Friday, March 23, 2007

Welcome to Malaysia!

URI SEA-PACIFIC 3rd ANNUAL REGIONAL MEETING 2007 Moving forward in solidarity to build cultures of peace in the region March 14-16, 2007 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The 3rd Annual Regional Meeting of the URI Southeast Asia-Pacific (SEAP) Regional Trustees and leaders of Cooperation Circles took place in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia from March 14-16, 2007. This was the first regional meeting held outside Manila- the seat of the regional office.
The Regional Meeting was hosted by the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship (INSaF) URI KL CC—chaired by Regional Trustee Dr. Amir Farid Isahak; and its mother organization, The Pure Life Society—which is lead by KL’s respected interfaith spiritual matriarch, Mother Mangalam.
On March 13th 2007 (Tuesday) the delegates from outside Malaysia started to arrive. Ms. Yoland Trevino, URI Global Council (GC) Chairperson, who flew from US, and Ms. Jessiee Kaur-Singh, CC leader of COMMON CC from Australia, arrived separately.

Day 0: Arrivals

DAY 0: On 14th (Wednesday) the rest of the team which flew from the Philippines arrived in the early morning around 1:00am and checked-in to the Singgahsana Hotel in Petaling Jaya where the delegates were billeted for the whole period of their stay.

The URISEAP 3rd Regional Meeting had the special and rare privilege of having the presence of– aside from URI GC Chair Ms. Yoland Trevino-- the URI Executive Director, Rev. Charles Gibbs; and two other staff from the URI hub in San Francisco, Ms. Sally Mahe’ (URI Director for Organizational Development) and Ms. Barbara Hartford (URI Director for the Peacebuilding Program and HR). The three of them flew in together with the Philippine delegation right after their second 5-day seminar-workshop on the URI Moral Imagination Peacebuilding Training Program which was held in Manila (March 8-12). The delegates who accompanied them from the Philippines were: Dr. Shakun Vaswani (URI SEAP Regional Coordinator-Manila), Ms. Marites Guingona-Africa (The Peacemakers’ Circle CC leader from Manila), Sr. Sandra Clemente, RSCJ (Regional Trustee & Kalinaw CC leader from Cebu), Mr. Boni Quirog (Bohol Goodwill Volunteers’ CC leader from Bohol), Mr. Musa Sanguila (Pakigdait CC from Mindanao), Mr. Lee Collano (Muslim-Christian Peacemakers’ Association CC representative from Caloocan City), and Mr. Orlan de Guzman, Jr. (URISEAP Regional Information and Communications Officer).

Lunch with INSaF/URIKLCC

Despite the lack of sleep due to the early morning flight the delegates were able to grab some late breakfast at the Hotel, and then later on, took a walk to the nearby shopping mall to have some money exchanged and their e-mails checked. Some even got the chance to visit Dr. Amir's clinic there.
At lunch time the group was brought to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant to meet for the first time the members of INSaF and Pure Life Society, and share a hearty meal with them.

At the Pure Life Society center

Afterwards, the delegates proceeded to the Pure Life Society center where they were met by its president, Mother Mangalam, and the rest of its members. In a conference hall, everyone gathered for formal introductions and to review the proposed schedule of activities and discuss the program for the interfaith conference on the fourth day. After clarifications and revisions on the program were made and as the rain has finally subsided, the group took a tour around the compound to see more and learn more about the Pure Life Society. The delegates visited the quarters and facilities of the Pure Life orphanage, temple Universal Spirit. The day was capped with a fellowship dinner in the evening with the members of INSaF/Pure Life Society—our new found URI family in KL.

Day 1: Sacred opening

DAY 1: On 15th March 2007 (Thursday) the delegates were picked up from the hotel and brought back to the Pure Life Society for the meeting proper.

The Sacred Opening was done at the Temple of Universal Spirit which is situated on top of the hill within the compound. Mother Mangalam started the prayers with an inspirational reading and silencing while accompanied by flute music rendered by Orlan de Guzman, Jr. This was followed by sharing of individual prayers and reflections from the different faiths, and symbolic offerings around the circle. Dr. Amir then formally welcomed everyone to the meeting, to INSaF URIKLCC/ Pure Life Society and to their beautiful country.

Meeting proper starts

After coffee break the group gathered at the conference hall to proceed with the meeting presided by the current regional chairperson Dr. Amir. Starting with the reading together of the URI Preamble, Purpose and Principles the meeting then flowed to the sharing of stories and updates from each CC. Each CC shared pictures, updates of activities and presented their history, how they got to know URI and created/registered as a CC.

The sharing started with the host INSaF/URIKLCC represented by Ms. Goh Chooi Chin and followed by the rest of the participating CCs. This went on until lunch time and was continued afterwards. An eighth group was asked to share—soon to be a CC which just had its CC application submitted for approval a few days earlier. This was the Malaysian Interfaith Network (MIN) which was represented by its coordinator, Dr. John Gurusamy, who formally introduced their group to the URI SEAP family.

At tea time the group decided to proceed with the meeting while having snacks & refreshments. The founding regional coordinator¸ Ms. Marites Africa was then asked to share about the history of URI in the Southeast Asia-Pacific region. This was followed by sharing from the staff members (Ms. Sally Mahe’, Ms. Barbara Hartford and Rev. Chares Gibbs) from the URI hub to provide the global context.

Dinner & cutural program

The day’s meeting ended around 5:30pm after which the group went to the hotel to freshen up before heading back to the Pure Life Society center for dinner cum multicultural show prepared by the children from the Pure Life orphanage. The delegates were entertained with dances, a drama sketch, and some singing with a local singer accompanied by traditional music. The delegates even danced onstage while some were invited to render impromptu song numbers. Hence, the URI chorale was born!
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