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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.


  • 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". 


  • May 04, 2023 1:12 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Graphic - words love, harmony, peace, joy with US Servas Peace Award logoNominations Open for US Servas Peace Prize 

    As a Servas traveler and/or host you have probably met people who inspire you with their efforts to make life better for others. Maybe it is someone like US member Allison F. who has worked for extended periods with World Central Kitchen to provide food for Ukrainian refugees in Hungary, and at the Texas border for refugees from Central America. Perhaps it is a member who has worked for years providing water and much needed supplies to immigrants in the desert, or someone who has taken refugees into their home. 

    Many of these people, like Allison, are loathe to toot their own horn, and protest with statements like, "There are many others who do this," or "It's nothing, it is just what I do." These are exactly the kind of people we want to know about, and perhaps recognize with one of three US Servas Peace Awards See Details. These awards are intended to recognize their efforts, to inspire other members, and to support the NGO with which they are affiliated. We are not looking for the next Desmond Tutu, or Mother Teresa. We simply want to emphasize and celebrate the US Servas mission of peace.  

    So please, if you know an inspirational US Servas member, nominate them for one of the awards. This will further confirm our commitment to peace, provide a significant donation to a worthy NGO, and offset conference attendance costs for the awardee.  

    Nominations will be accepted until July 31, 2023. The awards will be presented at our 2023 National Conference Oct. 6-8 in upstate New York. Here is a link to the nomination form. If you have questions, please email PeaceSecretary@usservas.org. We look forward to learning about and being inspired by all the amazing things US Servas members are accomplishing to make the world a better and more peaceful place. 

  • May 04, 2023 1:06 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of two women packing bags of food at a food pantryBy Deirdre Marlowe 

    Servas members are people who believe that a shared world should be a civil and understanding world. In our experience this also means that many Servas members volunteer in the community. In addition to one-time service, some volunteers have regular gigs. We’d like you to share them with the community – perhaps the gift you make of your time and talent may inspire others to do the same.  

    Many of our members do peace and justice related activities. They may also do other community building work, for example,PaigeLaCombe, former Servas Peace Secretary, is a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo (specializing in birds). Richard Weaver, Board Chair, volunteers at the San Diego Zoo, the Old Globe Theatre, and the San Diego Symphony. Open Doors editor, Deirdre Marlowe, has served on the Food Waste & Recovery working group of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council – did you know that nearly 25% of Los Angeles residents are food insecure and that California is responsible for 11% of the nation’s agricultural production? She also serves on the board of an arts nonprofit bringing musical theatre show writing to underserved schools.  

    We want to find out what you do. Please submit your on piece on the news submissions webpage, or email it to publications@usservas.org. Pictures would be awesome! 

  • May 04, 2023 9:17 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    photo of woman in suit making peace sign in front of US Servas logoUpdate: July 2023.  Position filled.  Click here to see our new Peace Secretary. 

    Recently, our long-term Peace Secretary, Yosi McIntire offered his resignation so that he could travel more. Yosi has been an inspiration to us all for his tireless commitment to peace and justice. We thank him for his energy and involvement with the board, especially his most recent project to set up the new US Servas Peace Awards. 

    US Servas and Servas International want to reestablish our organizations’ commitment to peace by moving it to the forefront of our website, publications, marketing efforts, events we host, and organizational structures. Servas International now has two, dynamic Peace Secretaries, Francisco Solomon Luna of Mexico, and Mai Wang of Taiwan. Both are outgoing, personable, and strong advocates for the P&J component of Servas. We look forward to sharing ideas and projects with them. 

    As we move forward, we see this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the position with new ideas.Thus, we are looking for a new US Peace Secretary to build and lead the US Servas Peace & Justice team… someone who is an excellent start-up leader with fresh ideas, networking skills, the ability to work with and motivate others, and to share a vision for this group. We are hopeful that our new Peace Secretary will develop a strong team and set up procedures to ensure the team’s ongoing success in the future.    

    The Peace Secretary serves as an ex-officio board member. The Peace Secretary attends board meetings to update and inspire the board and serves as liaison to Servas International to ensure coordination.As the lead on our USS Peace and Justice Team, the Peace Secretary works with the team to administer our new Peace Award, to monitor and encourage Peace Projects throughout the country, and to inform our members of national and international projects and activities. If you know of someone, possibly yourself, who might be interested in this pivotal position in US Servas, please email PeaceSecretary@USServas.org. 

