The HRJP has been able to sustain our efforts to raise the level of awareness and prioritize Human Rights concern in the work of the national movements or the SCMs. This can be gleaned through the increase in the number of HR programs that the SCMs have initiated this year 2009, compared to previous years, and the immediate response we get to Human Rights appeals in the region.
Human Rights as a faith imperative is still not taken up by many churches in the region. Many are still of the opinion that it is still too political and secular for the churches to get involved and may put the churches in difficult situations. This observation we have gathered from the participants of our program, and feedback from the national movements in their efforts to encourage local churches to support their HR programs and activities. From the discussions, we observe that there is a strong disconnect between the theological basis and the churches involvement in Human Rights work. This is a need we hope to address in our next Human Rights program.
An evaluation activity was conducted during the HRD Training by the participants. The result of the evaluation was feed‐backed to members of the HRJP Committee during its online meeting for further consideration, planning and follow‐up. The HRJP Training participants has recommended an action plan for the WSCF and the SCMs to consider in their programming and follow‐up work at the regional (Asia-Pacific level) and the national (country level). These recommendations will be taken up in the HRJP Committee Meeting in 2010.
The following is the summary of the content of the evaluation tool collected from all the participants during the HRD Training. The evaluation tool’s content was composed of the following components: rating of each of the session, methodology used in the training, rating of the resource person, rating of the logistics arrangements, rating of the materials used in the training. It also asked question of the most important learning they acquired from the training, what they liked and disliked most in the training, ideas and concept that needs further explanation and suggestion for further improvement.
The session that was highly rated as effective by the participants was the Bible Studies on Human Rights and the input on the context of the Human Rights situation in Asia-Pacific. The Exposure Program and the Small Group Discussion were also highly effective methodologies to learn about the HR concepts. The participants have indicated various learning points in the Training, some of the common topics were in‐depth understanding of Human Rights concept, Christian Faith and Human Rights, Human Rights situation in other countries and effective methods in Human Rights education. They liked the exposure experience, the sharing of stories and situation from countries and the fellowship among them. They disliked communicating their ideas and thoughts in English or the language problem and the limited time given to some sessions in the training. They suggested to extend the time of the future training, to provide translation for participants and to add more practical exercises in the program. Over‐all the participants evaluated the program as very effective and highly recommended to others.
One of the negative experience we have in implementing the project have been related to logistic problems in organizing programs. Example of which is the difficulty in acquiring visa for students participating in the HRD Training Program in Bangladesh. As a Christian organization hosting a ‘religious’ event in a predominantly Muslim country, a careful and longer procedure is observed to apply for a visa, we have not taken this into consideration in the preparations.
School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF)
“Ecumenical movement of course is still relevant in today’s context. Although we know ecumenical movement was from many years ago, it is still the ongoing process for us to build the kingdom of GOD on the earth. In the bible, there were many slaveries that no longer happen in our countries nowadays. But it is not represent that ecumenical movement is not relevant in today’s context. As we study our context carefully, we can still discover many people are oppressed by the government, the capitalist, the landlord, and etcetera. The name “slavery” disappears but many of our neighbors are still living as slavery. We also can reflect a lot from the bible to the reality. For instant, in Amos 5:713, is not a story in the bible, is a reality of our world. Many of our citizens built beautiful houses but will not live in; they planted lush vineyards but they will not drink their wine. This is the reality of our world. Therefore, ecumenical movement is not far from us, is an ongoing process in our lives.” (Ms. Fanny Lam, SCM Hong Kong)
“As SCM’s we have to engage in re‐reading of the Bible. Bible is our Faith statement, through the Bible we can identify the nature of God. But God is a living God & also we have to enhance critical knowledge about our present world situation & also we have to construct new knowledge sharing system. Still we are living in a dominant society, it mean now we are under the recall anti‐rational structure because everything is interrelated. As a third world country, we have to make our own theological concepts, in this way we affirm the diversity of countries.” (Mr. Timothy, Sri Lanka SCM)
“In this view, we can’t judge the ecumenical movement is relevant or irrelevant in today’s context. We just pursue our collective endeavor to make ecumenical movement relevant for current situations.” (Ms. Gayeon Lee, Korea SCM)
The above are excerpts from the essays submitted by the SELF participants after returning to their home countries. The essay project aims to help participants reflect on their learning and experience during the SELF Program.
