The Revd Nadim Nassar and Huda Nassar have just completed the third phase of our Ambassadors for Peace programme in Lattakia, Syria. This phase, as wit
h all of our work in the Middle East, is led by Huda Nassar, our Director for the Middle East, in cooperation with all local churches and many faith groups in the area to be covered. We are proud that our work is always exceptionally ecumenical, with all denominations fully participating.
Over three days, Nadim, Huda and Father Amer Kassar from the Syrian Catholic Church challenged 90 young men and women (the maximum number that our venue could hold) to enter into a democratic process, choosing from their peers to elect 14 Ambassadors for Peace.
Each candidate proposed a peacemaking project; the candidates spoke passionately in favour of their own project, and the young people then voted on which projects should become reality. The top 5 projects will be worked on by all Ambassadors for Peace to build harmony and encourage reconciliation in their communities.
This was more than a selection process – this was an introduction to advocacy and to what it means to have the great responsibility of a vote. Through interactive workshops and discussions, the young Syrians learned about voting for the best choice rather than just for your friend or someone from your neighbourhood or denomination! As part of their continuing spiritual development in a land scorched by conflict, Father Amer talked to the young Ambassadors about the meaning of pain, and how Jesus responded to hardship and suffering, including His own.
The young people gelled together with a real sense of working in union for the future of all of their communities. Following this ground-breaking programme, we have been inundated with calls for us to offer our programmes across Syria; in Damascus they want to start their own Ambassadors for Peace programme, and in Aleppo they are asking for us to work with their children through our Little Heroes project. Now we must find the extra resources!