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Monday 6 June 2011

Faith, Poverty and Development Seminar

Faith, Poverty and Development Seminar - 2nd May, City Hall, Cardiff
- report by Ngakma Nor'dzin Pamo, Chairperson, Buddhist Council of Wales

The seminar was organised by Cyfanfyd, the Welsh organisation supporting ESDGC (Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship).
It was attended by representatives from the following organisations:
South Riverside Community Development Centre; Caerphilly Borough Council; Hindu Community; GOT project; Education and School Improvement Service; Valleys Regional Equality Council; Rhondda Cynon Taf; Save the Children; ESOL; The Boys Brigade; One World Week; WEA; Christian Aid; Oxfam; Islamic Relief; Ethnic Youth Support Team; South People's Projects; Welsh Assembly Government; Cardiff Council; Life Map Planners

The seminar began with a highly personal and moving keynote speech by Omer Williams who works for the Welsh Assembly Government.  He talked of his travels after converting to Islam when he was 17 and of Islamaphobia. After this there were three short speeches from representatives of Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and Oxfam.  It was inspiring to hear of their work and aspirations. 

There then followed a choice of two out of three workshops.  These were:
  • Faith and development - looking at the influence of faith in the past and how it can contribute in the future with regard to international development; 
  • Faiths in the Media - how the faiths are represented in the media; 
  • Faith Tools and Resources - faith as a tool and resource for development in schools and communities.  
Choosing two was difficult as they all sounded interesting, but I decided on Faiths in the Media before lunch and Faith Tools and Resources after lunch.
Faiths in the Media was a slightly misleading title, as only one faith was looked at: the Muslim faith.  It was an interesting and informative workshop and I was shocked to discover quite how biased media reporting is towards a negative view of Muslims.  I was a little disappointed however that no other faiths were considered, though perhaps this was unrealistic to expect in the time available.

Faith Tools and Resources focused on One World Week.  It was more interactive than the previous workshop and included an exercise to guess from which religion came a set of scriptural quotations.  Working with my partner we only got three correct and I did not guess the Buddhist quotation correctly!  It was fascinating to see how similar were the messages of all the quotations.

I enjoyed the seminar and valued meeting new people from different organisations and faith groups.

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