growing?
DC - It is a bit of an alien thought to believe that simple volunteers, perhaps with very little background or education in international affairs can effect a positive change. As an example: Most of us concede that college Professors with solid PhD’s rarely know how best to do the jobs that they teach. Sadly, life experiences and ordinary Common Sense are not valued nearly as highly as ‘book learning’. Yet, to become a college Professor or Dean, the very first requirement that is examined is the educational level of the candidate.
Of course, text-book learning is very important, but as most of us have found, really intractable situations we face from time to time can often be better and more quickly solved with creativity and the use of ordinary knowledge we accumulate as we progress through life. That will start with using patience, understanding and thinking ‘outside the box’ which are features our Field volunteers learned throughout their life as they confronted business and organizational problems every day.
These senior level experiences, which were required in order for them to succeed in their chosen fields, are very adaptable to international affairs. They approach a situation not with pomp and circumstance but with the hard learned skill of rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the basics of what needs doing.
Public opinion is leaping strongly into the foreground as a real element which can ask for, and obtain, the necessary changes for the construction of a solid culture of peace. To use a scientific analogy which is dear to me, do you think that we are near to reaching – as the human race – that ‘critical mass’ which is able to produce the necessary changes for expressing a culture of peace?
DC - You certainly are correct to a large extent. Because of the increased capability to communicate on both a local/regional basis as well as internationally, public opinion has become much more powerful in shaping the future course of events. We need to remember though that these new technologies have incredible hidden land mines amongst them. The amount of mis-information that is now treated as fact is staggering and virtually untraceable. When any population group uses knowledge obtained that has not been properly vetted, serious and often irreversible, consequences occur.
There is also the fact that most major issues facing Humanity are not capable of being digested into short paragraphs. The old complaint of news being boiled down to a sound bite is true more today than it has ever been. Categorically, no YouTube video, or Facebook post, or Tweet can capture all the elements of an issue. The mind of man cannot be forced into a neat packet. It simply is not possible. But there is no question, we all desire quick ways to learn about something. We also easily forget that there are mountains of idiosyncrasies underlying that small communiqué obtained through the new avenues of communication. It is important to remember it was visibly a rather small piece of ice that protruded out of the water as the Titanic quietly slipped by in the night.
Wings of Hope does use many of the new forms of communication, but we also rely upon the old standards of face to face meetings that may take place for many months. This allows all of the aspects of a theorem to be examined and judged. Then, when a choice is made, it is a fully and properly formed decision, and not a knee jerk reaction to some partially conveyed thought.
In all my thirty years of voluntary activities, I have never met a charity expressing so tangibly, comprehensively and efficiently the values and the inherent sacrifice (=sacrum facere) of solidarity. Will Wings of Hope win the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize? Good News Agency believes they have exceptional chances to succeed in doing so.
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Next issue: 27 May 2011.
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