Posts Tagged ‘solidarity trips’
The following experience comes from our delegates from Winnipeg, Barbara Gajda and Janelle de Rocquigny. To read this post in French, visit our French Youth Blog.
Along the long path called Camino das Artes at the site of the Cúpola dos Povos (the People’s Summit), many exhibits are set up to show, in a visual or auditory way, the challenges faced by our friends in the Global South. One that stands out is an exhibit of a burnt forest. For those who aren’t aware, setting fire to indigenous land is a strategy used by major corporations to force the inhabitants to flee so that the companies can claim the land.
Each day, we also pass by an exhibit by the Movimento Sem Terra (MST), a movement of landless workers and partner of Development and Peace – and we hadn’t yet introduced ourselves! Luckily, they asked us if we wanted to try pure cocoa grains – the perfet chance to chat! With the minimal Portuguese we knew, we tried to explain to our “companheiro” that our delegation is going to visit MST’s national school next week.
“Esperar!” (Wait!) he said.
Barbara is presented with plantain and meat by her new amigo.
He then presented us with a plate of plantain and meat.
“Quanto custa?” (How much does it cost?) we asked.
“Nᾶo, AMIGAS!!!” (No, you are my friends!)
A simple smile along with a mention of our partnership, and now we are amigos!
In this post, delegate Erynne Gilpin shares her experience of the first few days at the People’s Summit here in Rio.
There are over 30 workshops which take place each day in different time slots from 9:30am until 6:30pm – it is impossible to escape the feeling that you MUST attend EVERYTHING. The days are packed and we find ourselves trying to do everything and be everywhere all at once!
Gathering at 'our tree' to decide which workshops we will attend.
Yesterday, I stumbled into an incredible discussion led by working representatives from within the official summit. They are working together to create a Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Radical Ecological Democracy. Essentially, what tends to happen at large people’s gatherings is a lot of frustration that although we can:
A) identify the causes of social and environmental injustice
B) identify the effects of these destructive forces and
C) share various forms of addressing these problems;
it proves difficult to build a united citizens movement of all peoples.
How can this happen?
We need equal effort in Individual Action, Collective Action and International Law.
This workshop worked to formulate a treaty of higher ethics and values – in order to advance the humyn* understanding of humyn rights and dignity. They created the space to discuss how we can advance as a species, challenge ourselves and ultimately reach a level of conscious interconnectivity. We can then work to create institutions or transform existing institutions to also function within these guiding principles.
The leaders of this incredible workshop are working from within and outside of the Summit to continue this discussion. I am extremely excited to be involved in these conversations and will check in again!
The Global Citizens Movement Panelists:
Tariq Banuri (Former director- UNCSD 2012 Secretariat)
Uchita de Zoysa (Centre for Environment and Development)
Candido Gryzbowski (Director- IBASE)
Orion Kriegman (Great Transition Initiative)
Gustavo Marin (Forum for a New World Governance)
*Erynne chooses to use spelling which reflects equality in gender, inclusive of everyone.
After two days of training and briefing in the Development and Peace office in Montreal, the youth delegates from across Canada are embarking on their journey to the People’s Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In this special feature on our youth blog, this series will bring reflections and insights, from our delegates and from those we meet, on ecological justice and the alternatives being brought forward to world leaders by members of civil society from around the world.
Erynne and Janelle sewing banners
We’ve asked each of our delegates to share a short thought on what they hope to experience during the summit:
I’m really excited to have the opportunity to encounter the work of social movements in Brazil surrounding social and environmental issues. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!
– Anna Weber, Regina, Saskatchewan
I’m a teacher in Winnipeg and have been a member of Development and Peace for nine years. In this time, the most important thing I have learned is how all humanity is connected. Our well-being is interwoven with the well-being of all people and the environment. On this Solidarity Tour, I look forward to meeting our partners and hearing their stories. We have so much to learn from our Southern brothers and sisters and I am excited to bring their stories home with me so that I can help connect my community with our global family.
- Barbara Gajda, Winnipeg, Manitoba
I’m so excited to be taking part in this delegation with such an incredible group of women. Having just completed my undergrad thesis examining the role of green-washing in the Canadian mining industry, I can’t wait to connect, strategize, and dream with movements working for ecological justice from across the world in the context of the People’s Summit. Talk soon!
- Kaitlyn Duthie-Kannikkatt, Ottawa, Ontario
Ola galeira! I am beyond excited to attend the People’s Summit with the incredible delegation from Development and Peace. I have just graduated (in fact I missed my convocation yesterday!) from Kings University College in London, Ontario, with an Honours Specialization in Social Justice and Peace Studies. I am extremely passionate about advocating and working for popular education, where youth like myself can be empowered through art and community collaboration. I am travelling to the summit as a Metis-Filipina-Irish young Canadian who is ready to learn, listen and be humbled by everyone gathering from around the world to make a world where all worlds fit.
