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Posts Tagged ‘youth activism’

The clock is ticking - spread the word

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Given the chance 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries can unleash the world’s greatest untapped solution to poverty. This is the Girl Effect.

Your support, your voice and your action – that’s what it’s going to take to wake up the world and make a real difference. Make yourself part of the Girl Effect revolution. Join the conversation and let the world know what the Girl Effect is capable of. Talk it up. Spread the word. Check out www.girleffect.org

Offering the hand of friendship

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

By Maddie McIntyre

backpacks

Source: Dennischnapp

The face of the traditional kiwi OE (Overseas Experience) is changing as a global social conscience is awakening in young people. No longer satisfied with seeing the world from the top of a double-decker bus or from the window of an air conditioned hotel room, more and more New Zealanders in their late teens and  twenties are opting for a more ‘real’ and useful OE – they are choosing to volunteer. Tourism is being rejected for teaching. Souvenirs for social work. Motels for manual labour, and indifference for making a difference.

With programmes such as UNIVOL (A university volunteer programme, run by Volunteer Service Abroad) skilled youth are able to positively contribute to communities all over the world and help bring aid and practical assistance to people in need. Volunteers are being sent throughout the Pacific; to Asia and the Middle East; and to Africa. It is possible to choose between a short term voluntary experience which consists of only a few weeks or a single aid project such as building a water tank, or a longer term programme which allows you to really integrate yourself into a community and spend months (or even years!) getting to know the locals and supporting the community.

But is volunteering always a good idea? Who, in the end, does it actually benefit? Are these young people making a difference to those in need or simply soothing their own conscience? Despite the seemingly genuine intentions of those who choose to volunteer many criticisms have arisen surrounding the integrity and usefulness of some volunteer programmes. Some argue that volunteering has changed into a form of ‘voluntourism’, where the volunteering has become viewed as a new ‘novelty’ form of travel, and these organisations and individuals are actually placing a heavier burden on the communities they are trying to assist by using up resources and requiring accommodation and food.

Though it could be said that volunteering can have its downsides the accounts of two young volunteers, Kathy Impey and Josie Orr, and their personal experiences with international volunteer work seem to provide solid evidence that the overseas volunteer experience can be a life-enriching experience and a worthwhile endeavor for both for the volunteer and the locals.

Josie Orr

josie-orr_portrait

Source: VSA

Why did you decide to volunteer overseas?
I was basically looking for something to do after I finished my degree (BA in Human Geography) that was related to what I had studied, so it just came at the right time really. Also I was interested in travelling but wanted to do more than just go as a tourist. Also growing up with both parents having done volunteer assignments made me aware of what an awesome experience it is!

Who did you work for and what kind of work did you do?
I worked for Wan Smolbag Theatre, a not for profit organisation set up by two expats 21 years ago. The organisation uses drama to inform, raise awareness and encourage public discussion on a range of contemporary health, lifestyle, environment and governance issues.

Five years ago they opened their youth centre, where I worked. The youth centre was established to provide out-of-school and unemployed youth, who basically who had nothing to do, with informal classes, workshops, and activities e.g. hip hop dance, nutrition, playing guitar, sewing, agriculture and sports. Enrolment wasn’t just for youth (with the youngest enrolled member 3 and the oldest 53!) so activities catered for all ages.

What were the biggest issues facing the young people you were working with over in Vanuatu? How did you work with them and the other volunteers/locals to deal with these problems?
Unemployment is a major problem for Port Vila, as many youth from the outer islands and rural areas move to Port Vila in the hope to get paid work, but with such high demand and very little jobs available, many find themselves unemployed with nothing to do. This can lead to petty crime and youth turning to drugs etc. which are both becoming big issues for Vila. Through the activities the centre runs we were directly responding to the needs of the youth, giving children, youth and adults a chance to gain skills and experience, and participate in new activities.

What is the most important lesson you learnt from volunteering?
That no matter who we are, where we live, or our backgrounds, culture or language we really are all the same, we all experience the same situations in our lives and we can all learn from one another! Friendship is one of the most important things you can give to someone, and receive especially when you’re living in another country away from those you know!

