On Sunday the 19th of March the Canberra chapter of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association organised an Islam Exhibition stall at the Cooma Multicultural Festival 2017. The festival was held at Centennial Park in Cooma from 10am to 3pm as part of Harmony Day 2017.
Cooma has very long multicultural traditions that not many people are aware of. Cooma is arguably the oldest multicultural town in Australia. This distinction is due to the fact that from 1949 to 1974 over 100,000 men and women from more than 30 countries worked on the Snowy Hydro project which transformed Cooma from a quiet farming town to a cosmopolitan centre with clubs, hotels and delicatessens with new and exotic foods.
This was the very first time in history that an Ahmadiyya stall was organised at Cooma Multicultural Festival. The stall was managed by 7 members of the Canberra chapter. Of the 7 volunteers, 3 belonged to the Ansar auxiliary, 2 belonged to the Khuddam auxiliary and 1 belonged to the Atfal auxiliary.
Two Ansar members drove from North Canberra around 6:30am and arrived in Cooma shortly after 8am. The members were greeted by Yvi Henderson who was the organiser of the festival and showed them the location of their stall. The stall equipment was offloaded and marquee was setup well before other members arrived. Once all the members arrived the engagement with public started in earnest. Some members positioned themselves in front of the stall and some inside. Peace and Loyalty pamphlets were offered to by passers and many accepted happily. Some members carried a banner saying "I am a Muslim, ask me question" and this banner was very well received. Many people stopped and asked questions or made comments.
The stall was visited by several high profile guests namely:
Yvi Henderson - The organiser of multicultural festival
Craig Mitchell - Cooma-Monaro councillor
Daud Mohamed - President of Youth for Global Peace
All the high profile guests were presented with a gift pack containing: 4 books, 1 T-shirt, 1 P-cap and a bouquet of flowers
During the festival a number of books and pamphlets were either sold or given free to the general public which included:
Peace & Loyalty pamphlets - 500
Holy Quran, English Translation - 2
Other books - 15
All in all, the stall in Cooma was a very positive and memorable experience for all the volunteers. The public was warm and welcoming and some people spent long time at the stall asking many questions and praising the initiative to hold such a stall. In addition, countless by passers said words of praise and encouragement as they walked past our stall. Needless to say that the Ahmadiyya stall was very well received and was undoubtedly a huge success.