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Peace Education

Netherlanders March for Peace

The Hague, Netherlands—More than 100 people took part in a “Great March for Peace” as the Netherlands’ contribution to the Peace Road international initiative.

Under the slogan "Renewal of the Road to Peace in Europe and the World," 106 persons took part in the July 4, 2015 “peace march,” walking either 10 kilometers (over 6 miles) or 5 kilometers past 24 famous institutions and monuments in The Hague, the seat of government in the Netherlands.

The event started with a “kickoff” meeting at the Sufi Center on Anna Paulownastraat, near the UPF Peace Palace. As the mistress of ceremonies, Sophie Janssen welcomed all participants and introduced Hans Campman, national leader of UPF-affiliated organization Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-Netherlands, who gave a “Vision explanation” of Peace Road 2015.

He was followed by a number of speakers, of whom four were UPF Ambassadors for Peace. Dutch elder statesman Dr. Wim van Eekelen, a member of the Netherlands Advisory Commission on European Integration, spoke warmly about UPF activities, mentioning in particular the “Mixing of Water” ceremony symbolizing the unity of religions.

The other speakers were Bart ten Broek of United Religions Initiative; Varandar Chandar of the Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust; Leonard Kater, representing the World Federalist Movement and Centrum Emma, a gathering place for peace activists with a UNESCO Library; and Alaeddine Touhami, representing Alawiyya International Soefi Association (AISA), which promotes a culture of peace by stimulating intercultural cooperation, brotherhood and mutual understanding between spiritual movements.

Eleanor Flowers Klerkx sang a hymn and a spiritual, and Christopher Vipond Davies, who congratulated all the participants in choosing to do something good, sang his version of the famous British poem and song “I Vow to My Country.”

Stephan van Winden gave a “practical explanation” of this Peace Road event. Ambassador for Peace Georgine Wijsman-Bendt, a pastoral worker with the Moravian Brother Community, offered a prayer before the start of the peace march. She was so moved by the event that she said she would ask her children, after she died, to put her Peace Road T-shirt on her coffin, visible for all to see.

The peace march took place in hot weather, which is unusual for the Netherlands. At the end, participants were really joyful, filled with a sense of victory and unity of heart, having overcome a challenge together.

In addition to a commemorative T-shirt, all the participants received a "Peace Tour 2015" badge and certificate of accomplishment.

During the walk, UPF-Netherlands Secretary General Wim Koetsier conducted a number of interviews, which were filmed and soon will be distributed, together with videos and photos of the day’s activities.

After completing the peace march, the participants met outside the Peace Palace, sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and released 21 doves. This was followed by a closing session and festive meal, prepared by Rudi and Thea Rijntjes, in and around the Sufi Center.

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