- Erynne Gilpin, Komoka, Ontario
I am happy to be a part of the People’s Summit delegation to learn from the lived experiences of our partners and the civil society groups. I want to know what food sovereignty and ecological justice means to them and how we as Canadians can learn from their efforts so that we can contribute to building a more sustainable global community.
- Katrina Laquian, Victoria, British Columbia
Follow our journey as we report and share our experiences and learning. We will be posting here, sharing tweets as @DevpRio20 and taking lots of pictures and videos to share on the D&P website, YouTube and Flickr accounts. Also, be sure to read the stories of our Francophone colleagues on the French Youth Blog.
We’re off to Rio!
The Role of Civil Society in Lebanon
Let’s start with a definition. Civil society is the people and groups that form the basis of a functioning society that are not part of the government (regardless of that state’s political system) or business institutions. Civil society tries to protect people against human rights abuses and try to protect freedom of speech and other individual rights. Organizations that are part of civil society include political parties, trade unions, human rights organizations, newspapers, community groups, faith-based and charititable organizations (definition from here).
How does one begin to articulate how incredibly important civil society is in a country like Lebanon? When a government is unable or unwilling to provide for the needs of its people, it is left to individuals and groups to advance their common interests.
This may take the form of a women’s group implementing a daycare program in a high-needs area, or a faith-based organization advocating for the rights of migrant workers and refugees, or a coalition which endeavours to build peace within a divided society.
The depth and breadth of issues addressed by civil society groups is awe-inspiring! It seems that when there is a need, people from diverse backgrounds quickly come together to work towards a solution.
It truly was a humbling and amazing opportunity to meet Development & Peace partners who work tirelessly within Lebanon, and the wider region, to bring about positive change.
It also reminded me that people are experts in their own experience, and that collaborating with and supporting our partners throughout the world is truly the most effective means of eradicating unjust social, economic, and political structures.
by Alex Wright
The Lebanese responding to local needs in Lebanon
Caritas MONA is based in Beirut, which allowed us the opportunity to spend three days with the staff during which we learnt about, and visited, some excellent projects, from the regional level to the local level. (Click here for part one of our time with Caritas MONA).
Yesterday, Caritas MONA took us to see a few of the local on-the-ground projects that are meeting the needs of local people in Beirut and Lebanon. Firstly, we met with “The Voice of Lebanese Women”, founded after the war by women volunteers who sought to rebuild their community and to support the many newly-widowed women.
The centre currently provides daycare for more than 55 children at just $50 per month, with free services for those without the means to pay. Women are able to get English lessons, vocational training, and can access start up materials for small enterprises. Teenagers have programs to teach them life skills and are able to explore personal themes through theatre. A recent initiative supported by the US embassy and Caritas U.S. (Catholic Relief Services) provides one month of training on citizenship, teamwork, tolerance, and conflict resolution. This is followed up by the creation of a mock cabinet through which youth simulate the political process in Lebanon.
In the afternoon, we were taken to the large industrial headquarters of “Arcenciel” (arc en ceil means rainbow in french), an organization that attends to the needs of people with disabilities. The facilities contain a number of large workshops, which produce many mobility tools (wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and more), to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Arcenciel employs people with disabilities in order to help them gain skills and become more independent – all the wheelchairs in Lebanon come from this workshop. The facilities also provide free dental care, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and job placement services.
The final project that we witnessed on our tour of Beirut was a drop-in centre that provides support to people living with HIV/AIDS and/or drug addiction. The Centre trains Peer Outreach Workers to provide information and harm-reduction materials to at-risk people, for example gay men and sex workers. The Outreach Workers are also trained to be able to provide on-the-spot testing for HIV and Hepatitis. The increasing demand for drug rehabilitation led the Centre to provide a safe haven for drug-users 2 nights a week, and follow-up with patients on the other 3 nights a week while the Centre is open. Beyond medical assistance, the Centre also provides a social community, legal services, and counseling. New programs are using psychodrama and theatre to help clients deal with their addictions.
In one day we had a chance to see 3 very innovative centres that have developped locally to respond to the needs of the vulnerable and excluded in Lebanon. An excellent snapshot of what grassroots development looks like!
by Jacques St. Laurent
Meeting CARITAS MONA
Today we met with Caritas MONA- Moyen Orient et Nord Afrique (Middle East and North Africa), and learned a tremendous amount about the Caritas network and what it means when we are talking about “capacity building”.
What is Caritas? Caritas Internationalis is the international association of 165 national Caritas networks. It is one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations. Communication and coordination between national networks is made more effective by seven regional offices that serve Africa, Asia, Europa (Europe), Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa (MONA), North America, and Oceania.
