The Words of the Gehring Family
Lumbini, Nepal -- The Universal Peace Federation held a service project in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha... better known as the Light of Asia, the Fountain of World Peace. It was launched on December 1, the same day the government of Nepal launched a campaign to promote tourism and development of its key Buddhist shrines.
Nepal is known around the world mainly for Lumbini and Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. The Religious Youth Service project in Lumbini December 1-8 is a new milestone of UPF promoting world peace through service and interfaith action.
The project was kicked off in conjunction with the opening of the "Visit Lumbini 2012" campaign by the Government of Nepal to call global attention to the historical, archaeological, cultural, religious, and philosophical aspects of Lumbini. On December 1, a special program was held in Lumbini attended by the Prime Minister, Government Ministers, other dignitaries, religious leaders, and Ambassadors for Peace. The RYS project started on that date.
With the interest expressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in preserving Lumbini as the historic birthplace of Lord Buddha, the government of Nepal is planning to leaders from 16 Buddhist countries and other international Buddhist dignitaries to attend a meeting in March to consolidate support for the broader development of Lumbini. Thus, Lumbini is becoming the focal point at the eyes of the world. Yearly hundreds of thousands of people visit Lumbini.
It was a privilege and honor for UPF to be in Lumbini promoting peace and offering service at the Gyan Prabha Primary School in Laxmipuri. Participants included 36 dynamic, peace-loving youth representing different faiths and organizations all over Nepal. During the seven days, participants engaged in manual service for the benefit of poor children who do not have classrooms and a toilet. There are more than 300 children in this school who sit on plastic sheets in the scorching sun and chilly winter without a building; during the rainy season, the classes are impossible in the wet ground and flooding. With the completion of the new building and a toilet, supported jointly by the UPF and the local education department under the Government of Nepal, these children now have the basic rights to an education supported by a permanent shelter for learning and a toilet.
Apart from working experience, the RYS participants had opportunities to teach the children and participate in a community awareness program enlisting community participation in future programs.
Many other organizations have worked over the years in these areas without making this type of community impact. UPF made a breakthrough in bringing this impact and generating positive responses from the local communities.