Many strive to create and maintain peaceful resolutions in a world of issues. Kwabi Amoah-Forson is someone who acts on each opportunity to promote peace, togetherness, and understanding.
Amoah-Forson has been known in Tacoma for years alongside The Peace Bus, a 1988 Mitsubishi van he bought on a path to inspire others to practice peace. He painted the van bright baby blue, dubbed the color of peace by activist Peace Pilgrim. The symbol on the side was the final touch.
“The idea behind The Peace Bus, aesthetically, is to have people look at it and be interested,” Amoah-Forson said.
In 2018, shortly after giving the van its distinctive look, he turned it into a local humanitarian aid vehicle, handing out goods throughout Tacoma. As a mental health counselor at Comprehensive Life Resources, he knew his community needed socks and blankets.
Amoah-Forson and his Peace Bus crew raised approximately $500 on the first sock drive and promptly distributed sturdy socks to homeless shelters and congregate care facilities. Several ventures followed, including subsequent sock drives and other philanthropic endeavors, a West Coast road trip to promote peace, the Real Peace Podcast, and the filming and editing of The Peace Bus TV show. The series, populated by puppets, is reminiscent of Sesame Street, and tackles issues like homelessness, poverty, and the environment in its storytelling.
“Many people want to shelter their children away from these realities, but they’re ready — they can understand what’s going on in their community,” Amoah-Forson said in late 2019. “We don’t want to lie to them. We want to tell them the truth in a safe way that they can digest and understand.”
As the show was ramping up, COVID-19 arrived in Washington, and many families were left struggling to purchase food. The TV show was put on hold, and the breakfast fund ensued. Amoah-Forson delivered cereal to more than 350 struggling families throughout the spring.
“Being that we’re doing local humanitarian aid, it was an opportunity to serve,” Amoah-Forson recalled of the emergency endeavor.
Now, The Peace Bus crew is preparing for episode two of the TV show, ceaselessly promoting peace in that sky-blue van, and planning the next altruistic project for families.
8:15 a.m. I head out for my morning run. Iʼve been pushing to get to two miles per day, but my average is slightly below that. Running helps to clear my thoughts and gain focus for the day.
9:30 a.m. I get to work at my day job. I work at Comprehensive Life Resources as a mental health counselor, helping those who often suffer from severe mental illness.
Noon Switching roles, I quickly don a shirt and head to an outdoor interview with James Marszalek for his new Puget Sound Underground Round Table discussion series.
1:30 p.m. Next, I head to the Childrenʼs Museum of Tacoma, where I meet up with puppeteer Kelly Kassir, who plays Simon in The Peace Bus TV show. We go live on Zoom to talk to kids about peace.
1:40 p.m. Before going live, I talk to museum teacher Cheryl Jones and, later, Executive Director Tanya Durand about The Peace Busʼ mission to supply humanitarian aid to the community while also continuing with childrenʼs programming.
1:45 p.m. We are live at the museum. Children all over the Puget Sound tune in to listen to Simon and me sing songs, read, and talk about peace.
2:30 p.m. Kelly and I leave the Childrenʼs Museum of Tacoma, and we hope to be back real soon.
3 p.m. Iʼm back at my day job to see the rest of my clients before “the workday” ends. I get a group picture with the receptionists in the main office.
8 p.m. I edit and revise the comic strip. Itʼs called Kwabi & Simon and is illustrated by Anthony Wallace and written by me. I released the first issue of the monthly comic strip online in October.
9:30 p.m. I take one last look at the project proposal I will be sending to the City of Tacoma in order to receive donations this holiday season. I am beyond excited for our next humanitarian effort.