Government recognises Soul Food's contribution

Government recognises Soul Foods contribution

Soul Food organisers Nima Ferdowsi (far left) and Monib Mahdavi (far right) with Minister James Merlino and Victorian Baha'i Council member Yeganeh Akbari at the presentation ceremony

Soul Food, a public devotional meeting running in Melbourne for four years, has been awarded a major grant from the Victorian State Government to continue promoting community harmony. 

The Minister assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, James Merlino, presented the $7500 grant to the Soul Food team at the State Library of Victoria, the home of the monthly events.

The Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Community Grants Program provides funding to projects that bring different faith and community groups together to celebrate shared values and increase the understanding of, and respect for, differences.

Mr Merlino said Victorians come from more than 200 countries, speak more than 230 languages and dialects, and follow more than 120 faiths.

“The idea that at the end of the day it’s all one is a powerful message and one we should support, and I am pleased to say, we do support,” Mr Merlino told the gathering, which was held on 22 May 2009 and included representatives from the Victorian Multicultural Commission, the Victorian Baha’i Council and regular Soul Food participants.

“What a contribution Soul Food is to the community, what a contribution the Baha’i Community is making to the people of Victoria,” Mr Merlino said.

“The popularity of this event is a testament to the success of the organisation and to the willingness of Victorians to embrace the diversity of humanity with open arms.”

Organised by volunteers each month since 2005, Soul Food provides a tranquil environment for people to relax while reflect­ing on inspiring themes.

The event incorporates live music from Melbourne’s upcoming and renowned musicians, visual presentations, and a selection of readings from major religions, philosophers, indigenous groups and authors.

Program themes have included “A time for renewal” and “No man is an island”, with readings drawn from sources as varied as Martin Luther King Jr, Confucius, Paulo Coelho, Albert Einstein, the Holy Bible, the Dalai Lama, and Baha’u’llah.

Soul Food team member Nima Ferdowsi said the grant demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting multi-faith harmony in the local community.

“We are proud to have received endorsement from Minister James Merlino and the Victorian Multicultural Commission,” Mr Ferdowsi said.

“Soul Food is inspired by principles of the Baha’i Faith, which promote oneness of humanity,” he said.

“We want to provide the wider Melbourne community with a free program where people of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds can come together to celebrate our diversity, and be reminded of the common threads that tie all of us together.”

More information about monthly Soul Food events in Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart is available at the Soul Food Website. Past programs are available online to encourage individuals to hold similar events in their own homes and local communities.

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