Building Harmony: Iftar Dinner 2024

Building Harmony: Iftar Dinner 2024

On 3 April, 2024, the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT partnered with the Affinity Intercultural Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering friendships and cultural exchanges, to host the 11th Building Harmony Iftar Dinner. This event, which welcomed over 110 attendees, took place at the Blacktown Uniting Church and revolved around the theme of “Peace: Transforming Communities.”

“The decade-long traditional hosting of the Building Harmony Iftar dinner alongside the Uniting Church holds great significance in our hearts. As we come together in our 11th year, tonight’s theme “Peace: Transforming Community” highlights the essence of our gathering embodying values of peace, respect, love, human dignity, and co-existence.” said Ahmet Polat,Executive Director of Affinity Intercultural Foundation in his welcome speech.

Moderator Rev. Faaimata Havea Hiliau and Ahmet Polat welcomed Parramatta Lord Mayor, Cr. Pierre Esber along with Member of Parliament Stephan Bali. 

Before breaking the fast with the Iftar dinner, attendees heard grace from Rev Raymond Joso – Minister at Blacktown Uniting Church and Adhan (Islamic call to prayer) from Isa Ucar from Affinity. 

All guests enjoyed traditional Afghani cuisine laid at the buffet dinner table. 

Raja Yassine, Islamic Philanthropy Ambassador at Australia for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), shed light on the significance of Ramadan. “I have always valued dialogue and cooperation. It is the essential ingredient in our modern world which facilitates mutual understanding and respect among people of different religions and cultural traditions. It was truly humbling to present on the meaning of Ramadan for Affinity Intercultural Foundation. The hospitality and love demonstrated by our hosts, the Uniting Church in Australia – Synod of NSW and ACT was affectionate, warm, inclusive and generous.”

Human right advocate Patricia Garcia was keynote speaker.

“We see the significance of Ramadan emphasising the importance of fostering peace starting within ourselves, with others and also the environment….I’m really pleased to be able to say that we’ve got here the communities to show that they themselves can be an example of showing how they can forge and create peace to transform communities,” she said.

“I like to say that as a humanitarian worker, peace for me is very much about bravely defending humanity. But unfortunately in these times now, we are living in a very divided world.”

“Our research is showing that situation is not going to turn around anytime soon. And I think we need now to show how we can continue this important message of communal unity, to emphasise the need to foster peace and connectedness. Ramadan is an important event of the month to mark this focus on unity, empathy and understanding to also foster peace.”

After the keynote address the evening continued with a showcase of Turkish cultural dance performance and music performance by Uniting Creative.

“My esteemed co-host, Rev. Faaimata Havea Hiliau, enriched the programme with her gracious presence and warm hospitality, elevating the experience for all attendees,” said Mr Polat of the event. “The program, meticulously orchestrated from start to finish, was a testament to the dedication of both organisations. Our dedicated volunteers played an invaluable role in ensuring the success of the night, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of them. The synergy among the speakers, the engaging activities, and the inviting ambiance collectively contributed to making the event truly memorable.”

The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT thank volunteers from Blacktown Uniting Church 


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