Birmingham, United Kingdom—Twelve young men and 12 young women took part in a youth service project, laying the foundations for a Peace Garden
The local chapter of UPF, supported by the local chapter of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an affiliated organization, organized the project in partnership with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust.
The young people worked in a beautiful EcoPark in Small Heath, one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham,
The young men worked from August 8 to 10, 2022, clearing out a very overgrown part of the park, which was like a jungle, and beginning work on a new fence around it, together with some benches for people to enjoy time reflecting in nature. At the center of the Peace Garden is a beautiful fig tree.
The young women worked from August 1 to 3, completing the woodwork and clearing another area of very tall reeds and grass, putting in new soil to make a large flower bed. Seeds from these flowers will be sent out next year to other parks and green spaces in Birmingham. Most of the young women were daughters of Birmingham Women's Peace Group members.
Each day a home-made lunch was provided by different Women’s Peace Group members – Bangladeshi, Moroccan, Jamaican, Iranian, Pakistani.
Several people came in to speak to the young men and women: two city councilors, Shehla Moledina from Balsall Heath West and Shabina Bano from Small Heath; a Christian minister, Rev. Carver Anderson, and a local imam, Shahid Tameez, who are working with youth and street gangs; and Nadyia Hussain, who leads the Violence Reduction Unit in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
All were inspired by the efforts of the young people, their teamwork, and the fact that they represented so many races, religions, cultures, and 10 different nationalities. It was interesting to see the transformation that occurred in the young participants during their three days at the project, particularly in the young women, who gained confidence through public service, creating something of value for the community, and building lasting friendships with the other participants in the process.
At the end, certificates of achievement were presented— to the young women on August 3 and to the young men on August 10—by the region’s longest serving (35 years) female police officer, Rani Gundhu.
One of the young men, Mohamed from Somalia, and one of the young women, Evanjelin from Sri Lanka, were selected for recognition at the UPF Youth Awards event, to be held in the UK Parliament on November 22. Shaun Bailey, one of the youngest members of Parliament, who represents West Bromwich in the West Midlands region, will host the event.
Mohamed and Evanjelin will have time to speak in Parliament about their experience on the Peace Garden project and other social and humanitarian work they have been doing to help young people, before receiving the award from their Member of Parliament.