No Hate Speech Seminar – 20th to 29th October, 2014 in Berlin

While the deadline is over, there may still be places left in this seminar – in the application form it is described as follows:

The aim of this seminar is to bring together a group of 14 active volunteers from Germany and the Balkans, in order to exchange ideas and experiences on the main topic as well as to further educate, train & empower them with methods how to counteract such tendencies in online-media (social networks, blogs, video-messages etc.), without negating the right to free expression. Ultimately, the hope is for participants to create, promote and sustain an online platform where people can map / report / share all possible cases of hate speech and also secure the adequate reaction.

Besides that, the training will also provide the opportunity to exchange views on current developments in Germany and the Balkans and also have some fun together.

You can download the application form with further details and contacts at the end this page of the SCI Germany webpage:

http://www.sci-d.de/cms/index.php?no-hate-speech



Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) in Sri Lanka

Two members of the No More War team had the pleasure of conducting a training of TO in Sri Lanka this August, supported by CCIVS and its Raising Peace campaign (http://raisingpeace2014.wordpress.com/tag/ccivs/). The training aimed at empowering the participants to use TO in their work and other contexts. The participants were purely locals already working with Drama in schools or implementing street drama all over the country. We were able to build on their extensive experience of working with theatre and working with problems in Sri Lanka (in schools, in public spaces, etc.).


3Over the five days we used many theatre methods to work on our bodies, breaking the every-day-routines of our bodies and discussing rituals and masks of people. We also talked about the basics of TO. The participants not only learned the methods through participating in them, in the debriefing after every activity the trainers made the aims and different aspects of the methods clear. Since the participants are already working with Drama they found the activities very useful. Some activities they had already done in the past, but they observed that in this context the explanations were different than what they had learned before, which made them very interesting for their future work.
Some participants were also counsellors, especially in schools, so the facilitators decided to do two sessions on the Aesthetics of the Oppressed. Many participants found this work interesting. With these sessions the discussion of Oppressions left the theoretical level and actually experienced oppressions. These were diverse situations in the private and the public life. Using image theatre the stories were transformed into pictures. Through adding sounds and words they became plays. Three of these plays were used to experience Forum Theatre. Each one of the participants had the chance to be actor and public/ spect-actor during one evening and two also took the chance of becoming a Joker, which means they facilitated one Forum Theatre.


2On the final day the aim was to produce two Invisible Theatres, to be implemented in the afternoon. We went through a similar process as the day before and worked on new stories of Oppression, which were first done in images and then turned into a play. Both groups working on Oppressions reached the same topic, so both groups implemented a scene of sexual harassment on a public bus. They did so with great success.


1In a final evaluation round the participants seemed confident and motivated to implement what they have learned in the future. As the No More War team we wish them great success in implementing TO! We are sure they have the tools, the confidence and the motivation to implement what they have learned and we are looking forward to their stories of Invisible and Forum Theatre, as well as stories of other TO methods being implemented!

Flood relief workcamp in Krupanj – volunteers needed! 13.07.2014 – 26.07.2014

In a devastating natural disaster that occurred in The Balkans in May this year, among other areas municipality Krupanj was extremely damaged and announced state of emergency on 14th of May. Due to heavy rain showers all rivers in this municipality flooded the area and water took everything in front of it. The result was big number of landslides and mudslides, while the 50% off central part of Krupanj municipality was under the water. Housing units, bridges and roads are all damaged. Two people lost their lives while many had to be evacuated.

This workcamp is organized by Volunteers’ Center of Vojvodina and Youth office Krupanj

Work: The type of work that volunteers need to do is physical, mostly concentrated on repairing the damage that was caused by floods. Help is needed in the areas of garbage removal, disinfection, moving the furniture, cleaning, arranging spaces and houses destroyed and damaged by floods, etc.

Accommodation: Volunteers will be accommodated in a local high school facility where access to showers, toilets and kitchen is provided. Mats are provided for sleeping, but volunteers will have to bring their own sleeping bags. Food is provided too, while volunteers will have to prepare their own meals.

