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© 201 0 - NOT FOR SALE - Respect International - www.respectrefugees.org

International

Angola: 228,838 Burundi: 485,764 Cameroon: 7,629 Central African Rep: 31 ,069 Chad: 52,663 Côte d'Ivoire: 23,655 Congo: 462,203 Eritrea: 1 31 ,11 9 Ethiopia: 63,1 05 Ghana: 1 4,767

Liberia: 335,467 Nigeria: 23,888 Rwanda: 63,808 Senegal: 8,332 Sierra Leone: 41 ,801 Somalia: 389,272 Sudan: 930,61 2 Togo: 1 0,81 9 Uganda: 31 ,963 Zimbabwe: 9,568

(Ref. UNHCR, 2004 Global Refugee Trends,

© 201 0 Refugee Education Sponsorship Program - Enhancing Communities Together, All Rights Reserved

REFUGEES

RESPECT


Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country __________________________

Article 13 Universal Declaration on Human Rights


RESPECT REFUGEES International

INDEX.

Book Drive for Africa touches many lives

6

An Interview with Joan McDonalds

7

Bringing Good News to Refugee Youth

9

Making Education Possible through Adult Literacy Program

10

Letter Exchange Program Provides An Escape From Poverty

12

Brownstones To Red Dirt

14

15 16

www.respectrefugees.org

RESPECT Collaborates With Afghan Women's Center RESPECT Helps Students through Donated Computers 3


RESPECT REFUGEES International

INDEX.

An Interview with Joan McDonald

19

Hope for Wayward Youth and Children

20

LYDIA in Post-War Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Liberia

22

Salone Diary

24

RESPECT Touches the World

27

2008-2009 Poster Contest Winners

29

CELA Encourages Women's Groups in Fizi to Save

32

34 36 37 www.respectrefugees.org

Website Helps RefugeesFind Families Elite Friends Academy Offers Help to the Poor Mike Immaculate Group Of Schools Want To Partner With RESPECT 4


RESPECT REFUGEES International

INDEX.

Artists for Humanity Celebrates 1 0th Anniversary

38

We Need Your Ideas

39

Exchange Program to Help Children See Eye to Eye

40

RESPECT Launches New Blog

41

Changing Lives through Sports in Ghana

44

Liberian School System Seeks Help to Rebuild

45

47 48 49 51 www.respectrefugees.org

Atuu's One Book Project to Increase Literacy RESPECT has Gone Digital North Carolina Teacher Helps the World Go Around – One Letterat a Time RESPECT International Says Thanks 5


RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 February 1 3, 2009 Issue 1 39 by Linda Salim

Making Education Possible through Adult Literacy Program

RESPECT University in Uganda, through its Refugee Law Program (RLP), has been operating free adult literacy programs to refugees from various African countries. Joan McDonald, RESPECT University field coordinator who is also a volunteer instructor at the RLP's Adult Literacy Program, explained the program is intended to increase refugees' ability to communicate in English. A non-English speaking Somali refugee, Mohammed Abdullahi Hassan, said that learning English provided him tremendous flexibility in communication. When he arrived in Uganda, he didn't speak any English; it was even difficult for him to request a glass of water. Winnie Agabo, the head of education and training at RLP explained how the program started. Many refugees from different neighboring countries arrived in Uganda with no English knowledge. One of RLP's goals was to help them testify with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), so people behind the wars and genocides can be brought to justice. For many, because of their inabilities to speak English, it was nearly impossible to tell their stories even with the presence of interpreters. Agabo added that many refugees want to continue their education. It's unfortunate that RLP doesn't provide scholarships, although Agabo believes the Literacy Program would serve well as the first stepping-stone to achieve the refugees' goals. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 June 1 2, 2009 Issue 1 40 by Shannon Alderman

Letter Exchange Program Provides An Escape From Poverty

Ntawangwanabose Célestin Buyore (or Célestin for short) is a teacher and a RESPECT International volunteer who comes from the Republic of Rwanda, a place that is likely to conjure up images of a not-toodistant war and a past marred by violence. Célestin works at Saint Kizito-Kabiria located in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1 994, between 800,000 and one million people were killed there and over the course of approximately 1 00 days, it is estimated that some 500,000 people were tortured and murdered. In Célestin's case, he lost most of his family in the conflict. "All of my relations died in the war," Célestin said. "My mother and brothers were most likely killed in 1 996 by the soldiers of the Front Patriotic of Rwanda (FPRInkotanyi) who are leading there now." Despite his sorrows, Célestin had a passion to teach and to give back to those who were impacted by the violence. "I like teaching and I also feel sympathy for the children who are the innocent victims of what happened in our countries. I wanted to help them," he said. He is fulfilling that passion as a teacher and a RESPECT volunteer with students actively engaged in the RESPECT letter writing exchange program. This programme has provided a light in the lives of Célestin students whom he said are continuously exposed to dark. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International Many of his students are refugees who come from abject poverty and who have lived in adverse living conditions. "The letter writing programme exposes the students to other students throughout the United States and Canada," he said. And at times it provides his students with an escape from their current situations. "Due to poverty, the students are physically weak and many have experienced famine in their homes. They don't have lunches. They get to school on foot and some are unaccompanied and orphans," he lamented. One of Célestin's students, Francis Ahuishakiye, who lived through the traumatic events in Rwanda, said, "I was moved to write these letters, to exchange ideas with my new pen-friends, to make friends from abroad, and to have fun with them if possible." In addition to the new friendships being forged, Célestin said this programme also benefits the students by providing an opportunity "to exchange stories and life experiences, to help students recover from the events of their past and to inform one another of the situation of their schools." At Célestin's school, the working conditions are far from ideal. "Our school functions without funds. It relies on the small contribution of parents to buy stationery, for instance, and soap." The teachers at his school are volunteers who, he said, receive no salary. But limitations aside, Célestin said his students add an intangible wealth to the school an are happy and proud to be a part of the RESPECT letter writing program. "The students here are thirsty for knowledge. They work hard despite their hard living conditions," he said. "My thoughts on RESPECT University and this program are so positive," he added. Francis, Célestin's student, agreed. "My life here is hard and tiring because my family is poor; however, I am proud to be a student at this school because we learn. We play games and we chat with other students around the world." In addition to Célestin's involvement with the letter exchange program, he also hopes to benefit personally from continuing educational opportunities offered through RESPECT in his quest to help the adults in his community. "I hope to have admission and scholarship through RESPECT as I would like to learn about migration and conflict management and international development or psychology here in Kemya or around Africa." His goal is to help the adults in his community and "assist in transforming thei behaviour," he said. "Poverty and ignorance are big challenges to overcome here." However, he hopes that by learning and through education he might be able to positively impact his community. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 June 1 2, 2009 Issue 1 40 by Uma Sharma

