Issue 120 October 2006 Quarterly
London & South East Region
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN CROYDON
See Centre Pages to find out more about exciting community work in Croydon
Shackled by the five powers REFORMS to the UN achieved by the General Assembly last September did not remedy the problem of an unrepresentative Security Council. Its membership is too small; its membership does not reflect the growth in UN membership since 1945. While the ten two-year tenure members speak for their regions, the permanent five, armed with a veto, speak only for themselves. In the present Middle East crisis, the UN does not have the authority to make decisions and recommend a course of action on behalf of the region, supported by the world community. Although a majority of the Council voted to demand an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon, the US vetoed it. A week later at a meeting in Rome the same thing happened. The Charter of the UN was intended to promote peace and secu-
Jim Addington, Chair, Action for Renewal, of UN Reform, argues that the world body has never been allowed to look at the broader picture in the Middle East conflict
newal aims to sway ministers, MPs and the media to support the UN and work to remove the institutional obstacles to its working.
It was formed in 2000 from two groups that began in 1993, just before the 50th anniversary of the UN. It is affiliated to UNA-UK of which it is a s tr on g s u pp or te r . W e have always had strong support from members of UNA-UK at the rity but the world body has never annual conference, especially for been allowed to look at the broader resolutions on government policy. picture in that region. An informal conference should be called by the Until this year the UNA Board has UN to look at the legitimate interests also included such decisions in its of each state as well as the region as annual forward-looking statement to a whole. Outsiders, who for decades the Government. We welcome new have dominated the region's affairs, members. We have valued this as it should stay away. This proposal is showed that the members are fulfillintended as a practical suggestion to ing their duty to support the Governassist the process of reconciliation ment when it works with the grain, and reform. That is what the UN yet are not afraid to criticise should be about. Action for UN Re- when lapses occur.
World Cup mania is over for another four years. But the UN family can learn from the global game, says Kofi Annan You may wonder what a Secretary General of the United Nations is doing writing about football. But in fact, the World Cup makes us in the UN green with envy. As the pinnacle of the only truly global game, played in every country by every race and religion, it is one of the few phenomena as universal as the United Nations. You could even say it’s more universal. FIFA has 207 members; we have only 191. But there are far better reasons to be envious. FIRST, the World Cup is an event in which everybody knows where their team stands, and what it did to get there. They know who scored and how and in what minute of the game; they know who missed the open goal; they know who saved the penalty. I wish we had more of that sort of competition in the family of nations. Countries openly vying for the best standing in the table of respect for human rights, and trying to outdo one another in child survival rates or enrolment in secondary education. States parading their performance for all the world to see. Governments being held accountable for what actions led them to that result. SECOND, the World Cup is an event which everybody on the planet loves talking about. Dissecting what their team did right, and what it could have done differently — not to mention the other side's team. People sitting in cafés anywhere from Buenos Aires to Beijing, debating the finer
points of games endlessly, revealing an intimate knowledge not only of their own national teams but of many of the others too, and expressing themselves on the subject with as much clarity as passion. Normally tongue-tied teenagers suddenly becoming eloquent, confident, and dazzlingly analytical experts. I wish we had more of that sort of conversation in the world at large. Citizens consumed by the topic of how their country could do better on the Human Development Index, or in reducing the number of carbon emissions or new HIV infections. THIRD, the World Cup is an event which takes place on a level playing field, where every country has a chance to participate on equal terms. Only two commodities matter in this game: talent and team work. I wish we had more levellers like that in the global arena. Free and fair exchanges without the interference of subsidies, barriers or tariffs. Every country getting a real chance to field its strengths on the world stage. FOURTH, the World Cup is an event which illustrates the benefits of cross-pollination between peoples and countries. More and more national teams now welcome coaches from other countries, who bring new ways of thinking and playing. The same goes for the increasing number of players who between World Cups represent clubs away from home. They inject new qualities into their
90,000 and growing
200 long-term charter aircraft, moving 700,000 passengers. The UN dep l o ye d 2 20 medical clinics and 21 military hospitals in the name of humanity. More than 2,200 peacekeepers from 114 nations have lost their lives in service; 95 were British.
THERE are more than 90,000 UN peacekeepers serving in 18 UN operations on four continents today. They comprise 64,000 troops and military obThe first International Day of servers, 7,500 police, 5,000 United Nations Peacekeepers international civilians and more was observed on 29th May than 11,000 local staff. 2002, the date in 1948 when Women peacekeepers serve in the first UN peacekeeping misthe military (1%), police (4%), sion began operations in Palinternational civilian staff estine. On this day, we pay (30%) and nationally recruited tribute “to all the men and civilian staff (28%). 108 na- women who have served and tions are contributing military continue to serve in UN peaceand police personnel, making keeping operations, as the UN the largest multilateral well as to honour the memory contributor to post-conflict sta- of those who have lost their bilisation worldwide; only the lives in the cause of peace.” US deploys more military personnel. In 2005, UN peace- The Peacekeepers Day keeping operations involved Cenotaph Ceremony (above) 161,000 military and police was organised by the Westpersonnel using 864 flights on minster Branch of UNA-UK.
