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Peace Education

Celebrating Peace Efforts

Belize-2008-11-29-Celebrating Peace Efforts

The Global Peace Festival (GPF) in Belize was the first time that the idea of celebrating peacebuilding efforts with neighboring Guatemala had come to people's minds. Though small compared to the GPF efforts around the world, the November 28 and 29 events may impact the future of Belize and its neighboring countries in tremendous ways.

Border disputes between Belize and Guatemala remain unresolved, but both countries are participating in confidence-building measures, with the encouragement of the Organization of American States.

Although this GPF was celebrated in Belize first and foremost, representatives from the neighboring nations of Guatemala and El Salvador were also present throughout the International Leadership Conference and the Main Program. Close to 90 participants took part in the conference, including Minister Nemencio Acosta and his family. The family of Belize Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Erlington, sat in the front row throughout the entire conference.

The social impact programs which had been running throughout the month of November were carried out mostly by youth activists and involved cleaning several of the parks in the different districts of the nation. Also the UPF Chess Clubs around the nation held small meets and tourneys.

But the most amazing thing that happened was when a representative of Belize´s Conscious Youth Development Program, which is government sponsored, heard about the GPF and said, “I want to work for this.” This person together with the whole department started a rallying cry for peace in Belize, making special efforts to reach out to people who were formerly in gangs and encouraging them to work to improve their lives.

This program started to get members from all the Belize City gangs to come together and form 12 sports teams; after two weeks of training, these teams started playing in a tournament that will continue up until mid-December. The 175 youths who were inspired by the dream of peace and “One Family Under God” are now competing by shooting balls instead of guns, and every game draws more than 200 spectators who come to watch and, most of all, support the teams. The Conscious Youth Development Program calls this just the beginning, and they plan to expand their efforts, “hopefully across the borders to include Guatemala and Honduras,” according to Deputy Director Kevin Cadle.

For the main event, several of Belize’s most famous music bands came and performed for free, understanding the importance of this event for Belize and its people. Performers such as “Youth Connection,” “Asenció,” “Heavenlies Gospel,” and the General “Supa G” came and expressed their passion for peace through their music.

After the musical entertainment, the mayor of the Belize City, Mrs. Zenaida Moya, came to the stage and addressed the audience, followed by Hon. Wilfred Erlington.

These words were followed by a very moving and heartfelt message by the Co-chairman for GPF-Belize, Rev. Gerhard Bessell who, following the example of GPF Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, encouraged everyone to come together as One Family under God and make an impact on Central America by living for the sake of others.

To conclude this most joyous time, several more musical presentations followed, and the crowd, that had increased to more than 600, rose to their feet and continued celebrating until long into the night.

With the help of many sponsors, we were able to carry out this magnificent event and hope that next time such an event is celebrated in Belize, it will be to the applause of thousands of hands and the sounds of joyfully dancing feet.

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