Belgium: Pax Christi Flanders names two as Ambassadors of Peace
19/12/18 - On Thursday, 13 December 2018, Pax Christi Flanders presented the title of Ambassador for Peace during a solemn ceremony in Brussels to Bleri Lleshi and Mariame Keita.
Bleri Lleshi is a philosopher, author and teacher at UCLL University of Applied Sciences. After his studies at the VUB he started working as a youth worker in Brussels. There he was struck by the great needs of his young fellow citizens. From there, his commitment also started to work against inequality and interculturality. He wrote about this in his book Identity and Interculturality: Identity construction among young people in Brussels from 2010 and also made several documentaries.
Pax Christi Flanders met Bleri Lleshi during the workshops on identity he gave in the Pax Christi project Managers of Diversity. Groups of Russian speakers, Chechens and Kurds then took part in an intensive process on positive identity development among young newcomers. During the 2017 Peace Week, Bleri attended the opening event De Staten-Generaal van de Liefde about loving resistance, from his own experiences as a new Belgian, Brussels, youth worker and teacher. In the same Peace Week he spoke in Bruges about love as a powerful answer to fear and distrust, and as a form of civil resistance.
Bleri Lleshi has been well-known in recent years for his books and columns in newspapers and magazines. For example, in 2016 he wrote Love in times of fear and in 2017 Inaya, letter to my child. In 2018 his new book came out, The Power of Hope. In this he interweaves inspiring examples of today with the life and thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.
Leuven's Mariame Keita will be the fourth Youth Ambassador for Peace. She is 23, studied law at KU Leuven and now works for the Flemish Youth Council. In 2017 and 2018 she was one of the two youth representatives of the Flemish Youth Council at the United Nations. She promoted the interests of Flemish children and young people in the field of sustainable development and informed and involved youth from a wide range of activities.
During her studies Mariame was also struck by the great inequality in society and in education. In the lectures and speeches she gave in New York and in Belgian (high) schools in the context of her UN work, she invariably discussed that theme, and it continues to motivate her after her UN assignment. The honest and critical way in which she calls for greater diversity in education and her open, connecting attitude towards other, sometimes negative, opinions fell and fell.
In Leuven she co-founded Kabinet J, a youth council with a "new generation of city makers who transform Leuven into the youth city of Flanders with the strong ideas and actions". Mariame already has a lot in her list of achievements as a prince in her twenties. More than enough to look forward to what lies ahead!
With the title Ambassador for Peace, Pax Christi Flanders annually honors individuals or groups for the sustained efforts they make for peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.
The new peace ambassadors were installed on Thursday 13 December 2018 in the ViaVia room (above ViaVia Café) in Brussels. VRT journalist Katrien Vanderschoot interviewed the guests. Harpist and singer Zem took care of the musical part.