new team, grow from the experience, and are able to contribute even more to their home side when they return. In the process, they often become heroes in their adopted countries — helping to open hearts and broaden minds. I wish it were equally plain for all to see that human migration in general can create triple wins — for migrants, for their countries of origin, and for the societies that receive them. That migrants not only build better lives for themselves and their families, but are also agents of development — economic, social, and cultural — in the countries they go and work in, and in the homelands they inspire through new-won ideas and know-how when they return. For any country, playing in the World Cup is a matter of profound national pride. For countries qualifying for the first time, such as my native Ghana, it is a badge of honour. For those who are doing so after years of adversity, such as Angola, it provides a sense of national renewal. And for those who are currently riven by conflict, like Côte d'Ivoire, but whose World Cup team is a unique and powerful symbol of national unity, it inspires nothing less than the hope of national rebirth. Which brings me to what is perhaps most enviable of all for us in the United Nations: the World Cup is an event in which we actually see goals being reached. I'm not talking only about the goals a country scores; I also mean the most important goal of all — being there, part of the family of nations and peoples, celebrating our common humanity. I'll try to remember that when Ghana plays Italy in Hanover on 12 June. Of course, I can't promise I'll succeed. (Ed’s note: Ghana was the only African side to reach the knockout stage, eventually losing to Brazil 3-0.)
Spirit of Durham IT was “the best-ever” conference in the view of everyone I spoke to. It wasn't just the water, or the beer: having a conference outside London always gives a fillip. There were other factors too: it was Durham. A warm welcome awaited the more than 130 attendees at Trevelyan College in the University of Durham. The accommodation was excellent, and the facilities first class. If there was one criticism, it was of the food: far too good! Less lavish next time, perhaps? Lord Hannay of Chiswick, the new chair of UNA-UK, gave a stirring address. It was good to be reminded about the value, and values, of the UN, and to have a first-class, insider's critique of where it was going. Without UNA, the UN would be weaker. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Sir Richard Jolly, for his stewardship in troubled times. UNA has made progress in seven areas — funding; governance; its public profile; membership and outreach; attracting younger members; engaging NGOs on UN matters; and a new feeling of professionalism, as evinced by New World, UNA-UK's reports, new membership form and website. Sam Daws gave a characteristically modest address. He has done an amazing job in turning round the organisation; the grants secured from the Rowntree Trust and the Ferguson Trust bode well for the future of UNA-UK.. A trip to the spectacular cathedral in Durham to hear Shashi Tharoor was another highlight. The Under-SecretaryGeneral for Communications and Public Information reminded us of the more than 300 international treaties the UN had engineered, thus massively reducing the threats of conflict; of its record with refugees and health; of its record — second to none — in dealing with disasters. The master of anecdote recalled his visit to Washington where he asked an official why the US Administration was being so hostile to the UN. “Was it ignorance, or apathy?” he asked. The response was illuminating: "I don't know, and I don't care!" The conference featured two plenary sessions on UK foreign policy and the environment, and four "policy commissions" on Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights and Institutional Reform, running concurrently. The plan to focus on issues rather than protocol ensured a proper debate. To echo one of Mr Tharoor's anecdotes, it worked in practice, though a French diplomat might have cavilled, and queried as to whether it worked in theory! The motions put forward by London and SE Region on institutional reform of the Security Council and human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay were well-received. So, could anything be improved? From the London and South-East Region's point of view, yes. It is sad that the committee still has no secretary — and partly as a result of this, we – the biggest region — did not table a report of annual activities when almost every region did so. However, a copy of the past year’s The Dispatch was available to all. Also, it was disturbing that many branches, including ours, sent individual members but failed to send representatives with branch voting rights. This demonstrates a certain organisational shortcoming at grassroots level. The message of Durham 2006 is that UNA-UK is alive and well, and, allows for maximum participation by members in framing policy. We hope that branches will continue to send delegates to future conferences, confident that attendance counts — Neville Grant.
Sierra Leone can carve a
AFTER the successful trip to Sierra Leone in December 2005 (The Dispatch, Issue 119) it was felt that another visit would be beneficial for a number of reasons. Primarily, Working Partners was keen to learn that equipment had arrived safely which it had sent to various organisations, such as the Sierra Leone United Nations Student Association (SLUNSA) Skills Training Centre; the Christian Faith Rescue Orphanage; Freetown Cheshire Home; and the Ministry of Health, especially the X-Ray Department of Connaught Hospital.
In December 2005 George Palmer led a relief aid mission to Sierra Leone to deliver vitally needed neo-natal resuscitation units, a mobile X-Ray unit, computers, and wheelchairs. In March he returned to Freetown. The focus this time was on skills building...
