What a year it has been for Servas! From an amazing kick off in South Korea to major transformative changes throughout the organization, it seems Servas is growing a new set of roots.
In March, the United Nations hosted their annual Women’s Forum. It was the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women. An estimated 4,000 NGOs were represented, Servas being one!
The Servas representatives packed their schedules with presentations. The voices were various NGOs and Countries. Servas got a chance to listen.
The conference lasted two weeks, and each presentation time slot was multi-booked.
The rooms were spread out over three floors of the UN.
The journey to get here wasn’t easy.
Zahra was invited to represent Servas Iran by the Peace Secretary of Servas International. But she had to face many barriers. When she went to apply for her visa, she was informed that it would be very unlikely due to the Trump travel ban.
This is a crisis, because if NGOs can’t be represented in the UN due to politics, then isn’t that infringing upon international representation?
Zahra, to me, represents determination. A PhD science-driven person. She didn’t give up. She won over the hearts of the immigration officers with her story (and a lot of paperwork). Just a day before the conference, she received the notice:
Your visa has been approved.
Throwing everything in her suitcase, she grabbed a plane ticket for the next day to New York.
“This is my dream!” She told me, confiding later. What an honor to be at the UN, hearing the voices of women from countries all over the world. I’m absolutely heart warmed by Zahra’s story. It made me even more excited to be in New York. I absolutely shared her awe of the United Nations.
What we can learn…
Well, every day was full of information that brought human rights violations to the forefront of your attention.
Servas is an open door organization. Time and time again, refugee resettlement programs, humane labor laws, so many injustices have the same roots. Egypt presented on how acceptance into their communities was key in transforming people’s lives while helping their economies.
Servas wouldn’t exist if people didn’t have a core belief in the good of others. There’s something transformative about that belief. You take the risk and open your door to a complete stranger, just knowing you might be a stranger one day.
That takes guts. And it takes humanity. But innately, that is what makes Servas such a powerful peace organization. When we trust each other, we understand each other.