The International Day of Peace, or #PeaceDay, is celebrated each year on 21 September and is dedicated ‘commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples’. In order to promote a culture of peace on an international scale, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek taught grade 7 learners at Ruimte Primary School in Rehoboth, Namibia about peace, and the students wrote letters to students in South Africa, serving as #PeacePals.
Diving into the presentation, UNIC Windhoek asked what peace means, and together, the learners provided a multidimensional definition. The learners raised their hands and mentioned that it means ‘non-violence’, ‘love’ and ‘when people get along’.
Then, the topic switched to why peace is important. The learners listened intently as the UNIC Windhoek team explained that peace prevents unnecessary disputes and conflicts from happening and with that, ensures that people are not put in danger. Peace also promotes development and creates long-lasting, friendly relationships.
The students then learned that there are many organisations across the globe that promote peace, including the United Nations and its various agencies. Specifically, through the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, men and women from different countries are sent to areas where there is conflict in order to help the local governments establish peace and security with the aim of creating a safer and healthier environment for all people living in that area.
Besides UN Peacekeeping, the United Nations General Assembly has passed various resolutions and agreements which also aim to promote peace across the globe. These include the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015 and aim to promote sustainable development, eradicate poverty, ensure that human rights are upheld for all people and protect the environment. Through this, the SDGs promote peace.
The learners noticed that Goal 16 involved the promotion of peace, and specifically this goal aims to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. Although world leaders adopted the SDGs, it will take the dedication of all people for these goals to be achieved, including the younger generation. In order to spread peace and to play a part in achieving the SDGs and specifically Goal 16, UNIC Windhoek introduced the #PeacePals programme to the students.
The students were excited to spread peace by writing letters and being #PeacePals with students outside of Namibia. The students answered a few different questions on their #PeacePals postcards; What does peace mean to you?; What do you do in your life to promote peace?; and what is your favorite part of living in Namibia? The students also posed a question to their #PeacePal about peace in their home country.
One student wrote, “To me, peace means loving each other and caring for each other. I would like to help other children in order to promote peace.” Another student said, “I donate some of my stuff to kids who don’t have any toys in order to promote peace.” In regards to living in Namibia, one student said, “I love living in Namibia because of the people living here. They care for each other.”
These letters will be sent to students in South Africa in order to promote international peace as well as to help children realise that children all over the world are connected and have many things in common. UNIC Windhoek is working with UNIC Pretoria on the initiative and looks forward to receiving letters back from the #PeacePals.