World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016 in Singapore

Organised by The Blue Ribbon Global, Singapore & Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community, Indonesia

Supported by the Harmony Centre, Singapore

  About 190 people – ranging from tertiary students to professionals to retirees – gathered in the evening of Monday 1 Feb 2016 to participate in an interfaith Forum on Being a Good Neighbour in the Abrahamic Religions.  The message of neighbourliness is a timeless one, but in a world increasingly torn by acts of violence, this understanding is becoming more urgently needed within our local and global communities.

This Forum was part of international commemorations of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place in the first week of February every year, celebrating the global diversity of faiths and building trust between them.  The event, held in Singapore at the aptly-named Hall of Trust of in Toa Payoh, was organised by The Blue Ribbon Global, supported by Harmony Centre, NUS Interfaith, and the Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community.

While the place of all religions in human society was recognised, this Forum looked only at the three Abrahamic faiths, taking the common respect for the patriarch Abraham as a starting point.  This focus also produced a greater depth of discourse and discussion during this event.  Besides Christianity, Islam, Judaism, the three faiths represented in the panel, the audience also comprised people of different religious convictions, including Hindus and Buddhists, as well as atheists and agnostics.

The panel discussion and the subsequent spirited but civil Q&A session was moderated by Mohd Imran Mohd Taib of the Harmony Centre.  Dr Hoon Chang Yau from the Singapore Management University provided opening insights to frame the discussions, and the panel comprised Rabbi Nathan Alfred of the United Hebrew Congregation, Ustaz Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and Rev Malcolm Tan from Covenant Community Methodist Church.

Participants left with a deeper understanding of the three Abrahamic different faiths, and a common sense of shared humanity.  It was indeed an evening well-spent.


World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) dedicates the first week of February each year to provide a platform where all interfaith groups and groups of goodwill can reaffirm, in an expression of global solidarity, that mutual understanding and interreligious engagement constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.  WIHW was proposed by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan, and unanimously adopted as a UN General Assembly Resolution on 20 Oct 2010 (A/RES/65/5).[1]

Global Need for Mutual Understanding. Throughout human history, many wars have been fought, and atrocities committed, on the basis of differences related to race, language and religion.  Today, through the development of civilization and the work of numerous local, regional and international institutions, these have been reduced, but are by no means eradicated.  In fact, a recent resurgence of violent acts has been noted.[2]

Abrahamic Roots. Three streams among major world religions trace their roots to the patriarch Abraham.  Adherents of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all recognize Abraham as a man of faith.


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Grooming Positive Characters among Singapore Youth

The Blue Ribbon @ National University of Singapore (USP)

23rd September 2015

It has been almost one and a half year since the inception of The Blue Ribbon in Singapore. Its peace initiatives have reached a number of  high  learning institutions, and impacted both local and international youth that are living or residing in this little red dot island.


Last week, in conjunction with United Nation International Day of Peace which happens annually on 21st September, TBR had a wonderful two hour conversation with seven staff and students from National University of Singapore , University Scholars Program (USP) on social enterprise and TBR commitment in building peace locally and globally.

The meeting was arranged by Professor Kang Hway Chuan from Department of Chemistry and USP and coordinated by Ms Ang Lee Koon, USP students’ life manager.

During this session, the students and Ms Lee Koon, and TBR had a deep 30 minute Skype conversation with Mansur,  a young peace Afghan volunteer, and Dr Hakim Young or Wee Teck Young, a humanitarian doctor and social entrepreneur. The Skype conversation left USP students with challenging and provoking questions.

Dr Hakim is a Singaporean who is now residing in Kabul, Afghanistan. He mentors young Afghan Peace volunteers in advocating peace and abolishment of war and was  a 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.


Norani Abu Bakar, the founder of The Blue Ribbon first met Dr Hakim during The Amber Initiative in June 2014. This Singaporean youth led NPO, founded by Meixi Ng andm Suraj Upadhiah, ordered 200 blue batik ribbon to wrap around the blue scarves made by Afghan mothers. Each youth had his or her name embroidered on a ribbon. This was a wonderful sewing project by Afghanistan and Singapore home bound mothers that are connected through the borderless human family.

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TBR has been looking into different ways to collaborate with Blue Scarves / Afghans Youth Peace Volunteers. The initial attempt was to connect both social enterprises’ beneficiaries. Today, both organizations connect their mentees regularly via Skype so that they can learn from each other on being global citizens who embrace equal responsibilities for world peace.

Ms Ang and the president of University Scholars Club, Lim Cheng Lai, are now discussing on how to help selling products made by  TBR  beneficiaries. TBR hopes that something meaningful and long lasting will surface from this engagement.