Brownstones To Red Dirt

The Brownstones to Red Dirt website, produced by Copper Pot Productions, encases the lives of non-refugee students living in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, United States of America, and refugee students living in Freetown, Sierra Leone, aged between 1 0 and 1 2 years. The website is a host to videos, pictures and letters written by children of Brooklyn and Sierra Leone to each other through RESPECT International letter exchange programme. There are number of features of this website, which add significant worth. For example: The website showcases a striking collection of photos with varied but subtle expressions. Brownstones to Red Dirt's video section displays stirring but inspiring videos of children from Freetown and Brooklyn talking about their lives and aspirations. The website also shares the daily chronicle of Brownstone crew during their stay in Sierra Leone in the section named as Salone Diary. The Links section provides links to the history and current situation of the places featured on the website. It also incorporates a mailing list to invite people to be a part of Brownstones to Red Dirt community. The most compelling section of the website is the video section, which includes videos on children from both Brooklyn and Sierra Leone. The poignant but touching videos of Gladys (Sierra Leone) and Fred (Brooklyn) portrays that they share the same dreams and hopes even though they belong to different parts of the world. The website is a delight for the eyes, because of its effective design, beautiful color combinations, outstanding graphics and videos. The Brownstones to Red Dirt website is beyond a simple informative website, as it carries a potent message of hope and inspiration through the stories of children who, despite their social and environmental constraints, dream to make this world a better place. 14 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 June 1 2, 2009 Issue 1 40 by Suzan Salem

RESPECT Collaborates With Afghan Women's Center

RESPECT International is collaborating with the Afghan Women's Educational Center (AWEC) to provide post-secondary education to promising students in Afghanistan. AWEC is a non-political, non-profit and non-governmental organization established in 1 991 by a group of educated Afghan women who rallied together to address the lack of facilities for Afghan refugees in Islamabad Pakistan. Its vision is to establish an environment where women and children can have their human rights without any violence or discrimination, apply a strengthened civil society based on democracy, justice and gender-equality. Its mission is to promote human rights and gender equality works for the abolishment of any kinds of discrimination or violence against women and children through: awarenessraising and advocacy, social service delivery, capacity building, self-sufficiency and sustainable development initiatives. The collaboration between both organizations is an opportunity to contribute RESPECT's knowledge and resources towards AWEC's cause by providing courses that are designed to help students in enhancing their knowledge and also providing them with an edge to compete while applying for courses in educational institutions or for jobs. With the advantage of previous successes in conducting courses for refugees and internally displaced persons, the collaboration is a promising initiative to improve living condition of the marginalized group of women and streetworking children. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 1 0, 2009 Issue 1 42 by Trish Harris

Saint Kizito School Graduate Launches Letter Exchange Program RESPECT International's letter exchange program is an exciting way for students to create global connections to other students who, in spite of the many miles between them, are still children learning to thrive and grow in a world with fewer barriers to understanding. Students from a school in Kenya, the Saint Kizito Socio-Cultural Center located in Kabiria, one of the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya, are writing letters as part of the exchange program. The Center is oriented to the Frenchspeaking children of the Great Lakes Region of central Africa. It was opened in 1 996 following a movement of refugees from the Great Lakes countries (Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic Democratic Congo) to Kenya. When they first arrived in the country, students served by the Center had difficulties integrating in the Kenyan schools: language, poverty, and trauma led their parents to seek alternatives to existing schools. The Center, whose motto is super omnia caritas (Love Before All), manages the Saint Kizito School Kabiria under the patronage of the Sacred Heart Parish of Degoretti. Students at this school have gone on to become self-supporting, and almost half the graduates have continued their studies at universities worldwide. A graduate of the Saint Kizitio School, Jean Clement Ishimwe, has organized the RESPECT letter exchange program for the Saint Kizito Socio-Cultural Center. Jean Clement is from Rwanda, a former refugee of war from 1 994 "till now". He explains "till now" because, even though "I now have legal documents from Rwanda, I still can't live there as I wish. All my family members are refugees – my parents still live in refugee camps – and the reasons that made us leave our country are still existing." www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International

