The Words of the Alcaraz Family

Rescuing Our Fellow Man -- The ideals and practice of an Unificationist volunteer fireman

Gerardo Alcaraz
January 2011

Left: Gerardo (left) feels that a rescue worker has a good basis for explaining the Principle; here he speaks with congressman Juan Casatias at the Rural Exposition in 2010; Right: Working as a public volunteer presents opportunities to meet people from all levels of society and to explain the principles that motivate you (Gerardo is with his back to the camera).

Mr. Alcaraz is the IEF representative in Tucuman Province, Argentina.

Some twenty-seven years ago, I heard the Divine Principle, the unique teaching that our True Parents have given us as our ultimate treasure.

For five years, I've been on the board of directors of the Association of Volunteer Firemen of San Miguel de Tucuman, which is in northwest Argentina. Mrs. Berta Santillan, an ambassador for peace, is also on the board. This position helped me become both the secretary for the Federation of the Associations of Volunteer Firemen for Tucuman Province and the director of the National Council of Volunteer Firemen.

In what way has this helped me as a Unification Church member? Our members often do social service projects; we're looking for ways to reach out to society. In my case, becoming involved with the volunteer firemen allowed me to connect with the political class in Tucuman society. I meet ministers, mayors and different types of lawmakers. Over time, this has generated a degree of friendship with various individuals, such that I can tell them about True Father and the Divine Principle. The essence of a fireman's work is serving society. He risks his life with every emergency he's asked to respond to, something that our True Father demonstrates and has been teaching us by his very existence.

Volunteer firemen should be going out into society to explain what we do, and opening the doors of our homes so that people can get to know us. With this vision, our organization took part, for the third consecutive year, in Rural Exposition 2010, organized by the Rural Society of Tucuman. It is the largest such exposition in northern Argentina. Listening to visitors' questions and seeing the interest of the children and young people, showed us that we aren't wrong in our assumption.

Now we have a set new challenge for ourselves -- to create a school for fireman cadets, where we will have education in values based on the Divine Principle through the Inter# national Education Foundation (IEF). For that objective, the Tucuman IEF chapter, which has been working together with the Volunteer Firemen of San Miguel de Tucuman, is launching the "Escuela de Cadetes y Aspirantes" (school for cadets and advanced trainees) in January 2011. During the months of November and December 2010, we conducted more than fifty interviews with children and their parents. Rather than a regular school, this is a vocational school, where very specific skills and abilities [related with firefighting and rescue] will be taught. Not only boys but also girls will be accepted, which clearly shows that women also want to participate in activities benefitting society that have long been reserved for men.

We will teach the IEF program on the topics of Education in Sexual Values, The Family as School of Love, Making Young Leaders, and Leadership and Good Governance. We can gradually introduce to the children and their parents the philosophy and theology behind the IEF material. Many of the parents are already asking, "Where did you learn all of this? Where did you get this information from?"

These presentations will be adjusted to the students' level and will be accompanied by practical training workshops, feed-back from their own homes and fellowship meetings between parents and children. All of this will be coordinated by IEF. There will also be publicity and articles in the media.

What we normally see presented in the mass media is not representative of society; there is another reality, but unfortunately the mass media doesn't show it -- with rare exceptions -- because good news doesn't sell. Society needs to know that there are young people -- adolescents and even children -- who have the spirit to serve. 

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