Common Purpose Turkey recently hosted an event which brought all of its Meridian graduates and current programme participants together for Iftar, during Ramadan. The traditional Islamic meal was hosted at the Down Cafe, a restaurant run exclusively by the families of young people with Down syndrome.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast between the hours of sunrise and sunset, breaking their fast at night with a meal known as Iftar. Common Purpose staff in Istanbul used the opportunity to bring Common Purpose participants and alumni from different religions together.

On Common Purpose programmes, participants learn about the importance of developing their Cultural Intelligence and crossing cultural boundaries - whether those boundaries are the differences between sectors, countries or religions. During the meal, Mulsim, Jewish, Christian and non-religious leaders from different backgrounds were able to explore their differences but also build their relationships in the spirit of diversity.

Iftar is also used by many Muslims as an opportunity to be charitable. It was therefore fitting that the meal was hosted at the Down Cafe. The cafe is run voluntarily by the families of young people who suffer from Down syndrome. Parents are responsible for the cooking and general management but all other services are provided by young people with Down syndrome. Down Cafe's work means that the young people are able to work, earn money, become involved in the community and above all else - gain self-confidence. The income generated from all events at the Down Café benefits the young people and the activities of their organisation.

As one Common Purpose alumnus remarked:

"Genuine hospitality, delicious meals, like the ones from your mum's kitchen, big hugs made me feel that I'm a 'loved' member of a big, diverse and happy family and put a big smile on my face. I guess it was the right ambiance reflecting the true 'Ramadan spirit' and the power of sharing. Thank you Burcu and Aysegul and a bigger thank you to my Meridian fellows for introducing me to Down Cafe and sharing the great experience of having 'Iftar' at Down Café"

Bahar Varıcıoğlu, First Meridian (2008) Graduate, Regional Efficacy Leader at Pearson Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

The Cafe Manager at Down Cafe also had this to say:

"We are very thankful to the Common Purpose Turkey family for their continuous support to our children and our cafe. They have always been there for us, bringing all sorts of different leaders to our modest cafe and showing sincere care to our efforts in trying to adapt our special children to the society. "

Saruhan Singen. Cafe Manager, Architect and Father of one of the waitresses.

Common Purpose has provided leadership development programmes in Turkey since 2008, for both emerging and senior leaders. Find out more about our work in Turkey