Voices

The Ignatian Family and the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit

The Ignatian Family and the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit

  • Posted: Sep 21, 2015 -
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Prakash Louis SJ, Nepal earthquake emergency coordinator assistant, encourage us to follow this week the Summit of Sustainable Development of the United Nations. We have to work towards inclusive, equitable, quality and affordable education.

Prakash Louis SJ, Nepal earthquake emergency coordinator assistant

Fr Pau Vidal sj, contributing to the right to education in South Sudan

Fr Pau Vidal sj, contributing to the right to education in South Sudan

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2015 -
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My name is Pau Vidal; I am Jesuit and Manager of the Maban project of the Jesuit Refugee service in South Sudan where currently there are 130.000 refugees and displaced people. Education is very important in violence contexts, in instability contexts because it provides certain normality, it allows children and youngsters to go to school every day so they can have a certain routine. But also and most importantly, it offers a protection space of their rights and it builds a better future, it offers the chance for people to think by themselves and don’t take back weapons again. Therefore, education means building a better future, a peaceful future.

Fr David Holdcroft, SJ and the right to education for refugeed people in Malawi

Fr David Holdcroft, SJ and the right to education for refugeed people in Malawi

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2015 -
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“My name is Father David Holdcroft, SJ regional director of Jesuit Refugee Service in Southern Africa. Today there are about 55 million refugeed and forcible displaced people around the world, but 80% of those are young people, so it is essential that these people have access to education; not only young men but young women, handicaped people, women who have married young and need to come back to education, all kinds of people. Beacuse these people will build the future. It is also essential that the education is not just teaching people how to read or write but to think and to take a possitive attitude and contribute positively to societies of which they will be part. Our world is people, we make our world so let’s educate people for our world.

Ghada,  Syrian refugee student in Lebanon

Ghada, Syrian refugee student in Lebanon

  • Posted: Jun 20, 2015 -
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” (…) I really like school. I miss my friends and teachers when I am home. I really like school. (…) my favorite thing in school is when we I have class of drawing, music or sports. We all play and sing together, we have a lot of fun. (…)”

“First I was thinking we would be here one or two months. Now I’m here for so long. It feels endless”

This is the testimony of Ghada, a 13 years old girl from Aleppo, Syria who had to move to Lebanon one year ago because her father lost his job due to the Syrian crisis.

How can a country educate every child when its population has expanded by 25% in less than four years?  To address the needs of Syrian refugee students, some Lebanese schools have two shifts to double their capacity. Others have to turn people away. In communities around the country, from the Bekaa Valley to the Mediterranean coast, the Jesuit Refugee Service is creating schools for Syrian children in areas where educational opportunities weren’t previously available. Currently they run three schools that are a reality thanks to inter religional cooperation, since, for example, one of them is inside a mosque. In fact, the imam of the town acknowledged “Regardless of the child’s religious upbringing, we have to make educational and cultural opportunities available to them.”

Little daily miracles and the right to education

Little daily miracles and the right to education

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2015 -
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This entry has been written by Cecilia Villaroal, Entreculturas Fe y Alegría Fundation coordinator in Comunidad Valenciana, Spain.

Valencia surprised us with a rainy day.

It is an important date because we are getting ready to participate in the SAME, which is the Semana de Acción Mundial por la Educación (Global Action Week for Education) celebrated on April 22nd in Valencia University.

Dozens of youngsters from educative centers, students, teacher along with NGOs that made up the GEC (Global Education Campaign) in Comunidad Valenciana1, start to settle in the Assembly Hall of the Philosophy and Education Sciences Faculty.

This year, under the slogan “Yo voto por la educación ¿y tú?” (I vote for education, and you?) teachers and students have been invited to think about the great challenge of how to advocate in the post 2015 Development Agenda.

The act will be the representation of a United Nations Assembly, whose protagonists will be the youngsters of some high schools from Valencia, as well as students of the University that will explain different situations about the right to education, in certain contexts and countries.

The session of the Assembly starts. The boys and girls who have been working with testimonies and cases of what is happening in Brasil, Senegal, Thailand and Finland stand up in the main set. This last country invites Argelia and the Palestinian people to join the podium because they have no official voice in the United Nations. These voices are pronounced specially to highlight what it means the lack to education access and its consequences, in the lives of people, or what it implies the difficulty of attending to school when the sound of the bombing is a constant in the daily life of boys and girls that even under these circumstances, try to play and learn.

 

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This spot that lights about the right to education in the last week of April since 12 years ago now in 120 countries, updates us and allow us to bring here and now, the 58 million boys and girls who still remain unschooled in the world.

From the WEC (Global Education Campaign) we share numbers, some improvements and still many challenges and commitments that have not been yet fulfilled and were taken over by more than 150 signing countries in the World Education Forum celebrated in 2000 in Dakar.

