Spring 2014 Newsletter
Spring is making its way slowly toward the Goldin Institute’s headquarters in Chicago. While seasonal change is in the air locally, systemic social change is underway at our global offices abroad. In this issue of the e-newsletter, we document the important work of our Global Associates. We are pleased to share these success stories from the field highlighting the positive, long-term changes underway, particularly in the Philippines and Colombia.
We invite you to take a look back at the first quarter of 2014 by viewing this short video overview of the newsletter.
The Goldin Institute’s efforts to provide access to clean water in the Philippines have continued to develop through the hard work of our Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin and her team. As part of her ongoing efforts, the team completed the installation of a 20 cubic meter water depository at J Marquez Elementary School located in the armed conflict area near Cotabato City on February 5, 2014. While conservative in size, its impact on the 1,875 students, 50 teachers and immediate community of about 1,000 families is immeasurable.
Working in collaboration with school administrators, the military and community members, Dr. Anayatin deftly leveraged the unique strengths of each group to respond to the water needs of J. Marquez Elementary School. In the planning stages, Dr. Anayatin partnered with the residents and educational officials to cultivate community ownership and promote the water resource as an incentive for students to attend school. Considering the location of J Marquez Elementary School within the armed conflict area in Cotabato City, Dr. Anayatin also engaged in dialogue with all sides of the conflict, including the military, to utilize everyone’s skills and resources. In a symbolic ceremony commemorating the installation, students participated in a water ceremony wherein they were sprinkled with water. Water scarcity has always caused the community to purchase water and use it sparingly. Viewed as a limited and expensive commodity, the students enjoyed the rare experience of using water for play and enjoyment.
Amidst the work to provide access to safe drinking water, a storm surge hit Dr. Anayatin’s home province of Maguindanao on January 18th and 19th. Responding to this local emergency, the Goldin Institute Philippines organized a relief operation known as Alay Pagamamahal, which translates to Love Offering. Within days after the storm, Dr. Anayatin and her team coordinated meal distribution, provided counseling and activities to children, clothing and other supplies for immediate relief. While the team utilized funds from an anonymous Goldin Institute donor, they also worked closely with local parishes, churches, regional government and the military to coordinate the distribution of scarce supplies. Currently, three months later, the team continues to restore what was lost by the powerful storm.
In Colombia, where ongoing civil conflict is a part of life, the Goldin Institute’s Global Associate, Lissette Mateus Roa and her team are working to create a peaceful coexistence between community members by leveraging Colombia’s vast education system. Governmental changes every four years brings with it new educational priorities that public schools often struggle to adopt. Teachers and administrators drop current initiatives and quickly shift focus, resulting in a disjointed educational curriculum. These professional issues are often further complicated by the stress of working in a conflict zone. Struggling to deal with the personal and professional challenges, teachers and administrators often have conflict-laced interactions with each other and students. Observing the weak educational opportunities provided to students and the stark need for child soldier reintegration, Lissette developed a pilot project to help use curriculum and counseling to turn schools into centers for reintegration. The Pedagogy of Care and Reconciliation (PCR) project is currently running in three schools in Colombia in addition to ones in Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic.
The project utilizes the ESPERE methodology which focuses on forgiveness and reconciliation. Teachers participate in a 6-day workshop where 3 days are dedicated to forgiveness and 3 days are dedicated to reconciliation. Following the workshop, teachers engage in dialogue sessions for 6 months; discussing topics such as school rules, priorities in student education, current problems and alternative student punishments. The dialogue portion in particular provides a rare opportunity for teachers to voice their concerns and be heard. As changes are made at the top, the positive effects of peaceful coexistence and alternative solutions are visible at the bottom as evidenced in a recent encounter in the Dominican Republic. An older student in the Dominican Republic was bounced around to several schools; known as a troublemaker, his reputation preceded him, resulting in teachers unwilling to welcome him into their classroom. After getting to a school utilizing the ESPERE methodology, a teacher asked him to repay his past misdeeds by teaching primary school students. Teaching younger students as an alternative to going to the principal’s office brought out his compassion and self-control, which had not surfaced before.
As the ESPERE methodology proves successful in the field sites, Lissette is preparing to extend the school-based training to our partners in Uganda this May, 2014. The team in Gulu is excited to adapt this model to work with former child soldiers and the community as they grapple with forgiveness and reconciliation.
Keep an eye out for more information about this project in the next newsletter.
Also watch the next e-newsletter for the latest news from the Grassroots Leadership Development project. The team is hard at work with our colleague Bliss Browne of Imagine Chicago to develop a course that will inform and inspire grassroots activists in leading community-driven initiatives worldwide.
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