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WSCF Asia-Pacific in 2007:
Evaluation and Reflections

 

Human Rights and Solidarity Programme (HRSP)

HRD Human Rights Defender (HRD) Training

The project has renewed and revived the interest among youth and students for human rights work both in the regional and national levels. The project was also implemented at a time where there is great need for human rights action and response in some countries in the Asia-Pacific regions. Despite the fact that the project has just started, the SCMs have shown tremendous potential in developing human rights programs with and among students and responding to human rights calls for action. From the feedback of Churches and networks we have worked with in this project cycle, there is greater appreciation of the role of the Christian and youth and students in human rights work.

The HRD Training has helped the SCM to learn new skills and ways of responding to human rights issues and effective ways in addressing these issues. Initially, the intention of the Training was to raise the level of awareness on human rights, in the process, the target groups learnt new skills and ways of participation, such as Human Rights education, documentation work on Human Rights violation cases, working on specific cases with families and victims of human rights, developing campaigns and advocacy plans.

The HRD Training has also build commitment of Christian youth and students to peace and justice work. The theological basis of their participation in peace and justice work have also been strengthened by the bible studies, theological reflections and liturgical inputs during the activities.

International Youth Solidarity Mission (IYSM)

The IYSM has allowed SCMs to contribute in specific ways to resolve cases of human rights violation, such as the cases of two abducted students in the Philippines, Sherelyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. The SCM Philippines have followed through these cases together with the families of the abducted. The parents of the abducted students have acknowledged the support and work of the students in sustaining their efforts to surface the students, which is now coming to fruition. This experience has given some level of fulfillment to the students who have participated and campaigned for the release of the adducted, it has also given them renewed hope.

The experience in the project implementation made us realized the need to focus on preventive measures and responding to cases of human rights violation. Although immediate response and action on human rights violations cases are crucial, efforts should be made to prevent human rights violation from happening, through sustained education and training, awareness building on human rights, especially among ordinary people. Alternately, the project can also focus on other areas of human rights, such as economic and cultural rights.

Human Rights Internship Program Evaluation

This year, the WSCF AP regional office initiated an impact evaluation of the HR Internship Program from the period beginning 2002 to 2006 (5 years). Within this period, 12 HR interns were sent by WSCF to various human rights groups within Asia-Pacific for special training and to enhance their commitment to human rights work. Out of the 12 HR interns, 7 interns responded to the evaluation questionnaire sent by the WSCF AP regional office, one from each year. They are: Mr. Pangernunba (2002), Mr. Mak Chung Lai (2003), Mr. Diom Bangjoo (2003), Mr. Paddy Noble(2003), Mr. Anton de Porres (2004), Ms. Azusa Nakamura (2004), Ms. Sayun Chen (2005). The human rights groups that hosted these interns were the Burma Issues in Thailand, Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA) in Hong Kong, Leaders and Organizers of Community Organization in Asia (LOCOA) and Batis Center for Women in the Philippines.

The interns were asked to respond to the following key areas of the evaluation:

  • Basic information and profile of the intern;
  • Country, group, tasks and responsibilities as an intern;
  • Accomplishments as an intern;
  • Usefulness of the internship program;
  • Knowledge and skills gained as an intern;
  • Changes in attitudes towards the human rights issue focused of the internship;
  • Difficulties and problems experienced as an intern;
  • Impact and influence of the internship program in their work today;
  • Recommendations.

