Sifco holds 10th AGM |14 November 2022
Sifco asks for forgiveness for harm done in the past
“Sifco recognises that in the past religious or faith-based groups had said or done things that had harmed or even hurt others. It is important for us to recognise this and we ask for forgiveness from the Seychellois Nation for these unfortunate events.”
This was said by the chairman of the Seychelles Interfaith Council (Sifco), Reverend Danny Elizabeth, at the last annual general meeting held last week at the Baha’i Centre at Bel Air.
The meeting was attended by representatives of various faiths and religious groups and Reverend Elizabeth explained that the AGM was mainly to look at the activities that Sifco conducted in the years 2021 and 2022 and to also thread a path for the coming years.
“This year we are having our 10th AGM and this is a milestone in itself and it is important to take stock of what we have accomplished so far. As chairman, I feel that it is important for Sifco to be a model. Secondly, however, various churches and faiths forming Sifco, or those who are not members, must recognise that in the past we have remained silent where and when there have been injustice and division in Seychelles. Where different religions, faiths and denominations have sown seeds of hatred, we need to forgive one another. Seychelles needs healing. Seychelles needs to repent. And during the meeting we all stood for a moment of reflection and prayer in order to help liberate ourselves and work in unity with the other faiths and groups. Sifco is a model for our country to move forward,” exclaimed Reverend Elizabeth.
The act of lighting candles at the beginning of the meeting is a strong message and symbolizes the unity that exists among the Sifco members.
Sifco’s stance on legalisation of cannabis use in Seychelles
After thorough discussion with all the most prominent voices on cannabis in Seychelles namely the Seychelles Kannabis Association, CARE, Division for Substance Abuse, Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation and the Attorney General’s Office, Sifco is of the view that cannabis does have some medicinal benefits and people in need should have access to medically proven Cannabidiol products as per the terms and conditions of Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2020 (S.I. 25 of 2020).
However, Sifco is not in favour of recreational use of cannabis and is of the view that children should be protected from having access to cannabis.
Sifco and TRNUC
Sifco also collaborated with the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) after a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2020. Counselling and healing meetings with victims, coordinated by Bernadette Sinon, Victims Support Officer of TRNUC, took place at the Domus, Victoria, in which Sister Alice, a trained counsellor, and Bishop French Chang-Him participated as representatives of Sifco, and Beryl Dodin, also a trained counsellor.
Father Elizabeth however noted that “while a lot of truth has been told, many untold facts still haunt us. Reconciling and uniting the nation is still a distant reality. In this context, I would like to propose that Sifco becomes a beacon of hope for Seychelles.”
Another major update was about the Sifco centre where Sifco has a plot of land at Perseverance on which a multi-purpose place of worship will be constructed. It was Jean-Claude Matombe who gave a thorough explanation on the building which will be on three levels and will host a conference/auditorium facility, a multi purpose hall for worship and other spiritual activities, a reception, a cafeteria, storage areas, a library, a boardroom, offices, kitchen and dining area and toilets.
The second floor will also consist of a meditation and retreat facilities with en suite rooms with associated facilities and the cost of the whole building will be around R38 to R40 million.
The chairman of Sifco made a call to generous donors and all faith groups to fund raising.
Other updates included the representation of a membership from Sifco to be represented on the Platinum Committee and this was approved and it was Robert Moumou who was the representative.
Sifco was also represented by Robert Moumou and Sister Alice on the Covid faith-based committee chaired by Dr Anne Gabriel where they deliberated on Covid policies and preventive measures to be applied in services, funerals and other faith based related activities. It also liaised with all faith to assure that the said policies were being implemented.
Sifco is also represented on the National Aids Council by Reverend Christine Benoit and she shared the work done so far by NAC and added “As Sifco we might not be so keen about the condom distribution but we can always contribute in our teachings to emphasise on the behaviour change, and educate our followers on HIV & Aids not only for World Aids Day but throughout the year as the opportunity arises”.
Sifco intends to revive the Praslin- La Digue branch. “We expect to see a rise in Sifco’s participation of national socio-political matters. Regionally, Faith Councils are recognised as important partners in peace-keeping missions especially in prevention and mediation of crises. The role of Sifco as the spiritual guardian of Seychelles remains strong. Sifco is a model of peace. We look forward to having you sign up as active members of Sifco to lend us a hand as we forge ahead through the challenges of 2023 and beyond,” concluded Reverend Elizabeth.
To recall, Sifco has a new managing committee since May of this year and the chairman is Archdeacon Danny Elizabeth (Anglican Church); the vice-chairman is Father Eric Leon (Roman Catholic Church); the secretary is Ruby Pardiwalla (Zoroastrian); the assistant secretary is Jean Claude Matombe (Brahma Kumaris); the treasurer is Muditha Gunatilake (Seychelles Buddhist Association); the assistant treasurer is Anil Singh (Hindu Council); the public relations officer is Marion Gendron (Baha’i) and the members are Bishop French Chang-Him, Father Sergios Janosevic (Orthodox Church), Sister Alice Vivien (Roman Catholic), Pastor Robert Moumou (Seychelles Evangelical Alliance) and Imam Abdu-Rahman Heneka (Seychelles Islamic Council).
Photos Louis Toussaint