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Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Project in Multan, Pakistan

Multan, Pakistan - The Society for the Promotion of Education and Awareness (SEAP Pakistan) along with Religious Youth Service-Pakistan organized a second RYS project in Pakistan with the theme “Youth of Faith Build Peace by Practicing Love and Service” from March 18 – 23, 2013. RYS-Pakistan invited local and international youths to come together to explore and experience cultural unity through working together in a volunteer service project in one of the ancient cities of Asia, Multan. Participants attended an International Peace Conference, planted trees in various religious institutions, and visited historical places in Multan.

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Although due to concerns about security, few international delegates were able to get a visa to come to Pakistan, four international delegates were able to participate: Mr. Piya Ratna Maharjan from Nepal, Mr. Tomo Matsumura from Japan, and Mr. Oliver Perret and Ms. Jenny Zeng, Ambassadors for Peace from Australia.The local administration and security branch of the government of Pakistan fully cooperated by providing police escorts for the international delegates when they traveled to various historical places and religious sites.

International Peace Conference

A three-day International Peace Conference took place March 18-20 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, during which a total of 40 people between the ages of 18 and 40 participated. The national delegates were drawn from areas of conflict within Pakistan and invited to discuss as brothers and sisters the prospect of “living without wars,” especially those in the name of religion.

The conference focused on conflict, cultural heritage and regional development in a multidisciplinary and broad sense. It was intended to spark discussion of ideas and ideals, visions, concepts, experiences and aspirations as a base for developing concrete proposals for action by Pakistani youth leaders, with inspirations about peacebuilding from international delegates.

The conference focused on peace - both internal and external, individual and collective - as essential for human progress and global harmony. Peace perishes with the use of unjust force, because no matter which side of the fence people are on, they are bound to lose. Upholding justice and human rights, eradicating poverty, as well as inculcating moral values based on our Creator's divine guidance are essential for achieving peace. It was asserted that peace is based on good governance and morally sound human beings.

The conference also aimed to increase participants’ understanding of the perceptions, processes and problems related to the religious institutions in Pakistan. In keeping with the multidisciplinary nature of the conference, social, political, economic and development concerns were also addressed. International speakers introduced ways to develop peace institutions that can help prevent future conflicts, using case studies from Japan,Nepal and Australia.

For people of all beliefs, the conference was a great learning opportunity. Participants reflected on their understanding of other faiths and correct any misunderstandings in the light of talks by authoritative and distinguished speakers.

Experiential learning

Community-based service: Participants took part in planting young trees in religious institutions of both Muslims and Christians. They planted approximately 400 saplings at four sites.

Values education and leadership training: This was a strong part of the project, and religious experts, educators, scholars, and development specialists delivered high-quality sessions on peacebuilding and strengthening relationships among religious groups. They offered insights from different religions regarding peace, leadership and strategic solutions for issues facing Pakistan.

Interfaith visits and dialogues: This was the most interesting part of the project, in which all participants visited Hindu, Muslim and Christian places of worship. During these visits, various religious leaders shared about the history of religion in Pakistan, strategies for peacebuilding among the religious groups, creating harmony, and promoting the message of love and humanitarian concern.

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