Partnering To Serve Humanity concludes the 7th Interfaith Dialogue in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, at the Jesus Is Lord Ministries, aimed to fostering peace and national cohesion through religious dialogue.
The dialogue is sponsored by Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan and supported by the Healey Foundation, Caritas Freetown, and Lanyl Foundation.
The dialogue was attended by various religious leaders and sects from various religious groups like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Rastafarianism.
Addressing the over two thousand people gathered at the event, religious leaders from various faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Rastafarianism, Buddhism, and Orthodoxy, preached a singular message — PEACE, LOVE, and UNITY in Sierra Leone.
As Sierra Leone is currently facing political turmoil, with the recent “failed coup”, it is necessary and paramount for religious leaders to call on their followers to maintain peace, unity and love in Sierra Leone.
“In religion, peace is the pillar. No matter what religion you practice, peace is the foundation of all religions,” said a representative from the Greek Orthodox Church in Sierra Leone.
The Minister of Social Welfare, Madam Melrose Karmity was also present at the event. She stressed the importance for such dialogues.
Speaking to attendees, Madam Melrose said, “Sierra Leone is a peaceful country, this is what I want you to take home. Those of us that want peace, we are the majority.” “If peace was not in our country, we would not be here. When there is peace, you’d do anything that you want”, she added.
The highlight of the Dialogue was the moment when hundreds of Sierra Leoneans from different religious backgrounds sang a Christian hymn while holding hands in unity and love.
Apostle Dora Dumbuya, popularly known as Mammy Dumbuya, the head and founder of Jesus Is Lord Ministries also gave a brief address to the audience. Apostle Dumbuya said, “God is a God of peace. God told his people to live in peace.”
Quoting from the Bible, Apostle Dumbuya said we will be a strong nation if we united but we will fall if we are divided.
Mr. Ishmeal Alfred Charles, lead coordinator of the event and Programs Manager for Caritas Freetown and Healey Foundation, said Tzu Chi gave a brief presentation about the history of the Interfaith Dialogue and how it came about.
Speaking, Mr Charles said, “Steven Fomba brought Tzu Chi Foundation to Sierra Leone, and one of the things they discussed about is to strengthen religious cohesion in Sierra Leone.
Mr Charles continued by adding that dialogue between religious leaders will help Sierra Leone to be more tolerant and open to each other. “Recognizing one’s religious beliefs helps break the political divide in Sierra Leone and strengthen peace,” he said.
At the climax of the event, 30 kg of rice was given to each person present, continuing a tradition that has been ongoing since the inception of the Interfaith Dialogue.
One of the beneficiaries of the 30 kg of rice, Alie Bangura, Chairman of the Handicap Youth Development Organization in Sierra Leone, said he is happy to be one of the beneficiaries given the current economic hardship in the country. He thanked Tzu Chi Foundation for their generosity.