On 10th March, women of different faiths; Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim from Cheshire, Manchester & Wigan attended a special gathering at Greenhill Academy in Oldham, in England. The event was part of the celebration of ‘Season of Twinning’ initiative by the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding and International Women’s day.
It was organized by Qaisra Shahraz, a staunch partner of FFEU, international novelist & Co-Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester, with Oldham Women’s Chai Project led by Najma Khalid, its founder. Marilyn Berg, a comedian who joined with her Jewish group of women had hosted the first successful ‘Twinning’ event with Oldham Muslim women in their Cheshire synagogue, as its chair. May Yau, chair of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple in Manchester came with her Buddhist female colleagues.
The Oldham host team provided splendid hospitality. Over a marvelous brunch of home cooked food the women spent a delightful morning, with heartwarming sharing of stories, poems and learning about women’s lives in other countries and faiths. They learned, for example, about the history of Buddhist nuns from May yau, life in Bosnia during the Sarajevo war from Dudiya Zilic and the Jewish festival of Purim. Women were very respectful in expressing their opinions.
A lovely, happy atmosphere prevailed throughout. Lots of hugs and friendships were formed including with Joyce, a guest from Miami, Florida, who happened to be visiting England.
Local councellor Yasmin Toor and Marziah of Oldham Interfaith were delighted to be part of the gathering. Women enjoyed posing for photos and selfies with banners with special slogans #WeStandTogetherForOneAnother and #SpreadHummusNotHate.
“Really proud & delighted at the success of our,‘Twinning’ event in Oldham with its strong promotion of messages of peace, unity and tolerance #SpreadHummusNotHate and celebration of women’s lives. Women thoroughly enjoyed themselves- with heaps of smiles.The event was indeed a delightful example of community cohesion. Wonderful to visit Greenhill Academy again. I used to teach English classes to women several years ago in this school. Wonderful work by host team!”
“It was an honour for us to host so many different women from all walks of life. Amazing women sharing food, stories and themselves. The women brought positive and peaceful energy. We Stand United and have so much in common. We have formed beautiful bonds with these women, which will continue and have started the ripple of change”
“What a fabulous gathering-So many women, of different faiths, talking, eating, sharing stories, laughing together can only bring light and tolerance into the world. May this wonderful spirit of friendship be repeated throughout all the nations. A Rabbinic saying tells us that darkness cannot be driven away with a stick, we have to light a candle.”
“I was honoured to be at the event, it was wonderful to meet up different faith speaks out their concern relates to women’s day.
Some have expressed touching issue in poem and proved that women are talented and strong.
I wish these relation continue flourish and stand up to each other.”
“From our first lovely meeting of getting to know each other, our visit to Oldham on Friday became the beginning of true friendship. As one of the ladies said, when we were laughing and jostling in that great arc to hold up the banner for so many photos, ‘I want to stand with my friend.”
“In order to be tolerant over other faiths, cultures and beliefs we got to remove our inner fear of not being accepted,which is a great fear,just one step towards some one may end up in a hug as i had experienced on this beautiful emotional day ,the embraces of love relief and peace which dissloves all negativity from the soul,it truely felt we all belong together.”
‘What a fabulous and inspiring group of women from our local community and beyond. I really felt there was genuine sisterly support from across the faiths, may that continue. ‘
“It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about people from other faiths. I really enjoyed the event and learned so much from the inspirational women. An eye opener!”
‘As a visitor from Florida U.S.A. I was privileged to attend and thoroughly enjoyed the twinning event with Oldham and Manchester women. I met women from several different cultures and religions. I learned things about each faith and was pleased to meet such strong and passionate women who were willing to celebrate both our differences and our similarities.’
Novelist, Scriptwriter & Education Consultant (M.A. , M.A. , PGCE, FRSA)
Winner of National Diversity ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award
Director of Asia Pacific Writers & Translators (APWT)
Listed as Pakistan Power 100 Women
Trustee of Manchester Multi-Faith Centre & Co-Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester (FN4M)