Peace Education

UPF-Africa Organizes Peace and Development Programs in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, USA - In the final years of his life, UPF founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon initiated a project in Las Vegas aimed at offering a new vision for peace and human development to world leaders. He sometimes called it his “Shining City” project because he hoped it would help change the reputation of Las Vegas from “Sin City” to a city of educational enlightenment. He proposed the realization of a major educational institution for world leaders where they could take inspiration from UPF’s worldview along with both the natural wonders of this area such as the Grand Canyon and from the monumental achievements of human ingenuity such as Hoover Dam and the creativity of Las Vegas itself.

Dr. Moon saw this as an ideal environment to bring leaders of the developing world together for a chance to study UPF’s world vision and at the same time to mix and mingle with people who have the heart to share the prosperity and technology of America with those who have the greatest needs.

Following this vision and also as follow-up to the first World Summit of UPF International held in Seoul, South Korea, in February 2013, UPF-Africa worked together with the son of the UPF founder, Mr. Kwon Jin Moon, and with the staff of the International Office for Education and Development set up by UPF International in Las Vegas to host three events in 2013 involving two first ladies and other dignitaries and leaders from African countries, including some who had participated in the Feb. 2013 World Summit.

On Jun. 15, 2013, UPF hosted a delegation led by the first lady of the West African Republic of Mali, Mrs. Mintou Doucouré Traoré. Mrs. Traoré was received by the mayor of Las Vegas, Mrs. Carolyn Goodman, as well as many other local dignitaries and business leaders. She listened to UPF’s educational presentations on the legacy of peace left by Dr. Moon as a possible solution to the ethnic and religious conflicts in her country. She was awed by the Grand Canyon and other inspirational sites. And through contacts of UPF, she received a donation of nearly two million dollars worth of educational materials for her own humanitarian organization in Mali.

From Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, the same UPF organizers helped the UPF-Nigeria chapter bring a group of 13 Nigerian dignitaries and Ambassadors for Peace to Las Vegas. These religious, political, business and educational leaders came to the “Shining City,” completely self-financed, to study UPF’s principles of peace and to meet academic leaders at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. UPF President Dr. Thomas Walsh spoke to them at the start of their six-day program about the history and background of UPF worldwide. Mr. Kwon Jin Moon also spoke to the participants about concepts related to peace and conflict resolution. UPF International’s education director Dr. Tony Guerra as well as staff from UPF-Africa gave presentations and led lively discussions on UPF’s principles of peace. The seminar ended with a special event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Union Theater that included a bridge of peace ceremony, a panel discussion about overcoming adversity through service to others, and an award ceremony in which nine Nigerian and American dignitaries were appointed UPF Ambassadors for Peace in recognition of their outstanding community service.

Only a month later, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2, the UPF-Africa team received another distinguished first lady from West Africa. Mrs. Isolina Da Fonseca Nhamajo, the wife of the president of Guinea Bissau, came to Las Vegas with a delegation that included the former ambassador of Guinea Bissau to the United States who is now a presidential advisor and the head of the first lady’s own charitable organization called Fundacao Firkidja, which in Portuguese and Creole simply translates a “Support Foundation,” helping handicapped women and youth.

Dr. Walsh flew in to Las Vegas to greet the first lady and offer her delegation a presentation about UPF’s work worldwide. As with the other delegations, Mrs. Nhamajo heard presentations about UPF’s vision for world peace and development through education, offered by Mr. Moon and Dr. Guerra.

Mrs. Nhamajo also attended a special fundraising dinner in her honor to support the work of Fundacao Firkidja. At the dinner she was honored with special citations from the office of Nevada senator Harry Reid and from the Las Vegas City Council. She, in turn, offered hand-woven traditional cloths to Mr. and Mrs. Moon, Dr. Walsh, Mrs. Katherine Harting Rigney, the chair of UPF-Africa, and the founder of Re-Purpose America, whose Las Vegas-based company is offering several containers of recyclable materials to the first lady’s project in Guinea Bissau.

Re-Purpose America is an outstanding example of ingenuity and resourcefulness: every month hundreds of companies buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of vinyl signage to advertise before and during conventions that rarely last more than a week. At the end, all this material is discarded. Re-Purpose is paid by these companies to remove the material, but instead of destroying it, they have developed ways of recycling the material into items such as school bags for children and tents for emergency relief organizations. They have even built an entire warehouse out of recycled materials for their own use. Now, Re-Purpose wants to offer materials to the First Lady of Guinea Bissau and train people in her organization how to use the materials to produce valuable commodities, thus teaching job skills and creating an industry that can help people in Africa. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of UPF, has offered to pay for shipping the first container of materials to Guinea Bissau. Other donors are joining in.

Through personal meetings with people like the founder of Re-Purpose America, the first lady was able to forge relationships that can have a significant impact on her country of 1.5 million people. And in the process, Las Vegas is truly able to contribute to relieving the suffering of countless underprivileged people a world away in Africa – providing a beacon of hope that makes Las Vegas the “Shining City” that UPF’s founder had dreamed of and worked for.

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