Wednesday
Feb182015

PROJECTS 2016-2017: Bike Tour for Peace

Assam:  Yearning for Peace

As part of its end-of-year reporting, The Washington Post named Assam, one of seven states in the anomalous North East India, as one of the most under-reported conflicts in 2014. 

This area of India has endured decades of internecine violence resulting in more than a half million deaths and hundreds of thousands displaced.  Governed under special provisions of the Indian constitution, the tribals of the North East have suffered from central and local governments' corruption, nepotism and inequitable distribution of resources, favouring some tribal groups over others and fomenting violence amongst and within the largest groups. The result is a region that is both rich in resources and impoverished through the diversion of energies into conflict.  More recently, responses to migration from neighbouring countries has exacerbated the violence. 

Bike Tour for Peace!!

 What a crazy idea!  How could a bunch of young men on bikes with their teacher make a difference in a region wracked by decades of civil war, violence, atrocities and the frequent use of the bandh (meaning ‘closed’ in Hindi and referring to a tool of protest used by political activists, disrupting economic and social activity and often turning violent)?Interview with four of the 2014 Bikers for Peace, from which the quotes are drawn.

Their teacher, Woba, was an observer/participant in a training in a Partera conflict transformation training in Guwahati in 2013, one of 40 men from a half dozen communities in conflict in search of non-violent solutions to seemingly intractable violence.  Woba and another colleague, Panger, were astonished by the methodology and were inspired to respond. 

Woba returned to the school where he teaches and began to talk to his family, friends, colleagues and his students about what was going on inside of him and his determination to respond.  As a peace activist since his youth and, like many Indians, with a modest motorbike for the family’s transportation,  he came up with the Bike Tour For Peace.  In April of 2014 it happened.

Click here to support this project!

None of the student riders had any experience on a bike; all of them had to figure out how to find, salvage, borrow or build a bike as well as how to keep themselves fed and their machines fuelled for the two-week ride.  They planned meticulously – a route that took them to ten communities in four states, enough of a welcoming party in each town to find food and a bed for each, and meetings with every sector of the population:  youth and women’s groups, political and insurgency movement leadership, mosque, temple and church leaders, community and business groups, and  ending each visit with a press conference to discuss the impact and results of their visit and to document the response of community leaders.

Over 2500 km later, marked by broken bikes, saddle sores, fear-filled, late night arrivals in insurgency-dominated towns, they arrived, weary and a few kilos lighter, for a final gathering in Dimapur, Nagaland, where they were met with hundreds of people, including 70 members of the media, who had documented in glowing terms their unique model for peacemaking. 

But it didn’t end there.  Communities in conflict have asked them to continue their accompaniment of them, to assist them in finding that peace.   ‘We continue to be involved in the conflict between [one tribe] and [another tribe]; even the conflict between [this tribe] and [the other tribe], we are now negotiating!  We are also involved with the Muslims and the Hindus; struggling has been taking place for a long time.’ 

They are 16 young men changed irrevocably by the experience, with a new commitment to be peace-makers, to be agents of change and of hope in a region torn for generations by violence. They want to bring an end to it. 

And so they are planning Bike Tour for Peace 2015!  In December FIFTY young (and a few not-so-young) people will once more take a Tour for Peace, visiting more than twenty communities in all seven states of the Northeast.  And there will be women!  ‘Where are the women?’ they would hear during their stops in towns and villages in the April.  ‘We have a role to play, as well!’

In May, Partera staff will be working with the 2015 bikers on the skills of non-violent direct action, some of whom will also be taking part in a new Masters in Peace Studies Programme with courses in Human Rights and in Conflict Transformation which Jeanette and Lee will be teaching. 

Thousands are now joining the Peace Tour Facebook page, spreading the word - and young people are answering the call to be peacemakers. The grassroots are rising up!  Years of negotiations have brought the region no closer to peace.  A recent visit by Prime Minister Modi once more dashed hopes for peace from above.  Movement leaders are struggling to find consensus amongst themselves. 

And so the people are rising up to lead the way. 

But it cannot happen without the support of many others who equally yearn for peace.   Any donation is welcome but you may be interested in knowing that:   

  • $180 will help one of those 50 men and women to borrow, repair, rent, salvage, and keep fuelled and in running order for a month (for 50 bikes $9,000) –
  • $70 will pay for food, fuel and accommodation, as well as incidentals for one of those 50 men and women over approximately 30 days and 6,000 km ($2,000).
  • $220 will support 1/50th of all of the costs of training, communications, the complexity of time and materials needed to organise meetings in each of the towns they will visit, college staff support and time, trainers’ accommodation, travel and materials for trainings in non-violent direct action and conflict transformation. ($11,000)

  Click here to support this amazing project!  (Total Budget:  $20,000)

Monday
Apr062015

WEST NILE: Keeping Girls in School

Faidah, Lee and Irene, in Juba, South Sudan following a two week-long training in Conflict Transformation in 2011.Partera will be working with the Ugandan NGO, Community Initiatives for Peace and Development (CIPAD), headed by two women, Faidah Dede Obombasa (L) and Irene Dawa. The project work will take place in the West Nile Region of Uganda, a volatile region marked by insurgency violence led by the Lord's Resistance Army, high rates of disease, widespread illiteracy particularly amongst girls and women, and the lowest life expectancy rate in the country (40).

