Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken passionately about the importance of all faiths uniting to make a difference to global poverty and conflict.
He made his comments at a central London fundraising breakfast in which the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) joined with World Jewish Relief for the first time to raise awareness of and funds for both organisations’ vital work in Africa.
Established last year, one of TBFF’s major projects is focused on Africa and the prevention and eradication of malaria, which kills one million Africans a year. By working with faith communities the Foundation encourages community health training on malaria prevention.
The money raised will also support TBFF’s Faith Act Fellowship, a ten-month interfaith programme for 30 young people of different faiths — aged between 18-25, from Canada, the US and the UK — to raise awareness and funds about combating malaria in faith communities. Seven of the Faith fellows will be Jewish.
WJR supports a programme for street kids in Rwanda, most of whom are orphans of the genocide that besieged and disfigured the country. To date the programme has given opportunities to over 600 children, providing accommodation, food, education and much-needed emotional support.
Mr Blair spoke candidly about the work of his Foundation, his own faith, and the need for effective governance. He also discussed the crucial role played by aid organisations in Africa and the tragic yet important link between the Jewish the Rwandan peoples.
He told the 140 breakfast participants: “The work WJR does in Rwanda is fantastic and is transforming the lives of those it touches. Of course WJR helps the global Jewish community but it also looks beyond to see where else it can do good. This is a fantastic act of commitment, dedication and service and is an example to us all.”
Ruth Turner, chief executive of the TBFF, visited Rwanda last week and saw the WJR-supported street kids project.
She said: “The children we met at the centre in Kayzona were transforming their lives with the help of the dedicated staff in Rwanda, the generosity of the Jewish community and people of other faiths in the UK and beyond.
“We’re proud to be working with WJR to find more opportunities for people of different religions to show their faith in their own God through service and their love of humanity.”