Language: English

Qualification: According to nature of work, volunteers need to be physically prepared. If some volunteers have special qualifications and skills that are useful in this kind of situation, they should state it in the application. Working tools will be provided, but if volunteers have some of their own they can bring it. Having your own boots & work gloves would be great, but not obligated!

Location: Krupanj is located in west Serbia, on the right bank of Drina river. The city is a valley settlement and lays in the pit surrounded by Boranje, Jagodnje & Sokolske mountains. Rivers Bogostica, Cadjavica & Krzava flow through the city, merging in the centre and forming another river Likodra. Krupanj is also located 28 km from Loznica, 64 km from Sabac. 64 km from Valjevo and 135 km from Novi Sad.

You can apply here: http://workcamps.info/icamps/camp-details/camp-7779.html

Calculating Social Cost of Travelling

Travelling is an essential part of many people today, me being no exception. Well, that is what I thought.

“Around 10% of the global population account for 80% of total motorized passenger‐kilometres (pkm) with much of the world’s population hardly travelling at all.” IPCC Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Chapter 8, p. 9

While I took the luxury in the past to nearly always take the train or the bus, now I am  working fulltime. Uhm, more difficult – therefore I have been thinking about faster means of transport. For that I felt it would help to understand the impacts better. One way of calculating that is the Social Cost of Carbon related of travelling.

This fits quite well with SCI now running a worldwide campaign on climate justice – “Create a Climate for Peace”.

 


 

Here the calculator:

[CP_CALCULATED_FIELDS id=”7″]

 


 

And here the explanation:

What are these Social Costs

Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) are a way to measure and approximate the impact of travelling related emissions onto society, including environmental impacts backlashing at us.

“When a polluter makes the decision of whether to emit, s/he does not take into account the cost their actions will have on the environment. The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a monetary estimate of the cost imposed upon society by GHG emissions.” Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs – The Social Cost of Carbon,  p. 12

This can be done by expressing all kinds of impacts, especially different greenhouse gases (GHG) caused by travelling expressed as damage-equivalent amount of CO²: The Carbon Dioxide Equivalent.

“The SCC matters because it signals what society should, in theory, be willing to pay now to avoid the future damage caused by incremental carbon emissions.” same as above, p. 2

The United Kingdoms have published a lot of data on this, which we can use to create a basic calculator for social shadow costs. A basic introduction into the relation of social shadow costs and climate change can be found here. Furthermore, the famous Stern review offers an indepth official review regarding nature and impact of climate change. Note that the Stern review is criticised by many as being too pessimistic – I take that as a sign that at least it is not too optimistic and does not try to downplay the effects of climate change too much.

“As noted above, the SCC varies depending on which emissions and concentration trajectory the world is on: the higher the concentration, the higher the SCC, since there will be more damage from climate change.” same as above, p. 4

From the numbers in this report, again by the UK government http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13625-emission-factor-methodology-paper-110905.pdf. a rudimentary cost calculator can be created that takes into account the average passenger load of the different vehicles or in case of cars offers a very basic way to adjust the number of passengers.

Explaining the numbers

The combination of all greenhouse gases emitted is expressed in the equivalent of grams of CO² per kilometer per passenger – gCO²e / km.

For cars, this leads to 204.6 gCO²e / km per car (p. 27). Since the used dataset did not take into account the number of travellers in one car (p. 22), I added a very basic way to adjust by dividing the resulting car emissions total by the indicated number of passengers. The additional weight of passengers cannot be taken into account that way.

Local buses in the UK emit around 147.5 gCO2e per passenger km while long distance buses (coaches) are much more efficient with 30 gCO²e per passenger and km (p. 31).

