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Caribbean Region Advances Toward 2020

Leaders gather for the first Caribbean Region Executive Conference that includes district through region leaders across the Caribbean, held at the Holland House Hotel, St. Maarten, Oct. 19. Betsy Eppsteiner pictured in front, far left. PHOTOS BY BETSY EPPSTEINER

by Betsy Eppsteiner
Florida Zone Vice Women’s Leader

Thirty passionate leaders of kosen-rufu gathered on Oct. 19 for a historic SGI-USA Caribbean Region Executive Conference (REC), marking the first meeting of its kind to include district through region leaders from across the Caribbean.

The Holland House hotel in St. Maarten served as the hosting venue. While local leaders attended in person, those from Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Tobago, Trinidad and the U.S. Virgin Islands joined via videoconference. In communicating together as a united Caribbean Region, the participants felt a sense of connectedness not only with one another but also with the larger kosen-rufu movement.

We began by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for one hour from our respective locations. This was followed by a joyful discussion on the SGI-USA’s direction for 2020, the Year of Advancement and Capable People. We were also deeply moved by Florida Zone Leader Ingmar Soto’s encouragement. Through sharing about his own personal breakthrough, he touched on the importance of challenging our human revolution through studying SGI President Ikeda’s The New Human Revolution.

That weekend, we also did home visits together as a four-divisional family, with a determination to create bonds of friendship and unshakable unity.

I was amazed when, in St. Maarten, I attended a Champions of Peace and Happiness Group meeting (for women’s division members ages 45 and under). One woman, at the inception of the group, was very reserved and did not want to take on leadership. Since then, her life has opened up so much through participating in this training group. Today, she is confident and joyfully embracing her mission as a district leader.

I feel this group is changing the norms of St. Maarten because, culturally, women do not openly share their family or relationship struggles. For some, this leads them to feel overwhelmed or isolated.

When we studied Sensei’s guidance on family harmony, it became a compass for the women’s division members to navigate their challenges courageously and confidently. Now, the Champions of Peace and Happiness Group has become a place where they can openly share their difficulties and victories.

The leaders of Caribbean Region feel connected to President Ikeda and view each organizational campaign as an opportunity to repay their debt of gratitude to their mentor. In October, we determined to help 50 people become sustaining financial contributors, and we were overjoyed when 48 people signed up out of their sincere desire to support kosen-rufu in this way!

In the Caribbean, it is still novel for us to set organizational goals. We are learning that doing so enables us to see what is possible when we unite based on faith. With deepest appreciation for our mentor, the leaders of Caribbean Region will fight to be No. 1! In 2020, we are determined to welcome many new youth members, embrace them and help them become the next generation of successors, while basing everything on the oneness of mentor and disciple.

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