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Update from World Faith Chicago: Refugee Assistance Programs 23 January , 2012

Filed under: Chapter Reports,News — Administrator @ 8:32 am
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A Note from Regional Director Naazish YarKhan:

As the New Year begins, I’m writing to thank you for your generosity with your time, cash, in-kind donations and patience. We are very, very pleased to welcome Br. Moinuddin who will be our new treasurer and Madiha Haroon who will handle our food vouchers.Madiha came by way of Talat Aalia, so inshallah every good that Madiha does, Aalia inshallah will get a share of the reward. Ameen. Farzana has been a great help as Treasurer, and also came by way of Aalia. She will be in touch with RAP, though not in a formal capacity. Jazak Allah Farzana for everything. Sarah Husain who has managed our website so far is due to have her baby any day now. I am looking forward to hearing whether it’s a girl or a boy. Please keep Sarah in your duas.

As We Sow, So Shall We Reap
This week I had the pleasure of working with two Iraqi families – one of whom wants to set up a business fixing garage doors and the other who wants to drive a taxi. It was so good to see them find out  details – whether for taxi driving, or links to the items the garage door man needed to start his business.  It is a HUGE blessing that RAP today has the money to help these people. Secondly, those things cost so much less than rent payments but will have so much more impact.
I was only too happy to introduce the garage door man to http://www.Vistaprints for free biz cards andblogspot.com, facebook, wordpress.com to make a free website. Even better, within hours, he had made his business card which RAP will sponsor ( shipping). His high school aged daughter is helping him with all this, and that too is such a rewarding thing to witness.
The person who wanted to be a taxi driver, originally wanted to be a security man. Since he’s had a knee operation, I told him to check whether that would be an issue.Alhamdollilhah, he and his wife did and they discovered he’d have to stand for long hours. So instead he decided to go the taxi driver training route. His wife is a civil engineer and is currently working at O’Hare with handicapped passengers who need help getting around. Please pray for her. Her husband speaks little English and she is his main pillar of support. She is looking into a nursing program.
Kiran has sent out a check to a Dentist who is doing his Kaplan program, so as to enter dental school here. We also sent out his CTA pass bus, this week. Alhamdollilah. Similarly, we’re paying for college for another man who had to make up the difference that his school loan didn’t cover.
Another lady we’d sponsored has now completed Part 2 of her coursework to be a dental assistant. I am going to be in touch with her to see what her next steps are.
Fatima Hindi and the lady with cancer who have been collaborating on a sewing business since 2011. We were able to find an Iraqi (coincidentally) store owner in Chicago who sells used industrial sewing machines who has promised to help these ladies.  Fatima Hindi has been doing good things – and not just for herself but for other widows and single moms, as a caterer and with the sewing. We are looking to support her with a car once our $5000 from Zakat Chicago materials, inshallah.
Alhamdollilah, it feels so good to see that we are making a difference in these lives. And to actually now have the time to talk to these people, I am realizing that half of one’s strength in life comes from just feeling heard and understood. Listening is an act of Ibadath, really.
For every time these families make dua for me and thank me, I remind them that it’s not just me but all of you, that have helped make this happen.
Jazak Allah everyone. RAP is what it is because of you.
On that note, onward, stronger, better. Ameen.
 

Interfaith News Brief August 2011 2 August , 2011

Dhaka: International interfaith workshop in Bangladesh affirms diversity 

Twenty-four participants and six facilitators from Nine countries gathered at the YMCA Training Center in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from July 9 to 24, 2011, for the interfaith workshop, “Dialogue in Diversity” hosted by the National Council of YMCAs of Bangladesh and conducted by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF), a joint program of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) in Hong Kong and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The participants included Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians from Cambodia, India, Laos, Pakistan and Thailand as well as Bangladesh. For the first time, an ICF program also included people from outside of Asia as seven participants from the YMCA in England took part as increasingly people of different faiths are finding themselves living in the same community, such as in Bradford.

On 9 July opening programme was chaired by Mr. Babu Markus Gomes, President of the National Council of YMCAs of Bangladesh and Father Benjamin Costa, CSC, Principal of the Notre Dame College was present as a chef guest. Max Ediger, Bruce Van Voorhis from ICF and Jose Varghese from APAY were attended as organizers. In the concluding ceremony Kohei Yamada, General Secretary of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) attended as a Chief Guest.

 

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Hands of Peace Picnic in Winnetka 27 July , 2011

Too hot for a picnic? Not for about 50 members of Hands of Peace. On Thursday night, July 21, about 50 teens from Israel and Palestine and the Chicago suburbs were hosted by Tom and Irene Smith of Winnetka for their third annual Hands of Peace picnic. Hands of Peace is an interfaith organization founded in 2002. Each summer, Hands of Peace brings together Israeli, Palestinian, and American teens for an 18-day experience of multiculturalism and coexistence. The young people develop peace-building and leadership skills.

