The European Jamat Committee (EJC) teams across Europe are working with murids who have recently arrived in Europe. Many of them have experienced difficult times prior to and/or during their journey to Europe. The ECJ seeks to build culturally inclusive communities, with the knowledge, resources and support to fulfil their needs.
Exploring the theme of culturally inclusive communities, it’s essential to consider what we mean by 'cultural diversity' - a range of different societies or people of different origins, religions and traditions all living and interacting together. By disrupting conformity, racial and ethnic diversity, people are prompted to scrutinise facts, think more deeply and develop their own opinions. Such diversity ultimately benefits everyone, minorities and majorities alike.
‘Cultural awareness’ is the foundation of communication and it involves the ability to stand back from ourselves and become aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions; in particular how they may differ to those around us. Cultural awareness becomes central when we have to interact with people from varied cultures who may see, interpret and evaluate things in different ways. What is considered an appropriate behaviour in one culture may be inappropriate in another.
Innovative, successful projects by EJC teams therefore aim to be culturally inclusive by going beyond the traditional models of delivering aid and reach a broader range of murids with greater impact. Successful programmes provide services in interesting, interactive, or unique ways. Often this means moving away from preconceived ideas prior to working with a community, and for EJC teams to be flexible and willing to change or supplement their programming where and when necessary. One area of recent innovation is the integration of technology for more effective and engaging programming, as well as communications.
Capacity building can take place in many forms; institutional, physical or intellectual - depending on the needs of the Jamat and individual murids. Building capacity means working on multiple levels. People, organisations, and communities do not exist in isolation; each is part of and affected by the other. By increasing the capacity of one, we can also strengthen others, and progressively build a strong, integrated system that supports one another. Strong, capable individuals build strong, capable organisations, leadership skills and resources that can share their capacities in coalitions, partnerships and collaborative efforts with other organisations and in time benefit the Jamat, as well as the societies they live amongst.