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The 23rd New Life Family Walkathon in the United States

The 23rd New Life Family Walkathon in the United States

Giving Hope to 7 Billion People With a Smile and a Loving Heart!

That was the slogan for the relay of walkathons hosted by the International WeLoveU Foundation in Brazil, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea and now here in the United States. The New Life Family Walkathon that Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah has organized annually for the past two decades in Seoul is now taking place in multiple countries around the world. Each one bearing the same purpose in mind: to console those seriously affected by the devastating climate disasters in Mozambique.

Earlier this year, two cyclones—Idai and Kenneth—slammed the country in Southern Africa back to back, leaving it to put itself back together during this humanitarian crisis. It’s reported that subsequent flooding destroyed $1 billion of infrastructure. On top of the country’s fragile framework and people’s lives turned upside down, animals are also suffering as a result of these disasters.

>> What happened in Mozambique?

Saddened by the news of climate disaster, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah dedicated the 23rd New Life Family Walkathon in the United States to help those in Mozambique. Together, our steps can translate to love, life, and harmony to those undergoing present difficulties.

We Are Here for You, Mozambique!

On the bright morning of Sunday, July 28, 2019, approximately 2,500 participants checked in, ready to walk! Activity booths with interactive and fun games made it easy for everyone to learn about the 17 Global Goals including a WeLoveU original comic about how to implement the SDGs in daily lives. In addition to supporting Mozambique, WeLoveU launched the #AIMfortheGoals campaign to raise awareness about the SDGs that were established to protect our planet.  

Before the opening address, there was time for a couple of performances by the WeLoveU Foundation volunteers. There were two dance pieces: one dedicated to Mozambique and another one fostering camaraderie to take care of our world together. The last performance was the WeLoveU theme song.

A Special Spotlight on Our Speakers

Right when the guest speakers took the stage, everyone was in for a special surprise visit by U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district—Donald Payne Jr. Given the Congressman’s tight schedule before the August recess, everyone from the President of WeLoveU to the guest speakers and all 2,500 guests were honored to have an opportunity to hear from the U.S. Representative. Not to mention, Liberty State Park in Jersey City where this year’s walkathon was held is included in Congressman Donald Payne Jr.’s district!

The President of the WeLoveU Foundation then took to the podium after Congressman Donald Payne Jr.’s surprise visit. His introductory message reminded all participants of Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah’s message that we are one family living in a big home called ‘Earth.’ 

Therefore, as a global family, we must encourage and serve one another with the heart of a mother. This was the perfect introduction for the Ambassador of Mozambique Carlos Dos Santos followed by UN DGC Representative Felipe Queipo. 

“It’s a sense of joy and appreciation for the kind of solidarity to say, ‘Mozambique and Mozambicans, you are far away, but we are with you. We want to support you; we want to help you.'” – Ambassador Carlos Dos Santos

The next following speakers that the WeLoveU Foundation had a privilege to have speak at the 23rd New Life Family Walkathon was Climate Reality Project Leader Tim Guinee, and Lindsey Prowse from the French-American Chamber of Commerce. The more each speaker presented about the effects of climate change, the importance of an individuals role in tackling it, and so on, the moral of the volunteers were heightened as they anticipated to walk for such a meaningful cause.

One, Two, Three—Let’s Walk!

By the early afternoon, all 2,500 participants comprised of family, friends and local officials met at the starting line. On the count of three, everyone began taking their steps one by one in support of Mozambique.

To stay hydrated all-day long, all who registered received a glass water bottle. A water sponsor provided free water for volunteers to refill their bottles frequently without using plastic bottles. Reducing plastic use is good for us and our planet. In addition, a majority—if not all—carpooled for this event. Having fewer cars on the road means carbon emissions are reduced and our air quality improves.

 It was a pleasant afternoon across from the New York City skyline. Families and friends had opportunities to catch up and talk together while participating in a wonderful cause. Through the volunteers efforts, WeLoveU hopes those in Mozambique can feel refreshed and comforted knowing there are people supporting them from across the globe.

