In the holy city of Bethlehem, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis laid the first stone for the construction of the Early Childhood Resource and Training Center in a ceremony held on April 2000, under the auspices of Mrs. Suha Arafat and in presence of many representatives of the local Authorities.
The Early Childhood Resource and Training Center is a donation made by Mr. Vardis Vardinoyannis and Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis, on the occasion of the 2000 anniversary since the birth of Jesus Christ, and as Mrs. Vardinoyannis stressed in her brief speech, it is a symbolic act in a symbolic place with the aim to send from here the message for world peace in this symbolic year of 2000, the International Year of Culture for Peace.
The establishment of the Centre was included in the UNESCO project Bethlehem 2000 and is located in the UNESCO educational village in Bethlehem. Its main goal is to promote the Peace culture and education in this area and the timeless values of love, peace, coexistence and solidarity among the peoples. The concept is the center to be open to all the children of Bethlehem and the broader area, regardless of their nationality or religion and shall get adapted to the particularity and history of this place but most of all to its multicultural character, since it is a crossroad between East and West.
Some of those who attended this event were: Mr. Emil Jarjoui, member of the PLO Executive Office, as a representative of Mr. Yasser Arafat, and the following Palestinian Ministers: Mr. Naim Abu El-Hommos (Minister of Education), Mr. Atef Alawneh (Minister of Finance) with his Greek wife Mrs. Evangelia Kaffe-Alawneh, Mr. Mitri Abu-Eita (Minister of Tourism and Antiquities), Mr. Nabil Qassis (Minister of Coordination of the Committee: Bethlehem 2000), Mr. Salah Tamari (Minister of the Presidency), the Mayor of Bethlehem, Mr. Hanna J. Nasser, the Palestines Ambassador in UNESCO, Mr. Ahmad Abderlazek, UNESCO Director of Primary Education Mrs. Aicha Ba-Dialo, UNESCO representative Mr. Omar Massalha, the Greek Consul in Jerusalem, Mr. Panagis Bantounas, the wife of the Greek Ambassador in Israel Mrs. Markella Alverti-Mitsiali, members of Palestines Greek community etc.
After the event, Mrs. Vardinoyannis thanked the Mayor of Bethlehem for his valuable cooperation, support and offer of the land where the Center is planned to be build. She also thanked UNESCO and the Palestinian Ministry of Education for providing the necessary infrastructure and information about the needs of the region and thus making the construction of the Center possible.
On the occasion of this event, Mrs. Vardinoyannis had a meeting with His Holiness the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Diodoros I. During their talk, she extended to him the proposal of UNESCO Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura concerning the UNESCO project for the restoration of the Church of Nativity.
In addition, Mrs. Vardinoyannis had a formal meeting with the President of the Palistinian Authority Mr. Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. During this meeting, which lasted over half an hour, President Arafat congratulated Mrs. Vardinoyannis for her humanitarian work and exchanged with her views about peace, civilization and social solidarity related issues.