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International Day of Peace Celebrated with Service, Sports and Cultural Programs

UPF celebrated the United Nations International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, 2009, with festivals, forums, clean-up campaigns, football matches, and programs featuring art, music, dance, and poetry.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Young Ambassadors for Peace were inspired to show their determination to take responsibility and make a difference, so they contacted the local religious leader, Mullah Rahim, and arranged to do a clean-up campaign at his mosque. The work expanded, and by the time the cleaners were finished they had cleaned not only the mosque and school yard but also the surrounding neighborhood. The local people were amazed to see the crowd working together — youths from different tribes harmoniously united to make a change. Armed with gloves and plastic bags, they attacked the garbage and junk and transformed the environment with a heart of service which is the root of peace.

Yerevan, Armenia

Competitions took place at School No. 194 on the theme “I am drawing peace.” About 40 students ages 9 through 12 prepared pictures beforehand which they then drew with colored chalk on the ground in front of the school. Five Ambassadors for Peace served as a jury, looking at the works of the participants and making comments about them. The three winners from each team were awarded a prize. All participants received small gifts from Universal Peace Federation representatives. The program ended with dancing and singing and closing remarks by an Ambassador for Peace.

Ottawa, Canada

UPF-Canada contributed to the 13-day Festival of Peace in the nation's capital by assembling an exhibit at the Ottawa Public Library entitled Martin Luther King, Jr: In His Own Words. The 12-panel exhibit featured photos of King matched to his quotes as well as a portrait by local artist Komi Olafimihan commissioned for the festival. A Peace Walk sponsored by the City of Ottawa, aboriginal Elder William Commanda’s Circle of All Nations, and the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative kicked off the festival. Proclamations were read on the International Day of Peace and the declaration of Ottawa as a City of Peace. Embassy representatives carried their flags and wore national costumes. Activities promoting peace continued until October 2, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and the International Day of Non-Violence.

Hong Kong, China

In Sun Yat-sen Plaza at Hong Kong University several guests of honor spoke on “Peace-building in Today’s World”: Professor Chow Shew-Ping, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of University Relations, and Mr. Choosin Ngaotheppitak, Head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Hong Kong and Macau office. A peace bell was rung, followed by one minute of silence.

Pilsen, Czech Republic

A peace festival featured seven entertainers; there was classical music, an Akido performance, a dance team, and a well-known choir. The UN Information Centre in Prague supported the event with materials and posters.

Santiago, Dominican Republic

Dr. Clara Benedicto, a professor and former Vice President of the University of Santo Domingo, spoke about the role of women and education in building a culture of peace at a celebration held in the university library. Two local artists renowned for their peace activism sang, and the program closed with a video of an inspirational Dominican song composed by Alicia Baroni and sung by five popular women singers about world peace entitled “Un Mundo Nuevo” (A New World).

Quito, Ecuador

A celebration of the International Day of Peace was held in the former Senate chamber of the National Assembly. Peace education was one focus of the event. Master Blanca Cueva called the family the cornerstone of society and spoke about the need to educate youth from an early age, cultivating their heart and character by teaching them universal principles and life goals. Master Carmita Moreno emphasized a commitment to peace through education.

Tallinn, Estonia

A well-known Tallinn opera singer offered several songs,  followed by a PowerPoint presentation with images of peace, accompanied by background music. Finally a cake with a peace dove on top was cut and distributed.

Vannes, France

In cooperation with G.A.I.A., UPF collected donations to send to children and families in Togo, in West Africa. In one day we loaded two containers helped with donations from around 90 people. At a peace celebration with participants from ten nations, representatives of various associations, faiths, and NGOs spoke about peace. It was especially meaningful to hear young people talk about their involvement in humanitarian activities. Participants exchanged symbolic gifts, and a Catholic priest from Togo offered a closing prayer.

Tbilisi, Georgia

UPF-Georgia and the Ministry of Health of the Abkhazia region held a joint celebration at the Central Palace of Youth Among the guests were Manana Kutateladze, Chief of Staff of the Deputy Head of the Georgia Parliament, and Vakhtang Kolbaya, former vice speaker of the Georgia Parliament. Dalila Khorava, the Minister of Health of Abkhazia, and Konstantin Krylov, Secretary General of UPF-Russia, lit torches of peace symbolizing the exchange of hearts between the peoples of Georgia and Russia. Several hundred gifts and crafts made by the Russian children were distributed to the children of Georgia. The program ended with a beautiful concert by young singers and dancers and a ceremonial release of doves.

Georgetown, Guyana

At a peace rally at the Seawall Bandstand, Charmin Blackman gave a stirring rendition of Michael Jackson's "The Earth Song." Hon. Justice Donald Trotman, the Chairman of the UN Association of Guyana, spoke about world peace. An Indian Katack Dance by Mrs. Nazia Khan dazzled the audience and set the mood for several poems of peace. Everyone joined in the closing song, "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me."

Kanagawa, Japan

Young people from Tokyo participated in a cleanup project at the Wada-Nagahama beach on the Miura Peninsula located in the Kanagawa prefecture. The cleanup was done under the supervision of staff from the Environment Division of the Miura City Government. Participants sorted what they collected by type and bagged it for disposal by the City Beautification Committee.

Riga, Latvia

Jeremy Gilley's documentary The Day After Peace was shown. The film portrays his ten-year quest to establish one day without war in the whole world. People in the audience were impressed by his grand vision and how he kept looking for like-minded people and meeting people in positions of power. A lecturer at the Institute of Transport and Communications was inspired by the initiative and offered to organize a similar event for her students.

