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April 11, 2016

Celebrating our Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

“Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

President Obama has proclaimed this week National Volunteer Week in the United States. At the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, we could not do the work we do without the amazing support of our amazing volunteers and we see this week as a time to thank and celebrate you!

So many of you are professionals, retirees, students or amazing individuals with time and talents that you share with us so generously. As President Obama said in his proclamation, “Volunteers help drive our country’s progress, and day in and day out, they make extraordinary sacrifices to expand promise and possibility.  During National Volunteer Week, let us shed the cynicism that says one person cannot make a difference in the lives of others by embracing each of our individual responsibilities to serve and shape a brighter future for all.” Those of you that volunteer with the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, embody President Obama’s message every day.

From our legal team, our wonderful publicist, our web design, social media, interns and more – I am inspired by how all of you have found unique and meaningful ways to contribute to the organization. Some of you contribute on a daily basis and some when we have events or special community programs. But with all of you, your work truly captures the spirit of ubuntu, and I really am because of you.

On behalf of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, our Board, and all of us at the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, I would like to thank all of our volunteers who help make our organization a catalyst for change and an inspiration to young people throughout the United States and the world.

Brian Rusch
Executive Director
Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

If you would like to get involved volunteering with the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, visit our volunteer page and let us know!

April 11, 2016

Doesn’t God Have an Amazing Sense of Humor?

The following is a speech by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu given April 8, 2016 at the inauguration in Cape Town by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health of the Desmond Tutu Professorship in Public Health and Human Rights.

12985515_793643907446277_475419346271717790_nDoesn’t God have an amazing sense of humor?

After a lifetime of struggle, standing up for the rights of others, I have reached the stage of life that simply standing up is a struggle requiring great forethought and planning.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether your asking one as decrepit as I am to address you would be more accurately described as an abuse of human rights or a public health issue?

More than 70 years ago, Tuberculosis came very close to taking my life. The loving care that I received made a deep impression on me, and although I had fallen behind with my studies, I resolved to become a doctor.

I worked very hard to catch up, applied to Medical School – and my application was accepted. But our family didn’t have the resources to pay the steep fees, and I was unable to nail down a bursary. So I qualified as a teacher, instead.

Of course, I later gave up teaching to study theology and join the ranks of the clergy. But that’s another story.

The point of this story is that although I have been blessed to lead a wonderfully fulfilling life, to travel widely, meet fantastic people – and even receive a few honorary doctorates – there has always been a part of me that would have preferred to be a real medical doctor.

Your establishing this professorship combining my passions for human rights and health care is therefore especially meaningful to me. You are, as it were, helping an old man assuage a childhood itch.

Thank you.

Thank you Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

i. Thank you for honouring our work by inaugurating a professorship in my name.

ii. Thank you for acknowledging the indelible links between human rights and public health.

iii. Thank you for recognising the exceptionally capable and compassionate Chris Beyrer as the first bearer of this professorship. I am very proud to be associated with him.

iv. And thank you for taking the trouble to travel all the way to Cape Town for this ceremony, to allow this old man to bask in your glory.
I should say: Welcome Home to Africa. Because many years ago – before my time, even – human life started here. Our abilities to reason and to love started here.

There is an old African idiom that says: Wisdom is like a Baobab tree – no one individual can embrace it.

When enough of us link hands, hearts and minds – when we realise that we are all, ultimately, members of one family, God’s family – we make the undoable doable, the impossible possible, and become an irresistible force.

In South Africa, soon after the dawn of our democracy, HIV & AIDS taught us very painfullessons about the links between human rights and public health.

Poor South Africans were denied treatment for several critical years, leading to the unnecessary loss of hundreds of thousands of our people – many of them mothers and fathers at the most productive stages of their lives.

What was a public health crisis became a human rights crisis – and we thank God for the role that civil society played in eventually forcing our government to provide life-saving medicines.

To the north of us, in Zimbabwe, the collapse of the health care system (with the economy) eight years ago led to our collaborating with Dr. Beyrer for the first time.

The Darfur genocide in Sudan, the plight of political prisoners in Myanmar, the aftermath of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and the homophobic policies and practices of various African countries have been some of the theaters in which we have since cemented out ties.

Human rights is a universal measure. It was Martin Luther King who said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

To which we add the words of our extraordinary founding father, uTata Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

When we deny people access to health care on the basis of their class, ethnicity, sexuality or political allegiance we are in fact denying our own humanity.

Conversely, the manner in which we uphold the dignity of others is a measure of our humanity. It exposes who we really are, the essence of our being.

