Give Them a Hand Foundation (GTAH) responded to the call of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for Governments, Religious Organizations and the NGO community to organize events during the first week of February each year to promote Interfaith Harmony.
Recognizing the value of bringing people of different faiths and cultures closer together, GTAH and partnering organization the United African Congress, along with key sponsor, the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, seized the opportunity to engage the Diasporas of the many countries now domiciled in the United States. The organizers of the event hoped to promote the aims of World Interfaith Harmony Week, as proclaimed in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/65/5, and that their effort, even in some small measure, would help to enhance understanding and cooperation between immigrants of different faiths and religions and their adopted communities here in the United States. They intended their deliberations during Interfaith Week also to serve as a catalyst to the often disparate groups in their respective homelands.
GTAH Chairman Gordon Tapper, in addressing the Diasporas at the UN event, declared “We do not want this event to be a simple love-in but one that will eventually be able to influence behavior back home. We believe that the various Diasporas here in the United States who enjoy the benefits of freedom of speech, freedom of association and the opportunity to go where their abilities can take them, are perfectly positioned to play a role back in their respective homelands.”
The Panel Discussion, themed ‘The Role of the Diaspora: A Force for Positive Change’ held at the United Nations Headquarters on Monday February 6, was well attended and included leaders of five of the major faiths in the Tri-State area. The event was co-chaired by popular NY1TV News Anchor, Ms. Cheryl Wills and Mr. Mamadou Niang, CEO of NextMedia.
Amongst the faith-based leaders who participated were Rabbi Robert G. Kaplan, Director of C.A.U.S.E, formerly known as the New York Center for Community and Coalition Building, the Venerable Chuah Chen Shui, currently Abbess of the International Buddhist Progress Society and Representative of the Buddhist Light Organization at the United Nations, Reverend Jean Montas, Senior Pastor of Premier Eglise Methodist Unite in Brooklyn, NY, Reverend Demetrius Carolina, Senior Pastor of the First Central Baptist Church in Staten Island and Executive Director of the Staten Island Central Baptist Church, Imam Shamsi Ali, Chairman of Al Haikam Mosque in Astoria Queens, and Anindita Chatergee Baumik of the Hindi faith.
Amongst the non-faith based leaders who delivered statements were the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations, Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, Mr. Sidique Wai, President of the United African Congress and Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Chairman of the United African Congress.
This memorable event highlighted the great similarities in the core beliefs of the respective religions rather than their differences. The faith-based leaders and those in attendance, representing more than a dozen countries in Africa, several countries in the Caribbean as well as several in Asia, expressed their support for the meeting and requested that the momentum created be nurtured and expanded upon to increase participation in 2013 and eventually to become a force for positive change back in the various homelands, wherever they may be and wherever the need exists. You may click on the hyperlink below to read more:
Gordon TapperTags: Ban Ki-moon, Buddhist Light Organization, C.A.U.S.E., Cheryl Wills, First Central Baptist Church, International Buddhist Progress Society, Mamadou Niang, NextMedia, NY1 News Anchor, Premier Eglise Methodist Unite, Role of the Diaspora, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Staten Island Central Baptist Church, World Interfaith Harmony Week