Archivio | 2016

Slovak Catholic Charity, Integration Project Rafael (Anna Balgova, Mgr. Emilia Trepacova, Mgr. Jana Verdura )

Our focus is working with refugees that obtain international protection in Slovakia. Why do some people tend to radicalise? We want to belong somewhere. However, we often can be excluded, from classrooms, friends and the larger society. If we are excluded, we cannot feel satisfied with our lives and young people in these situations are more vulnerable to become a part of radical groups. Successful integration plays a really important part in this process. We are Caritas Slovakia, a non-profit, providing charitable social health care for those in need, including creating projects for victims of human trafficking. We seek to help without regard to origin, religion, nationality or political affiliation. Our first project was Backita, which aimed at providing comprehensive services to unaccompanied minors. Our current project is Rafael (patron saint of all travellers) where we are offering support in various aspects including social, legal, psychological counselling, and Slovak language courses. We have 3 integration centres, in Bratislava, Central Slovakia and in the East.

Many of the realities/problems that we encounter: health insurance, public opinion/impacted by politicians’ opinions, accommodation, pension insurance, Our focus is the situation of the clients.

What can we do better?

There are so many obstacles to be overcome. We are known as a country that is not open to migrants. We, as a nation, are an official partner of the ministry of interior – deporting people. As Caristas, we struggle every day to make a better condition for the refugees lives, those who came here. Our country should take responsibility for the people that are already here. This year only 100 asylum applications were launched in our country. We need to build a successful national integration program. We don't have one. A common asylum system in the EU should be build where the rights of those coming here can be ensured. We need to focus on long term projects: organisations are changing, people are changing. But building connections with refugees takes time. We need to consider this. Also, meetings are often just for us to speak to ourselves. We need more space for public discussion, and media needs to change the narratives. It’s really important to involve local communities to the integration process. Notes Submitted by Heather Fraser-Harris

Empowering Young Women in the ME(by Ms. Natascha Schellen)

Although I’m German/Austrian, English and Arabic are more familiar to me. I spent almost 20 years in Lebanon– a dual cultural experience. I feel very close to the Lebanese culture. This has inspired me in many ways. I am now doing an MBA with a focus in NGO management. I'm particularly interested in women empowerment. I really believe that if we have more women leadership (nothing against men!), we can find peace sooner. This is my image of Arab Women – strong! What the media shows is often skewed, and misrepresents who we are.

It’s a black and white image. that tries to put women in one box. In Lebanon, a small nation of 4 million people there is o much diversity. We can’t simplify this way. In Lebanon women are very active – they are out on the streets, protesting for rights; they are interested and invested in their future; they care about their country.

When men leave due to lack of job opportunities, the women stay behind. This can of course be for a number

of reasons from the need to take care of the home, or because there are sometimes less opportunity for them to leave. However, there is a lot of momentum with women being engaged. We are also seeing a rise of women education. Women make up 54% of university students but 26% of labour force. This is a big improvement, but there is large room for growth. This isn't just a Lebanese issue. We see inequality of pay. It is indeed getting better, but it is still a huge global issue. We also see women as examples, raising up the next generation. I recently worked as a journalist. We made an effort to focus on women and their careers, and singled out CEOs in order to show them as examples. As for WFWP, it is active in 4 countries.

WFWP Lebanon: Ketermaya Public School near refugee camps. Through donations it has helped refurnish the school library, and is currently focusing on organising book drives to fill it. WFWP Jordan: vocational skills,youth and character education through drama. WFWP Cyprus:
20th annual WFWP ME. A gratitude poster from children in Gaza who receive support from WFWP, was presented during that conference.

Ms. Natascha Schellen, MBA Student, WFWP Middle East
WFWP Europe Annual Conference: November 18-20, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia

unspecified-4

Seeds of Change – How Your Effort Matters (by Veronika Kvietkova and Jakub Senesi)

We shouldn’t be another brick in the wall. This is our main motivation in the things that we do. We are a group of young people, and we really care about our society and surroundings. Our values are empathy, civic engagement, raising awareness and critical thinking. We care about peace, equality, human rights and freedom. We want to make a change. We came to exist after the latest election when the extremist right political party started to apply the plan of Adolph Hitler in Slovakia. We see it as a potential danger. So we started to take actions to stop the radicalisation of young people. Our first event was an exhibition in our school addressing the solution of the Jewish question. We had a workshop followed by a discussion with the students. We shared facts and stories of survivors. Student contributed their own opinions, questions, and stories of their ancestors. We tried to prove that the movement of hate is wrong, and empathy is the way to heal the world. We continued to spread to the community level. We organised sports events, and standing protests – holding up facts confronting the political party in rule. We spread yellow cards throughout the city to encourage people to stand up against discrimination. We began an internet campaign. We are also continuing our workshops and non-formal education in schools where we can really change the opinion of students. Our aim is to raise awareness that youth need to be active; to be be more empathic; to think about things in a humane way, not like politicians. Our vision is to see less hate and more love in this world. Let’s plant our seeds so flowers can grow.

