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My Drive with Nigerian musician 2Baba

CNN - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 11:44am
During a drive through Atlanta, the artist formerly known as 2face Idibia talks about his latest project and the origins of his name.

Free mindfulness classes for kids' mental health

CNN - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 11:06am
Children are dealing with real mental health impacts from covid-19. The nonprofit Mindful Kids offers a series of free mindfulness classes online to help them cope with stress and fear.

Vitamin A deficiency puts 140 million children at risk of illness and death – UNICEF

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:10pm
More than 140 million children are at greater risk of illness, hearing loss, blindness and even death globally if urgent action is not taken to provide them with life-saving vitamin A supplements, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

Leaders obliged to confront anti-Semitism ‘everywhere and always’, stresses UN envoy

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:50am
The United Nations’ top official for the Middle East Peace Process has said that spreading “deeply disturbing” conspiracy theories which fuel anti-Semitism are unacceptable, and serve neither the interests of Palestinians themselves, or the pursuit of peace in the region.

Central African Republic: UN urges calm in wake of violence in capital Bangui

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:33am
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) has appealed for calm following fresh violence in the capital Bangui which claimed the lives of several civilians, including a religious leader.

UN ready to discuss ‘possible forms of support’ to further inter-Korean peace efforts

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 9:50am
Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the United Nations stands ready to discuss “possible forms of support” to further inter-Korean talks over denuclearizing the Peninsula, and working towards a lasting peace.

90 per cent of the planet is breathing in polluted air – World Health Organization

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 9:02am
Air pollution claims seven million lives a year, UN health experts said on Wednesday, amid new data showing that the problem affects nine out of ten people worldwide.

Amid a ‘crisis of solidarity,’ seek inspiration from the Buddha’s message of empathy, urges UN chief

United Nations - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 6:43am
At an event commemorating the Day of Vesak, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged the global community to draw inspiration from the Buddha’s teachings and message of tolerance, empathy and humanism.

Can science and technology really help solve global problems? A UN forum debates vital question

United Nations - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:44pm
Science and technology offer part of the solution to climate change, inequality and other global issues, a United Nations official said on Tuesday, spotlighting the enormous potential these fields hold for achieving humanity’s common goal, of a poverty and hunger-free world by 2030.

Combating ‘scourge’ of sexual abuse allegations remains ‘key’ UN priority, as 54 new allegations emerge

United Nations - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:39pm
More than 50 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving personnel serving with the United Nations and its partners in the field were received in the first three months of this year, the global organization said on Tuesday.

Security Council urges conditions that allow safe return of Rohingya refugees

United Nations - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:08pm
After seeing for themselves the conditions facing Rohingya refugees in the camps of southern Bangladesh as well as homes they fled in Myanmar, Security Council members called on Tuesday for them to be allowed a safe return.

Afghanistan: UN expert condemns killing of journalists as ‘attack on right to know’

United Nations - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 11:27am
A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday strongly condemned the killing of nine journalists in Afghanistan who were among the victims of Monday’s terrorist attack in the country’s capital.

Sewing Center Certificate Distribution Ceremony

URI - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:19pm

The result announcement and certificate distribution

Chak 700/42 is a place where majority of the girls and women are not educated. So Joy Foundation has been running a sewing center for these girls since 2015. The girls got trained for one year in subjects like hand embroidery, cutting, sewing, hand work, home economics and child care. The girls made their practical copies also. In the last week of October, the girls had their final examinations. All the girls were present in the exam and did a great Job. Ms. Shazia Jalal (Deputy Director) and Ms. Rukhsana Khalil (Program Coordinator Sewing Center) were present during the examinations for the monitoring.

The pictures below are of the examination:

After the examinations the results were made and on 7th November 2016, the results were announced along with certificate distribution. The parents of all the girls were present. The Chaudhry of the village and the Church Catechist was also present during the result announcement and certificate distribution. Mr. Yaqoob Sadiq (Director JF), Ms. Shazia Jalal (Deputy Director) and Ms. Rukhsana Khalil (Program Coordinator Sewing Center) were there for appreciating the girls and distributed certificates among the girls. The girls were really happy and were thankful to Joy Foundation for providing them such an opportunity and they were also thankful to Mrs. Mussarat Nadeem (Teacher of the Sewing Center) for being so supportive and teaching them so well.

