Panel Session Presentations

Abstracts

 

Panel Session A: Development and Environment

Addressing Poverty in Economically Depressed Areas  

PRESENTER: Dr. Matthew H.S. Kuofie, CEO, Motivational Centers International (USA)

Motivational Centers International, Inc., (MCII), a non-governmental organization and non-profit organization, is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. The mission of MCII is to reduce poverty levels in economically depressed areas-- inner cities of the USA and developing countries around the world; this, MCII believes, will be achieved by training selected unemployed-educated youth to align information technology with business strategy that is related to their academic backgrounds and areas of either high demand or creativity.

MCII intends to provide to educated-unemployed youth free services, including: (1) Train them to become entrepreneurs and have them align IT and business strategy; (2) Assist them to set up and manage small businesses; (3) Assist them to obtain funds and in-kind donations for their businesses; and (4) Assist them to bid, win and implement outsourced jobs from developed countries. MCII also seeks to provide the following services: (1) Provide free referral services; and (2) Provide consultation services.

There are a number of benefits, which will result from successful implementation of the MCII plan. MCII graduates, entrepreneurs, will employ other unemployed youth. The resulting increases in employment, incomes, and consumption will lead to further investments, improvements in overall standards of living and reduction in poverty levels.  International businesses will be attracted to developing countries to take advantage of the new economic infrastructure, skilled manpower and low cost labor. Moreover, the entrepreneurs will bid on IT jobs in developed countries and have them implemented in economically depressed areas. Developing countries will be able to export the excess production to earn foreign exchange to support further growth of the economy. Brain drain and crime wave will diminish as employment increases. 

MCII will have internal and external evaluators evaluate MCII’s programs: To assess quality of services and impact in terms of poverty, unemployment, brain drain and crime.

More Food Equals More Forest – A Sustainable Model for Rural Development in the Tropics

PRESENTERS: Florence Reed, Founder and President, Sustainable Harvest International and Bruce Maanum, Vice President for Programs, Sustainable Harvest International (USA)

This presentation will include an overview of the global and local impacts of slash-and-burn agriculture. It then will focus on Sustainable Harvest International’s unique and successful model for reversing this harmful trend.

Some of the strategies for success that we discuss include: 1) Working only with people who have specifically asked for technical assistance to adopt sustainable land-use practices. 2) Encouraging participants to decide which new methods will work best for them instead of using a cookie-cutter approach. 3) Working with local institutions and hiring local experts to work with program participants.  4) Providing regular, long-term technical assistance until participants are comfortable using the new techniques on their own. 

Sustainable Harvest International and the 630 Central American families with whom we work have planted nearly one million trees and converted thousands of acres of degraded land to sustainable land-use practices, thereby saving tens of thousands of acres of tropical forest from slash-and-burn farming.  Participating families enjoy increased income (up to 2000%) from alternative cash crops as well as better health due to greater and more varied food crop production. 

Promotion of Ecotourism in Andalucia  

PRESENTER: Karl Opperman, President, ANDECO (Spain)

The International Network of Ecotourism Promoters in Andalucía (ANDECO) was founded on August 7, 1999. It is a non-profit, non- governmental organization with a national and international membership whose principal objective is the promotion of ecotourism in Andalucía.

Andalucía is situated at the south of the Iberian Peninsula between two seas, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and two continents, Europe and Africa. Andalucía is a pioneer at the national and European level with 20% of its territory protected in natural reserves of extraordinary value and beauty. The richness of its natural diversity is unique and exceptional. The regions of Andalucía have a very wide range of flora and fauna thanks to their geographical position, climatic variety and geological history. In Andalucía it is possible to pass from high, snow covered mountains where there exist glacial lakes to a North African style desert.

The mission of ANDECO is to preserve the living heritage of Andalucía, its biological cultural and ethnic diversity, demonstrating that it is possible to live harmoniously with the environment and raising consciousness that the natural inheritance of the earth must be maintained so that future generations prosper spiritually, culturally and economically.  We wish to promote through ecotourism a better understanding between the peoples of the planet, maintaining respect for and defence of ethnic, cultural and biological diversity within a setting of sustainable development. We wish to foster genuine cultural exchange with the objective of sharing and transmitting the real values of Andalucía to all the peoples of the world, thus bringing them into contact with its roots.

Ecotourism represents an integral and sustainable development choice for the world. Ecotourism is seen as a tool for conservation and sustainable development. It is a new way of promoting tourism based on collective and ethical principles for the management of natural and cultural resources whose economic benefits improve the quality of life of all sectors involved. It provides an opportunity to strengthen environmental conservation. Ecotourism is an activity which contributes to valuing the diverse ecosystems of the world because they are visited with a view to protecting them for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

This presentation will discuss several projects of ANDECO, including an ecotourism pilot project involving developing model ecological trails in the Sierra de las Nieves, and the creation of an International Ecotourism Centre.

Conflicts: a Major Turning Point in the Creation of the Bimbia Bonadikombo Community Forest

 PRESENTER: Ludwig Makaka Manga Williams, Forest Management, Bimbia Bonadikombo Community Forest Project (Cameroon)

Cameroon is a country on the central and west coast of Africa, situated east of Nigeria. It contains one of the three wettest areas in the world, and is among the top 10 biodiversity hot spots in the world. The Bimbia Bonadikombo Community Forest covers an area of approximately 37 km2 and is under immense threat from illegal chainsaw exploiters and farmers. The Community forest is surrounded to the north and east by rubber and tea plantations of the Cameroon Development Corporation and to the northwest lies the tall and recently erupted Mount Cameroon. Southwards is the Atlantic ocean and rubber plantations. The fertile, volcanic soil that supports the forest is old and therefore facilitates the opening of farms. The community forest is the last surviving coastal lowland rainforest between Limbe and Douala and thus its part of the foothills that encircle Mount Cameroon. Mount Cameroon is known as a center of endemism.

In the early 90s, the Government of Cameroon made efforts to transform the Bimbia Bonadikombo Forest into a reserve. However this idea didn’t achieve its logical conclusion after the introduction of a new forestry law giving communities the opportunity to acquire and manage a community forest. 

The major source of friction, which existed in the past, was the classification of Bimbia Bonadikombo as a communal forest. This classification was erroneously interpreted by non-indigenes as no mans land “a toilet without a key leading to misuse”. “Strangers” or non-indigenes abusively and unsustainably exploited the land and its resources with no benefit going to the indigenes. Many non-indigenes sold land and trees without authorization from the traditional authorities. Aware of the rapid disappearance of their natural resources, the natives of Bimbia and Bonadikombo villages raised their voices for action, marking a turning point in the history of Bimbia and Bonadikombo villages.

This presentation will present an overview of this community forest, and the conflicts before and after the creation of this area. It will address issues related to the major stakeholders in the area, changes in forestry law, illegal exploitation of the area, major conflicts between parties, and a way forward from conflict to cooperation.

The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Rural Development of Ghana – The Case of the Obra Foundation

PRESENTER: James Mensah, Executive Director, Obra Foundation (Ghana)  

Obra Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1998 to promote the welfare of the rural and the disadvantaged people in society, especially women and children. The Foundation was established by a group of committed individuals together with two Dutch Philanthropists (Olga Wildschut and Jacqueline Gomashie) who also shared the vision of the other local members. The Foundation has been involved in the promotion of education and health especially in the West Akim District of Ghana. In the area of education, the Foundation, through the assistance of development partners like the American Ambassador Self Help project and the Japan Embassy Assistance to Grassroots Project, have completed the reconstruction of six classroom blocks for the Amarkrom Anglican Junior Secondary and Oden L/A primary schools respectively. At the moment, there is another construction of a six-class room block for the Local Authority Primary School for Maame Dede a village closed to Adeiso.

Since year 2000, the foundation has been working in the area of HIV/AIDS. For the next ten or more, the Foundation will concentrate on the HIV/AIDS project hand in hand with the provision of the educational and health infrastructure.

  The Foundation’s Mission Statement is: Obra Foundation is committed to the development of deprived rural communities through the promotion of quality education and good health especially for women and children, as well as environmental issues.  This presentation will provide an overview on the objective of the Foundation, the location of the organization, its role in the development of rural communities, activities undertaken since 1998, the methodology employed in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and future programs.

Cassava Production at Asamankese, Ghana

PRESENTER: Frank Tichorla Wajule, Chief Executive Office, Hope for Justice, and Isaac Nkansah, President, Archangels AIDS Network (Ghana)

 Ghana has several non-governmental organizations working in rural communities to help the Government of Ghana to improve and sustain the lives of the resourced poor communities through various interventions. One of such areas of interventions is the cassava project being implemented at Asamankese, Ghana, in West Africa.

The project is being carried out jointly by two NGOs, namely, Hope For Justice and Archangels AIDS Network. The latter organization is promoting HIV/AIDS preventive education to keep the people in the project area healthy, while the former organization, with the support of the Root &Tuber Improvement Programme Unit of the Ghana Ministry of Agriculture, is helping four farmer groups at Asamankese to grow the improved cassava varieties in Ghana.

