MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows on YouthUniverse

MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows, Clint Fluker and Sana Rahim, recently spoke with Rev. Rob Hughes in the series premiere of YouthUniverse, an educational television program that explores creative local and global community development initiatives through the expressed viewpoints and demonstrated actions of interfaith youth and young adults.

Take a moment to watch this wonderful and engaging interview, won’t you?

To learn more about Clint and Sana’s initiatives (including an upcoming art auction!), click here.

For more YouthUniverse, tune in to Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, Saturdays at 4 p.m. ET.

The Stitch Project: World Malaria Day Art Auction Official Promo

MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows’ World Malaria Day Art Auction is fast approaching. Want to learn more? Watch their official promo video below.

Since 1998, MedShare has diverted $100 million+ worth of supplies and equipment to prevent more than 2 million cubic feet of valuable supplies from entering local landfills. However, occasionally there are supplies that can simply no longer be used. Rather than dispose of these materials, MedShare has donated these supplies as canvases for innovative artists. 

Using the surplus medical supplies, artists will have the opportunity to create works of art concerning the themes of diversity, unity, and common action. In this way, even the supplies that will no longer help save a life directly can be used indirectly to fight malaria. The recycled materials will be offered to artists as a canvas for art that will thematically address the humanitarian crisis of malaria. Artists will have the challenging and inspiring task of creating art that tackles the question of how faith and spirituality can forge a better world. This will be a unique opportunity for artists to gain international traction and diversify their portfolio.

For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, visit their website or contact Clint Fluker (cfluker@medshare.org) or Sana Rahim (srahim@medshare.org).

Making Art from Surplus Medical Supplies

You may know that MedShare is hosting two Faiths Act Fellows from The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, but did you know that they’re planning a World Malaria Day Art Auction?

The auction will take place on April 25, 2012. Local Atlanta artists to take part in this momentous endeavor include: Brian WalkerAlfred ContehCurtis McHardyMasud Olufani, Chris Hutchinson, Paul Benjamin, Hailey Lowe, Stephen Hayes, Whitney White, Audrey Pollock, Dana Gray, Brian Hebert,Baba Ra Fudge, and Kottavei Williams. Other artists submitting orignal and printed pieces to the auction include: Jim FiscusJoey Fischer, Brenda Ball, Clint Fluker, and Kevin Cole. More details can be found here.

In preparation for the art auction, we hosted local artists earlier this week who created a work of art entirely from unused medical supplies. Here are photos of this impressive undertaking:

beginning stages

bottles are amoung the supplies used

Do you see the face coming through?

Another angle

Every 45 seconds, a child dies of malaria.

Finished work of art.

All proceeds from the World Malaria Day Art Auction will go directly towards the shipment of medical supplies to Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone: What You Didn’t Know About #102

MedShare is partnering with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faiths Act Fellows, Clint Fluker and Sana Rahim, to mobilize multi-faith communities to advance the UN Millenium Development Goals and combat malaria.

The entire 5.6 million population of Sierra Leone is currently at high risk for malaria. There are only 102 doctors in the entire country- that’s one doctor for every 50,000 people. This year, we are raising funds for 2 medical containers to Sierra Leone that will include critical medical supplies and insecticide treated bed nets, which will help address the pressing challenges of malaria. 

Click here to join us in the fight against malaria!

Commemorating MLK’s Legacy as an Interfaith Leader

Commemorating MLK’s Legacy as an Interfaith Leader

On January 16, volunteers from Morehouse College, Emory University, YouthUniverse, and the Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation will converge for a Day of Interfaith Service at MedShare

Keynote reflections will be offered at 9:15 AM by Rev. Robert H. Hughes, Founder of the Generator Development Group and YouthUniverse

Rev. Robert H. Hughes, M.Div. seeks to live out his faith in God through direct action and service, everyday. Rob has made a lifetime commitment to invest in growing spiritual, ethical, sustainable, and moral leadership in urban environments and organizations. In 2007, Rob founded the Generator Development Group, LLC and YouthUniverse in Atlanta, Georgia to build capacity in local community leadership and to serve youth and young adult development through producing live events, educational media programs, cultural training and neighborhood quality of life projects.

In his faith community, Rob was ordained for pastoral leadership in Christian ministry in 2009 by Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. He currently serves as an Executive Committee Board Member with Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, as a General Board Member with the Faith Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta and with the Future Foundation. In summer 2005, Rob traveled to Jerusalem with the Atlanta-based World Pilgrims, an interfaith group of clergy and community leaders seeking common ground.

Rob is currently a doctoral student in Urban Ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He is a 2005 Master of Divinity degree honors graduate of the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He completed his practical ministry experience with the United States Congressional District Office of Congressman John Lewis. In 1996, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Communication from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

For more information, please contact MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows, Clint Fluker (cfluker@medshare.org) or Sana Rahim (srahim@medshare.org). 

