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Posts Tagged ‘Interfaith’

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 15, 2009

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

14th April, 2009
The Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths was inspired by a very successful Jewish – Muslim Celebration evening on October 21st 2006 following the 2nd Lebanese war. Yael Lindenboim had suggested that event because the Jewish High Holy Days and Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan occurred at roughly the same time that year. Yael was acknowledged at the start of this evening by Dr Raheem Khan who had been one of the leading members of the Community Cohesion and Interfaith committees organising this event. The evening began with messages from those who had been aware of the evening but could not be there. Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, had prepared a message that was presented by Sharon Booth his Personal Assistant and Project Manager of Foundation for the Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. The Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal, the former Bishop of Jerusalem, also sent a message that was read by Vanessa Edwards.

Each of the three faiths representatives were to present scriptural readings about the holy event in their calendar and to explain both the significance and some of the traditions included in the celebration. There followed also some younger representatives presentations, cultural performances and food from each religious heritage.

Links for Event : More Photos:
More Videos

Rev. Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA: Easter

Pastor Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA, the Pastor of Freedom Centre International, a multicultural Christian Pentecostal church with an aim to “Raise overcomers and set the captives Free” explained that Easter was a time of renewal as Jesus came to renew humankind by bringing salvation through his sacrifice.

Pastor Shadrach shared that Easter is the celebration of the Passover a time of atonement in which the High Priest makes a sacrifice of the Passover lamb for atonement of sins in the Holy of Holies. That shedding of blood atones for sins. Jesus shed his blood, like the Passover lamb, for our past, present and future sins. Therefore we can treat each other with love and care. Pastor Shadrach concluded ‘the blood of Jesus unites all nations and all people’.

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP: Mawlid An-Nabi

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid expressed how the birth and life of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) influenced the world. Muslims in various parts of the world celebrate his birth as a perfect human being, in the festival of Mawlid An-Nabi, who came not to start a new faith but to continue the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

He pointed to the inclusive nature of the constitution of Medina as an example of his worldview. He did not create a constitution just for his followers but for all people of Medina, including those of other faiths, both for security and prosperity.

His character of forgiveness was also exhibited in the conflict with the population of Mecca. During the persecution he did not want to condemn any of the persecutors so that they could have a chance to realise their mistake and come round to support him.

After the victory over Mecca he was asked how he wanted to deal with the population of Mecca. He answered that he would deal with them in the same way that Joseph forgave his brothers for their wrong doing. This action led to an era of peace.

Edwin Shuker: Passover

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

The ‘Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths’ included presentations, music and food from each faith. Because of the oncoming sundown Edwin Shuker, the Vice President of the World Sephardic Council, began the evening with a reading from the Torah and explained the reason for the traditional Passover foods. ‘Passover is a symbol of hope, he said, ‘it is my favourite holiday in the Jewish calendar’ he said.

He felt that the act of sharing this precious message is holy in itself. ‘When I heard from Dr Khan the inspiration for this event I felt that his passion for the event went way beyond him; from the God that unites us all.’

He explained some of the symbolism in Passover. He said that the removal of the leavened bread, ‘Hametz’, from the house prior to Passover, was an expression of removing the arrogance or pride. The Passover traditions are the longest rituals in the western world having been followed for 3300 years.

Edwin Shuker is also a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and President of Justice for Jews of Arab Countries.

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal


Much as I desire to be with you and all taking part in the Three Faith Traditions Celebrations, I am afraid, physically speaking, it is not going to be possible. However, I want you to know that I will be with you all in the spirit.

I have always advocated co-living not simply co-existence; believing that this will be the only way left for us, humans, to live in peace and harmony in years to come.

Religion was never meant to separate people from people; irrespective of this or that person’s convictions. Neither was it meant to imprison any and make him/her a slave of this or that tradition. St. Paul was right when he challenged us to re-examine where we stand as believers when he said: “the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” We are called to bring life even in the midst of death. How more when we are called to live together, recognize the otherness that is in the other, if we wish the other to recognize the otherness that is in us. Religion has been used, misused and often abused, not by the outsiders, but those who claim to be the defenders of the faith!!! I am sick of that religion and I call on all who believe in the ONE GOD who created ALL of us to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful mosaic that the Almighty left for us humans to enjoy. To ignore the other and / or pretend he/she does not exist, does not make him/her cease to be.