The picture below is of the result announcement and certificate distribution:


The Weekly Shot: Raising Breast Cancer Awareness

URI - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 8:47am

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), the URI Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region Women's Initiative program, in partnership with the clinic of Dr. Naela Doghmi (Co-coordinator of the WIN MENA (Women's Interfaith Network) Cooperation Circle, and in cooperation with Al Hussein Cancer Foundation and Breast Cancer Awareness Program, organized an open day for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The event started by reciting prayers that were selected from different religious traditions. Participants listened to awareness lectures and stories of breast cancer survivors. The clinic provided free physical examination. At the end of the event, one woman even won an insurance voucher for breast cancer treatment provided by the clinic. 

See more photos from this event here.

World Toilet Day

URI - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:28pm

World Toilet Day…

A day all about toilets may seem quite odd. After all, many of us take access to toilets for granted.

But for many millions of people around the world toilets are a luxury. A shocking 2.3 billion people – one in three of the world’s population – do not have access to a safe, private place to go to the toilet. One child dies every 17 seconds due to lack of sanitation, unclean water
and poor hygiene.

An estimated 600 million people in India alone defecate in the open, which infringes on human safety and dignity. Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls to relieve themselves because they lack access to a toilet that offers privacy. Another issue is that toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly. Therefore, the burden of poor sanitation falls disproportionately on women, children, and the disabled and elderly.

A proper hand-washing technique with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhea.

Today on World Toilet Day, we must raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet – despite the human right to water and sanitation. It is a day to do something about it.

Please make a personal pledge.

Resolve to take the message of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) to your congregations and communities, embracing the spirit of this campaign so that homes across the world have improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in order to save millions of children and families from death, diseases and stunting.

Initiate a WASH Project in your community.

Create awareness of hand washing techniques with soap. This simple activity could save more lives than any vaccine or medical intervention, preventing the spread of infection and keeping children in school.  Educate and motivate children to embrace and share proper hygiene practices.

Share your experiences and spread the word.

Utilize social media to raise awareness of sustainable sanitation. Let us adopt a successful plan in another part of the world and share resources.  

Maintain cleanliness of our toilets.

Those of us who are fortunate to have access to toilets can ensure that we always flush the toilet with the toilet lid down in order to reduce the spread of bacteria in the room. We air the toilet to reduce the level of humidity in the room, check that the ventilation system is working properly, and that we clean the toilet daily with a product specifically designed to reduce
the spread of bacteria such as:

  • E.Coli
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococus aureus
  • Salmonella
  • Enterobacter
  • Listeria

Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Commemoration of Hiroshima Day 

URI - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 2:05pm


Around 130 students of SLS DAV Public School Mausam Vihar, Delhi-51 and Kathak Dharohar along with 30 staff members participated in a rally on 06.08.2016 to commemorate Hiroshima Day and pay tribute to the victims of destruction caused by Atom Bomb dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War II. 

The Rally was organized in collaboration with United Religions Initiative (A Global Interfaith Network for Peace)-North Zone, India, Delhi. The students of Classes VIII-XII recited a Peace Prayer for those whose hearts carry the weight of Nuclear Weapons and appealed to the world to do away with Nuclear weapons and war and instead promote peace, harmony, global brotherhood and cooperation. 

The Rally “to raise Voices for a World free from Nuclear Weapons” was flagged off from the school campus by Principal Vandana Kapoor who in her brief address emphasized on the need to develop patience, tolerance and respect for cultural and social differences across the world. She also sensitized the students as how DAV movement has always contributed in promoting and supporting the cause of prevalence of Peace and Harmony and considering humanity as the only religion of the world.

Shri Sadanand Biswas, North India Regional Head of URI, also a Kathak maestro, along with his team of volunteers also accompanied the students in the rally to motivate and support them.  The rally took the route from the school to Preet Vihar Crossing to Vikas Marg and back to school via Marginal Bund Road covering a distance of around 5 km. The students raised slogans to spread awareness and express their solidarity and desire to have a world free from Nuclear Weapons, endorse the prevalence of peace and harmony around the globe.