Street where Frank Kosia, the Health Ministry’s Chief Radiologist, has a private clinic. At a later date I visit the Connaught Hospital where he is delighted to show me the mobile XRay Unit. The traffic has worsened since my last visit; it takes an hour to travel the few miles between the hoOther aims were to set up an ethical tel and the clinic where Aruna is business arrangement with waiting. We leave to see the SLUNSA; liaise with the Sierra SLUNSA Project via a craft market. Leone United Nations Association (SLUNA); visit senior officials of the The craft market is inside a large police force; learn from various min- two-storey wooden building near the istries rules regarding duty on ship- shoreline in Freetown. Batik, jewelments of humanitarian goods; and lery and carvings, in which we are identify a project for Bexley Branch interested, are on the first floor. To of UNA. It was also vital to maintain any expert of contemporary African contact with SLUNA and its Secre- art this place is the motherboard because the selection is vast. The sight tary-General, Sam Hollist. of an European creates hysteria and th Wednesday, March 15 2006 I am mobbed by women pulling me We depart Heathrow early morning in every direction to buy something. on Bellview Airline. The flight is prac- Unbeknown to them I have a good tically empty. At 40,000ft the views of idea about the price of the batik on the Atlas Mountains and western offer. Their asking price is thrice the Sahara are spectacular. Otherwise figure in my head. In the frenzy it is the flight is uneventful. On arrival impossible to examine the wares or Ibrahim Kanu, liaison officer, guides haggle. I understand their desperame to the helicopter flight to Free- tion. There are no tourists and little in town. Unlike the throng of people the way of sales. The jewellery is arriving for Christmas, all from the predominantly sold by men though I London flight comfortably fit into the doubt they make it – their hands are 40-year-old former Ukrainian Navy just too big! By UK standards the price is reasonable but here it is Mi8. The crew is Ukrainian. overly expensive. If I am a local I The flight to Freetown takes 15 min- would be charged less. utes and I am met by Sgt Abdul Dumbayu. His police vehicle bumps Time to visit the Skills Centre Proits way to Kimbima Hotel. I email ject. Traffic on Kissey Road is grindAruna Turay, SLUNSA youth co- ingly slow and we are mostly at a ordinator, about arrangements for standstill. Refusing the hawkers pedthe next five days. He confirms a dling sweets, drinks, matches, movehicle and driver will be at the hotel bile phone covers, earphones, cloth, at 9.30 am. A refreshing cold shower cigarettes, pocket calculators among is followed by a meal on the hotel others along the queue of stalled cars, becomes second nature. terrace overlooking the sea. Thursday, March 16th 2006
We eventually reach the end of Kissey Road and turn right on to Bai The car arrives on the dot. Fofanuh, Bureh Road. This is a dual carriagethe driver, takes me to Bathurst way that runs west out of Freetown.
The road is named after a warrior who fought against the British in colonial times, He was defeated and banished. I ask myself why Sierra Leoneans had to pay taxes to a colonial power when they were unrepresented in the British Parliament? A few miles on we turn down a dirt track that takes us to Bottom-Oku, a village inhabited by native Sierra Leoneans. Further down the track, by the sea, it is predominantly populated by the Aku, of the Yoruba tribe, who originate from Nigeria. Their migration began after the Second World War when Nigerian soldiers found themselves in this part of Sierra Leone and settled as a fishing community. The civil war has been traumatic for both Aku and native Sierra Leoneans. It is against this background of a community under stress plus idle and frustrated youth that the SLUNSA Project was born. I am finally approaching this little industrious oasis. I cannot miss the building, for outside it there is a huge hoarding announcing ‘Greetings to George Palmer of Bexley UNA and Gill Mackilligin of Working Partners from SLUNSA Project’. It is a heart-warming welcome. After the obligatory photo session, it is down to business. In the weeks before my visit the centre has been working all out. Hundreds of carvings and jewellery items have been collected from the provinces. Artisans were advised to produce contemporary style mahogany pieces and colourful wood beads and clay jewellery. Batik is in the final stages of production. Prices have to be agreed. It is important not to undervalue the goods. They have to profit on this initial sale and gamble on an even better return when the goods are re-sold in the UK. The carvings are brought out first. There
Jeanne Marie-Eayrs and Susan Beresford are community artists in Croydon. They are passionate about the potential of community art as a vehicle towards enhanced community relations and cohesion. So, about a year ago, the Vision Heritage Project—under the ‘One World Week’ umbrella, was visualised. Since then, as a consequence of a unique vision and hard work—an amazing Mural has sprung up in the centre of Croydon. But that’s not all! Some fantastic work has been going on with various community groups—which will culminate in a major exhibition in Croydon, between 21st October and 21st November.
All of these issues are recognised within government and within the arts community. The difficulty is not only around opening up opportunity but also around then encouraging people to make the most of those opportunities and ensuring that the opportunities are relevant to their situation.
One of Croydon’s oldest multi-cultural institutions is One World Week. Croydon UN Association has a longstanding link with One World Week through one of its founding members—Stephen Harrow. Stephen, is currently National Treasurer of One World Week, and has also been an intrinsic part of UNA in Croydon since (dare I say) the 1960s. Stephen has always tried to cultivate a harmonious relationship between the two groups. Croydon UNA is proud to be associated with One World in Croydon—and although did not actively participate in the Vision Heritage Project —would like to thank and congratulate One World in Croydon (especially Susan Beresford and Jeanne-Marie Eayres) for their hard work and perseverance in making this unique project a reality.
Our project is designed to enable the community to get really involved in conserving and enhancing their heritage. It will celebrate the good things about being part of one diverse yet interconnected legacy. By uplifting our surroundings and portraying harmony we are bringing into existence feelings of self worth, friendship and pride. The general public of all ages will benefit from this positive and educational statement of the “ Vision” mural.
Art is an instrument of social change. Art can develop the individual, build groups and improve communication. Art is about communication, creativity and collaboration. Art in public spaces goes a long way to improving our environment.
Our overall aim is to develop the use of art in Croydon as a way of empowering and engaging all of the community in their rich heritage”.
