Edmund Rice International Welcomes Nine is Mine to New York

1374926_1456451711246148_2058593870_n-2Edmund Rice International welcomed Nine is Mine to New York from September 18- September 27, 2013. Eleven students and nine chaperones composed the delegation under the direction of Br. Steve Rocha of the Indian Province of Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. The group had traveled from India and was the guests of Edmund Rice International, Iona College Campus Ministries, Iona College Christian Brothers Community, and several host families near Iona in New Rochelle, NY.

Nine is Mine Advocacy

The Nine is Mine campaign is a children’s advocacy campaign that seeks the fulfillment of education for all, an end to gender discrimination and a reduction in child mortality. It is an initiative of children by children and for children to claim their right to be heard and their right to participation even in governance. The campaign began in India in response to Nelson Mandela’s call to every ordinary citizen to hold the government accountable to their commitment “to end poverty and social exclusion.” (Wada Na Todo Abhiyan – “Don’t Break Your Promises”).

The children of India took it upon themselves to demand that India allocate 6% of GDP on Education and 3% on health; hence “Nine is Mine”.

Some Highlights of the Visit

The children visited and spoke at Light of the World events at the Austrian Mission; they visited the headquarters of World Vision; they called in at the Indian Mission to the United Nations and were graciously received by the First Secretary, Amit Narang.

The children presented at the event sponsored by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan where they shared the platform with Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of GreenPeace. There were further contacts with the India Mission, a Stakeholder’s Briefing on the Commission on Sustainable Development, invitations to sessions on Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Agenda, and events at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as Japan House and the Church Center for the United Nations.

The young people made an especially memorable impression at the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan event when one girl presented in Hindi from a wheelchair, a young girl, blind since birth, provided the English translation while reading from a braille text, and a young man born deaf and mute, assisted by a hearing student, provided a simultaneous sign language translation for the assembled audience.


Iona College proved a most generous host for the group. Dr. Carl Procario Foley, Director for Campus Ministries, assisted with the housing and transportation details during their stay.   Students were matched with host families near the campus. Iona vans provided transport to the nearest train and subway stops. Brs Sean Whitty and Dennis Gunn also provided assistance with driving and supervising and preparing dinner. The Iona College Brothers community provided some accommodation for several chaperones.

Participation in the life of Iona included visits to classes and the children were able to headline the Thursday night “Coffee House” in the student union where they were treated royally. Dr. Sibdas Ghosh, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Iona and a native of India, provided dinner for the group on the campus for one of the evenings.

Sr. Fatima Rodrigo of the Presentation Sisters also provided a spectacular lunch for the group at an Indian Restaurant – a wonderful touch of home for all the students, as well as providing invaluable guidance on the logistics of movement around the various venues.

In Summary

The Nine is Mine delegation was determined to apply pressure on the Member States participating in the 68th Meeting of the General Assembly. They made an indelible impression by their focus, their good humor, and their untiring press for opportunities to speak. They continued to impress despite some setbacks and disappointments when security closed off venues or tickets were limited or prices were out of reach. The group stayed cohesive and mutually supportive despite the many surprising changes of schedule and long days of commuting on New York subways.

The mission to bring their message to the UN General Assembly must surely be reckoned a successful venture!

Kevin Cawley cfc

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