First of all, on behalf of Arigatou International and as Convener of the GNRC, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the valuable contributions not only of all Forum participants, but also of many other supporters of Arigatou International, to the success of the GNRC 5th Forum held in Panama in May 2017. Each successive GNRC forum has built upon what has been achieved by GNRC members and supporters around the world. In this sense, I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude in particular to Ms. Mercedes Roman, who has dedicated herself to the mission of the GNRC since the very beginning of the GNRC in the year 2000 and has been instrumental in making the GNRC in Latin America and Caribbean region what it is today. Without her great contributions and long-time service as GNRC Coordinator for the region and as an advisor, the GNRC 5th Forum in Panama would have never even taken place.
If religious people of different faiths come together in prayer and practice to work for children in collaboration with international organizations, governments and NGOs, we can make a major difference in the lives of children around the world. This was the conviction and aspiration of the late Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto, Leader of Myochikai and President of Arigatou International, when he proposed the idea of a worldwide interfaith network for children and inaugurated the GNRC at its first forum in 2000. I believe that the more than 500 participants, including children, who gathered from around the world for the 5th Forum made a very good start with the firm commitments set out in the Panama Declaration. Now, it is up to all of us to work together to deliver on those commitments, to create tangible outcomes in ending violence against children in the months and years ahead.
The real success of every GNRC Forum depends on how we follow up on the commitments made in the forum. Our challenge here is how each of the forum participants, now back in their home contexts, can translate the Panama commitments into concrete actions and then link and connect all of these actions taken by GNRC members, supporters and partners at various levels around the world, in order to make a real difference overall. In other words, even the smallest action in the smallest village can be part of the global initiative for children that we share. And we welcome and encourage action by the children themselves, as active protagonists who can offer the full benefits of their wisdom and unique capabilities to the work of the whole. Arigatou International will not only continue to work with the forum participants, but also invite GNRC members, supporters and people of all walks of life to join us in the moral imperative to put an end to violence against children.