The World YWCA had the honour to welcome a vibrant delegation of 23 young peace messengers from Japan that travelled to Geneva to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons and strengthen the ties of international solidarity and cooperation for a peaceful world.
The peace messengers, also known as the “Youth Communicators” for a world without nuclear weapons, have been annually coming to visit the World YWCA for the past 20 years to share personal stories and amplified the voices of generations of hibakusha (survivors of either of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945). In their stories, they highlighted the horrors and the physical and mental hardships that followed74 years ago when the atomic bombing happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and appealed for the world to never forget.
Sakura Nogami, a young peace messenger from Kyoto shared her message through a story: “A mother had made lunch for her son in the morning of the bombing, but that lunch was never eaten. The boy who died holding his lunch box could be me, you, or anyone of us. It is human beings who made war and develop nuclear weapons. We must understand and learn from our mistakes and that the elimination of nuclear weapons is possible and necessary to prevent the destruction of more lives. We cannot be indifferent to the pain and sadness of war.”
Before travelling to Geneva, the peace messengers collected thousands of signatures for their petition to ban nuclear weapons to present to the Office for Disarmament Affairs in the United Nations (Geneva Branch). Two of them shared that they also had the opportunity to have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican to share their concerns as a committed young generation towards world peace.
General Secretary of the World YWCA, Casey Harden, welcomed and greeted the delegation recognising how young people like them can challenge and transform existing power structures by leading and inspiring others towards peace and the change they would like to create in the world.
World YWCA members associations from Japan and Korea also took this opportunity to send messages of encouragement to the peace messengers in support of their pledge to abolish nuclear weapons.
The special gathering ended with a song performed by the peace messengers and the presentation of a number of symbols of peace and beautiful souvenirs from their country to the World YWCA team.
Please click on the links below to read the messages from YWCA Japan and Korea
To see the album of pictures of the event on flickr click here