More than 60 youth from the Interfaith Friendship Group (IFG), representing the Church of Latter Day Saints (Christianity), the Tzu Chi Foundation (Buddhism), the Sikh Youth Group, the NZ Muslim Association, and the SSIO, participated in an Ngati Otara Park Clean Up in South Auckland on 25th March 2017. This represented a first interfaith youth initiative coordinated by youth leaders, who are passionate about the environment and committed to preserving the natural beauty of New Zealand. Following a welcome address and a briefing on health and safety procedures, the volunteers split into groups to collect large amounts of waste strewn over a large area of this popular park. More than 20 large bags of rubbish and other oversized objects were collected in an hour and a half. The youth team leader reiterated the importance of having a clean environment, with a clear message emphasising that “protecting the environment starts with us” – being responsible for our daily actions. The group then offered prayers from all the faiths, followed by a song about love, peace, and unity, interpreted in sign language for the hearing impaired. The event integrated loving energy, harmony with nature, and unity of faiths, and the participants felt privileged to be part of a fruitful effort to take care of Mother Earth.

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