  • April 05, 2023 7:45 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body that is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

    This year, 50 Servas International Representatives attended CSW67 in New York City, including US members, Paige LaCombe, who did a "Welcome" presentation, and Yosi McIntire's (see writeup in our April Open Doors newsletter). A total of twelve Servas members attended in person, and thirty-eight virtually. They came from the following countries:

    Botswana

    Germany

    Kyrgyzstan

    Thailand

    Brazil

    India

    Mexico

    Gambia

    Britain

    Iran

    New Zealand

    Turkey

    Canada

    Italy

    Portugal

    US

    France

    Japan

    Taiwan

    Ukraine

    L to R - Paige LaCombe, Alvana Santiago (Brazil), Fidele Rtayisire (Rwanda), Francisco Salamón (Mexico), Yosi McIntire, Christy Sanford, and Natalie Petersen 

    The buzz emanating from the conference was huge. Attendees were impressed with depth and quality of the sessions and presentors. One particularly well-received presentation was the Women and Girl's Access to Education in Afghanistan, and Türkiye Servas International Peace School, moderated by Julie Cormack of Servas Canada. Here is a link to the video presentation.

  • April 02, 2023 7:23 PM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    by Yosi McIntire

    With a reason for every war and a war for every reason, what hope is there for peace? War is always a tragedy for all concerned. Every war challenges international law as well as the authority and credibility of the UN and its Charter—designed in 1945 to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” 

    My entire life I’ve questioned wars from different perspectives. I have been opposed to all wars. But Chapter VII of the UN regulates “Actions with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression.” However, we have seen NATO’s military campaigns in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq egregiously violate Art. 2(4) with impunity. Art. 2(4) states:  

    All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. 

    All UN member states have an obligation to settle differences by peaceful means through in-good-faith negotiations. Now we see the Russian military violating the UN Charter. And again, I find myself seeing nations resort to war. Each new war brings flashbacks of countless others where international law was transgressed. I wonder if the credibility of the UN Charter will ever be real. 

    In the Ukraine, each side makes competing arguments concerning international laws. One focuses on international order, the other on justice and rights. Each thinks the other’s reasoning is a ploy. The position of the US and NATO rests on the principle of sovereign rights, non-intervention, and a state’s right to choose their allies—the integrity of sovereignty.  

    On the other side, Russia has for years considered NATO’s expansion to her borders an existential threat.  The vast majority of the population in Crimea and in the Donbas identify as Russian. So, Russia also points to the right to self-determination and the responsibility to protect people in harm’s way. (See editor’s note below.) 

    At some point, the fighting will stop. The sooner the better! Clearly the European Union, Ukraine, and Russia would do better if instead of fighting, they cooperated with one another. Eventually a security architecture that takes into account the national security concerns of all countries—including Russia—will be found. The perpetuation of war only escalates death and destruction, increases global climate change and global food-insecurity, and risks global nuclear engagement. 

    Editor’s Note: Shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held a national referendum in which more than 90% of its population voted to make Ukraine an independent state. In 1994, the U.S., Boris Yeltsin as President of the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom signed the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine. In exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of all nuclear weapons, they pledged to respect Ukraine's independence and sovereignty within its existing borders, and refrain from the threat or the use of force against them. 


  • April 02, 2023 1:16 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    By Yosi McIntire, US Servas Peace and Justice Secretary

    The current military budget is approaching $1 trillion.  Today, most holders of the more common mutual fund portfolios are not concerned about being invested in weapons manufacturers’ stocks. Much of the American public has essentially bought into acquiescence. Typically, college students have little knowledge or interest in the anti-war movement that once thrived on campuses.

    Joan Roelofs’ new book “The Trillion Dollar Silencer: Why There Is So Little Anti-War Protest in the United States” (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2022), suggests the answer is money.

    Particularly important is the fact that military bases have been placed strategically across the country, often in remote rural areas, where they become the life blood of economic development. Millions of American workers find jobs with military contractors or their subsidiaries, which finance scholarships and internships.

