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April 16, 2016

Finding Inner Peace to Love Our Human Family — Addressing the World Refugee Crisis

A Syrian Kurdish refugee child from the Kobani holds a bucket at a refugee camp in Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border . Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo

A Syrian Kurdish refugee child from the Kobani holds a bucket at a refugee camp in Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border . Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo

Last fall, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation launched Peace3, a campaign to inspire young people how to create a world of peace within themselves, peace between people, and peace among nations, based on the legacy of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Since launching that program, I have been struck by how may people have reached out to us from all over the world, specifically asking us if we can address the issue of refugees .

This situation becomes worse with every passing week. As Pope Francis prepares to visit the Syrian refugees, the nations of Europe turn to fear mongering among their populace, endorsing an attitude of xenophobia. In the United States, a candidate has risen to the top of a major party by promising to build a wall to keep out migrants and refugees trying to enter from Mexico. All the while, people, many of them children, are drowning in the Mediterranean, being forced into slavery, or detained for months on end in camps or detainment centers. From Malaysia to Texas, mass graves filled with the corpses of migrants are being discovered as their families are left to worry and wonder.

Xenophobia toward refugees is a world-wide dilemma, what can we do?

At its very core, our Peace3 program is based in the South African concept of ubuntu —Archbishop Tutu has explained this concept by saying, “my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu listens to Yusuf Batil refugees at a camp in South Sudan. Photo/Adriane Ohanesian

Archbishop Desmond Tutu listens to Yusuf Batil refugees at a camp in South Sudan. Photo/Adriane Ohanesian

When we see refugees suffering, and we choose not to do something, isn’t that deliberately hurting them? No one chooses to be a refugee. Refugees face poverty, discrimination, starvation, physical abuse, and separation from loved ones — but it is still better than the war or genocide they often face if they remain in their home countries.

Many of our leaders, abetted by our media, want us to be afraid of these refugees. They encourage a xenophobic attitude so that we as a society have an irrational fear of these innocents.

But we can overcome this. The first principal of Peace3 is peace within. We can be realistic about our fears and encourage others to overcome theirs. We can educate ourselves, learn about the refugee situation, learn about the economic facts related to immigration. We can make an effort to get to know each other without the blinders of fear that have been thrust upon us.

All of us remember the image of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who was found dead on a beach off the coast of Turkey last year. That one image shifted the way that so many people throughout the world viewed the Syrian refugee crisis and humanized the issue for so many of us. But that goodwill toward the Syrian refugees ended when Paris was attacked last November and once again, an irrational fear was promoted.

But we can choose to have inner peace which will in turn allow us to change our mindset. What political messages do we listen to? Where are we getting our information? Are we choosing to feed our minds with content that subjects ourselves to fear and violence — or can we choose sources that are focused on love and peace?

It is easy to be influenced by negativity. We listen to the messages that we want to hear. When you look at a refugee, are you looking for a terrorist or a brother? Are you looking for hatred or love? By choosing to focus our minds on positivity, we not only will find happiness — we will find inner peace.

Nelson Mandela said, “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.” Those of us living in free societies need to find freedom from our mental chains, and then make an effort to welcome refugees.

But we also need to do more. Not every person can live in the U.S. or Canada or Europe. But we have the resources to help everyone in the world. The financial costs of terrorism and wars is far more than the cost of dealing with the issues that lead to refugees at their source. Most refugees don’t want to be refugees and would stay in their home countries if they could.

As long as people in the world are suffering from a lack of food, a lack of clean drinking water, a lack of education — we will have people wanting to escape those conditions. When people live with corrupt governments or a lack of care for the environment, or are denied their civil rights — those people will not have happiness.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu greets a refugee in a Yusuf Batil camp in Southern Sudan. Photo/Adriane Ohanesian

Archbishop Desmond Tutu greets a refugee in a Yusuf Batil camp in Southern Sudan. Photo/Adriane Ohanesian

Archbishop Tutu says, “We all belong to this one family, this human family, God’s family.” Are we going to fear our brothers and sisters, or are we going to learn about them, embrace them? Happiness comes from our relationships with other people. We can choose not to fear and instead to show love and compassion.

We can find peace within ourselves, share that peace with our brothers and sisters, and it will lead to peace among nations.

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!

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.

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“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 12, 2016

Bay Area Youth Create Song, Video Inspired by Desmond Tutu Peace3 Initiative

#Peace3 video aims to inspire millennial peace builders to find Peace Within, Peace Between, and Peace Among.

The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation (DTPF) is thrilled to announce the release of the song and music video “Peace3”, which is the result of a collaboration between the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and Bay Area youth non-profit NegusWorld. The song is the first in a series of collaborations between the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and youth organizations across the United States in support of their #Peace3 initiative.

The mission of #Peace3 is to be a catalyst for global peace by creating a world in which everyone values human dignity and embraces our essential interconnectedness – using Desmond Tutu’s life and teachings to inspire young people to build a world of peace within, peace between people and peace among nations. The project also aims to inspire one million young adults, aged 17-22, to learn and engage in peacebuilding as their life’s work.

“We launched the #Peace3 program with the idea to inspire young people to take action. The youth of NegusWorld came to us inspired by the idea of peace within, peace between and peace among and asked us if they could write a song about it,” said Brian Rusch, Executive Director of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. “They perfectly captured the essence of the program while simultaneously creating an anthem of peace for their generation.” Read More

February 5, 2016

Morocco Declaration: Muslim Nations Should Protect Christians from Persecution

Azure Media

Azure Media


A meeting of more than 250 Muslim leaders in Morocco this week has released a document calling for full religious freedom for Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries and urging Muslim nations to defend Christians against persecution..

The ground-breaking document, called the Marrakesh Declaration, draws on the language of Muhammad’s Charter of Medina and bans religious violence in the name of Islam, the US magazine Christianity Today has reported.

It was the fruit of a summit of imams, political leaders and scholars, also attended by several American Christian leaders. Read More

December 31, 2015

What’s in a year? 2015 highlights from the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

Over the last few years, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation has been working to launch the Peace3 Program and thanks to the support of so many of you, plus the generous support of our corporate donors, we were able to launch this program in 2015 plus accomplish so much more!

We launched the Peace3 program with a two day event in partnership with the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College with thousands of young people joining us in person and online…

Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute conversation on Peace November 03, 2015. WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.

Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute conversation on Peace November 03, 2015.
Photo by Willie J. Allen Jr.

And followed up our launch with events at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida…

Desmond Tutu's granddaughter, Nyaniso Tutu-Burris helped us to launch Peace3 events.

Desmond Tutu’s granddaughter, Nyaniso Tutu helped us to launch Peace3 events.

And at Stanford University near Palo Alto, California… Read More