Who will you make peace with?

Who will you make peace with?
(Choose your language)

Some ways to observe the International Day of Peace on September 21:

  • Contact your local education leaders and advocate for a peace education program.
  • Choose to reconcile with someone who has offended you.
  • Volunteer or contribute to an organization whose mission is peace.
  • Read a book or watch a film on the theme of peace and reflect with others.
  • Sing along with Reba McIntire and “Pray for Peace”:

Please tell me where peace is sold and I will go there to buy some for my country.
Small girl in Afghanistan


The last few years have led to a reassessment of the role of faith in development efforts. The influence of religion is rising in most parts of the developing world. This, in turn, has increased the role of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in development and public life. Because of their deep ties to local communities, their partnerships with powerful religious institutions and FBOs, and their role as cultural influencers, religious leaders (RLs) have also become key stakeholders in development efforts.” – United Nations Development Program Draft Guidelines for Working with Faith-Based Organizations.

Mary Jo FBO articleMany UN Agencies and Permanent Missions have recognized and value the fact that local grassroots communities trust religious NGOs. Religious NGOs are known for efforts to listen and learn from the people they serve; that is why they can act as intermediaries of change for the better in a variety of issues. They find effective ways to educate children, especially girls, in rural and marginal areas. As with many other NGOs they are known for being able to operate “on a shoestring” and are often supported and subsidized by the international faith community. Providing food and shelter is not enough; building the capacity to develop potential in those that they serve is essential, so that leadership soon springs from the population served. The following qualities are recognized by agencies as qualities evidenced by religious NGOs:

  • Long-term sustainable presence: Religious institutions are generally very sustainable. They build and are a crucial repository of long-term social ties.
  • Motivated voluntary service: Religious have a high level of commitment. They motivate action through emphasis on compassion and service; unity and interconnectedness; justice and reconciliation. They see volunteering as part of their calling.

Encouragement of civil society advocacy: FBOs and RLs have extensive networks of congregations, affiliates, organizations, and individuals. These horizontally and vertically organized networks often constitute remarkable channels of communication as well as human and financial resources. These large national constituencies offer the potential to work powerfully in advocacy and reconciliation.


In 2010, there were an estimated 27 million international migrants between the ages of 15-24 among the 214 million migrants worldwide. About three times as many young migrants move within their country for reasons of escaping poverty, conflict, the results of climate change, or, in general, to seek a better life. The decision to migrate, with or without family, is not an easy one to make.

Mary Jo youth & mig articleThe World Youth Report presents issues of young migrants in their own words. It relates situations: pre-journey, in transit, concerns and challenges in the country of destination, and the experience of returning home. The report was prepared in consultation groups of various countries as young migrants express their own perspectives on how migration affects them. It was written with a view to designing specific interventions that address unique vulnerabilities of the young and to help them realize their hopes and aspirations. Illustrated by youth who joined in the discussions, with maps detailing routes of movement, the online version is available at:



Group discussion


Smiling participants

Twenty-one Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Africa and Latin America participated in a 3-day UN orientation in early July. Along with support staff, they listened to informed and inspiring NGOs speak on Sustainable Development Goals, Mining, Financing for Development, and Girls’ Rights; learned about the UN structure and our SNDatUN Office; and celebrated networking and advocacy on local, national, and international levels. Time for conversation was woven into the workshop format as sisters shared stories and insights on issues from their various countries and ministries. In addition to NGO presentations and group discussions, participants spent a day touring the UN and observing government meetings. Sisters connected across cultures and languages, experienced the international flavor of the UN, and identified ways to network around global issues and engage others when they return home.


NDMVA logoFounded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and funded through a partnership with AmeriCorps, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMVA) has grown from just 6 members to more than 400. Volunteers are recruited each year from local communities and college campuses across the United States. NDMVA members work to empower the economically disadvantaged and oppressed through education and personal hands-on support.


NDMVA Los Angeles 2012

They tutor children and adults, organize after-school activities, and model and teach conflict resolution and parental effectiveness. Volunteers currently serve in 23 cities in the United States and in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Nigeria.

For more information, go to



The UN Millennium Development Goals effort brought about significant improvements since the year 2000, but too many children are still not in school. Education continues to be a priority as governments now focus on the next 15 years. Proposed Goal for 2030: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

8_24104_photo_smallAs NGOs prepare for the 65th Annual DPI NGO Conference to be held in New York at the end of this month, they are putting a spotlight on Education. One proposed side event will focus on four important “Zeros” — Zero Exclusion, Zero Discrimination against Girls, Zero Child Labor, and Zero Child Marriage — which, when accomplished, will add up to Positives for Global Education.

  • View a UN exhibit showing what some children go through in order to attend school:  Journeys to School 
  • 10-12 November 2014, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan: World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, organized by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)    UNESCO Conference
  • In current UN MyWorld surveys, the #1 global priority for all ages, genders, countries, and educational levels is “a good education”.
  • Notre Dame Online connects the educational ministries of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, facilitates global networking, and provides a forum for teachers and students to share educational resources
  • Google for Education provides online tools and programs for the classroom

Education is vital for fostering global citizenship.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon


UN2The invitation is out! Using the title “2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda” and carrying the theme of “The role of civil society in the post-2015 development agenda”, the Department of Public Information (DPI) is setting the stage for a transition to a “bold new generation of people-centered and planet-sensitive development”.

Constituencies will be working on the issues of climate change, sustainable development effectiveness, environment, economic justice, human rights, and gender equality. It is a rare opportunity for NGOs to strengthen existing networking and good practices, and create new ones as they move toward achieving a “new social contract that reflects a strong and radical movement of hope and transformation”. It will be yet another opportunity for civil society to contribute its vast diversity in support of the post-2015 negotiations. The Sisters of Notre Dame, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame are making an application to sponsor a workshop on quality education entitled, “Four Zeros Add up to Positives for Education”, the four being: zero exclusion, zero discrimination against girls, zero child labor, and zero child marriage. We will again reflect the responses from Nari Gunjan.


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