The Words of the Ngoma Family

Citizen Involvement In Crime Prevention: Fostering A Non-Violent Environment

Chisoni Ngoma and Gail Paine
April 13, 2007

The Universal Peace Federation, (UPF) Washington DC Local chapter, held its first bi-monthly forum on February 3, at the Peace King Center in Washington DC. About sixty people attended. The meeting began with networking, registration, and refreshments. Mr. Chisoni Ngoma, the DC Coordinator gave a warm welcome and introduced Rev Antonio Lowery, who served as the moderator of the event. Rev Lowery was one of the Ambassadors for Peace who participated in the UPF World Tour IV which took him to the war torn nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rev Lowery inspired the audience with his charisma and public speaking ability. Rev Lowery introduced the first speaker Mr. Kenneth Barnes, founder and executive director of ROOT Inc - Reaching Out to Others Together. Mr. Barnes was appointed as an Ambassador for Peace last year. ROOT is an NGO committed to advocacy and intervention on behalf of homicide victims and their families. Mr. Barnes spoke from his heart as an outstanding advocate for peace in the community. Drawing from the painful experience of having his own son murdered through inner city violence, he explained his calling to the work of crime prevention. He offered his love for humanity and the willingness to serve as a watch dog in the community by making and keeping peace.

Immediately after his speech, Rev Lowery gave some pertinent commentary in response to Mr. Barnesí sharing. Rev. Lowery also has considerable experience in exploring the different ways of involving the community in preventing crime in our nationís capital. Next, Rev Lowery called the spirited psychologist, educator, minister and the Executive Director of the Dove Healing Arts Center, Dr. Atiba Vheir. Dr Atiba is a spiritually motivated woman, preaching from a motherís heart. Her speech was the ideal counterpart to Mr. Barnes pragmatic and "on the ground" approach. Dr. Atiba took the group inward to touch their own peaceful center.

She had the audience stand up and join in some interactive exercises which created a truly peaceful family atmosphere. She said "We must appreciate life!" She said "Inhale a breath of unconditional love and then exhale in gratitude. It means that life is essential and that we ourselves should love and serve others, just as God gives love and life to all of us. She then challenged the audience to be peace lovers and peace makers in our communities.

A lively question and answer period followed and the audience did not hold back their suggestions and comments. This part of the program was so engaging that the moderator had the difficult job of choosing the last person of many who wanted an opportunity to speak.

The Ambassadors for Peace (AFP) introductory video was shown, visibly moving many hearts by the profound reconciliation work that is being accomplished around the world. Mr. John Dickson, UPF - USAís Government Relations Director, briefly expounded on the five principles mentioned in the video. At the conclusion of his speech, nine new AFPs were appointed by Rev David Reed.

The success of the forum was due to the efforts of a "working group," so that each person had reasonable tasks to accomplish. Three companies; Safeway, Costco and Caribou Coffee kindly donated refreshments to the forum.

This panel-style forum was a hopeful and strong beginning to the plan of offering consistent, ongoing programs to strengthen and expand the AFP network in the D.C. area.

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