Tony Blair today launched an international search for thirty outstanding young people to serve as inter-religious ambassadors for the Millennium Development Goals. In Spring 2009 these young activists aged 18 - 25 will be selected to be the first Faiths Act Fellows.
The Faiths Act Fellowship brings together thirty young leaders drawn from the different faiths from the US, UK and Canada to embark on a 10 month journey of interfaith service.
Tony Blair said: "As changemakers for current and future generations, young people have the opportunity to establish a new vision of inter-religious interaction that places protecting the welfare of the world's poorest at its centre."
Training begins with a two-month intensive initiative that includes fieldwork with primary health care partners fighting deaths from malaria in Africa. Fellows will return to their home countries for 8 months to mobilize young people of faith to raise awareness and resources to promote the Millennium Development Goals. They will particularly focus on fighting deaths from malaria.
Tony Blair said: "The Faiths Act Fellows will become ambassadors for inter-religious cooperation in the fight against deaths from malaria and the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals. I urge interested young people aged 18 - 25 in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to apply to join our campaign.
"In their 10 months of work, Faiths Act Fellows will reach tens of thousands of young people of faith with essential education about the devastating impact of malaria and the ways faiths communities can work together to make a real difference. Inspired by their different religious traditions, they will motivate and equip young people in congregations, schools and university religious student groups to lead their faith communities in spreading awareness of the MDG challenge, raising life-saving funds for the fight against deaths from malaria and promoting a new inter-religious dialogue of life and action.
"Halting and reversing the spread of deaths from malaria is one of today's most urgent moral challenges. 500 million people contract the disease each year and one million die, the vast majority in Africa and under 5 years old. Yet, malaria is preventable and treatable. And, progress in the fight against malaria will speed our achievement of 6 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. Together we can show that Faiths Act."
Tony Blair launched the programme in Los Angeles on September 25th 2008: the day the United Nations has designated as the midway point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
To commemorate and join with others working towards the MDGs on this day, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation held a panel discussion in Los Angeles to talk about the positive contribution that young people of all faiths are making, and can make together, towards achieving those common goals.
The panel featured:
- Tony Blair, founder, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and former British Prime Minister;
- Hamza Yusuf, a significant and influential Islamic scholar;
- Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, of Malaria No More and an activist for Muslim women and Islam in the West; and
- Moderated by June Sarpong, broadcaster and founder of www.politicsandthecity.com
The interactive session, which took questions from the audience and from those submitted online in advance, discussed how more could be achieved by people coming together across faith divides in pursuit of these common goals, and ideas on how to take action together.
In their home countries, Fellows will be hosted by a local organization whose mission fits closely with this project. Host organizations in the UK include Muslim Aid, World Vision UK, Tzedek, and the Christian-Muslim Forum. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is now seeking host organizations in the US and Canada.
The Faiths Act Fellowship is an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and is coordinated by Interfaith Youth Core. Tony Blair launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in May 2008 to promote respect and understanding of and between the major religions and to make the case for faith as a force for good in the modern world. The foundation is working with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Mr Blair believes that faith will have great influence in how the challenges that globalisation presents will be met. The Foundation will join with other partners to mobilise faith groups to step up pressure on Governments to deliver fully on their MDG commitments on malaria.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 and not over 26 years of age by August 1, 2009
- Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, the United Kingdom or Canada
- Demonstrate strong commitment to the goals of inter-religious cooperation and achieving the MDGs
- Demonstrate strong belief in the power of young people to make a difference
- Be ready to spend 10 full months, from August 2009 through May 2010, serving with this initiative