Jean Clement started the letter exchange program with great optimism that the letters will be welcomed. However, he understands that the responses to the letters will depend primarily on who receives them. The Saint Kizito students have experiences that many people will want to hear. Their stories not only provides facts on how they live and cope with their daily challenges as refugees, but also openness and an invitation to the world to contribute in building a peaceful place where there are no borders. He writes: "I always refer to myself when I am saying this: my experience as a refugee opened for me doors to discovering and appreciating others. I always act as not belonging to my country, but to the world. It is a process that grows step by step." It is this sense of openness and purpose that led him to launch this campaign with RESPECT International. But why letters, and why letters in 2009? In a world that seems to have turned away from communication practices beyond email, IM, or the cellphone, letter writing can seem an almost nostalgic practice. What do students gain by exchanging letters that they might not gain via other forms or modes of communication? Jean Clement says that he, too, is "also becoming trapped in this tech world of mail, IM and cellphone. I used to write letters more often than I do today. And now that most of my friends in Africa have access to the internet, I even don't feel of writing a letter to them. However, to me, this is artificial." He goes on to stress the importance of personal connection through writing, explaining that "it is easy to copy and paste a message that is well worded, but it still doesn't say something about you. With this technology, we are turning away from expressing our really personal feelings that are expressed in letters to common feelings that are found everywhere on the net "Sometimes it is psychological. When I receive a letter written by hand I feel a direct contact with the person who wrote it. Writing letters convey not only the message itself, but the whole personality is involved: from the handwriting to the signature. Letters bring people together without an intermediary of a device," he adds. The handwritten letters from the students of Saint Kizito are ready for your response; the students gain technical and expressive writing experience as they compose the letters, but it is the response of other school children that creates a real dialogue. RESPECT wishes to thank Jean Clement for taking the time to launch this project with Saint Kizito School Kabiria and to share the information with the rest of the RESPECT community.. 18 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 1 0, 2009 Issue 1 42 by Mohammed Riazuddin

RESPECT Helps Students through Donated Computers In addition to introducing students from refugee schools to the world through its letter exchange program, RESPECT International has been emphasizing computer literacy for these students by initiating many computer donation programs over the past years. Some of RESPECT's milestones include the following: April 2004: Funds contributed by Students Encouraging Global Awareness (SEGA), Riverside Secondary School in British Columbia, and W.H. DAY Elementary School's Children Connecting Children project were used to buy ten computers from Computer Aid International. These computers were used to establish a computer resource centre for refugees in Agoro, Northern Uganda. February 2005: Judy Huynh, a sixth-grade teacher and the Service Learning Coordinator at Palo Community Schools in Palo, Michigan, her church, and her students raised US$2,000 (approximately €1 ,420; £1 ,260) to help Mohomou Refugee School in Guinea to construct their computer lab. April 2005: United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) donated two copies of Issue 1 2 of their CD collection Refworld 2004 to RESPECT International, which RESPECT added to a CD library that they prepared for two computer resource centers they establish in Northern Uganda and Guinea. August 2007: RESPECT International partnered with World Computer Exchange to send 20 refurbished computers to Peace Pals Education Network in Sierra Leone. May 2008: RESPECT International donated 20 computers to the Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana, with logistical assistance from Arrow Networks. The computers were used for equipping a resource centre that was established by RESPECT and One World Youth Project (OWYP). July 2008: Timothy Anderson, president and founder of World Computer Exchange (WCE), donated a laptop computer to RESPECT Sierra Leone. Luc Aalmans, a WCE program officer for Sierra Leone, personally made the presentation to the children in Sierra Leone. "… And miles to go before I sleep." www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 1 0, 2009 Issue 1 42 by Mohammed Riazuddin

An Interview with Joan McDonald - Part 2

Joan MacDonald has been collaborating with RESPECT International, coordinating RESPECT University (RU) courses to refugee students in Kampala, Uganda, since March 2007. As a RESPECT University field coordinator, she communicates with tutors, downloads lesson materials, and uploads the finished assignments. This article is the fourth and final part of an interview series with her. Problems faced by the students The most pressing problem is the sheer lack of capacity in the face of overwhelming demand, and the incredible amount of energy required to start a program from scratch with virtually no funding. Work at the Refugee Law Project (RLP) is hampered by the fact that its seven-person department has only one rather slow computer! Fortunately, a fund has been established with the eventual goal of providing computer access to the refugees, but the department needs more staff access too. RLP recently underwent renovations, resulting in more space available so that it can conduct two classes simultaneously – but its student body has also increased. It's not unusual to have students standing throughout the lesson because even if they had enough chairs, there's simply no room for them to sit. Today's English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers rely heavily on communicative exercises and group work, but large classes, crowded conditions, and high studentteacher ratio make communicative exercises logistically difficult. The students themselves have problems stemming from the past and continuing circumstances of their lives. Some suffer from emotional and physical injuries, making it difficult for them to concentrate. They might have to walk a long distance to class. Some can't afford to eat every day. The time required to earn a living and take care of the children sometimes leaves little time for school. Difficult living conditions make them vulnerable to illness. All these factors contribute to a sporadic attendance record and high drop-out factor. 20 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International

