Creating a Bright Future by Walking Together

In April, when spring was ripening in the warm sunlight, the WeLoveU members received glad news. The New Life Family Walkathon, which was stopped for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held again. On April 23, more than 7,000 people, including the WeLoveU members and citizens of the metropolitan area, participated in the 24th New Life Family Walkathon at the Peace Square in Seoul World Cup Park to help the global villagers who were suffering from disasters, wars, and poverty. The World Cup Park, which was covered with new green sprouts, was in full bloom with the members wearing yellow T-shirts.

The walkathon was hosted by the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the “WeLoveU”), and sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Seoul Metropolitan Municipality, the Korea NPO Solidarity of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Incheon Sejong Hospital, and the Senior Healthcare Sharing Foundation. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah and the board of directors of the WeLoveU, and distinguished guests, including Yi Bae-keun the Chairman of the Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and diplomats from nine countries such as the Ambassadors of Laos, El Salvador, Belarus, and Angola to Korea joined the event and delivered a message of love and hope beyond borders.

Around 10 AM, Announcer Kim Byeong-chan started the event with a witty remark. At the pre-ceremony event, the New Life Children’s Choir welcomed the participants with cute dances. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah explained the purpose of the walkathon in her opening speech; it was to help unfortunate neighbors in 23 countries, including the earthquake victims in Turkiye and Syria. She said, “Through today’s walkathon, I would like to deliver a message of hope and support to our global village neighbors that they are not alone but we are here for them. Even after the walkathon is over, let’s continue to send encouragement and support to our neighbors in difficulties.” She inspired the audience with the vision of the WeLoveU, saying, “We can achieve many things when we work together. If we help one another with compassion, the global village will become a world of peace and happiness.”

The Ambassador of Laos to Korea, H.E. Songkane Luangmuninthone said, “Love for humanity is more powerful when we work together. I hope that the solidarity and love for humanity like the walkathon today will be continued and that a bright future for the global village will be opened.” The El Salvador Ambassador to Korea, H.E. Jaime Jose Lopez Badía, said, “The world has developed considerably in many areas, but the number of refugees from wars and climate disasters continues to increase. Now is a time when volunteering becomes a greater help for society than ever before.” He expressed his gratitude for the WeLoveU’s support and looked forward to continued cooperation in the future.

WeLoveU Goodwill Ambassador Kim Seong-hwan, a TV broadcaster, said, “Love from each of us can make tremendous love.” He hoped that more love and hope can spread through the Walkathon. Congress Members Park Hong-geun and Seo Young-gyo sent congratulatory messages to encourage the WeLoveU’s efforts to help neighbors around the world.

Through this walkathon, the WeLoveU will help unfortunate neighbors in 23 countries, including the Turkiye-Syria earthquake victims and the Ukraine war victims, as well as refugees and underprivileged groups in Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile, Nepal, Laos, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, Mozambique, Gabon, Angola, and the Rep. of South Africa. In Korea, donation for wildfire victims, medical and living expenses for 141 households from underprivileged and multicultural families, and the donation of 30 million KRW (appr. 24,000 USD) to the Senior Healthcare Sharing Foundation were promised. A total of 700 million KRW (appr. 540,000 USD) was donated for domestic and abroad aid. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah finished the first part of the opening ceremony by delivering donation plates to diplomats in Korea.

The start of the second part of the walkathon was with Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah’s declaration of departure. The participants, who started to take a step with the powerful performance of a marching band, walked the 1.3 km (0.8 mi) route passing Nanji Pond along the promenade. At the middle and end of the route, the young adults prepared special performances to make their journey fun and memorable. The message to take action for the earth in our daily lives, such as reducing the use of disposable items, recycling, power saving, and planting trees, was expressed in cheerful dances and songs, and everyone enjoyed it. On the event day, the members who participated in the WeLoveU Clean Action Campaign, such as bringing a tumbler and lunch box instead of the disposable and using public transportation, reaffirmed their will to put even small things into action for the preservation of the clean earth, and agreed with the message the performance team conveyed.

After completing the route, enjoying the spring with their family and friends in the beautiful nature, the members participated in additional events such as the WeLoveU introduction panel exhibition, world culture experience, face painting, and taking picture in the photo zone. At the world culture experience zone, they introduced ethnic products from six countries, including Laos, Angola, Ecuador, and El Salvador, and provided a variety of programs such as experiencing traditional games to overcome language and culture differences and to share love with the global villagers. The citizens who passed by, too, showed interest and listened to the explanation of the volunteers. At the Lao booth, international students from Laos performed a folk dance flash mob. Both adults and children had a pleasant afternoon, and they lined up to leave precious memories in the photo zone as well.

Ambassadors from various countries such as Belarus, Laos, Gabon, and Angola expressed their willingness to cooperate with the WeLoveU to practice love for humanity through various activities. The Ambassador of Belarus to Korea, H.E. Andrew Chernetsky, who came with his family, said, “Today’s walkathon was amazing. If many families participate in the walkathon, we can make a better society.” Jassim Mohammed Lafta AL JANABI, First Secretary and Consul of the Iraqi Embassy in Korea, said, “You’re doing a very touching work, considering and helping people undergoing hardships all over the world. If you share your experiences such as installing water pumps, it will be especially useful to improve the environmental problems in Iraq caused by the dry climate.”

Kim Ji-yeon who participated in the walkathon many times before the pandemic, said, “I’m very happy and proud to participate in the walkathon safely and healthy again. I would like to cheer for my neighbors around the world, who are in difficult situations due to the earthquake and so on. Every cloud has a silver lining.” Park Cheol (Gwangjin-gu, Seoul) said, “When children become teenagers, they usually don’t like hanging out with their parents. But my daughter was excited for the event today. It was nice to come to the walkathon today. I was able to teach my daughter that we could make the world happier and better when we live together with others, not doing it alone.”

“One step, two steps, we can do!”

Like the phrase shouted by the performance team, the participants remembered that even a small step of each person will be a big step that will change the world if they all take it together. In the spring that we’ve met after the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the WeLoveU is planning to actively volunteer throughout the world for the happiness of mankind and a sustainable earth.