The Message was loud and clear…HELP US LIFT THE FOG OF NUCLEAR DARKNESS!!

Memoriam for Dr. Paul Eppinger

URI - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 1:19pm

Paul Eppinger, who led a campaign for Arizona to recognize a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and later was involved in interfaith affairs, has died. He was 83.

Ordained to the American Baptist Church, Eppinger led First Baptist Church of Phoenix for seven years before retiring in 1992. He became executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council in 1993 and then started the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which seeks unifying themes among representatives of all world religions.

The Rev. Larry A. Fultz, who succeeded Eppinger, announced Eppinger's death to the community in a letter posted on the Arizona Interfaith Movement's website.

"The Interfaith Community around the world lost a dear friend and champion for justice and civility," Fultz wrote. "... But I lost a dear friend, a friend who has been my mentor and teacher for many years. He stretched me in ways that I never thought possible and always did it with love and humbleness. ... Undeniably, Paul leaves a great legacy which we all can draw on and learn from but it’s what he takes with him that grieves me the most. He takes all that wisdom, knowledge, passion and caring that simply isn’t transferable."

Paul Eppinger now joins URI's "Celestial Cooperation Circle," which encompasses all members of the URI community who have passed on.

The Ideal of a Decolonized Education System

URI - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 11:12am
The ideal of an educational system which is decolonized seems to be the issue which is constantly debated from time to time and has no end. In addition, a decolonized education system is the key to broaden one individual's mindset to understand the perspectives of different authors from different countries.

Moreover, the key to having an educational system which is not entirely eurocentric is possible if we become accomodative to other forms of knowledge which come from different countries. In our current era, there have been intellectual debates which have been sparked by the educational system which seems to promote education which caters for the privileged. Moreover, due to the intellectual battles, arguments and the institutions failing to provide platforms for various theories and knowledge which are not predominantly Western, there seems to be tension which has been amounted by students.

In addition, we have become a generation of arsonists and violent protestors and have forgotten the importance of being effective change agents without the use of violence. Moreover, the institutions that were meant to inspire the perception of freedom have failed the students in more ways than one. The question we need to ask ourselves is: do we value wealth over the needs of the students, or do we want to raise a generation of educated leaders? That is the question we need to ask ourselves every day.

Reflections on Our Visit to Peace Terrace

URI - Wed, 11/16/2016 - 1:34pm

Sally Mahé, Dom Gelin and I had the pleasure of visiting middle schoolers at Peace Terrace Academy in Fremont, California, a Pre-K through 8th grade Islamic school in the East Bay. The morning greeted us with a variety of treats including the beautifully still sunrise on our drive over, the stunning but simple white domes of Peace Terrace school and moms and dads bustling in and out of the parking lot to drop the kids off at school. Upon entering the school we were met by usual elementary school sounds, the loud chatter of kids excitedly meeting on a Friday morning, as well as the less familiar beauty of middle schoolers reciting the Qur’an while seated casually on the floor of a classroom hovering over the holy text.

When we entered the classroom, all of the students were seated in a circle, girls in one row, boys in another. They held prayer cards which they recited in unison. While they seemed almost bored at the routine recitation, I felt a deep calm as I let the unified Arabic prayer sung by the nearly 30 middle schoolers sweep over me. What was for them probably a basic daily routine was such a treat for us visitors.

We began our visit with some brief introductions of ourselves and of URI. We are a bridge-building network, we emphasized. We focus on bringing people together and transforming conflict. And while this message is easily spoken, it is more difficult in practice. This is exactly why our time with the students was spent practicing the Principles of the URI rather than preaching them.

From our seats in the circle we came to know each other’s similarities and differences through an energizing game: "A Warm Wind Blows." In this game, one student stands at the center of the circle and says, “A warm wind blows….” followed by a self-descriptor, after which any student who also identifies with that descriptor must change their seat as fast as possible so as to not be the last person in the center of the circle. The self-identifier that evoked the most students to jump up from their seat and run across the room: “A warm wind blows for anyone who has a parent born in another country.”

