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Peace and Justice

Articles from Servas Members Addressing World Peace and the Universal Human Condition

Peace & Justice Blogs

Many Servas members are doing exciting and interesting things to enhance opportunities for Peace and Social Justice. Perhaps you are involved with a local, or national, project to improve the environment, helping with refugees, engaged with various democracy enhancing projects, or a community food bank. Other Servas members may want to know, maybe even join in the effort. We invite you to contribute your story about your personal efforts to buttress Peace and Social Justice. 

Featured Articles

Unique peace and justice articles submitted by Servas members that are particularly well-written and/or might be of special interest to members. Tell us about it. Submit your stories here.

Click here to send in your story.

Click here to contact the US Servas Peace Secretary.

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  • November 25, 2023 3:33 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Servas Taiwan logoWe are happy to invite you and would be honored to have you join the 3rd Servas Peace Forum, which will be hosted by Taiwan on Saturday, December 2nd from 7:00 – 8:30 AM Eastern time. The subject of the meeting will be “Partnership with local communities and universities."

    Recently, Servas Taiwan collaborated with a community in a remote area to host Travelers. Both sides felt things went very well. Soon, Servas Taiwan will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Providence University to encourage more youth to join Servas. Come to see what they did and how to achieve this in your area. Here is a link to Register.

    We look forward to meeting you online. In peace and friendship,

    Francisco Salomón Luna Aburto / Mei Wang

    Servas International Peace Secretaries

    "Servas International has the overarching, long-term vision of a peaceful world, and its mission is to contribute to achieving this goal." 

  • November 25, 2023 2:50 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Commission on the Status of Women logoby Francisco Salomon Luna and Mei Wang (Servas International’s Peace Secretaries)  

    You are warmly invited to apply to Servas International to participate in the sixty-eighth UN CSW68 conference. The Servas International CSW68 Coordinating Team has been working on the event for some time. The team consists of Francisco Salomon Luna and Mei Wang, Hamsa Singh (SI Coordinator to the UN), Paige LaCombe (US Servas) and Kent Macaulay (Servas Canada). In addition to the core group, other Servas members have begun the legwork to organize Servas' virtual and online participation.    

    Servas International has consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. This status enables Servas members to participate in a number of UN conferences and meetings. One of these conferences is the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that takes place in March each year. The purpose of CSW is to strengthen gender equality, which is one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Servas members have been participating in CSW for the past five years, in the belief that we cannot have lasting peace in the world until we have much greater equality for all. 

    About CSW68: The next CSW conference--CSW68--will take place at the UN in New York from March 11 to 22, 2024. It will have the priority theme of empowering women and girls by addressing poverty and by strengthening institutions and financing. The conference will also be reviewing social protection systems for women and girls, their access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality. Representatives of the UN’s member countries, UN agencies and NGOs will have discussions that lead to Agreed Conclusions about what they will do to strengthen gender equality. 

     Servas International has submitted a written statement to the CSW68 convenors on the topic of women, poverty and armed conflict in time to meet the early October deadline for such submissions. Here is a link to the full written statement 

    The NGO-CSW Forum:

    The NGO-CSW Forum is organized by and for global civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Servas to help connect them with the official CSW68 process described above. The Forum has over 750 “parallel events” that inform and inspire grassroots efforts and gender equality advocacy around the world. Although the NGO-CSW Forum takes place at the same time and complements CSW68, it is a separate process with separate organizers. 

    Servas International offered its first-ever parallel event at the 2023 Forum—a virtual session on Afghan refugee women and on Servas Tűrkiye’s Peace School. We are currently discussing the possibility of Servas offering two or three parallel events at the upcoming NGO-CSW Forum in March. 

    There is no limit on the number of Servas members who can register to attend the Forum virtually. If you are interested in this, please complete and submit the Application Form by January 26. Servas will have online sessions during the weeks prior to the Forum to provide further information. 

    Participate in the UN CSW68 Conference

    The UN will allow up to 20 Servas members to attend CSW68 in-person in New York. We want all of these Servas members to attend the first week of CSW68 (March 11 to 15). If you are interested in this, please complete and submit the Application Form by December 5. The five-person CSW68 Coordinating Team will then decide which 20 Servas members will attend in-person.

    All Servas participants, whether virtual or in-person, will be asked to do a summary report on their experiences and impressions of CSW68, and to share that report with Servas’ CSW68 Coordinating Team. In addition, as part of promoting gender equality within their home country, Servas participants will be asked to share their report with the Servas newsletter, website and/or social media in their country and to share their experiences of CSW68 through a presentation for their country’s Servas members. 