Two Evaluation sessions were conducted during the SELF Program (mid‐term and final) and a post SELF evaluation was also conducted through essays submitted by the participants after the SELF Program. The following are feedback from the participants at the mid‐term evaluation conducted in Focus Groups Discussions (FGDs). Some participants commented that the program has opened their eyes to different social conditions existing in the world today, they also realized that we have different views and perspectives, and we need to respect our diversity. Many have learned new ways to read and do biblical interpretation and contextual bible study and commented that bible study is powerful tool to challenge the SCMs to involve in social context. Some understood the development of the Ecumenical Movement and realized that Asia-Pacific theologians should create our own theology and identify our own needs. Others derived inspiration from the meaning of “loving our neighbor’ and how to serve our neighbor, others understood the work of the SCMs in the different counties. Many times in the program, participants have engaged in healthy debates and conversations, hence other reflected on staying firm with our beliefs and point of view. Others understood the meaning of ‘SIN’ and ‘SOCIAL SIN’, other also commented on the greatness of God and the frailty of humanity. The participants likewise shared their difficulty with the language, as all of them did not come from English‐speaking countries.
The SELF Program was postponed for 2 weeks due to the strong typhoon that hit the Philippines, where the SELF Program was held. Enormous work had to be done by the staff and local host to re‐arrange the program and logistics arrangement. It also affected the budgetary plan, as all of the airfares had to be re‐booked and some are cancelled, entailing additional fees.
Workshop on Feminist Critical Analysis through Re reading the Bible
Regional Women Doing Theology (WDT) Workshop
This project of the RWP in 2009 has certainly provided opportunity to young women by creating unique space for them. These workshops have challenged, motivated, empowered and transformed the young women. Sharing their stories made them empowered to love themselves, love friends, and love neighbors. This space has made them realized that the Bible can be re-read, which is liberating and their faith conviction has enabled them to accept that women are created in the image of God, and there should not be any violence against women. They have determined to fight for their own rights and fight for the rights of the women who are oppressed and exploited. Some of the delegates shared their feelings that this space is sacred and we develop the courage to share, to listen and learn from each other—that made us feel great and powerful. They were able to do the analysis of their own life stories, and were able to identify the stumbling blocks in the path of liberation and transformation. Re reading Biblical texts using critical feminist hermeneutics helped them to be critical and Rhetorical‐ Emancipatory biblical Paradigm has opened their mindset to read Bible as a subject and affirm self as subject against structure of domination and subordination.
The evaluation process of each women’s programmes happens in 2 levels.
- At the end of the programme there was an Individual written evaluation where each one of them have given feedback of the programme. There was also group dynamics where participants came up with different action plans to initiate the activities in local level according to the context and situation in their countries.
- In the second part this programme will also be reviewed and evaluated by the Regional Women’s Committee—which is a committee of 5 young women representing South Asia, South East Asia, North East Asia and the pacific based on the report by the Regional Women’s Coordinator
The committee is in the process to come up with the guide book of the Women Doing Theology for the women leaders in the national movements. This guide book would help them to continue the follow up work and promote WDT.
The learning experience from this project is very much inspiring, yet challenging. One of the learning process was working with different cultures, languages and nationalities. This certainly helps to be more open which creates space to accept the differences. The most inspiring process was to realise how each one of us are unique and having hidden potentials and creativity to change ourselves and make a difference in our communities. It is important to create space like this for young women who are vulnerable in our society to come forward and empower themselves by enhancing their leadership potential. They will be the agent of change makers as they dream for a better world.