The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign to take its message to the G8 – come with us!
Since its launch in January 2013, the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign has been the biggest coming together of Irish and UK development agencies since Make Poverty History in 2005.
The message has been simple: the world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food.
With the G8 in County Fermanagh just around the corner, you have a unique opportunity to make your voice heard.
Join thousands of people who will be travelling from across Ireland and the UK at a huge outdoor music and solidarity event in Belfast. And you can also show your support by attending a special ecumenical service in Enniskillen.
Caption: top image - a gathering of IF campaigners; bottom left - Chris Lyttle MLA with Trócaire's Jayne Ross; bottom right - Trócaire supporters at Westminster IF rally
Global hunger is the biggest scandal of our time and yet the solution lies in our hands.
If we act together, and pressure our world leaders to act on the four big IFs - aid, land, tax and transparency - then we can make this year the beginning of the end for global hunger.
If we make enough noise G8 leaders will have to act!
THE BIG IF BELFAST, SATURDAY 15 JUNE, 1PM-5PM, BOTANIC GARDENS
The event will include a host of inspiring speakers and artists from across the globe, to include: Ulster Orchestra, Foy Vance, Flash Harry, SOAK, David C Clements, Belfast Community Gospel Choir and actor Richard Dormer of ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘Game of Thrones’
Republic of Ireland: email email@example.com or call 01 629 3333 to register for your free ticket and return travel. There will be coaches from Dublin and Cork travelling to and from Belfast on the day.
ENNISKILLEN ECUMENICAL SERVICE, SUNDAY 16 JUNE, 3PM-4.30PM, ST. MACARTIN’S CHURCH OF IRELAND CATHEDRAL
On the eve of the G8 Summit, the four local Enniskillen churches along with Trócaire, Christian Aid and Tearfund will join together for an ecumenical service to raise awareness of the causes of global hunger and to call on world leaders to act to end hunger worldwide. Speakers include Archbishop of York John Sentamu.
Ana-Maria Barbu has been volunteering with Trócaire for three years. She tells us about what inspires her about the organisation and its work.
Today, watching a slideshow that Trócaire made for their 40th Anniversary, I saw a picture of the Human Rights Summer Camp I was a leader on in 2011.
At that inspirational event I really admired the desire to tap young minds and to listen to what young people think of current issues related to human rights violations, consumerism and climate change.
I also met some wonderful people, other leaders that were involved with Trócaire as volunteers in Dublin.
Caption: Ana-Maria at the Human Rights Summer Camp (bottom left) and manning a Trócaire stand for this year's Lent campaign (right).
In the time since then, we have been part of some really interesting campaigns, we organised a Global Garden Lent Campaign Event in 2012 that highlighted the importance of subsistence farming as a way of returning to a normal life for local communities after the civil war in Northern Uganda.
During the campaign to end illegal house evictions in East Jerusalem we took a couch to the streets of Dublin, to talk to the public about the campaign and how they could lobby politicians to take a stand.
This year’s Lent campaign was very close to my heart. I come from a country where action from civil society was suppressed until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Eastern Block was finally free.
It is so important for individuals to be able to hold their governments to account, to have the freedom to express their opinions and to demand their rights.
The work that Trócaire does in India with local NGOs is invaluable - making people aware of their rights and entitlements. Once they have the information necessary people feel they have a voice, and they can take a stand on issues such as education, equality, health and land rights.
Having a safe space to make yourself heard is one of the cornerstones of democracy and all individuals on our blue planet are entitled to it. Becoming a volunteer always has an altruistic purpose, you want to give back, you want to help others, you want to make a difference. But I feel that by volunteering with Trócaire I’m actually learning a lot – and I have become a better person through the people I have met and I listened to.
A tense silence gripped the room as Judge Jazmin Barrios began to read the verdict. Then, the word people had waited three decades to hear: “guilty”.
Echoing the voices of the victims Judge Barrios said: “For there to be peace in Guatemala, first there must be justice.”
Suddenly, the 1,000 people crammed into the courtroom jumped to their feet and with one voice chanted: “JUSTICIA! JUSTICIA!”
Captions: Top: Maya Ixil women and men, witnesses of the trial, celebrate after listening the sentence given to former Guatemalan de facto President, retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, 86, for crimes committed during his regime, in Guatemala City on May 10, 2013. Bottom: Rios Montt testifies in court. Photos: Elena Hermosa.
I had goosebumps all over my body as I watched people in tears hugging in celebration. Three decades after 1,700 people from the Ixil Mayan community had been victims of genocide, Rios Montt, former military dictator of Guatemala, had been held to account.
On Friday evening, just after 11pm Irish time, Montt was led away to begin his 80 year sentence in prison – 50 years for the genocide and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.
The panel of judges found that the military employed a calculated strategy to destroy the Ixil through assassination, rape, sexual slavery, forced displacement, intentional starvation and severing sacred ties to their land.
Judge Barrios declared Rios Montt guilty, sentencing him to 80 years in prison– 50 years for the genocide and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity. She echoed the voices of the victims when she said “For there to be peace in Guatemala, first there must be justice.” Photos: Elena Hermosa.
To be in the courtroom throughout this historic trial was an incredible, beautiful and at the same time painful experience. Day after day, I saw the brave Ixil people just yards away from Montt as he denied that there had ever been a genocide.
More than 100 witnesses testified during the trial, many using a translator as they recalled their stories in the Ixil language. These horrific stories would be hard to hear in any language.
