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UN International Day of Families 2013

Day of Families Observed in London

London, UK - The annual commemoration of the UN International Day of Families was held in the UPF-UK Headquarters on May 16 focusing on the theme presented by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "Advancing Social Integration and Intergenerational Solidarity." (Photo Link)

Mr. Ahmed Shebani, Co-founder of the Libya Democratic Party, quoted Mother Teresa, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

Family DayThe evening opened with UPF-UK Secretary General Robin Marsh introducing the day and the event. Shortly after, Sheikh Dr. Ramzy explained how Islam understands families a foundation for a good society. “We are now becoming more and more disconnected even though we know we should respect each and every member of the family especially parents. We should be kind to them, and when they become old, do not criticize them but bestow upon them the mercy they cherished you in your childhood."

He said that in some countries, over 300 people live together as an extended family.

Margaret Ali, UPF-UK Director, introduced Dr. Suman Datta, a prominent member of the Women's Interfaith Network. When she came on stage, she spoke very personally and captivated the audience as she started to speak “What do we mean by family? Is it just mother, father, and children? Or is it wider? I will speak from my experience, I lived in India, and uncles, aunts, neighbors, all of them where my family. If I reflect on that time, there was less depression and fewer problems. If we look at the relationships within the family, between children and parents, husband and wife, cousins and neighbors, they are all different. We when we had a problem, we would discuss it with various relatives and get varied understandings.” When a girl gets married and goes to her in-laws, they also become family.

She commented that children missed out on those traditionally close relationships and called on people to promote extended family bonds. "Extended families can be like the many legs of a table: the more legs a table has the more stable it is."

Robin Marsh then read the speech of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion of the UN International Day of Families.

Rev. Jack Corley, the National President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, gave a presentation on the family; he started by giving experience of his own family. "A good family will create a good society, and the foundation of the family is the basis for peace. That is why there is a saying that in a child's first three years his character is formed." He described the warm feelings he gets when meeting people from his extended family (he has nine brothers and sisters): peace, security, and love.

He said the fundamental place for character education is the family. "Family is the God-instituted institution. When you reach the age of 18, do you graduate from being the child of your parents? No, you will always be their child. Do you graduate from being a brother or sister? No. Good families don’t just live for themselves they are also taking care of a greater good. We should think how can we leave a better  place behind so that our descendants can benefit."

After Jack Corley, a youth representative, Christa Kamga, shared with the audience her experiences both in Africa and Korea and the clash she experienced when living in Western society. She explained how in Africa she had learned to respect her elders so much that everyone elder than her she still calls uncle or aunt; while studying in Korea, she saw how children would bow to their parents in the morning and show respect for someone who is even a year older, calling them brother or sister and never by their given name.

To conclude, Margaret Ali spoke of her experiences living in an extended family and how this taught her the spirit of serving and doing things for others.

Slowly more people came up to share. The room was filled with close to a 100 people, and no one was in a hurry to leave. It was a good way to end this day thinking about family and how to promote good family traditions.

Inspirations:

"In My Mother’s Garden," by Alice Walker
"A Headmaster’s Plea"

 Reported by Christa Kamga

UN Day of Families 2013 from Universal Peace Federation International

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