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Peace Education

UPF Special Advisors Visit Mauritius

Port Louis, Mauritius - Five special advisers of UPF-Mauritius visited this island nation between November 15 and 29. Coming from Korea, Japan, the US, and Germany, they met people with common interests in education, service, and interreligious cooperation.

The international visitors were Dr. (Mrs.) Lee Jung Hae from Korea, Rev. Haruhito Iwasawa from Japan, Captain Chris Fiala and his wife Rev. Jai Nan from the US, and Rev. Ruediger Graeber from Germany.

From left to right: Rev. Jai Nan Fiala, Nicole Judoo, Sheila Mathur, Jessica Chung To, Lady Sarojini Jugnauth, Rev. Haruhito Iwasawa, the President of Mauritius Hon. Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Mark Chung To, Dr. Lee Jung Hae, Captain Chris Fiala, and Rev. Ruediger Graeber

A visit was paid to the State House of Mauritius in Reduit to brief the President of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth and his wife, Lady Sarojini Jugnauth, about local and international projects. Sheila Mathur and Nicole Judoo, dedicated executive members of the Women’s Federation for World Peace in Mauritius, were present and talked about their educational program supporting 160 needy students and their families. This sponsored-children's project caught the special interest of Lady Sarojini Jugnauth.

The program assists students ages 12 to 18 from very poor families who are highly motivated to study and rise out of poverty. Participants are identified by committee members and other stakeholders, and continued support is based on their doing well in school. Regular reports are given to the sponsors. The program began in 1999 with ten students supported by families in Japan. One of the first students in the program, Nathalie Becherel, won a national scholarship based on her high exam scores and went on to study law in London.

The president and his wife were also presented with a copy of the autobiography of UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The meeting was followed by a guided tour through the presidential garden.

An island nation in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius' population of about 1.3 million includes descendants of people from India, Africa, France, and China. Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius also has close ties with nations of Asia and Europe.

The special advisers traveled to the Mauritius Institute of Education in the town of Reduit, where sponsored children gather every Saturday for tutoring. The international visitors took this opportunity to share with the children some of their varied experiences and give them encouragement as they face life’s challenges. The special advisers also visited a local sponsor of 15 children and took a group of 68 sponsored children on an outing to La Ferme Reservoir, Albion Lighthouse, and Flic-en-Flac beach. UPF-Mauritius leader Jessica Chung To met with 11 sponsored children in the town of Rose Hill to deliver gifts from the Japanese families who sponsor them and receive gifts in return to send back to Japan.

In the town of Quatre Bornes, a meeting with Dr. Brigitte and her husband Dr. Mario Ng Kuet Leong took place at their St. Esprit Clinic. Conversation topics included the treatment of children from different social strata in Mauritius.

Building relations with people of various faiths was another important aspect of the two weeks. More than half of the people of Mauritius are Hindus, and global movements originating in India such as Sai Baba and Brahma Kumaris are doing charitable work in Mauritius. A meeting with Sai Baba representatives included discussions about the impact of their projects that promote the betterment of society, e.g., hospitals and educational institutions based on humanitarian values and voluntary service; the special advisors attended a Sai Baba symposium, which they were invited to address. Conversations with a supporter of Brahma Kumaris focused on spiritual practices and helping underprivileged children.

Another visit was to an Anglican priest. About a third of the people in Mauritius are Christian, a heritage of the centuries of Dutch, French, British rule.

Muslims of various national origins and sects constitute about 16 percent of the population. At the Ahmadiyya mosque in the town of Rose Hill, representatives of both groups talked about their founders and the tribulations the groups have endured.

Most Muslims live in or near the capital of Port Louis. A visit to a Muslim park in the Plaine Verte district of Port Louis led to an invitation to dinner and sharing life stories with the homeless people there (mostly ex-detainees who have been rejected by their families). A representative later conveyed the special gratitude of one of the men who was at the park and reported that many people there were touched and inspired by the visit, eating together, and sharing personal experiences.

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