Despite all this, every class has a core of regular attendees – a testament to the refugees' thirst for education. When dealing with RESPECT University students, specifically, communication is a challenge. Not all of the RU students attend Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) classes, so the teachers must contact them individually when the tutors send new assignments. Although many of the students have email addresses, they can't check their mail every day. Most have mobile phones, so that's the main means of communication. The original intention was to have the different classes choose group leaders who would organize regular meetings to discuss the assignments, submit their completed assignments and receive new ones. In practice, however, the students generally work alone. Some students are very slow to pick up and submit their work. Occasionally the tutors are slow to respond, which is very discouraging for the students. When the students receive feedback on their work, they appreciate it so much! The one resource which RLP has in abundance is human capital. The refugee population contains some highly skilled and motivated people who would be invaluable additions to the FAL team, if it had the time to orient them to the program and the financial resources to compensate them. You can learn more about RLP and view a short video on their website

www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 1 0, 2009 Issue 1 42 by Barny Whitwham

Hope for Wayward Youth and Children Youth In Africa (YIA) is a group helping to empower the street kids and disadvantaged young people of Liberia. After discovering RESPECT International through a jointprogram between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), YIA expressed its interest in the letter exchange program in November 2008. YIA is looking forward to developing relationships between the youth of Liberia and Canada through the pen-pal scheme, as well as generating awareness of the work they do and the problems they face. To promote this awareness, a member of YIA will be interviewed for RESPECT International, allowing a greater understanding of the organization's aims and aspirations. When Youth in Africa joined RESPECT International's pen-pal program I was able to interview Titus Allen Sebo, the director, and discover more about the organization's work and the problems it faces. YIA was founded in Senegal on October 6, 2007, and has since established a base in Monrovia, Liberia. Membership is open to every Liberian who exhibit a strong moral attitude and are ready to work for the promotion of the positive image of Liberia. There are now just over 500 young people from various communities in and around the country involved in the project. The association has many specific targets, which relate to the overall aim of uniting all Liberians for the purpose of presenting strong, wholesome, educated, morally-sound and well-respected young people. Primarily, they are working towards building a youth centre for troubled teens where educational and social activities can take place. IT skills and access to computers is increasingly important, and this forms another main part of the work of YIA. The organization hopes to run computer programs across the country and introduce as many young people as possible to the new technology.

www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International

Education is also provided, including training which can be passed on to other communities and thereby give the children a purpose and useful work experience Tutoring in leadership also takes place, with focus on the Liberian civil-rights efforts. In addition, there is a collaborative effort to reduce the problems of littering, help keep youths alcohol and drug free, as well as cross-country trips to allow the children to experience new sights and people and promote togetherness. Much of the work takes place with the help of friends and non-governmental organizations, but resources are limited. YIA is only able to pay school fees for some of its children, and facilities need to be expanded. The most pressing requirements are for more computers, a car and better funding for facilities and school fees. There is also a need to help develop interpersonal skills among the young people and it is hoped this will be achieved through participation in the pen-pal scheme. The work of the organization is represented by their emblem, which includes the colours yellow, green and white. Yellow signifies a new dawn after a period of darkness, green represents freshness and a new beginning and, finally, white stands for accountability, transparency, purity and oneness in achieving goals. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 1 0, 2009 Issue 1 42 Abby Jenkins Macedo

LYDIA in Post-War Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Liberia The goals of the Liberian Youth Determination in Adversity (LYDIA) are: to help former refugee youths heal from trauma through art and community, to assist all young people who deserve to get their education and to have dreams for the future, and to create art that allows people to feel seen and heard in the world. LYDIA's mission is put into action through two different programs: the Women's Scholarship Fund and Youth House. The Women's Scholarship Fund allows otherwise resource-less former refugee girls to pay their school fees, buy uniforms, and pay for food, transportation, and housing while they are getting their education. Youth House is a home base for teens where they can take part in hip-hop, theatre, and art after-school programs, youth groups, community building programs, and AIDS awareness groups. LYDIA hopes to give a generation of children the skills and support to get back on the path of rediscovering their identity and creating possibilities for the future In 2006, the Fifth Project Theatre Company at New York University (NYU) and Professor Daniel Banks ran hip-hop poetry and theatre workshops with the displaced youth living on the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp outside of Accra, Ghana. Teens gathered to learn beat-boxing skills, write poetry and create music in giant ciphers. We met so many open and talented teens, but at every workshop, there was one teenager who kept on surprising us. Her name was Lydia Mulubah. Lydia was a powerful MC and beat-boxer and, in the male-dominated environment of the refugee camp, her sense of self, fearlessness, and passionate voice in poetry and art was something we were blown away by! Right before we were to head back to New York, we learned that because of Lydia's family situation, she would be unable to continue her education. Lydia expressed how much her education meant to her. I was the program coordinator of RESPECT Ghana and, along with several volunteers including Alfred Kayee, RESPECT Ghana's assistant program coordinator, we set up a scholarship fund for her.

