September 18, 2019 – On Friday 27 September, artist and social activist Forest Whitaker will convene a group of youth activists, business leaders, and artists to celebrate the power of youth for peace at Gotham Hall, New York. In his view, “we must realize that whatever challenge we are faced with, young people can and should be part of the solution — both for today and tomorrow.” The dinner and auction event is an homage to the young men and women that his organization, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), sponsors in conflict and violence-affected places in Africa and the Americas. The event, “Place for Peace,” will feature presentations by young people from WPDI programs and performances by renowned artists Jazmine Sullivan and Samm Henshaw as well as Uganda singer Okello Kelo Sam and his Mizizi Ensemble.
The vision heralded by Forest Whitaker has received the support of many leading figures who have joined the “Place for Peace” host committee. From the Arts world – Leonardo Di Caprio, Eva Longoria and Trudie Styler -, humanitarian action – Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus -, the private sector – Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon and WPDI Board Member -, and the policy environment – Jendayi Frazer, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Jendayi Frazer declared that “The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (‘WPDI) is one of the most innovative and effective organizations for helping young people make a difference in their communities, even in the most difficult areas of the world. What these young leaders and entrepreneurs accomplish is truly amazing. Forest Whitaker decided to hold the “Place for Peace Gala and Auction Dinner” so they can be the ones talking about their work and commitment to peace and sustainable development – This promises to be a unique experience.”
WPDI works to promote peace and reconciliation across such diverse countries as South Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, Mexico, and the United States. Since its creation in 2012, WPDI has provided training and resources to thousands of former child soldiers, gang members, refugees, and war orphans. Many of them have become mediators and entrepreneurs eager to make a difference and transform their communities for the better. Since its creation, the combined action of WPDI has globally reached and positively influenced more than 400,000 people.
To showcase the work of WPDI, the Gala will open the scene for the youth WPDI supports in Africa and America who will be the ones telling the audience of their stories and their dreams. Some of them have already made an immense impact on their communities. Some managed to bring peace among tribes that had been in conflict for years. Others launched economic projects that transformed livelihoods of hundreds of people. One of the youth to participate in the event, Magdalena, from South Sudan, told us that: “WPDI offered me the chance to prove myself. This is a unique privilege that should be given to many more youth – especially young women.”
To entertain but also inspire the guests, WPDI has also invited notable artists to perform at the event, including Jazmine Sullivan and Samm Henshaw. Famous Ugandan singer, Okello Kelo Sam, will also perform with his Mizizi Ensemble. Sam is himself a former child soldier- who eventually founded an orphanage for youth who had faced the same fate, demonstrating that there is talent to tap even in the most seemingly desolate places.
The proceedings of the “Place for Peace” Dinner and Auction event will support WPDI in its efforts to empower young people as peacebuilders and change-makers.
Sponsorship opportunities are still open for the gala, for more details go to https://www.wpdi.org/gala-peace-dinner/. A collection of gala items is also available at this link.
The gala was made possible thanks to the generous contributions from: Verizon, McKinsey & Company, BlackRock, Casa System, CISCO, Ericsson, Epix, Evercore, Novartis, R2 Digital Media, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, Western Union Foundation.
Hashtag of the event: #WPDIPlaceforPeace