World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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Regional Programme

Internship Reports

Mak Chung Lai (HKSCM) with LOCOA, Philippines; Doim Bang-Joo (KSCF) with Peace Way Foundation, Thailand; and Paddy Noble (SCMA) with DAGA, Hong Kong

In 2003, the WSCF AP sent 3 Human Rights and Peace interns to selected NGOs in the region to provide a venue for the leaders of SCMs to enhance their commitment towards human rights and peace work. The followings are some words from those 3 interns.

LOCOA, Philippines

March to July, 2003
Mak Chung Lai, SCM Hong Kong

LOCOA (Leaders and Organisers of Community Organisation in Asia), the network of community organisation, was established in 1993 and sought to replicate ACPO’s work (Asia Committee for People’s Organization) which was dissolved in the early 1990s. It is an organisation that provides training, exchanges of interns and information of community organising in different Asian countries.

During my internship programme, I learned the basic concept and skills of community organising. They are basically linked with the Theology of Liberation from Latin America and the main methodology came from Saul Alinsky and Paulo Freire. Actually, the community organisers believe in the methodology of action – reflection – action.

In my internship, I participated in field works on understanding the urban poor issues in Metro Manila. I lived in the different communities (Punta, Baseco, etc), attended the meetings and planed the actions with the local leaders. Because of my interest in the issues in Mindanao (southern part of the Philippines), I made a visit there for further exposure. It has different a different set of environment and social problems from Metro Manila. I attended the conference that was related to the peace efforts in Mindanao and lived in the Muslim community to have a better understanding of the Muslim culture and situation.

Although I don’t agree that Metro Manila is a nice place for me (due to the overly serious air pollution, water flooding and traffic congestions etc), it has been an exciting and memorable experience for me during these four months of internship. At last, I want to give my thankfulness to Mr. Na Hyo-woo (the director of LOCOA), the staff of Community Organisers Multiversity and Urban Poor Associates. They all have been very kind to me and patiently teaching me about what is community organising in this period of my internship.

Peace Way Foundation, Thailand

May to September, 2003
Doim Bang-Joo, KSCF

“Let us work so that the next generation does not have to suffer” was the first welcoming message for me that looked like a slogan for Human Rights of the world. But I did not know exactly what the sentence meant in relation to the Burma issues. My first question when I started the internship programme was “what does that mean?” and that is also Hwa Du (root question) for me in understanding Burma issues and on Human Rights.

The Peace Way Foundation was formed in February 2002. It operates as an umbrella organisation, underneath is a project called Burma Issues that has been operating since 1990. Since its formation, the project acts as a private, non-profit organisation devoted to a peaceful resolution to Burma’s struggle for human rights and democratic rule. The Peace Way Foundation is non-partisan and do not advocate, campaign for or represent any leaders, political parties or ideologies as solutions to Burma’s civil strife. The Peace Way Foundation is firmly committed to non-violent forms of peacemaking and conflict transformation.

Before I came here I have never heard about ethnic conflicts in Burma. I just knew Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who is the symbol and heroine of the Burmese Democracy. But after when I have met many ethnic people who live in refugee camps and the activists who are working for their own ethnic Human Rights against SPDC, I changed my focus of Burma issues from the viewpoint of a political democratic system to Grassroots Human Rights in Burma. According to an activist from one ethnic group, she said democracy in Burma means not only political system but also to agree that Burman is one of the ethnics and must be based on Grassroots Human Rights for all ethnics.

This internship programme drew me new meanings as I contemplate on what grassroots movement means for Human Rights in Burma, its importance in relation to the world and how I can understand Human Rights through the grassroots movement. I hope that in future, many SCMers in WSCF AP will have an opportunity to participate in this internship programme. I am sure that when they get a chance to be an intern of this programme, they will have one sentence in their mind when the internship is over, that is: “Let ME work so that the next generation does not have to suffer”.

Documentation for Action Groups in Asia, Hong Kong

March to May 2003
Paddy Noble, Aotearoa/New Zealand SCM

The Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA) is a research institution that focuses on Peace and Justice issues from a grassroots perspective. My time with DAGA has been one that has generated a greater understanding and appreciation for the Asian context in its pluralistic environment. My job for DAGA was mainly focused on research in indigenous models of Peace and Justice as a method of empowering others to rediscover and redefine their own cultural and contextual stories.

My research was based on lived experience from a pacific context looking at Maori methods of Peace and Justice, for example the Kawa of the Marae, as the part of the foundation of our research dossier. I also focused on various Pacific cultural models of Peace and Justice. I was also given the freedom to explore Peace and Justice issues from an indigenous perspective of gender models looking at the social realities and stories of gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgender peoples. Although basic in its research and description the intention of this is to encourage story telling, rediscovery, and redefining our own lives in a more healthier and holistic context.

I am optimistic that DAGA will continue to play an important part of my life as I continue my journey in Asia. More importantly I hope to see DAGA and WSCF more present and represented in the Pacific context of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the diverse cultures of Oceania, South Pacific in the near future. There is a need for more grassroots programmes for community empowerment and I am optimistic that my experiences with DAGA and WSCF will enable Maori, Pakeha, and Pacific Island Peoples to explore their realities. To empower, enrich and solidify our relationships with each other and ourselves as peoples of the Pacific. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.