Saturday's Sweet Serendipity - A Youth 4 Unity Action Project, by Sharon Danisha M. Vaswani

3 February 2009

Saturday’s Sweet Serendipity
Reflection by Sharon Danisha M. Vaswani

Children naturally gravitate towards candies and will do almost anything to get hold of their favorite sweets. Candies bring joy, happiness and smiles to brighten up kid’s faces. This is the kind of joy we witnessed during the 2nd Street Children’s Festival held at Museo Pambata (Museum for Children) in Metro Manila, Philippines. For a change, the children were eagerly rushing to various booths on the 5 “worlds” of Freedom, Health & Nutrition, Family Care, Protection, and Education, Culture & Leisure.

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, Y4U: Youth for Unity (the interfaith youth group, growing under the wings of the Peacemakers' Circle CC) was privileged to be part of this festival aimed at celebrating the rights of street children and bringing the issues facing them to public consciousness through educational, creative and participatory activities.

Sweet Treats. The festival run by and with young leaders from NGOs around Metro Manila was a great opportunity to reach out to the underprivileged kids and youth in the country. Under the umbrella theme "Kapantay at Kasali" (Equal and Included), Y4U was contributed by running an interactive educational booth throughout the day about the freedom of religion and harmony amidst faith diversity. Y4U’s booth Hardin ng Kapayapaan (Garden of Peace) portrayed the different faith traditions as different flowers and showcased the different elements of nature contributing to harmony amidst diversity. One of the activities was creating a peace mandala which the children very much enjoyed working on.

Sugar rush! There were over a thousand kids who came and visited our booth and with wide eyes were amazed to learn that there were so many different religions in the world and it was amazing that these young minds agreed that working together, instead of focusing on the differences will bring about more harmony. They also let go of some prejudices they had, when they were able to engage first hand with a Sikh, a Hindu, an Indigenous traditions practitioner, to name a few. Everyone was rewarded with candies for engaging in the different activities in the booth which brought heartwarming smiles to their faces.

Dreamcatcher of Peace: Held sacred through prayer, the children also took part in this Buddhist practice of placing wishes and hopes for the future on the Tibetan Lungta prayer sheets and hanging them on the dreamcatcher. With much reflection and focus, the kids came up with some of the most heart wrenching wishes for a more peaceful and happy future beginning with uplifting their personal circumstances. We were very moved with the wishes of the children, and together prayed with them that these will manifest sacred gifts.

Sweet success. It is our sincere hope that the peace mandala and dreamcatcher making adventure helped to serve as a window for a more united and harmonious world. A place where we will have kids from all around the world enjoying the many flavors of sweet friendships, only instead of tummy-aches and sugar-glut, they'll end up with personal discoveries about different faiths and traditions, as well as building bridges of understanding for more peaceful tomorrow.