Do you intend to volunteer again?
Yes I hope to volunteer again! I believe volunteering is the best way to travel – you get a real feel for the country you are visiting/living in and getting to know the locals means you get see the ‘real’ life of where you are. As well as being able to give back and contribute (if only in a small way) to the lives of the locals.

Source: VSA

Source: VSA

Kathy Impey

Why did you decide to volunteer overseas?
I had a long standing interest in Africa generally but especially South Africa (SA), my parents had lived in SA before I was born and left at the peak of apartheid when it became too problematic for them to stay. My father was teaching at a ‘black’ township school at a time when it was made illegal for white people to enter the townships. So I grew up attending anti-apartheid marches and surrounded by stories and photos of SA. On finishing high school I studied Human Geography and Social Work at university with the intention of gaining skills and knowledge that would enable me to travel to Africa.

Who did you work for and what kind of work did you do?
I worked at an activities centre in Mdantsane and I did a huge range of work, much of it not what I had expected to do, and most of it was just a case of getting involved and doing whatever needed doing. Officially I was a junior programmes advisor, so I worked with a team of local youth volunteers and a small core of local staff to plan, co-ordinate and run after school activities including like soccer, setting up a girls self-defense programme (I have a black belt in TKD and a sports coaching back-ground) and teaching basic computer skills.

What was your biggest reservation/fear going into the volunteer programme?
That I wouldn’t actually have much to offer by way of skills or knowledge, I felt very inexperienced and worried that I might seem arrogant as a young outsider arriving there and expecting that I knew enough to be able to help. As it was my fears were silly, I had very supportive colleagues who were so accepting and positive from day one, although there were inevitably some misunderstandings, they let me learn from my own mistakes and I learnt to be guided, but also to speak up when I felt I could contribute.

How did the reality of your experience differ from your initial expectations?
My expectations were fairly accurate having studied SA a lot and travelled there as a child. Going back I was surprised how extreme the racial segregation remained, and how much your skin still defined how you were perceived and what was expected of you. I had perhaps been a bit naïve, but being a white foreigner (and young, female, blonde etc) meant that I was very conspicuous in the townships and when I travelled. I got used to being stared at and questioned about my life, for many people it was the first time they had been spoken to as equals by a white person, so there was a lot of curiosity and attention.

What was one of the most important things you got out of your experience?
Breaking down racial barriers and making human connections was one of the most rewarding aspects of being there, watching the kids in the preschool move from being initially scared of me, to climbing all over me and treating me as a huge novelty, then by the end of the year, just giving me a hug, saying hello and carrying on as normal- that transition to seeing me as just another person was a huge shift.

One thing that is quite important to me is that here in NZ often people hear only about the bad things in SA, the crime, the poverty etc, those things are true in some ways, but hearing about the positive side of SA is something that happens a lot less, and I try to draw on my UNIVOL experience and speaking opportunities/interviews to get the message across that despite its problems and bad press, SA also has a very positive story to tell, and I hope this comes through in my answers to your questions.

To read the full interviews click here.


VSA Project Friendship 2010

Over 200 schools and Girl Guide units took part in VSA Project Friendship 2010, held from August 9 to 15. More than 37,000 handwoven friendship bracelets went on sale during the week to help raise awareness about the work that VSA volunteers do, working alongside communities striving for change in the pacific Asia and Africa.

Members of the senior council at Kaitaia College in Northland show off their friendship bracelets. Photo courtesy of The Northland Age.

Members of the senior council at Kaitaia College in Northland show off their friendship bracelets. Photo courtesy of The Northland Age.

This year VSA Project Friendship focused on youth.  Money from each sale will be used to support VSA volunteers who are working with young people on issues such as children’s rights, HIV/AIDS and the environment.

There was an enthusiastic response from those who took part. Amanda Moore, a member of the senior council at Kaitaia College in Northland, says they decided to support Project Friendship because they think VSA is a good organisation. She says the response they got from other students was really positive – “they were really interested” – and that even the boys at the school were keen to buy bracelets.

“They were all buying them for their friends, which is really nice.”

Three young VSA volunteers also wrote blogs to provide further insight into the challenges faced by the Kiwi volunteers and young people in developing countries They will keep blogging till the end of September – check out their blog posts,  it’s a great chance to get the inside story on the role that young New Zealanders play in the global community.