Easter reminds us of the love of God who cares for All His Children and want them to be united for what protects His beautiful image in each and everyone. It is the day when we celebrate the victory of life over death, the victory of faith over doubt, the victory of hope over despair. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, I dare say it is in the recognition of the other that I am recognized; in appreciating the other and his otherness that I am appreciated and my otherness; and it is “in giving that we receive.” Easter is also the Passover, when we are called to pass–over barriers and reach out with whatever love God has placed in our hearts to meet the so-called ‘other.’ Only in passing we will realize that we have come to a Brother and to a Sister, not simply another creature. Oh for the day when God in His Mercy will break down all the barriers that separate the Brother in God from the Brother in God, the Sister in God from the Sister in God. This is the vision that St. John in the Book of Revelation saw and shared with us when the ‘new heaven and the new earth’ come in our midst and the Almighty be the God of All of us.

In closing, I wish to quote Joan Chittister: “Vision is not the ability to predict the future. Vision is the foresight to create the future.”

God bless you all and know that this comes with my love and my best wishes.’

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal is the former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad
Canon Andrew White

‘Greetings from Baghdad, I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you today especially as my great friend and member of my board Dr Raheem Kahn is behind this event.

Today you come together as members of the three great monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Together we have one great thing in common we all believe that G-d is one. We all believe that G-d is part of our life and we believe interfaith activity does not make us weak in our faith it should makes us stronger and indeed more orthodox in what we believe and practice. Unlike many in the West I do not live and work with those who do not believe much. Most people believe firmly in their faith. Yet they are serious about engaging with the other.

At the same time we all realise that when religion goes wrong it goes very wrong. We do not deny that religion is at the core of so many of the problems in the world today, but if religion is part of the problem it must also be part of the solution. The solution begins with you; you have come together as one not two or three. You must hear each other’s story and you will soon discover that you are friends not enemies. It was the American poet Longfellow who said “Who is my enemy; it is the person whose story I have not heard”.

May the Lord, Hashem, Allah and the Almighty G-d be with you all forever.’

Canon Andrew White
Vicar of St Georges, Baghdad
President, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East


Invitation letter:

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA
Tel : 020 7262 0985 Fax : 020 7724 2262

The UPF Community Cohesion & Interfaith Working Committees would like to invite you to a joint celebration of the holy events of the three faiths on Tuesday April 14th, at 6.30pm at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

1) MAWLID AN-NABI – The birth of the Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him) takes place on March 9th in 2009. Charity and food are distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. There are also large street processions and homes or mosques are decorated.

2) PESACH – The season of Passover when Jews commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses begins on April 9th and finishes on April 17th. This is commemorated each year at the ‘Passover Seder’.

3) EASTER commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival. On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. On Easter Sunday Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is celebrated. Easter is a time for families to worship and spend time together.

More information on all these Holy Days at BBC Religion website –

As you well know these three Holy Days have a deep significance in the lives of the respective faith traditions and many who are less religious also hold these days as a special time in their yearly calendar – a time of togetherness in their families. As the 3 Holy Days are in close proximity, we are fortunate to have this opportunity to be together, to celebrate them all.

The Programme will include:

  1. Short talks about each festival delivered by prominent speakers from each Faith and illustrating the importance of the Holy Days to their faith community.
  2. The foods of the three faiths with particular significance for the celebrated holy events .
  3. Music, Poetry and Cultural Performances from each faith community.

More than anything we will have lovely people from all communities who want to share their Holy Day with others. We will learn from each other and enjoy a high spiritual experience, created by our collective good will. Peace, Harmony and Joy will reign!

Should you wish to contribute (or someone you know) please let us know!!

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Raheem Khan – special consultant to the three faiths celebration
Saleha Jaffer – Joint Chair of CCWG and Community Cohesion/preventing extremism consultant
Margaret Ali – Joint chair of CCWG & Director-UPF UK
Robin Marsh – Secretary General of UPF UK