Cassava contributes significantly to the economy of Ghana, and for that matter any developing countries whose economies depend mainly on agriculture. Its multiplication in the formal planting material sector started in the nineties, when four high yielding varieties were released. The new varieties were found to be acceptable to the consuming public, including food processors and industrialists. They were also superior in yield, disease, and pest resistance to the existing local varieties.

The promotion of cassava growing in Ghana has become of a particular concern to the two organizations, and NGOs in Ghana in general, in order to complement the effort of the President of Ghana to reduce the level of poverty in resource-poor communities through his Cassava Initiative Project.

Several interventions have been made to promote the production of cassava at Asamankese. These include arrangements for the provision of planting materials of the four improved varieties of cassava for the farmer groups and organizing training programs to upgrade the farmers with the latest technology in cassava production by the Root & Tuber Improvement Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture. This presentation will discuss this important initiative, since the promotion of root and tuber crop cultivation by NGOs can contribute substantially to the national income of their countries. For instance, root and tuber constitutes 40% of the total contribution of agriculture to the national income of Ghana.

Give Your Heart to Africa

PRESENTER: Ras Caleb Appiah-Levi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Prodigy International Productions Association (Ghana).

Bob Geldof, the British rock singer and winner of the 1986 Third World Prize, became the world's ambassador for famine victims. He threw his weight behind a popular campaign to raise money for relief in Ethiopia in 1984,and in two years (1984-86), his venture lead other charities in the United Kingdom to raise an extra 25 percent in donations. Contributions to international charities also rose by more than 160 percent. Geldof knew that as a rock star, he would have to appeal mainly to the young, so in December,1984 he launched BAND- AID, persuading most of UK's leading Rock musicians to record "Do You Know It is Christmas?". He thought it would raise US$100,000. In the end, it made 100 times that amount.

In July,1985, BAND-AID spanned LIVE AID ¾ simultaneous concerts in London and Philadelphia that were broadcast world-wide to an audience of 1.5 billion; it was a technological achievement which stressed the message that famine could be eradicated if everyone gave. BAND-AID was an emergency measure to get food to Africa quickly. The money from LIVE-AID was earmarked for longer term projects, especially in agriculture and transport to build up Africa's potential for producing food. 

SPORT-AID,  in a week of sporting events capped by a 10 kilometer run attracting 10 million to 30 million runners across the world, took the process a step further. Again money was a prime objective. When the money started rolling in, Bob Geldof was adamant that, as much as possible should find its way to Africa.

Figures put BAND-AID at the top of the league of cost efficient charities. But Geldof’s fear was that as aid-giving became "hip", it will soon become boring. So he wound up BAND-AID at the end of 1986 and transferred whatever funds remained to other charities. He also believes that the initiative should be taken up by Third World (developing) countries. He says, "the Africans are the only ones who can pull themselves out of the mess. That should not stop us from giving now-not out of guilt or because it makes us feel good, but because giving should be a natural act." Geldof set in motion a political movement and wrestled the political initiative from the parliamentary process into the hands of the ordinary people. In a citation for the Third World Prize, he was commended for mobilizing millions to give millions. "His overriding contribution has been to bring into life a dynamic relationship across the North-South divide, moving aid from the realm of charity into the world of popular politics". 

Healing Africa Tour (H.A.T.)  Based on the above concept, which is in line with our own visions and aspirations at this critical time, we have assessed our responsibility to the Creator, and have seen the dire need in carrying out our tasks as we should. In our introspection, it can be seen that the foremost responsibility that our Creator gave to us is to serve and praise Him in humility and kindness. For, it is known that musicians and music reaches out to more people than any other vocation. 

On this basis, Prodigy International Productions Association (PIPA), in collaboration with the Ghana Association of Private Volunteers In Development (GAPVOD) and the African Development Programme (ADP), are organizing to present in Ghana, the "First Africa Peace & Reconciliation for Development Fund-Raising Benefit Concert & Fair 2003,” schedules to take place in Accra and Kumasi from December 24 - 31,2003. The event is to officially launch a proposed "Give Your Heart to Africa Consolidated Relief Fund” and also to help inaugurate the following development project initiatives under the banner of “Healing Africa Tour (HAT): (1) Africa Family Reunion Jam Benefit Concert (AFREJABEC) and (2) Africa Community Development Relief Project.  Our plan is to have these be paid shows, with the proceeds accruing from the events, including donations, records and merchandise sales, going towards the "Consolidated Relief Fund" to be disbursed to targeted NGOs, needy individuals and organizations. Our goal is to raise a minimum of 1.5 million US dollars or Euros.

Panel Session B: Children and Youth

  The Child in Multiple Crises

  PRESENTER: Effie Malianga, President, Inter-Country Peoples’ Aid (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe has been facing a humanitarian crisis since 2001. It has gone through one international appeal for humanitarian intervention already and recently has been working on a second appeal. The first appeal received some resources for food and health while other sectors received nothing. Although the second appeal was more participatory, ensuring NGO participation, the Government of Zimbabwe dragged its feet in making an appeal, which was finally made on 17th July 2003. Unlike the response to the first appeal, which focused on rural areas, it is hoped the second appeal would invoke responses that take into account urban and peri-urban areas.

This presentation seeks to explore how the child in an informal, peri-urban settlement has been impacted by the prevailing humanitarian crisis in an environment where the child was already in a crisis situation by virtue of his existing living conditions. The areas of focus will be the three peri-urban informal settlements of Porta Farm, Dzivarasekwa and Hatcliffe Extensions, which are around Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, a landlocked country within Southern Africa. A study in 1999 described all children in the three settlements as children in difficult circumstances, hunger being a major factor in the lives of 90% of the children. Among them are orphans, mostly as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, children with disabilities, children engaged in child labour and sexual activity for survival, children who become pregnant or parents at a tender age, and children whose rights are totally violated.

The degree of poverty, gross overcrowding, unemployment and appalling living conditions in the settlements have all contributed to a breakdown of the cultural, social, family and moral standards within the communities. Children are no longer taught nor supervised to adhere to societal principles or norms. Furthermore, the lack of cohesion and complete absence of any responsible authority to whom they can turn for guidance and help has further exacerbated the breakdown of social norms. Complicating the plight of the child further is the HIV/AIDS crisis which has increased the burden on the child as increasingly they find themselves looking after siblings and their terminally ill parents. In numerous extreme situations, the young people end up heading the households.

Efforts have been made by several non governmental organizations to work with the communities to make the life of the children more bearable. The question is: Are they making a difference or not? Different organizations have different philosophies when they come to work in a community.

There are several programs on the ground, which include education, early childhood development, psychosocial support, HIV/AIDS incorporating home based care and community based orphan care, poverty alleviation, and so forth. Periodic evaluations and studies continue to find the plight of the child in these settlements still vulnerable. The poor child remains caught in the multiple crises of poverty, HIV/AIDS, economic decline, humanitarian crisis and the sum effect of NGO efforts in their life.

Empowering “Out of School Youths” Through Community Volunteering: The Mauritius Experience

PRESENTER: Mahendranath Busgopaul, Secretary General, Halley Movement (Mauritius)

School attendance does not necessarily guarantee functional literacy. Many who spend a few years at school and obtain only a very rudimentary literacy and numeric skills lose them after a while for lack of use. This session will outline how one NGO in Mauritius, Halley Movement, is empowering 'Out of School Youths' through its BETA ( Basic Education To Adolescents) program by engaging volunteers.

Participants in this session will learn about the reasons for 'school drop outs' and presenter will also give some statistics from one research work undertaken by the presenter's organization in Mauritius. They will also be acquainted with the different learning areas developed for the running of the program and also about the skills and aptitudes gained by the beneficiaries. This session will help all those who want to involve volunteers in working with young 'school drop outs'. Through the presenter's experience of this program, the participants will have an overview of difficulties that may be encountered when working with youths from different cultural backgrounds, as it exists in Mauritius.

The basic outline will present a brief overview on the following:

  • Volunteer work in Mauritius and in the Indian Ocean region
  • How the Mauritian community volunteers?
  • Education situation in Mauritius & literacy levels
  • NGO's and the government
  • The program: Basic Education to Adolescents, BETA Program
  • Benefits resulting from this community based program
  • Successes and constraints pf working with "Out of school youths"
  • Feedbacks, comments, suggestions and questions

 Institutional Care and Adoption of Orphans in Uganda

 PRESENTER: Sr. Maria Frances Mboyire, Administrator, Child Welfare and Adoption Society (CWAS)

Child Welfare and Adoption Society (CWAS) began in 1958 with a mission of caring for abandoned, neglected, and orphaned children due to civil wars, diseases (especially the AIDS pandemic), and family problems. Some of the newborn babies have been rescued from dustbins, pit latrines and hospitals. CWAS has rescued and cared for 1,300 children. Currently 236 children have been adopted and 42 have been placed with foster families. Without any alternative, the remaining children are under institutional care. Children deprived of a family environment lack a sense of belonging, which is essential to intellectual, moral, and cultural growth and development. Our intentions are to pinpoint the need for open foreign adoptions and a decent environment for our children.            