For more information about VSA, or to read the VSA Project Friendship blogs, visit www.vsa.org.nz


TAKE ACTION
!

  • If you are interested in becoming a VSA Volunteer and feel you have valuable skills that could be put to good use in developing communities then contact the VSA via their website or call  (04) 472 5759
  • Feel like volunteering locally or making a difference to your own community first? Check out your local community volunteering office. Check out www.volunteernow.org.nz for volunteer opportunities all over the country.


LEARN MORE

www.vsa.org.nz
www.justfocus.org.nz
www.ethicalvolunteering.org
Good intentions aren’t enough

Volunteer interviews

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Josie Orr

Why did you decide to volunteer overseas? Who or what influenced you to volunteer?
Basically I was looking for something to do after I finished my degree, (BA in Human Geography) that was related to what I had studied, so it just came at the right time really. Also was interested in traveling but wanted to do more than just go as a tourist. Growing up with both parents having done volunteer assignment made me aware of what an awesome experience it is!

jorr4How did you hear about the volunteer programme?
Through Otago uni, and a talk where VSA came and talked about it (but obviously heard of VSA, and knew about it well- (mum and dad use to hold VSA branch meetings at home when I was growing up.)

Who did you work for and what kind of work did you do?
I worked for an organisation in Port Villa, Vanuatu, called Wan Smolbag Theatre, a not for profit organisation, set up by two expats 21 years ago. They started off with just 15 voluntary actors, and now hire 100 full and part time staff. The organisation uses drama to inform, raise awareness and encourage public discussion on a range of contemporary health, lifestyle, environment and governance issues.

Five years ago they opened their youth centre, where I worked. The youth centre was established to provide out-of-school and unemployed youth who basically who had nothing to do with informal classes, workshops, and activities e.g. hip hop dance, nutrition, playing guitar, sewing, agriculture and sports. Enrolment wasn’t just for youth, with the youngest enrolled member 3 years old and the oldest 53! So activities catered for all ages.

I worked as a literacy teacher for the pikininis (children that couldn’t afford school would attend the centre), although I also helped out with other activities run by the youth, helping planning, setting up and running activities. Also helped run the kids sport programme, taught English, taught computer skills, helped out in the office, writing reports, organising field trips for the kids, basically an all round helper for whatever was needed which meant every day was different!

What were the biggest issues facing the young people you were working with over in Vanuatu? How did you work with them and the other volunteers/locals to deal with these problems?
Unemployment is a major problem for Port Vila, as many youth from the outer islands and rural areas move to Port Vila in the hope to get paid work, but with such high demand and very little jobs available, many find themselves unemployed with nothing to do, which leads to petty crime and youth turning to drugs etc. which are both becoming big issues. STIs along with teenage pregnancy is another major concern.

Basically through the activities the centre runs we were directly responding to the needs of the youth, giving children, youth and adults a chance to gain new skills, gain experience and participate in new activities. A lot of the activities would involve sexual health awareness activities, along with specific workshops held on such topics. We also provided English lessons, and helped out youth with job applications etc.josie-orr_portrait1

School fees are really high (especially as many families live a subsistence lifestyle) and hence the need to provide informal education to provide these kids with a chance to get at least some education and the steeping stones needed in life!

What is the most important lesson you learnt from volunteering?
That no matter who we are, where we live, or our backgrounds, culture or language, we really are all the same, we all experience the same situations in our lives and we can all learn from one another! Friendship is one of the most important things you can give to someone, and receive especially when you are living in another country away from those you know!

What were some of the biggest benefits to you? What did you get out of the programme?
Best experience of my life! Living in an amazingly beautiful country, and learning things I never could have really understood without having lived in Vanuatu for a year or make friendships with people who have lived there all their life!

Do you intend to volunteer again? Why? When? For how long?
Yes I hope to volunteer again – hopefully in the next two years! Ideally for 6months or more. I believe volunteering is the best way to travel. You get a real feel for the country you are visiting/living in and getting to know the locals means you get see the ‘real’ life of where you are, more so than just visiting as a tourist. As well as being able to give back and contribute (if only in a small way) to the lives of the locals.

