The Words of the Earle Family
We are recovering from the Global Peace Festival! Thank you for all your prayers. In fact, all the practical arrangements of transport, etc went well, for the first time really.
There was a lot of expectation for us to bring people, because of our interfaith foundation and my Women's Peace Group. But it's not a simple matter to get people to commit to go down to London for a whole day, paying for their coach fare and ticket to enter the event. Especially because last year the entry was free! It's a psychological barrier to go over, needing a lot of persuasion, encouragement and spiritual energy.
In the end, we had 3 coaches and a minibus traveling down with about 150 guests. We could also contribute to the Leadership Conference with some good Muslim, Sikh and Christian participants. This has opened one or two new doors for UPF on the national level here in the UK. Interestingly, the Sikh connection came about, in part, through our visit to India in September/October. It's a 'long story' which we can share with you some time, involving a 9-hour journey on the Indian roads!
Natasha, who is on the European 'Youth Service Initiative' program during her gap year, came to London HQ to help out during the last 2 weeks, and had an intense but basically good experience, doing all kinds of admin jobs with a whole variety of the organizers.
We made a small contribution to the service projects which young people were doing in London in the 2 weeks before the GPF, and managed to get a couple of Peers from the House of Lords to attend the Opening Plenary in Parliament, at which Hyun Jin Nim gave the keynote address. (Photo attached.) Finally, and here's a 'North American connection' (!), through our involvement with the Islamic Society of Britain, supporting a project of theirs called Islamic Awareness Week, we came to know Dawud Wharnsby, a very popular singer/song-writer in the Muslim world. He's from Canada, a western convert to Islam, and a good friend of Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens. Dawud just happened to be in London, at the end of a 3-week tour of the UK, on the 22nd, and agreed to perform 2 beautiful, deeply spiritual songs, during the cultural program, right after the 'Water Ceremony' in which reps from different faiths pour water into a bowl, symbolizing religious unity.
On the national level, we don't know all the details, but heard that Hyun Jin Nim could have a personal meeting with Mrs. Thatcher, and the international delegates received a welcome letter from the PM, Gordon Brown. The Member of Parliament, in the center of the attached photo, David Anderson, hosted the opening event in Parliament. He came with our MEPI to the Holy Land, and attended the GPF in Nairobi, Kenya, and is a very down-to-earth, sincere politician.
During the next month, amongst other things, we have to focus on our Children's Home and spend at least 2 weeks preparing an end-of-year report which we can give to all the people/families who are sponsoring children in India. We are hoping to make a major leap forward in the New Year, building a new Home where the boys and girls can have proper facilities, and where we can build guest accommodation so that our second gen can go there for a month or so, to literally have a life-changing experience. It will be a big commitment, practically and financially, but all the ingredients are there for something really good to happen, and we have a 10 year track record of achievement so far.
Well, that's some news to bring you up to date.
Best wishes from here in Birmingham,