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Annual report 2009

Substantial resources

Travel for Peace has a small staff working in the Peace House in Risør. But we also have several guides, time-witnesses, drivers, counselors, and other partners working in various areas. Our aim is to create peace, reconciliation and respect for human rights through knowledge.

We are grateful for the good cooperation with bus- and ferry companies, hotels and restaurants. Travel for Peace is the centerpiece of a large and fine-tuned network of service providers that inspires us to become better and better.
Travel for Peace wants to make a change by letting youth learn, understand, feel and preferably make a commitment. Many people tell us how important this journey has been for them. Several of those who have travelled with us later work within areas as peace and human rights, international solidarity and development. Some also focus on combat against neo-Nazism and for justice, both nationally and internationally through political work and effort in voluntary organizations.

In June, Travel for Peace hosted a network of like-minded organizations that are working on research and information regarding memories of war, peace and conflict resolution. The theme for this gathering was time-witnesses. We discussed who could be defined as a time-witness and who may represent new time-witnesses. The Network consist of The Archive in Kristiansand, Neveragain, Museum West, Northern Division Maritime Museum, Falstad Center, the Holocaust Center, The Peace Center in Narvik and VOX.
Network Collection provides input to the partnership and is an important meeting venue for educational institutions. We look forward to next year's gathering in Narvik.

A wide range of work

Travel for Peace arranges trips to a number of countries. But we also do many other things; Risør is now a peace-city with substantial activity in the Peace House and in the Peace Park. Philosopher and peace researcher Henrik Syse said that Travel for Peace already have reached the goal of becoming an international peace organization. We know that the work to build a more peaceful and better world must be made every day the years ahead. Our task is not completed and we can always do more.
I want to thank everyone for a good cooperation in the past year, and hope
for good and inspiring days in 2010.

Helga Arntzen
Managing Director of Travel for Peace

The Board in Travel for Peace

In addition to Uwe Arntzen as chairman and Helga Arntzen as a board member, the board consists of accountant Christian Magne Landbø and lecturer Vidar Fjeldstad.
Travel for Peace is also working with over 50 time - witnesses who can tell about
how the war has affected them directly. Over 60 travel managers contribute to the implementation of all our travels.

Theme Tours

MANY have participated on the theme- tours arranged by Travel for Peace throughout the year. There have been trips to the Gambia, Ukraine (Kiev and Chernobyl), Berlin, Normandy, the Balkans and Cambodia.
These tours help to increase the breadth of Travel for Peace International involvement. We get a greater understanding of international matters related to the causes of conflict and opportunities for peace and reconciliation. A journey to Chernobyl was also an important
reminder of the environmental damage of global character. Viewed in historical perspective, the Chernobyl disaster was one of several causes of the political collapse of the Eastern Bloc.

School Trips

Helga Arntzen has through her work in the White Buses to Auschwitz and Travel for Peace played an important role in the struggle against neo-Nazism in Norway. While neo-Nazism was a big issue in the 1990s, it is now almost completely disappeared in Norway.

Youth who travel with us are immune to propaganda from Holocaust deniers and others who glorify Nazism. Now neo-Nazism is increasing in several countries in Europe, and we cannot be confident that this does not spread to Norway.

Travel for Peace still has an important mission.

Travel for Peace works to make young people believe that conflicts can be resolved and that peace can be created, and that their own attitudes and actions are crucial. This is the core of our business. Over 10 000 young people participated on Travel for Peace school trips in 2009. They returned with new perspectives on the major issues in life. The days spent on the bus through Europe give them knowledge, experience and dimensions of self-knowledge on the road to becoming a mature and wise human being.

Reflections about war, peace, human rights, human dignity and human possibilities - both good and bad - are challenged and developed through an eight-day tour to Poland and Germany. These trips also provides an important insight into the current Europe, mainly Scandinavia, Germany and Poland. A Europe that for up to 20 years ago was divided and marked by mutual suspicion. Now these countries are working together for economic prosperity and democratic rights within both the EU and their own country.
The visits in the concentration camps Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück
as well as the notorious Stasi prison in Berlin gives everyone a reminder about both the second world war and the cold war. At the same time we experience many examples of people's desire to fight for the good and hope for a better future.

The eight-day School trip gives an opportunity to visit the cultural cities Berlin and Krakow. Cultural experiences are always an important part of the trip, local music, dance and folklore is part of this experience.
Many also have the time for a visit to an exhibition or a museum. Berlin has been a world-historical intersection through two world wars, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of East and western Germany and Europe. The city has been through a rapid development in the last 20 years and the new and old provides a unique urban experience.

Outside Berlin, we find the giant Tropical Island where guests can go swimming and adventure holidays throughout the year.
Krakow is one of Europe's most beautiful and friendliest cities. Important historical memorials surround the main square in town. Outside the city you find salt mines, which is impressing when it comes to both engineering and beauty.

