Toronto interfaith group joins fight against malaria

Erica Spracklin, Faiths Act Fellow
Erica Spracklin, Faiths Act Fellow

(December 30, 2009) – Across the globe, young people of faith are combining forces to take action against one million preventable deaths occurring every year due to malaria.

The young people are part of Faiths Act, the Tony Blair Foundation’s multi-faith social action program, which mobilizes people of faith to work together on issues of health and global poverty, in order to help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The initial focus of the initiative is the elimination of deaths due malaria.

In Toronto, a group of young people and religious leaders gathered at the Rich Tree Restaurant on Monday December 28th, to create an interfaith hub as part of the Faiths Act campaign.

“The hope is that the hubs of interfaith activity we create in each of these cities will definitely engage in interfaith dialogue, expanding their knowledge of each other’s religion and gaining a genuine respect for the beliefs of others,” said Erica Spracklin, a Canadian Faiths Act Fellow.

“At the same time, these groups will learn about the horrible effects of malaria in Africa and become dedicated to the interfaith movement to halt and reverse the number of deaths due to malaria,” she added.

The Faiths Act Fellows leadership program will support 30 exceptional young people, aged 18-25, from Canada, the United States and Britain as they begin a journey as ambassadors for interfaith service and the Millennium Development Goals.

They will reach up to 30,000 people of faith through outreach activity, informing them about the devastating impact of malaria and the opportunities open to faith communities to work together to save millions of lives.

There are 4 pairs of Faiths Act Fellows in Canada, two of which are in Toronto – Danny Richmond and Hilary Keachie are being hosted by the Canadian Center for Diversity and Areeba Jawaid and Erica Spracklin are being hosted by the Multi-Faith Center at the University of Toronto.

At the Toronto event, religious leaders spoke about how their religious traditions encourage interfaith cooperation and social action.

Muneeb Nasir
Muneeb Nasir

“It is part of our duty as people of faith to take hold of our personal convictions and put them into action in order to benefit others,” Muneeb Nasir, President of the Olive Tree Foundation told the audience.

“Each time we avert our eyes from an injustice in the world or pretend not to see the iniquities around us, we are not being true to our faith,” he added.

Imam Habeeb Alli, Secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams and Reverend Dr. Karen A. Hamilton, General Secretary for The Canadian Council of Churches also addressed the gathering on the need for interfaith cooperation in tackling malaria.

Proceeds from the lunch will be used to purchase bed nets which will be sent to Africa and the attendees also put together baskets of toiletries that will be given to a local women’s shelter.

Faiths Act is an opportunity for people of faith all over the world help the international community achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” states the Tony Blair Faith Foundation web site. ”Eight years ago, the world’s governments set eight goals to tackle the scandal of global poverty before 2015. One of these includes the target of eliminating deaths from malaria. But neither this, nor any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), can be achieved without the momentum of a global movement behind it.”

For more information on Faiths Act, please visit