Meet the Messengers of Peace Heroes!
On 23 November 2016, a select group of Scouts, Scout leaders and teams from around the world received the coveted Messengers of Peace Hero Award, an accolade bestowed by the government of Saudi Arabia on behalf of His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia. The Award was first introduced in 2012 to recognise Scouts, volunteers and professionals as heroes in their communities for their outstanding work towards creating a better world.
Here are the recipients of the Award!
Katie Hancock, United States (Interamerican Region)
After the severe floods that hit Lubbock, Texas, this year, many members of the community were left stranded without access to clean water. As a young leader and Scout Messenger of Peace, Katie helped to raise funds locally and delivered goods to families in need.
Pia Melin Mortensen, global volunteer for Messengers of Peace (European Region)
Knowing that Scouts in Europe needed to collaborate to provide the most suitable support for refugees coming into Europe in 2015, Pia, who hails from Denmark, organised a Refugee Response Seminar. This had a multiplying effect and resulted in thousands of service hours spent helping Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees.
Aster Fiker Asbe, Ethiopia (Africa Region)
Aster is an empowered young woman and Messenger of Peace leading 180 Scouts involved in the Food For Life Programme in her country. Under her guidance and leadership, the Scouts learned to cultivate the land and run small businesses.
Michal Medek, global volunteer for the World Scout Environment Programme (European Region)
Nature lover Michal has dedicated himself to environmental education and community projects for many years. Together with his team, they built an environmental centre in the Czech Republic, which is now one of the Scout Centres of Excellence for Nature and Environment (SCENES). Known as the Kaprálův mlýn Scout Centre, it hosted the recent World Scout Seminar on Environmental Education in May 2016. He was also part of the delegation that received the Youth Leadership Award for the Environment on behalf of WOSM in 2015.
National Scout Organization of Thailand – Scouts of the World Award team, Thailand (Asia-Pacific Region)
Scout leaders and local volunteers mentored over 500 Rovers in the development of community service projects inspired by peace, sustainable development and environmental causes. Rovers in Thailand have advocated against drug abuse and bullying, promoted youth empowerment and the development of leadership skills as well as their country's historical heritage.
Edgardo Alberto Fuertes Esquivel, Costa Rica (Interamerican Region)
Edgardo’s experience of being bullied inspired him to speak out against bullying. For more than three years, he has connected with over 2,000 Scouts and young people around the world via social media, helping them to understand, recognise and prevent bullying in their schools and youth clubs.
May Abdelhadi, Palestine (Arab Region)
Since the introduction of the Messengers of Peace Initiative in the Arab Region, she has been an enthusiastic advocate for the empowerment of young women. May has inspired many young girls to support emergency relief actions and engage refugees in conflict areas with activities that address mental health. She strongly promotes community development initiatives and collaborations between Guides and Scouts.
Jemima Nartey, Ghana (Africa Region)
The Vice Chairperson of the World Scout Committee (WSC) and liaison for the Messengers of Peace Initiative, Jemima has contributed her experience and perspective towards the development of strategies and content of the programme. She is always dedicating time to support National Scout Organizations (NSO) and all Scout Regions in the development of training experiences related to Messengers of Peace. In her personal time, she advocates the empowerment of young women, raising the leadership level of woman Scout leaders in the Africa Region.
Jaenal Mutakin, Indonesia (Asia-Pacific Region)
Jaenal started the Journey for Peace project in 2013 and led several hundreds of Scouts and volunteers to spread the message of peace on trains! He and his team attended to passengers, especially women and children, on the train and railway stations, providing them with water and snacks for the long commute, during which they talked about tolerance and the culture of peace.
Bernardo De Leon, the Philippines (Asia-Pacific Region)
Along with a group of enthusiastic young Scouts, Bernando and the Brighton Venture Scouts initiated the Messengers of Peace Roadshow. The aim of this project, funded mainly by his own resources, is to reach out to students across the Philippines and share with them the idea of a peace culture, community service and environmental awareness. To date, the Roadshow has reached out to more than 40,000 young Scouts and non-Scouts in the Philippines and has extended its reach to all Asia-Pacific countries.
