While at the World Peace Forum in Vancouver last June, we were intrigued to find that the programme for the last day included a visit to the Peace Boat, MV Topaz, which would be moored at the docks for 24 hours.  We had never heard of this, so we were keen to find out more. When we arrived we were amazed by the size, it is a 30,000 ton passenger liner, about 50 years old, with beautiful art deco interior, but fully modernised engine-wise.


The organisation was started in 1983 by a group of Japanese students, as a regional trip around South East Asia aimed at keeping alive the memory of war to prevent such horrors ever happening again, by connecting people in different countries with similar memories and living with similar effects of conflict.  The first international voyage was made in 1990, and since then the Peace Boat has visited more than 80 countries, bringing more than 25,000 people together.  Now there are three global voyages and one short Asian voyage each year, The ship becomes a floating community of about 900 participants, visiting ports around the world, there are up to 50 guest lecturers, artists, representatives of NGOs giving a programme on the voyage, with other events meeting students and others in the countries visited.  Because of the many interesting places visited and the high standard of food and accommodation, many adults paying full fare participate, thus allowing students and young people from poor communities to have subsidised fares. 


While we were on the boat, we had a final discussion forum entitled "making the earth whole - an integrated peace agenda" with speakers Senator Doug Roche of Canada, and Dr. Mary Wynne-Ashford,an inspirational speaker, President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. She is an inspirational speaker with a talent for making one feel all is not hopeless, and that women are crucial for improvement in the linking together of issues of poverty, environment, peace, etc. We must press for more education, especially of girls. We then had a final lunch in the ship's dining room, with a group of enthusiastic Canadian trade union activists. 


Please look at the website of the Peace Boat - - you will find it interesting.


Rosemary Addington.