Mangere, New Zealand

A celebration at the Maori University of New Zealand opened with a tradition greeting ceremony. Lynn Walters, musician and songwriter, sang “Just Like You,” playing the guitar and accompanied by Barbara on the flute. In keeping with the message of this year’s International Day of Peace that we must disarm, the words of the song “I Won’t Fight You, Why Should I, I’m Just Like You” ended the program on a high and peaceful note. Joel Komene shared his expertise in traditional Maori instruments, their history, and use. Each instrument was made from some natural source, such as wood, bone, shells, or plants. He played the wind instruments that he had made, and each sound was unique and healing. After the closing prayer, participants were invited to play the instruments.

Koror, Palau

Palau commemorated the United Nations International Day of Peace 2009 with a friendly football match. The teams for the game were made up of a multi-ethnic group of players. Palauans, Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Koreans, and Filipinos were among the nations represented. Top scorers for the game were for the A team, hard-hitting striker Charles Reklai Mitchell, and for the B Team, Tony Ililau, who out-witted the goalie with his tricky dribbling. The game ended with a 6 all draw.

Asuncion, Paraguay

The International Day of Peace was celebrated in the Bicameral Chamber of the National Congress with more than 180 persons in attendance. UPF-Paraguay together with the Foundation for Global Peace-Paraguay, the Legislative Office of Prof. Dr. Dionisio Ortega, the Law Students Center of the Catholic University, Youth on the Move, the National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, and the United Nations Information Centre held a forum in which various institutions, government bodies, and NGOs participated.

Moscow, Russia

A Play Football Make Peace program brought together youth from Moscow State University, Ivanovo City, and the municipality of Lefortvo. Such tournaments help expand the culture of peace by promoting good sportsmanship and involving players in socially important projects. Numerous programs took place in cities throughout Russia: Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Serov, Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk, Pervouralsk, Pokrovskoye, Revda, Tver, and St. Petersburg. Participants signed a manifesto that UNESCO created for Nobel Peace Prize winners: “I promise that in my daily life, in my family, in my work, in my community, in my country and in my region I will respect every form of life, reject every form of violence, share with others, listen in order to understand, conserve the planet, and contribute to the development of the community.”

San Marino

A video, "The Day after Peace,” was shown, followed by two poets reading their poems.

Bangkok, Thailand

A Peace Concert in front of the Central World Department Store attracted an audience of about 900. Hon. M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Governor of Bangkok, welcomed the audience and performers, who included Mr. Pramote Vilepana, Mr. Popetorn Sunthornyanakit, Mr. Suppawat Berananda, and Mr. Wathanyu Munghmai. More than 15 schools in Bangkok participated the “One Minute Silence for Peace” campaign.

Kiev, Ukraine

Lessons and discussions about peace were offered at Colleges No. 157 and 315 in Kiev, and children at refugee centers were treated to films and outings. Students at school No. 76 in Kharkov listened to a presentation about the International Day of Peace, watched a documentary film about Mother Theresa, and made paper cranes. A friendly football match took place between students of Sumy National University and Sumy National Agriculture University. Children at an orphanage in Zhitomar listened to a presentation about the International Day of Peace and took part in a football match.

Boulder, Colorado, USA

Emmy Award winning musicians AiiAn and Kama Devi created an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with their crystal bowl music. Hing Ryder, an opera singer and prominent leader in the Taiwanese community, sang, followed by the Chrstina Yeh Dance Studio, which performed the traditional Chinese ribbon dance. The Krakowiacy Polish folk dancers, a group of 30 Polish-American children dressed in traditional costumes, offered three Polish dances. The segment finished with the powerful and inspiring Japanese drum troop Mirai Daiko.

Entertainment continued with popular Denver jazz singer Hazel Miller. Hazel started off her set with John Lennon’s "Imagine," and by her second song she had everyone on their feet. She was followed by two entertaining Indian dances by the young women of the India Association of Colorado. Cameron Powers and Kristina Sophia then treated everyone to an Iraqi song accompanied by traditional instruments. The final act was Kissidugu, a West African drum and dance troupe from Boulder. The group was interracial, and it was fascinating to see the young Caucasian women dance and drum to the beat of the African drummers.

Montevideo, Uruguay

A cultural event featured music and folk dances from different regions of the world, creating an atmosphere that contributed to dialogue and peace. More than 500 people participated in this festival, including distinguished figures of many cultures from the diplomatic, political, cultural, NGO, and public spheres. On the theme of “Music of the Peoples for Peace,” performers presented Celtic, Russian, Armenian, and Mexican music. Speakers included Mrs. Graciela Rompani de Pacheco, Senator Carlos Baráibar, and Dr. Q.F. Hugo Pereira Fagúndez, President of the Red Cross in Uruguay. The cost of admission to the concert was a package of non-perishable food, and the donations were distributed to NGOs. Earlier in the day, participants both young and not-so-young spent the day organizing games for young children in an activity sponsored jointly with the municipal offices of Montevideo.

Caracas, Venezuela

More than 50 volunteers painted walls and cleared the green areas of an orphanage and the Buen Samaritano geriatric center at the El Divino Niño Catholic Church in La Rinconada. They enjoyed working hard for the sake of others and sharing meals as a family. At the end of the project, the youngest volunteers performed songs on the violin and cello, and the teenagers performed a play.

To read UPF's Declaration on the International Day of Peace 2009, click here.

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