Unification News for March 2001

Building an Ideal Land in Leda, Pantanal

by Kunihiko Shibanuma

On August 1st in 1999, True Father called the Japanese National Messiahs to the Americana Hotel in Naberike, located in the Paraguay River valley and gave a direction to cultivate and pioneer the land of Leda, which according to Father is the most difficult place in Pantanal. Leda belongs to the Altoparaguay State, whose capital is Olimpo in Paraguay. It is located approximately 80 km up river from Olimpo. The land we own is about 80,000 hectare (20km x 40km), and it used to be a pasture where cattle were grazed. However, due to several occasions of severe water damage from the flooding of the Paraguay River, people gave up on using this land as pasture. Therefore, it was left abandoned and had gone to ruin. Leda was not prepared for humans to live a regular normal everyday life; no fundamental infrastructure existed. There was no electricity, the water was drawn from the river, and of course there were no telephones. Also, the roads were not repaired, and the only transportation available was by boats.

Several people who had worked for the previous landowner had remained and still lived in the area. Into such a place Mr. Gentaro Kajikuri and several other Japanese National Messiahs arrived as a first pioneering troop last year and began their pioneering work in mid August. They began a pioneer life with a purpose to research the land and to stabilize at least the fundamental living conditions. They lived in a building with pigs. It had gone to wrack and ruin and when it rained, the ceiling leaked. Constant battles with poisonous snakes and poisonous ants and daily struggles with mosquitoes that would attack day and night...this was the start of a new life in Leda. Sometimes a jaguar, locally called "Monstrous Onsa," would appear at night in a nearby location and attack the sheep that were kept, and we would spend many sleepless nights.

In September True Father appointed Rev. Takeru Kamiyama to be the leader of the Leda pioneering project. On October 1st Rev. Kamiyama and 14 members established a Holy Ground in Leda. This was the official start of the Leda building.

In order to secure fundamental living conditions along the river, the Japanese National Messiahs began their physical labor work to renovate the building and build a landing place (a wharf) where boats could arrive--all under the terrible hot weather of more than 40 degrees centigrade. None of us were used to this. Beads of sweat were constantly dropping, and the bodies overheated. The pioneers would often jump into the river with their clothes on in the midst of their work in order to cool their heated bodies. True Father had told them, "Indeed, we are constructing a base here. Shovel the land. Sweat under the hot weather and become the best and the first-class laborer. Work and build a land where Heavenly Father can be liberated from the very place you are standing. Invest your utmost sincerity in your labor more than anything else. Even if you die, what regret you will leave behind?" As instructed by True Father, we worked desperately and most seriously to become the best and first-class laborers.

In order to make cement, we mixed sand, gravel, cement powder and water with a shovel. In this way we made clay. Holding hammers unskillfully, we repaired the housing, and gradually the basic living conditions were being established. In the beginning, there was no electricity or clean water supply, so we washed our faces in the river, washed dishes in the river, and made drinking water by boiling the river water to sterilize it. The toilet was also a quite simple one--and we used it all the while worrying about getting attacked by a poisonous snake. In contrast to the difficult struggle of our daily life, however, we would see the beautiful running stream of the river during the day, and at night we would be surrounded by the huge starry sky. It was a life embraced in the great nature, being so far away from the busy life of civilization. Without realizing it, in this kind of environment our spiritual sensitivity was gradually enhanced, and we began to feel the presence of Heavenly Father so closely. As True Father described, this is an original, victorious holy place. Indeed, the Pantanal had been preserved and protected by God and never until now had humans stepped into this area. Jackare (alligators) bask themselves under the shining sun, birds called Touyuyu, a symbol of Pantanal, fly around with their more than 1 meter long wings, and seeing the beautiful sun rising over the horizon and a shining sunset, one can feel the charm of God's creation with all the senses.

We felt that we could understand and taste the realm of True Father's words which he spoke in Olimpo: "When human beings live with the nature, human spirituality returns to normalcy." Indeed it was so.

The purpose of the Leda development is to build this most difficult place into an ideal model city where everyone yearns to live. Therefore, the task is how to establish a society in which humans and nature co-exist and live together while preserving and protecting the natural environment. Our challenge is to protect the nature that God created and cultivate the land so that humans can live, without repeating the past developmental mistakes of destroying the creation.

There are quite a few people among the residents of Pantanal in Paraguay, where Leda is located, who do not have the minimum necessities of life. Thus it is an extremely poor area. According to research done in 1996, about 69.9% of the

families live in an environment that is not equipped with a proper house or furniture. 82.2% of residents do not have their own toilet. 43.3% of the residents cannot send their children to elementary school. Therefore, we are making efforts to help develop the living standard of Leda through increasing communication with the neighboring towns and villages.

Upon starting the project of building a model city in Leda, we hired some people from the neighbor villages, specifically Paraguayans from the capital Olimpo, Indians from Eranza in the upper reaches and from Poloken in the lower reaches of the river. Through working together, we could develop a friendship with people who reside in the neighboring villages. Including the Japanese National Messiahs, we were all together 100 people to begin the project. In the beginning, there were times where it was difficult to work in harmony and unity due to differences of language, culture and customs. However, they saw that the Japanese, who are all over 50 years old, work harder than the local workers from early morning to late night every day with tanned and sweaty faces. Also, the effort of the Japanese members to love the local workers gradually moved their hearts. Over time, we became one community of family that is beyond the differences of language and culture.