It has been shown that adopted children have better living conditions than those who remain under institutional care. Children in families perform better academically, are healthier, and are more emotionally stable than those in institutions. Experience has also shown that growing up in an institution, even to a mature age, a person retains some element of dependency, which is so negative to human development, especially in Africa.

On one hand, CWAS has a Babies Home for children between the ages of 1 day to 5/6 years old.  It is mostly during this period that we encourage local and international families to adopt babies/children. Local adoptions are now limited because, first, HIV/AIDS has resulted in a deterioration of the extended family system since almost every family has to take on an HIV/AIDS orphan or two. Secondly, other families are not capable of adopting. Foreign adoptions are few because it is not allowed unless adopting parents have lived in the country for three years. All African countries share this limitation. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, for the children that must live under institutional care, CWAS is also addressing the need for a decent environment. Under institutional care, they live in deprived conditions, and it is the institution responsible party for providing a conducive environment that aids in the growth and development of our children. For that, the children need a sufficient and nutritious diet, adequate health facilities, and proper education. Because the caregivers play an important role, they need to be trained and also there must be a reasonable ratio of caregiver to the child (1:5). Because there is no consistent government or non-government subsidy for these institutions, we are trying to establish self-sustaining projects to reduce the dependency on charity, which charity cannot re-enforce these objectives. We solicit support to complete these projects.

We appeal to members of the WANGO community to join hands with us in this struggle of rescuing the African children, to address the lack of open international adoptions, and improvement of the environment of the children that remain under institutional care.

Child Safety on the Internet and in Civil Society

PRESENTER: Samal Bundhoo, Youth Director, Internet Child Safety Foundation (Mauritius)

The Internet offers exciting new opportunities for children and families to research their homework online, communicate with International pen pals, and build personal websites to share their creativity with others. But with these opportunities come challenges: How can children remain safe within their expanding global village?

Children may not understand that there are online risks, and parents may not be familiar enough with current technological and other solutions to these concerns. Parents bear the primary responsibility for teaching their children to be wise and safe Internet users. To do that parents need to be aware of practical and helpful resources, safety tips. Therefore, Internet Child Safety Foundation, as an organization, exists to guide both children and parents towards a safer world.

Civil Society has its role in the education of parents towards this safer environment for children. NGOs need to know what should be undertaken to sensitize parents for a conducive Internet environment. Practical tips and guides will be demonstrated during this session.

Lessons Learned on Skill Training for Youth From Disadvantaged Families

PRESENTER: Nuy Bora,  Director, Wathnakpheap (Cambodia)

Wathnakpheap has experience in providing skills training for more than 10 years, with the target group being children in very difficult circumstances. Since 1993 it has been providing education and skills training for orphans, making use of orphanages as training centers. From 1993 to 1999, it provided non-formal education and skills training for three years (1 year for bridging course and 2 years for skill training).  This is generally too long for trainees from the disadvantaged families at the rural areas because they have to work in certain farming activities to support their families.

As part of its restructuring, in seeking to increase its outreach as well as impact, Wathnakpheap drastically changed its approach. Since 2000, the restructuring of Vocational Training Centers into Development Service Centers has been providing a new basis for the work. This presentation will examine the mission of Wathnakpheap, its change in approach, and the success of that approach. For example, with regard to skills training, rather than placing its training centers in a central position, other new types of vocational training were initiated at ‘private workshops' (on-the-job apprenticeship basis) in 2000, at collective businesses in 2001 and at communities in 2002.  The skills training at DSCs have been reduced and kept at minimum. The skill training duration was limited to less than one year.  The shift of emphasis from institutional based training to private workshop, collective businesses and community-based training gives more opportunities and alternative options to trainees who are working children to access skill training, especially for girl trainees.  The numbers of graduated trainees, especially girls, have significantly increased.  On the other hand, these wide ranges of training give more and more opportunities to community participation. 

Trade training at private workshops has been found to be far more effective and efficient than center-based courses in term of cost effectiveness and social relationship environment. Trainees stay on with the private workshop where they were trained, and as wageworker, and have opportunities for direct contact with many customers and easily get employment at the private workshops. Skills training at communities are fit to the children, especially girls from disadvantaged families, in term of short course duration and the relation with self-employment since their families (even the children) cannot go without incomes for a long period.  Skills training at communities contribute actively in the creation of self-employment, the development of livelihood and family small enterprise. 

The most effective training program for low education or school dropout children are practical, hands-on demonstrations, repetition and trial-and-error.  The periodic meeting between private workshop owners and instructors could improve gradually the training methodology both at the centers and private workshop.

Pure Love is the Answer to Sex-related Problems

PRESENTER: Jessica Chung To, Secretary General, Women’s Federation for World Peace, Mauritius

Our modern society worldwide is faced with devastating problems related to sex. In this paper, we create the awareness that the sexual organ can be considered the most important part of the body, because it holds the love of the parents and the seed of life for the descendants.

Too many people are unaware of the value of their sexual organ, misusing it even to the point of indulging in prostitution. The physical consequences of premature sexual activities are such things as teenage unwanted pregnancies, STDs, AIDS.

Psychologically, the unmarried couples suffer from emotional problems like depression, anxiety, fear of commitment, and so forth. In the case of students, their education suffers, complicated by poverty, child abuse, and neglect. Even their family suffers with them. Young people indulging in sexual practice seek measures to prevent accidental pregnancies. However, the usage of condom has a failure rate of 10-15%, and birth control pills have long-term side effects on a girl/women's health. Equally important, they are not free from emotional problems.

The best solution, offering 100% protection, is to control oneself and say NO to sex before marriage (abstinence). This allows the avoiding of physical and emotional problems, stress, a broken heart and an unpeaceful mind. In addition, learning self-control before marriage is preparation for a happy marriage in a monogamous relationship.

Decent dressing, watching good films and reading good books instead of pornography keep one away from the negative tendencies of unwarranted sex indulgence. Instead of wasting time in less desirable activities, one could instead participate in sports and social activities. Some people pretend they should learn about love through these cheap media, believing they are procuring reliable information; instead they acquire unhealthy and inaccurate information. Here we elaborate on the different types of natural and sound love they can receive from within a family.

In the context of pure love, we want people to be aware that the sexual organ is as precious as a treasure. They have to lock it up and keep the key safely for their future spouse. After exposing the various facets involved, we entertain in a concluding remark to improve our families and societies and share our knowledge about the preciousness of the sexual organ, and that we treasure it well for marriage and the future generations. It is possible to save sex for marriage and a healthy world will come. It starts from each one of us to do our responsibility and set good examples.

Toward an Ethical and Caring Community for Children

PRESENTER: Joseph Kinsley Eshun, Executive Director and Founder, Luckyhill Childrens Home Foundation (Ghana)  

Today, we are all confronted with global enemies, namely, poverty, HIV /AIDS, civil war, immorality, domestic violence, terrorism, diseases and many more. These have brought perilous hardship to humanity. As a result of all these and other challenges, school-age children are left on the loose to fend for themselves. Parents of young children have died pre-maturely. These children then take to the street for survival, consequently encouraging streetism, child delinquency and other social vices. Some of these children are used during civil wars and other public unrest.

These children psychologically are so much affected that integrating them into society is no small task. The same vulnerable orphans and destitute individuals are sometimes used as drug peddlers, hence becoming drug addicts themselves. The government today tend to spend a greater part of its scanty resources for such causes, and relies on the assistance of NGOs in reforming these children.

Luckyhill Children Home Foundation believes that these children, if adopted, guided and educated or given equal support, will one day, live to provide priceless service to their communities, thereby helping in bring comfort to humanity.

As members of WANGO, we should feel a brotherhood and love for all people in all nations of the  world, and especially  for those in our own community and nation. We must be supportive to our country and people, and do all we can to help our government meet the necessities of those in need. Many societal problems come because some individuals and families do not live honest and moral lives. Before we can be of service to our community and nation, we must be honest in  all our dealings with our fellow men. We must must first take care of ourselves and our families and try to overcome any problem that affects them. Our communities, countries and the world at large have a great need for dependable and honest citizens, who are willing to help. Often prostitution, pornography and other moral evils can be stopped, only if a group of people act together. This means someone must first get the group organized, and be in a better position to lead out against these evils.  

Panel Session C: Women in the 21st Century  
Circumstances Facing Migrant Women (Domestic Workers) in the GCC Countries  

PRESENTER: Nabeel Rajab, Vice President and Head of the Migrant Worker Group, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

Labor law in the GCC countries fails to cover domestic workers, who constitute a large proportion of migrant women workers.  These workers face numerous violations and, unfortunately, there is no deterrent procedure against the breaching of a law to protect this powerless segment in society.