    CSW68 and the NGO-CSW Forum are excellent opportunities for Servas members to learn, network and contribute to make the world a more equal and peaceful place. We welcome your interest in participating. 

  • October 25, 2023 12:02 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of Israeli woman & Palestinian woman making peace signs by Dr. Hamsavahini Singh, Peace Secretary, Servas India & Servas International’s UN Coordinator. 

    Servas International has the overarching, long-term vision of a peaceful world, and its mission is to contribute to achieving this goal.

    Friends, now when we are about to celebrate International Peace Day it seems necessary to ask ourselves the question if we are " International " anymore?Are we willing to encourage, to invite, to welcome others, our brothers and sisters on this our common property,  this earth, to visit us in our homes, in our communities, in our countries, to enjoy what we have been blessed with, our resources, our know-how, our technology, to  give them our time, our friendship, our love and affection, to make them feel at home? Or, should we confront ourselves with the question whether we have become more and more narrow-minded, small hearted, selfish, greedy, regional, parochial, ultra-nationalistic, warmongering, disturbing, arrogant, violent, threatening Peace? 

    Today the world seems to be a more frightful place than ever before with regional wars and local conflicts fueled by mistrust, distrust, mutual hostility based upon creed, caste and color of the skin with programs to deprive, displace and drive out hundreds of thousands of hapless men, women and children from their habitat, homes and homelands. Every hour of the day we come across tragic, painful, devastating reports from many parts of the world about human beings like ourselves forced to flee from their homes, from war, religious bigotry, rising prices  and climate change and the  resulting destruction at home in small, flimsy, unseaworthy, over-burdened boats risking their lives and everything they may have been able to pick-up and carry with them to find sanctuaries in strange lands for themselves, their families, their children, their future generations. 
    Mahatma Gandhi, a great source of inspiration to the likes of Bob Luitweiler and his cofounders of Servas, to Martin Luther King, to Nelson Mandela and many other " Peace-builders " around the world remarked something like this that "There is enough on this earth to provide for the "needs" of everyone but certainly not enough to satisfy the “greed" of anyone." 

    Our greed has angered Mother Nature. Our mindless hunger for more and yet more has scorched the Earth, has heated the Sky, has poisoned the Water. We are having more wildfires in more and more places, we have unprecedented droughts, heatwaves, floods, storms, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis challenging our existence. 
    It was said that "The meek shall inherit the Earth." But we are not meek, we are not humble, we are not respectful to others, we are not friendly, we do not love ourselves anymore, those around us, our environment, the world around us, our brother trees and our sister rivers and rivulets and lakes and ponds.  

    If we really desire to have peace amongst us in our world in our lifetime, we will first have to overcome our greed and stop our mindless consumption; we must be prepared to share our hearts, our minds, our concerns, our time, our know-how, our resources. Only through sharing, through love and friendship, through empathy and cooperation, through understanding and mutual respect, through deliberations and dialogue shall we be able to bring genuine and lasting peace to us, to our world. 
    We must cease to do anything to others which we would never wish   to be done to ourselves. 

    What is the way forward? How do we go from here, from this dark, dreadful, dangerous present to the bright, peaceful, happy future?  Yes, we can reach our destination, peace, joy and happiness by adopting the Values of Servas. Our beloved and esteemed family of the members of Servas open the doors to their homes, their hearts to others, to share what they have with others. We, the members of Servas can share and spread this Gospel of Love, mutual trust, friendship, active cooperation, harmony and understanding the view-points of others locally by word of mouth, by holding regular meetings of the members, by inviting others to such meetings and introducing them to the vision and values of Servas and encouraging them to become members, by writing newsletters, by writing stories and sharing experiences about the visits of our guests in newspapers and through digital media, by doing presentations about Servas in schools and colleges, in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples and clubs and associations and fraternities in our communities, in our neighborhoods. 

    On the occasion of“International Peace Day” let me share a very nice PeaceWish from the ancient Yajurveda. 

    "May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere. May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees and creepers. May peace flow over the whole universe. May peace be in the supreme being Brahman. And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone." 

  • October 25, 2023 8:20 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of two embossed passport holdersby Bill Magargal 

    US Servas presented the first-time ever Peace Awards to two outstanding members, Deborah Shimkus and Carol Trible. Because both applicants were equally inspiring, dedicated, and "noteworthy", the board decided that they would both share our "Most Noteworthy" designation, thus each will receive up to $500 reimbursement for their conference attendance & travel costs, plus each of their umbrella NGOs will receive a $500 donation from US Servas in the awardee's name. Both recipients also received a leather passport holder embossed with their name and the Servas logo (see photo). 

