Number of participants involved: Thousands involved in projects worldwide
Target Group: Volunteers and new homeowners from various religious backgrounds
Project Description: In many communities, when people of different faiths come together to build a Habitat for Humanity house, tension gives way to laughter and individuals find new respect for one another. Coming together for the common goal of building a house with a neighbour in need has proven to be a successful way for bringing healing to divided communities and creating sense of unity. ‘The Holy Toledo Build’ in Ohio brought together Christians, Jews and Muslims to build a home, but the result was a symbolic gesture that broke down many barriers and led to the creation of new and powerful friendships. During a similar project in Winston-Salem, N.C., organisers said their build allowed participants an opportunity for honest dialogue and newfound respect for one another.
As with any partnership, the key to developing interfaith projects is building relationships. Approaching new partners from a spirit of humility and cooperation sets the stage for success. Inherent to many people of faith is the call to serve the poor, to make the world a better place and to be in service to others. Understanding that building a Habitat home is a clear expression of faith for people of many beliefs is a wonderful way to include diverse faith partners in a building project.
Interfaith builds also bring with them questions and challenges. For example, the food coordinator of a project in Redmond, Wash noted that cooking for 1,200 Muslims, Jews and Catholics takes not only careful planning but an appreciation for religious customs. Kitchen volunteers took care to avoid using chicken stock and to separate the food on the serving table. The food was kosher and halal—cooked in accordance with Jewish and Muslim traditions. Workers also took breaks during the project while Muslims observed prayer times.
Successes and Challenges: Through the work of Habitat, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Churches, other religious groups, and local communities have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem–decent housing for all. Today, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 200,000 houses, sheltering more than 1,000,000 people in more than 3,000 communities worldwide.
Contact Details: 1111 N Wells St., Ste. 501Chicago, Il 60610
Ph: (312) 573-8825
Funded by: Funding from various sources including United Religions Initiative, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Interfaith Center of New York, Ford Foundation, The Jenesis Group etc.
Time Period of Initiative: Established in 1998; ongoing
Number of participants involved: In 2006-07, their Outreach Program reached more than 13,000 participants
Target Group: Young individuals from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Project Description: IFYC is structured around three main programmatic areas: Public Advocacy, Outreach Education & Training, and Leadership. These three programmatic areas work cohesively within the framework of its organisational goals, which are to build widespread public support for interfaith youth work; equip youth-focused institutions to positively engage their religious diversity; and cultivate long-term impact by emerging leaders in this movement.
IFYC’s three main goals in promoting religious pluralism are:
Empowering young people: IFYC supports young leaders in interfaith work by providing them with multi media resources, skill based trainings, and intensive mentorship opportunities with the IFYC.
Equipping youth-focused institutions: IFYC acts as a resource for educational institutions by providing curriculum, interfaith work trainings, and consulting services to create a campus climate conducive to promoting religious pluralism.
Building a supportive public culture: IFYC creates public awareness of the critical need for inter-religious civic engagement through extensive media and community outreach and through relationships with government and policy institutions. IFYC strives to create a movement in which the broader public makes a commitment to promoting religious pluralism in their communities and in the world.
Two of their main events include:
Days of Interfaith Youth Service (DIYS) program which grew out of a vision from the first National Conference on Interfaith Youth Work in 2003. The DIYS model encourages young people to form a steering committee and organise service pro-jects to benefit their community. The grassroots service projects are as varied and diverse as the people who plan and participate in them.
Outreach Education and Training Campus and Community Visits, which regularly works with college campuses and community organisations to build religious pluralism.
Successes and Challenges: The Challenge lies in overcoming traditional barriers of stereotypes in bringing about meaningful exchanges between people of different religions. The project has been hugely successful with its Outreach Education and Training program reaching 13,988 individuals across 34 campuses, 41 civic and faith organisations and 11 independent schools. Furthermore, it’s DIYS program has expanded to thirty-four sites around the world, spanning three continents, five countries, and twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia
What evaluation (if any) was conducted: As an international organisation, all it’s programs are closely monitored and evaluated in a stringent manner to ensure its continued efficacy and success.