NewGen Peacebuilders taking its Peace Education to Beirut, Lebanon

NewGen Peacebuilders (NGP) is a peace education and mentoring program for high school and university students. NGP is endorsed by the Rotary Action Group for Peace and is gaining momentum beyond eight USA-based and two International Rotary Districts in South America. We are seeking partners to introduce NGP to Beirut Lebanon, including a “train the Trainer” component to sustain the program. This will be the first time a Rotary Foundation Global Grant has funded peace education and mentoring in Lebanon.

Led by Rotary Peace Fellow Patricia Shafer, the program incorporates best practices in youth leadership, conflict transformation and peacebuilding featuring Team Action Peace Projects.

Capture Water

Peace Projects address core issues such as education inequality, poverty, environmental challenges, and refugee inclusion. NGP content reflects global issues and opportunities while adapting to local language, culture and circumstance.

Participants earn the NewGen Peacebuilder Certificate and gain hands-on experience in peace-centered problem-solving.

A recent graduate said “College history classes focus on preventing war, and that has its place, but I love the NewGen focus on promoting peace.”  Graduates align well towards Rotaract, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships and Rotary Peace Fellowships along their path of diplomacy and world understanding.

NGP Argentina Students

In 2017-18, NGP was introduced in D4920-Central Argentina, funded by a Global Grant sponsored by D5130-Northern California and the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa. The program introduced NGP in three locations near Buenos Aires.

The “train the Trainer” element will expand NGP into 12 Argentinean cities. The locally equipped NGP Facilitators are supported by passionate Rotarians, NGP staff, and a proprietary on-line training tool.  The Santa Rosa Club also introduced NGP into local community secondary schools creating opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue with Argentina participants.

Ranking of Events

Also during 2017, D7570 (Virginia/Tennessee) introduced NGP with a cohort from six universities within its district. District leadership has since expanded NGP into secondary schools.

Based on solid relationships with Rotarians in Beirut Lebanon, D7570 and D2452 (Lebanon and eight other Mid-East Countries) agreed at the 2017 International Convention to introduce NGP to a university level cohort in Beirut, building on the Global Grant model established in Argentina. The Host Partner is the Beirut Cosmopolitan Club and International Partner is D7570. After keynoting the 2018 Presidential Peacebuilding Conference in Beirut, Patricia Shafer gathered local citizens’ direct experiences from conflicts in Lebanon and Syria as the basis for the grant Community Needs Assessment.

We are seeking District & Club level Global Grant Supporters. The total Beirut Lebanon project budget is $97,000. We have $65,000 committed. Supporters will be invited to observe and participate in the Beirut Lebanon project and further understand the opportunity of the NGP program within their Communities, Districts and beyond. NGP Beirut will occur in Calendar Year 2019.


Eighty students from multiple universities and diverse religious and socio-economic backgrounds will be selected to participate in NGP Beirut.  Thirty project mentors, including Rotarians and Rotaractors, will bring passion and service experience.

Together, they will achieve a high level of community engagement in a 21st-century approach to peacebuilding.

The project includes three phases: (1) On-site and virtual training leading to Team Action Peace Projects; (2) Teams form across diverse backgrounds, select and implement Team Action Peace Projects based on shared passions. Teams share results with the broader community in understanding the role of Rotary in global peacebuilding; (3) “train the Trainer” to certify Local NGP Facilitators.

Please join our “Peace Train” – next stop Beirut Lebanon!

Additional Information


Thank You for Supporting NewGen Peacebuilders!

El Oasis Soacha Center is Ready for Community Service!

How in the world did we turn this…..

Image Before

into this….


Led by the 24 Member Rotary Club of Bogota Laureles, supported by three Districts and eight Rotary Clubs in the Southeastern US, Rotary has created a unique, safe community center in Soacha benefiting 250 children and creating community leaders through evening conflict resolution programs.

With a few finishing touches, El Oasis will provide a safe place for children.   Sister Luz Marina now has the keys!IMG_2198

How does a $325,000 project come together?  Passion, Skill, and Rotary Magic!  The driving force included (pictured below L-R) Rotarians Bernardo Martinez-Villalba (General Contractor), Alejendro Molino (Windows & Doors) and Udo Rungeler (Computers, Books and Furnishings).   What a team!

Bernardo Udo and Alejandro cropped

Bogota Laureles Rotarians focused on two years of fundraising during the design phase while Rotary District 7570 led the Rotary Global Grant application.  During construction, Bernardo, Alejandro and Udo applied their skills towards completing the building in just over 12 months — fantastic!  This seems like a long time ago…


As for the Rotary Magic – its the glue, the shared feeling of purpose that brings together Clubs across continents along with expert guidance from The Rotary Foundation staff.  That, and the magic of helping kids in Soacha already enjoying a meal at El Oasis:


Check out our July 23rd El Oasis video tour  HERE




Stumbling Across a Movement: NewGen Peacebuilders Empowers Young Adults

American inventor Charles Kettering said “Keep on going, and chances are you will stumble onto something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”   On a Saturday in May 2016, I got off my tail, visited a neighboring Rotary District Conference and stumbled upon NewGen Peacebuilders, a movement led by Rotary Peace Fellow Patricia Shafer.  That Saturday meeting with Patricia was the spark for NewGen Peacebuilders in our Rotary District.

