Mutual Aid Initiatives to Support Migrants and Local Initiatives

Mutual Aid Initiatives to Support Migrants, Refugees and Victims of Armed Conflict.


RostamMaya_paixMaya Rostam, a Syrian child-refugee, was discovered in the photography workshops created by Iranian photojournalist Reza while he was visiting Kawergosk Refugee Camp. “I (have) always communicated through photographs and words, this mix helps us to better understand (the) values we have in common. For this exhibition, A Dream of Humanity (Paris, October 2015), I wanted to highlight seven words which are part of our Humanity’s values. Here is one.”

Refugee camps are, for the Iranian photographer, a “land” he knows well. It is suffering he has seen many times and has photographed extensively…

If Reza captures human suffering so accurately, it may be because he himself knows the wounds of exile. Since he was forced to leave Iran in 1981, Reza has been relentlessly photographing wars and the suffering they bring. For over thirty-five years, he who has become one of the most recognized photojournalists in the world has born witness to the refugee situation throughout the world. He has been awarded many distinctions for his photographic work and for his humanitarian commitment.

In a newly established camp, Reza arrived with an idea: initiate children to photography. As he surveyed the alleyways of the Kawergosk camp for his own portfolio, he set up a temporary photography workshop.

She stands there in front of the tent. It requires patience and a silent presence. She has heard the news. On the second day of the photography course, I notice her. It’s her first time there. She observes and listens to our small group of 10 young students from afar. For two days, Maya Rostam, 12-years-old, does not leave us. It is the end of the day when the cold night falls on the camp and everyone disperses to their semblance of a home, in a tent, huddled against one another.

At the end of the second day, I approached her and asked about her constant presence. She tells me about the sounds of war, the long, grueling road of exodus, the scolding sun that beats down upon the survivors and the fatigue of the flight.

And since then, her life in the camp, with its rows of tents, and the occasional lull that makes them believe there is still the possibility of a new life. The days pass, and then months. An immense feeling of boredom invades her every day, the feeling of not living a real life, but a life of survival. I ask her why she is present and her answer reminds me of a child in Tabriz whom I photographed. Maya Rostam said:

“I want to learn photography because I believe that with it, everyone can see what I feel and how we live.”

So, I went to buy other cameras to expand the class, since, like Maya, other children follow us with the same enthusiasm. By the evening, she left with a camera. Her mission? To photograph at night. I added that I would like to see these photographs and if they are good, she could join the course.

Maya clenched the camera like a treasure and ran into the night amid the rows of tents before even fully learning how to use it.

But the next morning, Maya is not there. I am concerned and inquire about her absence, but no one knows which tent is hers. I remain confident.

The course begins. Maya appears and advances timidly. She is embarrassed, terribly embarrassed. I asked her about the delay. She said nothing and lowered her head.

I am busy with other students, but I repeat the question: “Why are you late?”

RostamMaya_chaussures gelées_RezaWithout a word, she extends her camera out towards me to show me this image. She adds in an almost inaudible voice: “My shoes were frozen; I had to wait to put them on.”

I have never been so deeply touched by the symbolic power of an image.

Today, Maya Rostam a 12-year-old Syrian refugee in the Kawergosk camp in Iraq is one of the best students. She is becoming a visual narrator of her own story.

Nomination submitted by

Marie-Hélène Carette

For further information:

Find out more about Reza’s creative process on “Œil pour Œil,” a program dedicated to his work (in French):

Reza’s photography workshops exist because of the story of Maya, 9 years old:é/

Exile Voices: Images by the Children of Kawergosk Refugee Camp:

Children of Kawergosk Photography Workshop | ARTE Info (in French):

A Dream of Humanity, a photographic mosaic by Reza with Ali Bin Thalith and Syrian children refugees (in French):

From shipwreck to becoming an entrepreneur

Lieutenant Antonio Dovizio of the Italian Navy, just returned from a year at sea performing search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, where his crew rescued more than 5000 people. With Tareke Brhane, a former Eritrean refugee, now a European citizen, who made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea, he founded the organization, the 3rd of October Committee. Underlining our human connection, Dovizio said, “When you come across a shipwreck, you don’t ask about their nationality, race or status, if they are a refugee or a migrant. You ask if the people are alive or dead.”

