Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel in Monaco invited by PeaceJam

Be the peace you want to see in the world

PaceJam LogoThe PeaceJam Foundation organised the visit of Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina, winner of the the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his leadership in human rights and democracy for the people of Latin America. The unrelenting peace activist, an opponent of all violence, participated in a youth conference, held in conjunction with the International Film Premiere of PeaceJam’s documentary “Rivers of Hope”, based on his life and work, within the framework of the 55th TV Festival of Monte-Carlo.

Thanks to the efforts of PeaceJam cofounders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, and several concerned Monegasques, notably Isabelle Bonnal, Director of National Education, Youth and Sports, Claudia Abate-Debat, chairman of PeaceJam and Executive Director and President of the Board of The Foundation for Post Conflict Development, and members of the Association Monaco-Argentina (AMA), several events were organised in the Principality during Esquivel’s visit.

PeaceJam – Educate, inspire and act

The PeaceJam Foundation, created back in 1966, is an international organization whose mission is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Laureates who pass on their spirit, skills and wisdom. PeaceJam provides the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates with a useful programming in working together to convey our yough the art of peace. To date, 13 Nobel Peace Laureates, including the 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, President Oscar Arias, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Betty Williams, José Ramos-Horta, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sir Joseph Rotblat (Emeritus), Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee serve as Members of the PeaceJam Foundation.

The campaign, spearheaded by 13 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the 14th Dalai Lama, works to inspire average citizens around the world to become agents of change and serve their communities by doing simple acts of peace. All of the high quality projects eligible for the awards addressed one of the 10 core issue areas facing humanity designated by the Nobel Peace Laureates, such as rights for women and children, access to clean water for all, global climate change and alleviating extreme poverty. This year’s Hero Awards recognize projects completed since June 2014.

Billion Acts of Peace Hero Awards

One Billion Acts of Peace LogoThe PeaceJam Foundation organized an official awards ceremony to recognise the winners of its One Billion Acts of Peace Campaign Hero Awards, on June 14, 2105, at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte-Carlo, highlighting the importance of action in helping to change the world. The ceremony was hosted by Nobel Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

“One Billion Acts of Peace is creating a new generation of young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world around them,” said Dawn Engle, PeaceJam Foundation co-founder and executive director. “We couldn’t be prouder of the positive impact made by all of our volunteers and are thrilled to recognize these participants as a small tribute to their immense contributions.”

The awards were selected for demonstrating exemplary public service in five categories:

Best Youth Act: Ghana Health Campaign -The goal is to help eradicate cholera in West Africa through community-based actions. Participating youth showed tremendous courage in the face of huge risk to make a monumental difference in West Africa.

Best Business Act: WoofTrax: Walk for a Dog – WoofTrax is a community based mobile app that raises funds for local animal shelters. The group’s socially conscious model and innovative technology offers a successful role model for businesses.

Best Non-Profit Act: ASANA – The name stands for Asociacion Amigos de la Naturaleza for Friends of Nature of the Central and Southern Pacific Coast. Their goal is to preserve the natural ecosystems of Costa Rica. Local citizens took a comprehensive and hyper-local approach to protect the environment.

Best Up and Coming Act: Promotora Mexicana de Valores Deportivos A.C. -The group provided much needed medical supplies to those affected by violence in Mexico’s conflict zones. Participants worked hard to address conflict resolution and help heal their local community.

“We applaud all of our Hero Award nominees for taking the first step, for recognizing some of the challenges and inequities in their own communities, and for having the courage to stand up and do something about it,” said PeaceJam Foundation President and Co-founder Ivan Suvanjieff. “Their work will serve as an example and as an inspiration to citizens around the world.”

World premiere of Rivers of Hope at Monte-Carlo TV Festival

The film directed by Dawn Engle, co-founder and Executive Director of PeaceJam Foundation, chronicles the story of Latin America over the past 80 years as seen through the eyes of Esquivel as he shares his own, very personal journey, full of tragedy and hope, illustrating the ongoing struggle for human rights and social justice across Latin America.  After 30 years of rule by military dictators, the people of Argentina struggled to break the bonds of oppression in the late 1970s. Unrelenting in his non-violent approach, Esquivel helped pull a battered community through the “Dirty War,” and has spent the four decades since working peacefully to build a better Latin America for all.

We had the privilege to be the first to view the documentary, which will be available exclusively on Google Play from June 16 through September 21. “Adolfo Pérez Esquivel: Rivers of Hope” is the third in a Nobel Legacy series produced by the PeaceJam Foundation. The PeaceJam Foundation has been nominated eight times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and more than one million young people worldwide participate in PeaceJam programs. In June of 2014, PeaceJam launched an international global citizens movement led by thirteen Nobel Peace Laureates, “One Billion Acts of Peace,” designed to inspire individuals to become agents of change and tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the planet. The campaign has generated more than four million acts of peace to date. Desmond Tutu and six other Nobel Peace Prize winners have just nominated this campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Monegasque students working for peace

The students of the school Francois D’Assise Nicolas Barre (FANB) carried out different activities through their involvement with the Peacejam program.   The most important one was made possible thanks to the Spanish teachers, the FANB librarian, an advisor, a physics teacher, a couple of English teachers in collaboration with the Association Monaco-Argentina (AMA). It consisted in contacting the Wichi community in Argentina, and then establishing a correspondence between our students and the Witchis to help them build a library and share the same books to discover each other’s culture. On Thursday, June 11, 2015, a reading corner “Julio Cortazar” was inaugurated in the CDI (library) especially devoted to Spanish books, in the presence of Adolfo Perez Esquivel and members of AMA.

Through their involvement in the project the FANB students learned about PeaceJam and their relentless work towards peace in the world; the indigenous Witchis population; and last but not least about Adolfo Perez Esquivel’s fight for injustice. In doing so they had the chance to learn about the lives of iconic figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama and more. The students also carried out fundraising activities –writing poems on Saint Valentine’s, bake sales and raffles- to help in the library project.

Before presenting their project and inaugurating the Reading Corner, Mme Isabelle Bonnal took the stage to express her gratitude to thank everybody involved at FANB who made the project a reality, from Madame Laure Medecin, Director of the school, to teachers and students. She specially thanked Adolfo Perez Esquivel for his presence and for his fight for the respect of human rights. It was truly a very emotional moment when Esquivel himself addressed the students telling them that “Love is Action”, “Never be indifferent to injustice”, and “Keep smiling because there is hope.” The few Argentines that were present, including myself, had our eyes filled with tears listening to the wise words of this incredibly courageous and humble man, an inspiration to persecuted people all over the world.

Honoring a humble hero

On Friday, June 12, Claudia Abate-Debat in collaboration with Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff from PeaceJam organised a cocktail at the Yacht Club of Monaco kindly offered by club members Mr and Mrs Zsolt Lavotha, followed by a dinner generously hosted by Mr Ribal Al-Assad, Founding Chairman of the Iman Foundation, in honour of Adolfo Perez Esquivel and his lovely wife Amanda Guerreño Esquivel, who is a celebrated pianist and composer from Argentina. What a privilege to have the chance to partake with a humble Nobel Prize winner who has dedicated his life to peace and human dignity.

Today’s quote

“We must apply our humble efforts to the construction of a more just and humane world. And I want to declare emphatically: Such a world is possible. To create this new society, we must present outstretched and friendly hands, without hatred and rancor, even as we show great determination and never waver in the defense of truth and justice. Because we know that we cannot sow seeds with clenched fists. To sow we must open our hands.” Adolfo Perez Esquivel


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