NewGen Peacebuilders is a program that centers on peace and conflict resolution, a Cause for Rotary Action.  The program forms a cohort of college or high school students through application & interview.  The program provides a series of weekend workshop/retreats, independent study and webinars covering conflict resolution, human rights, gender & race equality using nonviolent communication, conflict transformation and peacebuilding techniques.  Students form teams based on passions for issues – then apply techniques towards team peace education projects.  Peace education projects, like service projects, begin in the Community.  Think Global Act Local.  The result was peace education projects in communities like yours.

The program attracts those destined for international exchange, ambassadorial scholars, even Peace Fellows along their paths of diplomacy and world understanding.  We in Rotary expect to see these students again – each is worthy of our support.

Rotary District 7570 introduced the NewGen Peacebuilder program to college and university students in September 2017.  Our charter class of 21 students gathered from five Virginia Campuses including Mary Baldwin, James Madison, Washington & Lee, Virginia Tech, and Bluefield College.  An amazing cohort!  Meet our Charter Students in this “DG Moment” Video.

Weekend Workshops were held at Washington & Lee University.  The workshops were led by Rotary Peace Fellows and NewGen Co-Founders Patricia Shafer and Phil Gittins.  Students were assisted by a passionate group of District 7570 Rotarian Mentors having conflict resolution experience and skills, led by Bluefield Rotarian Assaad Mounzer.   Lexington Rotarians provided lodging and meals for students.

Classes involved facilitated group discussions…

Faciliatatd Group disc

Students selected and justified the most meaningful events towards peace:

Ranking of Events

Students unbundled major current issues using The Conflict Tree.  Check out this Basic Conflict Tree Explanation Here

Root Cause Analsis.JPG

Teams formed based on passions for various Core Issues.  Teams then set out to better understand the Core Issue components through Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping

Real-time research, data mining and mentor guidance resulted in a deeper understanding of the Core Issue.

Formation of Team Peace Projexts

More research….


….followed by discussion and synthesis of group peace education project proposals….

In Depth Discussion


Well considered team projects resulted.  For example, one project called Keep It Clean: Water Quality Awareness and Advocacy addressed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and water quality in Staunton, Virginia.  Check out the short presentation Here

Capture Water

Another Project called Connected Across Culture: Facilitating Refugee/Police Dialogue – created a cross cultural awareness program including the Sudanese Community and Police in Harrisonburg, Virginia, resulting in new dialogue among 40 Sudanese Adults, 11 Children and five Officers.  Check out the short presentation Here


NewGen Peacebuilders has a place in our Cause for Peace & Conflict Resolution, and we look forward to expanding the program within our District and introducing the program to Rotarian friends beyond our District – hopefully next in Beirut Lebanon.

Consider “stumbling” into NewGen Peacebuilders.  You will meet amazing young adults and become more aware of community issues.  Contact Me for more.

Effective Healthcare in Appalachia: Our Mobile Vision Unit

Blank Skin MVU Truck & TrailerCropped

This unassuming rig will soon deliver vision care to over 1,000 Appalachian Neighbors per year  – thanks to the collaborative efforts of Rotary District 7570, The Rotary Foundation, Friends in Need, Appalachian Miles for Smiles, Remote Area Medical (RAM-USA), the Lions Club, The Health Wagon and Cigna Health.   Now there’s a partnership focused on doing good in our world!

We will reach patients who would otherwise not receive optical care from lack of local providers and/or inability to pay.  Patients will receive a comprehensive eye exam, eyeglasses (lenses to be ground on centrally located RAM USA equipment & frames provided by the Lions Club), referrals for diagnosed eye disease and general health indications (including hypertension and diabetes).  A comprehensive eye examination does a lot of good!

Cigna Health donated the 40 foot diesel-powered and air conditioned trailer.  Here’s a look at the inside prior to renovation – looks kinda tight!

Inside MVU blank

Rotary will outfit the trailer with three optical evaluation stations and one ophthalmic eye examination station.  Friends in Need will operate the unit alongside the Appalachian Miles for Smiles  The total renovation cost is $50,000 – including $10,000 being raised by Rotarians in local clubs and $40,000 in Rotary Foundation matching funds.   Rotarians will dedicate 860 hours to transform the trailer into a Mobile Vision Unit in the summer of 2018, the result much like the Dental Unit already in operation:

RAM Oral Surgery

How did this happen?  It started with a solid partnership with Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia Rotarians along with the founders of Appalachian Miles for Smiles.  We shared the vision that mobile health is an effective delivery system in Appalachia.  Next we visited the Remote Area Medical Health Fair in Wise Virginia, summer 2016:

Joe and John

Johnson City retired Orthodontist John Bradshaw (L) and Kingsport Pediatrician Joe Ley, both active Rotarians, toured the Wise health fair with then Rotary District Governor-Elect Dick Ray and were amazed at the scale and efficiency of the RAM event – treating  1,000 patients with comprehensive health services in three days.   Founded by Stan Brock (remember “Wild Kingdom”?), these are Huge Events

Dr Joe Bruce John

Led by RAM-USA Medical Director Dr. Joe Smiddy (L) and Rotarian Bruce Sites (R), we saw tightly coordinated intake, diagnosis and delivery of about 300 glasses per day as one part of the health fair.  The glasses were ground “on-site” at the health fair.