Veronika Kvietkova and Jakub Senesi, Flowers of Democracy, Slovakia

WFWP Europe Annual Conference:
November 18-20, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia

15171271_1125762267544881_3411871591157450849_n

Speech by Mitty Tohma

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, 

I would like to start my talk by sharing a few words about the recent events in our global community we have just had an election in the United States, where the entire political landscape has been redrawn, by Donald Trumps stunning success in last weeks' US presidential election. When I watched this process unfold the people were truly shocked by this result. This is not what the experts were saying, most people in the country were predicting a win for Hilary Clinton. So what happened? Why are people finding it so hard  to digest what was a spectacular victory for Donald Trump? they are questioning, how is it possible for a tv celebrity and a business man with no political  experience to head the most powerful office in the world!

The reaction from the people who voted for Trump,  they were sharing that politicians at the top are not really aware of the reality of the day to day life of us ordinary people, the people feel  they are not included in the day to day decision making, they feel disappointed, disengaged, are not being listened to and feel isolated and not represented. One lady said  'We are tired of the corruption on all levels, from all the political parties, the people just want a clean slate.' When I heard this about Trumps victory it reminded me about the same shock that reverberated five months earlier when the UK decided to leave the European Union. The result stunned the World, no body expected it.  So what's going on in our societies and nations? Trump and Brexit are a few current shock waves, we are truly living in an uncertain world. Are our governments failing to meet and understand the needs of the people in their countries? Are they too much part of an elite club with ideological agenda completely out of touch with the day to day reality of ordinary people? Brexit and now the unexpected election of Trump has sent a wake up call. There is an urgent need to reflect and consider how government are taking care of their people and what they need to change. How can we achieve good governance for an inclusive and sustainable society?

This will be my topic this morning: The role of good governance for an inclusive and sustainable society. We are increasingly connected, in so many ways. As a matter of fact, the whole world is. But, we also live in a time of growing differences in opinions and interest, which in reality we are floating apart as a result of the growing inequality within our countries. There was   a horrible spike in hate crimes after Britain voted to leave the European Union towards the ethnic minority groups, this was at least,  partly linked to the referendum, also  in America we see in the news about  the treatment of the African-American people, their campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards the black people.  The  Black Lives Matters; a campaign that  regularly protests police killings of black people and highlighting a broader issue of racial profiling, and inequality. We can see and feel increasing tensions in our nations.  We live in a time of great contradictions. We know to a large extent what should be done but we don't really posess the tools to do it. And sometimes not even the will is there. Now, for the first time in history, we human beings all share in practice the same world, linked as we are by technology, trade, communications, culture and commercialism. But we do so on highly unequal terms; Globalisation has led to decreasing poverty and greater similarities between countries. But also to imbalances between social and human needs on the one hand, and global market forces on the other. Huge changes have taken place, and during a short period of time.  Today, the richest 80 people in the world – as many as could fit in a bus – have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, 3.5 billion people. And economic and technological opportunities continue to drive the increasing inequality.  Around the world, 60 million people are displaced or in exile because of war, and many more have left their homes in search of a way to make a living. Good governance is fundamental on all levels in order to create a stable and prosperous society – be it on the family, community, national, regional or the global level.  Global governance is I believe our toughest challenge which is often the reflection of the family unit, this is  a new and complex playing field for our politicians and our faith  leaders, which demands new ways of thinking and working together. We live In a world of low trust and increasing fear. We need to reconcile our differences, break down barriers of intolerance, prejudice, hatred and look at the root cause of these tensions. These are challenging times for our families and communities. There are many organisations working for peace and reconciliation.  Our founders Rev Moon and his wife Mrs Hak Ja Han Moon who are the co founders of Women's Federation for World Peace have tirelessly promoted and have elevated the status of women, they have championed our work and have always felt that women are the central axis in bringing about a more harmonious and peaceful world.  They believe that;Women are not there just to help and be protected by men, but rather they are independent individuals who, as the representative of the feminine aspect of God’s nature, are meant to make men more manly! Centring  on true love, women are the precious partners of love to men. In terms of value, men and women are absolutely equal beings.  They have also been creating a huge number of platforms and foundations around the world, for people of all faiths, cultures and creeds to come together to focus on concrete solutions to these pressing issues which we are facing in our families and societies. They have over the years set up different organisations to help realise more understanding, forgiveness and true peace through Inter-religious dialogue and cooperation that brings people together across  religious and national divides, they set up education initiatives in promotimg healthy family values through fostering respect and understanding with good ethical and morale education for our youth, they also set up projects showcasing how our good culture, sports and arts play their role in creating a harmonious environment, and a large amount of time and energy and money has been invested in our humanitrian service project to help alleviate poverty and help the needs of the people who are suffering. all these projects to name a few have been founded and are grounded in the principle of true love, and sustainability. 