The Bahrain Centre of Human Rights, through its involvement in resolving complaints filed by domestic workers, has pinpointed the hazards they face. This presentation will examine the challenges such individuals encounter. For example, the procedures of employing domestic workers leaves specification of tasks to the discretion of the sponsor.  The sponsoring family may bring in the housemaid, who is not aware how many members of the family, she will be serving.  At this point, the family will decide the role of the maid, be it a baby-sitter, cook, cleaner or car washer or all together. Based on the cases received by the Centre, it has been found that the family may impose restrictions on the maid's movement, place of living and break time.  Likewise, the number of working hours may not defined, making her work endlessly, and a housemaid will find herself receiving orders from different family members, and occasionally even working in other locations outside the family home.  They may be deprived of possessing their personal documents and ability to practice their religious rituals.  Sponsors may introduce changes in the work contract, if there is any contract.  The domestic worker might be sold, transferred, hired or forced to commit adultery, or forced into being a mistress of the sponsor. There is hardly any serious investigation into claims of women domestic worker to the state bodies, and the domestic workers legal and social recourses are limited and often ineffective.

This presentation will also look at proposals and solutions for this serious problem, including issues of cultural development, contracts with clearly defined rights and duties (and jointly signed by the sponsor, the worker, the embassy, the recruiting agency and the Ministry of Labour), legal regulations, governmental inspections, international treaties, and other important measures.

Why Not More Women in Politics and Women Decision Makers?

PRESENTER: Mihaela Dimitrescu, Vice President, Romanian Association for European Integration and Democracy (RAEID)

When you read the press or turn on the TV set, it is surprising how minimized is women’s presence in the media, with the exception of the gutter press or others that make sales using a certain kind of news. Seldom do you hear about women’s achievements, or do you see a show where are invited women of business or women involved in public life. Very rare indeed is the women politician.

Is this to be a domain exclusively for men? History proved that things are not staying like this. Queens and famous empresses, women ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, military leaders, and ministries are invalidating the rule. Why do not women vote for women? Why do not women want to be involved more? What are we doing for ourselves? Why do we accept only what is being offered to us and do not wish for more?

These are rhetorical questions but we need to answer them. The woman should be involved more courageously and persuasively in changing her destiny and not only participating according to the presentation of some static evaluations regarding participation from the second stage to the social-political life

Many international organisms and organizations have militated since the beginning of the last century for the elimination of the submissive and always-willing-for-self-sacrifice woman mentality. Since 1878, we can read in Ibsen, Nora's said: "Before all, I am a human being."

I give these examples for better understanding the discriminations that the woman was submitted to in time, her self-ignorance, the sacrifices that she made, with or without approval of society, of the family or the religious dogmas. My presentation is designed to convince women to participate more in social and political life, to improve their knowledge by special trainings, and to create a WANGO International Trainers Team in order to help our WANGO Family to become a worldwide voice of peace and cooperation. 

William Carey Study and Research Centre (WCSRC)

PRESENTER: Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director, Joint Women’s Progrramme, William Carey Study and Research Centre (India)

The William Carey Study and Research Centre was started in 1975 & the Joint Women’s Programme was started in 1977. It is a movement of people for their freedom and the creation of a new society with equal partnership of women and men. It is open to all those who believe in its objectives and are willing to participate in the specific struggle of the WCSRC.

WCSRC believes in the concept of equal justice & thus upholds the constitutional provision of Human Rights. For it, the women’s question in India is both a concern of the female sex and an important part of interrelated phenomena, including caste, class, ethnicity, culture, religion, and so forth. The JWP’S program to combat this total system of oppression and exploitation is therefore comprehensive in nature. The emphasis of the organization is on grassroots level organizing of women and the community in the rural and urban areas; issue based campaigns, networking at the regional and national levels among women’s groups and others; studies; research; publications; documentation; cultural action; seminars; conference and workshops related to action. Increasingly the legal and socio–economic rights of the marginalized section & women as well as their struggle for human rights are attracting the attention of the whole organization.

This presentation will discuss the work of the WCSRC, including organizing women and the community, legal rights, legal reform and advocacy, health, education and gender sensitization, socio-economic programs, violence against women and children, human trafficking, political participation, child rights, migration and advocacy, cultural action, methodology, and studies.

Women in Bangladesh: Social Situation, Including Education, Health and Violence Against Women

PRESENTER: Zeenat Ara Bhuiyan, President , Bangladesh Federation of University Women

The situation of women in Bangladesh has to be understood in the context of the socio-cultural and ideological framework of the country. Socially, the country is class based; culturally, it is traditional; and ideologically, it is patriarchal. In this traditional patriarchal society, male superiority and female inferiority is a generally accepted norm. Tradition depicts women as physically weak and intellectually poor, mentally inconsistent, timid, irrational psychologically, emotional, and requiring constant protection of the men, who are in turn depicted as physically strong, assertive, rational, intelligent and calculative. The relative role of men and women in the family was set in the backdrop of the patriarchal norm. Thus, man is the head of the family and the household and in that capacity decision-making power and economic control is vested in the hand of the man. Woman is assigned the role of wife and mother. To adjust with this role, she is given a position of inferiority, dependence, subjugation and seclusion in relation to man. To fit into this position, she is expected to possess the qualities of obedience, patience, endurance and sacrifice. Confined to home, women are assigned duties of performing domestic chores, bearing and rearing children and serving the elders.

The socialization process starts differently for the boys and girls from the very beginning of life. The family line is traced and property is inherited from the father, residence takes from the male line. Patriarchal ideology sets the system as: (1) Patriarchal family structure; (2) Patrilineal decentry; and (3) Patrilocal residence.

Due to the high value attached to men there is strong son preference in Bangladesh. The son, being the future head of the family, bearer of the lineage, and the breadwinner, receives special value and preferential treatment over the daughter, who is a transitory resident in the household until her marriage, which preferably and usually takes place early. The institution of polygamy and dowry was added to the bane of child marriage. In these circumstances women could not participate in outdoor activities in political, social, economic, and communal life and therefore, had to lead a secluded life indoors.

This situation has been changing over the past few decades, through the efforts of enlightened sections of people: Government, NGO’s, international and regional organizations, donor agencies and, above all, the sustained campaign by the women’s movement. Much has been achieved and women have come a long way from the days of acute discrimination and oppression. They, however, still lag behind men and are still handicapped in many areas.

In recent years there has been significant improvement in the education of females in Bangladesh. There also has been perceptible improvement in the health situation of women. But the disparity between men and women persists.

Unwed Teenage Mothers and Domestic Values

PRESENTER: Sheila A. Chapman-Wong, Chairperson, Women’s Millennium Caucas (Guyana)

The increasing number of young mothers in Guyana, South America – particularly teenagers with several children – has caused me, as a concerned women’s advocate, to utilize the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), Guyana Chapter to commence seminars throughout the country under the theme “Preparing Young People for Healthy Living.”

Also of concern in Guyana is the troubling problem of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Act was passed in Parliament in 1996, but issues to be addressed are cultural and traditional, as domestic violence continues to all regions of Guyana. As a practicing Attorney-at-Law, specializing in family law, both issues of young mothers and domestic violence will be ventilated in this presentation.

Light and Hope

PRESENTER: Khaleda Rahman, President, Light and Hope (Bangladesh)

Women have suffered from the moment of civilization and that women have everything but freedom is a gripping revelation. Especially in developing countries like Bangladesh, where poor and destitute people suffer from all kinds of basic needs, the women and children suffer the most devastating situations as they are stifled by the unbearably restrictive lifestyle imposed upon them.

LIGHT and HOPE is a dream taken shape into reality, which pledges to stand besides these helpless, destitute women, as well as children, by extending the kind and strong hand of support. Thus, a destitute woman or a child who sees the world around as a dark place can see through the endeavors of LIGHT and HOPE the inspiration of living and step into a world of light and hope.

Since they involve a large part of the population, women are an important factor in the development of a country. In addition, being mothers, women also have a very important role to educate themselves in order to bring up the future generation properly. In Bangladesh, women control most of the non-money economy, as well as can take part in the money economy also --  as a result of which they have to undertake two responsibilities: around the house and outside. But much of their work or labor is not recognized and cannot expect any support. Hence their health, work and the motivation of taking incentives suffer, making the path of development lag behind. In most cases, few of these poor or destitute women have the opportunity to undertake marketable skill training.

Keeping all these in mind, LIGHT AND HOPE evolved on the evening of April 19, 1993, with the objective to help the deprived sector of our society. The objectives put forward were practically initiated through (a)Education Programme; (b) Health and Hygiene Programme; (c) Self Reliance Programme; and (d) Social Awareness and Family Peace Programme.  The Education Programme was launched to give non-formal education to the poor women and children. The Health and Hygiene Programme offered regular free health check-ups as well as general health awareness, health care and family planning. Healthy drinking water and proper sanitation consciousness were also included in this scheme. The Self Reliance Programme was to motivate women by giving loans for cottage industries or other marketable skill trainings. The Social Awareness and Family Peace Programme includes awareness among women’s development and prevention of women or child trafficking and initiates the process of issuing a birth certificate of a new born child.