Trains (p. 35) in the dataset emitted 15.1 gCO²e (international trains, though in this case that only meant the EuroStar from Brussels to London) up to 56.5 gCO²e per passenger and kilometer (the average for trains operating within Great Britain). For the calculator I took the average between the two – 35.8 gCO²e

Airplanes emissions (p. 57) are between 164.8 gCO²e / p * km for short distances and 111.5 gCO²e / p *km for long distance flights of more than about 6-7 hours. For calculations I chose the average of about 133 gCO²e / p *km. Since the impact on the atmosphere is much higher because the emission occurs partly directly in the atmosphere, generally there seems to be agreement of applying an uplift – so I multiply that number with 1.9 (see this DEFRA paper, Methodology Paper for Emission Factors, 2011, p. 59).

Essential now is the actual monetary value used to estimate the costs.

“Uncertainty is an argument for setting a more demanding long-term policy, not less, because of the asymmetry between unexpectedly fortunate outcomes and unexpectedly bad ones.” Stern Review, p. 291

According to the Stern Review, a rise in temperature of about 2° would lead to worst-case costs of about 4% of the gross world product to mitigate the impacts. However, we are already at more than 400 ppm of CO² (http://co2now.org/Current-CO2/CO2-Now/) – a number that brings us closer to exceed 3° and at that we face a possible amount of 9.1% of the gross world product to be needed to mitigate climate change effects (see Stern Review Chapter 13 p. 295).

“It is very likely that globally aggregated figures underestimate the damage costs because they cannot include many non-quantifiableimpacts.” CCPC Climate Change 2007:
Synthesis Report – p. 69

For that reason I assume that choosing the highest estimate of the social costs of carbon is a viable and more realistic choice than choosing the mean. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides recent numbers for the SCC trying to take into account higher-than-expected impacts and estimates the SCC in 2015: ~116$ per tonne CO² ~ 82€

“The SCC increases over time because future emissions are expected to produce larger incremental damages as physical and economic systems become more stressed in response to greater climatic change.”  U.S. Government Technical Support Document: Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis, p. 28

Alright, so I have the costs of a tonne of carbon in Dollar, the CO² equivalent emissions of the travel vehicles in gram per kilometer and passenger and want to get transform that into €, so I divide the grams by 1000 to get the amount in tonnes and then multiply the result by 82€. Done.

My very own Summary

Expressing the damage that travel does to the environment using monetary value does not imply that money can redeem anyone. The damage remains, with some reagents according to estimations for several decades at least until they vanish again. Aviation does impact the livelihood of this planet in negative ways and therefore should be avoided. All sources agree that buses and trains are much better alternatives for traveling than flying. Does this mean we have to change from fast to a bit slower in life? Probably.

Can you “repay” a sunken island, an extinct living form, dead and suffering humans? Is this an ethical issue? Sure yes. Does it mean people who fly are doing something immoral? Who knows… I am not going to say something like that. Moral decisions are up to the individual in my believe – there is no way to take into account individual circumstances. One thing is certain though, travelling is more expensive than usual thought of – and it is necessary to think about it. Is the personal solution to travel less, donate more money and time? Probably all of the above.

Therefore, instead of passing judgement I believe it is more important to inform people and maybe this post can help a bit in that direction. Mankind should not self-destruct  together with our home planet. On the other hand I strongly believe and hope that by gaining understanding (admittedly very fast since climate change does not leave us much time) we can together reach consensus and save this damn planet of ours.

I am not sure what the impact of all this is going to have on SCI. Is travelling less a good option? Can we argue for avoiding planes when we are promoting long distance travels? Is it necessary for us to fly to reach our organisations aims? Regarding our work and aims it can only bring us further to know about social cost of travelling and take them into account. The direct effect of travelling is counterproductive as it damages environment and strains society (and usually those parts of society already under pressure will have to carry an unproportional part of that burden). So we will have to be sure that the indirect effects of our activities outweigh the direct effects – otherwise we are working against our goals. Finding measures for that is going to be difficult but I believe it will be necessary to reflect on this in order to stay to true to our vision of a world of peace.

Lech Wałęsa strikes again. ‘Exclusionary solidarity’: LGBTIAPQ* rights and silencing over Sochi.

