‘Together For Humanity Foundation’ held their annual fundraising dinner in Sydney on Saturday 14 September 2019 at the Himalaya Emporium Function Centre in Bankstown attracting a large number of community members from diverse backgrounds and faiths.
The multi-award-winning organisation fosters students’ interfaith and intercultural understanding, particularly amongst Jews, Christians and Muslims with programs for both governments as well as private schools.
The program at the event was started by the MC, ABC Radio talk show James Carleton welcoming the guests followed by a highly entertaining musical performance by the multicultural band, Masha’s Legacy, a unique intercultural performance ensemble featuring celebrated international performers from diverse backgrounds.
The president, Ms Madenia Abdurahman, former principal of Arkana College together with Ms Chris McDiven AM, chair of Together For Humanity Foundation introduced the five strong Sydney based education team who work with children and their teachers, two Muslim educators, Taha Allam and Calisha Bennett, two Catholic educators, Kurt Bartelmy and Calisha Bennett and one Jewish educator, Rabbi Zalman Kastel, National Director.
Rabbi Zalman Kastel is an ordained minister of the Jewish faith and qualified teacher with over 20 years of experience as an educator in primary and secondary schools with a passion for working across communities to develop better understanding between the major faiths. He founded Together for Humanity (in an earlier form as the Goodness and Kindness project) in 2002.
The audience were also addressed by Dr Fran Gale from Western Sydney University who is leading the evaluation team that is researching the impact of the work of Together for Humanity where her team have interviewed teachers and students and learned that students who participate increase their appreciation of what people from different faiths have in common and reject ideas based on prejudice.
The highlight of the event was two iconic speakers, former refugees and now high achievers who spoke of their moving life experiences and their passion for advocacy against racism and hate.
Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis, is a leading innovative orthopaedic surgeon and author, who fled Iraq as he refused Saddam’s regime orders to surgically remove the ears of soldiers who deserted,
In a very frank manner he described his journey as a fugitive from Iraq, as a refugee and long time in detention centre on Christmas Island eventually entering Australia and struggling through the elite medical profession eventually to become an orthopaedic surgeon with great contribution in advance research and clinical practice in Australia.
Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis also described his encounters with discrimination and racist attitudes as well as compassion and example of humanity during his journey and warned against hate on the basis of religious and cultural differences that could slide Australia away from the successful multicultural society it is today.
The second speaker, Mr Alpha Cheng, of Chinese background, educator, and an advocate against racism and hate is the son of police accountant, Curtis Cheng who was killed by a young Muslim extremist in Parramatta in 2015.
Mr Cheng methodically talked about how he should be one to be affected by Islamophobia and advocacy against acceptance of Muslims in Australia, but following his enlightened family legacy he chose not to do so, because of the actions of one misguided person who happened to be a Muslim.
Watch Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis at: https://youtu.be/4-nZ51ccumw
Masha’s Legacy is a unique intercultural performance ensemble featuring celebrated international performers from diverse backgrounds. Their original music draws from our vast wealth of heritage and culture, as well as deep experience in mainstream artistic and commercial styles including jazz, European classical, Arabic styles, flamenco, and klezmer music.
Watch them perform at: https://youtu.be/JZvvZhevp5A
Visit Together for Humanity Foundation new website coming soon at: www.togetherforhumanity.org.au
Photos by Noel Kessel.