In February,26th; the Bishopric of Public, Ecumenical and Social Services (BLESS) in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Islamic Endorsement (AWKAF) and Diakonia launched the opening event of SALMO project. The project aims at increasing the strength of the Egyptian society for social cohesion and peaceful coexistence, the project is a two-year pilot project and will be implemented in three governorates: Cairo, Qalyobia and Assiut.
A large group of Media, Religious leaders, Parliamentarians, Educational institution, INGOs, NGOs and interested audience members gathered to witness the launching of the project
H.G Bishop Yolios, BLESS director highlighted that this project is a pilot one, will be implemented in partnership with AWKAF, Educational Institutions, Civil Society Organizations and Media. All are working together towards increase the capacity of the Egyptian society for being able to adopt and practice a culture of peace, tolerance and justice. H.G added that peace is an industry, and industry requires skilled laborers and this gathering will be the peacemakers and the supporters for this project.
Sheikh Gaber Taya, First Undersecretary of the Ministry of AWKAF and Head of the Religious Sector, praised that the project "SALMO All People", consider as a pioneer project which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
Sheikh Gaber Taya said, that this conference held in partnership between the Orthodox Church and the Ministry of AWKAF to achieve the concept of equal citizenship and the concept that everyone has equal rights and responsibilities. To show and highlight the value of tolerance between the Heavenly religions. He stressed that al Heavenly religions have points of common beliefs or origins and we can never imagine that there is a religion calls for violence or separation.
Dr. Hani Riad, BLESS’s Executive Director pointed out that BLESS was established on 1962 to provide a wide range of diaconal services to the poorest communities in Egypt. Within the Coptic Orthodox Church, BLESS is viewed as a major social arm that provides its services to all the dioceses.
Early 1996, BLESS turned from charity work to create its new niche and move towards new approach of Comprehensive Integrated Development (CID) to reposition BLESS as a faith based organization serving Egyptian needy communities.
Dr. Hani explained that the BLESS works to support the country’s efforts and serve the slums area. BLESS main services are health, education and economic development, a set of subprograms emerges from them such as women empowerment, combating violence against women, child protection and disability.
Evelyn Botros; SALMO project manager said at her introductory speech that Peace is the name of God's most beautiful names in Islam. God is the Lord of peace and give us peace, happiness and welfare at all times. God is the source of peace and blessing. Peace is that simple word in its composition but very deep in its meaning. God has ordered us to peace and sent us all prophets for peace. Peace is the presence of love. Mrs. Botros said: I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all participants who came to this especial event to form a platform for networking. And to share in this event, entitled "Peace for all people", this title which carries the hope of consolidate the concepts of love, brotherhood, tolerance and common denominators. And to meet all at one goal which is Peace. Mrs. Botros added: We can only look forward to a more equal and sustainable world if we have more peaceful and inclusive societies. That means we'll need to reduce violence and intolerance. by the end of the event, Mrs. Evelyn enlightened the participant on the project outlook, objectives and key interventions.
Mrs. Ghada Hammam, representative of Diakonia in Egypt, stressed that the idea of the project is to build cadres of Christian and Islamic religious leaders, as well as civil society leaders, to publish a religious speech that promotes peace and peaceful coexistence in society. in addition; SALMO project will work to activate the role of the media in addressing the issues of discrimination.
The event was a great success with audience and participants, providing positive feedback on the experience, inspirations and lessons learnt from the previous experiences.