Kids for World Peace

At the Bruderhof Children's Crusade 2000, kids from around the world figure if they can get along, adults can too

WHARTON TWP. (Aug. 11) Eremasi Rova plays in the newly created Peace Park at the New Meadow Run Bruderhof in Farmington, walking through the creek, gathering stones, and having a great time in the woods."It's cool," said Rova, 9, of Fiji, who is among 500 children participating this weekend in the Children's Crusade 2000, organized by the children of New Meadow Run and Spring Valley Bruderhofs.

This crusade is different from the Children's Crusade to Death Row in 1997, a three-day anti-death-penalty march from Farmington to Waynesburg's State Correctional Institution at Greene, which holds many of Pennsylvania's death row inmates.

Instead, this is a festival in which children from various cultures around the world are meeting together to form friendships and play."You can't compare them. This is children-centered," said Scott Button, a 14-year-old Bruderhof youth who helped organize this and the 1997 crusade. "We are looking at world problems rather than just one issue."

Johann Christoph Arnold, spiritual leader for the Bruderhof, a pacifist Christian society that has communities in Pennsylvania, New York, and Australia, said, "The point is to make friendships with children in other countries that will last a lifetime. Children unite us all, and the values that separate us as adults disappear. So let's start with the children. If you save one child, you save the world."

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Aided by their families, the Bruderhof children worked for a year on this crusade, which started Friday and finishes today with an anti-death penalty rally at SCI-Greene. Members noted, however, that participation in the rally is voluntary, and families are being encouraged not to send small children.

To prepare for the festival, the children and their families cleared the woods behind their buildings to establish trails and campsites in what is being called the Peace Park. They studied various cultures and decorated the park with sculptures and poems, and built structures such as an Eastern Woodlands Indian long house, a Western Indians teepee, and a Tibetan yurt. To give the feeling of climbing into the Himalayas, the Bruderhof children constructed a suspension bridge to reach the yurt."We made all these knots--2,000 knots were tied by hand," said Alex Horning, also 14, of the Bruderhof, noting the 2,000 knots were in honor of the 2000 crusade.

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Frances Borsodi Zajac
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