Mother of Peace: Episode 06
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 1: My Cherished Lifelong Wish, pg 19-22
Give us this day
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, his answer was clear: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Two thousand years have passed since Jesus taught us that prayer; however, there are still so many people, more than we imagine, who do not have daily bread.
Africa is the birthplace of human civilization. Yet some African people live in circumstances so poor that their primary goal is having enough to eat. This fundamental human need is often not met, and the opportunity for basic education is also limited. Many face this situation. Each time I visit Africa, I seek solutions to these issues, which I take very personally. When the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee announced its 2019 theme, Human Rights and Human Development in Africa, I was delighted because it addressed the task I have always set for myself.
Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AFDB), and Waris Dirie, a woman’s rights activist, our 2019 laureates, are examples of what I have always thought of as “righteous people of action.”
Dr. Adesina was born to a poor farming family in Nigeria. From a young age, he researched methods to modernize farming and nurtured the dream of making Africa a land of abundance. After earning his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Purdue University in the United States, he returned to Africa and for the last 30 years has worked on agricultural innovation, helping millions of people overcome the problem of hunger.
In February 2019, during his visit to Korea to receive the Sunhak Peace Prize, Dr. Adesina said that there was still much for him to do to make the world a better place. “Nothing is more important,” he said, “than eliminating hunger and malnutrition. Hunger is an indictment on the human race. Any economy that claims growth without feeding its people is a failed economy. Nobody has to go hungry, white, black, pink, orange or any color you can think of. That’s why I am fully dedicating the whole of the $500,000 award of the Sunhak Peace Prize to my foundation, the World Hunger Fighters Foundation.” Dr. Adesina’s dream of peace is to discover the actual means to bring it about. I encouraged him never to give up his noble work.
The other Sunhak Peace Prize laureate for 2019 was Ms. Waris Dirie, an African woman of remarkable willpower, who has overcome many virtually insurmountable obstacles. Ms. Dirie was born into a Somali nomad family. While her childhood was fraught with civil war, hunger and oppression, she had big dreams and challenged herself and her circumstances. Eventually, she became a celebrated supermodel.
In 1997, she revealed her own experience of genital mutilation (FGM), and her life changed. On behalf of millions of African women, she took up the cause of eliminating the practice of FGM. The United Nations appointed her Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. She supported the Maputo Protocol, which prohibited FGM and was ratified by fifteen African countries. Also, in 2012 she played a significant role in introducing a UN resolution prohibiting FGM, which gained unanimous approval by the General Assembly. Ms. Dirie did not stop there. She founded the Desert Flower Foundation, which mobilizes doctors in France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands to treat victims of FGM. In several locations in Africa, she runs educational institutes that help women stand on their own feet.
Female genital mutilation is neither a religious nor an ethnic tradition; it is nothing other than a violent abuse of girls. This abuse of removing part of the external genitals of young girls is not only a means of oppressing women, but it is also life-threatening. Waris Dirie has devoted her life to eradicating this heinous custom, and global organizations have responded to her efforts. One can only imagine how difficult a path she traveled.
Waris Dirie’s goal has also been to help women in Africa, and to see women empowered. In Africa, women are on the front lines in the battle for life as they strive to protect their families. They also play a central role in their nation’s economy. We should therefore be deeply aware how this violence against young African girls injures them physically and often cripples them emotionally.
The African peoples are tremendously good-natured. They love their families, respect their neighbors, and live in harmony with nature. Nonetheless, as it has everywhere in the world, western modernization has brought Africa mixed blessings. Its prosperity comes at a cost of destroying family and tribal traditions. I believe that Heavenly Parent’s love will strengthen indigenous African values that support interdependence and mutual prosperity, and will wipe away Africa’s tears.
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The Sunhak Peace Prize is painting a beautiful picture of the new century, by honoring men and women who represent the best we can be. It embraces all people as one human family. The Prize is a stepping-stone into a better future. It is a friend to righteous people who labor with a true heart. It is planting seeds of peace that will grow into beautiful trees of life and knowledge bearing nourishing fruit in this home we call Earth.
In this chapter I have presented to you, the reader, the scale of my life, from my grandmother’s struggle for liberty among a colonized people, to the last days of my God-sent husband’s glorious life, to my years of mourning, to the new global horizons that he and I are opening today. Now I invite you to wend your way through this story as it unfolded, breathing its air with me, tasting the bitter and the sweet, finding the needles in the sandstorms, and discovering with me our Heavenly Parent’s hand in every moment.