When we began, the place was barren, covered with more than 2-meter high thickets all over. However, after one year of building and working, it has become a clean plain with quite a few buildings. Now there is a boat house at the bands of the river to manage eight motorboats, and also a branch station of the navy was built at the riverbank. There used to be a naval post in Leda some time ago, which pulled out and half the building was deteriorated and destroyed. When Rev. Kamiyama met with the navy commander, he told him of our plan of building a naval station. The commander was very happy to hear that. When the naval station was completed last November, the commander's family as well as the executives of the navy came from Baianegura, where the Headquarters of the navy of the Chaco region is located, and conducted an opening ceremony. During his speech in this ceremony, the commander expressed his deep gratitude to the Japanese people who came all the way from Japan to work for Paraguay, and he paid a special heartfelt respect to Rev. Moon, who had sent these Japanese people. The commander was deeply moved by our unconditional heart, which did not expect any return for our work, and he attended the Hoon Dok Hae conference in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, in order to hear the ideas of Rev. Moon. He testified to us in front of the VIPs at this conference.

In addition, a generator room that could generate electricity was thoroughly furnished, and now there are utility poles alongside the well-arranged roads from the harbor to our lodgings, furnishing bright lights at night. Currently there are a lodging for the workers, a lodging for the Japanese, a guest house for visitors and a bungalow, as well as sheds for various animals, such as pigs, cocks, dogs, sheep, pigeons, wild boars, etc. 80 cows and 50 horses are pastured in a pen, which existed as before.

A beautiful public building for True Parents, on which we began working last spring, was also completed. Well harmonized with the surrounding nature, this graceful mansion has become quite famous in this area. We were able to welcome True Parents on November 30th and conducted a dedication ceremony. True Parents were very pleased and named this mansion "Sui-issou." True Father also wrote the words "Unity of Pure Love, Living Blood, Mind and Body" for dedicating this drawing to the Hoon Dok Hae room.

True Parents visited Leda three times last year. When they came in January,

True Father saw the well-tanned faces of the Japanese National Messiahs and looked so happy. He narrowed his eyes and said, "You are working so hard. That's so good." When True Parents came in May and November, the local workers gave a full bow, and True Father spoke to them for two hours. Since Rev. Kamiyama always testifies to the True Parents through our daily life together, the local workers came to have a very deep respect towards True Parents.

When True Parents came here in November, True Father said that the Japanese and the local workers are brothers: the older Japanese National Messiahs the elder brother, and the young local workers the younger brother. Then he conducted a brotherhood ceremony for us. In addition to construction work, the Japanese members in Leda are also experimenting with growing vegetables and planting trees.

We are researching hard in Pantanal in order to respond to Heaven's desire to find solutions to the problem of the world hunger and the lack of oxygen on the earth.

Due to the warm climate, vegetables grow fast and there are many different kinds that are growing quite well. This gives us much hope for the future. Right now the vegetables we grow are plentifully decorating our tables to feed us Japanese members as well as the local workers.

Besides the activities in Leda, we also visited a high school in the state capital of Olimpo, made a financial contribution for the renovation of public institutions, and made a donation of books to the library. Also, we donated books and writing equipment to schools in Esperanza, the neighboring village in the upper reaches. Moreover, we brought students and a youth volunteer group from Japan to Boroken, a neighboring village in the lower reaches, and accomplished the renovation of the school with the local people. Young Japanese people, who are in their 20's, told us of their renewed determination to serve the world by experiencing a small village of Indios with a completely different life environment and seeing the smiles of local children, even under such poor and difficult circumstances.

Our other project deals with a water problem. Until now people residing around the Paraguay River were drinking water directly from the river. This was causing many hygienic problems, especially children's diseases. In Leda as well, the water from the Paraguay River was clouded with small particles and carried many sanitary problems. With a desperate desire to create clean water, Rev. Kamiyama and all the National Messiahs began research and study, and finally at the end of last year we were able to create good, hygienic, clear water. We will further improve this water system and plan to install it in the neighboring towns and villages. Simultaneously, we are currently building an educational training center. Once it is accomplished, we will be able to offer opportunities for the youth from the advanced nations to come and experience the nature of Pantanal, feel God, do volunteer projects in the local villages and work and sweat together. In this way, I believe the youth can experience a sense of solidarity among each other and build a bond of heart, which is being lost in the lives of the modern advanced nations. They can fully enjoy the horseback riding, fishing and soccer in the great nature here, and I am certain that this place can be a place for people to discover their original nature, which is difficult to do in the environment of concrete buildings in advanced nations. I think that this place can also be used to gather local youth and give them not only the spiritual and moral education, but also training in farming, forestry, fishery, as well as an opportunity for cultural exchange. The planned date for its completion is July of this year.

Already a year and half has passed since we began the Leda developmental project. It has been going steadily thanks to the financial support of the Japanese National Messiahs all over the world as well as many supportive individuals. We are aiming to further develop not only Leda but also the living standard of people in the neighboring towns and villages. We will also proceed in building a model farm, promote planting trees, and begin preparing for an ecological tour.

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