LIGHT AND HOPE came into being as the dream of a housewife and has strived up to the present, facing many ups and downs, with her own funds and support from friends and relatives. Now, more members who think alike have extended their support to make this dream come true and exist amongst all limitations. With the sincere devotion and wish, LIGHT AND HOPE surely would mark its way in the enlightenment of the darkened  sector of society and give them a world of hope.  

The Crucial Role of Women in the Peace Building Process in Northeast India

PRESENTER: Maria Theresa Mangte, Founder, Tribal Welfare Society (India)

This presentation will address the role of women from northeast India in the peace building process.  The decade-long ethnic violence in northeast India, among different ethnic tribes, has caused uncountable deaths and destruction. In those situations, women and children were always found to be the worst victims. Many were rendered homeless and thousands of children became orphans. During those turmoil years, we initiated a small movement for peace building, which will be the focus of this presentation.

For our experiences, we learned that although women were the worst sufferers, they also played a crucial role in bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table. This was possible, primarily, because during conflicts women were always regarded as a neutral party, and were looked upon not as an aggressor but as a victim of conflict, whose interests rest only with the well-being of the communities at war.

We have also found that girls involved in marriages in different communities were always sandwiched (burdened) between the warring tribes as they cohabit in patrilocal environments. This factor has also contributed to their being accorded status in peace building. There are many more instances and examples of successful peace initiatives undertaken by these women of conflict, which will be presented.  

Panel Session D: NGO Networking

WANGO in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

PRESENTER: Mohammed Bougei Attah, Executive Director, NGO Guide 2000 (Nigeria)

There is no doubt that the establishment of the World Association of Non–Governmental Organizations, WANGO, is one great accomplishment at building bridges across nations and people in this trying period in our lives. In just three years since its initiation, it has succeeded not only in meeting its primary goal of uniting NGOs worldwide, but has served also as a rallying point for Non–State Actors and other stakeholders in the non-profit sector worldwide.

While it is necessary to congratulate the visionaries and the think-tank team of WANGO administrators for serving as an instrument towards strengthening of civil society beyond boarders, it is equally important to unveil, as a reminder, the greater task of championing this cause further.

Beyond the gates of every border lies a hidden and diversified task that cannot be overlooked. Africa as a case study paints a vivid picture of this renaissance; the concept which is anchored on much expectation, peaked by long years of deprivation.

WANGO has an urgent need to recognize this peculiarity to ensure that the emerging and successor generation of Africans acquire the exposure, knowledge and other basics that will effectively prepare them for the challenges of “Open World,” as well as the great opportunity of using African resources as a means of achieving this goal.

Today’s Challenge for Umbrella Organizations: The Cases of Eight Different European Umbrella Structures

PRESENTER: Dénes Bank, Vice President, Hungarian Children and Youth Parliament

In this paper, umbrella organizations are compared with a combined methodology of questionnaire and interviews. These results can be used for making existing umbrella structures more “useful for the different stakeholders.

In the past few decades, a special awareness was given to multiple platforms in the non-profit sector. The first main goals for establishing these organizations were channeling the common interest of the member organizations into the decision/making processes of the public sector. Following the evolution of some such structures, in the paper it is shown that besides not being as successful as expected, other strategic problems also arose, like the question of the real mission, the active role, the representativity, the common virtues, and so forth.

The author examined thoroughly seven European national youth umbrella organizations and also a Pan-European one. The combined methodology of the research included a wide variety of secondary and primer tools. These umbrellas combine all kinds of member-organizations: from political to religious, from environmental to health-focused, from non-formal to educational. The main aspects of the research were: mission and basic virtues, evolution, structure, decision-making, every-day working, events, target-groups and focus areas, interest channeling, financing, and connection with other structures. These are compared in the paper in order to find the main processes and dimensions making these organs work and ways of being more useful.

Some practical considerations for further discussion is presented on how to be a more useful umbrella organization for the different stakeholders.

Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps: Reintroducing Taiwan to the Global Community -- the Past, Present and Future Role of Taiwan’s NGOs, with Taiwan Root as a Case Study

PRESENTER: Dr. Chiu-Chun, President, Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps  

Commonly known as the “Economic Miracle of Asia,” Taiwan has only begun to expand its work in the non-governmental field.  This presentation will discuss the evolution of Taiwan’s NGOs from local organizations to global networks taking on the challenges of internationalization and contributing to the global community.

In the past fifty years, Taiwan has experienced vast changes.  Emerging from World War II politically and economically unstable, Taiwan also found its public health infrastructure in tatters.  Through the efforts of the local government, in combination with international organizations such as UNICEF and the WHO, Taiwan was able to successfully develop a grassroots-level public health approach and eventually achieve a high standard of living for its population.  During this developmental stage, the work of Taiwan’s NGOs focused primarily on local issues, but since then they have gradually moved to incorporate a broader scope.

Today, Taiwan’s NGOs, through international projects and advocacy, are working towards developing concepts of global citizenship.  Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps’ mission and current projects reflect this evolution process.  Originally, Taiwan Root was dedicated to bringing medical care and advocating public health to isolated and impoverished mountain populations.  The growing number of volunteers recruited since Taiwan Root’s establishment is an indication of increasing public awareness of domestic health issues.  Four years ago, Taiwan Root began to expand beyond the nation’s borders in hopes of building similar sustainable healthcare systems in needy overseas communities.  The desperate conditions Taiwan Root encountered during its first international trip to Macedonia made the team of volunteers realize the incredible health needs of the developing world and the ability for Taiwan to contribute.  Taiwan Root was motivated to commit firmly to international health improvement.

The process, however, is far from complete.  Taiwan Root hopes to use its international medical work to raise awareness among Taiwan’s citizens and mobilize the population to increase contributions to overseas humanitarian efforts.  Taiwan Root will work to expand its international health education programs and foster sustainable overseas medical development by cooperating with local NGOs.  Taiwan Root, along with other Taiwanese NGOs, are geared to establish the nation as a contributing member of the global community. 

Sri Lanka, WANGO, and SUNFO

PRESENTER: Dr. W. A. Deshapriya S. Wijetunge, Director General, Sri Lanka – United Nations Friendship Organization (SUNFO)

This presentation will first provide an overview of Shi Lanka, in terms of its history, culture, people, and other facts. It will also look at the government of Sri Lanka, including its administration system, as well as the role and responsibility of NGOs in Sri Lanka. Also examined will be the objectives and projects of the Sri Lanka – United Nations Friendship Organization (SUNFO).

This presentation will also examine opportunities for WANGO members to work with SUNFO, beginning with a discussion of how WANGO member Taiwan Root became acquainted with SUNFO at the 2002 WANGO Annual Conference and began to collaborate on some health care programs in Sri Lanka.

Reviewed will be how WANGO members can become involved in joint international cultural, educational, mind development, and tourist avenues in Sri Lanka, as  well as a discussion of the SUNFO Global Village for Peace Culture and Friendship Project and the SUNFO World Congress on Positive Thinkers.

The Cibaeña NGO Association in the Dominican Republic

PRESENTER: Maximo Leonardo Mieses, Asociacion Cibaeña de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales (ACONG – WANGO, Dominican Republic)

The Asociacion Cibaeña de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales (ACONG), which represents WANGO in the northern part of the Dominican Republic, has developed a number of projects, which will be discussed in this presentation.

ACONG has developed an educational project with young people, beginning at the age of 16, to prepare them in diverse ways – training courses such as computer, English, music, baking, and so forth. This training program is completely free, with the goal of assisting poor people who cannot pay for their children to go to a training program to receive a certificate. This program is designed to prepare them to find a quality job, with a better salary, that will allow them to assist their family, and achieve future educational goals.

We are also involved in a large environmental project to clean up our rivers in the Cibao region. That project involves the local community and part of the government’s environment department for that region. The human labor is provided voluntarily by the community. We have cleaned already at least three kilometers of the Gurabo River and we have also done some planting of trees along the riverside.

ACONG is continuing with a project that will help to bring prevention of many illnesses in the region, and save a lot of our children from dying with different diseases.

NGOs: A Futuristic Vision

PRESENTER: Prof. Kashinath Pandita, General Secretary, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum (India)

An essential purpose of the institution of non-governmental organization has been that of providing such input to state administrative structures as would contribute to the concept of good governance. It reflects the evolutionary process of making people active and purposeful partners in the running of their state and in shaping the contours of their society in days to come.

At one point in time, it was thought that NGOs have the primary role of informing, warning, alerting and criticizing the governments. Even now, some NGOs, especially those affiliated with organizations like the UN Human Rights Commission, ECOSOC, and so forth, are going along the same trend.  Obviously, no government wants public criticism of its shortcomings or discrepancies whether intentional or not. This has generally been an irritant in the relations between these NGOs and the governments concerned. The fact is that, in theoretical terms, NGOs are not intended to be anti-government or anti-state.

