International Educational Foundation Brings Tour to Tajikistan
Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, UPF Secretary General
June 19, 2006
June 19 marked the first visit by Father or Mother Moon to Tajikistan. Tajikistan became independent from USSR in 1991, and almost immediately civil war broke out, to some extent fed by Islamic militant fundamentalists. That war was resolved in late 1990s. Tajikistan joined the NATO Partnership for Peace.
Most Russians, Germans and Jews evacuated the country after the Soviet collapse and the outbreak of civil war. The country, therefore, had a significant brain drain, and is currently quite poor.
It is largely a mountainous country, with peaks at 7000 meters and more, such as “Lenin Peak.” Fifty percent of the country is above 3000 meters in elevation. Only 6 percent of the land is arable. There are abundant cherries, grapes, figs, nectarines, nuts, peaches and oranges in this region.
The nation is 90 percent Muslim; most are Sunni, with some Shi'a and Sufi. There are cultural roots linked to Persia and Zoroastrian philosophy. Due in significant ways to our Ambassadors for Peace, the government is trying to promote interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
Through Ambassadors for Peace, some of whom attended the recent Mongolian Peoples’ Federation for World Peace conference in Korea, doors opened up for Mother Moon's entry. An advisor to the president originally planned to give the welcoming remarks for Mother Moon, but he was accompanying the president to China for a meeting of heads of state. A government minister who also accompanied the president to China helped prepare for Mother Moon's visit. When the visa application was rejected initially, he told officials that Father and Mother Moon are great leaders promoting peace in the world and Tajikistan should not reject such a person. The visa was granted just in time. The party stayed at a beautiful presidential palace, surrounded by mountains.
The Universal Peace Federation in Tajikistan is building on the base laid by the International Educational Foundation in Eurasia. With the guidance of Dr. Joon Ho Seuk, regional chair for UPF-Eurasia, Russian youth have been investing their talents, abilities, good training and warm hearts throughout the former Soviet Union. They are restoring the era when Russia was a “big brother” who dominated other people by force and fear.
The June 19 event was held at the Presidential Conference Center in the capital, Dushambe. Ordinarily only the president uses it. However, he allowed Mother Moon and Hyun Jin to use it. It seats only 350, but it is new and its quality is state of the art. The audience consisted of high-level people, and the program went beautifully.
A dinner followed for 40 Ambassadors for Peace and local dignitaries. During dinner many expressed great appreciation to Mother Moon and Hyun Jin their message. Due to a malfunction of the air conditioning the venue was hot, but people took the message to heart, even calling the date a new national birthday. One person described the vision for marriage and family described in the speeches as exactly what Tajikistan needs. Another referred to how people called each other 'comrade' during Soviet times, but the UPF movement is creating a family of brothers and sisters. A well-known actress said that this day marked a new beginning for Tajikistan. Many others spoke similarly, and some sang.
At 11:00 pm it was learned that the venue scheduled for Georgia had cancelled, due to pressure from the Orthodox Church. Even the hotel was under pressure not to allow any meetings. Various options were discussed, and it was decided to remain in Tajikistan an extra day and then go to Azerbaijan.
The following morning Mother Moon talked about God's vision for one world family and her grief at the barriers to fulfilling that ideal. "Through the blessing, people have the opportunity to become part of God's lineage," she told the young people who had gathered around her. "Father talks about fallen humanity as wild olive trees, and blessed families are engrafted to become true olive trees. We must change this garden and engraft all people onto the true olive tree. If there are two kinds of fruit in front of you, one fresh and one rotten, which would you choose? Our original minds want to multiply the blessing that has been received. If you make conditions and set clear goals, not only for your family but also for the nation, then God will open many doors for you. Love people with all your heart and reach out to them. That is the responsibility of Abel: to build a path for people to come to God. Eurasia has a unique history and there are many difficulties, but God has prepared many people." She then invited various national groups to sing.
Then Hyun Jin spoke: "When I look at the Commonwealth of Independent States, I see so many colors, nations, races, peoples. The USSR tried to create a utopia of all people, bringing all together. We are now creating the heavenly kingdom centered on God. This is a kingdom for all people, not only western or oriental. This is an age when all divisions and barriers will come down, and there will be one human family under God. You are the Abel-type sons and daughters bringing a message of hope and carrying the dream that will awaken the Cain-type brothers and sisters. Are you observers or owners? An owner speaks and acts with total conviction and commitment and passion." He invited those with the conviction of ownership to join him in singing a song of hope that grew out of the suffering of the black people in the United States.
Much effort was required to adjust to the cancellation of the Georgia event. Mother Moon and her party took a drive into the nearby mountains to enjoy the natural environment and rushing mountain rivers.
Dr. Seuk introduced Clifford Yank from the Ukraine, who directs the International Educational Foundation in Eurasia and is completing his doctorate in sustainable development. He described working with the government to develop IEF materials for a character education curriculum in the schools. "A contract has been approved by the Ministry of Education," he reported. "There are Ambassadors for Peace who work with NGOs and want to create literacy programs, develop schools, etc. Our group of Ambassadors for Peace is very impressive. They know one another and are committed to working together."
In her final words in Tajikistan, Mother Moon talked Korea's experiences overcoming the challenges of poverty and illiteracy. "This nation needs something similar," she said. "You should have a big dream for this nation. In a relatively undeveloped nation, there is more potential for you to make a difference." She suggested that people enlist their relatives, look for people with various skills and abilities, and develop Service For Peace activities.