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Reflection on WFP's 25th Anniversary Celebration in D.C.

Serafina Youngdahl Lombardi, Steering Committee

This Spring I celebrated my 10-year anniversary of participating in my first Witness for Peace delegation to Nica by co-leading a delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico. I did this as part of Witness for Peace’s celebration of our 25th anniversary of the first delegation to Nicaragua in 1983.  To commemorate, we facilitated 5 simultaneous delegations to Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, and Venezuela. We have come a long way, creating profound learning experiences, building solidarity, and changing US foreign policy. We continue to face tremendous obstacles but have started to feel the rumbles of change!

I am grateful to have been able to participate in the 25th anniversary celebration and conference from June 21-23 in Washington D.C.  The weekend was complete with workshops, dancing, food, lobbying and time to connect with one another.
For me, the highlight of the conference was not measuring what we have achieved nor focusing on where we are going, but being in the present moment with each other by sharing our experiences, stories, & visions.

One of the workshops that left me feeling especially motivated was “Faith Community Organizing,” facilitated by Gary Cozette, a long-time Witness for Peacer and Director of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America.  In this workshop we reviewed and brainstormed concrete ideas on how to integrate WfP/ Latin American issues into our local religious organizations and their national or international structures.  We also discussed what some of those different structures look like and how to frame messages in terms that meet the interest of a particular religious body.  Sometimes the work we do seems so voluminous and we don’t know where to start.  In this workshop, we were reminded to start with the communities we are a part of and expand from there – we can start small and let our actions grow to meet our commitment and passion!

Many of you were missed – Witness’s power is due to the commitment and talents of so many individuals over the past 25 years. I was sorry not to see more folks who have touched and been touched by WFP, but we held you with us and hope you are well.

I hope this 25th year allows us to look back at our years of collective work and take a deep breath to renew and deepen our commitment to being active in WfP, for the good of the Western Hemisphere, for our selves, and simply because it is the right thing to do. 

Happy 25th, Witness for Peace!