Susan and Jeanne Marie explains their overall vision and basis for the project: “Access to the arts can be seen in a number of different ways. It might be understood as physical access for old or infirm people. There has been significant legislation in the UK over the past ten years to ensure that those less able to cope physically can gain access to venues and opportunities. Access is also taken to mean the inability of people to take advantage of opportunities because of their poverty. Financial exclusion is increasingly recognised as being only part of the problem; often people feel excluded because arts establishments are perceived as middle class and “not for us”. Often young people who want to use their creativity to build a career are discouraged by parents who do not see the value of such an enterprise. At other times access is restricted because arts are too easily understood only in a Western context and don’t make provision for multicultural nature of UK society. Over the past twenty years the number and variety of ethnic arts organisations that have come forward and the breadth of multicultural arts organisations that have emerged, have changed the nature of the UK’s creative scene immeasurably.
Launch of the Mural, Reception at The Town Hall, Croydon. 24th June, 2006. (l-r) Stephen Harrow, Susan Beresford, Jeanne Marie Eayres and Mayor of Croydon, Clr. Janet Marshall. (Photo by Joe DeSuza) With grateful thanks to Wiz Jones for open ing the launch.
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The Mural is in Dingwall Road in Croydon, behind Croydon’s main shopping Centre, The Whitgift Centre—on a wall which stands at over 1,100 sq. ft. The ‘Vision Mural’ has transformed the experience of Crodyon, and captures a vision of that aliveness and vibrancy. Croydon appears to be much like any other town in the south east of England. Tall office blocks, busy shopping centres, smoky industrial estates. Market chain stores, bars and clubs dominate the town centre and the atmosphere is focused on consumerism and nightlife. The town which sustained much damage in the two World Wars, has undergone an impressive redevelopment which is reflected today in the tall office blocks of concrete and glass. But it has a heritage and a history we can trace back to pre-historic times. It was named Croydon by the Saxons in the 8th Century. By the time of the Norman invasion Croydon had a church, a mill and around 365 inhabitants as recorded in the Domesday Book. King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth 1 visited the Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop Lanfranc, in Croydon at his palace, which still stands today. Surrey Street market was granted a Royal Charter by Henry III in 1276 over seven hundred years ago. Croydon carried on down through the ages as a prosperous market town they produced charcoal, tanned leather and brewed beer. Croydon became the terminus of two important commercial links, the first was the horse drawn Surrey Iron Railway opened in 1803 and the second was the Croydon Canal. The canal closed in 1836 and little of it can be seen today. The route of the canal was taken over by the London and Croydon Railway (steam Powered) and opened in 1836. The Vision Mural commemorates Croydon’s rich history and development. From its Early Years, (celebrating, amongst others, John Whitgift, the 73rd Archbishop of Canterbury in 1583) to Industry; Transport; Famous People (who were born or resided in Croydon); Culture and Entertainment; The Airport; The Old Town—and right up to modern day community. Of course, the mural would not be complete without a celebration of Croydon’s rich and diverse cultural identity, as illustrated on the front page. And no grand illustration of Crodyon can be complete without the Sea Cadets, Dot Cotton, the Flower Fairies and Crystal Palace FC The Eagles as well as its oldest pub, The Greyhound— which are represented by individual pieces—separate, but fitting into the community as a whole. The mural is illustrated in the form of a jigsaw—each telling a separate story—but at the same time, each section is interconnected.
Jeanne-Marie and Susan’s ultimate aim was to ensure maximum community involvement—and that communities were empowered to research and develop their own separate, but interlinked projects, and to bring a wider audience through a range of activities— be it music, walks, activities, interaction, research, etc. A total of fifteen different community groups were involved. Each community saw their own ideas evolve and take shape. Medieval Croydon was the first of the series. Forty school children from across the borough made a historic visit to Old Palace (the only medieval remains left in Croydon); Children made shields in an art workshop and put them to use on Tournament day at Lloyd Park in February. Nick Checksfield, from 'History Matters' led the jousting from his 'Bergundian' tent. He demonstrated use of arms, maile making, costumes, knighting ceremony and how to joust! On Easter Monday, Families (shown here in picture) worked together on a mosaic, based on the geological strata of Croydon. It is a fantastic work of art, which is now displayed at the Hilton Hotel in Croydon. A local schoolteacher, Debbie Daintith, who took part with her husband Brendan and grand daughter Amy, commented: ‘It is a source of considerable pride and satisfaction to my family that this one small part of work is ours’ ‘Poets Anonymous’ worked on the transport theme with poems soon to be published. The Immigrant Women’s project was around food in the form of cooking and sharing recipes—demonstrating how food can break down barriers and bring people together. Refugee women sewed a quilt together which will hopefully be displayed at the Home Office. Sea Cadets undertook a project on Morse Code. There were inspirational memories and recollections from Elders in Croydon. Many other communities, including the Croydon Korfball Club took part in various projects. Croydon’s Natural History and Scientific Society will bring the exhibition together. Linking their own artefacts based on the project as well as the work from the communities, the exhibition— entitled Rediscovering Croydon, will be open between Saturday 21st October and continues until 21st November. Falling during One World Week, it will take place at The Architecture Art and Design Centre, 43 Tamworth Road, Croydon. Entry is free, and all are welcome! “It has taken two years and two rejections from application to successful acceptance—proving that no is not forever, it’s just for now” (Jeanne Marie, on the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. They finally succeeded in getting an award of £50,000)
(above) A section of the tapestry by the women refugees (right) Children participating in Medieval Croydon.
