Dutch Women Come Together in a Bridge of Peace

The Hague, Netherlands - A "Bridge of Peace" ceremony brought together women from the diverse cultures and religions of The Netherlands in support of the International Women's Day. The March 6, 2010, event on the theme, "Towards a World of Peace and Spirituality," took place at the Christus Triumfatorkerk in The Hague.

The two guest speakers spoke on this year's International Women's Day theme of "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities; Progress for All," noting that the United Nations designated 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.

Mrs. Els Barkema-Sala lived in Japan for 25 years, and now back in the Netherlands she has her own counseling business. She speaks many languages, including Italian, Spanish, German, English, and Japanese, which helps her in her work with people from all different backgrounds.

Mrs. José van Hussen worked for 25 years with the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs. For two years she served as Ambassador to Zimbabwe. She also worked in Sudan, Jordan, and Ghana. She is currently Chair of the Board of Musicians Without Borders in the Netherlands. She showed a short film of a project in Bosnia and Herzegovina called "Roses for Srebrenica."

The MC for the evening was Mrs. Fatma Aktas, an Ambassador for Peace. She is the director of the Selam Network peace organization and has received a special recognition from the Turkish Ministry for Culture for her work. She is also politically active with the Christian Democratic Party in the Hague.

Mrs. Lisa Janssen explained the Bridge of Peace Ceremony. The power to bring world peace rests in each person's heart, and these ceremonies have brought about "miracles of heart and soul" in creating personal bonds among pairs of participants from different religions, cultures, and backgrounds. Her talk was very well received.

She showed the video "A Mother's Heart" and then guided the 11 pairs of women through the ceremony. Lined up on opposite sides, participants walked forward toward their partner, bowed in respect, exchanged flowers or small gits, and then embraced each other. Among the women were Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists. New partners had an opportunity to converse and learn some things about each other. There was a solemn atmosphere during the ceremony.

The atmosphere of the evening was very wonderful, with a beautiful banner made by Joyce Koetsier and a lovely Norwegian song by Mrs. Elfrid Langenes. Four men supported with technical matters, transport, and photography. Three new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed.

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