I’d like to share a few words from the late Rev Sun Myung Moon who has dedicated his whole life to bring a world of peace and understanding between all people regardless of faith or ethnicity. He has developed  a deep philosophy and peace principles to deal with those issues of good governance. He said that: Quote “No matter how great your fortune or power, without the foundation of living for the sake of others, all those things are short lived and are destined to disappear.  On the other hand, a life of giving and living for  the sake of others automatically enables a person to become the subject and central figure.  He emphasised.. if  you go beyond self-interest and focus your work on the macroscopic ideal of peace, and further on reconciliation and forgiveness, then I truly believe you will be able to attain something  of greater value than just material benefits. All barriers will be eliminated, as people who live with true love become the owners and central figures of that age. Conflicts arising from narrow-mindedness and  self-centeredness, over differences of skin colour, language, wealth, customs and geographical territory, will  disappear The world is in a process of complete transformation…; (Close quote) Good governance requires a heart of parent for those they care for.

The leader is there to serve and not to promote himself and take advantage of his position otherwise their leadership will be short lived and society will suffer. Both masculine and feminine characteristics are needed to offer the best governance, the shared responsibilities are essential to securing and fostering stability.  The masculine characteristic being more like strength, direction, subjective and the feminine characteristics being more like receptive, empathy, nurturing, sharing, patience, caring, working together. Both qualities are most valuable to run a society. When a leader exercises a heart of parent a heart of concern and inclusiveness for others, he/she will be successful and will create a sustainable organisation. A little kindness and appreciation for everyone will encourage a greater bond and commitment from the people they deal with. Good governance exists not through force or fear but through strength centred on unconditional love (True Love). Only that way an organisation can be successful, inclusive and sustainable

Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to take this golden opportunity whilst we are together to network, share, encourage, make new friends, take time for each other so we go back to our families, communities feeling uplifted with renewed strength to continue the good work each and everyone do, knowing that they have their sisters there for support regardless of distance between them physically. We can make a difference – we have only to know it and do it.  

Thank you very much for your attention.

Mitty Tohma,president of WFWP UK
(Bratislava,October 2016)

unspecified-2

Women Making a Difference- This is my story! (by Valentine Resiato Nkoyo )

I grew up in a small Maasai village in Kenya. My father had two wives. I have eight sisters and five brothers. As a young girl, growing up in such a big family wasn’t easy, especially given that my father didn’t have a lot of wealth to educate all his 15 children. Girls lost out as educating boys was, and still is, more important than educating girls.

Subsistence farming was the sole source of income for my family. Despite long hours in the farm, infrequent rains and occasional draughts led to loss of livestock and poor farm produce. I vividly remember the many days we went to bed on empty stomachs. These incidences upset me greatly, but also inspired me to work hard in school to change our future.

Being a woman, my mother would not own property. She sold illegal brew to make ends meet. The police visited us often taking away the little cash she made. We made do with old clothes with exception of occasional new second hand purchases or the ‘hand me downs’ from our rich cousins. I got my first pair of shoes aged fourteen.

Mother encouraged me to study hard as this was the only way out of poverty. On trips to the river, she would say “I want you to work hard in school so that you don’t have to do this all your life. Education will help you buy me a water tank so we don’t have to walk all day for water”. A few years back, my mother cried with joy when I had a water tank installed at home. I remember her saying, “I can see you listen my child and you never forgot what I told you. Look at my feet, they are no longer as strong as they used to be. God bless you my child”.

I lost several years of my education as my mother couldn’t afford to pay my school fees when I was thrown out of school. During such times, I helped my parents and worked as a labourer in local farms for money. I was constantly coaxed to get married. I remember this old man who used to bring me presents. He argued that I was wasting my time at home seeking school fees, as other girls my age were already married. I told him I could listen to him if he paid my school fees (£10). He declined and I asked him never to talk to me again. I was castigated for “begging for education”. The thought of being married off aged fourteen gave me sleepless nights. I avoided anyone who mentioned marriage to me.

