Last month on February 1-7, Play for Peace celebrated the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, joining a global effort to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence, as well as harmony between all people, regardless of faith. At Play for Peace, it is important that we find opportunities to create understanding and cooperation between different systems of faith in order to build a more just and peaceful world.
Throughout the week, Play for Peace clubs participated in our annual Global Games event, which gave participants the opportunity to demonstrate and experience the richness of our diversity, show compassion toward others, and build interfaith friendships and reach out across stereotypes and misunderstandings. Many clubs participated, including the Star Peace Club in Kenya, Qawinaqel Youth Organization and Play for Peace Cantel Clubs in Guatemala, Healing Play Club in Burundi, Pink City Club in India, and the Play for Peace Club in Senegal.
The clubs engaged in a variety of activities focusing on belief, hope, and harmony. One activity called “Reach for the Stars,” allowed participants to discover who the others are and how similar and different they are to themselves. Each person draws a star with five points and on each point writes something important about themselves—at least two points focusing on faith. Next, each person explains what they wrote, so that the group can learn how group members are similar and how they are different and reflect on the diversity and richness that exists in the world. While their stars may look the same, they are all very different—and beautiful.
“We learned that this month is about coexistence and not just a celebration,” said Teresa Raguay, a mentor for the Qawinaqel Youth Organization. “We were able to relax and express ourselves.”
The clubs also took part in a movement activity called “Finding (Your) Faith,” which focused on what faith means to each person and sparked discussions about what each person learned about expressing his or her faith. Esteban Sacalxot, a mentor for the Play for Peace Cantel Club, learned a very important, timely lesson.
“During my activities, I learned that kids are able to share about their faith like mature people,” Esteban said. “I also learned that my community has a strong faith that he can't be affected by COVID-19.”
Another important lesson clubs focused on was the impact of conflict in the world and what values are needed to build a better world. Through a game called “What the World Would Be If,” participants used drawing and discussion to reflect on what the world would be like if there was no violent conflict and people accepted those who are different from themselves. This activity, along with all of the other games, sparked important discussions about faith and mutual understanding. Our club members may come from different backgrounds and faiths, but through their work during the Global Games they came together to understand and appreciate the diversity that exists in the world.
“Everyone's faith may be different but the belief of all religions is humanity,” said Pawan Pahadiya, a mentor for the Pink City Club. “Human service is the biggest religion.”