The Rotary Club of Cowra played host to the 2017 Cowra World Peace Day dinner on Tuesday, with a number of guest speakers and awards handed out on the night.
In a packed room at the Cowra Bowling Club, guest speakers Phil Glendenning, President of the Refugee Council of Australia and Afghan refugee Zaki Haidari moved the crowd to tears with their stories of hardship.
Mr Glendenning spoke about the need for world peace and how movements towards peace will start with the young people, such as those who had hosted and attended the Youth Forums earlier that day.
“I was really privileged to be here today to hear four young people lead the young representatives of this town in developing some of those (peace) skills,” he said.
“If you look at the big changes that have happened in the world over the course of the last fifty years, most of them have been led by the young.”
He then spoke about the atrocity of war and the displacement of millions of people around the world, including Zaki, who has just returned from visiting his family who he hasn’t seen in five years in Pakistan.
“That was substantially made possible because of people in this town.”
He then invited Zaki to speak, who told the story of his harrowing journey to Australia, including having his brother murdered and father abducted by the Taliban.
After their speeches, the 2017 Rotary Peace Award and the Cowra Youth Peace Award.
Graham Apthorpe received the 2017 Rotary Peace Award because of his service to the community and to Cowra’s relations with Japan.
“He has been intimately involved in the Cowra-Japanese relationship for over three decades,” Chairperson of the Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association, Mr Ian Brown said.
Cowra High School student India Johnson was then named the 2017 Cowra Youth Peace Award recipient for speaking at the International Forum for Young People against Violence and her volunteer work in Cambodia.
“I hope that us young people can invest in peace and make the world a better place,” she said.