Online Resources and Inspiring Stories in the Time of COVID-19
Religious leaders, communities and organizations all over the world are rapidly responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders have moved much of their pastoral work online, and continue to provide guidance and solace to those suffering from anxiety, fear, isolation and bereavement. Faith-based organizations are stepping up to support communities in need and educate others about avoiding infection. Religious communities are taking action to ensure that there is adequate social provision for vulnerable groups.
At KAICIID, we are reaching out to inspire people to take action and respond to the needs of their communities. We are showcasing stories of hope from diverse religious communities around the world and highlighting resources and training on how to use online tools to worship, spread messages of cooperation and engage in practical measures to alleviate suffering.
Below you will find stories, testimonials and statements highlighting how religious leaders, friends of KAICIID and our Fellows are helping the vulnerable and calling for renewed solidarity in their communities. You will also find tools for e-worship, webinars, meeting tools and even reading recommendations.
On social media, you can find these stories, testimonials and initiatives under our hashtag #ReligionsRespond. Community organizations, religious congregations, medical professionals, religious leaders, social activists, individuals, families, friendship circles and social networks all have a shared, global commitment to supporting one another in these difficult times.
Drawing on the experience of religious communities and actors in the field, KAICIID's new publication “Interfaith Dialogue in Action” provides practical recommendations for using dialogue to address the challenges of COVID-19. It also offers strategies for fostering open communication, upholding diversity and preventing further community disconnection, isolation and distrust.
Stories and Resources
Faith Leaders Join the Frontlines of COVID-19 Healthcare Response
Along with claiming the lives of millions, COVID-19 has spurred religious actors to respond with creativity and compassion when it comes to bereavement services and crisis response. With this in mind, two KAICIID Fellows alumni — Rabbi Naomi Kalish in the United States and the Venerable Swami Athmadas Yami Dharmapaksha in India — have launched projects supporting frontline workers and providing care for the sick and dying during the pandemic.
When COVID-19 began to impact the world with rising death tolls, job losses and country lockdowns, KAICIID Fellow Sohini Jana and Dialogue for Peace Facilitator Jon Rasmussen realised young people would require mental and emotional support. Together, they created the Online Circle of Compassion - a safe, digital space for young people to work through their fears and anxieties.
Messages of hope, unity and renewed resolve to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic offered a positive path forward for 2021, as outlined during a KAICIID virtual event held in Vienna yesterday. “Light of Hope and Faith”, which featured messages and prayers from the Centre’s multireligious Board of Directors, centred on each member’s reflections on their own spiritual traditions as well as the theme of hope for 2021.
Faced with a global pandemic and rising calls for violence against minority communities, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a global appeal in May of last year to stop COVID-19 related hate speech. Today, COVID-19 related hate speech against religious and ethnic groups is still on the rise, and the international community is working with faith leaders to prevent discrimination and incitement to violence.
In the Central African Republic, COVID-19 has aggravated the country's humanitarian crisis ahead of an already tense election period. Lockdowns and increased security risks have prevented foreign aid workers from moving around the country to supply much needed crisis relief. In response, KAICIID has collaborated with the Plateforme des Confessions Religieuses de Centrafrique to fill the gaps of international aid missions, working with Central African religious and civil society leaders to provide pandemic safety training to local communities and reach out to vulnerable groups.
As COVID-19 has overburdened the world’s health and humanitarian aid services, almuni from the KAICIID Fellows Programme have tapped into their interfaith networks, using interreligious dialogue to offer psychological support, combat discrimination and hate speech and provide much-needed welfare services.
Hundreds of religious leaders, policymakers and other experts gathered virtually on day two of the G20 Interfaith Forum to take stock of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and outline the crucial role that faith communities play in supporting global efforts to alleviate the suffering caused by the pandemic.
