Community House Newport has been engaging with the Peace Mala project for several years and is the first community group in the UK to receive Peace Mala Accreditation.
On October 4th 2010, representatives of Community House (Ingrid Wilson, Susan Lewis and Marilyn Priday) went to the Peace Mala Festival in the award winning, beautifully restored setting of The Monastery in Gorton, Manchester.
We had a wonderful day and were thrilled to receive the certificate of Peace Mala Accreditation and flag from Terry Waite CBE, who was the guest of honour.
Peace Mala is the organisation founded by Pam Evans in response to the difficulties that Muslim children in her school were up against after 9/11. Since then many schools have entered into the spirit of Peace Mala, with its message of 'Everyone Deserves Respect'. Peace Mala teaches children mutual respect for all communities, whatever their faith and culture. A Peace Mala is a double rainbow coloured bracelet with beads representing all the main world faiths. While children and young people make these bracelets together, they concentrate on the golden rule embodied in each faith, which is to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
In Terry Waite's words, "Ignorance is a factor that paves the road to violence and warfare. When opportunities are provided for young people to meet with and understand those who differ from themselves then the seeds of tolerance and peace are planted."
We are thrilled, at Community House, to be the first ever Peace Mala Accredited Community Centre. In order to share the honour, we held an event on 19th January 2011 for the users of Community House, who are people from many faiths and cultures. After all, it is the users of Community House which makes it such a welcoming place for all communities. This is why we were cited as an example of good practice in the Welsh Assembly Government Community Cohesion Document in 2010.
Mrs Shereen Williams, lead officer for Community Cohesion at Newport City Council and a former trustee of the Peace Mala charity, spoke to us about the Peace Mala message. She presented Sughra Muhammed, a community member who has worked unceasingly for Community House for about twenty years, with the accreditation certificate. Shereen expressed her wish that one of the Newport Schools would soon become a Peace Mala Accredited School.
The Right Worshipful, the Mayor of Newport, Councillor Bill Langsford, spoke about the work of Community House and how we were still developing the vision of a past Mayor of Newport and Minister of our church, Rev Cyril Summers. It is forty one years since Cyril and his congregation started the centre, which has been serving the community ever since. The Mayor then hoisted our Peace Mala flag in the Peace Garden.
Children for years 3, 4 and 5 at Maindee School joined us and entertained us with peace songs and demonstrations of yoga and Tai 'Chi, led by their teachers Mrs Wells, Mr Ford and their headteacher Mrs Wadsworth. Community singing teacher, Laura Bradshaw led us in community singing.
A loyal band of Community House volunteers worked hard for this very successful event, especially the ladies in the kitchen who prepared all the food.
We had a wonderful few hours, celebrating our diversity. Thanks are due to Newport City Council Festival Fund for helping us financially with this event.