The Words of the Brou Family
Bondoukou, Cote d'Ivoire -- Ambassadors for Peace in northeast Cote d'Ivoire organized a seminar in Bondoukou on November 25 attended by a UPF delegation from the capital, Abidgan.
At the intersection of trade routes in the Zanzan Region, Bondoukou is known as the "town of a thousand mosques" and is a center of religious learning.
In 2006, the Youth Federation for World Peace started activities there, and in 2009 new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed and an educational program was launched to teach peace principles. However, the disputed presidential elections of 2010 led to months of turmoil. After the war, some Ambassadors for Peace organized a program at the Bogotoni Catholic center and invited UPF leaders to speak.
On November 24, a delegation traveled from Abidjan for the event: Rev. Yoshida Tsukasa, special advisor; Mr. Eugene Ahondjo, Secretary General of UPF-Côte d'Ivoire; and Mr. Jean Marie Brou, Secretary General of the Family Federation for World Peace. The 426 km-drive took seven hours, due to the bad state of the road in many sections.
The delegation was welcomed in the Bogotoni center, where rooms were reserved for them. The large center has many buildings, including a temple, conference hall, and restaurants accommodating people passing through the town. It is served by Catholic sisters and a priest. After dinner in the home of an Ambassador for Peace, the delegation went to rest.
On Friday, November 25, the seminar started at 9 A.M. Forty-one people attended the ceremony, 21 new people and 20 Ambassadors for Peace. Half of the people arrived before 8 A.M.
After the welcoming address by the local UPF president, the delegation was introduced to the participants. The lecturer, Mr. Ahondjo, started the presentation by explaining the five basic principles upheld by Ambassadors for Peace around the world. He then taught the Principle of Creation and the Root Cause of Conflict. Throughout the teaching, the responses were very positive. People were attentive to the lectures and wanted to know more.
The emphasis on the family was of great interest, because families in Africa do not typically have a strong basis in ethical values. Most of the time, due to the wrong understanding of their position as chief of the family, men have put women under great pressure, treating them like slaves. The presentation on Marriage and Family described a basic family order and how parents, spouses, siblings, and children can all grow in heart through their relationships with each other. This opened the way to talk about the World Peace Blessing in marriage as the main mission of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, UPF founder. People expressed their amazement and interest.
Then came the time to present Ambassador for Peace certificates. The 21 nominees were called forward one by one to receive from Rev. Tsukasa what he called "a precious appointment." Their faces reflected happiness and a sense of honor at becoming Ambassadors for Peace.
The seminar was outstanding for three reasons: most of the participants were directors of local government agencies or administrators, Ambassadors for Peace initiated and planned the program, and the resources were contributed by the participants. This event shows that much can be done with a very small budget, and it can be a model for future activities.
The next day, the delegation visited local authorities. The first visit was to Hon. Falley Timité, a Member of Parliament who attended an International Leadership Conference in Paraguay; he expressed interest in inviting UPF staff to visit the city again in February.
The chief imam of Bondoukou welcomed the group to his prayer room. He explained that the people from many communities in that region have been living together peacefully since 1620. As a new Ambassador for Peace he pledged to support the activities of UPF in the region.
Then the group headed to the Prefect's residence, where they also met the Commissioner, the Sous-Prefect, and the Comander of the military zone. It was an opportunity to explain UPF's principles and activities. They received the information with great interest. The Prefect explained that a year ago he was skeptical when someone invited him to an Ambassador for Peace program and refused to attend. He apologized and said that if he had known how significant UPF and its teachings are, he would have accepted.
After these meetings the delegation returned to Abidjan. In many ways, the events in Bondoukou turned out very well; people were eager to receive new insights that touched something deep inside them.