ERI Geneva Training in Human Rights and Advocacy

Participants (l-r) Shawn Viegas cfc (India), Kachi Adindu (VIVAT International), Nablebna Nyagbire (Presentation Brs, (Ghana), Eunan McMullan OFM (FI Geneva), Neha Arora (India), Esther Wangui (Kenya), Tino D’Abreu (ERI), Mardamon Slong (India), Brian Bond (ERI), Millicent Kavenagh (Australia), Terry Dowling (ERI), Namatirayi Ngwasha (Trocaire, Zimbabwe), Sherelle Myburgh (Sth Africa), Joaquin Vilar del Valle Halty (Argentina), Kashokela Cchibanje cfc (Zambia)

In November, 12 participants gathered in Gaillard to begin the Edmund Rice International Human Rights and Advocacy Training Course.

In introducing ourselves, we each shared a piece of our culture and of our lives. A beaded bracelet from Kenya, a hand-quilled card of recycled paper from India, a silk scarf depicting Aboriginal Artwork from Australia: each crafted by school students. A painted lamp from India, a headdress crafted from goat hide from Zimbabwe, a South African school motto, a Zambian Flag – celebrations of culture. Maté, an Argentinian herbal drink and coconut biscuits from Goa, India: symbols of hospitality.

Art, celebration, hospitality. Each of these essential to the human experience. So, it is fitting that we spent the next fortnight immersing ourselves into the mechanisms at the United Nations and in Human Rights: rights that are afforded to us simply because we are human. Over the next fortnight, participants grew in community; spending the days observing Universal Periodic Review sessions, Treaty Body sessions, engaging with UN bodies and NGO’s, and by night cooking one another meals from our home countries.

The experience has empowered us in our understanding of international diplomacy, and inspired motivation for change in our local and national contexts. What has left an impact most strongly was the universal desire from all participants to enact change for the better of our communities and for our earth:

“Charity seeks to calm things down, Advocacy seeks to stir things up…” How has your experience in Geneva empowered you to be an advocate in your community?

“The experience helped me gain insight into the workings of the UN and the various treaty bodies. A huge amount of information to process. It is Interesting to see what your own country is up to on the global stage. I enjoyed meeting new people and finding out about their way of life – great camaraderie and friendship among participants.” – Sherelle Myburgh (Pretoria, South Africa)

 “Being in Geneva has broadened my understanding of global issues and the importance of advocacy. The exposure to international discussions on topics like human rights, sustainable development, and social justice has empowered me to advocate for positive change in my community. The emphasis on stirring things up, rather than merely calming them down, encourages proactive engagement and amplification of voices for a more inclusive and equitable society.” – Esther Ndung’u (Nairobi, Kenya)

“It has been eye-opening to witness first-hand the mechanisms for advocacy and social change that exist globally. The fact that there is a space for voices of individuals and groups, for communities and countries is heartening. This knowledge makes me stronger. The politics and the process however needs a lot of patience. I am going back strengthened also with more patience. I hope to be able to be a voice for teachers, for children and for marginalised communities I work with in classrooms, schools and local communities. A voice that can question, that can build awareness and capacity and that can be an ally for those who are raising their own voice.” – Neha Pradhan-Arora (India)

‘”The experience has added more knowledge and skills that would be useful in future ministry. It has widened my understanding of various issues of human rights and has empowered me to think differently in the way we value and treasure life. It has taught me a lesson to love and care for the earth, the great home for everyone. I have been empowered to respond to the crisis of climate issues seriously, and to be the change I want to see in our world.”– Br Moses C Kashokela (Kabwe, Zambia)

We are grateful for the hospitality and guidance of Brs Brian Bond, Tino D’Abreu & Terry Dowling during our time in Geneva.

– Millicent Kavenagh, Edmund Rice Oceania Province Formation Team

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