The principle themes that Caritas tries to address on a global scale, are economic justice, peace and reconciliation, refugees and migrants, HIV-AIDS, climate change, and emergency relief.
16 member organizations in the MONA region work, often in situations of conflict, to meet the greatest needs of local communities. Local Caritas groups have emergency plans to respond to needs generated by conflict, but do not play a political role in war time.
The main projects of the Caritas organizations in the MONA region, given by order of frequency of project type, are:
- Health care
- Emergency relief
- Assistance to migrants
- Social development
- Youth services
- Humanitarian assistance
- Empowerment of women
The mission of Caritas MONA is to: work on exchanges and assistance between member organizations and to facilitate their working together in harmony while ensuring that everyone in the region applies the objectives and values of the Caritas confederation.
This is capacity building: supporting the growth and health of organizations through:
- training sessions and organizing seminars,
- providing tools for campaigns and fundraising with the programs of Caritas Internationalis,
- assisting with the foundation of new Caritas organizations,
- helps the member organizations in achieving their goals,
- connecting the work of members with the wider Catholic church
This is capactity building: trainings so that organizations, social movement and citizens are informed and equipped to take on the challenges they face in a way that is participative and peaceful.
This is capacity building: Partners are well linked into communities, are strong and credible, and can develop appropriate strategies to deal with the challenged that they face.
Caritas MONA opened our eyes to the depth and breadth of the humanitarian efforts being made by the Caritas networks in each country of the MONA region. The staff shared with us the global picture, with the challenges being faced in the region, as well as the inspiring efforts of single individuals, such the single nun who is Caritas Libya, and the 1,538 staff who run the many programs in Caritas Egypt.
Long may the good work of our Caritas family continue!
by Jacques St. Laurent
On June 21st, the Lebanon Solidarity trip team was fortunate to spend a second day with Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre. The Centre was established in 1994, in response to the large number of refugees from Sudan arriving in Lebanon. CLCM aims to serve migrant workers, asylum seekers, and refugees by offering a variety of social services to migrants, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or political persuasion.
One might expect that they work the most with a large number of Iraqi refugees that have fled to Lebanon over the last decade (click here for blog post on their work with Iraqi refugees).
However, the issue of migrant workers within the country, and their need for protection, was not an issue that the group had imagined prior to traveling to Lebanon…
BUT according to statistics, there are more than 157,000 migrant workers legally entitled to work in Lebanon. Additionally, there are more than 100,000 Syrian workers in the country, with rules around travel and work in Lebanon are somewhat more lax. There are also a large number of illegal workers whose status in Lebanon is even more precarious.
In our meetings with CLCM staff members, we learned about the plight of migrant workers. Many women from countries including Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Madagascar and many others, arrive in Lebanon every year as domestic workers.
Agencies recruit the women, and connect them with households in Lebanon. We learned that there are over 600 recruitment agencies working in Lebanon. The agency holds the worker’s passport. Women have to sign on for 3 year minimum contracts, and collect around $150 – $250 dollars per month.
At times, these domestic workers are physically or sexually abused and/or harassed in the homes where they live and work.
Tragically, we learned that there has been an increase in the numbers of murders and suicides of migrant domestic workers, and it is believed that some deaths go unreported.
The Centre for Migrants offers support to domestic workers in need of assistance. The Solidarity Trip team was able to visit a shelter for vulnerable women and their children.
The women are from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and come from a range of very difficult experiences. Some are newly-arrived Iraqi women and children, with the father in prison for entering “illegally”, while others have had awful experiences of being mistreated by their employers. We spent the day with the women, sharing in each other’s cultures, dancing, playing soccer with the kids and eating traditional food that the women had made. We really enjoyed their company!
CLCM offers key services to migrant workers, refugees, and asylum seekers, including providing basic needs, social and psychological support, providing for medical needs, educational support and payment of school fees and supplies, and legal support.
And, importantly, the organization is also working with the government to develop a special law relating to domestic workers. This law would better protect the rights of both Lebanese and foreign-born domestic workers. With the frequent changes to governmental leadership in Lebanon, it has been difficult to get the law ratified.
It is positive to know that Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre is doing everything they can to assist the large number of migrants and refugees, both by advocating for changes in law, and by providing vital services.
by Amanda Nolan
Women in Lebanese Civil Society
While only in Lebanon a few days we have already experienced so much – incredible encounters, meetings and experiences. This morning, we were looking forward to meeting Linda Macktaby to learn more, because our curiosity is growing day by day! When we met her in Beirut we did not expect to make such a connection with this young activist, a dynamic, interesting woman, with a special sense of humour.
