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Religious Youth Service

In Honduras, It’s Not about the Pieces, But How They Work Together

Comayagua, Honduras - “It’s not about the pieces… but how they work together” was the theme of an international, intergenerational service project from Jan. 7-16, 2014. “The Hope of All Ages Is a World of Peace” is the motto of UPF. Peace is longed for by all generations, but it needs substantial models to inspire others toward that possibility.

This project began with a meeting with the mayor of Comayagua, who offered a warm welcome to our group to his city about 50 miles northwest of Tegucigalpa, the capital. However, the comfort of the mayor’s welcome to the participants quickly melted away as reality set in and each person began to ask themselves, “Why am I here?” As often happens when people of varied languages, nationalities and ages begin to work together, there was a certain amount of waiting, adjusting and struggle as the group strove to pull together. Each day began with a short reading, prayer/meditation and a daily focus. Fortunately, two days were dedicated to “Patience,” that is, patience with oneself and patience with others. I believe participants from both countries (Honduras and USA) would concur that creating harmony and cooperation requires effort and a great deal of patience.

The project was a complete immersion into the local culture, including a visit to a women’s cottage industry, home stays and meals in the homes of community members, music, dance and a lot of friendship building. Our group offered assistance to two schools in the city of Comayagua and created a mosaic in which more than 100 community members participated; it was designed jointly by two young adults from Honduras and two young women from New Jersey.

One of the three projects was the building of a security wall around a school. A young mason, Alejandro, was asked to oversee the construction and to direct the group on how to measure the wall, mix cement and lay cinder blocks. He was quite agreeable to this proposal until he was told that a majority of the members were women. He confessed at the conclusion of the project that he thought co-director Mario Salinas was crazy when he made this request and that the proposal was totally illogical. However, he became unexpectedly aware of the power of youth, women and cooperation. He became totally enthralled with our curious group, and joined us for the rest of the project.

The mosaic, which now adorns the main boulevard of the city, depicts a troubled world, symbolized by a tree in arid soil, trapped in a bubble, and surrounded by a radiant ideal world of peace. Breaking the bubble was a drop melted from a composite symbol of peace and true love nourishing the arid world, and consequently bringing it new life. A “mosaic” of passers-by was invited to contribute to the creation, making the project not simply our project but truly a community project. Group or community art is a joyful and inspiring way to create openness and friendship.

The project was the result of cooperation between the Young Unification Ministry and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) of New Jersey, UPF-USA, the municipality of Comayagua and the Global Women's Peace Network of Honduras.

During the project, the Global Women’s Peace Network was invited for a TV interview that resulted in some good publicity as well as important connections with the local Lions’ Club, who invited the women to cooperate with them in the future.

The program concluded with a “sisterhood” ceremony, sponsored by the municipality, in which women from several cities in Honduras were partnered with women from New Jersey. In this way, each of the North American women participants were matched to Honduran women. Seeds of friendship were planted during this activity and others. The young women from New Jersey had raised the funds for their trip to Honduras and are making a business plan for funding a project next year as well as inviting three Honduran youth to participate in a similar project in New Jersey.

Whether seen as a network or as a mosaic, the work of cooperation has begun, and a hope has developed to work together to take our first steps toward a world of peace.

Over the past 20 years, RYS initiated more than 40 "Friendship Americas Projects" in response to the challenge by its founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, to develop cooperative relationships among the people of the Americas. This project continued that work, with the additional focus of combining community-based service with a collaborative art project.

For a seven-minute video overview, click here.

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