The Religious and youth leaders from Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh Faith backgrounds are all set to appeal to the people to address climate change using the platform of the their religious institutes The Peacebuilding department of Diocese of Raiwind-Church organized a 3-day training In O’Spring, Murree. The workshop was held from 13-16 February, 2017. A total of 22 participants attended the training. The diverse group was comprised of participants not only from different faith backgrounds but also from different regional backgrounds. The purpose of the training was to educate religious leader about climate change and how religious leaders can use their influence to convince masses to get climate conscious and aware them of the pace of climate change now reaching devastating levels. Bishop Samuel Azariah, the Moderator Bishop of Church of Pakistan. Mr. Munir Ahmed (Graduate of Harvard University, Fulbright Scholar and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam University), Mr. Peter Jacob (seasoned journalist and ED of Center for Social Justice), Mr. Rizwan Ali (Peace practitioner and activist),Mr. Raheel Sharoon (Development Officer from the Diocese of Raiwind) and Mr. Noman Sajjad from peacebuilding department were the resource persons at the training. On the first day of the workshop, the participants from different faith background were equipped with peacebuilding and conflict resolution skills. Climate Change was discussed on the 2nd day. The workshop was concluded on the 3rd day with the formation of an action plan where the religious leaders and peace practitioners discussed about sharing this in their sermons and organizing symbolic activities that can further educate masses. The speakers mainly stressed on the much needed cooperation to curb such grave issues as they affect every single person on this planet regardless of one’s beliefs. Different activities were conducted in order to train and aware the participants. The participants were shown the movie titled, The Day after tomorrow’ which reflects on the misuse of natural resources and its grave consequences. The leaders were very open to the idea of spreading information about climate change and how they can greatly conserve the planet earth. An action plan was formulated with the purpose of inclusion of this global issue in sermons. Climate change is a global issue of many dimensions, and leaders of faith have to address the moral aspect of the matter in a push to mobilize congregations. It’s time for people of all religions to act hand in hand in a united and necessary effort to stabilize an increasingly destructive concern in “pursuit of the common good.” The need of the hour is to mobilize public action that ensures surrounding environmental sustainability.
I am Differently Abled not disabled! The Peacebuilding Department of Diocese of Raiwind spent a day with the students of Dar-ul-Mussarat Warris Road, Lahore on on Monday, 06 Feb, 2017 – Lahore, an Institute for differently abled children, A group of 10 young peace activists from the department engaged a total of 41 students different exciting activities i.e. Sports, Painting, Musical performances & Dance followed by lunch. The young activist volunteered their time. They brought sweets and gifts for the students. The volunteers hailed the efforts of the teachers who were making their exceptional contribution in teaching and training them with life skills. Syeda Zahra Ali, a motivational speaker, shared a message that beside the physical challenges she is optimistic and the zeal will never let her stop to achieve the happiness of life. She said that meeting these kids enlightened her in many ways. Mrs. Resha Qadir Bakhsh, Principal of DUMI thanked the Peacebuilding Department – DoR especially Mr. Noman Sajjad and team for their contribution in creating smiles, sharing happiness and love with the students. Amal Sarah, one of the volunteers said that the best way you can help is to provide them unconditional love, support and patience. That is all what they need. Daniel Saleem added that you can also help by spreading the word and sensitizing people on the matters of mental conditions. Sana Jennifer further said that one can help substantially by volunteering as an individual or a group with such institutions and making the lives of the differently abled easier and happier. Their little hugs and kisses were overwhelming and gave a sense of belonging and pure love, a Love regardless of any greed or wants. Sometimes the meaning of Peace can be found in small efforts of Love, Care and Smiles.
On the 21st of March, 2017, members of the foundation of the late Dr Manzur Gill, former Intel Inventor and Scientist, visited St Mary’s School in Raiwind Diocese. He had made a commitment to do so in January when he visited the school and other venues with Bishop Azad Marshall, Co-Adjutor Bishop of Raiwind. His team, did not forget his commitment and contact the Bishop’s office and installed computers for the students at St Mary’s School. We are thankful that the passion with which Dr Manzur Gill longed for the progression of Christians in Pakistan and his dedication is not forgotten by his companions who spent much time with him, learning from him and observing him. The computers were installs and dedicated under the caring watch of teachers and school administration who are committed to see students grow and learn. We give thanks and look forward to the hours of training and learning that are to come.