What would you say to those who are thinking about or planning to go on an overseas volunteer experience?
Go for it! Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and that you yourself are ready for it – it can definitely be challenging at times but if you go with the right attitude, an open mind, prepared to be flexible and patient, go with the flow and expect the unexpected, it really will be an unforgettable experience. And make sure you go with a reputable organisation that will look out for you if need be.

Kathy Impey

Why did you decide to volunteer overseas? Who or what influenced you to volunteer?
I had a long standing interest in Africa generally but especially South Africa (SA), my parents had lived in SA before I was born and left at the peak of apartheid when it became too problematic for them to stay (my father was teaching at a ‘black’ township school at a time when it was made illegal for white people to enter the townships) so I grew up attending anti-apartheid marches and surrounded by stories and photos of SA. On finishing high school I studied human geography and social work at university with the intention of gaining skills and knowledge that would enable me to travel to Africa.

How did you hear about the volunteer programme?
In my second year at university I had cornered the head of development studies and asked him “How can geography get me to Africa?” and he told me about the UNIVOL programme which at the time was only just being negotiated, then I had to be patient for another year until I had the chance to apply.

kathy-impey_portrait1In the articles I read about your overseas experience you said that you helped out with an activities centre in Mdantsane. Who ran the activities centre and what kind of work did you do for it? Was all your work based around organising activities?
I did a huge range of work, much of it not what I had expected to do, and most of it was just a case of getting involved and doing whatever needed doing. Officially I was a junior programmes advisor, so I worked with a team of local youth volunteers and a small core of local staff to plan, co-ordinate and run after school activities including like soccer, setting up a girls self-defence programme (I have a black belt in TKD and a sports coaching back-ground), swimming, netball, rugby, games and physical activity sessions for the elderly womens’ group, the local community run pre-school, and primary school aged children. I also facilitated coaching workshops and youth training, and occasionally got up at 5am to pump up 137 soccer balls (essential workshop preparations).

The non-sports side of the job ranged from making 500 luncheon sandwiches for children’s sport festivals, teaching basic computer skills, building a shack style kitchen out of sheets of corrugated steel, compiling training manuals, helping local youth put together CVs and job applications, and acting as a mentor and role model.

What was your biggest reservation/fear going into the volunteer programme?
That I wouldn’t actually have much to offer by way of skills or knowledge, I felt very inexperienced and worried that I might seem arrogant as a young outsider arriving there and expecting that I knew enough to be able to help. As it was my fears were silly, I had very supportive colleagues who were so accepting and positive from day one, although there were inevitably some misunderstandings, they let me learn from my own mistakes and I learnt to be guided, but also to speak up when I felt I could contribute. It was a combination of learning to watch and follow, and also when to step forward and take initiative. Most of all when a job needed doing it was important to just get in there and do it.

How did the reality of your experience differ from your initial expectations?
My expectations were fairly accurate having studied SA a lot and traveled there as a child, the last time was about 2 years after the end of apartheid. Going back I was surprised how extreme the racial segregation remained, and how much your skin still defined how you were perceived and what was expected of you. I had perhaps been a bit naïve, but being a white foreigner (and young, female, blonde etc) meant that I was very conspicuous in the townships and when I traveled. I got used to being stared at and questioned about my life, for many people it was the first time they had been spoken to as equals by a white person, so there was a lot of curiosity and attention.

Breaking down racial barriers and making human connections was one of the most rewarding aspects of being there, watching the kids in the preschool move from being initially scared of me, to climbing all over me and treating me as a huge novelty, then by the end of the year, just giving me a hug, saying hello and carrying on as normal – that transition to seeing me as just another person was a huge shift.

What is one of your fondest memories of the experience?kimpeysa1
Working with the young children was amazing, their interest and warmth was very genuine and often after a training session we would all sit down on the dusty field and just talk, the girls in particular would ask all about my life, if I had a boyfriend? Did I miss my family? What was NZ like?

On one very hot day after a soccer session I was huddled in the back of the ute with about 13 of the girls and they were singing songs in Xhosa which is the local click based language. It was incredibly hot and crowded, but we couldn’t open the windows or all the clouds of red dust would come in. Every time the car hit a bump we’d have to put our hands over our heads so we didn’t hit the ceiling too hard. As we drove the girls next to me (the two who spoke the most English) were telling me stories about the places we went past, where the church used to be, where their uncle lived etc. In the middle of all this one of the girls leaned over and hugged me and said something to the other girls that made them laugh a lot. So I asked her “U thini?” (What did you say?) and she explained that she had just told them “this white girl, she’s just like us”, in that moment the acceptance of those girls and seeing them realise that we were far more alike than we were different was extremely touching.

