A wonderful buzz emanated as guests gathered to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the Women's Federation for World Peace at the Mount Waverley Youth Center on Saturday, May 5, 2018. The festivity of the occasion was enhanced by the beautifully set tables and colorful floral arrangements.
As Veronica Hassett, Vice President of the WFWP Victoria chapter in Australia and the evening's MC, welcomed the guests, a strong sense of community permeated the hall. After a Welcome to Country, Anne Bellavance was invited to the podium to address the gathering and initiate the evening's activities. The address included an interesting account of her time spent at the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) in New York in March. This year, four representatives from Oceania, three from Australia and one from New Zealand, were able to attend this inspiring week of events. Following this account, Anne gave a presentation which documented the origins of WFWP, its goals and achievements, both internationally and locally.
Following a tradition introduced in 2017, it was then time for conferring the esteemed Global Women's Peace Network Partnership Award. This year's recipient was the World Peace Prayer Society. Founded in 1955 by a Japanese philosopher, Masahisa Goi, to promote a neutral non-sectarian movement for world peace, the Prayer Society is an organization that transcends religion, politics and ethnicity. As an NGO associated with the UN's Department of Public Information, it has members worldwide and continues its mission through a range of peace building activities.
Two members of the Victorian branch, Silvana Benacchio and Anda McMillan, were invited to the podium to receive the award on behalf of the Prayer Society. Expressing her gratitude for this tribute to their work, Anda emphasized our shared role of "women working together to realize one global family rooted in a culture of sustainable peace." Etched on the award, this message will be a lasting and constant reminder of our joint responsibility towards peace building.
Recognition was also provided to the WFWP Australia board members, whose support is an important aspect of WFWP's mission. Judith Talanoa, a volunteer with WFWP, was acknowledged with a certificate and a gift for her diligent and positive contributions to WFWP's activities.
Giulia Iacono, Secretary and Coordinator of Island Projects for WFWP Australia, presented an updated report on the different projects WFWP supports in the Pacific Islands. These include the support of the New Hope Academy in the Solomon Islands, Women's Sewing Centers, Pacific Island Scholarship Fund, Endeavor Credit (a micro-credit program), and Books for Islands.
This year, the dinner was ably catered by Kyung Mi, chef and owner of Sushimon, a Korean restaurant in Bentleigh. The buffet dinner providing a range of delicious Korean fare was relished by all the guests.
Entertainment after dinner was provided by Huanchaco, a Melbourne-based band playing World Fusion music. Playing a mix of different cultural music with Latin undertones, the talented group entertained the guests, who joined in with gusto; clapping and singing along in time to the music. Some guests were even inspired to form a Conga line and sway along to the rhythm around the hall.
Great excitement continued when the raffle tickets were spun around the raffle barrel and lucky winners were invited up to choose a prize. The door prizes of boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts were well received, too.
Attention then centered on the enormous birthday cake lit with candles, which were blown out by the board members while onlookers joined in a lively rendition of "Happy Birthday". After generous slices were cut and distributed, the guests savored this sweet treat.
The night drew to a close not long after having achieved the goal of communal connection in a cheerful and friendly environment.
The night would not have been possible without the support of the City of Monash, who provided a venue for this community celebration, other supporters who provided raffle prizes, Veronica as MC, and all the volunteers who set up the venue, organized the distribution of food and willingly helped with all the diverse tasks that contributed to a successful event.