Whilst exaggeration of realities and the hypocrisy of individuals and governments has been unhelpful in the condemnation of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law, the Olympic games is playing host to ever–familiar silencing techniques. What is more, they are being deployed in the name of ‘peace, solidarity and dialogue’, contradictory appeals to emotion and cultural compartmentalisation.

Poland’s second president and unionist, Lech Wałęsa writes,

‘[a]thletes, who have been working hard since childhood and making numerous sacrifices to win an Olympic medal, should not be made to bare the brunt of political conflicts.’
Source: http://issuu.com/lotpolishairlines/docs/kaleidoscope_1402_popr/7?e=0

Here a fiction of victimisation is created to persuade readers to empathise with imaginary athletes held hostage by political issues which could not possibly concern them. There are certainly some athletes who have anti-gay opinions or who are indifferent to these issues but pressure will not bow to bigots or the ambivalence of the privileged. The battleground is everywhere. Oppression does not pause for the pole vault.

Besides, who was expecting Lech Wałęsa to fight for gay rights anyway? Despite the insulting fact that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, this is a man who has said, ‘I believe those [gay] people need medical treatment … imagine if all people were like that. We wouldn’t have any descendants.’ Wałęsa’s contribution to the trampling of human rights (his literal gay propaganda) greets passengers of Poland’s LOT Airlines, for the in-flight magazine, Kaleidoscope. Perhaps more fittingly, in 2013 he remarked that ‘they [people who are gay] have to know that they are a minority and adjust to smaller things, and not rise to the greatest heights’. Sense a sinister ulterior motive to his wish to ‘just get on with the games’?

Pussy DogThe standard ‘oh, please keep quiet and respect the athletes’ method of silencing relies on convincing people that there are two worlds; ‘the sports world’ (of good, wholesome [read: straight] ‘fun’ and ‘unity’) and ‘everything else’, including the lives of legally, materially and symbolically less valuable people.

Of course, Wałęsa does not bother to back up his characterisation of ‘[a]thletes, who have been working hard since childhood’. It is a pity-seeking allusion to innocence and determination that homogenises athletes and assumes their (his) heterosexual prioritising of ‘sports before rights’.

What those spouting similar bile to Wałęsa want us to forget is: everything is political. Things are only hidden when you are privileged enough to overlook the rights of some to maintain your personal contentment.

We can call it ‘exclusive solidarity’. Basically, the ship’s full, the drinks are flowing and the voices of people drowning are spoiling the atmosphere. Therefore, to keep the party rocking ‘we’ need to ignore the disruption, trot out some us/them victim cards and tug on the emotions – ‘cause you know, we’re all in this together!

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them [athletes] and leave anything not related to sports out of it’, writes Wałęsa.

This is a false reality. The self-serving division between a ‘sports world’ and a ‘political world’ fails to address the intersectionality of the lives and opinions of LGBTQ* athletes and allies. Evidently Wałęsa does not care for the actual thoughts of athletes; he speaks for them:  ‘They want to represent their countries with pride, break records and stretch the limits of human endurance.’ And that’s it, I guess? If I were to speak for someone, I would say that Wałęsa aims to stretch the limits of human ignorance, marginalising the lives of millions of Russians in the process.

Former NBA player, turned psychologist and broadcaster, John Amaechi says,

‘I’m so tired of the Olympics being able to hide behind this ‘we are not political’ banner at the same time as being intensely political, within their internal politics or the way they manoeuvre within politics’,
as quoted in The Guardian (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/feb/05/john-amaechi-sochi-winter-olympics).

Meanwhile Wałęsa, who remains a prominent public figure, is just one example of those working to shutdown the conversation as his remarks typify the bulk of those attempting to minimise LGBTQ* issues, because hey, sport makes ‘me’ feel globally connected. As an argument it probably sounds quite appealing, unless you have more compassion for the lives of ‘others’ than you do for an illusion that the world is a finished project. What is more is that, whilst Lech Wałęsa is notorious in Poland, and beyond, for such remarks, the wider concern is the brevity of this easily digestible logic; how thoroughly infectious it is to claim that people pushing a gay rights agenda ought to shut up because sports are more important. Indeed, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has been playing the same card, stating that the Olympics are not the place for ‘proactive political or religious demonstration’. Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/olympic-committee-threatens-punish-athletes-who-fight-gay-russians120813

The childhoods’ of LGBTQ* youth, and all lives compromised by cultures of heteronormativity, simply do not factor into the distractionary, undermining rhetoric being played out on a global scale. Why would they? Nationalism + sport = protests-on-hold, right? 

