GOODWILL AMBASSADOR WALKS FOR PEACE AGAIN
In 2015 peace activist Paul Haines walked from the Vatican to Jerusalem to raise awareness and funds for Children of Peace. To honour his achievement Paul was made a Goodwill Ambassador to Children of Peace. This year, Paul will be walking again. Here Paul outlines his plans.
“Following on from my Walk for Peace from the Vatican, Rome to Jerusalem in 2015, I’m continuing my work for peace in many different ways, including supporting Children of Peace.
I still reflect strongly about the time I spent in Israel and Palestine meeting so many inspirational people working so hard to bring peace to a very troubled part of the world. And witness the very important part that Children of Peace contributes to this.
I recognise the importance of drawing attention to those that work for peace. There are many groups and individuals playing an important role in the peace process. But so often they are not connected with others, or not recognised for their valuable contribution.
My travels for peace are very important to me. This year I will be in Scotland and Scandinavia which will allow me to meet more people and groups to help the Links to Peace website I’m developing. The site offers a way for connections and links to be made, in the same way that Children of Peace’s Coalition of Peace works to raise awareness of so many groups.
In April and May this year, four weeks will be spent travelling around Scotland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Inverness and Dunfermline.
For over two months in July and August, I will be Walking for Peace between the major cities in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, with time spent in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki.
In 2019, I Walked for Peace from London to Brussels, Amsterdam and Hamburg. This year I will start from Hamburg and on to Scandinavia. Hopefully in the years ahead, my ambition for Walking for Peace will be taking me all around the cities in Europe. There is also a global ambition as well, and in 2019 I travelled around Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Vietnam. Hopefully there will be more plans to follow!
I would like to congratulate all at Children of Peace for the valuable work they have achieved over these last 20 years, and I look forward to maintaining a close connection in the years ahead and to continue supporting the precious work and aims of Children of Peace.”
One of the main reasons for my Walk for Peace from Rome to Jerusalem was due to the experience I had of walking through endless First World War cemeteries in North West France. This was on my 2014 walk from London to Rome, where I also encountered refugees in France and Italy fleeing from war. This led me to think more about peace, and resulted in a feeling that I would like to do something. I wanted to reflect on the futility of war, and the feeling of hopelessness that many can feel in waging peace. I wanted to attempt to cast a stone in the water to hopefully create some ripples.
On my way, walking to Jerusalem, I was overwhelmed by the wonderful encounters and experiences I had. I was also amazed by the enthusiastic media coverage. I am now extremely keen to let more people know about the hopes and aspirations of those who expressed themselves in the books that I carried. And the messages that were left on my website, and also with my memories of countless conversations.
In choosing to support Children of Peace, I found I could so easily identify with and talk with others about the work of the charity across the Middle East, regardless of boundaries and beliefs. I also felt very strongly about the importance of the role that children have for the future. I look forward to doing whatever I can to help the charity with its work.
I walked to Jerusalem, and that in itself was an extraordinary experience. But the time I spent in Israel and the West Bank was even more of an eye-opener. The situation is so complex and fraught with problems and difficulties, and yet there are so many beacons of light. There are so many groups, so many individuals carrying out incredible work.
I learnt a lot about the word Peace while I was there, but I also learnt about Justice, Freedom and Dignity. I’m hopeful for the future, despite the problems and injustices that I could see. I’d like to imagine a world where everyone can freely shake each other’s hands. Where people, without fear, can meet eye to eye, and marvel at the smile that is in all of us. Ultimately it would be for everyone to acknowledge that we are all different, but that we are all here to share this world.
Israeli and Palestinian Children of Peace-makers
Paul Haines (pictured below, left) was welcomed to Jerusalem by our Regional Representative, Dr Rena Shimoni (pictured below, right). Rena organised a whole raft of visits for Paul to give him a taste of the region. We thank her sincerely for all her hard work. Here are some pictures of the amazing people and places in Israel and Palestine, she and Paul met and visited.