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Jul 312009
 

Festival and Charity for Peace: PeaceFest 2009

by Maverick Grunfeld

 

 

Today was the start of a three-day long festival within the virtual world of Second Life to support various activist organizations. “PeaceFest” has been considered to be the Woodstock of Second Life. Various performers, artists and speakers gathered to promote awareness and contribute to charity for three groups: Edith Bensons Babies home in South Africa, Amnesty International and Peace Direct’s the Escuela project. All fund raised during the event, which runs from July 31st through August 2nd, will support these three groups. 

Second Life residents Siri Vita, Tonks Akina, and Cotton Thorne organized the event through a group called “Peace Train.” Peace Train is charitable trust in a registered 501c3, a non-profit, which raises awareness and supports groups doing work which focus on issues of human rights, poverty and peace initiatives. The event was planned over the course of three months through the efforts of numerous volunteers; including security efforts from the Justice League Unlimited (JLU) assisted by The Blue Lantern Corps.

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Siri Vita worked to help organize many of the performances and events. “Often these groups don’t have simply don’t have the resources to get their message out to the world so we utilize the global platform of Second Life to help them. We do awareness raising events throughout the year here such as panel discussions and festival participation with other groups in order to accomplish this goal.” 

 

“I believe in utilizing the global platform of second life in ways that have a positive impact on real life. I’ve found many dedicated and good hearted people here that want to contribute and make a difference in the world and this platform allows them to do that by participating in events like Peace Fest. The groups we support are on the far side of the tech divide and wouldn’t ordinarily have this kind of reach. I’d like to think it not only allows me to make a difference, but also provides a way for others to have a positive impact on the world” add Siri.

 

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SL Resident Tonks Akina helped develop an auction for charity during the event. “PeaceFest is about changing the way we think; inspiring us to learn about the whole world, in an international community (SL) and making us think and act for peace in real-life as a result” she said. Tonks sent special thanks to Firewave Imaging, Jonah Zenovka and Alexxa Laval for their efforts supporting the auction. 

 

Tonks shared how PeaceFest ties to the three charities this year “First, we are supporting a charity for children in extreme poverty and without parents. We do this because children are the future. Peace means life; and so full and healthy life is a part of making peace.” The Edith Bensons Babies home in South Africa is a place for orphan under the age of 5 whose parents have died of AIDS. About ¼ of these children are also HIV positive.

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Amnesty International’s efforts to end Child Soldiering will be supported through the funds raised. “Child soldiers often come from desperate poverty. It happens all over the world and locks children into a lifetime of violence and exploitation.”The third group supported from the event’s donations is the UK based Peace Direct project in Columbia is named the “Escuela project.”  Tonks added “Columbia is a country constantly torn by violence. This group  works to provide education and non-violent resistance.  Our groups are global, focus on all ages and are small efforts that an event like ours can have a positive impact on.” 

 


 

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Erica d’Aquila, a 22 year old college student, visited South Africa in August 2008 and The Edith Bensons Babies home. She logged into Second Life to share with others her story. “South Africa is very wonderful; the people are appreciative and loving; welcoming you into their culture.” 

 

“It was a daily occurrence seeing folks dying from AIDS. Left behind are all these orphans. It is overwhelming to see all these beautiful children with no one left to take care of them due to HIV/AIDS. It is these little steps that have a large transformation over time. We have the power to make change. You just need to do it, even if it is donating pennies.”

 

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Cotton Thorne shared that “PeaceFest is an opportunity to do something about issues in the world, to get educated, meet people, hear directly from those ‘on the street,’ and learn what can be done through collective, small efforts.” 

 

This is the second year of PeaceFest in Second Life. “We are only supporting three organizations this year to maximize impact. We are now officially a 501c3 public charity in the US; so donations in the US are tax deductible” said Cotton.

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Siri Vita closed with her personal thoughts on PeaceFest. “It embodies my belief that we can all come together and work toward the alleviation of poverty, the furtherance of peace initiatives and defense of human rights. These are things I fell called to do in my life. Peace train and second life allow me to do that with events like the fest. Last year was an amazing success and we hope to see another really wonderful response this year.” 

 

The events will be going on from July 31st – August 2nd. A schedule can be found on: http://slpeacefest.wordpress.com/schedule

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