Other members of the Community Cohesion Committee include
Cllr. Liaquat Ali: former Mayor of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Mrs Ruth Louise Barnett: Holocaust educator
Cllr. Janet Baddeley: Watford Borough Council
Habibah Anwar Bhatti: BME Development and Community Cohesion officer, Hastings V. A.
Cllr. Mushtaq Lasharie: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea & Chair of 3rd World Solidarity
Brenda Hodgson: Peace activist
Alan Rainer: Interfaith activist & RE teacher
Hilde Rapp: Conflict Resolution & Co – Chair, Centre of International Peacebuilding
Ajit Singh MBE: Interfaith activist
Tim Miller: Chair of Hastings Interfaith Forum
Mathew Huish: Chair of Faithlink (student interfaith group)
Shamsuddin Agha: President of Indian Muslim Federation – UK
Mr Brij-Mohan Gupta: Chair of Hindu Culture and Heritage Society – UK
Cllr. Faizullah Khan: Former Speaker of London Borough of Hackney
Mr Edwin Shuker: Vice President of the World Sephardic of Congress
Cllr. Greta Sohoye: Croydon Council
Cllr. Lurline Champagne: London Borough of Harrow Council
Mr David Sasson: Peace Activist
Amarjeet-Singh Bhamra PhD IHM: Interfaith activist and Ayurveda Consultant

Interfaith Committee members include below:
Dr Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr Sukhbir Singh
Mrs Joyce Suda
Mrs Ruth Barnett
Mr Mathew Huish
Dr Raheem Khan
Mr Martin Moloney


Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 17, 2009

Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue  – London, UK

On Saturday 28th February the UPF Interfaith Committee continued their series of events showcasing models of Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue. Mr Sukhbir Singh, the London representative of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, explained how the Sikh community in Birmingham supported the Hindu community during the Ram Katha Vedic Festival in the Birmingham NEC in 2001. After telling the story from the perspective of the Sikh community, Mr Singh was followed by the director of the festival, Mr Dinesh Chauhan, in sharing the perspective of the Hindu community. After a description of langar, the holy and humble sharing of food which is essential to the Sikh faith, Mr Singh described the scale of support being offered to the festival: A marquee was to be erected in the NEC car park where food for 10,000 people would be prepared daily. Both communities had encountered episodes of obstacles, which frequently threatened to jeopardise the entire festival. After some miraculous breakthroughs, the 9-day event was executed successfully. There were no emergencies, no health and safety issues. The event was highly praised by the then Birmingham Lord Mayor. The stories were so touching that many had tears in their eyes.

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Many Sikh organisations actually could not comprehend or approve of this initiative. Many Hindus had second thoughts about working with Sikhs – however the perseverance of great leaders like Mr Chauhan, Mr Sukhbir Singh  and Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, AND with the help of God, they could overcome all obstacles and bring about such a glorious result of such impact that many cannot forget this precious experience. To date, it gives them much joy and empowerment as the testimonies demonstrated. It was very pleasing to see that friendships have developed and strengthened over the years because of this experience of Inter religious Initiative Beyong Dialogue.

Miss Balhar Kaur, the daughter of Mr Singh, gave an account of her experience as an 11-year old volunteer within the kitchen, or langar. She could testify to the electric and deeply spiritual atmosphere created when Hindus and Sikhs cooperated in the preparation of food for the festival participants. In homage to her father, she announced that “anything is possible with my Dad.”

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Hindus and Sikhs worked side-by-side in the preparation of food, chanting God’s name together, truly creating the spirit of one family under God.

After the presentations, discussion circles were organised in order to generate new ideas of how our respective faith communities could offer something to another faith community. Some of the ideas mentioned included: serving langar in the Middle East as part of the ongoing Middle East Peace Initiative; organising an Interfaith Festival of Forgiveness around the time of the UN International Day of Peace; empowering youth cooperation amongst faith communities; and celebrating the gift of service.

Krishna Chauhan, the son of Mr Dinesh Chauhan, took the opportunity to promote an upcoming event promoting unity between Sikhs and Hindus through the joint celebration of the festival of Holi: On Sunday 15th March the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College will host the Redbridge Nagar Holi Celebration. Everyone was invited to join in between midday and 4pm.

The next event will be a joint festival between the Abrahamic faiths celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Pesach & Easter. At 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA, on Tuesday 14th of April at 6.00pm. For more information please contact 020 7262 0985 or

Posted in Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Celebrate Kenya Oct 16th

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 21, 2008

Global Peace Festival

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

Tel : 44 (0) 20 7262 0985  Fax : 44 (0) 20 7724 2262                                                         




You are cordially invited to a celebration of the Global Peace Festival in Kenya at 6:30 pm on October 16th at 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA. We will have presentations on the situation in Kenya, the experience of the Global Peace Festival and its projects in Kenya and also an explanation of World Food Day which occurs on the 16th October.