    The military’s extensive philanthropic endeavors have helped to normalize militarism. A significant portion of grants to universities, businesses and engineering firms are geared to research and funding to train the next generation of weapons-producers. Opposition to U.S. foreign policy in universities has resulted in dismissal from employment.

    According to Roelofs, our over-reliance on military spending is taking its toll. The link between bloated military spending and issues such as climate-change inaction, environmental protection, the crisis in public education, health-care, housing, poverty, etc. has been all but abandoned while the military industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned about in his Farewell Address in 1961, continues to always gets its way. Meanwhile we are witnessing a continued deterioration in civilian industrial infrastructure, political polarization, a negative balance of trade, and a mounting deficit.

    Investment in civilian research, and an anti-war movement are desperately needed.


  • April 02, 2023 1:12 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    by Deirdre Marlowe

    US Servas, just like Servas International, has a Peace & Justice Secretary. Both organizations have mission statements: Peace and understanding through travel and hosting. In this context, what do Peace and Peace & Justice mean since Servas is not an advocacy organization? 

    Here Peace & Justice refer to efforts that “encourage individual and collective action by citizes as actors in society for the promotion of peace and justice in the world. It seeks to strengthen citizen responsibility both locally and globally.”

    When we invite people from elsewhere into our homes, and vice versa, we learn about others – we represent our country, and they theirs. Few traveler or host experiences are negative, and even when they are, we reason that not everybody from, for example, France, can be like that so it’s a win for peace and understanding.

    There are many ways to work for peace and not all of them involve directly protesting or fighting war. It becomes more complicated when you are put in the position of deciding whether or not something is a “good” war, e.g., World War II, or perhaps the current conflict in Ukraine. You are working for peace if you actively support any of the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals. And so, by definition, Servas hosts and travelers are all working for peace and justice.

    We would love to hear about member efforts. Share your story here.  


  • April 02, 2023 1:10 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Francisco Salomon Luna, SI Peace Secretary on the Road

    While at the recent 2022Servas International Conference 
    and General Assembly (SICOGA)_ meeting in India, I applied – and was selected – for the International Peace Secretary position. I will serve for three years in this capacity together with Mei Wang from Taiwan. 

    I was born in Mexico in 1980. My origins are a mixture of European, Asian, Middle Eastern and indigenous Mesoamerican. I was offered a scholarship to study in China and joined Servas in 2004. A neighbor's daughter, who had taken a trip to Europe using Servas contacts, recommended this organization to me. During my stopover in Seoul, South Korea, I sought Servas hospitality. It turned out to be an extraordinary experience! I was treated as if I were a family member or a lifelong family friend.  

    When I returned home from China, I wanted to offer that same hospitality to Servas travelers visiting Mexico. I contacted Servas to express my interest in participating more actively as a volunteer. I became an assistant to Lilli Kerekes, the Mexican Youth coordinator. In due course I took over as Youth coordinator. In 2010, I participated in the first International Youth Meeting held in Mexico. After that, I became the Servas Mexico Peace Secretary as well as coordinator of Mexico City. In 2017 and again in 2020, I was elected Servas Mexico National Secretary. Throughout the Covid pandemic, in addition to being a host and traveler, I participated in Servas meetings in Kyrgistan, Costa Rica, Spain, Korea and India. I also engaged in the SYLE program in Brazil and Making Connections in Israel.  

    While at the recent 2022 SICOGA meeting in India, I applied – and was selected – for the International Peace Secretary position. I will serve for three years in this capacity together with Mei Wang from Taiwan. As International Peace Secretary, I intend to maintain communication with other National Peace Secretaries to try to promote activities and events that promote Servas and that connect Servas to other organizations that have the similar objectives.  

    I believe that small actions can have significant impact. Everything counts in the promotion of peace. The virtue of selfless “hosting of the pilgrim” appears in all the religions, cultures and philosophies of the world. Welcoming strangers into our homes, generates a positive energy that raises our consciousness and broadens our understanding. As ambassadors of our respective cultures of origin, the interaction between host and traveler convinces us that even if in many ways we are different and may have different view-points, we can be good friends. This is something of great value when we consider the human actions that sustain the world.  

    -- Translated by Yosi, U.S. Peace Secretary

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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