Muslim-Jewish Forum Celebrates Efforts
to Resettle Syrian Refugees

2015-12-15-21-04-25-1On the evening of Tuesday, December 15, the recently created Montreal Muslim-Jewish Forum (MMJF), held a Season of Twinning event at the historic Atwater Public Library in Westmount. The event, which was sponsored by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) featured Rabbi Lisa Gruschcow of Temple Emanu-El Beth Shalom in Montreal and Shaheen Ashraf, Secretary of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Montreal Chapter on the subject of “Welcoming Syrian Refugees: Muslims and Jews -s Working Together.” Dr. Karen Mock brought greetings from the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims.

Rabbi -Grushcow, who wrote a ground-breaking article in the Montreal Gazette last September entitled “Why Our Congregation is Sponsoring At Least One Syrian Refugee Family”, gave an inspiring overview of how her congregation has moved forward with determination on the project in the months since then; including raising more than $60,000 and filing papers to bring at least two Syrian families to Montreal in coordination with relatives already here, and beginning the process of helping to find employment for members of the soon-to-arrive families.

In the general discussion that followed the presentation by Rabbi Grushcow and Ms. Ashraf, members of the two communities agreed to explore ways to cooperate on facilitating the integration of Syrian and other refugees, making a contribution to the fight against obstacles to immigrant integration and standing together against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. Follow-up plans are to convene the planning committee of the Montreal Muslim-Jewish Forum next month to develop a concrete agenda for ongoing Muslim-Jewish cooperation in Montreal in both the Anglophone and Francophone sectors.


Local Initiatives that Support Human Dignity
on a Daily Basis

How to turn strangers into dinner companions

static1.squarespace.comUnited Invitations is about food, language and social interaction. It’s about making memorable meals and new dinner constellations happen.

The meal is a dinner, free of charge, and in someone’s home. The meal takes place with no strings attached, and signing up includes no obligations, apart from serving food at the agreed time.

Host and guests participate out of their own free will and with responsibility for themselves.

At least one of the participants should be a person who has moved to this country from a different country. The guest is always welcomed to bring one person along to the dinner.

Peace and the City

peace-prize_1 The Union of Dutch Cities and the cities of Barcelona and Bogotá have initiated a new peace prize. The UCLG City of Bogotá Peace Prize is a triennial award for (a coalition of) local governments that have implemented innovative initiatives in conflict prevention, conflict resolution or peace building, that are proven to have had a significant positive impact.

Terrorists Want To Divide Us. This Muslim-Jewish Service Project Is Celebrating Unity Instead

Muslims Against Hunger

Volunteers from both faiths will join to feed homeless people in New York City.

Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, was feeding homeless people in Boston’s central public park with a group of volunteers when he first learned of the attacks in Paris the previous night.

As the group made their rounds, a homeless man asked one of the volunteers what church she belonged to. Upon learning that she was Muslim, the man asked if she had poisoned the food. Five minutes later, Hassan told The Huffington Post, another man bit into a hummus sandwich handed to him by a volunteer and said, “This is delicious!”

The irony of those two very different exchanges, within minutes of one another, struck Hassan.

On Sunday, Muslims Against Hunger is partnering with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and The Brotherhood Synagogue in New York City for a Muslim-Jewish rally and community service project. The event has taken place annually for five years, Hassan said, but this year’s gathering will take on new importance in the wake of Friday’s attacks.

A Vision Of Peace As Muslims, Jews
‘Spread Hummus Not Hate’

HummusPeaceHummus is a signature dish of Middle Eastern cuisine — a delicious spread made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and seasonings.

On Thursday, hummus will become a symbol of peace as 15 Muslim and Jewish activists break bread together and participate in an all-day bus tour of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia with a message of reconciliation. Bearing trays of homemade hummus and pita bread, the activists hope to spread the message that Muslims and Jews refuse to be enemies.