“This has been so much fun. Our initial aims were surpassed. The project had a far bigger impact than we could ever have dared anticipate” (Susan Beresford)
and There has been a bit of a lull in activity in Croydon UNA Branch recently, and we want to put an end to it! We are going through a process of revitalisation, and are appealing for people in the community who strongly believe in the UN ideals, as contained in the Charter (in a nutshell—peace, harmony and development in our world via. the UN). We believe that it is we, the peoples who can, through grassroots campaign and activities—help to strengthen and nurture a strong system. Governments must work co-operatively for the good of the world! The AGM of UNA London and SE Region is going to be held at the Town Hall in Croydon on Saturday 4th November. Apart from hearing from our inspirational President, Mr. Tony Colman, and welcoming our new Chair—we will be celebrating One World Week and UN ideals by holding a Multi-faith celebration. These events have always been a success in Croydon, and we will be demonstrating how—through celebrating different faith traditions—it can bring us closer together rather than drive us apart. There will be music, dance, readings and art from a variety of faiths—and fantastic food to boot!
UNA London and SE Region AGM At the beautiful Victorian Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon (next to the ClockTower)
and a Celebration of Faiths PROGRAMME 12.30—1.15. AGM. Regional Business and a roundup of A Year in the Region. 1.15—2.00. Address from the Region’s President, Mr. Tony Colman 2.00—2.15. Susan Beresford on the Vision Heritage Project 2.15—3.00. Break and refreshments. An opportunity to visit the Vision Mural 5 minutes walk away 3.00—5.00. A Celebration of Faiths. Join the ‘party’ ! 5.00– 5.20. We invite visitors to register their interest in getting involved with UNA Croydon and One World week
Please come along—Join UNA—and get involved!
United Nations Travelling Roadshow at the Canterbury Festival
Please remember to send your nominations for the new committee by 7th October. (contact Bruce Robertson – details on back page). Remember, you have to be a member to be nominated so Join UNA now!
Thanks to Amina, who has been the Rawat at the Regional Dispatch Editor for the past 3 years. Amina event in Ealing earlier this We are immensely grateful to her year. for creating some fantastic editions, and for her continued support! We wish her well in Kashmir, and hope Opening Ceremony to have a log of her work there on Welcome Address. Dramatisation of how the UN relates the website soon. to ordinary people. Finger Buffet Reception. Open DisThanks to Matt George, journalist cussion and Networking. and copy editor formerly on The Times for editing this copy of The RSVP to Sheila Kesby on 01227 454080 or e-mail Dispatch. Matt has stuck with us email@example.com and has been tremendously paThis is a 4-day event, and there will be a series of impor- tient— regardless of the uncertainty of whether we could go to print at this time. Thanks for tant workshops on the 3 days following the Opening sticking with us Matt, and thanks for such a well-produced Ceremony. edition! You can also visit the Exhibition on any of these 4 days Dartford and District Branch cordially invite you to a talk by Det. Sgt. J. Milne from the Kent Police, on The Trafficking of Women and Child Please check out the Regional website for further deSlavery in the UK. The talk will be held on Monday October 8th at tails, or contact Sheila Kesby ‘The Large Meeting Room’, Enterprise House, 8 Essex Road, Dartford. (entrance via the car park) (meeting starts at 7.30) All Welcome! Please join us in Canterbury for the Opening Ceremony of the Travelling Exhibition on UN Day on 24th October, between 4.30—9 p.m; or for a Workshop on the following 3 days.
We are immensely grateful to Croydon Branch for being the main sponsor of this edition, and also for the donations from the individual members and Branches —without whose support it would have been impossible to publish at this time.
bright future with a little help are over 300 in varying sizes. I choose more than 100 carvings of the style that my wife Debbie asked for. Aruna and I agree on a fair price. The batik samples are produced – the designs and colours are simply superb. A fair price is negotiated. It is mid-afternoon and it is time to meet Fume Grant-Davis, shipping agent of Freetown Shipping and Supply Services, to arrange the export of the purchased goods. Fume explains the export system; it is simpler than my experience of importing aid items into Sierra Leone. Back to the hotel and a swim before a quiet evening. It was in the pool that the Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone United Nations Association found me! Dr Sam Hollist is a delightful gentleman and scholar and on behalf of SLUNA sends greetings to UNA-UK members. He informs me the Government has reinstated its grant to SLUNA which had been terminated during the war and it had received a sum of Le 8,922,000,240 or $2,974.08. He is keen that his book ‘ECOWAS and the Liberian Crisis’ be given to UNAUK HQ. The hotel runs off a copy at his expense. Friday, March 17th 2006 Today promises to be a busy day. Last night I had a long conversation with Alpha Mohamed Bah, the restaurant and bar Manager at Kimbima Hotel. He tells me about the Mana Tree School in Crabtown, which I hope will be the project for Bexley UNA Branch to focus on. The Hon. Revd. Marie Yansaneh, MP, joins me for breakfast. Alpha, Revd. Marie and I drive to the school on Beach Road. The school is Alpha’s vision. It opened on 12th December, 2005 with a grant from the Manacare Foundation, a UK charity. My short search for a project is over. Crabtown gets its name from crab fishing. The village came into existence during the war when displaced persons occupied some partly finished buildings. Others sprang up. There is no school nearby and the