The energy of middle schoolers dashing across the room and giggling could well have been an end in itself, what great morning fun! At the close of the game, we reflected on the fact that we share things in common and have differences, and much like a Cooperation Circle, it is important to take the time to learn about each others’ similarities and differences in a safe, inquisitive and accepting manner.

In a circle, we moved on to discuss some of the challenges and barriers to peace that we face in our communities. Some of the challenges the students named included: racism, socio-economic differences, language, educational differences, and gender. We then set out to find tangible solutions to these challenges, since, rather than thinking of the challenges we face as ends in themselves, we ought to think of them as opportunities to bridge the differences that cause conflicts. Some of the students’ ideas for conflict transformation included: Start a club to learn about each others’ traditions, help friends from other traditions celebrate their holy days, learn different languages, improve education access, stand up to bullies, and treat everyone like a friend.

We left the students with the sheets of ideas they generated, reminding them that they are capable of acting on the solutions they brainstormed. In the end we spoke with the gracious principal, Homaira Wassel, about the possibility of forming a Cooperation Circle of middle schoolers, since just next door to the school is a church where there is a joint preschool for Christian and Muslim children.

It was such a joy to visit the middle schoolers. They have such energy and creativity and unique outlooks on the world. I hope we get the chance to visit them again to mutually inspire one another to do the best we can to transform the barriers in our communities into opportunities for peace. 

A URI Perspective on the US Presidential Election

URI - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 2:14pm

Photo from a post-election demonstration in Washington, DC, USA | Photo Credit: Ted Eytan for Wikimedia

The Constitution of the United States begins with these words: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution…” September 17, 1787

The Charter of the United Religions Initiative begins with these words: “We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”  June 26, 2000

These two lofty intentions, 213 years apart, are based upon a common assumption, i.e. the legitimizing necessity of grassroots authority. In the case of the United States, the language states, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” In the case of the United Religions Initiative, the language states, “We have the authority to make decisions at the most local level that includes all the relevant and affected parties.” So at the end of the day, the voice of the people determines the direction, whether in the USA or the URI.

Given that the voice of the people of the United States was heard on the night of November 8, 2016 General Election, I have several comments to make from a URI perspective. 

First, URI operates in 96 countries, so matters in the USA aren’t our whole concern.

Second, we need to have a moment of humility and reflection.  “No one saw this (the election results) coming” was the shocking comment of the evening. There were subterranean forces at work which, when surfaced, caught everyone off guard. We “know-it-all” folks need to bow toward the unexpected, deep yearnings that escaped our view but which have appeared and now demand respect. Hidden hurts deserve attention.

Third, URI has a high doctrine of respect for people of different religions, for the environment, for women, for the marginalized, for diversity as a gift, for fairness in financial matters.  Up until November 8, 2016, URI thought it was in sync with similar attitudes in the USA.  But the winning message of this election made an appeal to the country which seemed to promote opposite values. Many in URI are of a heavy heart and deeply worried just now.

Fourth, the USA has been around for a long time and gone through manifold moments of crisis and evolution. In the long run, the USA can be trusted to correct its mistakes and forge a better path.  But each change has to ripen at its own pace.  It is possible that the pace of our cultural and common life has moved faster than all of our people could accommodate. Cars have brake pedals and acceleration pedals.  Both have their moments. Perhaps, the electorate just put on the brakes.

Fifth, URI has been successful in getting Muslims and Christians to talk and work together.  I wish that we could be as successful in getting Republicans and Democrats to do the same.  Appreciative inquiry could go a long way at this moment of time. In the present polarization in the USA, URI members here have a special calling to be “bridge-builders.” Our country could use bridge-builders just now.

Sixth, no one knows what is going to happen next in the USA.  Perhaps, someone will do the right thing for the wrong reason.  Perhaps, some desperately needed things might just get done.  Perhaps, we will cast off the 24/7 cable news propagandizing that comforts us and chose the harder path of reconciliation with our suspected enemies. Who knows? The “surprise factor” keeps us from a false sense of omniscience and keeps us hopeful. 

At the end of the day, I have confidence in the USA, because it is founded on the consent of the governed. At the end of the day, I have confidence in the URI, because of its grassroots base.

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