Making Glasses

It took multiple tents and examination areas for vision care at the Wise health fair.  A more mobile approach is for the Mobile Vision Unit to “be on the road” – arriving in the patient’s community, delivering free examination, diagnosis and prescription, and referring to partner practitioners/hospitals when needed.  Glasses are ground centrally and mailed to the patient within a few days.  Picture the Mobile Vision and Dental Units trekking along – doing good in our world!

Learn more about Mobile Health Delivery at The Health Wagon

Mobile Health was pioneered by The Health Wagon of Virginia – which continues in practice and provides program expertise based on 20 years of mobile health experience.  See this Moving 60 Minutes Overtime Segment

Get Involved!

Help fund the Mobile Vision Unit – Contact Me – Click “Contact” at the top of page.

Sign up for “hands-on” service — contact Friends in Need Healthcare – Bruce Sites




Soacha Community Center Nears Completion – Soon Filled with 250 Children per Day & Community Leadership Training per Night!

Finishing touches are being applied – painting and fixtures – with help from the Bogota Laureles Rotaract Club!  In June we will furnish the center with desks, tables, computers, books, music and art supplies.  In July we will have a safe nurturing center for child literacy and community leadership development!


Thanks to the Rotaract Club of Bogota Laureles!



Thanks also to Bogota Laureles Rotarians Bernardo Martinez-Villalba and Udo Rungeler, pictured below.  Bernardo is the General Contractor and Udo serves as Project Coordinator.  Fantastic work!


The Center will begin Operations in July with 250 children of Soacha mainly ages five to seven enrolled in basic education and literacy classes during the day.  Social Workers will lead community leadership develop meetings in the evenings – expected to reach over 500 leadership training over the initial two year period.  The Center will provide a center of safety from the dangers of the streets.

Thanks Bogota Laureles Rotary Club in leading this major project, and building the over 3,000 square foot center for the benefit of those in Soacha.  The new building – locally funded – combined with the $125,000 project to equip the building and start operations, results in a combined $250,000+ project towards child literacy and community peace, partially funded by The Rotary Foundation.

Sponsoring USA Rotarians – mark your calendars for November – we will travel to Bogota to visit our friends and celebrate operations just after Thanksgiving.  Details forthcoming.




Soacha Colombia Update: Funded Going Up!

Great News!  Our project is fully funded and the community center is expected to be completed in the First Quarter 2018.  Soon windows and doors will be installed, plumbing & wiring as the structure will take on the look of a community oasis, education and peace center.  Thanks everyone for your support!

Soacha Colombia Community Center Structure Nears Completion!


Our Soacha Community Center Structure nears completion!  Host Club Rotarians from the Bogota Laureles Club visited the construction site Saturday May 13th and were pleased with the progress.  Next step – windows, doors, roofing to “dry in” the 4,500 square foot structure and allow for secure completion this summer.


Our Soacha Community Center will house Community Peace, Basic Child Education and Nutrition Programs for this transient community near Bogota.   We will help 500 in the Peace Program and 250 at a time in the Basic Education Program.  Thousands will benefit over the project life.   Bogota Rotarians are constructing the structure, financed from Personal and Club Funds, separate from the Rotary Grant.  Together this is a $250,000 project – equipping a Community Center from a vacant lot!


Please remember this project – and especially the kids of Soacha, who (a limited number) continue to study in rented facilities nearby, – they are still hopeful – and deserve a future to continue these smiles!  Following are photos from the quick May 13th visit, as reported by our Rotarian friend Udo Rungeler:

Dear Rotarians:
This morning a group of Rotarians of our Rotary Club Bogota Laureles went to Soacha to see  for themselves the progress in our project.  We are just putting the roof on the last floor (third floor) and you will also notice the amount of iron we put in on the roof, since two water tanks go on top and the approximate weight of tanks and water is in the neighborhood of ten tons.
Some of the kids, future beneficiaries of this community center, entertained us with folklore dances and music from their homeland (Chocó close to Panama), during our brief stopover at the rented school.
Well, we have come almost to the end of our funds as you can imagine and the finishing of this Global Grant depends now on when we receive the money from the grant.
Best regards, Udo



Next Steps

We expect a summer 2017 trip to Colombia to observe the completed structure and request the initial grant draw for furnishing the building.  If interested in traveling, please contact me!

For Rotarians who wish to help fund our project:   Go to your My Rotary Account.  Click “Take Action”, then “Give Now”, then scroll to bottom of page under “Give to a Foundation Approved Project” Click “Give Now”  Our seven digit Grant Number is 1642035.  As of  May 14 we need $6,000 to complete the project!  Thank you for your interest and support!

For those not in Rotary, we have a Go Fund Me Account

Photo Credit:  All photos were shot on site during the May 13th site visit but Bogota Laureles Club  – Thank You!