The heterospectacle must be reinforced, is the message, or else ‘they’ will ruin ‘our’ games. The term ‘heterospectacle’ refers to the centering as well as aggrandising of heterosexuality via media and culture more broadly, of which the Olympics Games is used as a powerful vehicle for those who wish to silence ‘others’. 

Instead, how about people whose biggest worry is that they keep hearing about gay rights issues at Sochi let people get on with it. I mean, if resistance is bothersome, attack the roots – oppression. Otherwise all you are saying is, ‘this is more important than your lives’. And people have been hearing that all their lives.

Perhaps it is they, Wałęsa et al, who should ‘keep out of it’.

-Steven Clarity

Report on the Study Session “reACTING to extreme right hate speech online”

 “The study session “reACTING to extreme right hate speech online” took place in Budapest from the 2nd to the 9th of February. It was an initiative of the No More War Team, paired up with the No Hate Speech Movement of the Council of Europe.

Its main objective was to reflect on what hate speech entails, how it relates with freedom of speech, how we can deconstruct it and stand up against it, both online and offline.

As an EVS volunteer at the offices of SCI Greece, I will be involved in the 2014 project Budapest Study Session 2014Citizens Beyond Walls, which will raise awareness on the rise of extreme right groups across Europe and canvass how these movements act and the threats they pose. My attendance to this study session was; then; aimed at gaining new knowledge about the topic, especially when so many countries and organizations would be represented, to then share it with my team and shape our concretion of the project.

There were some intense debates about the various national realities of extreme right groups and parties, and which communities do they target the most and label as the major sources of economical and social problems in each country. Racist and xenophobic movements are probably the most common (often targeting the Roma, Jewish and Muslim communities, for example) but hate propaganda against LGBT rights, gender equality and African/Asian immigrants were also found to be prevalent among many countries. We analyzed a lot of hate messages, trying to break each down to pieces, so the response can be more effective. We discussed what sort of actions would be the most appropriate for each case and which have low effectiveness, like embarking on one-to-one argumentation with hate promoters.

I can say that it was very inspirational being around people who take active steps towards a culture of peace; I learnt how to adopt a more analytic approach to these speeches and groups and also understand better what underlies them. It was definitely a call for action, and one I shall run in my EVS in Athens.”

Tiago Filipe Vivo Bento Lila

“The study session “reACTING to extreme right hate speech online” took place in Budapest from the 2nd to the 9th of February. It was an initiative of the No More War Team, paired up with the No Hate Speech Movement of the Council of Europe.

Its main objective was to reflect on what hate speech entails, how it relates with freedom of speech, how we can deconstruct it and stand up against it, both online and offline.

As an EVS volunteer at the offices of SCI Greece, I will be involved in the 2014 project Citizens Beyond Walls, which will raise awareness on the rise of extreme right groups across Europe and canvass how these movements act and the threats they pose. My attendance to this study session was; then; aimed at gaining new knowledge about the topic, especially when so many countries and organizations would be represented, to then share it with my team and shape our concretion of the project.

There were some intense debates about the various national realities of extreme right groups and parties, and which communities do they target the most and label as the major sources of economical and social problems in each country. Racist and xenophobic movements are probably the most common (often targeting the Roma, Jewish and Muslim communities, for example) but hate propaganda against LGBT rights, gender equality and African/Asian immigrants were also found to be prevalent among many countries. We analyzed a lot of hate messages, trying to break each down to pieces, so the response can be more effective. We discussed what sort of actions would be the most appropriate for each case and which have low effectiveness, like embarking on one-to-one argumentation with hate promoters.