    Photo of Carol Trible talking about Tucson SamaritansCarol Trible received this award for her long-time work with Tucson Samaritans. The Samaritan volunteers, known as SAMs, go into the Sonoran Desert to provide water and humanitarian relief to migrants attempting to cross the treacherous and deadly landscape, made even more so by the US Border policies set in the late nineties. Carol gave an excellent twenty-minute presentation at the national conference about the Samaritans' ongoing efforts to reduce migrant deaths in the desert. The statistics on this are staggering. To view a video of Carol's presentation, visit our YouTube video. For more information about the SAMs and what they do, see Carol's article, A Walk In the Desert, which appears in the August 2023 Open Doors newsletter. 

    Photo of Peace Secretary, Karen Morian, reading letter from Deborah ShimkusDeborah Shimkus received a Peace Award for her many years of volunteer work with "Together Women Rise", a powerful community of women and allies dedicated to achieving global gender equality. This organization helps empower women around the world by providing a substantial ($30,000 to $50,000) grant each month to an organization that empowers women and girls in low-income countries. Deborah works at the grassroots level as a regional coordinator, talking to women she meets, encouraging chapters to form, to raise funds for the grants.

    Due to prior commitments Deborah was unable to attend the conference, but she did send us a moving letter that was read to the attendees by Karen Morian, our new Peace Secretary. For more information about this life-altering organization visit the Together Women Rise website. 

  • September 16, 2023 9:24 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of artist, David Kabambo, with disabled woman on a special tricycleServas Tanzania will host a painting workshop where attendees will paint artwork for a Servas Tanzania Art Auction. If attendees are uncertain of their abilities, local artists will be there to provide guidance and instruction. Proceeds from the auction will benefit rural people with disabilities by providing wheelchairs, tricycles, and other devices to people with mobility issues. 

    The project is spearheaded by David Kabambo, a Servas Malawi member. Mr. Kabambo donated 18 paintings to Servas India for the arts auction held during SICOGA. His art-- upbeat, colorful depictions of African scenes and wildlife brings smiles to all who see it.  

    One of David Kabamo's stylized paintings of grazing giraffes, zebras, elephant, and other animalsFrom 2016-2022, David Kabambo, engaged friends from Rotarian Clubs to raise funds to purchase 57 wheelchairs that were donated to people with a mobility disability living in rural areas.He hopes that this new project will result in the donation of 100 wheelchairs.  

    After the workshop, Mr. Kabambo, has arranged for attendees to visit Serengeti National Park. The workshop and safari will surely delight participants and create long lasting memories, new friendships, while contributing to the improvement of many lives in rural Tanzania. 

    The project will occur in 2024. Open Doors will run updates as we get more information on this project. 

  • September 16, 2023 8:48 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    by Francisco Salomón Luna Aburto & Mei Wang, Servas International Peace Secretaries 

    On behalf of the EXCO,  I want to thank you for your participation in the meeting that was held August 6th, 2023 to plan activities  celebrating the anniversary of Servas, the International Day of Peace, and International Servas Week.There were 32 attendees from 26 countries, so by any measure, it was a success. Here is a link to a recording of the event.We had several great presentations during the conference including one by Mr. David Kabamboof Servas Tanzania entitled Artists Peace Safari... see Sept. 2023 article “Tanzania - Art to Benefit People with Disabilities.” 

    Call to carry out a walk for peace during the month of September.  

    Let's take advantage of the month of September for a  peace walk -- an opportunity to strengthen the friendship between the members of each group, invite members who are not active, promote Servas to friends and family, share with other organizations that promote peace,spend time outdoors and learn more about the organization to which we belong. Each of us can be an ambassador of peace. Here are some things we can do: 

    • Look for local references to pilgrims for peace in your country. This has been a traditional practice in many places; you will learn many things about yourself and our world community. A wonderful example of this is the story of Mildred Norman’s 28 year peace pilgrimage 

    • Share the results of the activities (pictures, writing and videos) on social networks and in national and international newsletters to encourage the participation and involvement of members.  

    • Visit the Servas International website to find out about events and activities to be held in different places in the world, some are even virtual,so we can all participate. 

    With these actions we promote world peace.   

  • September 16, 2023 8:25 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    photo of Karen Morian, U.S. Peace SecretaryBy Karen Morian, US Servas Peace Secretary

    On August 6, Servas Peace Secretaries from six continents met online to discuss upcoming events and ongoing projects. Servas International's joint Peace Secretaries Mei Wang (Taiwan) and Francisco Salomon Luna Aburto (Mexico) moderated. Our new US Peace Secretary, Karen Morian, attended on behalf of US Servas.Watch a recording. 

