The Words of the de Souza Family
Palhoça, Santa Catarina, Brazil -- City Councilor Leonel Perreira and UPF leaders worked together to organize a Peace March in celebration of Palhoça's 117th birthday on April 24. Nearly 1500 people from dozens of organizations joined this third annual march, which was followed by a cake-cutting ceremony. In addition, there were youth projects and meetings with city and state officials. These activities took place in the context of several days of celebrations in this city on the southern coast of Brazil near Santa Catarina's state capital, Florianopolis.
After organizing Peace Marches the previous two years, UPF proposed that the work of organizing such a large event be passed around to a different partner each year. Ambassador for Peace Leonel Pereira, a city councilor, offered to organize the Peace March this year. For two months, he and his wife Marta invested their efforts in all stages of the preparation of the event.
After various meetings at the city council chamber, a small organizing committee was formed and the tasks of advertising, logistics, and sponsorships were assigned to various people. These included Ambassadors for Peace João Carlos Amãndio, Matilde Merencia Rodrigues, and Sonia Giacomine as well as Waldyr dos Santos, leader of UPF-Santa Catarina. Thirty days before the event, when we had already defined the course and a strategy, Leonel approached the city council through the Secretary of Events and obtained a grant of funds to help make T-shirts for the marches. The cost of the T-shirts was paid for by donations from the City Hall as well as other donors including the University of Palhoça. Most of the cost of the buses and the stage came from a donation by the radio presenter Ambassador for Peace Baby Espindola. On the eve of the Peace March, we received the valuable support of Pastor Jose Amaral, state leader of UPF-Parana who came from Curitiba with a van, which minimized our problems with transport.
The closing ceremony of the march was planned to take place on the main stage of the city's birthday celebration, and we would have a space in the program which was being held there. However, on April 14 there was a change of plans, and it was decided to move the city's main events as well as the stage to another location near the City Hall. The distance would be too far for the march, so we had to organize the closing ceremony at a square 1,000 meters from the start of the march and set up a stage there. Even so, we fulfilled our commitment to take a group representing the Peace March to the main stage.
After morning devotions with Rev. Heung Tae Kim, President of UPF-Brazil, a small group went to the square where the Peace March would start, and at 7:30 the first groups started to arrive. By 8:30, we already had more than 1,000 people. Various buses had been provided by the local bus company, JOTUR, so even people from distant neighborhoods could arrive. There were people from charitable organizations, schools, businesses, trade unions, associations, the Rotary and Lion's Clubs, and even a group of senior citizens. A marching band came from Itapema, to everyone's delight, and everything adjusted itself like a big jigsaw puzzle.
A sound car provided by Ambassador for Peace Leonel enabled him and Mr. Waldyr to organize the groups of marchers and to encourage them during the march. At the time for the march to begin, however, the sky became black and it started to rain. Ambassador for Peace Leonel and Mr. Waldyr encouraged the marchers not to lose their spirit because we had a big mission to fulfill, and miraculously, after ten minutes, the rain stopped and we decided to start the march.
In front 12 girls scattered petals of flowers in memory of the 12 students who died in the April 7 massacre in a Rio de Janeiro school; immediately behind there was a group of Ambassadors for Peace, including Rev. Kim, his wife, Hyun Soon Im, and Pastor Koichi Sasaki (vice president of the Family Federation for World Peace-Brazil), forming the front of the march. The departure was at 9:20 and the arrival at 10:00. Young people and groups of students shouted slogans about peace, and with the music of the band we overcame the distance, mobilizing more than 1,400 people from about 40 institutions.
Because of concerns about the rain, the closing ceremony could not be held on the stage. Instead, it was held in the covered parking lot of the Sul do Rio supermarket facing the square. With the large crowd assembling, the schedule was adapted to the circumstances.
A musician played the keyboard and sang "Tocando Em Frente" by Almir Satir. A message was given about the purpose of the march:
Education about peace should follow the same model as the formation of any culture: the elements which form a peaceful character should be incorporated in the daily life of the human family, because the family tradition is the only strategy which can maintain the continuation of a culture of peace. The integration of a family with other families of different religions and cultures is the best way to educate new generations for a peaceful world.