All of the interns indicated that the exposure to community situation and realities were the most helpful learning experience for them. Through the internship program they have learned the following:

  • Respect for diversity of people in terms of their ethnic, religious, cultural backgrounds;
  • Understanding the issues and life of the people, especially migrants and indigenous people;
  • The importance of language in the learning process, especially English skills;
  • Learning to analyze the socio, cultural and political basis of the problems;
  • Learning to reflect and articulate these insights to bigger group;
  • Flexibility and adjustment to different culture and ways of working;
  • The internship was an experience of cultural dialogue with other people;
  • Learning from the experiences of the organizations in grassroots movement building;
  • Specific skills such as data gathering, internet-based advocacy work, networking, editing newsletter, organizing;

In terms of their commitment to contribute back to the national SCMs after the internship program, all of them have contributed back to their national movements in different ways, such as: sharing of experience with the younger members through workshop and seminars, wrote articles to share and articulate their experience, they have become the human rights coordinators of their SCMs, created websites, organized exposure program. In terms of the impact of the internship program, all of the seven (7) respondents are currently deeply involved with work on human rights, such as work with migrants issues, homeless people, people affected by conflict and war, poor people and community organizer

The following were the recommendations given by the interns:

  • for interns to respect the diversity of cultures
  • pre-interview process via email for preparation
  • support group or community for interns
  • interns involvement with other local groups
  • interns should be encourage to write articles and reflections
  • networking among former interns and sharing of experiences among former interns to motivate them to be active
  • increase quota and chances of SCMer to join the program
  • improve the orientation process of the context and host country

Leadership Formation Programme

School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF)

There were concerns on the venue of the training program in Sri Lanka, which affected the preparation process when the political and security situation in Sri Lanka worsened in the first and second quarter of 2007. Incident of bombing in civilian areas of the capital town of Colombo increased. The Preparatory Committee of the program planned for an alternative venue by mid-year anticipating a possible withdrawal of plans. This decision brought about uncertainties in the preparations already done by the Local Host Team and by the participants. By mid-June, a thorough consultation was made with the Local Host Team to finalize the venue, with the positive encouragement and guarantee by the local church leaders and marked improvement in the security situation in Sri Lanka, we proceeded as planned.

Another major impact of this situation was a significant increase in the airfare of the participants flying into a considerable high-risk country such as Sri Lanka. At the height of the bombings in 2007, major airlines suspended their flights to Colombo, leaving the participants with few airlines offering very high airfares. In addition, we asked participants to buy travel insurances as an added cost.

Staff transition in our partner organization Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) also affected the preparation process. The staff in-charge to work in partnership with us resigned from her post at the last stage of the program preparation. Although prior information was given to the Preparatory Committee, it nevertheless affected the communication and working relationship of the Preparatory Team.

The following insights were summarized from the evaluation done by the Training participants. Two evaluation sessions were part of the design of training program, mid-term and final evaluation sessions. The mid-term evaluation was designed to gather feedback and allow some changes in the structure and methodology of the program if necessary. The final evaluation session was designed to determine if the objectives of the program were achieved and to gather information to improve the over-all content and design.

The mid-term evaluation allowed the Steering Committee to adjust the design and schedule as seen appropriate to meet the expectation of the participants. Example, a refresher session on Ecumenism was included in the middle of the program, as many of the participants wanted to have a basic understanding of the topic.

Over-all, the SELF Program achieved its goals and objectives, with the participants giving high satisfaction ratings in three areas, knowledge, skills and attitude. The modules and topics were relevant to the needs of the participants and the methodologies were appropriate. The invited resource persons were also highly appreciated, given their expertise and ability to communicate their ideas with young people. A common concern raised by the participants was the lack of time to do self-reflection and study and more free time to attend to personal needs, which was due to the short period of time for the training program.

Regional Women’s Programme

RWP - SCM Timor Leste JWP

There was a recommendation by the participants, of the need for sustainable workshop on gender issue in order to deepen and broaden the awareness of women’s empowerment; building the sustainable cooperation with the church to promote gender justice; sharing information about gender problems through group discussion.

One of the challenges during the training was the age difference of participants where most of the church participants and IDPs were married women and more senior than others which sometimes affects the participation balance of all participants. Although the organizer or facilitator was trying to encourage younger participants to speak but seems the more senior participant were likely to dominate the discussion. The other challenge was the language barrier to explain some gender concepts into the Tetum language.

