Community House Eton Rd

Community House Peace Event 16th July 2011 -

Once again Community House held a very successful peace event ‘A Celebration of Diversity’ on the sixth anniversary of the opening of our peace garden. This year the theme was Rainbows.

The event was attended by Her Worshipful, The Mayor of Newport, Councillor Margaret Cornelius and Jessica Morden MP and our councillor Mike Hamilton. We were also pleased to be joined by Rev Alan Bayes, the Chair of the Interfaith Council for Wales, who is fast becoming a friend of Community House although he lives in Swansea.

Leading up to the event we had concentrated on a community project to make a wall hanging in which people could have their say about ‘getting on together in community’ while displaying their individual talents. Many people contributed to this piece of work and we were thrilled with the end result which was put together by local artist Marion Webber. Last year we had our superdragon, this year the rainbow quilt, watch this space...... We also had a knitting project where people, young and old, from the church, TLC (lunch club for seniors, Coffee and Laughs etc. knitted a few rows onto our rainbow scarf. Quite a few people knitted their first ever stitches using this scarf. On the day of the event visitors sat together knitting both ends at once. What a good way to make friends! Even toddlers from Flying Start Nursery had made a lovely rainbow of handprints to decorate the stage, so young and old had participated in making our surroundings beautiful.

There was a lot of preparation to be done and, true to form, trusted volunteers arrived to make sure that the event ran smoothly. This year there was a lot of singing, with Maindee School Choir, accompanied by their music teacher, Ioan Ford, delighting us with their singing. Our own resident choir, Harmony in Mind, led by their singing teacher Laura Bradshaw also entertained us. Laura’s energy and skill in getting everyone to sing together came to the fore and the children really enjoyed a chance to drum along. Some little Muslim girls, pupils of Afia Ijaz, treated us to a dance, which was enhanced by the fact that a toddler got onto the stage and danced with them. Everyone was entranced. She was entirely unaware of the delight that she caused. We had a poem by Siddique Saleem, one of our great supporters of Community House and leader of the Asian men’s group, Dostana. Sid has been involved with Community House for more than thirty years. What’s good about this is that we need role models like him because it is quite difficult to engage local men in our community projects.

Pam Evans, founder and director of Peace Mala talked to us about the ethos of the organisation and congratulated community House for being the first Peace Mala community centre, believing, as it does, that ‘Everyone deserves respect’. It was good to have Pam visit us from Swansea. Next year Peace Mala will have its tenth anniversary and Pam expressed a wish that there would be at least one Peace Mala school in Newport on this anniversary. Peace Mala grew out of the fear and hostility engendered by 9/11. Pam, who was Head of RE in a school in Llanelli, noticed the bad time that Muslim children in her school were getting from others. Pam used the idea of a Peace Mala, made of double rainbow beads, one colour for each of the major world faiths, to focus children’s attention on the fact that each of these faiths holds a version of the golden rule which is ‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’.

What was really special about the event is the way in which people, young and old, from different faiths and cultures came together for an afternoon of enjoyment. There was an atmosphere of goodwill and co-operation and real pleasure in enjoying some time together, with people not only being respected but truly valued for their friendship and contribution to community.

For the first time we had Girl Guides visit us. Aptly some little girls from a rainbow troop came with their leader Sally Scott-Roberts. It was lovely to have them. For them it was a chance to attend an event with people from other faiths and cultures. For our part, we were delighted that they brought craft work for the children to do to add to our community painting project and sang the Rainbow song on the stage. Great!

Brian Selby closed the formal part of the event with candle lighting and prayers for world peace from our faiths and then there was food and conversation until the end of our time together. Many thanks for all the people who helped, all the people who came to share time together and all who couldn’t make it this year but sent best wishes. Community House users and friends are quite special in their ability to work well together. Long may it continue and grow!

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