On our march today, we walked side by side with all the cultures of the earth, and this elevated gesture makes us the most noble citizens of our time. Looking at everyone who is here we discover that everyone has the same dream, we want to transform this place where our children live into something better.
This is the model of action which moved the heart of the founder of UPF, the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who saw his nation, Korea, destroyed and divided by human conflict and who has dreamed, throughout his 91 years of life, of a world united in true peace.
At this moment, therefore, we citizens of Palhoça are connected by the ideals of peace to our brothers and sisters around the world. A large number of citizens from around the world have assumed the mission of Ambassador for Peace; some of them are here today, making a bridge between the institutions. This model of the journey without frontiers is what makes us all brothers and sisters in one family under God.
In the name of all the Ambassadors, the administration of this city, collaborators and everybody who made this noble march together with us, thank you, Palhoça.
Thanks were offered to the Vice Mayor, Valmir W. Schwiden; the State Secretary for Development, Deputy Renato Hinnig; Councilors, Secretaries, and Ambassadors for Peace. Rev. Heung Tae Kim gave a speech which was warmly applauded.
Then the participants boarded buses and crossed to the other side of the city to celebrate the birthday of the city, as we had agreed with the administration. At about 330 meters from the main stage we formed into groups and lined up to enter the area of the event. The MC greeted the Peace March, praised the work of UPF and the young volunteers, and announced the presence of the delegation from Korea. Pastor Amaral gave Mayor Ronério Heiderscheidt an Ambassador for Peace cap from the march, and he wore it while he giving his official speech, in which he reviewed the last year's work.
Rev. Kim and his wife joined the Mayor and the "Queen" of Palhoça beside the 17-meter-long cake to sing "Happy Birthday" and to cut and enjoy the cake.
A group of 40 young people from Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Colombia arrived in Palhoça on April 17 to support the Peace March and carry out service projects, repeating the initiatives of previous years. They were accommodated in a former nursery, which was provided by the city councilor and Ambassador for Peace Isnardo Luis Brandt. Led by Roberto P. Azevedo and Samuel Linhares, they carried out social projects in three schools: Adriana Weingartner, CAIC, and Benonivio (cleaning the walls, painting, weeding the grass, and other activities).
Talks were also organized on topics of sexual purity, care for the environment, and the family for students and their parents from these schools, accompanied by Miss Yong Li Kim from Korea.
Rev. Kim, his wife, and other Koreans traveling with him were received at the University of Palhoça by the Dean, Mariah Teresinha do Nascimento Pereira. Rev. Kim and his wife stayed at the Slaveiro Executive Hotel, courtesy of Ambassador for Peace Leonel and the managers, Samir and Danielle Valle.
That evening, Rev. Kim participated in a solemn session in the city council chamber of Palhoça, where he received an award as the representative of UPF and gave a speech about peace. The president of the council chamber thanked UPF for its initiatives and work for peace in the community. Rev. Dong Mo Shin, Regional Chair of UPF-Latin America and the Caribbean, was also given an award, which Mr. Koichi received as his representative.
The Deputy Mayor, Valmir Schwinden, hosted Rev. Kim and the Korean delegation at a breakfast. The State Secretary for Development, Renato Hinnig, was also present.
Shortly afterwards, Rev. Kim went to the Legislative Assembly, where Deputy Amauri Soares received an Ambassador for Peace certificate. Because of traffic problems it was not possible to meet the 40 deputies who were participating in the session, so Hon. Soares was given 40 copies of the UPF founder's autobiography to distribute to them.
In the afternoon Ambassador for Peace Leonel took Rev. Kim to visit a karate school and a gym.
After the Peace March in 2009, Rev. Shin declared, "I came here to know the reality of this country and convey the dream of God for this nation." We hope through this third Peace March to reciprocate the confidence of Rev. Shin and make the good dreams advance.
UPF-Santa Catarina is thankful for the ever-present support of Simão Ferabolli, President of the Family Federation for World Peace-Brazil, and Rev. Christian Lepelletier, Secretary General of UPF-Brazil, who throughout the years have solidified our foundation, trusting in something which in other years we still could not see.
Our gratitude also goes to the youth who gave us, throughout the years, a clear vision of our potential as a movement which God has supported and directed. To all of our brothers and sisters from near and far who have made with us this sacred walk which we call "existence," thank you.