By Tomiko Duggan, Director, UPF-Washington, DC office
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Washington, DC, USA - In concert with UPF chapters all over the world, the UPF-Washington, DC chapter celebrated Africa Day two days prior to the May 25 celebration held in New York City. Mr. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of UPF International, greeted guests at the Conference Center at 3224 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC.
H.E. Milton Nathaniel Barnes, Ambassador of Liberia, was the keynote speaker. He moved the audience with his heartfelt words about Africans taking responsibility for Africa through transparent and consistent actions. Amb. Barnes emphasized that what Africa needs is the “ownership, leadership, and service” to bring true healing and peace. H.E. Mahamoud Adam Bechir, Ambassador of Chad, and H.E. Mory Karamoko Kaba, Ambassador of Guinea, also shared their vision and hopes for their countries.
Amb. Kaba said that the Guinean people have a lot of hope for the future because Guinea is renewing and rebuilding itself. “Our sons and daughters are putting their ingenuity to the service of the nation. Our wish and hope is that humankind can live in a world without war and without hunger. This dream is possible.”
The program also included the testimonies of former missionaries to Africa, Ms. Gail Paine and Mrs. Pam Stein, as well as Dr. Tony Lowery, an Ambassador for Peace who traveled to Cameroon, Congo, and Guinea to deliver the UPF Peace Message in 2006. Mrs. Angelika Selle and Mrs. Eny Reed from the Women’s Federation for World Peace-USA and Mrs. Beverly Berndt from the Gambia Girl Project gave presentations about their projects.
Mrs. Pam Stein was imprisoned in the Republic of Congo during her mission experience. She said that the man who interrogated her and then released her from prison is now the president of that nation. She would like to meet “Dennis” again and thank him for sparing her life. Ms. Paine’s passion for peace is rooted in her difficult experiences during the war in Zimbabwe, the military coup in Kenya, and the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda; she expressed her deep love for Africa and the African people.
The Schools of Africa Project of the Women's Federation for World Peace-USA raises funds to maintain seven private schools created and managed by Japanese volunteers since 1994. Ninety percent of the tuition in those schools is supported by contributions from grassroots donors and members of Women's Federation for World Peace in the US and other countries.
The Gambia Girl project is run by a Maryland school teacher, Mrs. Beverly Berndt and her family, who lived in Gambia for several years. After returning to the US, she started a service project to provide opportunities for American girls and Gambian school girls to work together during their summer break. The girls work side by side on character and sexual abstinence education, service activities, and health issues. This popular program has been running for five years. The photos of the beautiful smiling black and white children, arm in arm, gave an image of great hope for the future.
Kia Victoria, age 18, powerfully sang two songs from the Broadway show “Lion King.” She won an audition at age ten to play the young Nala in the Broadway hit musical. She was accompanied on drums by her father, Adruma Victoria, who also performed in the orchestra of the show. The African Ambassadors and wives and other guests were moved by her beautiful voice.
The program closed with a final song “Where Peace Begins” by UPF staffers, David Reed and Nanae Goto.
More than 75 guests attended the program in Washington, DC, and all experienced the richness and diversity of African culture and heritage, and the hopes for Africa to become peaceful and prosperous in the future.
For more information about Africa Day, click here.