20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall

9. November has evolved to become one of the most important days in Europe. It is the day the Berlin Wall fell and the key symbol for the end of the Cold War. In 2009 there was a great celebration of the 20 years anniversary, and Travel for Peace was present with seven buses and over 400 youths and adults.

It was an emotional moment when the big Travel for Peace-choir sang "Your mind is free" in front of the remains of the Berlin Wall. Then everybody in the choir laid a red rose near the big gray wall. Travel for Peace was, along with schools across the country also responsible for decorating 10 of the symbolic bricks that toppled like dominoes between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, where the main event took place the evening of 9 November.
Travel for Peace was selected as one of the official partners by the Wall Center in Bernauerstraße, where the main celebration took place in the morning. Everybody that traveled with travel for Peace wore white jackets and were so positively visible in the landscape. They were especially mentioned in the memorial speech during service in the Reconciliation Chapel in Bernauerstraße.

Travel for Peace contributed greatly to the breadth of the selection. The large choir was shown on German television. It was also shown on television in other countries, including China.

Books and other publications

Travel for Peace has its own publishing to take care of time-witness descriptions from World War II.Our Peace Publishing released in 2009 the books "Hitler, Stalin and Little Anja" by Anja Øverdahl. The book of war-sailor Gunnar Knudsen, "From War to Travelling for Peace ", written by Oddvar Schjølberg and the book about Blanche Major "I survived Auschwitz", also written by Oddvar Schjølberg. Travel for Peace has also published a comprehensive guidebook of Berlin.

Peace and development

Travel for Peace is an ideal corporation, and any surplus is invested in peace and development. Travel for Peace run long-term development cooperation in the Gambia through the organization Sutukobas Friends. Efforts are concentrated on urban land in the village and Sutukoba Wuli District. The goal is increased food security through a wide rice-project and cultivation of vegetables. Education and health are two other key areas.
Travel for Peace also sponsors the building of a university, which are very crucial for the country's further development. We support the construction of a peace-house with rooms for teaching peace and conflict resolution as well as computer education. We also support education and professional development for teachers at the university, including  a long-term sponsor child- care program and scholarships for students.

Blanche Major Reconciliation award 2009

"We can’t do anything about the past, but I am convinced that we can do something
about the future, "said Blanche Major. As a 19-year-old she was sent to Auschwitz-
Birkenau along with 32 relatives. Only she and her sister survived. Managing Director of Travel for Peace, Helga Arntzen was very inspired by Blanche’s attitude and created Blanche Majors Reconciliation Award in 2003.

This award goes each year to individuals or institutions who have distinguished themselves in the work of reconcile parties who are or have been, in conflict. The award will highlight the importance of reconciliation as an element in peace-building work. The award is a statuette, a diploma and 30 000 kroner.

The Prizewinner Asgeir Føyen has for a number of years been engaged in facilitating friendship and reconciliation. Asgeir has since 1988 been engaged in various development projects in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Asgeir was project director for various initiatives related to the conflicts regarding the scarce water resources in the area. He receives Blanche Major’s reconciliation award, especially with regard to the long-term leadership training program he started in 2002. The program includes young leaders from Israel, Palestine and Jordan who wants to create reconciliation.
- Laureate said: "It takes time to build confidence and create good community-building
changes. Conversely, it is much quickly torn down. A tree can use 100 years to grow properly solid and beautiful, but can die in less than an hour " says Asgeir Føyen, who believe that society today seems unwilling to work on time-consuming reconciliation-projects.

Prisoners Testament 2009

The award Prisoners Testament is given to people or groups who have done something special to disseminate knowledge about the conflict or peace building processes in an understandable for most people. Those receiving the price must have in writing, speech or action contributed to information that promotes understanding of "evil" so that we can be in a better position to build barriers against this
in our own minds. The name "Prisoners Testament" is come from Tollef Larsson. During the years after he himself was a prisoner in a concentration camp during the Second World War he has wanted reflection on "the evil”.

This year`s award went to Evelin Lindner for her tireless work as a researcher and activist for everyone's human dignity.

-Research creates knowledge and knowledge creates understanding. The question is if this insight helps to create attitudes that mobilize against racism, intolerance and totalitarian ideologies? And will the knowledge of how easy it is to do evil deeds increase the resistance to implementing them, asked Evangeline Lindner in her speech

Activities in the Peace House and the Peace Park

The Peace Park and the Peace House in Risør have further developed into an important meeting point. The Peace Park is in use year round, especially during the summer and on holidays such as 17th of May. Peace Park is built up and built by Travel for Peace and in August 2008 donated to Risør. The park is used frequently by the residents at the age Center in Risør and also young families who want a safe play area. The park also lives up to its intention to create frameworks for reflection and contemplation.

Following an initiative from Mayor Travel for Peace participated in a gathering in the Peace Park on the 8th of January to show solidarity with the many casualties after the fighting in Gaza. More than 300 came to support the requirement to stop the war and choose peaceful means to resolve conflict.