Ahmed Elhalfawy, Egypt (Arab Region)
Ambassador and leader of the Messengers of Peace global team, Ahmed has coordinated the development of the Messengers of Peace Programme Guidelines and promoted the Programme in the Arab Region. In the past year, he has worked hard to raise awareness about the Initiative.
Peter Blatch, Australia (Asia-Pacific Region)
Peter is a member of the WSC and the Messengers of Peace Regional Decision Committee. For five years, he has been instrumental in ensuring the development and evolution of the evaluation system, criteria for funded projects and current guidelines for NSOs on the use of the fund. Peter has conducted several Messengers of Peace training in the Asia-Pacific Region and around the world, promoting the Initiative’s aims and goals. In his personal time, he volunteers to support children with special needs.
Mohamed Nidhal Arfaoui, Tunisia (Arab Region)
Mohamed is the coordinator of the Ambassadors of Youth initiative. The Tunisian Scouts, through this initiative, are advocating and developing community projects to raise awareness against the use of drugs and reaching out to thousands of young people via innovative approaches. They also organised health campaigns through which they attend to those local community members with diabetes. The initiative is in its second year of implementation.
Hussein Marzouqi, Jordan (Arab Region)
Hussein is a key coordinator of the Messengers of Peace Date Project.
Bako Almoctar, Niger (Africa Region)
Bako has been very instrumental in leading numerous local initiatives that are geared towards creating positive change in his community. As a doctor, he commits his time to support local communities in need, spreading the message of peace.
Amir El Mikati, Lebanon (Arab Region)
A Messenger of Peace Coordinator from Lebanon who is a strong supporter of the development of local projects, Amir is also passionate about raising funds to support the underprivileged.
Recipients of the Award (not present in the ceremony in Saudi Arabia)
Asociación de Scouts de México – Messengers of Peace social media team, Mexico (Interamerican Region)
Under the leadership of José Ramón Díaz, the Messengers of Peace Initiative was promoted extensively in cities across Mexico, prompting the creation of several local initiatives and global campaigns among Cubs, Scouts and Rovers. As a result of an extensive social media strategy implemented throughout the country, young people are supporting people with cancer, advocating against bullying and working hard on environmental issues. In addition to their local actions, the team has supported all Messengers of Peace teams in the Interamerican Region to help boost their communication messages and campaigns, keeping Scouts inspired and prompting the increase of community service actions at the local level.
Tan Sijie, Singapore (Asia-Pacific Region)
The developer of the first Messengers of Peace Programme Guidelines for Singapore, Sijie has become one of the best advocates of the Better World Framework, which includes the Messengers of Peace Initiative, World Scout Environment Programme and the Scouts of the World Award, in the region. He has contributed to many projects related to the environment, community awareness and dialogue in Singapore and Malaysia . For the past seven years, Sijie has been running Project Orion (SWA Voluntary Service), which aims to save marine turtles. He is also a Dialogue for Peace trainer.
Bharat Scouts and Guides, India (Asia-Pacific Region)
Since the launch of the Messengers of Peace Initiative in India, Scouts and Scout leaders have been promoting a peace culture, Scouting and community service across the country, including the farthest cities and provinces. Bharat Scouts and Guides have also extensively supported various initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region, reaching out to more young people by initiating regional Messengers of Peace activities.
Scouts of Greece, Greece (European Region)
The Scouts of Lesbos, Greece, have been welcoming and rescuing refugees making the hazardous journey from the Middle East to Europe. These Messengers of Peace have been recognised by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, for their efforts in providing refugee support.
Monica Figueroa, Colombia (Interamerican Region)
The Messengers of Peace project, Books For All, was first introduced by Monica in Colombia. It aims to inspire Scouts to collect books and distribute them to their local communities. So far, the project has provided over 20,000 books to more than 200 local libraries. Monica is also the founder of a local foundation advocating literacy and opportunities for underprivileged children at risk.
Messengers of Peace Special recognition recipients (not present in Saudi Arabia)
Omar and Saad Alkassab, Syria (Asia-Pacific Region)
The two brothers lost their Scouting family during the conflict in Homs, Syria. Soon after that, they became refugees themselves but are now building a new Scouting family in their adopted home, Australia.
Photo credit: Michal Medek