 

WeLoveU Visits #BrightHaiti Solar-Lantern Recipients

WeLoveU Visits #BrightHaiti Solar-Lantern Recipients

Visiting Vocational Students Who Received Solar-powered Lanterns Through the #BrightHaiti Project

After donating 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to students from the Warf Jeremie Vocational and Technical Training Center in May, the WeLoveU Foundation touched base with the students who received them. WeLoveU is already in the midst of planning phase two of the Bright Haiti project to improve students lives and progress their education. 

A Spark of Change

The results were incredible and the feedback from the students was promising. They expressed their gratitude to the foundation and Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah for thinking of them and providing a solution for a problem they face daily. Many students mentioned how the lanterns have become a vital source of light for them at night.

It increases their productivity after sundown whether to complete schoolwork or other activities. It also positively impacts their families lives and the community directly. They can travel to the outer cities where there is little to no power with their lantern to visit their families. Some even choose to send their lantern as a gift to less fortunate family members who have no access to electricity at all.

“Thank you, WeLoveU Foundation! I can now stay later at school to finish my homework and use my lantern to light up the path to go back home when it gets dark,” said one student.

I study accounting. I want to thank WeLoveU for thinking of CEFPROTEC for the distribution of the lamp. We used to have so many difficulties to study or run our regular errands around our neighborhood.

Because electricity is so rare in Haiti, it was difficult for us to walk around, especially at night and function well. This lamp changed our whole lives and represents so much for us.

The lamp helps us study even in groups. We help other people in the area so they can benefit from the lamp as well and we are sometimes 10 people studying together with the lamp.

I’m from the countryside, and when I have to go there, I always take the lamp to do my chores. When I get to the countryside, many people congratulate me on such a beautiful gift. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude towards WeLoveU for such an incredible gift.

Wismail Pierre Louis

Like this, many good reactions came out from the students who were thankful for the brighter future they can now have because of these solar-powered lanterns.

I am studying accounting and English. Before the lantern, I always had difficulty studying, especially at home since in Haiti we don’t have much electricity. Now that I have this lamp, it is very useful to me. This lamp helps my household. When we didn’t have electricity before, we had to put candles out every day. Now with the lantern, we no longer need candles.

We want to thank the WeLoveU Foundation so much. Not many foundations do such great work or think about us, and we want to truly thank WeLoveU on behalf of CEFPROTEC university.

Tony

Sharing a Mother’s Love by Spending Time with Students and Donating School Supplies

Upon hearing such touching stories, the WeLoveU Foundation organized a light show with the students and prepared to donate schools supplies such as notebooks, pencils, and pens to each of the participants to further encourage their education.

Thus, on Sunday, October 28, 2018, 100 of the best students from the Warf Jeremie Vocational and Technical Training Center gathered together. They stood in formation spelling “WeLoveU” while holding up their lanterns towards the night sky shining brightly.

After the light show, students were treated to snacks and beverages. Then, WeLoveU distributed the school supplies as well as warm meals for each student to enjoy. They served the students with the love of a mother as it’s one of the foundation’s core teachings.

The students were excited to participate in the event and were very thankful to receive materials to facilitate their education.

“This foundation is very different. All of you are always smiling and so kind. Thank you WeLoveU for thinking of us and our needs when we feel sometimes abandoned by our own country,” said another student.

The principal also shared his gratitude towards the foundation and looks forward to collaborating with WeLoveU again in the future.

I am a student at CEFPROTEC. They say that gratitude is the memory of the heart. So we want to take this time to thank the founder of WeLoveU for thinking about us. Often when we come home, there is no electricity and we cannot work. Since as students, we always have so much homework and research, it was difficult to study. Thanks to the lantern, our lives became much easier and now we are able to do what was impossible in the past. In the name of all students at CEFPROTEC, we want to take this time to thank you so much for thinking about us. We hope that we will hear from you soon again and share many great things together.

Clemard Junia

The 2018 East Coast New Life Family Walkathon

The 2018 East Coast New Life Family Walkathon

New Life Family Walkathon: A Walk for Bright Minds

On Sunday, August 5, 2018, the first-ever East Coast New Life Family Walkathon took place in the country’s capital—Washington D.C—to help our neighbors in the global village. Nearly 2,000 participants gathered on the 3rd Street Gravel at the National Mall—the long, grassy home of iconic monuments—across from the U.S. Capitol Building.

