15 seconds, some math and how faiths can make all the differencePosted on June 30th, 2010 3 comments
A group of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and humanists walk into a room…
It seems like the first line of a joke but actually it was the start of the most amazing year of my life when 30 young people of faith gathered in a room together with a common cause to help the world’s poorest.
It’s been a month now since I have officially stopped being a Faiths Act Fellow, although to be honest I think at heart I will always be a Faiths Act Fellow. This year has been eventful to say the least. It was a rollercoaster working with London’s faiths communities – we had our ups and we had our downs but the impact we have had internationally has been phenomenal. My initial thoughts on leaving was a memory of something Tim Brauhn said when the Fellows first met in London – he described us as
“a 60-armed, 30-mouthed intercontinental juggernaut with a bone to pick with malaria.”
I couldn’t have said it any better 10 months on.
For our last week on the job all of the Faiths Act Fellows bar 1 (Bilal who under unfortunate circumstances was unable to be there) reunited in Chicago at the Inter Faith Youth Core (IFYC) headquarters for the launch of the Faiths Act Alumni. Each of us now more experienced, more confident and all very proud of the work we collectively have undertaken.
In the inaugural year of the Faiths Act Fellowship the Fellows had over 10,000 event attendees, reached out to 40,000 people, received over 350 (and counting) different types of press coverage and have trained bucket loads of new interfaith leaders. We far exceeded anyone’s expectations; the wonderful staff at The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the IFYC knew they had picked a handful of talented young leaders but they had no idea how far we would really take this multi-faith action on the Millennium Development Goals campaign and boy did we raise the bar.
The most taken aback from all the hard work the Fellows had done over the last 10 months was former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Tony has been there throughout, right in the middle of this campaign keeping track of the fellows through emails and telephone conversations. In Chicago he joined us for a video conference in which we fed back about some of the work we had done over the last 10 months. Tony was amazed by what he heard; to hear a former world leader genuinely tell us how inspired and empowered he felt by the work we have done gave me goose bumps. He told us how he meets with people trying to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems, and he sometimes wonders if it is achievable but when he hears the remarkable work of young people like us he knows that anything is possible.
The thing I am proudest about as a Faiths Act fellow is the amount of money we have raised and the lives that we will save because of it. In total we have raised about £100,000 which will be spread between 4 fantastic charities – Project Muso, Spread the Nets, Malaria No More and Malaria No More UK. When Tony Blair announced that figure our eyes lit up full of pride and then with the trademark grin that reminisced from the classic Prime Minister’s Question days Tony said ‘plus the match’. Mr Blair has promised to match pound for pound all money raised by the Faiths Act Fellows which brought the total up to £200,000.
Throughout the year a lot of the campaign was around the message that a child dies every 30 seconds due to malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. I later learned that this statistic has now changed to a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria. I quote Amy McNair in saying I never knew 15 seconds could be so important to me. Let us do the maths here
There is 864,000 seconds in a day
864,000 / 30 = 28,800 deaths according to last year’s stats
864,000 / 45 = 19,200 deaths according to current stats
28,800 – 19,200 = 9600
Every day because of just 15 seconds 9600 more children are surviving from this preventable disease. I’d like to think that faith communities from across the globe in 70 different countries led by the 30 Faiths Act Fellows coming together and uniting to beat Malaria, one of the biggest injustices the world has ever seen, have played a part in saving those lives no matter how insignificant each individual may think their role has been.
This journey would never have been complete if I hadn’t met 29 of the most inspirational and talented people, the other Fellows. You will never find a group of more passionate young social entrepreneurs who are a living example of what happens when you get faiths working together for the common good.
I just want to finish this blog thanking the fellows and thanking the staff of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Inter Faith youth Core since we couldn’t have done it without your very hard work.
In the Quran there is a passage I always reflect on and take inspiration from daily which is Chapter 5 verse 32, ‘He who saves a single life, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.’ All those involved in the Faiths Act campaign have played their part in saving all of mankind and you should be very proud of yourselves.
I highly recommend the fellowship program which is to start again in 2011 to apply visit www.faithsactfellows.org although I warn you, you have a hard act to follow!!
Right on, dude. Sometimes it felt like we weren’t making a difference, but I know that we were part of a much larger movement. Great post.
Agree every word of this,mate. Now, forever, a faiths act alumni!
Nadeem – brother, this is super thanks for such an inspiring blog – has made me somewhat nostalgic! Just want to echo Mike – hope Faiths Act Forever.
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