People skills: One room in the SLUNSA Project building houses the computers donated by Working Partners. These are powered by a small generator. There is no phone line in Bottom-Oku so computer training is functional. Hairdressing is taught by Koroma Aminat. In another room gara art or batik making is taught. Fayiah Lenoh teaches tailoring and dressmaking: about 20 women are engaged in producing children’s clothes on trusty Singers. The students have endured much hardship. Fatmata Conteh, 34, and Annieta Sandy, 29, both single mothers, were peddlers on Kissey Road. Now Fatmata produces batik and is a tailoress. Annietta is proficient in tailoring, weaving and embroidery. Both are self-sufficient. A woman formerly in the sex trade and with three children has learned tailoring and gara art. Fatmata Turay, 20, an orphan, was rescued from the slums by SLUNSA; she is eager to learn a trade. Outside the building Aminata Tarawalie, 30, married with three children and no formal education, is dextrously working a flimsy weaving contraption with her hands and feet. These are a few examples of how the SLUNSA Project has made a big difference. The students pay no fees and food is provided during the day. The principle: The Project is based on the axiom that development of the country depends upon the youth of today. The demography: There is an estimated one million youth in the 15-24 age category. They represent 20 per cent of the population. If their potential is harnessed they represent a formidable workforce. Post-war realities: Responsible parenthood has disintegrated: Aids, malaria and polio have killed many adults and left the upbringing of children almost entirely in the hands of women who lack the time and resources. This is one area of SLUNSA’s focus. Other concerns include caring for the health of young people — if rates of HIV/AIDS rise to the level in neighbouring countries up to one in three young people may be affected; poor nutrition resulting in stunted growth; drug abuse leading to promiscuity; female genital mutilation; childbearing at an early age, suspension of vaccination programmes; and disability as a result of war. The aims: The SLUNSA Project aims to: create awareness of their plight and potential; involve youth in issues affecting them; teach skills so they can earn a living; teach rights and responsibilities; and encourage an interest in the United Nations — now part of the curriculum — by GP. We have made a difference: I met Aruna Turay in April 2004 and encouraged him to make his dream of a Skills Training Centre come true. He and his five siblings, in their teens and twenties, were orphaned in the war. He wanted to transform his family home into a centre to give young people like him and women a chance of a productive life. Almost two years later I was privileged to observe the graduation of the first 15 students in tailoring, embroidery, dressmaking, gara arts and hairdressing. The certificates were designed by Tumain Magila who has supported the centre by upgrading the majority of the donated computers which facilitate running of the IT course. The graduation gowns were made in the United States and personally taken by me for the ceremony. The certificates were given by various people, including the Hon. Revd. Marie Yansaneh, MP. The community was there en masse. The UN was represented by J Victor Angelo, Resident Co-ordinator of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL). On behalf of Kofi Annan, he praised the “fantastic result” achieved by the Centre. We (UNA-UK, Working Partners, SLUNA) have made a difference…We can bask a little in the glory of these graduates and we shall go on together to help the centre achieve more graduates each year. Thank you all. — Margaret Sesay, Project Co-ordinator, Working Partners.
Bexley UNA: this is your project the villagers cannot afford to send children to the nearest school. So the children ended up harassing people along the beaches, especially Lumley Beach. Enter Alpha and his vision for his village. The Mana Tree School building is so flimsy it will not survive an April shower in the UK, let alone the rainy season in Sierra Leone. There is one standpipe for water in the village, which means a queue of 80 kids waiting to wash before going to the school. So class starts late and many kids attend the school on empty stomachs. Alpha and the school committee’s efforts have led to a plot being secured from the government to erect a permanent structure. The cost of site clearance, foundations, provision of water supply/WC’s, furniture and professional fees total Le11,414,000.00 — between £2,000 and £3,000. Bexley UNA is going to try to find the £3,000 required for this building and provide other essential
equipment. UNA members or other readers who wish to help us please make your donation payable to “Mana Tree School Project” and send it to George Palmer.
at Tilbury within three weeks. (At the time of going to press we are still awaiting customs clearance.) I return to my hotel where the receptionist hands me a note: “Francis Munn, Assistant Inspector-General was here to see you. He says he’d like to talk to you on behalf of the Inspector-General.” Aruna rings the contact number and an appointment is made to meet Mr Munn at 10.30am on Monday.
On to the Christian Faith Rescue Orphanage (see box below). We then revisit SLUNSA Project to complete the purchases and arrange transportation to Fume. The batik will not be ready until late on Monday. I am leaving on Tuesday morning so this is cutting it rather fine, but the Saturday, March18th, 2006 work cannot be rushed. It is the weekend and trying to meet Fume tells me the shipment can ministers to see about duty-free imth leave Freetown on 4 April to arrive ports of humanitarian aid is all but impossible. Offices are closed. It is my fault for losing track of days. I have to make an effort on Monday. We go to the offices of Leonard Cheshire International to see Teddy M’bayo, the selfless director who did so much to make Working Partners’ December 2005 aid project a success. His office is shut. We drive to the Freetown Cheshire Home. There is hardly any activity here either. It is time to flop on the beach. Teach the children: for £3,000 the school will have a solid foundation
THE ORDEAL OF THE INNOCENT:
All the 65 children, 40 girls and 25 boys, at the Christian Faith Rescue Orphanage have a shocking tale to tell. Osman Kamara, 14, came to the orphanage in 1996, a year after RUF rebels attacked his village in north Sierra Leone and killed his parents. Animata Kamara, 12, was captured when rebels raided her village; her parents were murdered, she was raped. The Red Cross eventually rescued her. Yeabu Conteh, 8, came to the orphanage after rebels entered Freetown and amputated her parents’ arms. Isatta Bangura, 6, saw her father tortured to death allegedly by ECOMOG Peacekeeping Force after being accused of collaborating with rebels. Alimamy Koroma, 10, calls ECOMOG soldiers “devils” after they shot his father and five relatives “for no good reason”. Martha Koroma, 14, was sent to the orphanage by her cousin after her father died following amputation of his limbs. Her mother and baby sister were burnt to death. Luba Mansaray, 4, was rescued by government forces after her parents were burnt alive; the rebels tortured her by dripping burning plastic on her body.