Now that we have entered the 21st Century, a new vision of society and inter-social relations is fast developing. Likewise, the relationship between ruler and the ruled is also undergoing a sea change. There is a cry for transparency on every side, and there is an upsurge for recognition of ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic and other identities.

The question is how should societies be facilitated in addressing these requirements? Obviously, the governing institutions have to be restructured in order to broaden their vision of the society that will take its shape in years to come. For this purpose, intensive and broad-based participation of the people and their institutions is a primary requirement. Therefore, NGOs have to play a crucial role in times to come. They have to become an effective instrument in good governance, going beyond the rather unfruitful role of criticizing the governments for their failure here and discrepancy there.

This presentation examines a futuristic vision of NGOs. Discussed will be a future role of the NGO community, involving a special estate which becomes the reservoir of public opinion and popular demand without being exploited by the interested parties or the government, and which rises to the occasion to build vast infrastructures to contribute to the alleviation of the human plight. In the case of developing countries, the role of the NGOs has to be a very significant and effective one. NGOs shall have to transcend the physical, ideological and other barriers and serve humanity as one fraternal block.

About Prospects of Development of a Culture of Global Civil Society

PRESENTER: Fuad Mamedov, President, Association of Culture of Azerbaijan "Simurq"

The global crisis in modern world culture demands correct, proven, scientific and ethical answers, involving accepted representations and rules, perfection of political culture, a culture of the responsibility and consumption, management, and international attitudes. One of the most pressing problems of world development is the problem of the formation of culture of global civil society. Addressing this problem opens new opportunities for construction of a culture of the world, the prevention of enmity of peoples, conflicts and terrorism, a decrease in the level of corruption and poverty, strengthening of family as basic to social life, a better mutual understanding of people, and safe development of humanity in the new century. The high spiritual culture will rescue the world if the world will protect culture.

WANGO is called to play an important role in overcoming the crisis of culture and the achievement of a steady development in the modern world. In the interests of forming of culture of a global civil society, it is necessary to create conditions to increase the creative role of WANGO, as one of conducting international social institutes and a major tool of global democratic construction -- to arrange for development of an international network all over the world. It is our contention that an effective mechanism of forming and developing a culture of a global civil society in new century could become the creation at WANGO of international advice on world culture. It would open essentially new opportunities for a correct vision and perfection of a system of the international attitudes, humanizing lives on the Earth. In structure of such advice, it could enter the most authoritative representatives of a science, art and religion, and also skilled policies and independent experts - culturologists of various countries of the world.

As the primary goals of such advice it is possible to formulate the following: (1) Cultural  education aimed at studying the history of world culture, cultural gains and the experience of welfare development of mankind; (2) Assistance in forming a high-ethical social culture of humanity on the basis of harmonization of cultures, religions and interests of citizens and peoples of the different countries in conditions of globalization; (3) Development of programs and projects of welfare development of humanity, supposing formation of a new social environment for interconnected development, the statement of culture of the world and increase of well-being of peoples; and (4) Coordination of welfare activity of the various countries, and development of scientifically proved recommendations for decision-making at the United Nations on questions of a world cultural policy.

With a view of successful realization of an international cultural policy, it would be expedient to initiate under the aegis of WANGO the International University of World Culture as a complex establishment for realization of educational, research and educational activity. In case of interest, the Association of Culture of Azerbaijan "Simurq" can prepare the project of such a university, supposing preparation and retraining of persons and leaders, devoted to values of culture of civil society. The basic directions of such university can include: a history and theory of world culture; international attitudes; international law and management; economic and international trade; international journalism; ecology of the person and nature; and the organization and management of NGO activity.

Panel Session E: Human Security I – Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights

NGOs’ Role in Reducing Global Violence via Sustaining the Interpersonal Human Security

PRESENTER: Dr. Sorror Qarooni, Vice President, Bahrain Women’s Society

Violence and crime is becoming a globally spread phenomena of varying magnitudes and originating backgrounds. Nevertheless, in every case, it is in one way or another affecting the human social integrity worldwide and slowing down its progress and, furthermore, negatively interfering with the aimed-for sustained development. One of the prime originating sources for violence and crime is the lack of, and in many cases the absence of, an individual sense of security, which collectively adds ups to form a major artery supply for the observed globally spread violence, crime and hatred. NGOs do have a substantial role to assume in mitigating this global problem by appreciating the association between the individual's security and his/her social or community personal relationships, or better expressed as the "interpersonal human security" and its overall implication when projected on a global scale.

This presentation will discuss the root causes for the observed lack of interpersonal human security and how it developed. It will further discuss the impact of the lack of interpersonal human security and how it participated in increasing violence and the crime rate in communities, in particular, and the globe, in general.  The main focus of the paper, however, is establishing the role of NGOs in 3 main areas, namely: (1) working on preventing lack of interpersonal human security; (2) dealing with the government and other organizations to detect and work on reducing the problem; and finally (3) NGO networking. The paper makes use of official and governmental documented studies and published statistics to support the arguments raised and the suggested recommendations.

Romanian Police Abuses

PRESENTER: Prof. Dr. Aurora Martin, Vice President, Romanian Women’s Future (Romania)

The purpose and structure of this presentation is twofold: (1) to give an insight into the different issues relative to the abuses of the Romanian police, and (2) to underline the role of NGOs in preventing and correcting human rights' abuses by the Romanian state security institutions.

The police abuses are rooted in the longstanding practices of the Romanian communist regime. Getting police officers in Romania to stop serious abuses is the country's biggest human rights problem. Police continue to beat detainees, still employing large-scale torture and mistreatment during detention, usually at police stations. Moreover, police abuses are lengthy and rarely result in prosecution or punishment. Partly this is because police officers are tried in military courts, and military prosecutors often conduct "unnecessarily lengthy and often purposefully inconclusive" probes.

The existent legal framework and especially the practices of Romanian legal authorities make it impossible for victims of maltreatment to obtain compensation and repair by the legal recognition of their right to remedy. According to internal penal-procedure norms, the victims of physical and psychological violence may address the chief police officer of the police station where abuses were made. It is obvious that a complaint made in such conditions has practically no chance of being resolved. The victims may also address a prosecutor in a penal complaint against police officers who committed torture. In this case, too, the victim's intervention does not result in any resolution of the case, for a number of reasons, including the fact that the only witnesses are the victims themselves and the investigating police officers, the victim's access to a doctor or attorney is forbidden, and the tortured persons are isolated from any exterior contact, at least until visible traces of lesions have faded away.

The NGO community has a very important role to play in addressing this situation. This presentation will detail a number of avenues that NGOs can pursue in trying to correct this situation, including human rights monitoring, exposing abuses, guiding legislation, encouraging debate, and other critical actions.

Freedom, Democracy, National and Human Security – and the Role of NGOs

PRESENTER: Rama Swarup, Secretary General, World League for Freedom and Democracy; Asian Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy (Republic of China)

The World League for Freedom and Democracy is 49 years old. We have member chapters in more than 100 countries, and meet every year in Asia to discuss current issues, and in countries outside Asia to discuss world issues.

Democracy, freedom and human rights are among the most essential values for all humanity to pursue; they are the benchmark for a modern civilized society. Today, we live in a global village where each country has become increasingly dependent on each other, but differences remain between cultures, religions and nations, and often result in hostility and conflicts. Nevertheless, we have to be optimistic that our common goal to pursue democracy and freedom will help reduce these conflicts and bring a more peaceful future for the world, and Asia in particular.

The events of September 11, 2001 have given a challenge to the freedom-loving people of the world. The world community now recognizes the evils of terrorism. Peace and security is our target, but the security is threatened and peace has been disturbed. At the same time, the brave people of Asia and the Pacific have showed their solidarity and determination to fight international terrorism and fight economic recession.

This presentation will address the issue of worldwide freedom and democracy. It will also examine the subject of national and human security and the role of NGOs and the United Nations. Discussed will be the meaning and scope of security, the shift from national security to the human security paradigm, the effect of globalization, and the concept of global governance. In terms of this later concept, the goal of global governance is not the creation of world government, but of an additional layer of international decision-making between governments and international organizations that is comprehensive and not merely piecemeal social engineering – multi-sectoral and democratically accountable in the shared management of the troubled and fragile world order.

Advocacy and Social Development in Cambodia

PRESENTER: Nhek Sarin, Executive Director, STAR Kampuchea  (Cambodia)

STAR Kampuchea, a Cambodian non-profit organization, began in 1997. Its goal is to strengthen democracy in Cambodia by strengthening civil society. STAR Kampuchea gives cooperation and support to civil society, and offers a channel for a common voice so that civil society can advocate for a stronger democracy. STAR Kampuchea has built up credibility with government, civil society groups, the people, and donor agencies.

STAR Kampuchea has three main programs.