What sort of relationships did you develop while on the programme? Do you still maintain those relationships?

I have remained in touch with some of my colleagues and friends in SA. In five weeks time I will be going back to the same area for 3 months to do research for my Masters thesis. More than anything I can’t wait to go and visit and see everyone, I have been back in NZ for almost 1 ½ years, but I still miss SA every day.

One thing that is quite important to me is that here in NZ often people hear only about the bad things in SA, the crime, the poverty etc, those things are true in some ways, but hearing about the positive side of SA is something that happens a lot less, and I try to draw on my UNIVOL experience and speaking opportunities/interviews to get the message across that despite its problems and bad press, SA also has a very positive story to tell, and I hope this comes through in my answers to your questions.

Become an NZYD Agent of Change

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

nzyd-logo
Hey everyone!

New Zealand Youth Delegation 2010 is really taking off in a big way. Delegates all around the country are hitting schools, youth groups and politicians offices, spreading the word about climate change and the climate change youth movement!

But we need YOUR help! Do you have a group or school that would interested in learning about climate change and the youth connection? are YOU interested in helping others become more inspired to act on climate change? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

We need passionate young people to become our ‘Agents of Change’, to help us reach new communities, schools, youth groups, churches and pretty much any place where there are keen young people. We’d also love it if you could be part of the workshop in your community by running them alongside delegates from your region, if you feel comfortable doing so.

Workshops will focus on:

  • Educating youth on how climate change is affecting people from around the world and how so many are responding to the challenge in smart and courageous ways.
  • Inspiring young people to take action within their communities.
  • Listening to what youth people think and feed that back to ourreaders, both here and on the international stage.

fabWorkshops would involve a short presentation, some conversation and the opportunity for people to contribute to the NZYD F.A.B. Fern. The F.A.B Fern Campaign (Fair, Ambitious, Binding) uses the classic Kiwi icon of a fern as a canvas to collect messages from New Zealand youth. This would include messages on the kind of commitments they’re taking in their own communities and homes to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as well as what do they want our government and world leaders at COP16 to know?

NZYD will present these messages to New Zealand’s leaders in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, and to the international community gathered at the conference itself in December.

nzyd-crewThere are delegates in Wellington (Jessie, Chelsea, Emma), Auckland (Rick, Kirk, Luke, Rachel, Emily), Wairarapa (Brittany), Christchurch (Suzanna) and Dunedin (Paul, Mike) all with HEAPS of other exciting events and opportunites on the go that they would love your input into as well. So if you are interested you can either email us nzyouthdelegation@gmail.com or call 021 042 7430 (Kirk) and let us know what region you have connections to or would like to help out in.

More info about NYYD here: http://youthdelegation.org.nz

Wahoo!
Cheers
Emma (on behalf of the NZYDers)

There are certain seats you never expect to sit in

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

youthplogoAll is not lost! We might not always admit it, but we know that there is more in the cabinet than interestingly shaped bottles of liqueur. We know that parties are more than just the things banned on ball night. We, the youth of New Zealand, know that the speaker is not always the one talking. Politics is not something generally associated with youth, but you would be surprised how many young people have an opinion. I can say with absolute certainty at least 112.

On the July 6-7 the average age of a Member of Parliament (MP) dropped by roughly half a century, when112 youth representatives converged on the Beehive. Every one of these young people was chosen by a MP to represent them in the 2010 New Zealand Youth Parliament. The event was a full two days where we participated in a range of parliamentary procedures, including select committee meetings, party caucus, question time, and legislative and general debates.

mdgsWe quickly realised that the select committees are where it all happens. This is the opportunity for MPs to debate, consider and hear evidence regarding any recommendations they might make to the government as a whole. I was part of the select committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Our inquiry was into whether New Zealand should be supporting the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. The answer from all members was a resounding ‘yes’. It was great to see such support for the concept of global citizenship and an acknowledgement from the younger generation that we have responsibilities that extend beyond our shores.