Religious leaders and policymakers from across the globe came together at the G20 Interfaith Forum to explore how to support and mobilise faith communities during this protracted period of crisis. At that global platform, they discussed the biggest problems that face humanity —proposing solutions and looking for ways to achieve the SDGs through collective action
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, KAICIID Fellows launched a new dialogue project called “Ladies for Intercultural Dialogue”. The project brought together Arabic speakers, both men and women, throughout Saudi Arabia to interact in dialogue sessions on important regional and global topics such as the importance of interreligious dialogue, implementation of United Nations Agenda 2030 and harnessing social media to promote peace.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled a hidden pandemic that has been consuming a huge part of humanity for many decades – discrimination and exclusion of those who are disadvantaged due to gender, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, socio-economic status, language, beliefs, and other backgrounds. What ‘vaccine’ is necessary to help bring to an end of this hidden pandemic?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rabbi Bater´s pastoral counselling moved from the physical to the virtual world. “I now use the phone 24 hours a day because people need to be in contact. We are isolated with our families. And if you don't have any family, you are completely alone,” he said.
Prof. Victoria Wyszynski Thoresen is the UNESCO Chair for Education about Sustainable Lifestyles at The Collaborative Learning Centre for Sustainable Development at Inland Norway University. She writes about the opportunities for policymakers and religious leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of KAICIID’s efforts to help actively address the pandemic in 60 countries around the world, 2019 Fellow Barzan Baran Rashid brought together the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan to raise awareness of the dangers of COVID-19. Partnerships between policymakers and religious communities are crucial in tackling COVID-19 in a region where more than a million people gather in most Kurdistan mosques for Friday prayers.
Nearly 11 million prisoners and other detainees are being held worldwide in often overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The widespread transmission of COVID-19 within jails and detention centres means that some incarcerated individuals are facing a literal death sentence. Faith-based organizations and religious insitutions are stepping in to meet the need - providing health and wellness services, spaces to quarantine, pastoral care and resocialision programmes, and donations such as soap and masks.
In response to the millions of people at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, KAICIID Fellows are helping religious communities leverage the power of social media and the internet to foster greater digital dialogue.
KAICIID Fellows from over 60 countries across the Arab Region, Asia and Africa have launched targeted initiatives, working with faith leaders to raise awareness of e-worship and fight hate speech.
In response to the overwhelming need brought on by the pandemic, KAICIID developed a plan to address the crisis by increasing and re-directing resources to support interreligious leaders like the KAICIID Platforms and Fellows around the globe.
Due to the fierce economic, social and human toll of the current pandemic, members of KAICIID’s multireligious Board of Directors met virtually to discuss the role of religious leaders in protecting vulnerable communities during COVID-19.
According to a the United Nations, more than 243 million women and girls globally have been subjected to physical or sexual violence in the last 12 months. This number is expected to increase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as security, health and financial concerns heighten tensions exacerbated by lockdown and isolation measures.
Ross Tutin is a Scout from Australia who serves as the Leader of the Spiritual Development Unit and as a Global Consultant for the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). KAICIID spoke to Ross about the COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperation between the Scouts and KAICIID and about the importance of spirituality within the Scout Movement.
KAICIID staff and partners are finding inventive ways to bring dialogue online, building a virtual community based on trust and safety and discovering that online dialogue can foster transformative relationships across differences.
Graduates of KAICIID’s Social Media as a Space for Dialogue Programme have launched a series of online campaigns in response to a rise in hate speech during COVID-19, working to combat discrimination and misinformation, raise awareness and source funding and supplies for humaintarian relief.
As governments around the world have imposed lockdowns and implemented social distancing measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, important religious holidays like Çarşema Sor, Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Vesak are being celebrated online.
Young people are formulating an active global response to COVID-19 through dialogue and cooperation with other religions. Their responses have been as original as they have been effective – countering fake news and hate speech on social media, providing relief services and raising awareness in their local communities.
Through the support of KAICIID, youth leaders in Nigeria have launched a virtual peacebuilding project during COVID-19 with two cohorts in Abuja and Lagos. The online course aims to educate young people on the drivers of conflict, how to resolve violence through constructive dialogue, and how to foster religious tolerance.
As COVID-19 forces people to stay home, Father Andreas Kaiser of the Ober St. Veit Parish in Vienna moves worship services online and finds innovative ways to keep his parishioners connected.
Religious institutions and faith communities are turning to conference apps and streaming services to provide virtual worship, online classes, counselling and support. Check out some of our favourite digital tools to help you stay connected during COVID-19.