I can say that it was very inspirational being around people who take active steps towards a culture of peace; I learnt how to adopt a more analytic approach to these speeches and groups and also understand better what underlies them. It was definitely a call for action, and one I shall run in my EVS in Athens.”

Tiago Filipe Vivo Bento Lila

Peace Caravan 2012 – The Final Report

Here you can finally find the report of the Peace Caravan 2012:

Peace Caravan Report

The Peace Caravan took a lot of hours and energy, but it was worth every step of the way and we are very content with the outcome and look forward to future projects hopefully with the partners, supporters and volunteers involved in the Peace Caravan. Without the contributions of these people the Caravan would not have been possible!

We thank especially Sylvie Gosme for the fantastic coordination of the PC in many months of the preparation, which later Matteo Testino from the team took over. Also we thank the office of SCI Germany which gave John Myers from the team the space and support to apply for the funding of the PC and coordinate a great part of the project from there.

We thank the interns hosted by SCI Germany who supported with logistics – Andrea Haas, Rebecca Grübel and Marina Orlova. We also thank all branches and partners of SCI mentioned in the route for their excellent hosting of the volunteers. Also we wish to thank Eeva Lindstrom and Lulzim Bucolli for each stepping in as trainers in trainings.

And finally we thank all 27 volunteers for travelling with the PC and spreading the message of the NMW team, which became their own message as well – being creative, organized, motivating and working together as teams. Two of these volunteers also thankfully wrote this report together with Valerie Weidinger and Matteo Testino from the team – thank you Tomasz Pyszko and Amanda Ní Ghabhann.


Training for Route 1
Route 1 on rails
Peace discussions of Orthodox and Catholic priest
Step by step the banner is created by volunteers and locals.
Peace Caravan in Kuterevo, Croatia
Peace Caravan participants holding the banner in Novi Sad
Karavan Mira - The last day of route 1 - Sunny Novi Sad
The volunteers of route 2
Workshop with children in Novi Sad
Volunteers of Route 2 collect signatures
Route 2 visits Plementina where coal plants pollute the more high above EU health limits
The Peace Caravan reached the Alps
Route 2 enjoys Austria
Route 3 volunteers help at workcamp
Route 3 in Hungary
Route 3 Invitation at the One World Festival in Great Britain
Route 3 in Antwerp
Route 3 collects signatures for the Peace Manifesto
The Peace Caravan Route 4 people meet John
Route 4 visits a workcamp in Germany
Peace Caravan in Cologne
Route 4 participants talk with refugees in Rome
Peace Caravan Route 4 embarked to Barcelona
Route 4 in Girona
Route 4 and Peace Caravan have a blast at the end in Barcelona

 

 

 

 

 

Call for Participants: Studysession reACTING to extreme right hate speech online

Dear friends,

SCI and the No More War Team in cooperation with the European Youth Foundation are excited to introduce the study-session“reACTING to extreme right hate speech online”.

We see online hate speech as one of the global issues that are threatening a culture of peace and non-violence and consider it an important aim in our long-term plan to find non-violent ways to answer and deconstruct online hate speech. Participants will be encouraged to discuss the issue of the rise of extreme right wing movements, share knowledge and skills to analyse their discourse and deconstruct it, as well as getting to know the advantages, possibilities, risks and challenges of online communication and safety online. We will then promote the messages and tools that we develop together on a national level and support participants sending organisations in finding a place in the campaign on hate speech run by the Council of Europe.

The study session will take place at the European Youth Centre in Budapest from 02/02/2014 to 09/02/2014.  The deadline for applications is the 29th of November 2013, 23.59 pm.