The Global Peace Festival is held every two years bringing together activists, NGO’s and other organisations and institutions that share a common vision for peace of one family of humankind, and who wish to assist the United Nations in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This festival is a platform from which they can all share their ideas and endeavours and create the opportunity to celebrate their achievements, develop partnerships and launch new initiatives together.

The Festival is not just an event but a process that in Kenya and elsewhere have been acknowledged to have inspired interfaith and intercultural activities, a series of youth service projects and reconciliation activities. For further information on the Kenya Global Peace Festival please see the website

We look forward to seeing you on the 16th of October. RSVP to reserve your place.

Yours sincerely                                           

Robin Marsh

Mulumba Kabongo

Reports on the Kenya Global Peace Festival







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Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II – 15th July 2008

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 15, 2008

“Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II”

15th July 2008

Houses of Parliament – Committee Room 15

In the absence of Shahid Malik MP, Lord King of West Bromwich stepped in to start the meeting and  give the opening remarks. It was interesting for Lord King, being a person from West Bromwich, to speak about the importance of Community Cohesion in multi faith Birmingham. He also welcomed the former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain,  the respected Sikh leader, Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, and  Cllr Idriss from Birmingham.

Mr David Anderson MP was the next speaker who emphasised the importance of  local communities, like the mining community he came from,  for community building.  He also emphasised the global aspect of Community Cohesion and he gave the example of how we could work together in Britain to improve things in Iraq.  Iraq is an area where he is keenly interested in promoting better understanding between our two countries.

Tim Miller, Vice President of Universal Peace Federation – Europe, explained briefly about the work of  the Community Cohesion working Group (CCWG).
He emphasised the importance of various groups and communities working together. Through his experience in the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) he found out how much we are inter-related, as he saw how political unrest in the Middle East does affect community strife at home.

HRH Prince Frederick von Saxe-Lauenberg greeted all present and congratulated the group for its efforts to improve  Community Cohesion in our neighbourhoods.

Many of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Community Cohesion Working Group (CCWG) members made their reports on the accomplishments of the year’s activities, working with the joint-chairs Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Margaret Ali.

Among these CCWG members was also Former Mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr. Liaquat Ali, who said it was important to promote understanding by distributing information and knowledge about one another. He observed throughout the series of CCWG meetings how young and old, religious and civic leaders and community members including the Police were very interested in Community Cohesion. He said it takes all parties to work together to achieve the required result, he then added that he was proud to host the first UPF Community Cohesion event of this year.

The former Speaker of Hackney Council Cllr. Faizullah Khan said we are here because we have a problem of not loving each other. He spoke passionately about the fact that we have lost the value of a caring society. Unless we bring the human aspect of loving our neighbour, Community Cohesion will not be possible.  Saleha Jaffer emphasized a point made by Cllr. Khan and added that a community has to work together to educate our youth today.

The former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain is the first Muslim Lord Mayor in Birmingham’s history of 200 years or so. Although he was proud of this fact, there were many people who had been skeptical about the outcome of this appointment. He said Birmingham is an amazing city with a multi faith population of 1 million – the largest local authority in Europe.

The former Lord Mayor said that what makes Birmingham a most amazing city is the fact that its people, mainly a population of immigrants, had chosen to stay in Birmingham because they simply loved the city! This makes a good recipe for Community Cohesion, because people are willing to break down barriers or at least they are not against doing so. Breaking down barriers is one job UPF does very well indeed so it will be a good thing to hold a Community Cohesion event in Birmingham.

Ms. H. Bhattia explained about the existing community problems in Hastings, mainly due to the asylum seeker population. She also outlined ways to overcome these challenges. She expressed concern in terms of the rise of the British National Party candidates that are targeting Hastings. In developing Community Cohesion, Ms. Bhattia expressed that a greater effort should be made to include the Host community in the programs, so real cohesion can take place. She also shared the positive news of the upcoming launch of the Hastings Interfaith Forum in October which will be followed by a Community Cohesion event in Hastings.

Rev. D. Palmer explained passionately about the Community Cohesion event in Bristol.  UPF- CCWG was invited to organize an event there. She said: “Representing all the councilors, NGO’s, youth and faith leaders, I can say that we had a most amazing start of this work in May. Everyone was appreciative of the UPF model of CC which is based on universal principles of peace building, emphasizing the importance of ’one family of mankind’.  They carry on the good work and are planning to invite a group of youth from Bristol to come to CC event in September, to encourage greater give and take.

