Never to young to give peace a chance. (PEACE COMMITTEE COURTESY PHOTOS BY SARAH ANDERSON)
Stiltwalkers of Terminal Circus and Hiccup Circus. (PEACE COMMITTEE COURTESY PHOTOS BY SARAH ANDERSON)
The Peace Committee launched the “199,999 Cranes” project in honor of Sadako Sasaki, a young victim of the bombing of Hiroshima. (PEACE COMMITTEE COURTESY PHOTOS BY SARAH ANDERSON)
A young Honokaa Dragon in last year’s Peace Day Parade. (PEACE COMMITTEE COURTESY PHOTOS BY SARAH ANDERSON)
Members of the Robotics Team were able to participate with their latest project last year. (PEACE COMMITTEE COURTESY PHOTOS BY SARAH ANDERSON)
Now in its seventh year, Peace Day festivities in North Hawaii mean more than the Woodstock-era images conjured up in colorful tie-dye and wishful thinking. The Peace Committee of Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple works year-round to educate, express and connect real people in ways that promote the values of peace, compassion and awareness of global interdependence—in actions as well as words.
One of many ongoing peace projects is a relocation effort for the “climate change refugees” of the Carteret Atolls, part of Papua New Guinea. Because of rising sea levels, the low-lying atolls cannot provide fresh water or food other than coconuts, leaving the people entirely dependent on outside resources.
Spearheaded by Honokaa high school teachers Steve and Jacinta Hanks, whose family resides on the island of Piul in the Carterets, the effort seeks funds to build 10 “clan houses” for extended families, 50 miles away in Bougainville. The cost is minimal, at only $ 7,000 each for ohana-style homes with bath and cooking area. The group will hold a fundraiser food sale at the Peace Day festival and other activities in the near future. To learn more about the Carterets, please visit www.tulele-peisa.org.
Reaching out to another family in a different part of the world, the Peace Committee has invited members of the Sakaki ohana from Japan to be special guests for the Parade and Festival this year. Their sister and aunt Sadako Sasaki, on whom the book “Sadako and the Thousand Cranes” was based, was only a child when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Although she survived the blast, she later succumbed to radiation-caused leukemia, but not before working to reach her goal of 1,000 origami paper cranes, each enfolded with a wish for peace and healing. Nephew Yuji Sasaki, a popular singer in Japan, has produced a song called “Inori” in her honor, and he is slated to perform at the Peace Day Festival.
Earlier in the year, the Peace Committee put out the call for origami cranes, to be gathered and sent to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Sadako’s honor. Featured on KITV news, the “199,000 Cranes” project aims to reach their goal by Hiroshima Day, Aug. 6, 2014.
A member of President Obama’s family is part of the Peace Day activity as well, as the Peace Committee lends its support to the Big Island Chapter of the United Nations Association for a special event to honor Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. Soetoro-Ng will be presented with the first-ever “Aloha Peace Award” on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Hilo’s Nani Mau Gardens.
Author, educator, peace advocate and half-sister to the president, Soetoro-Ng is well-known for her nonprofit projects, “Our Public School” and “Seeds of Change” peace curriculums. These curriculums focus on bridging teachers, parents, community and the children they nurture, through peace education.
“Peace education is a critical component of what we do,” said Peace Committee Chair Miles Okumura. “Teaching young people the values of peace, compassion and interdependence, trying to get these kinds of lessons into the classroom.” Okumura said that peace education includes environmental studies and respect for nature, as well and inter-personal, cultural or governmental relationships.
“Teachers can affect so many lives. In high school, one teacher can impact 150 students per year. There are two million teachers in the National Educators Association, educating over a 100 million students. Even with one lesson per year, these teachers could teach an entire generation. You could reach a society. That’s how valuable peace education is,” said Okumura.
For more information on “Peace Week” events, please see below, visit www.peacedayparade.org or PeaceDayParade on Facebook.