On 20 May 2014, WFWP Ireland in collaboration with the Lantern Centre in Dublin, hosted an Interfaith Prayer Evening in support of the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Recently, we have all been following the news about the tragic events of the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls on 14 April 2014. It's hard to come to terms with such a horrendous crime being inflicted on these innocent school girls. As a result a worldwide campaign emerged called #BringBackOurGirls and we really felt it is important that the interfaith community responds to this campaign in a show of support for all these girls and their families. As religious and spiritual people we should never under-estimate the power of prayer, and especially when people of different faiths get together going beyond the barriers of our own faith and cultural backgrounds. So, with this in mind we felt strongly called to organise a prayer event to pray for the girls’ safe return and to send out our unified love and support. We invited people of all faiths and none, with only one week’s notice, and also encouraged participants to bring their daughters and nieces. About 60 people attended from different religious and spiritual backgrounds as well as members of the Nigerian community. After the introductions by Joan Murray representing the Lantern Centre, and Doris McCann, President of WFWP Ireland, we invited up Ifrah Ahmed to speak on the topic. Ifrah is a Muslim lady from Somalia and a powerful campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ireland and Europe. Having come to Ireland as a refugee and having experienced many similar atrocities in Somalia she could speak from the heart based on her own personal experience. We then moved to the more reflective part of the program, beginning with some quotes from the major world religions. We had Christian and Unificationist young girls, Muslim and Jewish ladies and a Nigerian gentleman to read out the quotes. After this, we split up into smaller prayer groups of about 5 people. We had been able to get hold of the name list of the 178 abducted girls. We had prepared paper strips with each 3 names of the girls on it, and a few strips representing the girls whose names we didn’t have. Each participant took a paper strip out of a basked, before going into their prayer group. The young girls present at the event were assisting with holding a prayer candle in each group. We spent about 10 minutes in prayer, each in our own way. This way, everybody prayed simultaneously, while calling out the girls by name, creating a powerful spirit in the room. We encouraged everybody to hold on to the names of the girls after the event and to continue to hold them in their prayers. People were really moved and expressed their appreciation for having the actual girls’ names - as it made it much more personal. After this, we were honored to listen to a most fitting song by 11-year-old Child prodigy Zena Donnelly in a duet with professional Tenor Eoin Hynes. They performed ‘The Prayer’ and many people were moved to tears. After the main event, many people expressed their deep gratitude for having had the opportunity to participate and support the girls and their families at this time. We could feel a sense of community with each other after sharing our prayers and concerns for this tragic situation. Thank you to all who lent their time, heart and energy to this beautiful event! Doris McCann WFWP Ireland President