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After suffering a mild stroke on a visit to her native Sri Lanka last winter, Gowri Thamotharampillai is back at the helm of Bridge Builders In Unity. Although still a little tired, Gowri has made a full recovery for which we are all truly thankful.
As well as organising Bridge Builders, Gowri is teaching part-time at an adult education college in Wembley. She says: “I’ve been lucky. Slowly but surely I’m regaining strength. It’s a pity Bridge Builders has been on pause for six months, but now I’m ready again for business.”
October 19, 2008
BORIS AND THE BUILDERS
“I’ve heard of you people,” said London’s Mayor Boris Johnson as he spoke to Bridge Builders chairman David Taylor. They met at a lively question-and-answer session organised by The Minhaj-ul-Qur’an International Mosque, Forest Gate, on Sunday, October 19. The Mayor, who also met Bridge Builders project director Gowri Pillai, was passing on hints about how City Hall could help groups promote community cohesion in the East End. The Mayor’s visit to Newham was quite a coup for the mosque – due in no small part to the good offices of Allegra Mostyn-Owen who runs after-school art workshops at the Minhaj-ul-Quran Madrasah. Allegra, who was Boris Johnson’s first wife, was awarded a special achievement award in 2006 for her work by Imam Sadiq Qureshi.
October 17, 2008
GRASSROOTS FOR GREEN FINGERS
Project director Gowri Pillai collects a “Grassroots” grant from Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham. Like most charities, Bridge Builders operates on a shoestring, so the award, made through the auspices of the Newham Voluntary Sector Consortium, helps keep Bridge Builders afloat. The grant is to fund the Bridge Builders GREEN FINGERS project where youngsters maintain the gardens of senior citizens in Canning Town.
from POONAM GUNASEELAN
BRIDE BUILDERS is a charity that tries to bring about peace and harmony within and between different faiths and cultures. As a young person, I’ve noticed that many people are reluctant to move outside their comfort zone. In other words, they’re most likely to mix with others like themselves in terms of race, faith and culture.
BRIDGE BUILDERS aim to break down these barriers between cultures and faiths. We believe it is possible if people better understand one another’s faiths and one another’s cultures. We also put our motives and thoughts into action.
In 2005 after the 7/7 bombings, BRIDGE BUILDERS organised a march followed by a vigil at West Ham Banqueting Suite in which people of all faiths recited peace prayers. I felt this was a massive success. There was an amazing vibe throughout the room and the hall was filled with acceptance. BRIDGE BULDERS have also organised several visits to places of worship where anyone could join the visit. This broke down barriers of separation that many people feel.
BRIDGE BUILDERS IN UNITY is aimed at the younger generation. Many organisations have been set up to bring about peace and unity within cultures; however all of these are aimed at an older audience.
When youngsters take part in BRIDGE BULDERS, many feel they have a sense of identity. They feel reconnecting with their community, which I feel in itself is a gigantic step in self actualisation. The younger generation is the future; therefore if youngsters do not get involved in such organisations, then the hope for a future where people of all kinds will live together in harmony is a wasted dream. In order for there to be progress into the future we must move forward from the present, not the past.