Tony Blair matches malaria money raised by Foundation's Faiths Act Fellows
The inaugural Faiths Act Fellowship has been a huge success.
The 30 Faiths Act Fellows from the UK, USA and Canada have been building multi-faith relationships for the past 8 months by encouraging different faith communities to work together to raise funds and awareness to tackle malaria and other global issues. Organised by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, this pioneering young interfaith leadership programme which paired 30 young Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Humanists, was designed to show that when people of different religions work together towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) they can have a crucial role in reducing conflict and saving lives.
Through their multi-faith community fundraising initiatives the Faiths Act Fellows have raised nearly £100,000 - which Tony Blair has personally matched bringing the total funds to almost £200,000. All of the money will go to leading charities in the fight against malaria including Malaria No More UK. During their fellowship these young people have had a huge impact in their local communities; reaching over 40,000 people and inspiring over 10,000 to act. The Faiths Act campaign will now be carried on by committed volunteers in 75 countries across the world, with 12 cities in the UK, USA and Canada at the forefront of this initiative.
Highlights of their time include Congregations Act, a campaign to challenge congregations of diverse faiths from across Canada to take the “10 Nets for 2010 Challenge” and each raise money for 10 life saving bed nets . Over 50 Congregations from all over Canada took part; from Halifax on the east coast to the prairie communities of Saskatoon and Manitoba. In the UK organising the biggest World Malaria Day event in the UK, at Holy Trinity Brompton Church, London; a multi-faith sky dive where young people of faith plunged 13,000 feet and raised over £10,000 for Malaria No More UK; winning a 'Living in Faith' award at Birmingham’s ‘Pride in Handsworth’ Awards; giving a sermon on malaria at Blackburn Cathedral (the first time a Muslim has spoken at the Cathedral) and a multi-faith clean up in Leicester town centre.
In the US some of the big moments include the nationwide series of awareness raising ‘Sleep Outs To End Malaria’ with students of diverse faiths; a service and dialogue weekend, taking young people of different faiths from Washington DC to New Orleans; cross-campus leadership initiatives in both the Bay Area and Washington DC, bringing together students from different campuses and faiths for raise funds and awareness for malaria; an international conference call bringing volunteers together with together the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, and American Idol star and malaria advocate Melinda Doolittle; the ‘Notes For Nets’ fundraising concert marking World Malaria Day in Portland; and a US-wide young leadership conference on multi-faith action on the MDGs, in San Francisco.
Toronto based Faiths Act Fellow Danny Richmond reflects on his time as a fellow and what he has learned t; “ Before my reaction to religious tension in the world was to ignore it and to consider rejecting my own faith as a way to deal with it. Now I feel like I can do something about it.”
The fellows have inspired many young people to carry on their work and volunteer Jayne Buchanan has joined the Faiths Act campaign and see’s the huge potential of this initiative to transform her local community in Lambeth; “I think this campaign is about much more than money; it’s really about change. Change in our local community and change in our global community. ‘Night Under Nets" proved just what we can achieve if we come together under a common purpose. This campaign begins in our backyard, but it spans international borders. By empowering people in our local areas to work together, we can equip countless people across the globe with the most basic of human needs.”
Below are some quotes from people who have been inspired by the fellows work:
The work of the Faiths Act campaign has received international recognition. Raymond G. Chambers, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria and Malaria No More co-founder, says: “The Faiths Act Fellows have filled a tremendous void and created a blueprint to harness the power of youth, faith and activism in the global movement to end extreme poverty. I am thrilled that malaria was the initial focus of the Faiths Act Fellowship. I have witnessed the Fellows impact and importance first hand in raising awareness across the globe and activating the masses on behalf of ending this terrible disease. In addition, the funds raised by the Faiths Act Fellows will help us to meet the United Nations Secretary General’s call for universal coverage of malaria interventions by December 31, 2010. Thank you for your service and commitment and I hope that each of you will continue to use your skills, talent and leadership on behalf of humanity.”
Eboo Patel, Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core is thrilled with the results of the inaugural Fellowship: "I am delighted to congratulate the Faiths Act Fellows on their outstanding year of service raising awareness and significant funds for the fight against malaria. Watching them act together on a value they share across lines of religion - preciousness of life - has inspired me. The Interfaith Youth Core has been proud to work with Tony Blair Faith Foundation and see the efforts of these outstanding young leaders make a huge impact in building bridges of understanding in communities around the world through dynamic interfaith cooperation and inspired service projects.”
“I have followed the Faiths Act Fellows’ journey closely since I first met them in Chicago last year. I have been inspired by the creativity, commitment and passion they’ve shown encouraging people of faith to work together to fight against malaria. It was on an update phone call in November when I heard first hand all of the great work each of the pairs were doing in their local communities that I decided to match all the money they raised to combat malaria. I am very proud to have worked with these young people and look forward to watching the movement they’ve started grow and expand in the coming years,” says Tony Blair, Patron and Founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.