Practicing Empathy: Jeff Foxworthy’s Backyard Bash Takeaway

By Clint Fluker, MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellow

It is said that knowledge is power. Therefore, lack of proper directions—knowledge—can leave you stranded and feeling, well, powerless. For example, on Thursday, September 22, 2011, I turned hurriedly into the church parking lot to find a parking space. To my surprise, the lot was nearly empty. This seemed rather strange considering the heavily advertised Jeff Foxworthy Backyard Bash started at 7:30pm and the hour was soon approaching. All over the city people have been looking forward to this event; a comedy benefit where all proceeds would go to eight Atlanta-based nonprofits, including MedShare.

Backyard Bash

Yet, here I was parked outside the church doors, alone, watching a couple bicker over the contents of their takeaway bag from the restaurant up the street. Perplexed, I called my partner Sana (a.k.a driving directions hotline) and explained my dilemma. She quickly confirmed my suspicions. I was two blocks away from Buckhead Church, not to be confused with Buckhead Baptist Church, where I was presently situated. She then berated me to move quickly because I had her ticket to the event.

When I finally arrived and we entered the Buckhead Church sanctuary together, Foxworthy had already started his routine about thought conundrums that continued to plague him despite turning 50. For example, colonoscopies, dietary habits of canines, Cajun accents, toilet paper discussions with his wife, and the innovative science of packing tissue boxes.

Then, the host of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” transitioned from a routine about his personal lack of knowledge to a testimony about a potential wealth found through empathy. He discussed his recent work with the Atlanta Mission, an organization focused on ending homelessness. Foxworthy told us a story about a young man in college, who over the course of his life had lost his entire immediate family to suicides. The last death drove him over the edge into homelessness. He told the audience about how hearing this man’s story helped him realize this story could have been his own.

Foxworthy continued by sharing how he used to view the homeless in a negative light until he visited the Atlanta Mission and listened to their stories. “This man could have been me,” he kept saying, urging the crowd to put ourselves in this young man’s shoes. Practicing empathy in this way allows us a new understanding of our surroundings such that we see the person and not the problem.

In this light, Foxworthy explained life isn’t all about personal choices. Sometimes, we are dealt a difficult hand and just need a little help to get us back on our feet. This closing testimony reminded me of the purpose behind working with MedShare and the Faiths Act Fellowship this year. Even if we don’t have all the money, power, or knowledge in the world, we can make a positive difference if we open our hearts to each other’s stories and lend a helping hand.

To read other Tony Blair Faiths Act Fellows blog posts, visit their website here.

Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Inter Faith Gathering

By Clint Fluker, MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellow

Sana and I stood side by side at the crosswalk watching silently as dozens of people from all directions trickled into the Decatur Hotel Conference Center in Decatur, Georgia. When the traffic light turned red we joined the crowd into the lobby of the hotel where over 600 people representing six different faiths (Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs) gathered to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Clint Fluker, MedShare's Faiths Act Fellow, at a 9/11 Interfaith Gathering in Decatur

As we moved through the lobby toward the main hall two lively women hopped in front us bearing quiz sheets. Wide eyed and smiling, they welcomed us to the interfaith gathering, introduced themselves, their religions, and through hysterical laughter held up their sheets to ask, “Are you Muslim? Because we really need some help with some of these questions?”

I stood mute shaking my head. The onlooker’s eyes glazed over me and focused on Sana. Sana nodded. The two women jumped for joy and presented their sheets which were filled with bingo-style questions stemming from all the religions represented at the conference. Sana answered their questions about the prophet Muhammad; the women thanked her graciously and moved on to the next set of unsuspecting arrivals.

The interfaith questionnaire was one of several mechanisms used throughout the evening to help foster interfaith dialogue. Consequently, when we entered the main hall we saw hundreds of colorful faces glaring at us ready to pounce with interfaith questions. We answered questions about Islam and Christianity respectively as we made our way to two open seats.

The ceremony began with a welcome and introduction by a representative from the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) who brought our attention to the beauty of the diversity in the crowd. Next, he pointed to a painting by Norman Rockwell, “The Golden Rule,” that was projected prominently on each wall. The speaker then yielded the floor to religious leaders from all faiths present to recite their interpretations of The Golden Rule according to their religious texts.

This presentation was followed by several musical performances, prompted interfaith discussions, and poetry readings. However, perhaps the most powerful moment of the evening was a reading by author Carmen Agra Deedy. Deedy retold a story from a man on the ground in New York City who witnessed the World Trade Center buildings fall. During this story she urged everyone in the audience to face the memory of 9/11 head on, take the lessons we have learned from that day, and apply them to the future in the spirit of peace.

The evening came to a close with a candle light vigil. The silence in the room during those few moments was only broken by quiet tears and prayerful whispers. When the bell rung to mark the end of the gathering, I surveyed the dimly lit room to see newly made friends and strangers alike embracing each other. Baring witness to the bonds of unity formed through the sharing of faith traditions, I opened my arms and joined in.

To learn more about MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellow, click here and here.