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FOR Gives Peace Awards to People Actually Working for Peace, Offering Innovative Idea to Nobel Committee
Each year the Fellowship of Reconciliation awards an international, a national, and a local peace prize to individuals or organizations whose work for peace, justice, and reconciliation is recognized as a life-long commitment.
FOR's 2012 award recipients are inspirational change-makers whose grassroots efforts have inspired countless others to join the cause of ending war and strengthening peace.
International Pfeffer Peace Prize: Dr. Hakim
FOR's International Pfeffer Peace Award was established in 1989 by Leo and Freda Pfeffer to honor those around the world working for peace with justice. This year's awardee is Dr. Hakim, the founder and mentor of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.
APV formed after students in Hakim's workshop at Bamiyan University concluded that "peace was impossible" in Afghanistan during their lifetimes. He raised the possibility of "love" and invited the students to live together for a semester. A multiethnic group of 16 Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and Turkmen volunteered. The experiment stirred up considerable controversy with religious leaders, but it was enough of a success to inspire Hakim to gather more young volunteers.
The group that formed in 2008, originally called "Our Journey to Smile," became the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, now APV. Hakim humbly attributes the creation and sustaining energy of the APVs to the young people themselves. It was the compassionate message from their hearts as they spoke to him about their wish to live without wars that continues to be his inspiration to persevere in his work.
Working in conjunction with U.S. and international peacemakers, Hakim has amplified the voice of Afghan youth. Through Global Days of Listening, a chapter of FOR, the Afghan Peace Volunteers have conversed and nurtured relationships with international friends in more than two dozen countries on six continents.
Although grateful for the affirmation of their work, Hakim and the youth have respectfully declined a public presentation of the Pfeffer Peace Award, preferring that all Afghan workers for peace are celebrated for their common struggle. The monetary prize will be deposited into a scholarship fund for furthering the education of the Afghan youth.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Prize: Jim Murphy
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Award was established by FOR in 1979 to recognize unheralded persons or groups working in the United States in the tradition of Rev. Dr. King. This year the award is presented to Jim Murphy, a Vietnam veteran who has been a tireless advocate for peace and social justice, resisting militarism, and supporting the rights of military veterans.
Murphy served in Vietnam from 1966-68 as an Air Force communications specialist, operating small tactical radios on the front lines. Near the end of his second tour of duty, he was returned home with leg wounds, a medal of commendation, a Unit Citation, a Vietnam Service Ribbon, and a Purple Heart. After a year of recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Murphy attended the University of Maryland.
While still a student, he attended the Winter Soldier rally in Detroit and learned of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Murphy became the VVAW chapter coordinator on his campus, and then mobilized at Walter Reed and became coordinator of the Maryland state chapter. He, along with more than 800 vets, one by one, tossed their medals, ribbons, discharge papers, and other war mementos on the steps of the Capital to reject the war and the significance of those awards. He helped to start a "Half-Step" program for heroin-addicted veterans, and during Christmas of 1971, Murphy helped to plan "Operation Peace On Earth," which included the famous take-over of the Statue of Liberty by 14 Vietnam veterans, one of whom was Murphy.
"It was through these experiences that I was exposed to the power of nonviolence as a lifestyle and template for my spirituality," Murphy said. "I have never stopped advocating for veterans who have felt the pain and despair of war."
FOR will present the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award to Jim Murphy at an event that is yet to be determined.
Nyack Area Peace Prize: Alan Levin
Begun in 2006 to honor an organization or individual involved in significant peace and justice work in the community of FOR's national headquarters, the Nyack Area Peace Prize is awarded this year to Alan Levin.
Alan is a psychotherapist, meditation teacher, and activist who lives and works for peace and nonviolent justice in Rockland County. One of the founding members of Hudson Valley FOR, Levin is a consistent presence and often the organizer of local actions and gatherings for a cause. As a practitioner and teacher of meditation and shamanism, he exudes a calm strength and offers a way to "inner peace" through formal instruction as well as through the power of his example as a peaceful warrior.
FOR will present the Nyack Area Peace Award to Alan Levin at an event that is yet to be determined.
For more information about the 2012 FOR peace award winners or the various award presentations, please contact Linda Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (845) 358-4601 ext. 35, or read the blog post with longer descriptions of each awardee's work.