Blair searches for faith ambassadors

By agency reporter
September 25, 2008

Tony Blair will 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 launches the programme in Los Angeles today - the day the United Nations has designated as the midway point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

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.

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.

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