In Beirut: Linda from FDCD, Geneviève and Amélie, DP Ottawa-Hull members
Through this young woman, who leads programs and youth groups with FDCD (Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue), we discovered all about the life of a Lebanese person who is involved and active in civil society in Lebanon. Working on the reconstruction of peace and reconciliation in a country as divided politically and religiously as Lebanon, is not an easy task, let alone doing so as a woman.
FDCD members with DP members!
However, Linda’s strong character and her unparalleled motivation seem to give her wings for her work and for the FDCD programs. Lebanese women do not always have a voice. The FDCD projects are primarily focused on young people and the empowerment of women, both being essential for the construction of a strong civil society. In fact, the employees and members of FDCD are mainly committed and determined young people, where women thrive.
Although women are marginalized in Lebanon, they are surely the most active in sharing an insatiable desire for a change in attitude amidst situations of inequality and injustice. As a woman myself and a student in the field of development, the work and spirit of Linda and FDCD have inspired and affected me greatly.
Social justice, one day, will triumph!
by Amélie Laurin Gravel
Shatila Palestinian Camp, Beirut
More than 250,000 Palestinians are currently living in 12 camps within Lebanon. The Palestinian people have been displaced, and have been living as refugees for over 60 years. Nevertheless, the Palestinians continue to live in the daily hope of returning to their homeland.
This was most evident in May, when 100,000 Palestinians returned to the Israeli border to demonstrate their right to return to their homeland. Six were killed. Today there is little evidence that displaced Palestinians will become citizens of their own land in the foreseeable future.
One Palestinian camp in Lebanon, named Shatila, is situated within Beirut. The 1km2 of land is home to over 17,000 people. 5,000 people are Palestinians, and the rest are a mix of Syrians, Lebanese, Sudanese, and Iraqi refugees. Non-Palestinians use the camp as a safe haven, the one place they can avoid prison terms for being an “illegal” person.
As refugees, Palestinians are denied the right to work or own property, despite their will and abilities – 50% are university graduates. Opinions over the Palestinians’ right to work are divided; there are fears that allowing them to work will encourage them to remain in Lebanon, though they will tell you clearly – they want to be in Palestine, not Lebanon.
During the Israeli war on Lebanon in the early 1980’s, Shatila was the scene of a catastrophic massacre in 1982, where 1,500 people were slaughtered at the hands of the militia of the Lebanese Forces, supported by the Israeli army. Immediately after, in Lebanon and internationally, news, information, or press about what happened were suppressed and the destroyed camp was declared a military zone. With the assistance of the UN, the Israeli’s withdrew, and control was handed over to the Syrian army. Conditions remained desperate within the camp. In 1984 the “war of the camps” broke out. Shatila remained under siege for 3 years, where the camp was denied food, resulting in starvation and deaths.
The Syrian army began to withdraw in 2003. With greater freedom, many people left the camp, while others began to improve conditions by bringing in materials and looking for informal work. Despite this, Shatila remains without a play area, a proper school, or adequate housing.
Community is strong within the camp, and it is not as dangerous a place as is commonly perceived. Palestinians have expressed their wish for their efforts to be recognized, respected, and supported. There is a hope that an awareness of the situation for Palestinians within the camp will generate sincere progress towards a peaceful, just resolution to their displacement.
by Jacques St. Laurent
To read more about our time in Lebanon click here!
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The first two days of the 2011 Development & Peace Youth Solidarity Trip to Lebanon were spent meeting with members of the Permanent Peace Movement in Beirut, and understanding the organization’s important work within the context of the current social, economic and political realities in Lebanon.
The Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) is an independent Lebanese Non-Governmental Organization founded in 1986 at the height of the Lebanese civil war by a group of young university students unified by their common vision for the future and their aversion to war.
They considered that peaceful means for conflict resolution are the most useful of all, and that when these are exhausted, one should resort to non-violent means and never to violence.
Such a commitment to peace building within Lebanon is an incredible challenge – this is a country brimming with domestic tension as members of 18 various sects, within a population of less than 4 million people, have repeatedly entered into violent conflict.
Sectarianism within Lebanon means that political office, government positions, and senior military and security appointments are divided based on the principle of religious balance.
Thus, it appears that for many Lebanese, political, economic or cultural survival is dependent upon occupying positions of power in order to protect the rights and values of their own group. Moreover, divisions within the country are not simply predicated on religion, but on various political ideologies, which further fragment groups.
It is apparent that there are no easy solutions to ending violence and preventing further conflict. Indeed coming from a generation of Canadians which have little experience with war, the situation appears absolutely overwhelming.
We are super impressed with the energy, initiatives and commitment of the staff and volunteers of PPM – who work on limiting the arms trade, give conflict resolution workshops weekly, as well as creating opportunities for youth who are Christian or Muslim, Palestinian or Lebanese to come together, all while they continue to advocate for and promote alternatives to violence based in the Middle East experience.
By Alex Wright
To read more blog posts about our trip click here!