www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International

www.respectrefugees.org

In December 2006, I was resettled to the United States through the US Refugee Resettlement Program and Alfred Kayee became the program coordinator of RESPECT Ghana's activities at the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp in Ghana. He was very instrumental in the continuation of Lydia's scholarship. He is also leader of the RESPECT Dramatic Arts Club of which Lydia Mulubah was an active member. In the past two years, Lydia has been doing well in school, (she graduated from 9th grade!) but recently, the UN refugee camp was shut down. Approximately 1 7,000 Liberian Refugees, many of whom have been away from Liberia, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone for as long as 1 5 years, all have had to leave Ghana – Lydia included. Alfred is also back in Liberia, but with constant violence, high inflation of food, and nowhere to live, the situation is very challenging. At the moment Lydia is currently in school in Liberia. Danielle Levanas, a former graduate student of New York University along with other students of the Fifth Project Theatre Company and Prof. Daniel Banks, were instrumental in setting up a non-profit organization in Liberia. With its branch in the US, it will soon be able to bridge the gap in the lives of refugee youth in Liberia through the arts, education, and community services projects.RESPECT Liberia is an emerging member of the RESPECT International networks while Liberian Youth Determination In Adversity (LYDIA) is an organization that has been registered as a non-profit community-based organization directly working with youth in Liberia. Most of the current members of LYDIA were once member of RESPECT Ghana or the RESPECT Intellectual Club and it is great to know that they are willing to volunteer in these harsh and difficult communities to reach the lives of others. I think this is great and can be better if we only unite our limited and scarce resources in working with youth in these communities in Liberia. I think instead of working separately as LYDIA's and RESPECT's staff members in Liberia we could either get into a partnership or unify the two organizations to reduce costs and also reduce the issues of duplicating projects. Social change in today's societies can only be possible when we network with like-minded individuals, institutions and organizations in accomplishing our set goals. That doesn't in anyway means that RESPECT Liberia and LYDIA are going to emerge to become one entity, but building a partnership agreement that will benefit both organizations and at the same time fulfill their set objectives. Introducing LYDIA youth to the letter exchange program that RESPECT undertakes will also expose those youth to other opportunities and widen their scope of the universe from the corners of Liberia. 25


RESPECT REFUGEES International RESPECT International, the mother organization of RESPECT Liberia is part of a global network of volunteers and organizations that have the capacity to create awareness and education globally about situations that these youth are encountering in Liberia. In unity we can achieve all that we anticipate to achieve in a very short period and our limited resources will be cost-effective. We hope that someday both the staff of LYDIA and RESPECT Liberia can realize that working together makes changes possible. I am currently working with RESPECT Ghana and RESPECT International in making sure that RESPECT Liberia start to be an active organization in Liberia instead of one that is passive. I am also a board member of LYDIA and it is a wonder how LYDIA is growing so fast.

www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 July 24, 2009 Issue 1 43 by Uma Sharma

Salone Diary

www.respectrefugees.org

Salone Diary consists of the chronicles of Sierra Leone written by David LaMattina, from Brownstones crew, during their two-week stay at Freetown, Sierra Leone, for their latest documentary Brownstones, Red Dirt. Salone Diary narrates a vivid account of the life in Sierra Leone, written in narrative style. It is very insightful, about a world which is hidden from the mainstream view. The Brownstones crew had already filmed children from Brooklyn, in which children shared their thoughts about their schools, future, etc. In Salone Diary the crew describe their meetings and interview with refugee children from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Although these two group of children live thousand of miles apart from each other, in almost two different worlds, they are connected with each other through the RESPECT Letter Exchange Program Dave shared his experience in Salone Diary, when refugee children in Sierra Leone received letters from their pen pals in Brooklyn. "These kids have nothing and with each letter they get from Brooklyn,they gain another possession. It's quite a gift and they treat it delicately, examining it with care while they try to decipher what their pen pal's life might be like." The diary starts with the eventful escapade from New York to Sierra Leone. All the apprehension about Sierra Leone were calmed by picturesque beach, clear water and white sand. The crew's first day with children was delightful and heartwarming. As Dave wrote: "I wish I could describe how wonderful the next hour was, but I know I will fail to do it justice." The crew were offered the school's only desk with chair to sit. It was placed in the centre and children were sitting around them. Salone Diary tells us the story of refugee children of Sierra Leone, children who have lost their families in war. Some of them have witnessed brutal murders of their loved ones. As Dave mentioned: "These children need to be heard and we've taken on the challenge to show what their lives are like.". 27


RESPECT REFUGEES International

Despite their tragedies, children have not lost hope. They have the ambition to prove themselves and the humility to appreciate what they have. Emmanuel, 1 4 years of age, wants to be an electrician. The rebels killed his mother and he laid with her body three days before his Aunt Musa took him with her. He had convinced a carpenter to make a battery carriage and with technical wizadry he managed to provide light in all the rooms to show his appreciation to "Aunty Musa" for taking care of him. Aunty Musa is the headmistress of the school. She adopted Emmanuel and Balla, both of whom lost their families to the war. Balla wants to be a painter, so that one day, "people will look at his work on their wall and say that Balla from Sierra Leone did it." Both Emmanuel and Balla are featured in the documentary. The children of Sierra Leone, despite social and environmental constraints, dream to make this world a better place. I'll conclude with a parting message from Dave: "We thank you for reading these and hope that when we share these children and their stories with you, you'll never forget them either." 28 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 August 7, 2009 Issue 1 44 by Atuu Waonaje

CELA Encourages Women's Groups in Fizi to Save

www.respectrefugees.org

As a young organization in the Fizi Territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Centre for Youth Development and Adult Education (CELA) has been forming and training Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) for credit and savings since February 2009. CELA was based in the Lugufu Refugee Camp in Tanzania but moved to the Fizi Territory after the Lugufu Camp closed and the refugees were repatriated. With a volunteer staff of 24, their current projects include language programs, youth empowerment programs, adult education and vulnerable assistance programs. CELA tries to enhance women's economic and social conditions in rural Fizi communities. Five Village Savings and Loans Associations have been created: Amka in Kasaka/Sebele, Umoga ni nguvu in Katanga, Matunda Bora in Mwamsombo, M'mwatelecha in Mwandiga, and Makene in Malala I. These groups gather 1 50 women (30 in each group), elected within their community to save money. These savings are raised by the members themselves who have the access to borrow money with monthly interest. These organizations are independent and self-managed. Each organization sets its own by-law to rule its activities. Members meet on a regular basis and transactions are made during the meetings. Every member saves money and buy shares. The organization set the share value in order for every member, even the poorest, to afford at least one share during each meeting. To initiate this project, CELA previously trained five volunteers from the communities so they could assist the VSL groups from their implementation through their achievement. CELA has also given to each group a metal box and three keys to keep the money. 34


