Peace president visits Blenheim
Meeting strangers and sharing experiences is second nature for Jonny Saganger, the Swedishbased president of global peace fellowship organisation, Servas International.
Jonny meets a wide range of people from different backgrounds as part of his job working as a business journalist in Stockholm.
In his free time he helps administer Servas International in his role as current world president.
With his wife Kristina, Jonny was in New Zealand during October attending the Servas international triennial congress held in Matamata.
Servas International was foundered in 1949 as a volunteer organisation to promote peace in the world through hospitality among friends and strangers and promoting person-to-person contact.
The person-to-person contact is helped by members offering their homes for other members to stay in for up two nights.
The organisation was recognised by the United Nations in 1972.
It was for this reason the Swedish couple found themselves in Blenheim accepting the hospitality of Phillip and Sue Binnie, who are also Servas members, and being initiated into a national pastime of watching the All Blacks.
The former human rights advocate was attracted by Servas’ aim to promote peace, he says.
‘‘I had been a journalist since I was 17 starting as a sports reporter, before moving on to report on human rights issues.’’
He now wrote on economic and political aspects in the pharmaceutical’s and medical devices for readers working in the industry, he says.
Jonny and Kristina were among 180 Servas International members attending the confer- ence in Matamata-the first time New Zealand had hosted the organisation, he says.
Following the conference the couple visited Servas members in New Zealand, including Phillip and Sue Binnie.The Marlborough winemakers have been Servas members since the 1980’s.
Servas International president Jonny Saganger, third from left with wife Kristina, stayed with Marlborough Servas members Phillip, left, and Sue Binnie, far right, following the organisations international conference held in Matamata.