International Day of Families Celebrated in 50 Nations

UPF chapters around the world hosted celebrations of the UN International Day of Families 2011. The following is a sampling of the reports received.

New York, USA - The Permanent Missions of Angola, Iraq, Nigeria, Qatar, and Tunisia, and the NGO Committee on the Family co-sponsored a program on “Addressing Poverty by Strengthening Families” at the Office of the Permanent
Observer of the African Union to the UN in New York on May 16.

The keynote speaker was the Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., the distinguished former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. He spoke about recent radical changes such as the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, noting that these changes originated not with any political party or opposition groups but with young students, labor unions, and families. “Families are agents for positive and transforming changes in the world,” he said.

Ms. Renata Kaczmarska, Focal Point of the UN Programme on the Family, gave important statistics on those who suffer the most from poverty, such as single parents, large families, people living alone, and the elderly, and considered family-focused strategies as an important key to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

“Although the UN is dealing with a myriad of problems, we should not view the dilemmas facing families as just more problems to be solved,” agreed Dr. Michael Balcomb, outlining the UPF view of the family as a potential instrument of peace and reconciliation.

Mrs. Susan Roylance from the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, talked about her work giving technical support with irrigation skills to Kenyan families suffering from hunger and poverty.

Mr. Mike Bobbit, Director of the Fatherhood Initiative of the City of New York, described the impact of a program that works with fathers of three different age groups who are not living with their children.

The NGO Committee on the Family was a co-sponsor of the event, and Mrs. Nadia Schmigel, Co-Chair, introduced some of the initiatives being made by the Committee to help families around the globe.

Recognizing Successful Marriages

Buenos Aires, Argentina - A moving celebration of recognition to couples who have been married more than 25 years took place in Buenos Aires. Dialogue, comprehension, communication, patience, tolerance, faith, love, and God were mentioned as fundamental values by the couples as they shared some experiences of their lives. They were a resounding testimony of the love bond being strengthened with the passing of the years and transcending all difficulties. There were mystical moments when memories and anecdotes were combined with tears and funny situations. There was also romance, because previous to the delivery of each of the nine diplomas, the husband gave a rose to his wife.

Honiara, Solomon Islands - International couples shared how they overcame differences of languages, nationalities, and religions. Mrs. Miki Likaveke, the Japanese wife of Mr. Rence Likaveke, a business owner, shared how close she has become to Solomon Islands through giving birth to a child in the Solomon Islands; during that time she received tremendous love and care from the people of the Solomon Islands and her husband. Mrs. Nellie Masuaku, a Solomon Islander and the wife of Mr. Masuaku from the Congo, shared that the loving relationship between husband and wife is the most important thing for the education of children and that it can even overcome the stresses of poverty.

Montevideo, Uruguay - A ceremony recognized couples who have been married for 25 years or more and invited them to offer insights for the benefit of other couples. Mrs. Lila Sebastiani de Pugliesi, who has been married 54 years, stated that “Without stable families it is impossible to speak of a better world.” “In my 30 years of marriage,” said Lic. Edgardo Martínez Zimarioff, “it is my experience that the family is the privileged setting for building a peaceful world; it is the school where we are educated in dialogue and harmonious encounters.”

Caracas, Venezuela - The Medal of Peace in the Family honored the effort and love invested by couples with more than 20 years of marriage. Sixteen families were presented with this medal by their children. Couples with 40 to 50 years of life together shared their secrets to staying together: love, communication, and fidelity.

Family Seminars

Vienna, Austria - A variety of speakers addressed a forum on “Confronting Family Poverty and Social Exclusion.” Mrs. Barbara Nanoff-Schediwy, who works as a mediator with international and intercultural couples, talked about how dialogue can support people in rebuilding relationships. Dr. Michaela Moser, a Catholic expert on social affairs, spoke about the need to ensure a minimum income level, develop structures, and ensure favorable work conditions for families. Mrs. Xiaoyan Wang explained the meaning of the Chinese character for the family and said that two aspects of the traditional family are still prevalent in modern China: children are expected to do well in school and to be polite in all situations.

Libreville, Gabon - Speakers at a family forum lamented the “poverty of affections” growing out of the dislocation of traditional values, the disregard of customs and habits, and the rejection of the quintessence of the foundation of the family. The clan, tribe, or village traditionally filled in any gaps, either in material or in affection, of the parents. A return to an equilibrium between the family and society was advocated.

Dublin, Ireland - Representatives of various ethnic groups took part in a panel discussion about the challenges they met coming to Ireland. Dr. Patrick Walsh, director of the Lantern Centre, chaired the forum. Mr. Pierluigi Coscia described his abiding desire to do something substantial to help the millions of children around the world who die or get no education because of poverty. He started FairTour, a company promoting tourism in different parts of the world where all profits are returned to the children of the visited nations.

Family Bonding

Almaty, Kazakhstan - Captivating competitions for married couples of different generations comprised the interactive part of the program. Children between the ages of two and seven drew pictures on the theme of “My United Family,” and their work was displayed in the hall for parents and guests of the program. The initiators of the children’s program organized interesting indoor and outdoor games with the children. Entertainment included music and readings from poetry on family themes. The emcee commented that in the humdrum of everyday life people are often inclined to go astray, losing their direction and forgetting about family values, their better self, and their children. Events such as the International Day of Families help people renew their connection with the ideal precious to every human being – that of true love and ideal family.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Malaysians were invited to celebrate the UN International Day of Families in a day of social bonding on May 15 at Taman Bukit Jalil Recreation Park in Kuala Lumpur. Activities included family games and a treasure hunt. The treasure hunt required family members to work together and thus promoted harmonious relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, and inter-generational. The park in Kuala Lumpur has special areas representing the following countries: Peru, Canada, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, China, Japan, Holland, and
England. Thus the answers that family members had to find were related to information found in these areas of the park.

Chisinau, Moldova - A family celebration was organized for children and their parents aimed at promoting good relations between the generations. They were given an opportunity to participate together in an interactive and entertaining

Cagayan de Oro, Philippines - After the opening program, there were family bonding activities of ball games and parlor games. Parents, children, and youth played and challenged each other happily. The activities aimed to raise awareness about the importance of good relationships among parents, children, siblings, and peers in social development and understanding each other’s cultural background.

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