RESPECT REFUGEES International With this methodology, used by many international organizations such as CARE, Plan International or Oxfam in several developing countries, we expect to enhance the living conditions for women. CELA believes that VSL groups will be able to encourage savings and credit and thus fight poverty and promote women's socioeconomic development. In addition, CELA wishes to empower women, to help them generate revenues and become leaders. This project's goal is to fight poverty as well as to promote resources for women to provide choices and help them acquire civic, cultural, economic, political and social rights. At CELA we are convinced that a better economic level, education, and independence will empower women, from poor rural areas, to make strategic choices and tackle poverty. Women are the poorest in the community. They need resources, education and skills to play a decisive role in breaking the cycle of oppression and exploitation. In order to reach our goals, we are asking friends, partners and sponsors to financially support the VSL groups and raise their credit resources. You can also help to train the VSLA members about selection, planning and management of income genrating activities and women's leadership. For further information, please contact M. Atuu Waonaje at atuuwaonaje@yahoo.com, +243 (0) 81 7 474 387.

Amka – Organization AVEC for micro saving and credit. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 September 4, 2009 Issue 1 45 by Mohammed Riazuddin

Elite Friends Academy Offers Help to the Poor The Elite Friends Academy was opened on January 3, 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya, as a day-care center to assist those parents who could not afford to send their children to surrounding schools. The majority of the children are refugees, orphans, HIV/AIDS victims that come from poor families. The academy, which started with 27 students, was so named because the organizers see these children as leaders of tomorrow who, despite their status, have the right to be integrated into the community and to accept themselves. And it seems that the work they are doing is very much welcomed by the community as the student enrollment increased to 73 in 2008. Austin W Ngabwe, the RESPECT International's contact teacher for Elite Friends Academy, says that despite the challenges they are facing, they are able to carry on with their work. Austin, who is himself a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, hopes for a continuous cooperation between Elite and RESPECT. The Elite Friends Academy is a school working under a self-help group known as Ophrah African Foundation (OAF). The academy currently offers the following: baby classes, nursery classes and pre-unity classes. The objectives of the academy are to assist the orphans and vulnerable within the community, to become an international center for promoting and assisting talents, to campaign and fight against HIV/AIDS, to rid drug abuse from among the community, and to work towards peace and reconciliation. The Elite Friends Academy can be contacted at the following address:

Elite Friends Academy c/o Ophrah African Foundation P O BOX: 7909 - 00300 Nairobi, Kenya E-mail: oafi2003@yahoo.com Tel: +254 7231 25529 www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 September 4, 2009 Issue 1 45 by Mohammed Riazuddin

Artists for Humanity Celebrates 1 0th Anniversary Artists for Humanity will celebrate its 1 0th anniversary from December 1 9 to 25, 2009. In fact, the Artists for Humanity initiative – ArtHum – was launched on December 1 9, 1 999, in Kinshasa the capital of the Democratic Republic Congo by Amisi Mutambala, but mainly conducted its activities in the eastern part of the country, with a regional integrated vision. During the 1 0th anniversary celebrations of ArtHum, cultural and arts-based activities will run for seven days in Uvira and Fizi territories (South Kivu province in DR Congo). These include conferences, debates, concerts and cultural and arts-based displays on such topics as education, peace, human rights and HIV/AIDS. Some local and international actors, who have distinguished themselves in their volunteer work with ArtHum and for communities in disaster, will receive awards of recognition. Non-profit associations, foundations, enterprises, state institutions, religious structures as well as individuals who are interested are invited to join the event. For further information, contact Amisi Mutambala at:

Dieudonné AMISI MUTAMBALA Director & Founder Artists for Humanity, ArtHum Telephone: +24381 0343785; +257799791 21 Email: arthum_direction@yahoo.fr

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RESPECT REFUGEES International

"After three years of fighting — both killing and being shot at — he was rescued from military service, and sent to us at the EECC," Benjamin said. "He has really struggled to regain his humanity." Nine-year-old Amisa Ngoy was found in the parking lot. She had been out on the streets since she was six. Amisa's father was killed during the war, and her mother could not afford to look after her. Amisa said that she was not afraid on the streets, as older street children helped take care of her. But many girls as young as Amisa will have sex with men in order to earn enough money to eat. Sixteen-year-old Simon Fiston was found in the truck park. He had been out on the street for four months. Simon's parents were killed during the war. He was sent to live with his uncle, but left when he was forced to go to work and not sent to school. He became drug addicted. Simon says he made money carrying things for people, but spent most of it on gambling and the local palm wine called NINDAWA YETU. Although he is glad to be off the street and in school, Simon says he is unable to face going back to his uncle or other members of his family. He says he would like to be put in a foster EECC home. EECC is working with the DRCongo government to bring children back into the educational system, so children are not exposed to dangers on the streets. Most importantly, it is mounting campaigns against physical, labor and sexual abuse of children because they will not have people to take care of them; some make them promises that 'I will pay school fees for you especially to the girls. I will do this and do that but in the end they will have sex with them. www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International So they collect these children at the end of the day, they move them out of the country to Burundi, Rwanda, and go with them somewhere else, to use them as child labor and other things. Other risks for children on the street are drugs and alcohol, which they use invhopes of providing some relief from the hardship in their lives. Through the EECC, Benjamin works diligently to promote a child's talents, a child's right to play and to provide them with some hope. And he is hoping RESPECT International's Global Letter Exchange Program will help him achieve that. More than 30 children from the EECC will be participating in the letter exchange, a program that connects youths under 1 8 to international youth by snail mail letter exchange. "This gives the children the feeling that an opportunity lies ahead of them. It gives them something to look forward to," he said. Finding something to look forward to can be hard in this region and the situation in DR Congo hasn't changed much since Benjamin was a child. "I am surrounded by children who have reached a point of vulnerability where they can't handle life anymore. Children like myself who had dreams, ambitions and goals but who are surrounded by so many hardships, frustrations, and a lack of basic care because their loved ones have died, are lost in war or have contracted AIDS," Benjamin said. Through RESPECT International's writing exchange program, Benjamin said it might give the children of the EECC "a feeling of being valued somewhere in someone else's life."

