I am very honored to be chosen as one of the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize laureates along with Dr. Gino Strada. I thank our host, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, members of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee and my family and colleagues. Let us not forget, this prize established by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, honors and represents the peace ideology of the late Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon. Reverend Moon believed we are “one global family.” This is true. We are living in a time where peace, love and wisdom needs to be at the forefront. God’s love does not discriminate by race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Reverend Moon reminded us of this. We must embrace peace as the road to resolving conflicts, building gender equality, and respect for all human beings.

I, myself, became a refugee in 1979 after the invasion of my country. My family all became refugees. I know what it feels like to be in a place where all of your rights have been taken away from you. I know how it feels to lose everything you have, including your dignity and self-confidence.

That is why I founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), and that is why I have chosen to work with Afghan refugees and the resettlement of Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan for the last 26 years. I wanted to find a way to help Afghans rebuild their self-respect and self-confidence; I wanted them to be able to trust again, rebuild their communities and reestablish their core values; I wanted them to be able to live in peace and harmony and have a sustainable way of life.

We are living in a world where people are being judged by religion, ethnicity, race, and gender. People are being labeled wrongly and being targeted by hate groups. We must rise above the hate. We must use our voices for good. We need to remove the injustice and eliminate poverty. War is not the answer to any problem. We must work together collectively to bring peace in this world. In order to do this, we need to share our knowledge and build a support system that provides sustainable results.

We see all around the world, millions of dollars are poured into countries that create an environment that does not bring peace or sustainability. The money is given to the government or organizations with no system in place to progressively develop the country. And sadly, the countries that need the most critical help are ignored. I truly believe that if we want to make a difference, we must set forth a creative program that involves the people. We must reach out to all community members; women, men and children. We need to give them all the necessary tools in life. We need to address education, health, skills, job opportunities, economics, environment, and above all human rights as it relates to responsibilities, values, compassion, love, and peace.

As I have shared previously with some of the United Nations and European Union organizations, when we give an opportunity to people and ask them what they know, what their skills are, how much they can give, you would be surprised to see the outcome. People want to feel valued. They want their voice to be heard. When they are heard, people gain confidence and want to take an active role in your program to ensure the success of the community and country. From the beginning you gain an important asset - the support and trust of the people. The human resources of the community will serve as the foundation that will build up the community and bring the people together.

When you share love, compassion and wisdom, you provide humanity with an indestructible base for living in peace and harmony that no one can take away. You create an environment where everyone respects each other’s rights and appreciates different cultures, traditions, religions and ideas. With love, compassion and wisdom as your base, then everyone globally can live in harmony and peace.

Thank you all.