June 1 was a landmark day for a secondary school in Jakarta, Indonesia – the consecration of a mosque for the teachers and students, that was partly financed by the Tzu Chi Foundation. It was a day of happiness and thanksgiving.
It was in 2009 that 500 students at Pademangan 23rd High School started to collect money for construction of a mosque in the southern part of the school, so that they could worship and meditate in the comfort of their own premises. The large majority of the students are Muslim. The person in charge of the fund-raising committee was H Tubagus Ahmad Rifai, a teacher of Islamic education. When they had raised 50 million rupiah, they started construction of the mosque, with a space of 100 square feet. The students continued to raise money each day but, in early 2010, the funds had run out and they could not continue construction.
Ahmad Rifai had known Tzu Chi Foundation from its work in building homes in the Kerurahan Padmangan Timur district of the city. He explained the situation to them and asked if they could help in completing the mosque. After considering the request, the volunteers decided that it would be a good project and agreed to provide the necessary funds.
June 1 was an emotional day for the faculty and students at the new school, when they saw their new mosque. The students dressed in the school uniform, clean and newly pressed, to greet the 17 volunteers who came to take part in the opening ceremony. "The building process has not been an easy one," Ahmad Rifai told the gathering. "We hope the students can not only perform their studies but also make progress in their faith." Handayati Suwarti M.Pd, the principal of the school, said: "We wish to thank Tzu Chi for its sincerity in enabling us to complete the construction. Our hearts are full of thanks. This mosque will play a very important role in enabling our students to study and practice Islam." Faruq, a 14-year-old student who was master of ceremonies that day, said that they felt the mosque was very cool and comfortable. "It is like entering paradise!" he said. "We can pray in peace and it is easier to meditate."
Agus Rijanto, a volunteer, spoke for the foundation: "We are so very glad that we were able to contribute ourselves in renovating the school's mosque. To raise children properly with right values surpasses any religious divide. The existence of Tzu Chi Indonesia Chapter has demonstrated that there are no boundaries between religions, and we can all get along in harmony."
Built with the assistance of a Buddhist organization, the new mosque is a symbol of interfaith harmony and will spread the beauty of such unity for generations to come.
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