El mes de mayo fue de mucho movimiento en el Casco Antiguo. Por 10 días, un grupo de habitantes y amigos de esta zona de la ciudad realizaron un sinfín de actividades para mejorar su apariencia, que incluían:talleres de arte en las escuelas, limpieza de playa, jardinería urbana, pintar tanques de basura y limpieza de calles, entre otros.
Las jornadas contaron con el apoyo de varias organizaciones como la Asociación de Vecinos y Amigos del Casco Antiguo (AVACA), Jardines Urbanos,Ecocreando y Sembrarte,así como con la ayuda invaluable de un grupo de colaboradores de Generation Peace Serves, un programa de servicio internacional de aprendizaje que inspira a los jóvenes a ser ciudadanos del mundo.
Patrizia Pinzón, presidenta de AVACA, explica que Generation Peace Serves llegó al Casco Antiguo gracias a su amiga Nancy Hanna. “Ya habíamos tenidouna excelente experiencia con un grupo más chico de voluntarios y de prontorecibí un email de Nancy diciéndome: ¿qué tal un grupo de 20?” relata Pinzón agradecida.
Finalmente, el grupo también estuvo integrado por estudiantes de la Universidad George Washington de Estados Unidos, quienes viajaron a Panamá para ser parte del reacondicionamiento del Casco Antiguo. Y, además de la mano de obra, las organizaciones contaron con el apoyo monetario y de insumos de empresas como El Rey, Estrella Azul, Papiro y yo, Conservatorio S.A., Arco Properties, Magnolia Inn y Glidden.
Además de limpiar el Casco, las jornadas incluyeron visitas casa por casa para hablar de la campaña y solicitar cooperación. “Lo más divertido fue la Patrulla Verde,patrullamos con un grupo de 30 niñostodas las tardes. Cada día teníanun tema distinto. Los niños salían como un mini ejército dela limpieza, entraban a los restaurantespara conversar con los dueños, multaban a los que botaban basura en el piso. Alfinal los premiamos con una película”, afirma Pinzón.
Con la ayuda de SembrArte, una organizaciónque busca espacios alternativos para la expresión y creación artística, y Ecocreando, otra organización que desarrolla programas de reciclaje, se pintaron varios murales creados por los mismos niños en las unidades educativas de la zona, como la Escuela de México, de Estados Unidos, Simón Bolívar y Nicolás Pacheco.
La iniciativa también incluyó a la organización Jardines Urbanos Panamá, y su jardín comunitario ubicado en Avenida A y Calle 4. La finalidad de este espacio es capacitar a los vecinos del sector para que aprendan a cultivar sus propios alimentos y para que aprendan de jardinería, sin importar el tamaño del espacio.
De acuerdo con Pinzón, próximamente estarán llevando a cabo más actividades para crear conciencia en el Casco Antiguo. “Estamos planeando una feria de reciclaje. Le escribimos a Roba Morena,esperamos poder atraer su proyecto al Casco. Pero lo más importante es hacer dela Patrulla Verde un elemento constante”, indica. Asimismo, esperan que en el 2013 los vuelva a acompañar GenerationPeace Serves ya que “la experiencia fue positiva y quedaron muy contentos”, acota.
¡Súmate a la iniciativa!
Si desea colaboraren las actividades que se llevan a cabo para mejorar la apariencia del Casco Antiguo, contacte al grupo a través del Facebook de la Asociación AVACA y del Facebook LimpiemosPanamá Ya. También puede comunicarse con Úrsula Kienes, de Jardines Urbanos, a través de su página de en Facebook.
February 22 – March 12, 2012 Generation Peace Academy traveled to Thailand to learn more about the human trafficking issue there. After raising the funds themselves they flew to Thailand to begin an experience they would never forget. They worked alongside a few organizations such as DEPDC (Development Education Program for Daughters and Communities) and Pavena Foundation for Children and Women. They also attended a conference hosted by UNESCO regarding human trafficking and human dignity. GPA had an amazing experience there.
Sheboygan’s Hope Schmidt, 18, a December graduate of IDEAS Academy, recently returned from three weeks of public service work in Thailand.
Schmidt worked with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities (DEPDC), whose founder, Sompap Jantraka, twice has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. DEPDC is a non-governmental organization that strives to prevent child exploitation and defends vulnerable minors and their rights, according to a news release.
Schmidt also worked with the Pavena Hongsakul Foundation for Children and Women, a non-profit organization that cares for victims of the sex industry.
“Human trafficking is continually growing, and in my opinion it’s because so many of us are unaware and uneducated on what sex slavery really is,” Schmidt said.
“Children are being misused, abused and killed in ways that are unimaginable to most. It’s not just growing in other countries but in America, too. As the youth of America, together we have the power to influence and create the future we want to see.”