It’s been twenty years since WeLoveU’s Chairwoman, Zahng Gil-jah, began her journey to benefit marginalized populations, refugees of climate change and war, children with incurable diseases and more through walkathons. And now, her seed has taken root and blossomed in the East Coast Region of the United States.

 “I’m pleased to see the New Life Family Walkathon contributing to saving life and strengthening unity between family members. I think the greatest power in this world is love.” – Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah

Embraced by the summer rays, members flocked from all points along the East Coast—from Florida to Boston—to participate in this very special event.

Back in May, the WeLoveU Foundation delivered 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to vocational students in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This effort known as The #BrightHaiti Project was created to provide vocational students with a clean and safe source of light. While at the same time act as a tool of hope as they study for a brighter future.

Now, the New Life Family Walkathon is the vehicle to launch the second phase of The #BrightHaiti Project. The next phase involves installing solar panels in vocational schools and donating school supplies. Under the slogan, “Bright minds need bright lights,” the WeLoveU East Coast Region pledges to take the lead in caring for our family members in need in the Western Hemisphere.

A Mother’s Love: The Power That Makes the World Go Round

At 10 a.m., the opening ceremony began with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem accompanied by the U.S. Navy Color Guard. Next, a cultural dance followed and then the President of the WeLoveU Foundation East Coast Region, Daniel Lee, gave his opening remarks.

Mr. Lee began by reminding the participants of the purpose behind their gathering. It’s to make a bright Haiti and for the well-being of humanity, but moreover, he emphasized the unique driving force behind WeLoveU’s activities, which is a mother’s love. With this love, WeLoveU is able to see, hear and also take care of the difficulties experienced by many in the global village.

He said, “The love of a mother is the core to each and every activity, initiative and event carried out by the International WeLoveU Foundation. In this world where individualism is increasing, people in tough times are often left behind in despair. For those with such difficulties, the best solution is a mother’s love. It is only a mother’s love that has the capacity to care for and consider all people of the world.”

Following Mr. Lee, another WeLoveU speaker introduced WeLoveU’s international works to the audience. From installing water pumps, assisting entire communities in the aftermath of disasters to building schools and more, it’s clear the WeLoveU Foundation is busy working all-yearlong—just as a mother gives herself no rest until all her children are cared for.

“I could continue to go on and on about the activities that have been made possible because of volunteers like you. But I mention all these examples as a way to demonstrate that all of us today are making a difference beyond what our eyes can see,” said Rebecca Parker, Vice President of Communications.

Afterward, another representative stepped forward explaining how WeLoveU’s activities and initiatives align with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including 17 goals to fulfill their universal vision of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. In a nutshell, the SDGs intend to transform the world.

Along the walkway were panels highlighting WeLoveU’s activities that contribute to the fulfillment of these goals. For example, installing water pumps goes hand-in-hand to accomplish the sixth goal of clean water and sanitation. Delivering solar-powered lanterns to vocational students in Haiti helps fulfill quality education and affordable and clean energy.

After reading the panels, members pledged their support to fulfill the goals through WeLoveU’s volunteer service projects. After signing a pledge, they placed a sticker on the world map. It’s because WeLoveU’s initiatives not only impact one region but extend a helping hand to the whole world.

“WeLoveU has been carrying out initiatives, activities, and events similar to these goals for nearly two decades. And during this time, WeLoveU has developed an approach to our humanitarian work that is driven by four major core values: humility, encouragement, love, patience, and sacrifice. In short, WeLoveU H.E.L.P.S.,” said John Casas.

To wrap up the opening remarks, a special speaker came forward—Mayor Dean Mazzarella from Leominster, Massachusetts. Just an hour outside of Boston, the mayor has been supporting WeLoveU’s Clean WORLD activities and spreading WeLoveU’s message throughout the city of Leominster.

He said, “I can’t encourage more to other local elected officials, state or federal officials across the world: this is the organization you want to team up with. The definition of community is WeLoveU Foundation.”

Walking for the Happiness of Seven Billion People!

Around noon, all participants rallied to the starting point for the main event—the walk! After the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the front line, President Lee cued by saying, “Start!” The marching band began to play and the walkathon officially started.

