“May every day find every one of us continually embraced in growing peace.” —Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International
By Paula Ananias, Arigatou International
Arigatou International is a non-profit organization which works to bring people from all walks of life together to build a better world for children. Arigatou is the Japanese word for Thank you. This is a way to express the gratitude Arigatou has with all partners and people it cooperates with to improve the lives of children. Arigatou International was founded in 1990 in Japan by a Buddhist lay movement called Myochikai. Myochikai was created after World War II in 1950 in pursuit of enlightenment and peace combining “prayer and practice” to contribute to create a prosperous environment for all. The work of Arigatou International is rooted in Myochikai’s recognition that children are the treasure of humanity, the inheritors of the Earth, and the bearers of future peace.Arigatou International draws on universal principles of common good to offer compelling new ways to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and have their rights respected, and have the opportunity to freely pursue their full human potential.
Arigatou International develops and sustains unique multi-stakeholder initiatives for the well-being of children through the promotion of interfaith cooperation, ethics education for children, and addressing the root causes of violence against children and ending child poverty. Arigatou International is “All for Children” and “All with Children” as we work closely with children, empowering them to jointly find and implement solutions to bring about change in their communities.
The organization is strongly committed to support grassroots faith communities through its Global Network of Religion for Children- GNRC. The GNRC is a leading global interfaith network devoted to working for the rights and well-being of children worldwide. Its membership and partners include a diverse group of religious communities and leaders, faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, and United Nations agencies. Currently, the network is active in 55 countries. GNRC reached over 13 million people, both directly and indirectly, implementing 806 activities since 2012.
Arigatou International works on three main thematic areas: Ethics Education for Children, Prayer and Action and Ending Child Poverty. The “Learning to Live Together (LTLT) – An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education”, developed in 2008 with UNESCO and UNICEF, is a concrete example of a program implemented by Arigatou International. The LTLT aims to equip children and youth to learn to live in solidarity with people of different religions, cultures, and ethnicities. It nurtures ethical values that strengthen their identities, critical thinking, empathy and capacity to work together. This program is now implemented in over 60 countries around the globe. Through our programs we have seen Christian, Muslim and Jewish participants in Israel coming together for the first time to talk about their shared land; Indian children and youth from all socio-economic classes and religious backgrounds working together; Roma children in Romania feeling included and welcomed by others; children in Kenya from different ethnic and religious groups in counties affected by violence, critically acknowledging each other’s similarities and embracing their differences; children from war-torn countries living in Greece strengthening their identities through learning to play together with others; and children in El Salvador strengthening their sense of belonging and empowerment as a preventive mechanism against gang violence. Children attending the program have changed their attitudes and behaviors, particularly privileging dialogue over violence, through the creation of spaces to reflect on situations of conflict around them, their relationships and their role to contribute to their communities.
In March 2020, Arigatou International was among the first organizations working to promote interfaith collaboration and action to coordinate a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working together with partners around the world, the “Faith in Action for Children” campaign calls primarily on religious leaders and communities, as well as child protection organizations, civil society, educators, parents and caregivers to increase their actions in response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children. The campaign builds on the ethical imperative to come together in solidarity as one human community to protect the most vulnerable, particularly children.
In emergencies, faith can play a critical role by strengthening resilience in children and young people and giving them hope for the future. Furthermore, religious leaders can make crucial contributions to positively influence millions of followers to protect children from harm and affirm their dignity.
The campaign has mobilized action at the local level in more than 50 countries around the world, to respond to the escalation of violence against children, as well as the negative impacts on their physical social, emotional and spiritual well-being. It has also focused on raising the voices of children and young people and creating spaces for their reflections on the impact of COVID-19 and the transformations they would like to see in their communities.
To learn more about Arigatou International, visit one of the following sites:
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Faith in Development Monitor (FiDM)
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Faith and existing belief systems do not receive enough attention in global development cooperation despite the fact that human development is inseparably interwoven with worldviews. Development is taking place in all societies and cultures which are deeply influenced by religions. At the same time, faith-based organizations are among the oldest and most influential actors in global and local development cooperation. The Faith in Development Monitor (1) illustrates the relevance of religion for international development cooperation, (2) increases religious literacy among practitioners and policymakers, and (3) comprehensively explains current developments in the field of "religion and development". We encourage readers and recipients to engage in dialogue with faith-based organizations.
December 8th 2020
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