From Maasai Warrior to peace builder
Rotary World Peace Fellow Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah of "14 Cows for America" fame to address National Press club, attend National Book Festival in Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 16, 2009) -– Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah drew the international spotlight to his Maasai village in 2002, when tribal elders presented a herd of 14 cows to the people of the United States as a symbolic gesture of compassion and healing after hearing his firsthand account of the terrorist attack on New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
The village’s heartfelt act was reported worldwide and eventually prompted Naiyomah to collaborate with author Carmen Agra Deedy on a children’s book, “14 Cows for America,” released in the United States in August. The entire experience also inspired him to refocus his professional plans. Instead of going to medical school, Naiyomah will embark on a career as a peacemaker when he begins postgraduate work at the Rotary Center for International Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, in early 2010. As a Rotary World Peace Fellow, Naiyomah will study the theories, techniques, and skills of effective peace-building and conflict resolution.
This year, Naiyomah spent the week of 9/11 visiting his home village of Enoosaen, where his people continue to nurture the gift herd as a living symbol of peace. On Sept. 25, Naiyomah will be in Washington, D.C., to address the National Press Club at 3 p.m. in the Zenger Room. On Sept. 26, he will attend the U.S. Library of Congress National Book Festival on the National Mall.
As an incoming Rotary World Peace Fellow, Naiyomah says it is time for citizens who are concerned about the prevalence of war and conflict to take action.
“The Rotary World Peace Fellowship accords me the opportunity to study the nature of conflicts in our world today,” said Naiyomah, citing as an example the post-election violence in his homeland in 2008. “This showed me the vulnerability that exists for any section of the world to erupt into violence if peace is not deliberately and consciously promoted. Peace is a work – not a hope. We have to actively and creatively sow it.”
Launched in 2002, the Rotary Centers program is a master’s level program aimed at equipping the next generation of leaders with skills needed to reduce the threat of war and violence. The Peace Fellows are selected every year in a globally competitive process in which applicants must demonstrate a commitment to peace through their personal, academic and professional achievements. The Rotary Centers are located at leading universities in England, Japan, Australia, Argentina, and the United States. The Rotary Center at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok offers an intensive, three-month course aimed at mid-level professionals in governments, NGOs, and international industry.
Rotary – an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide in humanitarian service - has more than 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographic regions.
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