The peacebuilding department of Diocese of Raiwind Church of Pakistan hosted Holi celebration for Hindu and Sikh community with the theme, ‘Rang de’. More than 180 youth members from 5 different faith communities attended the program. The event was held at 15 Warris road, Lahore on 19 March, 2017. “Celebrating the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’, this colorful festival falls. Songs, water balloons and bright colors are the major highlights of this vivid and lively festival. Bright colored powders, known as ‘Gulal’ are smeared on everyone’s faces accompanied by splashing of colored water. These bright colors are believed to signify energy, life and joy. While everyone is indulged in mouthwatering delicacies.” Roshini Roy, student from GC University said. Bishop Azariah said, “If we want to bring Hindus and other minorities in the mainstream, we should treat them as equal citizens. Our shared culture has been and can continue to be a strong connecting force in this regard.” Holi signifies the arrival of spring, and an opportunity to forget and forgive errors and make new friends. People celebrating the festivity go out and meet others, play and laugh, pay or forgive debts and revisit relationships with people. Also known as ‘the festival of colors’, revelers throw powder at each other, leaving people covered in different colors from head to toe.
The Peacebuilding department of the Diocese of Raiwind organized an interfaith diversity tour program to different religious institution on 11th March, 2017 to experience the plurality in Pakistan. The program was envisioned to promote and build understanding, respect and relationship among people from different religion. The diverse group of more than 24 women visited Krishna Mandir, Gurduwara near Station, Masjid Wazir Khan and St. Andrews Church. The visit concluded with a short talk and feedback session followed by lunch.
‘Expanding women’s participation in peace-building and recovery is critical to addressing gender-based violations in times of conflict and to advance equality’ Michelle Bachlet. The Peacebuilding Department of Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan organized a Women Peace Literacy Workshop on 17 February, 2017 at St. Peter’s High School. The theme of the workshop was “Embrace your Power”. The main focus of the training was to empower the university/college students and women from Muslim, Christian and Bahai community to enhance their capabilities through participation, group activities and group presentations on current social pressures on women and how can we overcome such issues for a better present as well as future. Mr. Raheel Sharoon, Ms, Sunila Ammar and Mr. Noman Sajjad were the resource person for the workshop. Mrs. Sunila Ammar conducted a session on role of women in Peacebuilding. She shared a story of the Levite’s Concubine from the Bible. She linked the scenario of the women in the ancient times to the present women and discussed solutions. She also provided information about CEDAW and the Security Council of the United Nations. The women felt challenged and committed themselves to work for peace and harmony in their social circle. A number of 24 women were part of this workshop. The training workshop was a success and a learning platform for the women and they urged to conduct more such activities in which they can “embrace their power” through interaction and fellowship.
Bishop Samuel Azariah, Moderator Church of Pakistan, along with Bishop Irfan Jameel, visited the injured Police Officers and Civilians attacked in the recent suicide bomb attack in Lahore. For the suicide attack a young person aged 12 to 14 years was used and the target was security and police forces. The attack was claimed by radical Islamic terrorist group. The Bishop also visited the family of martyred DIG Capt. Mubeen and prayed with his mother and other family members. Ms Shunila Ruth MPA PTI (Punjab Assembly) also accompanied the Moderator.
On the 8th of February, 2017 The Ambassador of Norway in Pakistan, His Excellency, Mr. Tore Nedrebø paid a reciprocal visit to the Diocese of Raiwind, after the visit of the Presiding Bishop of Norway, Rt. Rev. Helga Haugland Byfuglien and the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Pakistan, His Grace, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Robert Azariah to the residence of the Ambassador in Islamabad.
During the visit hosted by Bishop Azariah, he met parliamentarians, Church workers, Clergy and Heads of Institutions of the Diocese of Raiwind. A variety of issues were discussed, from interfaith work to problems faced by the weak, especially those who are marginalized communities of Pakistan. The Ambassador shared that we should work for peace and betterment of the society.
The Women Department of Diocese of Raiwind organized a meeting with Arch Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien of Norway. The content of the meeting was discussion on economic, social and personal issues faced by women in Pakistan and also on how the Church is tackling with the problems and creating awareness among the less privileged. The meeting started with a prayer by Bishop Samuel Azariah. Bishop Helga was given a gift by the Head of the department Mrs. Alice Garrick. The meeting concluded over tea.