The Advocacy and Information Program (AIP) organizes major events for people to speak with Members of Parliament and local authorities, in order to solve grassroots issues. Every year, AIP distributes 6000 copies of major laws, for example, the Cambodian Constitution, Land Law, and Administrative Commune Law. The aim of this distribution is to educate the people to understand the essence of the laws, aiming to reduce violence and violation of laws. AIP also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, with more than 10,000 copies every year, to inform the public about the activities of STAR Kampuchea, AT, COs, and PANs. The Newsletter also provides space for the public to express their concerns, specifically related to the practice of democracy in Cambodia. Most important, the newsletter educates the people through publication of laws that are of concern to the general public.  Because of its advocacy position on new laws, STAR Kampuchea is known as a centre for legal documents.

The Capacity Building Program (CBP) provides training in Decentralization, Advocacy and Networking, Advocacy Analysis Issues, Persuasive Writing, Networking, Media and Communication, Land Law, and the Impacts of the Globalization on the grassroots. In addition, this program organizes field trips throughout Cambodia and the region. The CBP aims to strengthen the capacity of the COs and the PANs to address local issues.

The Legislative Development Program (LDP) advocates for better and more appropriate laws. By sharing draft laws, translated legal documents and analysis, LDP facilitates the work of others who are active in the legal field. The material is made available on a web-site. LDP also works to bring law drafts to the people in the provinces to get their input. The comments from the grassroots are presented to the lawmakers.

Human Rights Violations:  A Hidden Terrorist Attack Against Humanity

PRESENTER: Hector R. Moreno, Director, Intercontinental Group; Founder, Fundacion Moreno    

The world has been a victim of terrorist attacks: September 11 with the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York City; the constant war between Palestine and Israel; the guerrillas attack in Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala; the wars in Liberia and Afghanistan; terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Russia; and the list is never-ending. But have we taken Human Rights Violations as an attack against humanity? Have we understood that abuse of political power is also another form of terrorist attacks against humanity?

Fundacion Moreno was founded to help those victims of human rights violations throughout Latin America, after my family itself was a victim of human rights violations by political forces in Venezuela ten years ago. It was after we had our experience that I decided to take responsibility for those cases of human rights violations in countries around Latin America and the Caribbean where governments constantly abuse their power and persecute people that might constitute a threat to their wrong doings.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an entity belonging to the Organization of American States (OAS), has been a pioneer dealing with human rights violations in the Continent; but the road to reach the organization’s help, the process, difficulties, lack of knowledge, and means to personally present cases in Washington, D.C. are far too difficult for many victims of human rights violations to achieve. To ease the pain and suffering of many that want to be heard, and to speed the process in cases where it is just impossible to count on the Commission, I decided to create a movement that would try to modify the laws in our countries by giving rights to victims of political, social and economic abuses.

The WANGO Assembly has the responsibility to look into this issue worldwide and to make NGOs aware of these circumstances. Each NGO at the annual conference should take steps toward abolition of human rights violations in their countries of origin, and a worldwide organization should be created to back those NGO’s in search of a more human society. Fundacion Moreno will back every movement towards the abolition of human rights violations throughout the world.

Promoting Disabled People’s Role in the Cambodian National Election

PRESENTER: Srey Vanthon, Country Representative, Action on Disability and Development  (Cambodia)

 Action on Disability and Development (ADD) is an NGO supporting development work directly with disabled people. ADD views disability as a human rights issue and works within the social model of disability, by addressing the social, economic, political, environmental and cultural issues which prevent disabled people from gaining self-respect and participating in their local communities.

The ADD Cambodia Program started in 1995 with the mission of supporting disabled people's organizations (DPOs) to build up their capacity in order to advocate for equal rights and opportunities and promote the inclusion of disabled adults and children into mainstream society. ADD selected two among 22 provinces for its initial work and encourage people with disability to scale up the program and expand coverage areas by themselves.

In 2003, ADD has been facilitating a campaign that aims to build the capacity of disabled people to perform an important civic function, namely the observation of – and participation in – Cambodia’s general election of 2003. It trained 200 disabled people to act as election observers in the forthcoming national election in Cambodia, thereby enabling them to assess both the extent to which the election is free, fair and transparent and the degree to which the election process is accessible to voters with disabilities. In recognizing their important role, people with disabilities from all 146 self-help groups have decided to form their own Observation Group, consist of different types of people with disabilities (people with moving difficulties, physically impairments, seeing, speaking and hearing impairments, and women with disabilities), to participate in the coming National Assembly Election.

Hing Srey, a totally blind women, is an example. She has mentioned that she feel very happy to volunteer as an Election Observer. She had the experience of having polling station Officers refuse to register her name in the list of citizen who have rights to vote. Hing Srey has protected her rights by standing up to them. She is volunteering to be an Election Observer, because she wants to demonstrate the capacity of people with disabilities and she wants to encourage all people with disabilities to claim their rights.

Revolving African Human Sustainable Project (RAHSP)

PRESENTER: Duncan Mbewe, Chairman, African Agency of Humanitarian Aid (Zambia)

Africa has faced a number of vices likes HIV/AID, street youths, and vulnerable people in our society. The feasibility study of the project has shown that the root cause of the above challenges is mainly poverty, defined as a problem, and also minor causes like ignorance and peer pressure. Therefore, in solving the above-mentioned problems, the project shall also focus on integrating the vulnerable in the informal sector business for self-reliance. The project is designed in three phases.

The Objectives of the project are (1) To undertake a diverse HIV/AIDS awareness program involving churches, communities, youths and teachers and,  therefore, achieving a wide base; (2) to improve the conditions of the vulnerable people through integrating them into the business sector under phase two of the project; (3) to facilitate and promote participatory approach in alleviating vulnerable living conditions; and (4) to provide a center that shall offer basic programs in HIV/AIDS counseling, tailoring, carpentry, woodwork, farming micro-project, business skills and strategies of self-reliance. The nature of support to be provided shall be based on visual participatory methodologies, workshop-training programs involving the target groups like the vulnerable, churches, schools, communities and youths.

The project is viable and shall generate participation and group interaction, creating a clear sense of involvement, ownership and determination to address the mentioned vices and problems.  

Panel Session F: 

Human Security II – Health Issues, Crime, and Miscellaneous

   

Medical and Educational Projects of the Bangladesh Lions Foundation

PRESENTER: Dr. Azizul Karim, Bangladesh Lions Foundation

Bangladesh Lions Foundation (BLF) is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-political, voluntary organization. A few enthusiastic members of Lions Clubs in Bangladesh established it in 1974. Now the BLF is the apex body of about ten thousand (10,000) lions of Six Lions Districts in Bangladesh.

BLF is financed by contributions and donations from Lion members as well as various philanthropic individuals and earnings from its Eye Hospital. A 40-member Management Board, which is elected every year at its AGM, manages the Foundation.

The following are the important projects run by BLF:

  1. One 85-bed Lions Eye Hospital at Agargaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh;
  2. Eyesight screening camps in schools, urban, and rural areas;
  3. Free Medicare, mother and childcare projects;
  4. Education projects, etc.; and 
  5. Voluntary Blood Donation Project.

BLF is giving more importance on eyesight screening and treatment. Cataract is the most common cause of global blindness. Bangladesh, with a population of about 140 million, has about 1 million blind people due to cataract. Every year, 150,00 new cases of cataract patients are added to the blind community. Cataract can affect newborns and the elderly. It is easily removable with restoration of better vision at a minimal cost. With this motto, Lions Eye Hospital has launched cataract patients screening camps at the doorstep of poor patients in and around greater Dhaka.

Apart from regular outpatient treatment, 3,000 to 6,000 surgeries are performed every year at this hospital.

HIV/AIDS, Gender and Agricultural Development

PRESENTER: Ngozi Ajuonu, President, Rural Women Foundation  

HIV/AIDS, like other debilitating diseases, has a great impact on every aspect of our livelihood and the economy, be it agriculture, petroleum, mining, education, and so forth. The disease is peculiar because it cuts across age, race, cultures, and nations. It is worrisome because women and people aged between 15-49 are the worst hit and this age bracket is the major productive force in any country, especially in the agricultural sector.

For any nation to boast of food security, its agricultural sector should be developed. Agricultural development is therefore essential, but its achievement is not an easy task and the scourge of HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, has worsened the situation.

Women in developing nations make up the major agricultural workforce in the agricultural sector (rural areas) and are also affected by socio-cultural issues, which have great impacts on their lives and the development sector. Gender consideration of the impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture therefore is important in order to fully address some issues in achieving a ‘Caring Global Community’.

This paper offers a clear picture of HIV/AIDS, gender and agricultural development. Issues and challenges, which could easily affect and deplete agricultural development and food security, through the impact of HIV/AIDS, as well as the expectations and solutions from different stakeholders on how to contribute to making the global community a food secure community in the face of the scourge, are also discussed in this paper.

The concluding portion addresses the need to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and amongst people who live their lives carelessly, without any consciousness of the danger and spread of the disease, in order to achieve a behavioral and attitude change. 