I know that with Dr. Beyrer in the chair, the Desmond M. Tutu Professorship in Public Health and Human Rights is in exceptional hands.

The struggle for human rights is in good hands.

Thank you.

God bless you all.

March 29, 2016

Couple meets Archbishop Tutu on 21st Anniversary Trip

tutuAn anniversary is always a special time for couples but for Steve Ludlow and Geoffrey Taylor their 21st proved to be particularly memorable.

The pair, who live in Station Road, Henley, were in South Africa to renew their vows when they were introduced to Desmond Tutu, the 85-year-old retired Anglican bishop and human rights campaigner, while making arrangements for the ceremony.

The men first met at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on March 6, 1995, so they returned to celebrate.

Steve, 59, says: “We explained in an email what we wanted to do.”

“We met in the cathedral in 1995 and obviously life has moved on a great deal since then. Who would have thought we could marry each other?”

“We went down to the cafe to meet the dean and there was Desmond Tutu, who needs no introduction.”

“I’m fairly mouthy at the best of times but I was thunderstruck because I couldn’t believe I was being introduced to this elder statesman.”

“Who would believe two guys from Henley would get to meet someone like that? We sat down and had a chat, which was mind-blowing. We talked about the fact Geoffrey and I had met in the cathedral 21 years before and we told him about where we lived and what we wanted to do and he said all that sounded fine by him.”

“His daughter married her female partner in Amsterdam not too long ago.”

“He said ‘unfortunately, I’m away, otherwise I’d come along!’ I think he understood how we felt, what we wanted to do and why St George’s is such a special place to us. You don’t usually expect to find a husband in a cathedral! He said ‘the cathedral is about bringing people together’.”

“I’ve never, ever met anyone like that. People say ‘did you have a good holiday?’ and we reply ‘we’ve only got the one photo’ and when they say ‘what a shame’ we show it to them and they say ‘oh, wow’.”

The couple had a civil ceremony at Henley Registry Office in 2009 and last year were married there.

Source: Henley Standard

March 22, 2016

Finding Peace in a Violent World

I woke up this morning to the news of yet another horrific terrorist attack. This attack is the second attack in a major European city in less than a week (the first being in Istanbul on Saturday). This doesn’t even begin to address the violence millions are faced with on a constant basis every day.

I am in the business of peace. But some days I have to be honest, I see the news and the overwhelming deluge of violence, of sexism, of the destruction of our planet, and I question if there is anything that I can do that can really make a difference. I mean, who am I to be able to make change?

And that may be true. Perhaps as an individual, I can only hope to make a tiny difference — but I still try to do that every day.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 9.54.20 AM

“We are one” chalk messages written outside the Brussels Stock Exchange/Photo @nigauw on Instagram

Because what happens when, as an individual, I team up with other individuals to make a difference? How much power can I have to affect change if I work with others toward this collective goal, this goal of peace?

At the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, inspiring people to work together to create peace in this world is the primary goal of our Peace3 program. As our founder Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “We are made for goodness, we are made for love…”. What does that mean? None of us, not one of us is born hating or discriminating against another. Children are taught racism. They are taught to discriminate or to be sexist or selfish or violent.

The wonderful thing, the thing that gives me hope, is that young people can be untaught these things. Learned behavior can be unlearned. But it takes all of us. We need to start taking responsibility and working to inspire peace. We need to start in our communities, in our homes, in our families — and we need to start within ourselves.

February 23, 2016

Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Church, and Ending Discrimination of LGBTI People

This article originally appeared on Medium.com

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about Apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.” — Desmond Tutu

At the end of 2015, the Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s youngest daughter, married her partner Professor Marceline van Furth. The event was a small civil ceremony held in the home of van Furth’s parents in The Netherlands. For those of us in North America and Europe, the news was received with joyous celebration, and congratulatory messages poured out from luminaries across the globe.


But in some circles, the news was not quite so positive. Particularly in parts of Africa and the Middle East, a stream of hatred and negativity came pouring in, directed not just at the couple, but toward the Archbishop, various Read More

February 20, 2016

Inner Peacekeeping For Global Peacekeepers

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.28.04 PMAs a human rights lawyer for the United Nations, Amandine Roche worked for 15 years in conflict zones under challenging circumstances. She realized that many of the humanitarians were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had inadequate resources to deal with it. In her TEDx talk she makes the case for how ancient wisdom traditions such as yoga and meditation can help humanitarians on the front lines to avoid burnout, stress and depression.

She has worked in more than 20 electoral processes in post-conflict countries, mainly in Afghanistan for the last decade, with a focus on civic education, democratization, gender and youth empowerment.

After the kidnapping and assassination of Read More