Meet a few people who are changing the world today

Friends,

The world’s population includes more than 1.8 billion young people between ages 10 and 24. Almost 90 percent of them live in less developed countries. Around 300,000 are child soldiers. Political instability and conflict are devastating to their generation—subjecting them to violence, interrupting schooling, disrupting health services, and inflicting psychological trauma.

But it is young people who are moving the world toward a future with justice for all of us.

Representing our programs in seven countries, nineteen accompanied me to Poland recently for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) delegation. After that journey, they returned to their communities to carry out their work. 

Emil returned to Indonesia, where a grassroots movement committed to diversity is bearing the Peace Torch throughout the country, bringing an emotional message to areas touched by religious and ethnic violence and threatened by intolerance.

James returned to Seattle, where, as in most U.S. schools, structural violence is rarely covered in the classroom. Many students know they’re not learning the whole picture, so they turn to AFSC to learn organizing skills that they’re using to undo institutional racism.

Maria and Mishel could not join us this year—both are undocumented immigrants, but are unafraid to tell their stories publicly. They stand to lose a lot by doing so, but have much more to gain by claiming their power and sharing their experiences to persuade others that change is needed.

As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I invite you to read about young, courageous change makers and the work they’re doing today. I’m sure you’ll see, as they did in Poland, that the situations they face aren’t so dissimilar—and that they are not working in isolation.

In peace,

Shan Cretin
General Secretary

P.S. During President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 28, AFSC and FCNL will be live-tweeting our commentary, adding a distinct Quaker voice to the online discussion. If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow @afsc_org and @fcnl and join in!