    In addition to US Servas’ call for participation in the United Nations Peace Wave at noon on September 21 in recognition of the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, Servas International called for local peace walks during the month of September. Members and local chapters are encouraged to invite like-minded friends and local organizations to participate. Aside from marking the occasion, this will also increase the visibility of Servas within our local communities. Servas is also asking that all websites and social media display images with peaceful themes. More information may be found here:  

    Participants shared plans for Day of Peace activities around the world: 

    • Servas Israel plans a peace visit to Galilee in response to increasing violence there. 

    • Servas Iran will set up a telescope in a park and encourage people to view the borderless night sky to mark the event. 

    • Servas Spain and Servas Portugal will host a joint, weeklong peace meeting September 16-23rd to mark the Day of Peace, and to plan future projects and events. US Peace Secretary, Karen Morian, will attend and report back at the US Servas conference in October. 

    • Servas Argentina will hold a two-day meeting to mark the occasion and plan for the coming year. 

    • Servas Uruguay will hold a public event for children at which they will be invited to create art about Peace and/or Nature. 


    David Kabambo of Servas Tanzania presented his project, Servas Arts Tanzania; funds raised from the sale of artworks will be used topurchase wheelchairs and hand-powered tricycles for people with disabilities. Servas members who are creative artists are encouraged to donate works to be auctioned to support the initiative. The project will officially start in 2024 (see article in September Open Doors) 

  • August 06, 2023 2:11 PM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    photo of people at a stadium doing "the wave" with a banner that reads Join the UN Peace Wave"This year the UN International Day of Peace falls the day before the autumnal equinox – one of the two days a year when day and night are equal. What a metaphor! John Lennon’s “Imagine” has been an anthem to peace, but more than fifty years after it was released and more than twenty years since it was voted the UK’s favorite song of all time, it continues to be banned. Most recently, because of what has been identified as theistic intention in the lines “Imagine there’s no heaven… and no religion, too,” even though it has been demonstrated time and time again that religion separates people rather than bringing them together – think Afghanistan, Palestine, and Myanmar to name but a few.  

    There are many ways to join people around the world in observing the International Day of Peace. Here are some possibilities. We suggest that you take part in the peace wave by observing a moment of silence at noon in your local your time zone 

    Read Outcasts United ,a book about a refugee soccer team in a segregated city and how it changed things. Play fútbol. Read Rick Steves’ Travel as aPolitical Act. Hold interfaith and intercultural dialogues. Read This Is an Uprising about nonviolent revolution in the 21st century. Walk, march, parade for peace. 

    Read What the World Eats. Prepare something from The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations, featured in a previous issue of Open Doors. Feast for peace. Engage in a volunteer activity that supports peace. Share how you celebrated the International Day of Peace with us by commenting on this piece or emailing 



  • August 06, 2023 2:07 PM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    photo of the Sonora Desert in early morningby Carol Trible

    A lot of people know the Arizona desert can be deadly in the summer but may not know that it can also be deadly in the winter.  Because southern Arizona is a desert, with very low humidity, even breathing can dehydrate you. The low humidity and normally cloudless skies mean that there can be up to a 50º temperature difference between day and night, so hypothermia is also a danger, especially in the higher elevations where it is colder. 

    In the 1990’s the Border policy changed to “Prevention through Deterrence”, see Prevention Through Deterrence. This policy change meant that those desperate enough to cross the border could no longer do so at or near the border crossing cities. Instead, they were forced into more deadly areas.  Unfortunately, this official US policy has not stopped people from crossing, but instead forced them into more deadly areas, where many die each year. 

    In Southern Arizona there are a number of different organizations that try to help these people, some of them are :  Humane Borders – with large water tanks marked with flags, where crossers can get clean water;  Samaritan Patrol, the organization I belong to that does a number of different things, including hiking into the desert to put out food, water, and blankets. Another group, No More Deaths, does some of the same things as Samaritan patrol, in addition to maintaining a camp in the desert to assist folks and give them a chance to rest. 

    I joined SAM’s (what we tend to call the group) shortly after it was created over 20 years ago, first at most once a month (working full time got in the way ) then almost every week once I retired (until the pandemic). I am still working on getting back in the grove on that now mostly as part of the self-named water buffalo group. I liked doing that one over the other types of hikes, because even if we didn’t see anyone, we saw evidence through water use, that we were helping people.  At 60 I was normally the youngest person on our trips, now in my 70s, I occasionally still am.  