From our select committee rooms it was a confusing dash through the warren that is Parliament to the incredibly well hidden National Party caucus room. Here we discussed our views on the centrepiece of the event- The Age of Majority Bill. The bill looked at changing the general age at which a person becomes an adult from 20 to 18. This would affect legislation where currently no specific age is given, e.g. the Adoption Act 1955 and the District Courts Act 1947. It would also stop employers being able to pay those under 16 lower than the youth rate. After the legislative debate and a conscience vote the bill was passed.

Our second day of youth parliament started with an early for breakfast with Acting Prime Minister Bill English, the Hon Gerry Brownlee, Hon Nick Smith and Wayne Eagleson the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff. We spent the rest of the day in the debating chamber. The general debate was a chance for individuals to bring forward issues important to them and their communities.  Topics ranged from public transport to the monarchy to the mining of national parks. I have to say, being able to stand up and speak from the Prime Minister’s seat to a full debating chamber was something unforgettable. The issue I raised was how we can provide more opportunities for young people to examine national and international issues and their effects, allowing their view of the world to be defined, broadened and challenged. I have to say, Youth Parliament was a prime example of something which achieved all of this!

sylvie-at-ypsml

All of the Youth MPs hold their title for the next 6months, but what now? This experience made me realise that politics is something I definitely want to be involved with in the future.  It’s not all ministerial credit cards and backbiting. Sometimes the media makes it easy for us to forget that MPs do have a huge responsibility and that they work harder than we give them credit for running the country.

There are certain seats where you never expect to sit, certain microphones you never expect to speak into, certain people you never expect to meet; especially when you’re 18 and still trying to work out what direction you want to take in life. Being selected to represent the Prime Minister of New Zealand at an event like Youth Parliament is one of the most amazing things I have had the opportunity to do. Troublesome teens? We, the 2010 Youth MPs, are definitely evidence to the contrary.

Peace Out Nuclear Weapons!

Friday, May 28th, 2010

One of the most powerful threats against all people today are nuclear weapons. They have the potential to destroy populations and cities with the push of one single button:

  • There are currently 8,400 active and operational nuclear weapons worldwide
  • There are more than 23,000 total nuclear warheads that include operational, spares, and those in active and inactive storage. Though many may be scheduled for dismantlement, they are rarely ever destroyed.
  • The United States and Russia possess 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons arsenal. 6 other countries have confirmed their possession of nuclear weapons.

nuclear_button2Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to global peace and security. World leaders have the ability to detonate a nuclear weapon within minutes with the push of a single button.

World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is challenging YOU to design a new nuclear button!

WFUNA has noticed that the traditional “nuclear button” -the button that is pressed to launch a nuclear weapon- is rather boring in design, and doesn’t symbolize the grave consequences of its use. We think you could come up with a more suitable one!

Deadline:12 July 2010. First prize is an Apple ipad!

More information here www.wfuna.org/nuclearbutton
Please email inquiries or feedback to nuclearbutton@wfuna.org

NEW Just Write magazine

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

inkling-coverOn Monday 3 May, the Just Write team are launching a new magazine - inkling - at an event hosted by Hon Tariana Turia, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, at Parliament.

The Just Write team have produced this magazine - inkling - for you, their family, mates and young people their community. You will find it full of thought provoking articles on issues like education, climate change and technology, with a focus on ACTION. Yes, the world is facing some huge challenges, which is having a significant impact on young people around the world, but what is being done about it? And what can each of us do?  You will find some of the answers in these pages, as well as poetry, a quiz to find out what sort of activist you are, information about some of our supporters and a recipe for Meredith’s mum’s delicious brown sugar muffins.

If you are a Just Focus member you will receive a copy of inkling next week. If you’re not then sign up now!!

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. We chose to hold the magazine launch on this day to highlight the important role that young people play in creating a free and fair press.

Children and the recession in the Pacific

Friday, March 12th, 2010

bangingthedrum_logofinal-big2By Pip Bennett

UNICEF NZ has recently launched a new campaign called ‘Banging the Drum’, focusing on the effects of the global recession on Pacific nations. For the past two months I have been interning at the UNICEF NZ office in Wellington. My role involves working with the Advocacy Manager - International, getting a little bit of office experience as well as helping them out with campaign needs. At the moment we are working busily on this new campaign.