RWP - SCM Cambodia JWP

This programme no doubt was an eye opening experience for the participants, as they themselves were able to critically analyze the problems they are experiencing in day to day life. Some of the participants reflected that this was a place where they had an opportunity to discuss the realities from the women’s perspectives. They were keen to have more information and input, but the period of the programme was not enough to have discussed many concerns.

This women’s programme was an initiative to promote women’s concerns and women leadership in CSCM, which is quite challenging at this moment. Mobilizing women and women leadership is one of the major concerns/challenges in CSCM. The ratio of women members is much less than the male members. CSCM needs more women to promote women’s concerns and women leadership in the region. The five member women group (which is formed immediately after the programme) would initially make themselves empowered with the communication skills using the resources and opportunities of the CSCM. They would work with other like-minded groups to have deeper understanding on the issues of women in the Cambodian society. With this initiative, CSCM would also develop network with other secular and religious institutions who are working for the same concerns and also this would provide an inclusive space for people from different faith community to work together. These women would start mobilizing more young women in the universities to promote women’s concerns. But the challenge is to sustain the motivated spirit of the women leaders, as the emerging forces and the oppressive values are direct threat to us as women and community of women.

The other challenge in CSCM is it’s a newly affiliated national constituency of WSCF AP, which is yet to ingrain the ethos and conviction of SCM. They need continuous support, inspiration and more women’s programmes/activities to promote gender justice within CSCM and in the society. CSCM has a great opportunity to work together with the people of different faith groups for the common concerns. The participants of this JWP programmes was also a combination of people of different faith. But the programme was not very well planned to focus the issue from the perspectives of different faith. In the future programmes this concern should be given priority.

Women Doing Theology

The above mentioned programs have definitely influenced the individuals in their personal level in order to be more committed and passionate for gender justice in SCMs and in Society, though the process was not easy to make them realize how, gender, race, religion, class, ethnicity, sexual orientations closely interlinked and influenced the life of women and men from gender analysis and feminist perspectives in a very limited period of time. The programmes could have been longer in order to provide more space to reflect on the contents especially when we deal with the issue of women and sexuality.

This women’s programme have created a space especially for the young women to come forward to share and discuss their own stories and struggles as women. Women learned from each other’s experiences, while sharing their struggles, which was quite empowering. In the analysis of sharing of her stories, women found social, cultural, religious constructions which control women’s sexuality—to maintain patriarchy and their power over, and so that women cannot find their ‘self’.

The content of the programmes helped them to be more critical, and radical to challenge the oppressive patriarchal systems, values, the gender roles for women, discrimination based on gender and sex, the androcentric theology, the emerging forces and so on. This inspired them to analyse things from the women’s perspectives. Through this process women developed their confidence and reaffirmed their faith to accept their body, sexuality as women, and their leadership skills. They were confident and motivated to speak and fight for their own space, rights and work more assertively in their SCMs, Church and Community.

In addition to this, the exposure to the social realities have moved them, and helped to relate themselves with people. This also provoked them to confront the challenges they are living with.

At the end of the workshop, the young women were able to define sexuality. The whole workshop transformed them to reaffirm their body and sexuality as they are. This workshop has helped them to construct their sexuality and help them to love themselves as woman.

As they proclaimed by re affirming their sexuality they said – “I love my personality, no matter how it is in people’s eyes”. “I feel free by sharing my/our taboos... I realized a lot of things while sharing our experiences as woman “I am perfect the way I am, and no one else has the right to tell me how I should look like”. “I Love my body and embrace my sexuality the way it is”. “If I can’t fight for others, I can fight for myself–because this is me—myself”.” I want to allow myself to struggle—it’s okay to be struggling to see myself as a sexual being. I want to break my taboos about these things-I want to say this out loud”.

In order to sustain the motivated spirit the young women formed an e-group to continue sharing/exchanging the ideas and commitments and to support each other.