    A water buffalo SAM trip starts at 6 or 7 AM - depending on the time of year.  We meet at the shed, normally 3 or 4 people, but sometimes only 2.  The shed is where SAM’s (Samaritan Patrol) vehicles are stored.  We load the vehicle with food and water from the shed, make sure we have the logbook (to track what we find at the water drops), SPOT, signs and GPS’s.  

    a photo of one of the SUVs used by the Tucson Samaritans to go out into the desertSide note – our vehicles now have names – starting with Joe – named for Joe Arpaio – because a group that sued him and Maricopa County for his harassment won, and bought Joe (then a brand-new SUV) for us with part of the monetary judgement – Joe has since been retired, but we now have Samantha Jean and Ed, both named after dedicated volunteers.

    We first head to the freeway, then south, getting off at Amado, heading towards Arivaca. First stop/slowdown is the Border Patrol checkpoint, heading in we don’t have to stop, but there are some substantial speed bumps, so we aren’t going fast.  Everyone who lives in Arivaca must go over these when returning home from any place large enough to have anything besides small shops and businesses.  Normally shortly after that we pull over to put the magnetic signs on the side of the vehicle that identify us as Samaritans – some of the “travelers” (the term we now use for the border crossers) know to look for our vehicles if they need help. 

    Photo of 3 volunteers carrying water out into the desertWhen we get to our first water drop on the day’s route, we load up with water and food, and head down/up the trail.  A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. I am trying to build back up to carrying three gallons but I am still at two gallons.  Some of the hikes are relatively short, and even over moderately flat terrain, some are up and down, and at least one seems to go straight up.  The longest ones are about ¾ mile one way. We hit anywhere from 4 to 7 drops in a normal day.  

    We hike to the drop(s) – sometimes several on one route, check the usage, add water and food if needed, and carry out any trash with us.   We track the water bottle use, note what kind it is by people, natural damage (chewed by animals, pecked on by birds, stomped on by cattle, or split from freezing) or vandalized (usually shot or slashed, occasionally opened and emptied, but we it’s hard to tellthe latter  unless folks videoed themselves and posted on social media).  The usage information helps us decide how often to check drops, and to know if it is time to stop a drop and find another that is along a more used route. 

    We rarely actually see any travelers but when we do, we check with them to see how they are doing, the choice to call Border patrol is always theirs.  Most of the time, if we see someone, they are done, they are not able/willing to go on.  In any case we offer them food and water, and if they want us to call Border patrol, we do that, and wait with them (or leave someone with them if we must drive to get a signal, then return) until Border Patrol (BP) arrives.   If we see BP with people, we stop, and offer food and water, usually BP says no, that they have what is needed, but sometimes they do accept it. 

    When we are done with the day, we head back to the shed, sometimes with a stop at a local watering hole for a snack or drink, and to see if anything is going on locally.  We unpack, put everything we didn’t use back in the shed, usually wind up distributing the garbage for folks to dispose of at home, and head home.  Someone in the group will write up a report of what we did for the day, water dropped, BP or traveler encounters, etc.and email it to the group, sometimes with bird and animal sightings included also. 

    And then go home and take a shower...

    Map showing location of 63 Migrant deaths in Southern Arizona

  • June 09, 2023 6:14 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    graphic shows several NGO logos - World Central Kitchen, Samaritans, Together Women Rise, etcThe board has set a priority This year to reaffirm the "Peace" part of US Servas... we are not just a travel group. In March we established the first US Servas Peace Awards to recognize members who inspire us by doing a bit more to promote peace and justice than many of us do.The objective is to motivate by example... showing people engaged in peace and justice activities as part of their life. We are not looking for superheroes. 

    We currently have two nominees... we know there are many other members doing noteworthy things, so please, by all means nominate them.Remember, we are not looking for superheroes or Nobel Prize candidates... just members doing a bit more. 

    So why do we have an award? Well, first, to recognize members, and hopefully, inspire others to do a bit more. The hitch is, most of the members doing P&J work are doing it from their heart, not for recognition. They often say things like, "There are plenty of other people doing more, etc." So how do we motivate them to be a nominee... A significant donation (up to $500) to the NGO that they work with. Here is how to nominate someone.  

    • Log in to US Servas and click on the MEMBERS AREA menu item. 

    • Then choose US Peace Awards 

    • This will open the Peace Awards Nomination webpage. Review the criteria on the page, then complete the nomination form and click "Submit". 

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The Gendered Digital Divide 

By Yosi McIntire

Unquestionably, digitalization is rapidly transforming societies. Unprecedented socio-economic advances can be expected. However, it is generally acknowledged that young women, girls, and gender-diverse youth and adolescents—especially poorer ones in rural areas—are disproportionately and systematically excluded from access to technology. ... more

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