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 November 6, 2009 Issue 1 47 by Maria Brundin

Changing Lives through Sports in Ghana Sports can change lives – that is the main idea of Africa Change International (ACI), a Ghana-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) working to improve the life of children through sports. By offering children the opportunity to play sports, such as athletics, basketball, hockey and swimming, ACI's aim is to keep children from dropping out of school. Its training requires the children to attend school and teaches them about health. This not only raises the educational level but also gives children the opportunity to get scholarships for higher education and skills required to earn them a livelihood. Peter Osei, Executive Director of ACI, talks about the many advantages of sports. Being an active participant develops children's self-esteem and activates them, preventing them from roaming the streets. "[Sports] will make them spend less time in sedentary pursuits such as violence, crime and other the social vices," Mr. Osei says. For the moment, 400 children aged 1 0 to11 are participating in the ACI programs. The children attend school in the morning, come to the ACI's computer laboratory for the ICT Training and take their sports classes in the afternoon. Sports have the ability to unite people, regardless of race, language and politics. They teach participants respect and teamwork. They are also one of the few arenas where everyone plays on equal terms. Where skills, not background, determine success. In the future ACI hopes to build an extensive sports academy and recruit children who are underprivileged or living on the streets. ACI also wishes to expand beyond the borders of Ghana to other African countries. ACI looks "to employ training skills in sports, computer literacy and education to espouseequity in social policies that address livelihood opportunities for socially excluded children and young people. "We want to help them succeed in future even without the existence of ACI." www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 November 6, 2009 Issue 1 47

Liberian School System Seeks Help to Rebuild The following letter was submitted to RESPECT International from the principal of the Calvary Baptist Church School in Monrovia, Liberia, seeking help to rebuild its system. To Whom It May Concern The Calvary Baptist Church School System was established in 1 964 by a group of Mid-Baptist Missionaries from the United States of America, who two years earlier established the Calvary Baptist Church. The purpose of establishing the school was threefold: 1 . To provide kids with a strong foundation in reading, writing, and speaking. 2. To impact sound Biblical training as a basis upon which spiritual and moral foundation of kids can be built. 3. To cater to the educational needs of the Children of church members. The school Motto is Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6) Calvary Baptist Church School System was badly looted during the Liberian civil war. Presently, the school has been given a face lift but we are in dire need of basic text books for our Library, computers and equipment for our science laboratory, etc. There is still room to improve on our infrastructure. Therefore, we would highly appreciate assistance from any organization, church or NGO to help improve our school system.

Truly Yours, Alfred G. Brown Principal/Cell #065791 85 PO Box 965 Monrovia Liberia 1 000 Monrovia 1 0 Liberia www.respectrefugees.org

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RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 December 1 8, 2009 Issue 1 48 by Raja M Ali

Atuu's One Book Project to Increase Literacy

Everybody accepts that life can be unfair. But maybe it is not. At the surface level, Atuu Waonaje's life is an embodiment of injustice, cruelty and unfairness. He was born poor in an impoverished country and became a refugee at 1 5 years of age. Still a teenager, he lost his parents, had no possessions and was forced to take care of not only himself but also his brother. How can fate be more unjust to a person? But looking deeper, we realize that while nature took many things away from Atuu, it also gave him gifts — such as compassion, drive and the confidence to make something out of nothing — which few of us can claim. Turmoil, calamities and injustice didn't bog down Atuu and while still in a refugee camp in Tanzania, he started CELA, the Centre for Youth Development and Adult Education, which was so successful that it won him the Women's Refugee Commission Voice of Courage Award in 2007. CELA, however, is an old story and Atuu is not resting on his laurels. He has recently started a new project called One Book Project (OBP). Atuu observed that: There is neither a resource centre nor a library in his city, Fizi Territory (in the Democratic Republic of Congo), which means a large ANNOUNCEMENTS Perspective: peace through the eyes of a child by Olivia Wallace The theme for RESPECT's 2009-201 0 Annual Poster Contest is Perspective: peace through the eyes of a child. The theme was chosen from the excellent suggestions we received. There is financial assistance for refugees schools who need help paying postage for their students' entries. The poster contest coordinator for each refugee school needs to make a request as soon as possible. Send your request to postercontest@respectrefugees.org or to your country coordinator. Entry requirements and other information for the Poster Contest are available online. Frequently Asked Questions Have you ever wondered where RESPECT International has its headquarters? Or how to become a RESPECT volunteer? These and other important questions are answered in RESPECT's newly published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Take some time to learn more about RESPECT and its Global Letter Exchange. There is a separate FAQ with information for refugee schools and non-refugee schools. What if your question isn't answered? number of students have no access to information except what they learn at school; Young guys have not much to do after school. They generally do not have a habit of reading for pleasure or information and most even don't know how to use a dictionary; People have books which are unused. Ordinary people would have looked at the situation and done nothing but Atuu started OBP which collects books from various individuals and then puts them in a resource centre/library for use by locals. The main aims of the project are: Promoting a reading culture among community members who have lost that culture due to the war. Maybe starting a reading week. Empowering villagers with skills through books and connecting them with the world. Increasing literacy. Atuu has already managed to collects a small number of books but for his project to achieve these aims, he needs your help. 47 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International ISSN 1 71 0-6931 January 8, 201 0 Issue 1 49 by Linda Salim