Despite free education, fewer than 38% of girls will finish school due to poverty, lack of education and resources related to puberty, menstruation and sexuality, early school-leaving, early pregnancy, early marriage, effectively removing women's voices from critical forums of discussion and decision-making about Uganda's future. 

Click here to donate towards this exciting project! And read on...

The current national constitution includes elements of economic and social rights that help to underpin efforts to mainstream gender equality in policies and programmes but high levels of poverty and resilience of patriarchal social constructs play a big role in constraining impact of many well intentioned policies. (Dr Deborah Kasente, Gender and Education in Uganda, UNESCO)

Our participation in CIPAD's Reusable Sanitary Towel Project: Break The Silence On Menstruation, Keep Girls In School, will focus on training in gender and development with hundreds of adolescent primary school-age girls.  We will support the project's training in and production of eco-pads. This two-year project's goals include:  providing education on menstruation and healthy sexuality, reducing early school-leaving amongst girls as well as early pregnancies and HIV-AIDS infection, improving their sense of themselves as young women with important contributions to make, indispensable to their family's, community's and country's future wellbeing. CIPAD also includes amongst its long-term project goals 'Better, healthier, well-informed and supportive communities'. 

 

Scroll down to find out more about the situation in the West Nile region and how your dollars could change the lives of young girls and women. Read about the Lucy Athenio, her own experience as a girl child in school and her determination and that of Irene and Faidah to KEEP GIRLS IN SCHOOL.

Click here to donate towards this exciting project!

Reusable Sanitary Towel Project: Break The Silence On Menstruation, Keep Girls In School
by CIPAD, research by Irene Dawa

Girls and women of all ages still have limited say over their lives and in particular over their sexuality. School-going young girls in rural communities cannot afford to buy sanitary pads and end up staying homes during their menstrual cycle.

THE PROBLEM

In Uganda, drop-out rates are high for rural girls. Up to 80% of girls entering primary school will never complete their primary education. In a talk with senior woman teachers and head teachers in five schools in Maracha districts, 7 out 10 girls miss schools weekly, out of 50 girls enrolled in school, 35 of them drop out once they start their menstruation.  Ninety percent of girls get pregnant   because of lack of sex education. Country wide, Uganda has the highest teen pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa with over 30% of Ugandan girls having their first baby by the time they are 18. HIV infection rates are 9 times higher in girls than boys the same age and Uganda has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, 25% of which are from unsafe abortions. Research shows that girls use unhygienic alternatives to sanitary pads, such as newspaper or even sand and leaves, or sitting on cow patties. Doing this puts them at a huge risk of infection. And, data shows that, nine million girls aged between 13 and 19 years in Africa, 'Eighty percent of those were missing a week of school every month... That's just time you can't make up and it's affecting their education.'

MAIN CHALLENGES FACED BY GIRLS

  • Expense of commercial sanitary pads
  • Absenteeism from school
  • Limited education about the facts of menstruation
  • Stigma-induced embarrassment  and low self esteem
  • Leakage from poor quality protective materials
  • Risk of HIV infections
  • Early marriage as a result of school drop out

This project will increase the chances of academic success for over 2000 Ugandan girls in Maracha district west Nile region for a period of 2 years through

  • Producing and distributing reusable eco-friendly sanitary pads through the CIPAD girls support programme.
  • Training of girls in gender and development and conflict transformation.
  • Training of peer educators on menstrual hygiene management, sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid early pregnancies.
  • Producing movies in Lugbara local language on puberty, growing up and ways to protect against unwanted sexual advances.
  • IEC [WHO's Information Education & Communication] materials and media related activities.

JUSTIFICATION:

Eighty five percent (85%) of Ugandans live in rural poverty earning an average of $150 a year. More than 50% of the population is under 15 years old, and the education of these children is critical for Uganda’s economic development. Educating girls is widely regarded as one of the best ways to improve the economy and wealth of developing countries - known as 'the girl effect'. However, the girls consistently fare less well academically than boys.

Academic performance correlates closely with the school attendance. Absenteeism and dropout cases are high for rural Ugandan girls for reasons often linked to their reproductive biology, menstruation and early pregnancy. Menstruation is treated with silence and as a taboo, topic with menstrual blood are always viewed as unclean and harmful, which limits girls access to relevant important information about their bodies.