Over 120 KAICIID Fellows from all over the world took part in a virtual conference on COVID-19 this week, providing a vivid picture of how the pandemic is affecting their respective communities and outlining their efforts to mitigate its effects. The conference coincides with efforts by KAICIID to identify and support, with funding where necessary, initiatives by the Fellows related to countering the effects of COVID-19. So far 26 projects have been identified, ranging from social media campaigns to combat disinformation linked to the disease, to setting up an online database of interreligious initiatives, to care programmes for the vulnerable in isolated areas.
Stuck at home during COVID-19? KAICIID has launched a series of e-learning tools including webinars and online courses on interreligious dialogue to help you learn from home. These digital offerings are designed to support educators, policymakers, religious communities, IRD practitioners and researchers.
The KAICIID-supported Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arab Region urges religious institutions and communities to stand in solidarity and raise awareness about COVID-19.
KAICIID has launched a new digital campaign called Virtual Chain of Hope which invites participants to express the value of human interconnectedness during COVID-19 on social media.
KAICIID and WOSM have taken dialogue online, hosting a special edition of Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) which connects young people during COVID-19. The digital sessions encouraged youth to avoid loneliness and isolation by actively reaching out in friendship to one another.
KAICIID joined Arigatou International, senior religious leaders and children from diverse religions for an interfaith prayer and a message of unity for the world’s youngest citizens. The event is part of a larger campaign which focuses on the well-being of children during COVID-19.
As part of KAICIID's #ReligionsRespond campaign, senior Muslim and Christian leaders from the Arab Region, as well as KAICIID Fellows, have drafted 11 articles tackling topics such as the social impact of COVID-19, reducing the pandemic's spread, and humanitarian responsibilities for vulnerable communities.
As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, people following diverse religions around the world answer the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity's call to join together on May 14 for a day of reflection; each from their own home, within the parameters of their own faith, in their own way. This demonstration of interreligious solidarity comes in a time of social distancing and is intended as a demonstration of global solidarity and hope at a time when collective worship is actively discouraged.
Since worldwide lockdowns have been imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19, there has been an alarming rise in domestic violence everywhere. KAICIID Fellow Nageeba Hassan is trying to support families in her community by offering live online interreligious meditation guidance for parents and their children during the lockdown.
The KAICIID International Fellows are leading the way on the COVID-19 response, presenting practical solutions and guidelines to reach vulnerable communities, provide pastoral care and offer new tools for worship. They also propose recommendations for responsible ways to conduct community outreach while practicing social distancing.
International Organizations Partner with Religious Organizations to Reach Vulnerable Communities during COVID-19
Religious leaders and institutions are standing up for vulnerable communities, actively partnering with policymakers and intergovernmental organizations to mitigate the social, economic and political impacts of COVID-19.
Call for Proposals
Religious communities are on the front lines of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing the spread of infection and supporting the most vulnerable groups in society. The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) is offering small grants for short-term initiatives for organizations and individuals in the Arab Region, Myanmar and Nigeria responding to the pandemic, particularly through an interreligious approach.
KAICIID is calling for proposals for projects that enhance the role of interreligious dialogue in responding to COVID-19 and promoting public health.
Faith on the Frontlines: Supporting Mental Health During COVID-19
Around the world, faith actors have been on the frontlines, providing pastoral care and grief counselling and caring for doctors and nurses overwhelmed by the magnitude of the virus. This webinar looks at the role of spirituality in health, as well as the mental health of vulnerable groups. It also examines examples of interfaith initiatives which have united communities and provided support in healing from trauma and addressing the stress of COVID-19.
How have religious leaders acted upon their responsibilities to intervene in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What should religious leaders be saying to policymakers and the public, as the disease progresses through parts of the globe less empowered to deal with its social and economic effects?
What are religious communities doing to modify their observance practices as a response to the COVID-19 crisis? Bringing together expert speakers from around the world, this webinar examines moving community gatherings online, praying for relief and deepening engagement with communities through digital means.
How are religious communities responding to the challenge of COVID-19? This webinar examines diverse initiatives on relief work, providing mediation and counselling, as well as useful tools and strategies that faith leaders can use during uncertain times.