Unification News for January 2003

International Leadership Seminar in Suriname

by Mr. and Mrs. Gemin

Wednesday, October 23, 2002 was the date of the very successful International Leadership Seminar at the Krasnopolsky Hotel, Paramaribo, Suriname. In this equatorial Capital City, situated at the far north of the South American continent, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, International Chairman of the IIFWP and Dr. Thomas Walsh, International Secretary General of the IIFWP and Rev. Jung Soo Kim, South American Continental Advisor for IIFWP, gathered with a number of dignitaries from Suriname representing the fields of politics, religion, social services economics and culture. Among the guests were the heads of the two largest Hindu religious organizations, which include most of the 40% of the Surinamese population who practice the Hindu faith, the head of the largest Muslim organization and a number of leaders of the Christian faith.

In addition, there was the former President of the Suriname Republic, Ir. R. Shankar, a personal representative of the Speaker of the Suriname parliament who read personal greetings from the Speaker, a former minister of the interior and Ambassador to China, heads of various cultural organizations and NGOs and several famous authors and poets.

Everyone participating was impressed by both the content and the quality of the presentation by Rev. Kwak concerning marriage and family, and the need for a true patriotic movement for basic moral and social values. They were especially moved by the explanation and performance of a marriage rededication ceremony, the World Peace Blessing, in the hotelís central ballroom.

The afternoon program consisted of presentations by Dr. Walsh on HIV/AIDS prevention, and on the program of Character Education developed by the International Educational Foundation, an affiliate of the IIFWP. Everyone listened in rapt attention as Dr. Walsh presented statistics and graphic photos that emphasized the severity of the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Walsh quoted the former Surgeon General of the U.S., Everett Koop, who stressed that only through monogamous, faithful relationships could the AIDS problem be solved. One of those most moved was the programís MC, Mr. Henk van Vliet, a well-known television talk show personality in Suriname, who has recently been selected to head the governmentís social insurance program.

The evening featured an elegant banquet for all participants. This was orchestrated by Dr. James Ramlall, a former Minister of Culture and included beautiful cultural performances from all the ethnic groups of Suriname, Afro-American, Hindustani, Javanese, and from the native Ameri-Indians. At the conclusion of the program was the presentation of the Ambassador for Peace Awards, which included the leader of the nationís largest Muslim group, an 82-year old woman very active in numerous NGO groups in Suriname, and a former Assistant Minister of Agriculture.

Other activities during Rev. Dr. Kwak and his delegationís visit included meetings with the Speaker of the Suriname Parliament, the nationís Vice-President, and a meeting with the Chairman of Surinameís major university.

The ILS provided an opportunity for a rich exchange of ideas and solution-oriented discussions about Surinameís most pressing challenges and provided a profound and enriching experience that was transformational to all the participants.

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