Evidence suggests that the period around puberty is one in which many girls drop out of school or are absent from school for significant periods of time. This means that girls miss more than 6weeks of school every year and women miss valuable work hours. Limited access to safe, affordable, convenient and culturally appropriate methods for dealing with menstruation has far-reaching implications for rights and physical, social and mental wellbeing of many adolescent girls in Uganda. It undermines sexual and reproductive health, wellbeing and has been shown to restrict access to education. Faced with complete lack of sanitary pads, this can only mean that the girls miss school and this has negative impact on the quality of learning they receive, their overall academic performance, their retention and transition through the education system.

Furthermore many adolescent girls in rural communities have limited knowledge about their bodies especially in relation to menstruation; sexual and reproductive health. The Ugandan school system is woefully inadequate in educating girls about health sexuality. A 2006 study found that 44% of boys and 50% of girls aged 15-19, had never participated in a classroom discussion on sexuality nor attended an education talk on sex before their first sexual encounter. For the most part school children rely on self-education from peers who often know as little as they do.

The inaccessibility of menstrual products results in embarrassment, anxiety and shame when girls stain their clothes which is stigmatizing. Once girls start missing school, they are far more likely to be exposed to other risks like early pregnancy and marriage, HIV/AIDS. The common practice now is to use old rag cloths which cause leakages and present high risk of infection. Increasing girls’ completion of education cycle is a critical component which will empower them economically and in particular ensure that they are more able to be involved in decision making over all aspects of their lives. This is occasioned by the fact that girls who cannot afford sanitary pads more often are at risk of manipulation by men who promise to provide them with the money to buy pads, and eventually they are forced to have sexual relations which ultimately leads to unwanted pregnancies and further risk of maternal and child health related problems as they are normally not prepared to take care of these children at these early ages.

ACTIVITIES

Making reusable sanitary pads (eco-pads) has radically proved to create a world where women and girls can step boldly into the promise of their future and break the cycle of poverty. This will be done through the production and distribution of reusable sanitary pads as well as ensuring provision of menstrual hygiene management education to all primary girls in all schools in Maracha and Yumbe district west Nile region, Yumbe district is estimated to be having the highest dropout of girls with 4 out of 10 yearly followed by Maracha district with 3 out of 10 yearly this is according to the district education officers of the two districts. By acquiring knowledge and getting access to reusable sanitary pads, the overall status of the girls will be enhanced as myths and misconception that surrounds puberty and menstruation will be demystified.

The design and production of these sanitary pads will utilize available low-cost raw materials which will also encourage self-sufficiency in these communities. The proposed project will use a design pattern from the women’s group in South Sudan, a project which was funded by GIZ and overseen by the current founder and ED of CIPAD Uganda. The towel use 100% cotton flannel and a nylon protective casing which has a life cycle of 1 years. These cloth menstrual pads (Eco-pads) require hand washing in salty cold water or with soap where available. These Eco-pads are less-likely to cause rashes, contact dermatitis and remove the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Girls with sensitive skins and allergies will find the cloth pads more comfortable against their skins. These reusable pads will be environmentally friendly and the training will cover safe disposal and management aspects.

Furthermore production and distribution of the reusable pads will be an entry point for the promotion of a wider action on menstrual hygiene and reproductive health rights focused on schools and involving the wider community.an integrated approach of this type has not been carried out in this districts before. The project will also demonstrate how opportunities for contact with girls and communities on specific issue can be used to promote and develop wider action on issues that affect girl’s health status and will identify appropriate strategies for action.in the meantime, campaigns to demystify menstruation will be rolled out in all the primary schools in Maracha and Yumbe district. This campaign will aim to make adolescent girls recognize that they are contributing to the silence and stigma around menstruation and encourage them to use their voices to talk about the topic and themselves and demand their rights.

For further information on the project scope, accountability and CIPAD, write to info@partera.ca.

To support this project and Partera's participation, click here!

 


[1] Research by Irene Dawa Executive director CIPAD Uganda  June 2014

Monday
Apr062015

SOUTH SUDAN/UGANDA Border Conflict: Turning Enemies into Neighbours

Faidah Dede Obombasa and Irene Dawa, Director and ED of CIPAD, respectively; with Lee following training in South Sudan 2011Promoting Peaceful Co-existence Between Host and Refugee Communities

With the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December of 2013 marked by atrocities on both sides of the Nuer-Dinka conflict, CIPAD Uganda has been engaging host communities and the newly-arrived refugees in dialogue and mediation designed to reduce violence and de-escalate the tensions.

The already volatile situation escalated with an outbreak of violent conflict that ended with 50 people dead and many properties destroyed due to land disputes between communities in the Moyo District of Uganda and Kajo-Keji County of South Sudan.

