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18 June 2009

2009 "MOVE Together For Humanity"

With the 2009 "MOVE Together For Humanity" coming up on 9th August. I thought it would be useful if I shared with everyone where the money raised last year went. Below is a email I sent to last years generous supporters :)

If you want to join or support the
2009 MOVE Together For Humanity team

Im writing to thank you for your very generous support with the very first 'move together for humanity'. Thanks to YOU, we raised $600 which goes directly to the not-for-profit organisation http://www.togetherforhumanity.org.au

This was the first time we have done this, so we learnt lots for next year. Firstly, we will give people (you) more warning so you can join our team. I also noticed that most people think the City2Surf is only for super fit runners. In actual fact the thing I LOVE about the city2surf is watching VERY diverse/strange people all doing the best they can. Which coincidentally is one of the messages "togetherfor humanity" tries to leave kids on their school visits :)

I know you all know me personally and maybe you thought, this was just Phil getting excited again! But, its not!! I'm desperate for all Australians (but especially you guys) to understand, what your financial support means.

Apart from our free school visits, in which we take a Jew, Muslim, Christian and Indigenous person to talk to kids. We also have a 'sister school program'. Id like to tell you about my recent experience with one of these.

On the 13th August, 'together for humanity' organised a HUGE day in Sydney, we organised for 12 x yr8 classes classes to sister up with each other. On this day we talk to them about making assumption and what it means to be Australian? etc etc I was blessed to be at the first meeting of two classes from Moriah College (Jewish) and the Australian International Academy (Islamic).

The moment these two classes came into the room, there was deadly silence.

After we did our standard presentation, things started to warm up abit and we did a task called the listening circle. The rule was that who ever is holding the stick could say anything they wanted and everyone else has to listen. It nearly broke my heart to hear a Muslim kid talk about how people thought he was terriost AND when I heard a Jewish kid tell the circle about people calling him names and throwing money at him in the streets of Sydney.

Then something I wasn't expecting happened. These kids (in year 8) started talking unprovoked about how everyone deserves a home, one very brave kid said he thinks Jews should have a home in Isreal.

Then just as passionately another kid said he thought its unfair that Palestinians have been forced out of their homes.

Then there was a very very awkward silence.......all the kids lowered their heads.

It was at this point I personally started to get abit worried/scared, I wasnt sure if I was meant to say something or not?? But I remembered the training for this event, therefore I remained quiet and listened.

THEN....this thing happened, I wish you all could have experienced it with me. This one kid from the Australian International Academy (Islamic) simply said "yeah but we should just have peace!"...then a kid from Moriah College says "yeah their should be peace, not only in the middle east, but also in Goergia too". They kept talking like this until the end of the session, it made me proud to be human :)

Ok... I wasnt expecting this email to be so long...so Ill quickly tell you why I personally love supporting "together for humanity". At every sister school event, the two classes are encouraged to think about what they think is unjust in the world and how THEY "together" could help in some way. For example, the two classes I was involved with decided they didnt think it was fair that so many people in other countries have no food while we have so much.

So the two classes aggreed to work together, to send seeds to countries where they are needed. Its up to the kids and teachers to talk to eachother so as to coordinate the funding and logistics of this effort. Additionally, 'together for humanity' assists the kids in anyway with planning and excection of their proposal.

THEREFORE, I want "YOU" to know that the money you very generously donated to "move together for humanity" could end up feeding hungry kids all over the world, or stopping child slavery or helping stop global warming etc etc........ in other words your donation does not stop here in Australia.

Below, I've pasted in a email from the National Director of the Together For Humanity Foundation, Zalman Kastel, about the same sister school day on the 13th. It may give you another point of view of where your money is going.

Dear Kathleen

One transformational moment for me on the 13th was listening to Donna Mulhearne's story about when she held a fundraising evening for Iraqis. As she walked out, she met a homeless transvestite who told her 'I was listening through the window to all the stories you were telling and I like what you are doing. When you go to Iraq, send them my love. She/he then took out a small purse with one $2 coin in it, and gave it to Donna. "Please take this for them". It was all the money she had and was not getting any more till her next welfare payment two weeks away. I must admit that I carry a lot of religious baggage when it comes to transvestites and that whole scene, in that Moment Donna reinforced my belief that everyone, absolutely everyone has the spark of G_d in them.

It was also interesting listening to the students after the mostly Arabic Public School boys and the Jewish private school co-ed students initially found it hard to approach each other. They reflected on the activity and talked about their fear. Later as the day progressed they really relaxed with each other and chatted about their projects and activities, presenting their ideas together, it was quite amazing.

The other thing happening was this conversation between a Jewish studies teacher who had studied in Jerusalem and a Palestinian teacher at the school. There was this strong closeness, they couldn't stop talking to each other. I had to interrupt them to get on with the program. The Jewish Studies teacher was profoundly moved by the whole day, saying "I never spoke to a Palestinian from Jerusalem before", and watching his students he said a few times, some thing along the lines of 'this is such a great thing'.

Zalman Kastel
National Director
Together for Humanity Foundation
(02) 9988 3318, 0423 981 368

Thank you all again, and just so you know, Zalman has told me that the money we raised here in Sydney will be going to Melbourne for the program down there.

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