Almere, Netherlands—Schoolchildren and their parents took part in the 2017 Peace Road, singing, walking a Peace Labyrinth, and writing peace wishes.
To organize the 2017 Peace Road event, UPF-Netherlands joined with another organization, Peace Labyrinth, which has coordinated peace activities all over Europe. The main event took place on September 21 (International Day of Peace) at a schoolyard where many children from a number of primary schools —and their parents—came together.
UPF-Netherlands organized a team of 20 people of various ages in support of this event. A 12-person choir prepared the atmosphere with a 45-minute program of lively sing-along songs. As part of this program we introduced the vision of Peace Road to the participants.
It was beautiful to see the young children singing and walking through the peace labyrinth (which was perhaps 100 meters in length). They were soon joined by their parents, their teachers and all participants. The act of walking through the labyrinth was a symbolic “Peace March.” One had to follow a certain track to reach the finish, the central point where we all came together. The track led us from outside to the center; it symbolized the road to our own heart. It is interesting that the idea of the Peace Labyrinth and the UPF vision of Peace Road overlap in several ways, as was explained to the participants.
The Peace Road choir performance was much appreciated by not only the children but also the school staff, the parents and the Peace Labyrinth organizers.
The principal speaker was Mrs. Simone Filipini, the chair of a charity that represents Netherlands at the United Nations. Speaking to the children and their parents, she delivered her core message, “World Peace Starts with Me.” Mrs. Filipini told the children to develop good relationships in their family and to include everyone, despite differences.
The headmaster of one of the schools also spoke, emphasizing the importance of living and working together. We had the opportunity to discuss the UPF vision with her personally. At the end we made group photos of the choir with the principal speaker, the teachers (and headmasters) and the organizing staff.
The regional director of Peace Labyrinth was very grateful for the support of UPF. Several days later, in a warmhearted letter to UPF volunteer Andrea Wirjoredjo, she thanked us for enriching the atmosphere with our music, giving practical support, and taking the pictures; she also thanked us for giving to her the autobiography of UPF founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. She told us that she would like to help us next year to create an occasion in which we will be able to explain more of our vision to a larger audience.