After a day of dialogue and work on independent peace films, the “Hands” arrived at Elder Park for an old-fashioned American picnic. The temperature and humidity were very high, but the enthusiasm was higher. The picnic included kosher hot dogs, veggie burgers, hamburgers, and lots of salads and desserts. Music was provided by Bud Nichols of Glenview and Mario Paguirigan of Chicago. The Hands also learned to play softball. The “Cubs” and the “Sox” were coached by Tom Nathan of Wilmette and Matt Waskerwitz of Chicago. New Trier High School Varsity Basketball Coach Scott Fricke pitched for both teams and helped teach all the players.

Finally, everyone went down to Elder Beach before heading home with their host families.

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Dalai Lama speaks to an interfaith audience in Chicago 25 July , 2011

We’re all sentient beings desiring peace and happiness, the Dalai Lama repeated often during a panel discussion on “Bridging the Faith Divide” in Chicago Monday. “Nobody wakes up and thinks, ‘Today I should have more problems,’” he laughed.

While his message is simple, it has political and social implications, the panel shared.

Moderated by Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel (see “Have faith in our youth”), the panel consisted of American interfaith leaders along with his Holiness, who seemed more interested in listening than speaking. “I have nothing to say,” the Dalai Lama said to laughter when Patel asked him for his closing remarks.

Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of that Nation Council of Churches of Christ-USA, shared the importance of building relationships across faith communities to counter fringe elements in every community that want to fight each other. “If either side wins, we’re all in trouble,” she said.

Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, developed on this theme, saying he feels he has more in common with people whose worldview is based on love and generosity, regardless of religion, than he does with fellow Jews who focus on fear. Lerner urged the very receptive audience to join his Network of Spiritual Progressives or another group to find support for the work of compassion.

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Being With the Dalai Lama 21 July , 2011

I was honored to be invited to be on a panel with the Dalai Lama this week in Chicago. This is the third time I’ve been invited to be on a panel with him, and by now he recognizes me. His first words when we embraced yesterday were: “Last time your kippah was red, now it’s white — but very nice!” He was referring to the head covering that religious Jews wear on our heads, also known as “yalmekah” or skullcap. He had his usual twinkle in his eye and smile on his face. This great spiritual leader is renowned for his impish qualities, his humility, and his smarts, and all were in full view both Sunday, July 17th, when he addressed some 8,000 people in a huge auditorium in Chicago, and on Monday when we sat together on a panel in a smaller venue of 1,500 seats, every seat filled, and discussed interfaith connections.

Unlike Sunday, when the sound system was imperfect and it was sometimes hard to make out what he was saying, on Monday July 19th, it was impossible to not be astounded by the Dalai Lama’s combination of cleverness and spiritual depth. His themes are well known, and he returned them over and over again: the need for compassion, the importance of recognizing that all religions are pointing to the same realities, the centrality of non-violence in changing the world, and the need to work on one’s own spiritual life simultaneously with any work in changing the world.

 

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His Holiness Highlights Importance of Interfaith Dialogue 20 July , 2011

Chicago, Illinois, 18 July 2011 – On his last day of this two-city current tour of the United States, on July 18, 2011 morning, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in a dialogue with interfaith leaders in a session entitled, Building Bridges: Religious Leaders In Conversation With The Dalai Lama. Hosted by the Theosophical Society and held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago, it was attended by a sold-out crowd of 1500 people.

Theosophical Society President Tim Boyd introduced His Holiness to the audience. He recalled the visit of His Holiness to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in America, located in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1981. He said His Holiness had given a talk at a local school then but not many students knew who he was. Since then things have changed greatly, Mr. Boyd said adding that His Holiness has now become one of the most recognized and the most respected persons in the world. Mr. Boyd said that His Holiness’s continued call for adherence to the universal qualities to bring change to human hearts and minds have made him one of the greatest teachers in the world.

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Dalai Lama, Religious Leaders Seek Common Ground 19 July , 2011

Three religious scholars reflected upon oneness, humanity and compassion with His Holiness the 14thDalai Lama on Monday, capping the Tibetan spiritual leader’s fifth visit to Chicago.

The rabbi, pastor and Muslim scholar shared their thoughts with the Dalai Lama before a sold-out crowd at Harris Theater for Music and Dance inMillennium Park. Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core after an encounter with the Dalai Lama 13 years ago, moderated the panel.

Each religious leader shared how values of other religious traditions, namely Buddhism, had enriched their own spiritual journey. For example, RabbiMichael Lerner, activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, talked about not letting attachment to reality discourage him from seeking ideals.

 

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