The activists will share hummus and pita with people they meet during the day and invite members of the public to sign a “Stand Up for the Other Pledge” created by Dr. Ali Chaudry, President of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

They Decided to Use Their Respective Positions
to Reach Out to Each Other

Aram-Daphna-Osnat-lady-on-the-right-e1384358011377-269x300When violence broke out in the Galilee in October 2000, the ensuing destruction deepened tensions between the Jewish town of Karmiel and the neighboring Arab community of Majd Al Kurum. In the wake of the unrest, Osnat Aram-Daphna, principal of the Kalanit school in Karmiel, and Najeeba Sirhan, principal of Al Salaam school in Majd Al Kurum, decided to use their respective positions to reach out to each other.

Together, Osnat and Najeeba promoted open dialogue and understanding between their communities through education. They participated in a program organized by the mayor of Karmiel, leadership of the Arab villages in the Galilee, and the Ministry of Education to promote partnerships among Arab and Israeli educators.

The beginning was difficult and many people were skeptical. Osnat and Najeeba went from one educator to another, attempting to persuade them to become involved. Eventually, they each found 10 teachers who were willing to take the necessary risk, beginning a process of reconciliation for these two small towns.
After one year of meeting regularly, the group of 20 educators found that they had established a network of mutual understanding and trust. Osnat and Najeeba considered how to expand the process beyond the walls of their schools. Their vision was to create a forum for transforming patterns of prejudice and intolerance on a grander scale throughout their two communities.

Because of the transformative power of education, residents of Karmiel and Majd Al Kurum are able to interact as neighbors.

Homeboy Industries, an alternative to violence

4T7A1886Much violent conflict takes place outside of war zones, often in urban areas. In Los Angeles, Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, offers youth an alternative to the dangerous streets through job training and employment at his organization, Homeboy Industries. He said, “We have to stand against the idea that some lives are worth more than others.” In his Peace Talk, he described how youth learn to work alongside former enemies, a transformation many did not believe possible.

One of San Francisco’s toughest schools transformed
by the power of meditation

4928There was a time when Visitacion Valley middle school in San Francisco could have featured in a gritty US crime drama. Surrounded by drugs and gang violence, the kids were stressed out and agitated. One day children came in to find three dead bodies dumped in the schoolyard. “In 2006 there were 38 killings in our neighbourhood,” says Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s head of physical education (PE). He says the lives of students were infected by violence in the community, and several fights would break out every day.

In 2007 a meditation programme called Quiet Time was brought in to meet some of these challenges. “When I first heard about it I thought it probably wasn’t going to work,” says O’Driscoll. “We get thrown a new thing every couple of years so I didn’t put too much faith in it.” But in April, just a month after meditation began, teachers noticed changes in behaviour. “Students seemed happy,” says O’Driscoll. “They worked harder, paid more attention, were easier to teach and the number of fights fell dramatically.”

The programme, introduced to all ages, sees students sit for 15 minutes of meditation twice a day. Classes take place at students’ desks after the qualified TM teacher rings a bell. Students then repeat a personal mantra (a word from Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language) in their heads until they reach a deep feeling of relaxation. Sometimes the whole school meets to meditate in assemblies.

Before the students learn to meditate, the Quiet Time programme requires all staff to be trained in TM. O’Driscoll was sceptical at first about mediating himself, but since giving it a try he can concentrate better and feels less stressed.


Support these actions for Peace!

Compose a comment of support at the bottom of the page on the website or email at:

The initiatives that receive enough support, in the form of comments that add up to 100 lines of text, will automatically be nominated for the Public Peace Prize – Read the details.


Interreligious Initiatives and Global Actions to Create a Peaceful World


Interreligious Initiatives that Bring Leaders
and Citizens Together to Create
a More Harmonious and Equitable World

Muslim Passengers Shield Christians in Kenya Bus Attack


In a suspected Al Shabab attack that has left two dead, some Muslims stood up in support of their fellow Christian riders, daring attackers to kill them too.