Schmidt’s work overseas was part of Generation Peace Academy, a character education project of the Unification Church and Lovin’ Life Ministries.
Follow these links for the official articles.
Schmidt, a high school valedictorian, plans to attend The Art Institute of Chicago for fashion design.
Felicia Bratti of Glenallen, Mo., is shown making bracelets with children in Thailand.
She saw a possibly horrific future in the Asian eyes of a 5-year-old girl. Later, she saw the heartbreaking results in those who had seen that play out into a terrible reality.
During her recent three-week public service trip to Thailand, Felicia Bratti became painfully aware of the toll of human trafficking.
The 20-year-old Bollinger County resident joined a group of teenagers from the Unification Church as part of its Generation Peace Academy, a gap-year program between high school and college. The group, which included adult church leaders, divided its time between the cities of Chiang Rai and Bangkok, working first at a school geared toward preventing child exploitation and later for an organization that cares for victims of Thailand’s massive sex trade.
“It’s not something you see a lot out in the open when you go there,” Bratti said. “Most areas look like a business district of a city. People obviously know it’s there. But you don’t hear about it from your average person.”
That was quite a shock to the Glennallen resident, who expected to find rallies and movements to stop the abuse of the country’s children, who are sometimes abducted or sold as sex slaves or for cheap labor.
“I expected people to care,” she said. “But it’s normalized for them. It’s not a big deal for them anymore.”
Sex trafficking has been called one of the most disturbing global crimes, specifically in the Asia-Pacific area. The industry in Thailand thrives as a $150 billion business each year, dating back to the Vietnam War when Thailand basically became a brothel for American GIs on leave. While Thailand’s government bristles at the nickname “brothel of the world,” several analysts say the country is home to 150,000 to 220,000 prostitutes, including many minor children.
While it’s illegal in Thailand, many massage parlors serve as a front for prostitution and brothel owners have networks of agents combing the villages seeking out troubled families caught up in debt with few options.
“The world is a bigger place now,” Bratti said. “It’s hard to imagine when you’re grocery shopping in your quiet little town that people across the world and even in your own country are being so horribly abused and violated.”
Bratti’s parents described their daughter as a responsible and mature young woman who is looking to make a difference in the world.
“She has a world view that doesn’t just go with fashion or the new thing that comes around the corner,” said her father, Kim. “She’s really grounded, with morals and values that are beyond current trends. … She’s trying to make an impact on the world, however small that impact may be.”
Bratti’s mother, Mary, agreed.
Even as a young girl, Mary Bratti said, her daughter showed signs of being a leader.
“She’s focused and happy and could easily inspire the kids around her,” Mary Bratti said. “She also has a deep and sincere heart to seek out God’s will. She was happy and excited to participate. I think it was a learning experience for her.”
Once in Thailand, Felicia Bratti’s first task was working with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities, whose founder, Sompap Jantraka, has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nongovernmental organization works to prevent child exploitation and defends vulnerable minors and their rights.
Bratti described it basically as a school for children — boys and girls — more likely to become targets for sex trafficking. These are the country’s poor children, often whose parents aren’t with them. The school provides permanent shelter and education. The school’s website says the program has helped prevent thousands of children from the Mekong subregion from succumbing to the sex industry or other exploitive child labor practices.
Bratti and the others taught different sports, crafts and how to make certain things.
It was, for the most part, like any other school, Bratti said.
But sometimes it would hit her that some of these children may wind up in the sex industry. Some of them were as young as 4 or 5, which is the age that some are abducted. She’d be holding one of them and she’d imagine a horrible scenario playing out.
“Very easily their life could be so full of pain,” Bratti said. “They really wouldn’t know the difference. That would be the only life they’d know.”
While the school touted that only 5 percent of students there would go on to somehow be in the sex trade, that offered Bratti little comfort, she said.
“They said that 95 percent of these kids would be fine,” she said. “To me, I was like, that’s not OK. That’s still 5 percent. Even if only one kid has to go through that, it’s not OK. It was hard.”
The group later went to Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, where Bratti and the others worked with Pavena Hongsakul Foundation for Children and Women, a not-for-profit organization that cares for victims of the sex industry. It was this job, Bratti said, that was “emotionally more difficult” for her. Here, the group came across women who had been repeatedly raped who had come to the center seeking help.
Five children, ages 10 to 12, were also at the center trying to recover after being involuntarily involved in the sex industry.
“They just seemed so happy and sweet,” Bratti said. “But they were quiet. You could tell something bad had happened to them. It’s hard to think about what they had been through at such a young age. That they could even talk to anyone or trust anyone was just incredible to me.”
