2004 still sees terror poisoning national life. There is a continued debate about the war on terrorism. One woman, Selima Contai, feels so strongly about the underlying current of mistrust and fear that she will be launching an international charity, East meets West, in 2004. Selima intends for the charity to promote worldwide peace, through an understanding of the world’s cultures and religions.
Selima will be leading her quest for peace from right here in the UK, where East meets West retreats will be hosted at top class hotels. The EmW retreats will encourage good relations between people of different backgrounds and faiths in the UK. This will be realised through seminars and international speakers and experts presenting their beliefs and discussing international philosophies. Lecturers and therapists will also share healing arts from various cultures, enlightening people on the secrets of practices such as Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi… The ultimate aim is for the sanctuaries to focus on the beauty of individual cultures and faiths as a healing process for society.
The concept has been greeted as being truly unique and it is anticipated that people will come from around the world to take part. Selima’s vision has already received support and acknowledgement from professionals in all walks of life: business, sports, arts, music, the healing industry and campaigners for world peace. Indeed the EmW logo was designed by Gucci and YSL’s designer, world famous Tom Ford.
Selima Contai was born in London in 1956. Her mother is British with Irish and French heritage and is a convent-educated Catholic who encountered strict intolerance when she chose to marry a man who had come to the UK from West Bengal in India. As a child Selima encountered severe racial prejudice that resulted from the bigotry shown to her parents in the uncompromising Britain of that era, and experienced herself the pain, harm and rifts that narrow-minded intolerance can cause. Whilst searching for an understanding between Islam and Christianity she found that a doorway was opened for her to observe and research the effect of religion and spirituality. Throughout the last 20 years Selima has travelled extensively, and her craving to somehow promote racial tolerance and understanding has burned stronger as she has witnessed what she describes as the worst madness being realised in today’s world:
“The September 11 attacks changed the world for good. Now more than ever we must learn to live in peace alongside our brother man, whatever race or religion he is from. Society has to evolve as our modern world is in need of healing. We have to accept that we are now multi-cultural and that tolerance and understanding is the way forward. All religions need to speak out for each other in these times of stress, seeking the essential truth that leads to peace, which is contained within every belief system. We have to learn to tolerate difference and work together for peace.”
Selima Contai, founder East meets West
Selima is being encouraged to establish her charity as a tribute to healing. The organisation will provide people with a haven that they can visit for a few days during times of stress or at times when they feel that they need to reflect on life. It is anticipated that the retreats will also attract those in mixed cultural and spiritual partnerships, marriages, and people from mixed parentage.
Selima’s long-term goal is for a truly unique dedicated East meets West hotel to be built:
“The hotel will boast the most beautiful aspects of Eastern and Western architecture, in design, furnishings, and finishes. When you cross the threshold you will undertake a journey, being transported into a new serene and uplifting world. I hope to provide a haven of peace and tranquillity where people can unwind and feel uplifted by the beauty of their surroundings. The East and West theme will also be reflected in the gardens, the cuisine, in fact in every aspect. Places can heal, and people will be able to take the peace and heightened understanding that they find on these retreats back into their daily lives”.
The hotel will be open throughout the year and people will be able to choose whether to take part in themed seminars during their stay, or simply to relax and appreciate the surroundings:
“Our spouse, neighbour, friend, lover, and life-partner today is often of a different colour, creed and faith to what he was say, 30 years ago. Such is the pace of our modern cybertech life that there is simply no precious time, nor tranquil place to comprehend the essence of his culture and to understand him better. East Meets West will provide this cultural and spiritual oasis.”