Sunday, March 19th, 2006 We drive to Lumbley Beach. Sierra Leone is renowned for its sandy coastline. It has been described as
wouldn’t shame the average UK teenager. It will not cost much to provide mattresses, sheets and blankets. A lick of paint would enhance the feel of the dormitories. There is a kitchen and WC facilities. Funds are short. Feeding the children is a struggle. Bedding and linen and educational items are needed. The staff of three pastors, Moses Serry, Baishiru Fofanah and Prince Atuna, and Revd. Marie, the founder, welcome any support.
The orphanage was first established in 1992 as a direct result of the war. It was originally based in Allen Town. In February 1999 the children and staff were forced to flee to Conakry in neighbouring Guinea because of the fighting. The home in Allen Town was razed. Because of the rebel threat in Guinea in 2000 and adverse feelings toward Sierra Leone the orphanage was forced to move to Freetown. Temporary accommodation was found until the present premises were rented. The orphanage provides primary school education; a number of the children go to secondary schools. Vocational training for the older children includes tailoring, gardening, soapmaking, gara arts, carpentry and bakery. The soap and This litany is a microcosm of the scale of the tragedy bread that are produced are sold in the community, nothat befell this country. The orphanage is a two-storey tably to inmates in Freetown prison. building in the New England Ville suburb of Freetown. Send donations in cash and kind, such as bedding, to The top floor is open plan to be divided into dormitories Barbara Browne Universal Church of God, 107-109, when money is found. The children sleep on bare mat- Ormside Street, Peckham, London, SE15 1TF. Tel: tresses. The sick bay is a nicely decorated bedroom that 0207-7358 1866; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Skills Training Centre. More items will be bought for sale in the UK. Sgt Abdul is not scheduled to pick me until 10 am tomorrow. With that prospect and well lubricated on Star Lager, it was altogether too late when I retire for the night. Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
Battered but not beaten: Aruna Turay and the Skills Training Centre offer a lifeline for the youth of Sierra Leone
Memory overload! having the best beaches in West Africa. The Atlantic breakers that roll in every 20 seconds are five foot high. The water is luxuriantly warm and the sand soft and white. I swim and sunbathe and laze like a hippo. Monday, March 20th 2006 Sgt Abdul is on time and we reach the police headquarters early. Francis Munn, Assistant Inspector General, greets us. I introduce Aruna and Rev Marie. We have an informal chat. We meet Brima Acha Kamara, Inspector General of Police. I present him with a Metropolitan Police plaque and a New Scotland Yard paperweight. He comments that his collection of Met Police memorabilia has bourgeoned since December! We return to Mr Munn’s office and he explains about UN Adjustment, Drawdown and Withdrawal (ADW) — the military component of UNAMSIL (United Nations African Mission to Sierra Leone) — and the role of the Sierra Leone Police. UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) contributes towards transport and communications and public order equipment. UNAMSIL is regarded as the biggest and most successful UN mission to date. Working in co-operation with the police it has succeeded in ridding Sierra Leone of weapons on the streets. The police require more equipment; Francis asks if I can ex-
The telephone is jangling. It cannot be 9am I think. It is not my mobile phone alarm...It is the telephone in the room jangling. It is 7 am. I groan and answer it. It is Sylvia, daughter of Sylvia Blyden, Lewisham UNA member and former head of SLUNA. She is flying back with me today. In an agitated voice, she says: “There is only one helicopter today and it leaves the heliport at 8am. Less than an hour to get there.” I ask: “What about the hovercraft?” The attempt to rescue my lie-in is in vain. “Broken down,” comes the reply.
plore the possibility of making any Met surplus available to them. I promise I will make representations. As a police officer I have seen how surplus equipment from European police were well deployed in Bosnia.