At the end of her trip, as the people at the center sang a song of unity, Bratti was holding the hand of an 11-year-old girl who she had become especially close to. Bratti broke down.
She said she had never wanted to take someone’s pain away so badly before.
“All you want is healing and for no one to have to go through that,” she said. “So it was definitely really hard. I cried a lot that night. I think about her a lot.”
Full article here: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1845964.html
Here is a video that exhibits the time Generation Peace Serves spent in St Lucia in November 201, serving the community of Anse La Raye.
Irving, Texas. April 10, 2012 –
Ms. Marina Stana, 19, a resident of Irving, has returned from 21 days of public service work in the regions of Chang Rai and Bangkok, Thailand. Ms. Stana tells the news that she worked with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities, whose founder, Sompap Jantraka, has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities is a NGO (non-governmental organization) which prevents child exploitation and defends vulnerable minors and their rights. Ms. Stana also worked with Pavena Hongsakul Foundation for Children and Women, a non-profit organization that cares for victims of the sex industry. Marina also participated in a conference sponsored by UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which addressed how human trafficking attacks the dignity of victims.
Ms. Stana, who aspires to be an Elementary School Teacher, will study at University of Texas at Arlington after her second year of service with Generation Peace Academy, the premier character education project of the Unification Church and Lovin’ Life Ministries. During the 10-month program, participants spend at least 21 days doing relief work or public service in a developing country.
Marina graduated from Macarthur High School in 2010. Marina was involved in National Honors society, played on the Varsity Softball team for three years, ventured through 2 years studying abroad in Korea learning the language and culture there, and graduated with over 100 hours of volunteer. Instead of the normal pathway of college after high school, Marina deferred 2 years before college to offer her helping hand and to give back for all the blessing she feels she’s grown up with in life. Mr. Dan and Mrs. Kimie Stana, the parents of Marina, are a major source of this inspiration for public service because of their example of serving no matter who or what the situation.
Marina says she credits her parents, those who have helped raise her to this point, and her church community for inspiring her to take time to serve all across the world. Marina says “I’ll never forget the hearts and faces that I feel I’ve come to know like family in Thailand. I’m so grateful that we could do something to raise awareness about this problem of human trafficking that is subtly spreading around the world. I’ll always keep in mind and be praying for my family in Thailand, hoping that not even one of them gets pulled into this nightmare of a life.” Ms. Stana went on to say, “Everyone deserves to be great. There is so much that we can do for the ones around the world who don’t have a voice, or don’t have anything they can do about their situation. So if we know that our brothers and sisters from around the world are suffering, how can we go on and just live comfortably knowing we can do something about it? I realized in the three weeks I was in Thailand that we should always be ready to help our families around the world, not because we’ll get a reward or any special recognition, but because we care and just because that’s how the world is supposed to be.”
Click here for full article.
Arroyo High grad Nadia Schwyter, 20, has headed off to the Caribbean to do public service a group from her church.
Schwyter, who lives in San Lorenzo, is working in the St. Barbs community center in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago along with 20 other young Unification Church members from all over the United States.
For the next 12 months, she will be doing reconstruction work and youth engagement.
Schwyter plans to study media and journalism at Chabot Community College after this year of service with Generation Peace Academy, the premier character-education project for youth inthe church.
Schwyter says she has always looked up to her parents, Hans and Robin, and credits them with motivating her to have a driven attitude throughout her high-school career.
She was recognized as an honor student and a scholar-athlete by participating in soccer and track while she was still a student at Arroyo.
Schwyter says she aims not only to serve the community of the Island of Trinidad, but to broaden her awareness of the world and is grateful for the opportunity to travel and see the world.
“I am so privileged to serve and discover more about a new country,” said Schwyter. “I can practice there what Gandhi said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ That’s why I’m in Generation Peace Academy. I want to be that change.”
Click here for the full article.
ARLINGTON, Va, November 28, 2011 – A few days before Thanksgiving, three Washington, DC area young people traveled to the Caribbean to contribute their enthusiasm and talents in public service work there.
James Abendroth, volunteer.
James Abendroth, volunteer.
Nineteen year-old James Abendroth from Bowie, Maryland, and Rachael Boothby, 18, of Annapolis, along with other volunteers and local young people, are helping to renovate the St. Barbs Community Center on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, in cooperation with the Ministry of Community Development and the Rose Foundation.
Cynthia Jones, an 18 year old aspiring physical therapist from Gambrills, Maryland, is working in the fishing village of Anse-la-Raye in St. Lucia. She and other youth will be teaching young people in the village basic computer skills as well as arts and crafts, and working to empower them through character education. She and others will also paint homes for elderly residents. This effort is being conducted in cooperation with the Anse-la-Raye Village Council and a local Catholic group, the Youth-on-Fire Ministry.
