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peace mala
"The voices of intolerance are all around us - the voice of
tolerance needs to be louder"

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CHANGING WORLDS CONFERENCE VIENNA
with Erin Kavanagh

From 19th- 1st November, Erin Kavanagh, our official Earth Religion Representative and a Peace Mala Ambassador, attended the University of Vienna for a conference on 'Changing Worlds'. The international delegates were invited to engage science and technology with art, academia and activism with a dominant theme of inclusivity and global citizenship. Erin took symbolic dove of peace No. 7 with her in order to raise awareness of our vision.

Erin describes her journey:
"I left Wales at 1am in Hurricane Barney and didn't stop travelling until I was knelt before St. Katherine's altar as the sun set calmly through stained glass windows in Stephansdom/St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna.

"I fasted throughout the journey, saying a prayer for every place of worship I passed en route, giving a coin to every beggar, honouring every faith I saw with a personal blessing (Jew, Muslim, Christian, Rasta, Hindu, Sikh). Everywhere I went with the dove I was met with enthusiastic understanding, regardless of language or creed."

  
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Stephensplatz and bible sellers on Josef-Straße

"In the cathedral I lit a candle for Peace Mala and prayed at each shrine, unravelling all the layers of conflict and offering them up to the music and candlelight. Giving thanks. People on pilgrimage, tourists, and locals, all flocked in and out around me. Some took leaflets, some took photographs, some wanted to know more, and some knelt beside me or lit candles of their own. I stayed for four hours; just listening."



Outside St Stephen's Cathedral
   

On the floor of Mother Theresa's shrine with St Stephen's dove

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Stephen%27s_Cathedral,_Vienna

  
With votives candles lit for those who have died in war


Erin taking questions with delegates from Israel

"The following day at the conference I met Grada Kilomba, who spoke out about the repression of female voices of colour. She also took a Peace Mala with her.

(http://gradakilomba.com/bio/)

"Hers was not the only presentation to tackle racism, sexism, gender equality and the need to change our education system. A consistent theme throughout was one of listening; of giving voice where voices have been repressed. About hearing and speaking through the layers and dispelling negative myths. About creating a new narrative, in which everyone is equal. As with everything, this begins at home."

On the last day of the conference Erin met Reem Sijari. Reem is a Syrian who has recently found refuge in Austria thanks to Viennese civilians who gathered together to create Trainofhope (https://www.facebook.com/hbfvie).

Reem closed the conference by telling those present her story, into a room silenced by the strength in her words. Her humour, eloquence and self deprecation took everyone somewhere beyond being humbled as they heard about her journey and her loss. Where there should have been questions afterwards there was, instead, a quiet and collective grief.

Erin commented; "The suffering that she has endured, witnessed and now has to live with is incomprehensible. Yet she retains a compassionate perspective devoid of petulant ego or resistance, completely embodying the ethos of perfect love and perfect trust, as did those who helped."

Reem said: "Those who bring war have no religion. With faith there is only acceptance."

Erin presented Reem with our symbolic dove of peace and a Peace Mala bracelet. Salaam Reem, may our dove of peace carry your message onward.


Erin Kavanagh with Reem Sijari


Reem Sijari
"Those who bring war have no religion. With faith there is only acceptance."

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