Joyce Dubensky Participates in Task Force on Faith, Health and Development

From our Executive Vice President & CEO, Joyce Dubensky

Having just finished the traditional Thanksgiving weekend, I am feeling particularly appreciative that I am able to do the work that I do at Tanenbaum. There are lots of reasons, but one was my involvement in a task force focused on development, faith and health (formal name: Task Force for the Global Initiative on Faith, Health and Development. Just before starting the weekend, I spent two days with the members of the Task Force in Washington, DC, where we finalized the report of the Task Force and presented it at the White House.

Given our work at Tanenbaum, this effort gave me a chance to look at issues from the perspective of experts whose daily work is development, addressing global inequities, poverty and health.  Our focus is clearly related.  Our Religious Diversity in Health Care program is about providing full and equal health care treatment to religiously diverse (and unfamiliar) patients who make health decisions based on their beliefs. And while many of our Peacemakers in Action work in the midst of armed conflicts, some are doing work to prevent conflict through education and efforts to stabilize fragile peace efforts.

What was particularly wonderful was that everyone from the Task Force had a lot to add. I was intrigued by much of the conversation. But I was particularly struck by the way this Task Force and its participants ended up defining health – in a holistic way that includes, well-being including physical, mental and spiritual – as well as addressing specific health issues like malaria and AIDS. Fully understood, the participants noted that it involves issues of water, food, poverty, housing. It also, of course, includes peace.

The discussion reminds me of another discussion that is going on about peace work. In the field of peace practitioners, there are many ways of describing the work. As peacemaking, conflict resolution, conflict management, conflict transformation, peace building, post-conflict management, etc. Even in a world of sound bites, these words are so important. They are not all identical and yet they are all related and speak to a shared vision of what can be. 

Ultimately, as I thought about global health and development work, as I thought about Tanenbaum’s work, and as I thought about peace work – with all their differences and nuances – it seemed to me that there is a common thread among all these efforts. They are seeking a lived justice for each person and all people.