Helping climate refugees and underprivileged families worldwide - Global family becomes one through Mother’s love

“Family is a resting place for a weary life; it is where all quarrels hide and love blooms, and where a big person becomes small, and a small person becomes big.”
Just as the saying suggests, a family can be a warm nest probably thanks to the mother. People who wanted to spread a mother’s love to seven billion people of the world gathered together for the “18th New Life Family Walkathon” hosted by the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation and sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Seoul Metropolitan City, Gyeonggi Province, Sejong General Hospital, and the Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

This event was held at the World Cup Park Peace Square on May 21, 2017, to give hope and courage to the neighbors suffering from disasters, diseases, and poverty. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah of the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation, Executive Director Lee Gang-min of the Foundation, and people from all walks of life including Lee Bae-keun the President of the Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and around 10,000 Foundation members and citizens participated in this walkathon. As it was a global family event, many diplomats from about thirteen countries such as ambassadors of Jordan, Spain, and Laos, and their families graced the event with their presence.

At around 10 a.m., the walkathon started with a performance by the marching band, which drew the participants’ attention with restrained moves and diverse melodies, and a lovely performance by the New Life Children’s Choir which drew admiration, and a video about the Foundation activities.

At the first part of the event which started around 11 a.m., the guests were introduced, and it was followed by the opening speech of Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah of the WeLoveU Foundation, who expressed appreciation to those who participated in the walk of sharing by saying, “It’s already been twenty years since we started this walkathon with a good purpose to give hope to the whole world with a mother’s love.” She also gave deep inspiration by quoting an African saying, “If we go together, we go far,” and explaining the meaning of one global family through the story about Ubuntu a traditional African phrase meaning, “I am because you are, and I am because we are.” Then she chanted with the participants, “We are the world! We are one! We love you!”

H.E. Adel Mohammad Adaileh, Ambassador of Jordan, explained that there is almost no worldwide support for climate refugees, and expressed his gratitude to the Foundation for their substantial support, saying, “I have seen the sacrificial works of the WeLoveU in action in various parts of the world, making a difference in the lives of people, which is just marvelous and beyond words.” H.E. Gonzalo Ortiz, Ambassador of Spain, who participated in the event with his family, delivered a congratulatory address by saying, “I take the opportunity to further disseminate the goals of this organization in its fight against climate change and in favor of more peaceful, prosperous, and just planet.”
H.E. Khamsouay Keodalavong, Ambassador of Laos, encouraged the members by saying, “Each and every step you take will make the earth a lot healthier, and it will also alleviate the distress of vulnerable populations who are suffering from natural disasters and economic difficulties.” Christian L. De Jesus, the Philippine Deputy Consul General, expressed his respect for the activities of the members, saying, “It is true that people who make a difference are happy and they smile a lot. And your being here just shows once again that at the heart of all these is the community. You are not just making a better world, but a happier world.”

It was soon followed by the fund delivery ceremony to help multicultural families in Seoul and the families marginalized from welfare service in five cities of Gyeonggi province, with the cost of living and medical expenses, and also to support climate refugees and residents in poor regions in Indonesia, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and Benin with public facilities and daily necessities. The officials from the cities who received the funds said, “As the economy declined, less people would like to help neighbors. We will do our best to deliver your sincere hearts and love to our underprivileged neighbors in the blind spot.”

As Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah proclaimed, “start,” the walkathon, the main part of the event, started. Along with the energetic performance of the marching band, all the participants spent a time of communication and unity while walking with their families, friends, and neighbors. More fun was added to the walkathon by various events with posters that said, “Let’s share love with the whole world” to express love in many different languages, “Let’s have a power walk and see who does better” to mimic the ways animals walk, “My family is the best” to put compliment stickers for each other, and “Hi five with family” to cheer for each other by doing a hi five.

Kim Seo-hyeon, a middle school student from Bucheon, was having a friendly conversation with her family while walking. She said, “When I joined a voluntary service for school, I was only busy filling up the hours, but I participated in today’s walkathon voluntarily. I’m happy because I’m doing it voluntarily.” Seol Hyeon-ji, a member from Gangseo-gu, Seoul, participated in the event with her child who had just started walking. She said, “I’m sure it is a meaningful time for my child, too, because he can learn how easy and exciting it is to help others just like walking. It’s hard to have a family time, but today’s walkathon left us a lot of memories.”

The World Cup Park was once a landfill where there was a mountainous amount of trash, but it turned into an ecological park. So this park goes with the purpose of this walkathon—reflecting on the environmental matters and helping climate refugees. The members had a lunch time in the beautiful park in the city, and relaxed in a happy atmosphere. Some extra events were prepared by the Foundation university student members—the face-painting and the family photo zone, and presented the participants happy memories.

The ambassadors explained various problems that each country was facing with, and also complimented the diverse, immediate, and worldwide work of the WeLoveU Foundation. Just like the sunlight shining under the clear sky, the members’ faces also shone brightly. It was a meaningful time for them to think of the value of family once again and to realize that all the people of the global village are one family.