There were three contributions from distinguished faith leaders:

The respected Sikh leader from Birmingham Soho Road Guduwara, Bhai Sahib Ji, felt that the main role of faith leaders in building CC was to teach their followers, especially the young, to practice their faith in action. That will turn them into good citizens and responsible people – and if they could learn that all faiths teach these things, they will learn to respect and understand one another. He also suggested that faith leaders can assist local Government, Police and other departments, who often lack information that faith and community leaders can provide.

A great interfaith giant Imam Dr Abduljallil Sajid, agreed with most of the sentiments expressed by Ba Ba Ji. He also added that through his vast experience in the interfaith world, he could see a lot of people of diverse backgrounds coming together. This togetherness is the first step in building community cohesion. The next step would then be WORKING together for a higher cause, as is encouraged by UPF.

The Most Rev Father Dr Abiola emphasized the importance of faith leaders in taking care of their own people. They should teach them to share information about themselves with others and learn from others about themselves. In this way communities will not be shy or scared of one another and will avoid pockets of isolation, hence the communities will reach out to each other.  This is our aim and this is what we can learn from this meeting.

There were a few Police officers who gave us words of encouragement and offered us their services when needed. Inspector Melanie Roulston of Waltham Forest is working on a pilot scheme in CC work along with 2 Sergeants.  At present there are five of these projects in the country.

Carl Wonfor of the National Security Tension Team (ACPO) explained how important it is to have such gatherings of people. He talked about programmes that have borne fruit. He said we should all try to do things like this and develop our focus groups.

Matthew Huish, UCL Interfaith Society Chair, talked about FAITHLINK, a youth organization that brings youth of all backgrounds together. They discuss topics of interest with students and thus get to know one another.  One exciting project they have:   young people of different faiths go to Israel and Palestine. They participate in service projects and thus become acquainted with the situation in the Middle East. Most importantly they learn the points of view at both sides of the conflict. This is an ongoing project and so far they made four trips to the Middle East.

They are also planning summer service projects in the UK. It is the best way for people to get to know one another, Mathew Huish said.

Most exciting was to hear from a 16 year old called Liam Wilkinson, who was introduced to us by David Walker, a mentor training youth in Southwark.  They both spoke about youth mediation programme that had successfully taught Liam and others resolve tensions. It was extremely exciting to hear from a 16 year old, speaking so candidly and with deep confidence about the value of the mediation work that he is doing.

The evening was brought to a conclusion by Cllr Margaret Ali, joint chair of CCWG, emphasizing the point made by Saleha Jaffer, the other joint chair of CCWG, regarding how the group would like to help the policy makers and officers with the difficult task of keeping in touch with the people on the grass roots level.

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UPF Interfaith Committee Members

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 11, 2008

UPF Interfaith Committee members:

Dr. Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr. Sukhbir Singh
Mrs. Joyce Suda
Mr. Mathew Huish
Dr. Raheem Khan
Imam Mahmadou Bocoum
Imam Nabel Haidari
Mrs. Karen Szulakowska
Ms. Brenda Hodgson
Mr. Amarjeet-singh Bhamra
Dr Naznin Hirji
Mr. Ujjwal Banga
Professor Karel Werner
Mr. Robin Marsh

Posted in Interfaith | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

UPF Marriage and Family Committee Members

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 10, 2008

UPF Marriage and Family Committee Members:

Co-Chair: Edward Hartley

Co-Chair: Dr Raheem Khan, Muslim Council of Britain

Lady Juliet Atacko-Gregory

Dr Carole Ulanowsky-Rose, (Retd)  School of Health and Social Welfare, Open University

Dr Satwant Singh Multani

Mr. Jatinder Birdi

Mrs. Hadia Saad

Mrs. Keitha Browning

Mr. Alex Bourchardt

Mrs. Suman Datta

Judge Khurshid Drabu

Ms. Nushrat Kassam

Professor Okeem

Mr. Mark Pinchin

Ms. Xuan Tran

Mrs. Patricia Hartley


Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid,  Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK

Ven. Dr. Sumana Siri,  Chief Sangha Nayaka (Buddhist Cardinal) of the U.K. & Europe

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

Mrs. Khailash Puri, FRSA  – East-West Family Circle

Posted in Marriage and Family | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »