November 13, 2006
The American clergymen and women who had come for the UPF-sponsored Peace Rallies arrived the morning of Nov. 13, 2006 and were warmly welcomed at the Kigali airport. The welcoming delegation consisted of several representatives of the Universal Peace Federation of Rwanda, two Members of Parliament, one bishop from the Baptist church, one sheikh, and several Ambassadors for Peace. The arriving guests were driven to the hotel where they would stay. After settling in, the guests were taken to visit one memorial site for the 1994 genocide so that they could understand something about Rwanda's recent tragic past.
The national TV and national radio then conducted an interview with Bishop Henry Coaxum; the Secretary General of UPF-Rwanda was also interviewed.
Everyone proceeded to a welcoming party, where we were joined by the Executive Secretary of the Committee of National Unity and Reconciliation in Rwanda. Three of the American clergy then traveled to the sites where they would hold rallies the following day.
On Nov. I4, rallies were conducted in all 8 sites. Apart from one rally which had 75 guests, all other sites attracted an attendance of more than 150 people. Two Members of Parliament, one bishop, one sheikh, and other Ambassadors for Peace accompanied the clergy to the various sites for the rallies, where all the programs went well. The clergy and the local Ambassadors for Peace were all very pleased and excited. People in the audience danced for the clergy and they also joined the dancing.
The next day our request to see President Paul Kagame was accepted, but it turned out that the President had been scheduled to attend an important meeting of heads of states outside the country. However the President’s Special Adviser graciously met with the delegation from the Universal Peace Federation.
The Special Adviser was happy to meet the clergy from the United States who had come as special guest speakers for the rallies. First of all, each one introduced himself or herself. Afterwards, the Special Adviser to the President explained about the work the government was doing and the challenges it was facing after the genocide. One of the greatest challenges is to encourage the religious people of Rwanda to come together and help in the reconciliation of the people. The Special Adviser was pleased that our organization had brought religious people to work for peace. There are certain areas that the government cannot take care of, and that is where religious people should come in. After he had spoken, it was time for each person to ask questions or to speak. The American clergy gave their comments and views and said that they appreciated all the efforts the government of Rwanda was putting forward to bring its people together. They especially recommended that the government should work together with religious people to heal the wounds that were made by the genocide. They used the opportunity to testify to True Parents briefly and their work for world peace, and to give their impressions about Rwanda.
An Ambassador for Peace Certificate was presented to the Special Adviser, representing the President.
Afterwards, there was a victory celebration and farewell party for the 8 American clergymen and women. The main impression of the American clergy was that the government of Rwanda was doing its best for the country and that Rwandanese people are heartistic people who are very gracious and welcoming. The local Ambassadors for Peace and VIPs were also impressed and said that UPF could soon be the best organization in Rwanda.