19-11-2012: WATER – CHILD VICTIM: interculturel, interreligious, intergenerational event

Interfaith, intercultural and intergenerational Celebration –

EU Commission – Brussels – 19-11-2012

Mrs. Ecaterina Evanghescu, Ms. Vera L.Ferreira, François Lebecq.

On the 19th of November 2012, an important European Interfaith Celebration took place at the European Commission in Brussels.  The theme was “The right of children to water and to live in a world without violence”. This event took place in the framework of the “Water Campaign” launched by Religions for Peace Europe and the “World Day of Prayer and Action for Children”, which is celebrated every year in all continents on the occasion of the Anniversary of the Convention for the Rights of the Child.
 One hundred participants from fourteen European countries attended this event coming from six different religions and faiths; Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant), Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Bahá’I. A Hindu and a Christian youth welcomed the participants, underlying the importance for them, in an event with religious leaders and people of faith committed to work for their rights, to be able to raise their voices about the issues of water and violence that affect children.

A panel of specialist on water and child rights1 provided the participants and specially the children with information about the situation of children affected by the lack of clean water and violence. The representative of UNICEF at the EU Institutions underlined the good collaboration they have with faith communities in Europe and other parts of the world. He also underlined the importance of religions in working for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A symbolic moment on the topic of water brought together a group of children from various religious and ethnic backgrounds. To the rhythm of soft music they communicated the sacredness, beauty and purity of water. A panel-conversation of children from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions shared their voices on the dramatic situation that affect children who don’t have access to clean water, while it is being wasted in many parts of Europe. It was a call to moderation and responsibility. In response to the question about what they could do to help children affected by bullying, they underlined the importance of offering spaces for personal encounter and exploration of what are the things that unite them. The importance of promoting mutual respect and understanding was underlined by young people through a beautiful and powerful dance.

A group of distinguished religious leaders  coming from different parts of Europe reflected on the “contributions of religious communities in promoting the rights of children to water and to a dignified life free of violence“.  They all affirmed the importance of water and children in their religious traditions and the importance to do more in the creation of a world that respect water as a source of life and in working for the right of all children to live without violence.

Kristīne Jansone, Bishop Carlos Gomez Lozano, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp,  Rev. Sorin Selaru, Mrs. Brigitte Chevalier.

Prayers for Children were led by Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’I participants.

Through a symbolic act of taking water from a well and giving it to children, religious leaders recommitted themselves to continue working for the protection of the sacred water and the rights of all children to a life free of violence. Each Child put a flower in the water remembering children who suffer from various forms of violence.

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp et Sabrina Didri                                                            Phra Sudhinanavides et Jaêlle Godfroid

Bishop Carlos Gomez Lozano, Mohammed Jamouchi, Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Iris Hustin, Sabrina Didri, Jaëlle Godfroid, Pra Sudhinanavides.

Practical perspectives were presented by various participants3 , notably the project of a Training Camp on the Danube of Religions for Peace Europe, which will gather young people from different cultures and regions around the theme of water. The “Learning to Live Together” manual4 was introduced as one of the tools for the intercultural and interfaith formation of young people during the Camp.
Toward the end of the event the organizers5  underlined the importance of a common vision shared by the participants and institutions represented in the event. This vision is to create a world where all children can exercise their right to water and live free of violence.  They also underlined the importance of nurturing hope and working hand in hand with children and young people as full citizens of Europe. The event finished by the reading of this beautiful poem:

« La connaissance par la rencontre, le dialogue et l’action commune peut endiguer  toute violence.
Cela nous conduit à la question :
Qui sommes-nous?  Qui suis-je?
Une goutte d’eau issue de l’océan éternel
 transparente, translucide
qui laisse passer la lumière divine pour irriguer la terre?
Ou, une goutte qui poursuit des intérêts obscures
   s’alourdit, devient opaque
qui, goutte à goute incite à la haine,
devient ce trou noir qui absorbe tout pour engendrer  la mort?
 Ou,
reliées à d’autres gouttes qui peuvent constituer une force dynamique
 une marée montante
qui engendre la vie,
et prend soin des petits?
 Puissions-nous t’accueillir, oh Source Divine
Pour irriguer les rives de chacune de nos cellules
Pour fertiliser nos cœurs
Et faire fleurir la paix »
(Yolande Iliano)
Read more:

     – Statement resulting from this event

     – “Water Campaign” and “The Rights of all Children to live without Violence lecture by Dr. Mustafa Ceric

     – Guide: from UNICEF-Religouis for Peace : ” What religious communities can do to eleminate violence against children”

Written by RfP Europe

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