Despite the 'diplomatic and policing interventions by the two governments, the victims and survivors of this violence continue to be exposed to revenge, vengeance, mob justice, hooliganism, and other unlawful acts'. CIPAD intervened with trainings and community meetings aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence. They have already conducted six trainings and have requested support from Partera.  In October, we will be joining CIPAD staff in 'engaging the conflicting communities through community-led initiatives will facilitate safe processes of dialogue and community discussion fora. This will allow them to identify and discuss potential conflict trigger points, to adopt peaceful coping mechanisms to managing feelings and, resolve disputes peacefully though non-violent means.'

Click here to support this creative project for peacemaking!

Peaceful Co-existence
by CIPAD

'West Nile is geographically located on the North West corner of Uganda. It boarders South Sudan to the North and The Democratic Republic of Congo to the East. This is a multi-ethnic region made up of four groups that include: the Lugbara, Alur, Kakwa, Madi. Any political instability within The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan has direct impact on the region. The multi-ethnic character is both a strength and a breeding-ground for conflict.

'Historically, West Nile has been a disadvantaged region that has lagged behind developments that would improve the standard of living of her citizens. For over 20 years it was cut off from the rest of Uganda due to the Lord Resistance Army insurgency in Northern Uganda and the Uganda National People’s liberation front (UNRFII) that ended with the signing of peace treaty between UNRF II and Government of Uganda in 2002 which majorly affected the districts of Yumbe, koboko Arua and Moyo.  From early 1990s till late 2000, west Nile was a home to thousands of South Sudanese refugees. After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, most of the refugees returned to their country. However, as of now, West Nile's refugee population rose precipitously following the recent escalation of conflicts in both the DRC and South Sudan. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that some 78,000 people had fled to neighbouring countries since mid-December 2012. More than half have headed for Uganda's West Nile region straddling South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In all, 42,654 refugees, mostly women and children, from Nimule in South Sudan, are now in the Ugandan districts of Arua, Adjumani and Kiryandongo," Edwards said. West Nile suffers constant influx of refugees because of its location bordering Congo and South Sudan. [3]

The Problem

'Due to its history of frequent refugee influx and its location at the border, West Nile suffers from constant conflict. In September this 2014, there was an outbreak of violent conflict in which over 50 people were killed and properties were destroyed over land disputes between communities in the Moyo District of Uganda and Kajo-Keji County of South Sudan. Despite the diplomatic and policing interventions by the two governments, the victims and survivors of this violence continue to be exposed to revenge, vengeance, mob justice, hooliganism, and other unlawful acts.

Justification for intervention

'Co-existence between host and refugee communities in Uganda requires non-violent means to resolving community disputes. Engaging the conflicting communities through community-led initiatives will facilitate safe processes of dialogue and community discussion fora. This will allow them identify and discuss potential conflict trigger points, adopt peaceful coping mechanisms to managing feelings and communication and resolve disputes peacefully though non-violence means.

Project Goal and Objective

'The overarching goal of this project is to prevent violence among the refugees and host communities in West Nile region of Uganda.

'Specific objective of this project is to enhance the capacities of refugee and host communities to manage and respond to social and economic shocks.

Key activities, envisaged results indicators and targeted groups

Key activities

  1. Training on non-violent approaches to conflict resolution
  2. Creating community-led fora for dialogue
  3. Conducting dialogue sessions
  4. Home and site visits
  5. Awareness creation

Result Indicators

  1. Community platforms for dialogues between refugee and host communities are in place
  2. The number of communities with active peaceful mechanisms for conflict resolutions
  3. Incidences of violence involving refugees and host community members are significantly reduced

Target groups

This project will target three groups;

  1. First, the refugees and the host community leaders represented by the Youth, Students, women groups/organizations, religious and traditional leaders (chiefs);
  2. Secondly, local government officials;
  3. Thirdly security personnel at the border areas and refugee camps protecting the refuges

 Geographic Coverage

The project will target the eight districts of West Nile region.

Click here to support this creative project for peacemaking!

 


[3] http://www.unhcr.org/52d516da6.html

Thursday
Dec172015

Christmas Gift-Giving for the Peacemaker

Give a gift that will change lives.  Choose a project from a sample of our 2017 projects and make a purchase for someone, family, friend, neighbour, colleague.  From supporting South Sudanese refugees in their efforts to make life possible in the seemingly impossible conditions of a refugee camp or helping girls to stay in school so that their voices will someday make a difference in Uganda; then there's the young people who are driving the exciting Peace Tour on Bikes that is having a growing impact on a part of the world whose violent conflict has gone mostly unnoticed - North East India.  And lastly, what about right here?  Help us increase the numbers of people right here trained as trainers in conflict transformation and anti-racism.

Browse the catalogue here.