Mr. Abendroth, Ms. Boothby and Ms. Jones are part of a group of 48 young men and women doing public service projects for three weeks in the nations of Trinidad, St. Lucia, and Guyana. Another group is working in Georgetown, Guyana, where they are building a laundry facility for the Joshua Children Center, a local orphanage.
All are participants in Generation Peace Academy (GPA), a character education program of the Unification movement.
Rachel Boothby, youth volunteer
Rachel Boothby, youth volunteer
Mr. Abendroth, a graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School and an Eagle Scout, is currently a student at the University of Maryland. Concerning his effort to serve in Trinidad, he says, “I’ve spent so many years focusing on my own life and insuring my own wellbeing, so now it’s time to do my part to give back to the world.”
Ms. Boothby, who graduated a year early from South River High School in Edgewater, plans to enter the University of Maryland as a business student following her work with the GPA. She looks forward to her work in Trinidad as a practice of “citizen-to-citizen diplomacy in another country.”
In describing her motivation for serving in Trinidad, she says, “My greatest desire is to leave this world [a] legacy of love and as someone who was a compassionate person towards others. Reverend Sun Myung Moon introduced to me the motto, ‘One Family under God.’ To me, it means loving all people equally because we are all sons and daughters of God. This year I am trying to discover my true potential and help my peers discover theirs as well.”
Ms. Jones, who served as a senior patrol leader in her Girl Scout troop and as a youth leader in her local church, plans to attend Anne Arundel Community College in 2012, following two years with GPA.
She hopes to learn a great deal from her work in St. Lucia: “My mom is Japanese; my dad is American. I believe that the world is my family and this is my opportunity to inspire, encourage and to learn to love those of different cultures … The only difference I can make in this world is through my sincerity and compassion towards others.”
Yet another volunteer for the service effort in the Caribbean is Ami Stair from California. Ms. Stair, who plans to study broadcast journalism at San Francisco State University, will be one of those working in St. Lucia.
Cynthia Jones, youth volunteer
Cynthia Jones, youth volunteer
Ms. Stair commented, “Growing up, I would see the quote from Gandhi, ‘Become the change that we want to see in the world’ on a poster in one of my classes. I remember looking at the poster every day and thinking, ‘How can I be that change?’ I know that by going to St. Lucia, I am making a change. With this attitude, I hope to inspire other youths to get out there and do the same.”
Postscript: I would like to ask any interested reader to keep the 48 volunteers in your prayers. Often when prayers are requested for a young person, it is because that young man or young woman is in serious trouble.
In this much happier circumstance, I’d simply like to ask for your prayers that each and every one of the volunteers has a meaningful and unforgettable experience during their work in the Caribbean. I hope that each one will be able to make “living for the sake of others” a life-long habit and a source of happiness, strength and inspiration. Thank you!
Click Here for the full article
At the end of February, DEPDC/GMS welcomed the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) – a Christian-based volunteer organization from the U.S. in cooperation with the Thai branch of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. We were delighted to host these groups along with Mr. John Gehring, GPA’s project coordinator, here with us for a week.
The group of 30 young people, aged 17-21, were here to help build a plant nursery along with planting seedlings as a part of an agricultural project. The nursery will be a great addition to the centre because it will be used to sprout seedlings and grow trees that will be planted for DEPDC/GMS’s use. The GPA group, along with the help of some of DEPDC/GMS staff, built the nursery in only a few days! The rest of GPA’s time, was spent working with the Half Day School (HDS) students. They spent a whole morning cooking a lunch and snacks with the children at the HDS. The food was delicious! The kids also enjoyed a whole day of activities taught by the GPA group including Frisbee, hip-hop and ballroom dancing, Taekwondo, English, origami, bracelet making and hair-braiding.
GPA strives to help build a better world by preparing the leaders of tomorrow through character development, service work and developing faith. As an educational and leadership training program, GPA has worked in many countries across the world.
GPA spent their last day participating in DEPDC/GMS’ annual sports day. It was a great opportunity for the HDS children, GPA and DEPDC/GMS staff and volunteers to get to know each other a little better by competing and having fun. All the teams actively engaged in the competition, running their hearts out and cheering their teammates on throughout the day, tiring but never giving up. At the end of the day, everyone reaped the rewards of their hard work taking home many tasty snacks provided as prizes for the games.
DEPDC/GMS would like to thank GPA for their hard work and participation and hope that they had a great time while visiting our headquarters here in Mae Sai. On behalf of everyone at DEPDC/GMS, we would to extend a warm thank you and wish you the best of luck in your future projects. Please come visit us again in the future!