Fighting poverty, ignorance and disunity in Ghana; the TUDEC experience
The fight against poverty, ignorance and disunity is a shared responsibility among the government, the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations. The reason is that the government alone does not have the requisite human and capital resources to sustain this struggle. It is for this reason that the contributions of civil society and non-governmental organizations are crucial in complementing the government's effort at promoting socio-economic development. One organization that has been making significant strides in the areas of the fight against poverty, ignorance and disunity in Ghana, is the Ghana-Turkey Cooperation and Development Association (TUDEC). The organization was established in 2011 to promote education and trade activities between Ghana and Turkey, and to also offer social and humanitarian services such as aid, relief and dialogue activities in Ghana. TUDEC's contributions can be seen in the areas of inter-cultural education, sponsorship, inter- religious dialogue meetings and aid reliefs to the poor and needy in society. TUDEC's inspiration TUDEC's works are inspired by the philosophy of a prominent Turkish Muslim scholar, opinion leader, poet, prolific teacher and author, Fethullah Gullen. He sees poverty, ignorance and disunity as the main enemies of the human race. To combat ignorance, he suggests a right to education, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion or nationality. The fight against poverty is in two fold. First, Fethullah Gullen proposes the fostering of businesses and creating business opportunities for the poor. Secondly, he suggests that the poor, irrespective of their religion or race, should be supported through aid and relief activities. To combat disunity, Fethullah Gullen believes that bringing people together to dialogue will promote understanding, respect and tolerance among people. Inspired by these ideas, participants of Hizmet movement (Hizmet means service), a global transnational civil society movement, described by Gulen himself as “a movement of people united around high human values,” opened thousands of schools, hospitals, universities, aid and relief foundations and dialogue centers in about 160 countries. TUDEC's contributions in Ghana, especially in the area of promoting inter-religious dialogue has won for it the praise of prominent Ghanaian religious scholars, including the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, and an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu. ?Inter-religious dialogue TUDEC sees dialogue as the tool to promote peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Ghana. It therefore collaborates with the National Peace Council, the Office of the National Chief Imam and the Christians organizations in the country to champion inter-faith dialogue. For instance, last year, TUDEC in collaboration with the National Peace Council (NPC) organized an international dialogue conference at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), on the theme: "Love and Tolerance; Peaceful Coexistence in Diversity." Chaired by the Chairman of the NPC, the Most Rev. Professor Emmanuel Asante, the conference was attended by distinguished individuals from different walks of life, Muslim and Christian clerics, a Minister of State, Rashid Pelpuo, the National Chief Imam of Ghana, Sheikh Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, the Bishop Anglican, Diocese of Accra, Rt. Rev. Dr. Sylvanus Daniel Tortoise, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer- Buckle and Professors from Turkey, Nigeria, and USA.
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