A telephone call to Sgt Abdul brings him to the hotel within 30 minutes, enough time to snatch a cup of coffee. My plan to buy a large wood carving from a shop near the hotel is dashed – the shop is closed this We visit the Ministry of Development early in the day. The chopper takes to see Mrs Konah Koroma, but she is off on time from the heliport. in a meeting. I am dropped off at the There is a long wait at Freetown airhotel. At 5pm Fofanuh picks me up port as the flight is not scheduled to to return to the SLUNSA Project. The leave until 3.20pm. I fight off the bagbatik is ready. I dearly hope I will be gage handlers and settle into a seat back here to see this project grow. in the terminal building. I strike up a Driving through Freetown after dark conversation with Sgt Abass of the is a nervy experience. There are few airport police and we chat about the generators and the gas and kero- nature of our work for a couple of sene lamps and candle light cast an hours. When the flight is called Ibraeerie gloom inside the houses on him Kanu, the liaison officer, guides both sides of the road. Farther ahead me through Customs and Immigrait is an inky blackness. A dangerous tion. The flight takes off on time. place for a stranger, I think. Hell of a Along with my luggage I carry back difficult place for police to operate in. loads of fond memories of Sierra Leone and its inspirational people. Back at the hotel by 8pm. Dr Sam Hollist and his team from SLUNA (George Palmer is the chairman of have come by after we left for Bot- Bexley Branch, UNA.) tom-Oku. They had waited for over This is an edited version of George an hour. Sad to miss them. Palmer’s diary of his exhaustive trip. It is time to say goodbye to Aruna Copies of the fuller version and other and Fofanuh. We enjoy a few drinks articles and data can be obtained and a meal. Aruna has acquitted from: himself well. There are many ifs and buts in building up the business. I know Aruna will not let the side down. I intend to resell the goods in Greenwich and at other market stalls. Profits will be recycled to the
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Art of bidding A BABY gets into the act in bidding at the second International Art Auction organised by Blackheath and Greenwich UNA branch in July. Neville Grant, wearing a kurta, chair of the branch and auctioneer, was assisted by Laszlo Kovats. The event hosted
by Jane Grant was held in aid of Unicef’s East African Children's Crisis Appeal: in southern Ethiopia, Somalia and northern Kenya the drought has been catastrophic. Last year’s auction raised £3,000 for UNHCR's work in Chad and West Darfur. The pictures and other artefacts came from a number of generous donors. They varied from high quality reproductions of
great masters to originals by a number of well-known Greenwich artists, and items such as oriental carpets. Although most are trying to de-clutter their walls and homes, there was brisk bidding for some items. The auction, together with a raffle, donations and a £3.00 admission fee (which bought tea, cake, and a catalogue with a lucky number) raised around £1,300.00.
Newest branch recruits MP FANCY the MP for Ealing signing up to join UNA’s latest branch — West London — and at of all places its inaugural Spring Council. Formerly Ealing branch, the reincarnated body with youth at the helm demonstrated its dynamism by focusing on controversial issues affecting the welfare of women in the UK and worldwide. More than 80 people attended the event that kicked off to the beat of drums. Djandark Wali, right, the chair, also took the opportunity to pay tribute to veteran Harold Stern for his support in setting up the branch. Speakers at the event were Unifem’s UK President Juliet Colman, paediatrician Dr Jenny Loudon, development consultant Margaret Sesay, UNA-UK fundraiser Katherine Ronderos, and Nick Thorne, the British Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Speaking via a video link was Baroness Scotland. The event was chaired by Dr Alexandra Xanthaki, lecturer of law at Brunel university and research
assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples. Getting Steve Pound, the MP, who also addressed the meeting, to sign up as a member was a coup! Shows what youth and determination can do. Ealing’s mayor opened and spoke too. The medical, psychological and the social consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); forced mar- New age: youth power riage and “honour” killings; women’s poverty and exclusion; domestic violence; HIV/Aids; the consequences of international trade on women and women’s roles in decision making processes were among the topics discussed. The issues are broad, complex and interlinked; and it is this linkage that is critical for developing countries and for any hope of future international harmony. (Since space is at a premium here go to our www.unalondonandse.org website for a fuller write-up of the event and do contribute to the debate.)
Ambassador Thorne explained the British approach to issues of trade and development. The audience questioned him hard on the implied universality of the benefits of open markets, especially for the least developed countries (LDCs), and whether the G8 had done enough to secure the rights of the LDCs to a protection that the developed countries had enjoyed during their own emergence. The lively, informative and enriching afternoon closed at around 5pm — Linda McCulloch. Additional reporting by Roger Hallam and Neville Grant. Ű The new branch held its AGM recently, electing a fresh committee. And it has doubled its membership to around 70! The growth is in part due to its affiliation with Brunel university. Sarah MacDougal, the secretary of the branch, is also president of UNYSA at Brunel. The branch aims to support the work of George Palmer and Working Partners (see centre pages) to raise funds for Sierra Leone, starting with a multicultural event on 26th October — check region’s website. It also wants to work with Brunel on hosting other forums — LMcC
Ű THANK YOU to Rev D K Havergal Shaw (WL), Miss J Stocks (Putney), Bruce Robertson (EL), Mrs I Ruth (EL), Roger Hallam (Enfield), Dr David Hall (Bexley), Ann Strauss (SW20), David Blaber (Seaford), Keith Hindell (Westminster), K Doughty, Michael Hyland (Richmond), J&D Chitty (Purley), L & M Roberts (Croydon), Linda Leung (Unesco), Amanda Webster (Twickenham), St Albans Branch, and Croydon Branch for helping with the cost of publishing this edition of The Dispatch. Ű LONDON RAILWAY COLLECTIONS: There are three remaining collections this year — Tuesday, 26th September @ Westminster (LU); Friday, 29th October @ Victoria (Mainline); and Friday, 24th November @ St James’s Park (LU). If you are able to spare an hour please contact Bruce Robertson. Ű NOTICES: Now calling for nomination of members to the Executive Committee for 2006/7. Ű UNA “Lobby of Parliament” on 24th October. Ű CONTACTS: UNA L&SE Region Chairperson: Linda McCulloch Tel: 07884-366 360 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Regional Development Officer: Bruce Robertson Tel: 020-7766 3444 Email: email@example.com; UNA L&SE website: www.unalondonandse.org; Editor: Matt K George Email: firstname.lastname@example.org