Two people were killed in an attack on a passenger bus in northeast Kenya Monday when suspected Al Shabab militants tried to separate Christian passengers from Muslims aboard, Kenyan officials said.

Three people, including the bus driver were seriously injured in the early morning attack when the bus was heading from the Kenyan capital Nairobi to Mandera town.

The casualty figure could have been much higher in the incident; however, some Muslim passengers reportedly stood up in support of their fellow Christian riders, daring the attackers to kill them too.

“The Muslims stood with the Christians and dared the attackers to kill them all or leave,” Mandera Governor Ali Roba told Anadolu Agency.

Overlapping Jewish, Muslim Holidays Prompt Cooperation In Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (RNS) An interfaith group gathered in a private home Monday (Sept. 21) to head off potential tensions over how Jews and Muslims celebrate Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha, two holidays that overlap this year.

An interfaith group gathered in a private home on Sept. 21, 2015 to diffuse potential tensions over how Jews and Muslims celebrate Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha, two holidays that overlap this year. Two dozen people of various faiths heard a rabbi explain the laws and traditions of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and a Muslim sheikh explain the laws and traditions of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that honors the willingness of Ibrahim (the biblical Abraham) to heed God's order to sacrifice his son. Photo courtesy of The Abrahamic Reunion

Two dozen people of various faiths heard a rabbi explain the laws and traditions of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and a Muslim sheikh explain the laws and traditions of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that honors the willingness of Ibrahim (the biblical Abraham) to heed God’s order to sacrifice his son.

The day culminated with an interfaith peace walk between the eastern and western parts of the city. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and considers it part of its capital. The Palestinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

John Dabis, an American-born Palestinian peace activist who attended the Abrahamic Reunion meeting, said hating Israelis will not bring either people closer to peace.

“If Jews and Arabs don’t get to know each other on a grass-roots level, nothing will change,” said Dabis, who recently co-founded “Home,” a Jewish-Arab outreach organization. He lives in the Palestinian city of Ramallah. His Jewish co-founder, Inon Dan Kahati, lives in Jerusalem.

Dabis has suffered from a progressive neurological condition since 2001, when, he said, Israeli soldiers fired gas at his car when he inadvertently entered a closed military zone. He uses a wheelchair.

Putting aside bitterness and engaging in coexistence work, he said, helped him emerge from the two-year depression he endured immediately after being injured.

A terrorist attack prompted Elana Rozenman, Abrahamic Reunion co-founder and founder of TRUST-Emun, a multifaith peace organization for women, to engage in coexistence work.

In 1997, her son, Noam, was badly injured in a bombing in downtown Jerusalem. At the hospital, she was whisked into the emergency room.

“I was approached by this doctor, who told me his name was Dr. Khoury. I said: ‘That’s an Arab name. One Arab tried to kill my son and you’re trying to save him.’ I realized that I could go in the direction of ‘All Arabs want to kill us,’ but instead I saw that every person is a human being and some are good and some are bad.”

All too often, Rozenman said, Three women hold hands during the interfaith peace walk between the eastern and western parts of Jerusalem on Sept. 21, 2015 after an interfaith group gathering between Jews and Muslims. Photo courtesy of The Abrahamic Reunion
“we see religion being used as a pretext for violent acts and violent words. Religions are not in conflict. People use religion to create conflict.”

Rozenman said the 15 years she has spent working with like-minded Muslims, Christians, Jews and Druze is her way of “strengthening the forces of sanity and nonviolence so other mothers do not have to suffer what I suffered.”

Combating Religious Prejudice

LogoWithCombatingPrejudiceLong-300x56Tanenbaum offers real world solutions to a real world problem: religious discrimination and hate.

Tanenbaum’s vision is a safe world in which religious differences are respected and daily life reflects the highest values of our shared religious and ethical traditions.

Tanenbaum designs trainings and educational resources to change the way people treat one another and to celebrate the richness of our country’s diversity.

