Our second workshop block took place this morning from 10:15 to 11:30 and again, each one provided space for thought-provoking discussion on a variety of topics. The subjects offered ranged from “The Who: Internal Team Building,” “Business Planning for Social Entrepreneurs,” “Using Technology” and “Development through Faith and Interfaith Efforts”.
In the workshop on Interfaith work, we had a fascinating discussion on the enormous weight that religion plays in the field of development, engagement and social entrepreneurship. It’s the massive elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, everyone tries to avoid, yet everyone thinks about. And what’s most important is that so many of the people in the communities served by development initiatives have very strong religious connections; often, the religious leaders are the most respected of the entire community. One of the most prominent religious-related conflicts that comes to mind is of course that of Palestine and Israel, but we discussed that of all the formal peace agreements that have been arranged between political leaders, not one has ever included religious leaders.
The facilitator brought up a concept called religious literacy, which is a way of “mapping the role of religion in the community you’re working in- the institutions, the people, the issues. Often its not just the old men with the beards, but many other community members who play a role as well”.
Here are some memorable quotes from the workshop:
“The other problem you have, is that when you ask people about religious groups in the development world, the first word you’ll hear is proselytizing. And in some societies that’s very disruptive.”
“When you get on the ground, it’s almost dumb not to be linked in to what’s happening in the religious world, because that’s the infrastructure. And yet, there’s a lot of tension, unease, and simple ignorance.”
Afterwards, delegates met with professionals to brainstorm ways to improve their projects during mentorship sessions. Photos from the mentorship session are here!