If you would like more information about the Study Session “reACTING to extreme right hate speech online”, please click on the link below which also includes the application form. To apply please fill in the application form and send it to: studysession@no-more-war.net

Call and application form: https://db.tt/pfr54ptn

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

All the best,

The Study Session Prep Team

Valerie Weidinger
Steffi Koch
Milosh Ristovski
Jenny Kuhn
Ela Suleymangil

Call for Participants: Capacity building for work in and with conflict regions

Thanks to a joint cooperation of SCI Germany, SCI Italy, UTILAPU Hungary and VCZ Croatia you can now apply for a seminar which definitly sounds like you should take a look at:

Who:Due to the funding, you can only apply if you are living in a member country of the Council of Europe

What: Capacity building for work in and with conflict regions

When: 20 – 27th January, 2014

Where: Germany, in Barnsdorf (near Bremen)

Reimbursement: All costs of the programme (including food, accommodation, internal travel) will be covered by the organisers and 66% (airplane), 75% (other than airplane) of international travel costs will be reimbursed. Registration fee of the seminar is 50 Euros.

How: Send the filled in “Call for participants_ Capacity building for work in and with conflict regions” to your sending organisation, which has to forward it to incoming@sci-d.de (details in the call for participants).

Applications deadline: Before the 22nd of November 2013

Description:
International seminar about capacity building of volunteers working in conflict areas will be taking place from 20.1.2014. – 27.1.2014. in Bremen, Germany.

It is the main part of a joint project “Volunteering for peace – Capacity building for work in and with conflict regions”of SCI Germany, SCI Italy and SCI Hungary (UTILAPU), funded by Council of Europe.

The project will bring together 25 volunteers from the SCI international network with 2 experienced trainers from Italy and Croatia, to work together on the themes of psychology of war, conflict resolution, skills of mediation, nonviolent communication and facilitation skills for work in this area. It will also try to address participants needs stemming from experience as volunteers in confict regions.

The project is in line with previous SCI peace building activities such as the work of “No more war” group.
The additional value of the project is including practical issues of working with people from conflict areas – what helps, what can we as volunteers do, what are the limits of responsibility we have as helpers, how to prevent burn out syndrome of helpers.

As a result there will be a training manual for working with volunteers working in/going to conflict areas produced, and we expect participants to further this work upon returning to their home countries.

Amman Marathon

Today three members of the Pathfinder Mission joined the Marathon of Amman: Stoycho as participant, Lulu and Katerina as proud supporters. The marathon is organized for a 3rd year in a row by Run Jordan. The event is created as a fundraising campaign and involves a great deal of members, partners and sponsors who donate money for every participant who signs in the marathon (15 Jordanian dinars which is nearly 15 euro per participant).

The marathon this year is dedicated to Syrian refugees.  We could see volunteers from different organizations carrying the slogan: “Refugees are our guests, their dignity is our dignity.” A quarter of Syrian refugees in Jordan live in Zaatari Camp in Mafraq while the rest are scattered in host communities.

SONY DSC

The event was organized in three parts -at 6 am you have the real marathon starting. Then at 8.30 am begins the “fun track” that is 10 kilometers long and the people usually walk it. Then at 9 am begins the children marathon which is 4.2 kilometers long.

We joined the Fun Run which was the most attended of all the three. According to volunteers in the registration offices there were more than 5000 participants, registered for the Fun Run. The weather was quite good for such an event – neither too hot, neither too cold. All the people were in great mood, there were families, classmates, friends, couples, entire sports teams, people with physical disabilities etc. The diversity of this group, brought together by the good cause was truly amazing and inspiring.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

What left even better impression is the organization of the event, which was completely flawless. At every 1-2 kilometers there were the so called water stations, where a number of volunteers was distributing water to the participants. In the same intervals you can also find medical tents, provided with emergency kits. During the entire track of the marathon there were people on motorcycles ready in case that some of the participants get injured or tired. There were more than 300 volunteers supporting the event.

The better part of the marathon however started after it’s end – all the participants have the opportunity to gather inside the Roman Amphitheater in the center of Amman. There was a musical program prepared, so that people could take their breath after the end of the track.

In short the Amman marathon was a great event that allowed friends and families to share unforgettable emotions for the cause of making the refugees’ life better. Syrians and Jordanians running side by side was a clear message that solidarity is a possible point of view towards the misfortunes of this humanitarian crisis.

4 October
Amman, Jordan

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