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Teens join to create Interfaith mural from cans

March 10
21:50 2014
Youth gathered at Interfaith image event in St Louis

Youth gathered at Interfaith image event in St Louis

ST LOUIS: Thirty five teens representing four different faiths – Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jew – came together on February 28 at the St. Louis Science Center to create an interfaith image from nearly 2000 canned food items. The image will be donated to local food pantries through Operation Food Search.

Inspired by the OMNIMAX film Jerusalem, the teens created this mural to convey their vision for interfaith dialogue and understanding. Through the collaborative efforts of Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis and Interfaith Quest, the faith groups raised funds to buy the cans and designed an image depicting their faith symbols and a silhouette of an interfaith skyline.

At the end of March, the cans will be disassembled and donated to Operation Food Search. The Science Center will leave the structure on display until the end of the month. It is located on the second floor in front of the Imax theatre.

The Jerusalem movie was the perfect backdrop for this project because at one point in the movie, a young lady states “perhaps one day we will have the courage to reach across the lines of our faith and discover the other”. That day is now in St. Louis. This is something that Bal Vihar of St. Louis strongly encourages with the kids. Through Bal Vihar, these kids have had the courage to “reach across the lines” of faith by visiting many different houses of worship and having dialogues with their youth.

Under the leadership of Beth Damsgaard-Rodriguez and Interfaith Quest, they have had many more opportunities for discussions and service projects with local interfaith teens. The kids always come back enriched from the experience.

This would not have been possible without generous contributions from the Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis, the YMCA of Greater St. Louis, Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis Science Center, and Shop ‘n Save.

Since it’s inception in 1992, the Indian cultural school has focused on promoting, instilling, and fostering Indian culture in children ages 5-18. In the youth group, ages 13 and above, they study teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, teach in the younger classes, and participate in many community service projects.

Bal Vihar teens are involved in yearly food and clothing drives, volunteer at various food pantries, soup kitchens, summer projects and grounds maintenance at the Hindu Temple. Over the years students have volunteered with Faith Beyond Walls tree planting and SLICE program, Circle of Concern, Ranken Jordan Hospital, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, and most recently collected and donated $3,000 to Gifting Vision, a non-profit organization providing free eye care in India. Currently the teens are working on creating a web app for mobile devices.

Ashwin Patel

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