The Words of the Ledesma Family
The Sapphire Function Centre in Auburn NSW was the scene of the Universal Peace Federation's sixth annual Living for Others Awards on October 2. Auburn, a suburb of Sydney, is known as Australia's most racially diverse city with over 110 ethnic groups living there. This characteristic was in full display with 200 people from many ethnicities, cultures, and faiths in attendance.
This is UPF Australia's largest and most broad-based event held annually. It honors those citizens who have distinguished themselves in different areas through their extraordinary and selfless acts of giving.
Emcee Enrique Ledesma warmly welcomed everyone and invited an acknowledgement of the Traditional Custodians by Mrs. Pearl Wymarra, who represented the Aborigines. As an Ambassador for Peace she gave a heart-moving blessing and invocation, enhancing the evening with a historical and spiritual aura.
We were again reminded how the ethic of living for others is universally understood and revered by all cultures and faiths. After a brief explanation of UPF and its focus, important dignitaries were introduced, such as the head of the Community Relations Commission Dr. and Mrs. Kerkyasharian, who attend the event regularly. Also, Hon. David and Mrs. Clarke MP NSW as well as Catholic interfaith priest Father Dr. Patrick McInerney and others. An encouraging letter was read from the opposition party leader Hon. Tony Abbott. The introductory UPF video was followed by an invitation to study the life of UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon through his autobiography.
To show the diversity of culture, a well-known Spanish group called the Marina Tamayo Flamenco Dance group mesmerized the audience with their classical as well as modern interpretations of flamenco. A sumptuous dinner was enjoyed by all, and during the meal the hall was abuzz with lively conversation, laughter and friends getting together.
Following dinner, the Secretary General of UPF-Oceania, Rev. Greg Stone, gave a penetrating and comprehensive exposition on the core values of UPF. The deputy Mayor of Auburn and a committed Ambassador for Peace, Councilor Jack Au, expressed his unreserved admiration for the founder and the work of UPF.
Of course the highlight of the evening was the UPF Special Presentation of the Living for Others Awards 2010, with eight awardees in five different categories:
Family Values: Julie Anne Knight
Interfaith Harmony: Neil Al Kadomi, Chairman of the Parramatta Islamic Association; and John Queripel, Minister of Chapel by the Sea Bondi Beach Mission Uniting Church
Service to the Community: Assya Efica from a Bosnian women's group; Ronni Kahn, CEO of Ozharvest; and Rev. Vetinia Waqabaca, Chairperson of the Pacific Islands Council
Arts and Culture: Jimmy Little, well-known aboriginal singer and voted a Living National Treasure
Ethnic and Interracial Harmony: Vy Ai Thi Nguyen from the Bankstown Children's Festival
Following that it was also inspiring to see that seven new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed. To celebrate the awardees a mother and son duet, Angela and Rio Kang, performed two congratulatory heart-filled songs that were loved by everyone. Our faithful sponsors were also acknowledged and presented with certificates of appreciation, and the winners of the night's raffle were announced. A finale was performed by three of the awardees: Jimmy Little, John Queripel, and Assya Efica. Each performed individual songs that were nostalgic and electrifying.
The Sixth Annual Living for Others Awards was truly a memorable evening that galvanized our Ambassadors for Peace, relatives, and friends and raised expectations as to what can be accomplished by a community trying to live beyond borders, united in the spirit of bringing peace through living for others.