Two locally led projects took place during 2005 in Burundi and Nepal.
Burundi – Rumonge
Tying in with our Human Rights Education work, this useful experiment aimed at raising awareness of religious tolerance in schools in & around the capital Bujumbura. Led by Fulgence Ndagijimana, an interfaith young adult team visited Rumonge, about 70km south of Bujumbura, where good support from the school authorities meant 300 happy & co-operative students were present (with ten of the school’s 17 Muslims present, along with Protestants but minus Pentecostals).
With Burundi’s politicians discussing the constitution which will guide the country, one team speaker spoke on the Burundian constitution, the first article of which declares Burundi to be a secular state allowing every citizen the right to worship individually or as a community. The Catholic majority had prepared so many of their songs, they had to be asked to allow time for others!
An interfaith group of 25 pupils has been formed, six of them Muslim.
Nepal – Kathmandu
Weekend of 22nd & 23rd January, 2005
This programme’s stimulus came from three Nepali participants in RFYN’s South India project last year; they had become concerned to show solidarity with Nepali Muslims whose main mosque was attacked by a mob on 1 st September 2004, after news of the killings of some Nepali soldiers in Iraq. This was the first attack in the 800-year history of the Nepali Jama’at Mosque, the biggest in the country, where around 8,000 worship every Friday. Monetary loss was calculated at around 250 000 Nepali Rupees, and with hundreds of policemen simply looking on, more than 400 copies of the Holy Qur’an were destroyed.
On a pilgrimage to various holy places on Day Two of the programme, therefore, a Qur’an was donated in solidarity, and accepted by the Jama’at Mosque with great pleasure.
Other sites visited were: the Nepal Christian Association Church; one of the biggest & oldest Tibetan Buddhist temples; the Lalitpur temples, constructed by the Hindu kings & around 400 years old; and, the temple of the goddess Kali (Dhurga). The programe had begun the day before with a 98-member interfaith group (95% young adults, with substantial female participation) meeting in a vibrant self-conducted question-&-answer session lasting over an hour and a half. Leaders from the different religious traditions spoke.