Mother’s attempts to fundraise for my fees were met with hostility as it would bring shame to the family. As a teenage girl, I was not allowed to speak directly to my father. I could not question his decision not to sell livestock or land to educate me, while he did it for my brothers. Long days spent as a labourer while other kids went to school infuriated me. I could not understand how being a girl meant l was to be treated differently. I became dejected and felt suicidal. I sought ways to approach my father by writing this poem in Maasai:

TAKE ME TO SCHOOL FATHER

Take me to school father
So I may be like Elizabeth
Who drives the red car
And who is always happy
For was she not a girl like me?
Take me to school dad
So I may not be like Naserian
Who has now five children
Strands of wire covered by skin
Is what they have for bodies
Skinny, scrawny, skimpy
With teary eyes they gaze
Despairingly at their mother
Who has naught to offer.

Take me to school father
For those children haunt me
Will I end up like Naserian?
Whose husband whips her daily?
For is she not his sixth sheep?
And by the way
A present from a grateful age mate
Why was I born a girl?
To become a symbol of gratitude?

Take me to school father
You tell me I will deviate
And I shame you with bad manners
Is rejecting an old man bad manner?
Is declining initiation bad manners?
Is planning my family bad manners?
Is dressing smartly bad manners?
Is being a girl child bad manners?

Take me to school now
For the symbol of labour
I detest!
The symbol of pleasure
I detest!
The symbol of gratitude
I detest!
The girl child is mouse no more
She is a tiger ready to fight for rights.

He was extremely moved. We hugged and both broke into tears. This was the first time I ever saw my father cry. He sold his favourite bull and took me back to school.

He promised to get me the best education ever. Unfortunately, he passed away a few months later. The poem led me to make a commitment to myself, that my education was my own responsibility.

I sought scholarships for my secondary school. Despite losing two years seeking funds for university in Kenya, I was finally admitted for a four years course. During my second year, I got a scholarship to the UK where upon receiving a second scholarship I graduated with a first class honours in 2011. After working as a programme Coordinator for African programmes for three years, I got a scholarship to take an MBA at Nottingham Trent University in March 2014. I hope to start my PhD on Gender and Discrimination in 2017. I currently finance my brothers, nieces and nephews education.

One evening, when I was 11, my mother told me that I was to become a woman. The following morning, Female Genital Mutilation was performed on me. I went through unbearable and unforgettable pain and agony. The night before, I had thought of running away. But I didn’t know where to go or if I would ever face my family again. I would bring shame upon my family whom I loved so much. I would be a nobody among my people. Moreover, I had been told that was the only way to be clean, mature and marriageable. How would I ever get a husband if I ran away? I would always be dirty and the ugly coward no man would want to marry. So I stayed.

Over 15 years passed before I could stand any conversation about FGM. It was too upsetting. The turning point came when I realised my nieces were about to be subjected to FGM. To save them, I had to speak up. I started with my own family. I would cry on the phone begging them not to cut the girls focusing more on the impact it has on girls and women. I succeeded. My family made a commitment never to cut any other girls. They have been raising awareness in Kenya and beyond.

Unlike my brothers, I did not inherit anything from my father when he passed on. I ask myself “Is it that terrible being a girl that I cannot inherit a thing from my father’s 74 years of hard work?” It is sad this is happening to millions of girls globally. I am active in supporting equal inheritance for men and women.

I strongly believe what Michelle Obama said recently, that living without privilege makes you stronger. Even though some of my experiences affected me significantly, none of these challenges crashed me. I always found a way of coming back stronger because I always believed I could make a difference.

In March 2014, with no money and on a full time MBA, I registered the Mojatu Foundation, a charity dedicated to giving a voice to the vulnerable in the society. It focuses on Education, Training, Health, Gender equality and Community media. It works mainly with girls and women. The work we do has been part of my recovery from past painful experiences. Supporting and empowering girls and women to be the change they want to see has been my greatest source of joy. I never imagined I could be running a global charity, a media company and speaking about issues affecting girls and women. My experiences inspired me to empower others.

The challenges I faced gave me strength to rebuild my life beyond my scars and pain. Surviving my deepest wounds acted as the building blocks for a stronger me,beyond my understanding. I overcame the pressure to take my life. Yes I have lived in poverty, fought for my education, went through FGM, escaped child marriage and inherited nothing from my father. But I have built on that rugged past a shining future. Education gave me a voice. I give hope to others in similar situations for when they discover that spark inside themselves, they will light the world and shine a ray of hope to others. Use your experiences to the advantage of others because we women can actually make a difference!
Thank you!

See our work on www.mojatufoundation.org and www.valentinenkoyo.com

Valentine Resiato Nkoyo
address:valentine@mojatu.com
(Conference Bratislava,October 2016)

unspecified-1