An NYC Photo Album

This past weekend I attended Rotary Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York. I’ve always wanted to visit the UN headquarters — and I’m so glad I went. The overall goal of the organization – to have a peaceful world – is one that I admire and believe in wholeheartedly.

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Rotary UN Day 2016

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Nonviolence sculpture in front of the United Nations, New York.

I also had a few days to explore the city and went to the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park and 5th Avenue the next day.

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The Museum of Modern Art

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A special exhibit on refugees and displaced peoples around the world by artist Reena Saini Kallat.

After the MOMA I headed down 6th Avenue and stopped at Magnolia Bakery. I had no idea, but this bakery is apparently quite famous and was even featured in Sex in the City and the Devil Wears Prada. To be honest, the cupcake brought back memories of my cake mix days in high school — so I was sort of let down by the caramel cupcake  I chose.

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Inside a Magnolia Bakery.

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A cupcake from the busy Magnolia Bakery

After that I headed to 5th Avenue — I walked past the Rockerfeller Building and Saks 5th Avenue — two famous landmarks in the Big Apple.

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Police on horses near the Rockefeller Building (and those famous yellow cabs).

And then I continued  on to 5th Avenue and stumbled upon some protesters in front of Trump Tower. Not everyone is happy about the outcome of this year’s election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the outcome of the 2016 election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the 2016 election.

On the next day I did a tour of the UN. Anyone can go – you just need to sign up online, bring your passport and go through security about an hour beforehand. A vibrant mural inside bore the words “Do Unto Others As Your Would  Have Them Done To You”.  I thought about how if we all lived be this saying, our world would very likely be a more peaceful and just place.

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Mural, United Nations HQ

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United Nations headquarters in NYC.

A New Online Store for Peace ☮

About a month ago I launched an online store for peace. I wanted to do more for peace than just blog and research about it. I luckily met a talented designer and we’ve been working together to create designs for t-shirts (for men, women and children), bags, postcards and more.

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I BELIEVE IN PEACE TANK TOP – available in four sizes. Smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop.

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FLAMINGO ME TANK TOP. Also smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop

So far it’s been an exciting venture. I have decided to create a Foundation for Food and Peace and have 10% of all profits go to this Foundation to support food security (access to the right food is a necessity for peace), peace and peacebuilding. The plan is to support charities and other organizations on the ground that are involved with peace education and conflict resolution. I wanted to provide people with a way to truly support peace — through both their clothing and through giving.

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YES PEACE TOTE BAG — durable and unique! Click here to view this in the shop.

Check out the store and let me know what you think!

Yours in Peace,

Mary

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Peace and the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World Report

In 1948,the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognized the right to adequate food as a part of the right to a decent standard of living.

However, in 2015, it’s no secret that everyone around the world does not have access to enough food. Some would even say that even though some people have access to food, it’s not necessarily the right kinds of food, either.

This summer the Food and Agriculture Organization released the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World report. This report comes out every year and summarized the global situation when it comes to hunger and food security. It’s basically a report card on world hunger for the planet.

The numbers are out

Today, according to the report about 800 million people around the world are food insecure. That’s better than before; overall the percentage of those who are hungry is declining.

Yet, while the report points out how many of the developing countries have reached targets to reduce hungers, those countries also have stable political conditions and economic growth and policies and programs targeted to vulnerable population groups.

What does that mean?

It means that peace is important. The report uses the words “political stability” a lot, which I refer to as peace. It’s pointed out how food insecurity can both cause political problems and be a result of political unrest. For example, removing food subsidies can lead to increased food prices, which can cause civil unrest (which the report says happened in the Arab Spring in 2011 when government reduced subsides for bread).

In short

Food = happiness. Peace = happiness. There is enough food on the planet to feed all of us to today, yet to truly reach 0 hunger we also need to stop violence and political unrest.

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The Chance for Food and Peace in Syria

This article was written by Wiliam Lambers and published in The Hill. Click here to read the article on The Hill’s website. Photo above: World Food Programme.

For Syria to survive as a nation, they must have food. The farmers must be able to grow and harvest their crops in peace.   

But the four-year civil war has destroyed food production, the very heart of any nation. The fighting has left innocent civilians to starve.

That is why the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is calling for a ceasefire throughout Syria. It’s time to put down the guns and defeat the enemy of hunger.

WFP, the largest hunger relief organization, has been feeding close to 7 million of Syria’s war victims.  

Ertharin Cousin, the director of WFP, pleads, “Farmers need peace to harvest and to move their produce to markets. I am urging all sides to allow this to happen.”

The international community must rally around food for peace in Syria. The fighting, which has increasingly targeted civilians, must be brought to an end.  

An immediate ceasefire can accomplish several things. First, it can allow the farmers to do the nation’s most essential work of providing a food supply.

Secondly, humanitarian aid agencies can reach those blocked off by the fighting. The WFP and other partner agencies can provide food and other life-saving supplies for the besieged population. They need consistent access to those in need.

Any pause in the fighting can help create the conditions needed to build a lasting peace. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the goal is a “transition from the Assad regime towards a government that represents all the people and can repair this extraordinary damage to Syria, unite the country, protect all minorities, and provide a legitimate future.”

All of Syria can immediately unite to grow food. The first step is the ceasefire.

As Cousin warns, “Without a humanitarian pause by all sides, providing unhindered access to Syrian food and opening up corridors for transport, people will still go hungry despite a good harvest, and prices for food will remain high.”

No peace can be built in Syria on empty stomachs.  Farming must resume to rebuild the nation’s food supplies. Aid from the World Food Programme and others must reach those in need.

One of the most critical foods is a peanut paste called Plumpy’Doz, which prevents malnutrition in small children. Lack of food can cause lasting physical and mental damage in small children. It’s a race against time to provide the Plumpy’Doz and other life-saving foods.

The international community must support WFP and other relief agencies with enough funding.  It’s difficult to sustain one of the largest humanitarian missions in history.

One of the more innovative ways to distribute the food aid has been through the use of vouchers for Syrian refugees in Jordan and other countries. These vouchers allow the refugees to buy food in local markets. But WFP needs funding to continue this program, which benefits refugees and host nations.

During the First World War the Hejaz Railway, which ran through Syria, was destroyed by fighting. When the WFP first came into existence, one of their initial projects was to provide food to Syrians in exchange for rebuilding that railroad.

We would like to see such food for work projects today to rebuild Syria from the ashes. There are millions of Syrians who long for that peaceful day. We can start on that road. But first the guns of Syria must go silent. Farmers must harvest again. Food for peace in Syria must prevail.

Lambers is the author of Ending World Hunger and the Road to Peace. His writings have been published by the New York Times, History News Network, Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.