“I was 12 years old,” said one woman, whose identity was protected by the court. “They took me with the other women and they tied my feet and hands. They put a rag in my mouth ... and they started raping me ... I don’t know how many took turns. ... I lost consciousness ... and the blood kept running. ... Later I couldn’t even stand or urinate.”
The powerful proceedings often wrapped the courtroom in profound silence, only to be broken by the sound of sobbing.
The implications of Friday’s verdict are huge. For Guatemalans, especially the indigenous communities who suffered horrendously throughout the country’s civil war, it means that finally, after 30 years, somebody has been held to account for the slaughter of innocent people.
There are also huge implications internationally. Montt was the first former head of state to be charged with genocide in a domestic court, bringing hope to people in other countries that they too might one day see justice.
Friday evening was the culmination of three decades of work for many people in Guatemala. Trócaire is proud to have played our part through our support for more than ten years to the Centre For Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) and the Justice and Reconciliation Association (AJR). Both of these organisations played a vital role in bringing Montt to justice, having first presented the genocide case to the Public Ministry in 2001.
“This is a verdict that is just,” said Edgar Perez of AJR. “This brings justice for the victims and the survivors, for the people of Guatemala.”
Outside the courtroom, the crowds gathered to celebrate a landmark moment in bringing to a close this painful chapter of Guatemala’s history.
“We are all Ixil” they chanted.
But we cannot turn away now, content that justice has been done. We must continue to walk in solidarity with the survivors, lawyers, judges and experts who have displayed extraordinary courage and exceptional dedication to truth, memory and justice and are still at risk.
Blue skies may be top of an Irish person’s wish list for the summer, but in Ethiopia months of dry heat make it difficult for people to grow food to survive.
The changing climate has led to longer dry spells, with rain falling intermittently, if at all.
For people like Philpos Funto (32), blue skies and dry soil can lead to empty plates and hungry stomachs.
Caption: Philpos Funto (32) shows us some of his crop, Ethiopia. Photos: Tamiru Legesse.
“Many people run out of crops and food in March and April and have to wait until the following harvest season which is in September and October,” he says.
Trócaire funded a project which gave people like Philpos the materials necessary to build water wells. The wells store water all year round, ensuring that farmers are not reliant on rains that often do not materialise.
Not only have the wells secured water for Philpos, his wife, Agnu, and their five children, but it has also allowed the family to grow different types of vegetables, improving their nutritional intake.
“Before this water well was constructed, I was growing vegetables only during the rainy season which is once a year,” he says. “Now, I can grow them two or three times a year using water from this well.”
As well as ensuring the family does not go hungry, the well has helped Philpos to produce enough food to sell at the local market. What he earns at the market is invested into his children’s education.
From a situation of hunger, the family is now looking to the future with hope and positivity.
“A few years ago, it was just a dream for me to be able to sell produce at the market,” he says. “My savings are not large, but I have managed to give my children what they need for their education.”
By Emmet Bergin, Regional Liaison Officer for Southern Africa
Madonna and Malawi were in the news recently when the Malawi Government claimed that the charity the singer heads, Raising Malawi, had exaggerated its work in the country and had not built whole schools, as the charity was said to have implied, but merely added some classrooms to existing Government-built school blocks.
In a country where many children are educated outside, under the shade of trees and often in the blazing sun, all investments in education are necessary and welcome. Sadly the scale of need - 7 million children under the age of 15 - compared to what was built - 12 new primary schools – is massive. Raising Malawi claims that almost 5,000 children will be now be educated in proper school buildings. But what is the future for the millions of other children?
A community that I visited last week in Nkhotakhota, close to the shore of Lake Malawi, has decided not to wait for the Government or an NGO to come to their rescue. Instead, they have built a preschool and an adult literacy centre themselves. Community members gave their own time, money and labour to construct two buildings as a result of discussions they held under the ambit of Trócaire partner project SWAM.
The preschool is a very simple brick and thatched roof structure, but already it is a focal point in the community.
Caption: Children outside the new preschool building.
Innocent Mwale, a volunteer teacher at the preschool, smiled when I told him that in Ireland the maximum limit for preschool is one teacher for every eight children. Innocent will mind an average of 95 children at any one time.
He gets the kids to do the alphabet, recite numbers and understand the clock and calendar when they are fresh in the morning. Afterwards they break for singing and play. Parents join together to provide the maize, salt and sugar that forms the porridge that each child receives, cooked in the school’s basic open air kitchen.
The preschool doesn’t receive a cent from outside sources. It shows in the lack of toys and learning tools that would be used to stimulate a child’s mental development in Ireland.
Yet the pride the community feels in their initiative is palpable. They want their children to be better educated than they are themselves, to have their children primed for learning once they start primary schooling.
Captions: Top left - Innocent Mwale, volunteer teacher at the preschool, Right - Children in the preschool, Bottom left - Community members in 'STAR circle'.
The genesis for all of this work are the ‘STAR circles’ established by Trócaire partner SWAM. STAR stands for ‘Societies Tackling AIDS through Rights’. Community members come together in weekly group “circles” to discuss how to stop the spread of HIV, as well as other issues facing the community, including education, gender inequality and poverty. Preschool and adult literacy are only two of the problems that are being worked on.
Instead of saying 'Rescue Me' to international donors and feeling that 'Nothing Really Matters' this STAR group is told to 'Express Yourself'. They are doing it, not just in words, but in truly sustainable actions that offer a better model for Malawi’s development.