Economic crisis in the Majority world

The global economic crisis (often just referred to as the G.E.C) has had a major impact on the majority of countries in the world. The media has been swamped with reports of unemployment and investments-gone-bad from the U.K, the U.S, and more recently, Greece. But what about our Pacific neighbours?

Research on the issue has projected that around 50,000 more people could be living below the poverty line by the end of 2010. This obviously will have a huge impact on the lives of children and young people. Many of the Pacific nations rely on a cash economy, where cash is required to purchase goods or services. Increases in oil and food prices have left families with little disposable income to cover school fees, healthcare and in some cases, appropriate levels of food for their children.

Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific

bangingthedrum_pacific

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-2510/Pirozzi.

Why is this important? Historically New Zealand has had a close relationship with the Pacific region. In recent decades we have provided significant amounts of aid money to the region, as well as other services such as military support and policing.  Another important reason is that Auckland is the city with the largest population of Pacific Islanders in the world. So our Pacific neighbours are more than just that. They are brothers and sisters, and these countries are often still called home by many of our citizens.

In New Zealand, the recession has arguably not had a huge impact on young people. Although job availability and family incomes have decreased, social assistance is largely available to cover expenses that families cannot cover themselves. In the Pacific, only 20% of the population have access to social welfare . Imagine not having a choice of whether to go to school or not. Imagine having to work to support your family, even if you are at primary school.

Campaign with a purpose

At school in Vanuatu

At school in Vanuatu ©UNICEF/NYHQ2006-2512/Pirozzi

The campaign is focussed on raising awareness in New Zealand of the situation in the Pacific. Children need to be put first in social policy to make sure that they are protected from negative and unstable situations. It is important for people to talk about ways to support social development in times of economic crisis. Social investment has a long term benefit, but sometimes it is hard to remember that, especially in the modern fast-paced world where we want to see benefits immediately.

We are promoting the campaign at a number of festivals. We were at the Newtown Fair with a Cook Island drumming group called Atiu Mapu, and we are also having a stall and a drummer at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland on 13 March 2010.  We want young people to get involved – on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube – to support other youth in the Pacific. You could have a debate, presentation, performance, or writing competition in your school or community group. Come bang the drum for children in the Pacific!

TAKE ACTION

Check out ‘Banging the Drum’ on Facebook
Or visit the UNICEF NZ Banging the Drum website
For information and personal stories go to:

the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis in the Pacific Conference website

The Youth Guide to Globalisation

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

jeansFor Michael from Ghana, globalisation means the unfair global trade in his country’s agricultural products. For Norma from Honduras, globalisation represents the consumer culture she believes is destrying her country’s national identity. While Akinsami from Nigeria considers the globalisation of human rights as beneficial in halting human rights abuses.

This guide introduces  us to globalisation, it’s definitions, history and some key players. It provides us with alternative answers and explains why young people are SO important in this debate.

It takes us on a journey around the world from Africa to the Pacific Islands and also looks at 7 global topics such as education, trade and newly emerging issues.

Once all the research done the  guide lays out 10 major ways in which we can influence the way the world is headed!

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Speak out! Be heard!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Su’Ad Muse

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Photo by Coc@ CC

Raising awareness about issues in our communities, and around the world, is one the most powerful ways we can make a difference and create change. Dr Phil, our favourite TV psychologist, famously said “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. But you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know. So change needs to begin with knowledge. All it takes is one person to speak out and spread the word.

And, young people all over the world have done just that. First, they focused on the issues they were passionate about: from climate change poverty and domestic violence, to sustainability, education and conflict. Then, using their talents and doing what they love most, they found creative ways, such as music, dance and film to get their message across. These young people did not rest until they were heard loud and clear. Most importantly, no matter what anyone said, they refused to be silenced.

The beat of change
“Through music we changed our reality.” AfroReggae member Anderson Sa

From the favelas (slums) of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in the midst of racism, poverty, gang warfare and drugs, there came a beat - a beat of change and new beginnings. In 1993, police gunned down 21 innocent people to avenge the deaths of three murdered cops. A group of young friends reacted and decided that enough was enough. They understood that fighting back with sticks and stones was not the way. As young as they were, they knew that violence only leads to more violence. A new way of bringing about change, that would make people listen, was needed.