Dinner with 30 YPIC Indonesia representatives and ACWAY of UK

TBR hopes that NUS USP students will be opened to participate in various TBR related events that will be hosted by Department of Malays Studies of NUS in 2016. Four key events will be Peace Ambassadors Workshop and Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community (YIPC)Workshop for Asian youth, World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), and Pathways Singapore Institute.

WIHW was inaugurated this February 2015 at NUS. It was made possible due to the dedication and  leadership of  YIPC Indonesia co-founder, Jonathan Andreas and the support of Professor Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman, the director of Department of Malay Studies. TBR played its role in this ground breaking event by connecting Mr Andreas with key local interfaith leaders.

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TP SCD student teaching mothers basic computer skills

TBR T'shirts for Jamiyah HWH residents

TP Students holding T’shirts from TBR and Business School for Jamiyah HWH residents

Besides NUS USP students, at least another 100 students from Temasek Polytechnic were involved with The Blue Ribbon project in the last one year period. They were connected with TBR through TP Enactus, Sustainable Community Development and World Issues subjects, and TP International Students Group’s 1st year students bonding weekend.

The avenue created and the support given by TBR to these students provides experiential learning opportunities in understanding and  serving those with needs in Singapore. For TP international students, TBR event at Aliwal Arts Centre connected them with Singaporeans, and this was a critical phase for their social integration with the local community.

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Peace Ambassadors – Training of Trainers in Batam

6th September 2015

Thirteen Peace Ambassadors successfully conducted the 4th peace training at Bintan Bersatu Apparel factory in Batam this early September 2015. The participants were the first batch of  BBA operators.

The factory is owned by Bodynits Group, a Singapore company, and has around 1300 staff. One of its directors, Ms Lynn Tan was instrumental  in initiating this peace training at BBA. Her hope is not only to create a community of peace in the factory, but also to facilitate continuous learning of the local staff and grooming their leadership. She also envisions in bringing this peace training to other Bodynits’ companies in China and Vietnam. Local Batam leaders who participated in a few of the training too have expressed interest in bringing the Peace Ambassadors Workshop to other companies in Batam.


Since the 1st peace training that took place in February 2015, all managers and line leaders have attended this 2 day 1 night workshop. The Blue Ribbon founder, Norani Abu Bakar with the support of two Senior Trainers from Peace Generation Indonesia Raki Ali and Lian Fooks, have trained 20 staff to become BBA in-house Peace Ambassadors’ trainers. Its lead in-house trainer, Endieth Jaloe Prasiteyo was key in organizing and taking the lead in BBA in-house Peace Ambassadors training.

All trainers participated on voluntary basis. In the last 8 months, they had trained another 130 co-workers. The company hopes that 1300 staff will step forward to voluntarily participate in this peace workshop and community services.

The event has been very well-received by many staff that many had to wait for their turn to attend. The maximum number of participants for each workshop is 30 people. The two day workshop was full with engaging activities, discussion and reflection. At night, the staff enjoyed BBQ session and watched movie together. They began the 2nd day with fun aerobic at 6:00 a.m. led by BBA staff, Ms Lia.


BBA co-trainers, Jennifer Del Mundo from the Philippines and Indah Irianty Situmorang had also supported The Blue Ribbon training in Singapore in June this year. Another two co-trainers, Joni Alfian and Lina Putri received scholarships from The Blue Ribbon and support from Bodynits to attend Young Interfaith Peacemakers Community National conference in Jogjakarta, Indonesia this August 2015. This was their first exposure attending a peace camp outside BBA. There, they met likeminded young leaders, mainly university students, from all over Indonesia who are championing spreading of peace in their local communities and neighbouring countries.


The Blue Ribbon looks forward for continuous and mutual support with Bodynits Group International in cultivating peaceful characters and externalizing good values by caring for those with needs and the environment in the countries where their businesses are present.

BBA Bisa! Peace Ambassadors Yes!

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The 1st Peace Ambassadors’ Training in Singapore

27th September 2014

At last, the first Blue Ribbon peace training was launched in Singapore. This was a one day introductory workshop on peace as character value. The content of this workshop was jointly developed by Peace Generation and The Blue Ribbon.

Twenty participants came and half of them were from Bodynits International branch in Batam, Indonesia. The group was very diverse. The farthest participant was from Cairo, Egypt. Others were from Brunei, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

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This Peace Ambassador’s training was led by Ms Norani Abu Bakar of The Blue Ribbon, and was supported by two senior trainers of Peace Generation, Raqhi Fooks and Lian Fooks. Both are from Australia. Some of the participants from Batam and Egypt are now planning in running this training in Batam , Indonesia and Cairo, Egypt in 2015.

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The training was also co-sponsored by Ms Christy Lim, Director of Places – a coaching and wellness company. Two members from TP Enactus/ The Blue Ribbon team Nurshahidah Azmi and Norasnah Bujang, graciously volunteered to make this event a successful one.

