WATCH: Today (Friday 17 May 2024), Wales’ largest youth organisation, Urdd Gobaith Cymru continues the 102-year tradition of sharing an annual Peace and Goodwill Message by the young people of Wales with the world, by releasing ‘Gweithred yw Gobaith – Hope is an Action’ in a striking animated film.

Since 1922, the young people of Wales have thrown a spotlight on themes that are important to them whilst sharing a message of peace with the world. Every May a message has been shared without fail, initially through Morse code, then through the BBC World Service and more recently through digital media. Last year’s anti-racism Peace Message was seen by millions in 50 countries and supported by celebrities and hundreds of schools across Wales and beyond.

2024’s Peace Message honours the legacy of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition of 1923-1924, signed by 400,000 women across Wales (said to be 7 miles in length). The Message states that “the challenge of our century’s next chapter” is the continuing need to advocate for peace and putting an end to atrocities, wars, and violence.

The young women responsible for creating this year’s Peace Message are Cardiff and Vale ESOL students (English for Speakers of Other Languages) who have found refuge and made Wales their home along with some of the Urdd’s female staff, apprentices, and volunteers.

Shatw Ali is one of the young women who contributed to the message. She said: “Peace is a place where parents don’t have to worry about how to feed their children. Where children can watch fireworks instead of watching bombs fall from the sky. It might seem impossible to find a place like that on this planet but if you look carefully, you’ll find it, just like how I found Wales. A land, an oasis of serenity amidst the chaotic world.”

During workshops led by the Peace Message’s Creative Director, Casi Wyn, the young women talked about their experiences of peace – and for some, the lack of it in their previous lives, including those who hail from Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Bangladesh.

Shatw adds: “The workshop made me realise there are so many more people who are desperately looking for peace and in everyone’s heart there is a part that wants to experience peace at least once in their lifetime no matter their race, age, gender, or background. I’m really looking forward to the message going out.”

The text of the Message ‘Gweithred yw Gobaith – Hope is an Action’ has been made available in 65 languages, and the animated film shared today on social media is by filmmaker and illustrator Efa Blosse-Mason.

Casi Wyn said: “It was a pleasure to accept the Urdd’s invitation to direct this year’s Peace and Goodwill Message. Being able to bridge the historic petition written back in 1924 with the vision of today’s Welsh women during a series of workshops was inspiring. Efa Blosse Mason, my artistic partner for years, has brought the words to life in her own unique way.”

First Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I am incredibly proud to support the Urdd’s message of peace and goodwill, which is of great significance all over the world. The message is a true reflection of the ambitions of young people in Wales and a call to action for world leaders, with the collective aim to strive for a better future for us all. More than ever, I encourage everyone to engage with the Urdd’s message and help make sure that the voices of our young people are heard around the globe.”

Cardiff and Vale College Principal Sharon James-Evans said: “We are incredibly proud that our ESOL learners have been asked to contribute towards this year’s Urdd Gobaith Cymru’s inspirational Peace and Goodwill Message this year, celebrating the centenary of the Welsh Women’s Pace Petition 1923-24.

“Many of our ESOL learners have come to us from parts of the world that have known little peace, so being able to participate in the creation and recording of this message will have added poignancy for them. As a college based in the heart of one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in Wales, we are delighted our learners have been chosen to help deliver this truly international message of hope and love in these troubled times.”

Cyfranwyr Neges Heddwch ac Ewyllys Da 2024 Peace and Goodwill Message Contributors
(Pic supplied)

Background of the Urdd’s 2024 Peace and Goodwill Message

Following the First World War, an oak chest containing a petition signed by 390,296 Welsh women was presented to the women of America at the Biltmore Hotel, New York by a peace delegation from Wales. The petition appealed the United States to join the League of Nations in a campaign for co-operation and world peace.

The Peace Petition was rediscovered and returned to Wales in its oak chest last year, and its story inspired the Urdd to encourage a group of young women to come together to help write this year’s Peace and Goodwill Message.

The Urdd has arranged a special event later today at St Fagans National Museum of History, where the 1923-24 Welsh Women’s Peace Petition is currently on display as part of the Petitioning for Peace Exhibition.