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Photo by Megan Cole CC

Music was their answer and so AfroReggae was born. The favela was a place of poverty; they had no instruments, no teachers, no money, nothing. But that didn’t stop them. With whatever they could find, trash cans, bottles, tins, they played their music. AfroReggae was as much a social movement as they were a musical sensation. Their music was funky and fresh, but most importantly it carried a message. It was a medium to show the true realities of favela life and make political statements.   

AfroReggae didn’t only make music. The group strongly believed youth needed to be educated to stop the cycle of drug trafficking and violence. Right from the beginning, using music and dance, they set up projects and programmes to show young people that they had opportunities in life. Alongside youth, AfroReggae also worked to unify the favela and making it a safer environment. They exposed corrupt cops, staged talks with drug lords and held free and regular concerts in the favela, bringing the people together not just to entertain them, but empower them.

They did all this with the determination to create change pushing them forward. And with their plastic drums and rubbish cans they slowly started to gain momentum. So much so that, in 2000, the group signed an international record deal. Staying true to their cause, AfroReggae vowed to put their earning from their record deal back into there projects. They have now expanded globally with a strong UK partnership and over 3000 young people in Rio participating in music, dance, theatre and circus programmes. What started as a simple beat is now a global rhythm. Indeed, through music they changed their reality.

The dusty foot philosopher
K’naan Warsame, a Canadian musician, originally came from Mogadishu, Somalia. Somalia, a land of past poets and present trouble-makers, was once an African success story, but, since 1991, it has been ravaged by an on-going civil war. Like thousands of young Somalis, K’naan fled the country with his family as a teen and headed for the US, later relocating to Canada.

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Photo by Luiza CC

Witnessing the horrors of the conflict first hand, K’naan knew the power of weaponry. But in a strange country so far away from home, he discovered a weapon more powerful than any semi-automatic machine gun - the weapon of speech. Intrigued by the art of rapping (and the spoken word) and with a desire to speak out against the plight of his people, K’naan used speech to convey his messages.

His first performance was a daring piece before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999 criticising the UN’s involvement, or lack of, in war-torn Somalia. The UN isn’t used to being told off by a kid, but they listened and even invited him back! In the audience that day was Senegalese singer, Youssou N’Dour, who was so impressed by K’naan that he offered him the chance to contribute to his upcoming album AND to join his world tour! All this from getting up and having the courage to speak your mind. From there, K’naan went on to develop as an artist and established himself as a force to be reckoned with his widely praised debut album ‘The dusty foot philosopher’ in 2005.

But K’naan never forgot where he came from. Like his first performance K’naan wanted his music to have meaning; as he puts it, he creates “urgent music with a message”. Music has long been used as a means of raising awareness due to its universal appeal. And in the technological age we live in, music can be used to reach more and more people. K’naan uses the power of music to draw the attention of people from all walks of life and enlighten them about the atrocities happening in his motherland. His lyrics are vivid and his audience sees, as much as they hear, what he’s talking about.

K’naan has captivated audiences from all over the world, from Geneva to New York, and continues to spread his message and raise awareness. He doesn’t let anyone suppress his views. He speaks out for what he believes in and through his music gets others to listen.

TAKE ACTION!

Once you have decided on the cause or the issue that most concerns you, raising awareness doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

  • It can be as simple as talking about local and global issues with your friends and family.
  • You could join or start a club in your school/community such as an Amnesty International group, which looks at a range of issues from conflict to human right abuses.
  • For the more daring, activist concerts and free gigs are always big hits. You could look at getting your local youth council to host it and could feature local musicians and young talent.
  • To reach a wider audience, get more ideas and/or share your successes with other young people, submit articles, videos and pod-casts to the Just Focus website.

LEARN MORE

www.afroreggaeuk.org
www.knaanmusic.com
www.justfocus.org.nz
www.savethechildren.org.nz
www.unicef.org.nz
www.amnesty.org.nz
www.globalissues.org

Borrow the DVD Favela Rising from the Global Focus Aotearoa library

Photo on previous page by Coc@ CC

This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.