A sea of blue shirts paraded around the 2.5-mile course for the happiness of all seven billion people. All ages from the youngest to the oldest walked together hand-in-hand with their families and friends. And giving an extra boost of encouragement, a cheer team held signs and cheered on the walkers saying: “Don’t give up!” “Shine the Light, Make it Bright!” “WeLoveU!” “Walk for Bright Minds!”

When everyone reached the finish line, a loud ‘hooray!’ resounded throughout the National Mall. It was a meaningful time for all to reflect on the impact of their actions while also realizing once again that all people of the global village are one family. By the early afternoon, families and friends ate their lunches together enjoying the shade and summer breeze.

Through the New Life Family Walkathon, WeLoveU affirms to deliver hope and support to those affected by adversity and misfortune. This can be accomplished with acts of compassion, devotion and an unconditional love of that of a mother. The participant’s steps will reach those in overseas countries and resound throughout the whole world.

WeLoveU Donates 3,000 Solar-Powered Lanterns to Haiti Vocational School Program

WeLoveU Donates 3,000 Solar-Powered Lanterns to Haiti Vocational School Program

About 1,500 miles away from New York is the island of Haiti. It’s the third-largest country in the Caribbean with Cuba and Dominican Republic following behind. It’s also the first independent colony in the Western Hemisphere.

The Situation

However, only one-fourth of Haiti has access to electricity. That’s only 2.5 million out of 10 million people living on the island who are connected to the power grid. Not to mention, even for them, electricity is inconsistent. It’s available between five to nine hours a day. Blackouts are frequent and it can stop anyone’s daily activities. Everyone needs proper and safe access to electricity, but a group that can benefit from it the most are students, especially those enrolled in Haiti’s vocational school program.

So, students enrolled in the Wharf Jérémie Vocational and Technical Training Center show they’re actively taking measures to make a brighter future for themselves and their families—despite difficulties they may face. They’re serious about their studies with an occupation in mind. Yet, what can stop even the most diligent student? Lack of electricity.

Bright Minds Need Bright Lights

With this in mind, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah, decided to step in to give students in Haiti the gift of light. Because of her, The #BrightHaiti Project was born—a campaign to donate 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to students in Port-au-Prince.

A little light can go a long way. A solar-powered lamp could mean saved expenses on kerosene or batteries. It could mean hours of extra study or more time earning an income to make ends meet. It could mean graduation and a career. And bright minds with successful careers mean a bright future for Haiti.

Through this, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah hopes to empower students to succeed. She set the example of sharing the love of a mother through all volunteer projects. To fulfill this, members from WeLoveU traveled to Haiti to personally deliver the lanterns to the Wharf Jeremie Vocational and Technical Training Center.

Sending Love to Haiti

On May 30, the WeLoveU team touched down in Port-au-Prince. The 3,000 solar-powered lanterns the vocational school received are valued at more than US$150,000.

The next day, the WeLoveU team visited the school for the ceremony. Because of space, only 1,000 students could fit in the auditorium; so many were listening from outside. In attendance were the Director of the Institute of Vocational Training, the Project Manager from the Presidential office, and the Principal of the school. All of them expressed how meaningful this donation was and how it will impact their lives.

“The WeLoveU Foundation, which declares to us by its name its great love without having to say it, is thus committed with its BrightHaiti project alongside the National Institute of Vocational Training to raise their voice together and say today, “Let there be light,” on the academic path of the students of our professional centers, and the light will shine on the success of your studies and on your professional future.”

– Ronald Legoute | Project Manager | Private Office of the President of Haiti 

“I’d like to repeat that it is my duty to express my sincere thanks to this organization today and to its Chairwoman Zhang Gil-jah who gives us, the President of Haiti his excellency, Jovenel Moise, and Haiti as a country hope for a better future. A Bright Haiti, a smart Haiti, a professional Haiti. That’s what we all want.”  

– Maguy Durcé | General Director of the INFP 

“God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” He gave light and life to people and told them to love one another. The spirits then asked God, “What is love?” and God had said, “To love is to selflessly give to others.” So, to love is WeLoveU. I would like to ask everyone, all of the students, to please give a standing ovation and applaud these people for this beautiful gesture.” 

– Jean Marie Boujolie  | Principal of CEPROTECH 

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