Scaling Up HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care: The Response of the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA)

PRESENTER: Pok Panhavichetr, Executive Director: KHANA  (Cambodia)

KHANA is a national NGO that provides technical and financial support to 39 local NGOs and CBOs in 14 provinces and three municipalities across Cambodia to respond effectively to HIV/AIDS. KHANA’s mission is to build the capacity of Cambodian NGOs to respond to HIV/AIDS by providing technical and financial support to develop effective and sustainable community based HIV/AIDS prevention and care interventions.

To achieve this, KHANA works in partnership with local NGOs to: (1) Mobilize NGOs and focus resources; (2) Strengthen the capacity of NGOs and CBOs to implement HIV prevention, care and support for PLHA and their families, and do advocacy activities to reduce stigma and discrimination; (3) Document good practice and lessons learned; and (4) Strengthen strategic alliances to scale up the response to HIV/AIDS.

KHANA actively promotes community participation at all stages of projects and, through the use of participatory tools and methodologies, specifically encourages the participation of those most affected by HIV/AIDS, including PLHA and community leaders.  KHANA provides technical support to partner NGOs in the form of one to one technical support visits, workshops to address specific technical issues, exchange visits and the development of resources.  KHANA encourages partner NGOs to focus their HIV prevention activities on “key” populations, including sex workers, men who have sex with men and PLHA; builds the capacity of peer educators ,and implements innovative prevention efforts, such as National Youth Camps, with young people. 

In relation to care and support, KHANA supports the majority of home based care for PLHA and their families in Cambodia, currently supporting 17 home care teams in 5 provinces and Phnom Penh.  It also supports 2 major networks to advocate for HIV/AIDS issues.  These include CPN+, who advocate for the rights of PLHA at community, national and international levels and also co-ordinate PLHA self-help groups in 7 provinces; and, HACC, who coordinate over 80 NGOs working on HIV/AIDS and organize high profile advocacy campaigns, such as for World AIDS Day.

KHANA shares good practices and lessons learned through the development of participatory tools, conducting participatory appraisals and through oral and poster presentations at national and international conferences and meetings. KHANA works in close collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, including government, international/local NGOs, and donors to develop complementary approaches and strengthen links with key services. 

Rehabilitation and After-Care of Prisoners

PRESENTER: Pastor Alex Waklatsi, Executive Director, Christian Care Organisation (Ghana)

Christian Care Organisation was incorporated in 1992 as a charitable, prison service, non-governmental organization in Ghana. Its focus is rehabilitation and after-care of prison inmates and ex-prisoners. Over the years, CCO has organized various programs, some of which are:

1.       Prisons, Prisoners and National Development – the role and the responsibility of the community;

2.       Crime Prevention and Offenders Treatment – seeking security and justice for all;

3.       Women in Prison – recognizing the difference.

The official total annual inmates lock-up for the year 2000 was 494,459. This showed an increase of 16,705 or 3.5% of the annual lock-up of 1999, which was 474,488. The average monthly lock-up was 9,507. If nothing is done immediately by society, our prisoners would come out from custody to infect unsuspecting members of the community. We, in the Christian Care Organisation, have the vision of becoming an organization that can work with and through national and international bodies and NGO’s throughout the world. We invite others to join hands with us in fellowship to help give hope to someone who is despairing today. We in CCO have drawn up proposal to visit all prisons in Ghana with visual presentation of the dreaded HIV/AIDS situation and hope others will share in this vision.

The Relationship Between Self, Family and Society in Order to Build the Greatest Harmony in the World

PRESENTER: Ws. Mulyadi, Chairman of Foreign Affairs of The Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (SCCRI) or MATAKIN (Majelis Tinggi Agama Khonghucu Indonesia)

Nowadays, we realize that life is very complex and there are numerous problems in the world: terrorism, drugs, crime, social programs, inter-religious conflicts, internal conflicts in the nation, and even wars. Why do we live in such circumstances and situations? We believe that it is not our purpose or desire to live under such worrisome and frightening situations. Everyone wants to live happily and peacefully; everywhere we want to live in a harmonious society and peaceful country. We need to find a way and solution to work hand to hand to save the world and human life.

This presentation will offer views about the Confucian ideal society and how to achieve the greatest harmony in the world. Examined will be such issues as the fundamentals of Confucianism, the situation of Confucianism in Indonesia, the five basic social relationships, the self as the center of relationships, and the relationship of self and family, and self and society, as well as the principles of moral responsibility, self-cultivation and personal virtue. The presentation will review how children should be respectful and filial to their parents and how parents should take care of their children at home, the role of women in building up a good family and harmonious society, and how to advance the harmony in one’s family, society and nation. It will also touch upon the Confucius Peace Plan and means to build the greatest harmony in the world.

The Blueprint for the Culture of Peace

PRESENTER: Imam Ameer P. Salahuddin, Director, Islamic Center of Passaic/Patterson, in Association with the American Society of Muslims (USA)

Order is a natural phenomenon; harmony and peace are the byproducts of order. If order is to be consistent, then limits are established to preserve the harmony and the peace. Opposites, or opposition, set the balance, and the balance sets the limits. Where there are set limits, there is stability. When we exceed the limits, we are in violation of divine law, and violating the divine law puts us in harms way. From the religious and spiritual point of view, salvation is to be saved from excessive behavior, thus avoiding wrath of God. Humankind needs to be saved from a self-destructive mentality: A mentality created by a value system derived from the popular culture. Popular culture is an experimental lifestyle that has no checks or balances; thus the followers of popular culture are confused about reality and are experiencing a state of demise. By what we witness in terms of human interaction, it is evident that humankind is lost. The history of man, the legacy passed down from one generation to the next, is one of death and destruction. This legacy, according to scripture, began when our primal ancestors violated divine law. The consequence for violating divine law was the beginning of the culture of death.

The culture of death produces minds that naturally work at destroying life on our planet. Weapons of mass destruction, pollution of the air and water, the destruction of the forest and natural life, and wars are by-products of the culture of death. In these modern times, the destruction of life has grown to the extent that there is great concern within the scientific community over the future of the human family.

Our goal is to become men and women of peace. To become men and women of peace we must be free of the baggage of the political left, and the political right. We must be able to step outside of the pale of sectarianism and religious bigotry and become the arbitrators of God, a community in the center calling all to what is right. It is through our commitment to what is right that we can effect changes, and begin the process of remaking our environment, and thus, remake the world. Remaking the world is to remake cultures into cultures that preserve and cherish life. This cannot be done until there is a culture of peace.

The blueprint for this culture of peace has been designed and is in place. This culture of peace as well as all social activities begins with male and female relationship. It is God who created male and female and put affection between them so they may live in harmony together. This is the solution: restore the family to a lifestyle that is productive. We must use our resources to teach people good values. The agents of the culture of death use their resources to teach people how to die; let the NGO’s use their resources to teach people how to live.

The relationships between human beings should be based on unity, love, and mercy. When we understand this in life, we will have reached a level of maturity that makes us true human beings. The fact of the matter is that their will be no peace until we come to this type of understanding. There is only one race, and that is the human race. We share one home – this planet called earth. We were created from one water, and breath the same air, and our biological makeup is based on one blood. The things that are missing in the relationship of human beings are: unity, love, and mercy.

“Dharma” and the Promotion of Peace

PRESENTER: Shri Sadguru Parawadeshwar Maharaj, President, Shri Sadguru Parwadeshwar (India)

Planet Earth is a true Mother for all of us, since it distributes its resources without fear or favor to any, and holds all of us as equal children of her Home.  In a sense, this world is to be seen as a single family residing at different places.  We should always remember this fact that all the plants, birds and animals are part of our family and this planet is a Big Home for all habitats.  Are we not all co-passengers in the compartment of life on this Planet?  How can we then think of destroying or disfiguring or dividing any thing that coexists with us, for the reason that we have developed strength and resource.  How can we not think about future passengers of this Planet and their needs?  If so, are we not expansively utilizing and thoughtlessly exhausting the resources of the Planet?

All the beneficial products generated are through the experience gained from knowledge, involving securing happiness from external objects.  Yet, human beings are not wholly happy because of: (i) misunderstanding of ‘Dharma’ and  (ii) excessive association to the various addictions.  Any addiction destroys the longevity of the body, and similarly non-understanding or mis-understanding “Dharma” destroys society.  Such individuals will have diseased heart and decayed mind, and are not useful to any.  It is an experience gained from the past.

This presentation will offer a program from the Parawadeshwar Maharaj Organization to end the above menace. The discussion will stress the importance of “Dharma” and the necessity to understand its true meaning. It reviews the current situation of the world, with 65% of the population being hard pressed to survive, the situation of the poor children, economic imbalance, conflicts, and so forth, and an approach to address such problems. Discussed will be a methodology to discipline the mind which in turn works for promotion of peace and demotion of conflicts.  By this methodology, when accepted and practiced, in every day life, the individual gain strength to live in peace and cooperation.