2011-2012 Faiths Act Fellowship
Those who seek to cause religious conflict are small in number but highly motivated, organised and funded. While there are billions of people who are engaged in their own faith tradition, many have not yet learned how to live or work together well with those of different traditions.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation decided to tackle this challenge through organising a year-long Fellowship that brought together young people of different faiths to work toward better interfaith action. The Foundation selected 33 outstanding future leaders, who between July 2011 and June 2012, worked in interfaith pairs around the world. They built understanding between different religious communities by mobilising them around the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular around malaria prevention.
The Fellows represented a diverse cross section of the faith traditions: 11 were Christian, 10 Muslim, 5 Jewish, 3 Hindu, 2 Buddhist, 1 Baha’i, 1 Sikh and 1 Quaker. Thirty of the Fellows were placed in multi-faith pairs in Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the USA.
Four Fellows were placed in a multi-faith team in Sierra Leone, where the Faith Foundation is actively bringing Christian and Muslim leaders together to help prevent malaria in a country ravaged by the disease.
In interfaith pairs, these exceptional young organisers undertook a year of service at various host organisations in their respective countries. Their success was astounding. They reached out to tens of thousands of people about the devastating impact of malaria as well as related maternal and child health issues. Together they helped provide opportunities for faith communities around the world to work together to save the lives of those most affected by malaria. Just a few of their overwhelming achievements include:
- 1009 faith communities engaged of which 389 are new to interfaith action
- 28,103 individuals engaged - over half of which were new to interfaith action
- 17,580 hours of interfaith action
- Almost 100,000 GBP raised for malaria, and maternal and child health-related issues
These real results made a difference in people’s lives, and were done with a passion and commitment inspired by the Fellows' personal faith traditions. Around the world success stories coming out of the Fellows' work abound. In India, the Fellows created opportunities to improve health for those displaced in slums near New Delhi, and in Sierra Leone they have reached over 130,000 homes with life-saving health education, just to name a couple. Read more stories from the Fellows in their own words.
The Fellows and their host organisations demonstrated that though faith can be a source of division, conflict, and fear, it can also be a force for good in the world, and make a meaningful impact. They served as a concrete example of how faiths can work together to support those shared values that are universal in all traditions. Through their year they helped prove that faith communities can do more together than apart, particularly in regards to improving the health of the world’s most vulnerable.
They truly are change makers for the next generation, and will continue to bring the spirit of interfaith action to whatever they go on to do in the future. Read more about the Fellowship.