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India: Sowing seeds of peace and interfaith harmony among students

Participants of Seeds of Sadbhav with the facilitators, Fr George Nandiyala, Fr Peter D’Souza and Fr Elvis Fernandes (Photo provided)

The Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, commonly known as the Society of Pilar, hosted the "Seeds of Sadbhav" (goodwill), a unique two-day interfaith program for teenagers. 

The event took place at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre in Pilar Goa, Western India, on August 29 and 30. 

Over 60 girls in Grade 12 Arts, Commerce, and Science from the Guardian Angel Higher Secondary School participated in the program. 

"Seeds of Sadbhav’, an interfaith program for teenagers, focuses on building their strengths and enabling them to flourish in life. 

Based on the handbook of "Character Strengths and Virtues" by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, the sessions were designed to enable youngsters to know and foster their character strengths.

The sessions' underlying themes were strengthening interfaith harmony, appreciating diversity, and building interfaith relationships. 

Tallulah D’silva, Elaine Coelho, Rehanabanu Bankapur, Father Peter D’Souza, Father George Nandiyala, and Father Elvis Fernandes, the convenor of Sadbhav, facilitated the sessions. 

Father Fernandes led the participants through an activity called "You at your best," in which participants identified their top strengths. 

They had to write a story about a time when they functioned at their best. They then had to share these stories with their fellow members of the group. 

The group members had to spot the strengths of one another as manifested in the story. These observations regarding the strengths were later shared with the individual members who came to know about their strengths.

"The most helpful part of this program was to figure out our top strengths and build our good character," said Shiyana, a participant. 

Tallulah D’Silva, the award-winning architect, environmentalist, and writer, was a resource person for the event. 

She spoke about women’s rights and empowerment and helped participants foster their character strengths of bravery, teamwork, and creativity through an Origami activity.

Through his ice-breaking and sing-song activities, Father Nandiyala infused a lot of energy into the participants. 

Kimberly, one of the participants, said, "Father Nandiyala’s singing and games session was entertaining and refreshing. It taught us how to work as a team." 

Tallulah D’Silva and Fr George Nandiyala facilitating one of the sessions for the participants of Seeds of Sadbhav (Photo provided)

Father D’souza led the students in fostering their strengths in spirituality and appreciation of beauty and excellence. 

He introduced a few basic methods of growing awareness and meditation. 

Another participant, Simran Banu, said, "The meditation session was the most helpful. It made me grow in awareness of myself."

Elaine Coelho and Rehanabanu Bankapur, participants of Yuva Sadbhav, a program conducted previously for college students studying at Nirmala Institute of Education, Althinho, Panjim, Goa, facilitated a session on fostering teamwork, fairness, and leadership.

They used the activity of making a "mandala" (circle) by combining designs made by individual students. 

Niranta, one of the participants, had this to say, "It was very interesting and creative. The two teachers who facilitated this session were very energetic and kind. We got to know about respecting religious and cultural diversity."

Father Miranda, the principal of Guardian Angel Higher Secondary, was instrumental in providing this wonderful opportunity for the students, who were accompanied by their teachers, Snable Antao and Sonia Gomes.  


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.