Through these years we have approached the Spanish society with a different slogan, with a look that might seem far but it is not, and it has found a connecting link currently, with the cut backs suffered in educative policies in our country.

For the next fifteen years, there is still a long way ahead to achieve the Education For All and it is the duty of the citizenship in its whole the ones who must look after its fulfillment.

But actually, what is happening when we look at a group of youngsters who have never been deprived from education but yet they mobilise, work and participate putting themselves in the “shoes of”, and feeling as if the y were in “other’s skin”, somewhere else, in other continent and situation, to defend that right they believe it is unavoidable? On the other hand, are we grown ups able to let ourselves be moved by such sensitive matters, the way they do?

Probably this is the demonstration that small daily miracles happen and they have youngster faces that face up to reality and to commitment, from a deep tenderness.

 

1.- The GEC in Comunidad Valenciana is conformed by : Ayuda en Acción, Educo, Fundación Por la Justicia, Fundación Mainel, Illewasi, Jóvenes y Desarrollo, Intered, Federación de Enseñanza de CCOO, Pau i Solidaritat, STEPV , Escoles Solidaries and Entreculturas.

Chefa, a literated woman in a Fe y Alegría Perú Programme

Chefa, a literated woman in a Fe y Alegría Perú Programme

  • Posted: Mar 30, 2015 -
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“I was born in Bajo Piura and I am now 68 years old. And I had a very sad childhood, very sad. I never played with toys, I never knew what games were, and it was only work and work.

I didn’t go to school either, never even saw a school, because this was normal in the countryside. For me it was normal that we lived like this, we didn’t go to school…‘this is how it will be!’ I said to myself, but we didn’t even have the faintest idea of what our parents would send us to school for. For me it was normal. I didn’t have a way out because I didn’t understand and I didn’t know, for me it was a given that that was how it would be, and that’s how it was.

After having this childhood, this youth of being slaves, from all this darkness, and all this hardship, the reformation came. And we mobilized ourselves, I have seen total change here, I began to see that life wasn’t the way I had thought.

Then, I began to learn, little by little, I learnt, how happy it made me! Because I was learning the ‘a’, the ‘b’, even joining syllables! They taught me what syllables were… me, what did I know of syllables! I wrote my name… I learnt to read letter by letter, and there it was, an entire word! How amazing! This was I say, for me, my birth. A rich, rich, rich birth because I already learnt to read, and now I’m advancing, advancing, advancing, now I know so many things. I have been a midwife, I’ve saved children, and now I am rich in comparison to what I had as a child. Now I am. I am proud of what I know.”

María: volunteering in REAP – India

María: volunteering in REAP – India

  • Posted: Mar 30, 2015 -
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The Reach Education Action Program (REAP) is a Jesuit institution. Its main aim is to provide basic primary level education to girls and boys living in slums, and to promote women in Indian Society.

To educate someone involves more than teaching them how to read and write, it is teaching them how to communicate, how to live in society. To educate someone opens windows full of opportunities and social transformations. The mission of REAP is to impart education upon those who are excluded from society. During two summers I have been able to work in this institution with children who live in the most absolute poverty.

To work with REAP has been an honor for me. The way in which this institution is trying to enhance the dignity of the lives of these children who live in slum conditions, and the way it gives them opportunities to live instead of merely surviving is marvelous. The children need attention, education, and more importantly, they need to be recognized.

I have been able to learn about the way they work, the way they live and the culture in their society in Dolkhamb, a small village with beautiful views and gentle people. The telephone network didn’t cover the village. I was totally out of touch with the world.

Over the course of two summers I lived with 45 children between 8 and 16 years old, along with their teacher. All of them are in the program because in their villages they don’t have access to education and their families don’t have the capacity to care for them. I was sent to this program to teach them English, to learn how to work with the women who live around Dolkhamb and to experience the most humble schools in this country.

The girls I lived with haven’t ever known anything outside of this village and the surrounding towns. They have never seen a big city or got to know different people. Therefore the first thing that I had to do was to adapt myself to their way of life, to appear as much like them as possible, although with just skin color and language the differences were obvious. The first few days were complicated because they spoke no English and I didn’t speak any Marathi or Hindi. But as I settled in over the next few days, the difficulties disappeared and everything became much easier.

In these few months that I have been in Dolkham, the children have learnt basic English for certain situations in a dynamic teaching environment with songs and dances, and I have learnt how to live with only what is necessary, and sometimes with less. What these 45 girls have taught me can only be described in this way; they’ve taught me how to live, how to be happy with what I have and how to smile in the hardest moments. I consider this tiny village that I’ve told you about to be my home and all the kids I’ve lived with to be part of my family.

It’s always difficult to relate in writing what has been lived or felt, and even more difficult now that I am here and they are there. I only hope that these children and the women with whom I shared these moments with will continue fighting for their rights and to change the inequalities that are still present in the world.

 

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