North Carolina Teacher Helps the World Go Around One Letter at a Time

In this day and age when war is rampant and ethnic discrimination against one another is less and less discrete, there are some people who provide a cooling wind of change. One such person is Mary Hughes Lee, a literature teacher at South Stokes High School in North Carolina. Marc Schaeffer, RESPECT International's founder and international coordinator, calls her a dynamite teacher, and having gotten to know her in the process of writing this article, we at RESPECT e-Zine couldn't agree more. Ms. Lee's interests and involvement in letter exchange between students started before her collaboration with RESPECT Letter Exchange Program a few months ago. In the past, she and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in a school in Memphis, Tennessee, organized their own letter exchange between Ms. Lee's students and the mostly refugee ESL students. Unfortunately, the Memphis school curbed the program over security reasons. Ms. Lee began looking outward for an alternative when she found RESPECT Letter Exchange Program. On the first exchange, her students received and responded to 25 letters from high school students in Liberia. Ms. Lee expected nothing from the program except unwrapping pleasant surprises, one of which is the excitement her students show when it comes to discussing and connecting with their new Liberian friends. As Ms. Lee puts it, she has to make sure that this program continues if she doesn't want her students to protest. The young Americans show tremendous interests in knowing more about the world, nothing short of Ms. Lee's dedication in planting in the students' minds that every human being is as worthy as they personally are. Being a fan of President Obama, my first impression of Ms. Lee is close to the image I have of the President himself. She radiates the peace she offers to those she meets for the first time, no matter how different they are from her. Having always been devoted to creative writing, Ms. Lee started developing her interests decades ago. The dedication continued years after through educating her students to be tolerant and curious about the rest of the world. 49 www.respectrefugees.org


RESPECT REFUGEES International Last year, she took her students on an educational trip to Great Britain. Another student of hers spent her last year of high school in Australia as an exchange student. Both Ms. Lee and her husband are passionate about the exchange students program and they dream of hosting exchange students at their home in North Carolina. When asked about her views on the new American leadership and policies, she's very supportive despite the facts that she believes some of President Obama's decisions aren't the most effective ones. In general, she's excited about the world changing its view about the Americans. The evolution in immigration issues and the new government's attitude toward immigrants and refugees are what she's most excited about. Voicing her opinion strongly, she believes in empowering refugees, which also means eradicating all kinds of deportation. In her view, deportation is a kind of ethnic cleansing, which is very un-American. Ms. Lee believes that America has always thrived on its variety of cultures, languages, ethnicities and belief systems, among other things. Instead of sending illegal aliens home, Ms. Lee believes the more effective way to reduce the amount of funding and resources spent on refugees is through eradication of poverty, oppressive government and increased education in developing countries. She strongly believes that most immigrants, both legal and illegal, would prefer to remain in their homelands, given the choice. Providing them with a safe and comfortable environment back home is much more effective than driving them away from host countries. The world obviously needs more Ms. Lees. Many people might disagree with her stance on political and world issues, but the fact that she encourages her students to be open-minded and tolerant, and that she welcomes opinions different from her own to co-exist, makes the world simply a better place.

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A special thanks goes to: goes to: A special thanks Kenneth Karest Shannon Alderman Raja M Ali LewelaShannon Maria Brundin Trish Harris AldermanLinda Kenneth Karest Lewela Abby Jenkins Macedo SalimUma SharmaSuzan Paulo MullerSalemTrish HarrisMohammed WhitwhamAbby LauraRiazuddinBarny Premoli Jenkins MacedoPaulo MullerAtuu WaonajeMaria Mohammed Riazuddin BrundinOlivia WallaceKirsty Linda Salim SempleRaja M AliMineYours Suzan Salem Kirsty Semple Marc Shaeffer Uma Sharma Olivia Wallace Atuu Waonaje Barny Whitwham edited by: Laura Premoli for RESPECT REFUGEES International

We are an apolitical, international, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.Our flagship project is a global letter exchange program introducing refugee students to non-refugee students. This project creates pen pal relationships between the students, helping non-refugee students learn about the issues facing refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).RESPECT's goals are: 1 . To increase awareness of refugee issues among non-refugee students in participating countries. 2. To build bridges between non-refugee students and refugee students through penpal letter exchange. 3. To encourage students to act to raise awareness of refugee issues and to raise some funds for their refugee school.

RESPECT INTERNATIONAL 935 WARSAW AVENUE WINNIPEG MB R3M 1 B9 CANADA +1 204 284 1 91 9 Email: respect@respectrefugees.org


Things can still change

A protester facing down a tank in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, June 1989



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