Bushra (R) accepting The Feast’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015, with Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE (then Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands, now Vice Lord-Lieutenant) & David Brogan.
One of our lovely volunteers in Birmingham, Bushra, has been a part of The Feast for almost as long as it has existed. She was first introduced to us at her school, through our first youth worker, Natasha, and so began a long and amazing journey. She has been a powerful ambassador for The Feast and is a passionate advocate for our Guidelines for Dialogue.
Natasha invited her to join a choir she was running in school and Bushra accepted the invitation and started coming along. She came to her first event of The Feast shortly after this, and then a youth training day.
Bushra was first interviewed about The Feast when she was 14. She reported that The Feast had helped her to make friends with lots of Christians. It has also helped her to speak openly about her faith, which she was able to do when she came to The Feast events. Bushra said that in her Religious Studies lessons at school she became more comfortable speaking about her faith, even with different Muslims.
“I had the courage to go to mosque and ask my teacher all these questions I had.”
Bushra said she didn’t mind talking about what she believed, and she found it interesting to hear different people’s opinions and views. It became a very natural and real part of her life, one of the many reasons she enjoyed being involved with The Feast as a young person.
Now Bushra is the first to say that The Feast helped her in her journey of faith. The opportunities she got to talk about faith and belief during youth encounters enabled her to work out what was important to her and what she really believed. Our aim at The Feast is to enable young people to become more resilient and more confident in their identity and beliefs, so that they are able to live authentic lives and be peace makers among their peers; Bushra is an embodiment of this.
Bushra is now one of our volunteers and is passionate about giving back to The Feast because of what it has done for her. She regularly helps at our events and recently stunned some BMS students at a training event when she recounted an incident where the Guidelines had really helped her. She was on a bus on her way to work when she was confronted by a man who started shouting at her.
“He was right in my face, screaming that I was an oppressed woman, I shouldn’t wear my hijab and telling me that all Muslims were terrorists and should leave the country. I just thought that if he knew the Guidelines for Dialogue he’d know that he shouldn’t tell me what I believe. “
She went on to explain that, because of the Guidelines and her own experience of meeting people of different faiths through The Feast, she felt calm. She knew that this man didn’t represent all people of his faith and ethnicity. I’m not sure that many of us would have been able to deal with this so calmly and I remember feeling so proud of Bushra and her commitment to the work of The Feast.
~ by Jill Appleton (Birmingham Development Manager & National School’s Consultant)