In every conflict, you can find men and women driven by their religious beliefs and ready to risk their lives to end death and destruction. From every different religion, Tanenbaum seeks these heroes out. They name them Peacemakers in Action and invite them to join their Peacemakers in Action Network. Each Peacemaker has a unique personal history and approach to making the world safe.

Tanenbaum facilitates their Network, enabling the Peacemakers to support one another and share knowledge and skills.

Imam, Rabbi And Pastor Join Hands
In Powerful Display Of Unity

main dans la mainThe November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris has left the world reeling. Once again, religion is at the crux of a tragedy that has threatened to tear the global community apart.

But in Bethesda, Maryland, Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders stood together over the weekend to share a message of solidarity. Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church hosted an interfaith service on Sunday joined by members of the Bethesda Jewish Congregation and the Islamic Community Center of Potomac.

Dr. Tarek Elgawhary of the ICCP, Rabbi Schnitzer of BJC and Pastor David Gray of BHPC lead the congregation through a conversation entitled, “The Pitfalls and Promise of Fear in Our Traditions and World.”

Religions for Peace – International

twoReligions for Peace advances common action among the world’s religious communities for peace.

Multi-religious cooperation for peace is the hallmark of Religions for Peace. This cooperation includes but also goes beyond dialogue and bears fruit in common concrete action. Through Religions for Peace, diverse religious communities discern “deeply held and widely shared” moral concerns, such as transforming violent conflict, promoting just and harmonious societies, advancing human development and protecting the earth. Religions for Peace translate these shared moral concerns into concrete multi-religious action and public statements.

More at: /

The Vienna Declaration Welcoming the Other —A Multi-Religious Vision of Peace (2013)

Richard Renshaw


Global Actions to Create a Peaceful World

The state-of-the-art peace innovation that could finally resolve a 50-year war

ap_389805192297-e1450286930220After five decades of fighting, Colombia and its guerrillas may be the closest they’ve ever been to peace. The parties signed an agreement on Dec. 15 to resolve the thorniest issue of ongoing peace talks: how to provide restitution to the millions of war-crime victims.

Negotiators still have to reach a final peace deal, which is expected in spring. But experts say the victims’ arrangement is a key step in ending the war, and a model for other nations with entrenched internal fighting.

The “Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition,” as the setup is dubbed, is an ingenious balance between the interests of all the involved parties. It takes elements from reconciliation and justice processes used to settle other conflicts around the world, and improves upon them.

PEACE ROAD 2015 Project


The Peace Road Project is a global peace initiative aimed at bringing world peace and prosperity and putting an end to various problems which cause international disputes and conflicts, such as, race and religion.

The International Peace Highway is the transportation network created by Rev. Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon on the 10th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences in 1981 as a way to implement world peace.

An important objective is the peaceful re-unification of the only divided country in the world, the Korean peninsula. The creation of the DMZ World Peace Park will encourage the support and cooperation of the international community. The International Peace Highway is a way to connect the world into one.

Together to Create a More Harmonious and Equitable World

Gitmo Survivor Calls for Amnesty
So Officials May Confess Their War Crimes

aamer_0Despite being held for 14 years without charge at Guantanamo Bay; despite the torture, beatings, and psychological trauma he says he endured there; and despite signs that British intelligence agents knew of the abuse, 48-year-old Shaker Aamer says top UK officials should be granted legal immunity if it will encourage them to tell the truth about their government’s complicity in such atrocities.

“They should be guaranteed that they are not going to go behind bars, so they can tell their part of the story,” Aamer said in an interview with ITV News, his first since returning to the UK in October.

Comparing the U.S. military prison to Harry Potter’s Azkaban—where creatures suck the happiness from criminals—the father of two said Guantánamo Bay is designed to “destroy a human being totally”—mentally, physically, and spiritually.


Support these actions for Peace!

Compose a comment of support at the bottom of the page on the website or email at:

The initiatives that receive enough support, in the form of comments that add up to 100 lines of text, will automatically be nominated for the Public Peace Prize – Read the details.