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Most participants also kindly supported the Blue Ribbon @ Lakeside project by purchasing tee shirts made by lady sewers, who are in need of flexible working hour job. The Blue Ribbon also provided scholarships and sponsorship to some participants. Our thanks also goes to other supporters and volunteers whose names are not mentioned here.

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The 1st Peace Ambassadors’ Training in Sabah

23rd August 2014

A bit more than 30 participants attended the first Blue Ribbon peace training in Sabah. This was an introductory training on peace values, and it was conducted in Malaysian national language. A few observers from Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur also participated in some of the activities.

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Some drove for six hours to come to this full day Peace Ambassador training. A couple from Brunei who came to this training was very inspired to collaborate with The Blue Ribbon to run similar training in their countries. A teacher at a polytechnic in Kota Kinabalu, Ms Kristy Won, is now planning with the Blue Ribbon in conducting Peace Ambassador’s training at her school early next year.

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Participants from Sabah also supported this peace initiative by purchasing patched batik tee shirts sewn by Mothers Support Group at Blue Ribbon vocational sewing workshop Lakeside, Singapore.

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TP Enactus Supports The Blue Ribbon @ Lakeside Family Services

11th August 2014


Enthusiastic young students from Temasek Polytechnic (TP) Enactus recently formed a group to support marketing of The Blue Ribbon @ Lakeside products and work. The team was led by Brandon Ho, who was an alum of TP.

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Enactus stands for, Entrepreneurial – Action – Us. “It is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world.”

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Recently, the group participated in Enactus Project Fair at TP. The members promoted their product design, ‘Peace Loom Band’ to students who came to their booth. In September, two of TP Enactus members, Nurshahidah Azmi and Norasnah Bujang from Brunei, presented their group  marketing work to a panellist of businessmen during Enactus Singapore National Feedback session.

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The Blue Ribbon @ Lakeside Family Services, Singapore


30th April 2014


For the last three weeks, the Blue Ribbon volunteers have been working very hard commissioning a sewing workshop for the first Blue Ribbon project in Singapore. This project is hosted by Lakeside Family Services to support social development of the needy ones that are cared by this organization.

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Through this partnership, the Blue Ribbon aims to provide:

  • Lessons on sewing and crafts making
  • Training on soft skills for business and workshop management
  • Supply to small business order as part of clients’ hands-on learning experience.

Blue Ribbon also hopes that this ‘Peace Service for the Community’ (PSC) initiative will be a platform for volunteers and supporters from any background to serve together for the betterment of the local community.

The fruit of this 3-week labour was celebrated last Wednesday when all sewing machines were ready to be used by members of Mothers’ Support Group. A number of tee shirts design for Peace Ambassador’s training were also almost completed, thus production can begin next week. Blue Ribbon hopes that the small job order for the workshop can provide some income for mothers who are not able to work full time elsewhere.

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Thanks to Madam Farida Tahir and Madam Aminah Ahmad who diligently learned to use these machines from Singer in-house trainer and later transferred their sewing skills to others. Special thanks also goes to Ms Grace Ling and Madam Racheal Seah who worked very hard with sourcing and buying items for the workshop, and Ms Vivien Cheng and Ms Rabiatul Ismail for their translation and administrative work. Last but not least, thank you to Ms Meixi Ng of Amber Initiative for preparing surveys and providing computer training to Blue Ribbon’s clients last Wednesday.

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This first Blue Ribbon sewing training session ended with Ms Norani Abu Bakar (the Blue Ribbon founder) giving away gifts donated by Madam Alison Ng, and thanking all volunteers, Mr Jason Foo and Mr Hong Hai Seeto (key supporters to this project) and bidding farewell to Mr Matthew Ting. Matthew kindly flew from Sibu Sarawak, Malaysia to Singapore and spent almost ten days to help set-up the sewing room.

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Another volunteer, Ms Jessie Wang, from He Long Jiang, China is also here to train Blue Ribbon clients making ‘Dragonfly’ (fridge magnet). This product is a signature design of Home Sweet Home, a social enterprise that serves the unsheltered and physically challenged people in Shanghai.

The raw materials for making these Dragonflies were generously donated by an ex-client of Home Sweet Home who is now the factory manager of this organization. Blue Ribbon hopes that other clients of Lakeside Family Services, such as the stakeholders of Family in Transition (FiT), will be inspired by his life transformation. The company will coorporate with Lakeside in providing training and helping FiT clients produce Dragonfly products during their stay at the transition homes.


To other supporters, whose names are not mentioned here, the Blue Ribbon would also like to give thanks to your generous donation and kind support, and to continue welcoming you to serve the community through this project. We also wish Norani, who continues to serve in-spite of her medical condition after her surgery, a speedy recovery.

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