Young People Motivated by Faith to Help Needy, Says Foundation

More than 680 young people from different religions applied for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's Faiths Act Fellowship this year, the Foundation reported.

Forty-one percent of the applicants to the interfaith youth leadership program were Christians. Muslims and Hindus made up the second and third highest faith groups that applied, accounting for 17 percent and 18 percent of the total applicants, respectively.

"The idea that young people are not motivated by faith to help others – or that faith only inspires conflict – is simply wrong," said Tony Blair, founder and patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, in a statement Thursday.

The program, which is in its second year, chooses 30 people between the ages of 20 and 27 from Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the United States who are motivated by their faith to help vulnerable people. Selected young adults are paired with someone of another faith to work together in local communities to tackle global poverty. They will be responsible to bring different religious communities together to raise funds and awareness to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

This year, the particular focus is on eradicating deaths from malaria.

"The number of applicants clearly shows the enthusiasm there is among today's young people to demonstrate how faith can be a force for good in society," said Blair. "It can build understanding and provide unity and strength to counter those who see faith as a source of division and discrimination.

"As the first ever World Interfaith Harmony Week approaches I remain an optimist about the future, when I see the commitment of this generation to deliver real change."

The U.N. World Interfaith Harmony Week will take place the first week of February.

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