June 29, 2010. Mario Frangoulis, Ambassador for WCCCI was interviewed a year after the Vancouver Peace Summit about the progress of the organization which included the launch of Not in The News Net.
Click on the following link to see the interview: Dalai Lama Center
Rome, Italy. World Centers of Compassion for Children International (WCCCI) together with the Vodafone Foundation are launching “Not In The News Net” today, Monday 4th May, 2010.
Not In The News Net overcomes the rigid hierarchy of media coverage by creating a new vehicle where young people around the world have an opportunity to tell their story. NTNN will provide online reports from the youth who live in conflict situations, are threatened by poverty, diseases, discrimination, human rights violations, and are subjected to extreme circumstances beyond their control. NTNN will also cover positive stories on how young people are involved in greater humanitarian movements- in their universities, in the workplaces, and in society.
At the launch of NTNN will be Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate and Founder of WCCCI. One of her missions has been to find ways to encourage the youth of the world to speak out and have their voices heard. Having created the Universal Declaration of Rights for Children, NTNN will maintain the ongoing focus on providing international coverage on stories that still affect the youth in the world today.
Note: NTNN is being launched in Italian but will soon be available in a number of different languages.
Mario Frangoulis, Ambassador for WCCCI is currently touring the US raising awareness for the organizations Give Us Your Poor and the Greek Institute.
Starting the tour in Chicago on April 18th, Mario was accompanied by up-and-coming French-Greek singer George Perris, who recently opened in Paris and Belgium for Lara Fabian’s European tour. Also at the concert was Betty Williams who had just finished taking part in the Great Lakes PeaceJam held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At the concert Mario spoke about the importance of protecting the world’s children and dedicated his performance to Betty and her daughter Deborah who celebrated her birthday the same day.
Mario’s tour continues with four more concerts:
- New York City on April 30th and May 1st
- Boston on May 7th
- Baltimore on May 15th
For further information, please check out the official website Frangoulis2010
Find out why Betty Williams is so excited. Check out her Blog for the answers.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama was visiting Florida Atlantic University (FAU) during their week long Peace Studies Program. His talk was aimed at explaining how Compassion can be a pillar in understanding World Peace.
When we last met His Holiness in Vancouver he had stated to Betty Williams that he wanted to visit our City of Peace for Children in Basilicata, Italy.
Attending the event from WCCCI were Maria Sachs (Board Member of La Citta’ Della Pace Foundation and close friend of Betty Williams) and Bobby Kalsi (Director for WCCCI and VP Operations Lead and Communications Lead for WCCC-US).
Maria and Bobby were able to meet with His Holiness and presented him with the invitation. Photos from the meeting can be found under the photo gallery of the website.
We now await a mutually agreeable date for His Holiness to visit.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Betty was asked to write a piece for a book being published by Pages for Peace. Her article is available to view under Betty Blogs.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative and the Women’s League of Burma will be convening in New York City to hold an international tribunal which will be a women-directed and women-centered court of justice listening to the testimony from several women of Burma who will share their personal stories of surviving human rights violations and crimes under military rule in Burma.
The 12 women will talk about how they suffered rape, torture and other crimes at the hands of the military junta. The stories they share will represent thousands of other untold stories from across Burma. Stories of fear, anguish, resistance, escape, perseverance and hope for change.
The high-level panel of judges will include Dr. Heisoo Shin, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, and Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams who will offer up key policy recommendations, based on the testimony, and call on the international community to act on the human emergency in Burma.
Day 1 Testimony:
They raped us all without a second thought, until we finally escaped their drunken grasps. News spread quickly throughout my village. We received international attention when the BBC picked up the story. I had become a headline. The shame I brought to my family, my school, my village was so difficult to bear. I wanted to forget but no one would let me. I was caned by my teacher in front of the entire school before being expelled. Later, I was also expelled from my community for bringing shame upon it. Left without a home, a school, friends or a family, I was arrested by the police for “defaming” the same soldiers that raped me.
Day 2 Testimony:
I was arrested in 1989 because of my membership in Generation 88. I was 5 months pregnant when I was imprisoned, and gave birth behind the prison walls. I was given no medical care before or during the birth of my son and because of the complications, I could not have any more children. When my son was 6 months old unrest in the prison was reaching critical levels. I feared for his safety and so I gave him to his aunty and uncle. When I was first detained, they would not give me any food for 12 days. I now have liver disease from the dirty water we were forced to drink, which gave us all diarrhea. Throughout my time in the prison, I was beaten regularly, for failing to complete various tasks. I remember receiving a beating for failing to catch 25 flies. One day, an agent of a human rights organization came to inspect the prison. The prison officials hid me along with all of the other political prisoners.
Day 3 Testimony:
After fleeing our village, my family and I lived in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. For 10 years we were continuously forced to leave our new homes in the face of repeated attacks by the Burmese military. They would move east, setting up posts atop a mountain to oversee the region. From here they would watch and wait until suddenly they would appear in a village, killing the villagers and burning their homes, animals and land. This was a life-long struggle for my parents, who knew all-to-well what it was like to set up a new home and life for their family, only to be relocated once again. We left Burma for the last time in my father’s boat at midnight on my ninth birthday. My sister almost died on the journey. But now we are safe and I feel so blessed to have escaped the tragedies that befell so many of my neighbors and friends in Burma.
For more information:
To find out more information follow the proceedings by visiting the Nobel Women’s Initiative website.
A couple of weeks ago we made a request from one of our partners, Free The Children, to see if anyone could help with collecting supplies for Haiti and their schools.
We would like to thank all of those who answered our call to action, especially the parishioners at St. Philip Greek Orthodox church in Nashua, New Hampshire, who pulled together and gave more than expected.
Leading the charge was an amazing and beautiful human being, our dear friend Raina Papadopoulos Metivier. Raina was instrumental in making the plea and we are forever grateful to her and the parishioners for their kindness.
Six weeks after the devastating earthquake Haiti is still struggling to help all those who have been displaced. Reports from Free The Children talk about people still sleeping in hospital grounds with nowhere to go and the incredible compassion of women who are taking in a number of orphaned children in an attempt to give them hope for the future.
Although it may not be frontline news we hope and pray the world does not change-channels and move on. The pain and struggle of the Haitians is still being felt every second of every day by those who no longer dream but live in fear, worrying about how they will make it through another day.
If you would still like to help, please get in touch with either WCCCI or Free The Children.
While other international efforts have failed to resolve conflict in long-troubled Sudan, a special African Union commission is poised for a breakthrough.
By Wangari Maathai / January 26, 2010
For years, we have been hearing African leaders calling for “African solutions to African problems.” And for many more years, we have been waiting to see our leaders rise to the occasion and demonstrate strong leadership to resolve the many conflicts that plague our continent.
Today, we are starting to see results. African leaders recently took their boldest steps yet to confront one of the most persistent and deadly conflicts: Sudan.
Sudan: a history of conflict
Sudan’s postindependence history is marked by internal conflict, including the long civil war between north and south, conflict in eastern Sudan, and more recently, violence in Darfur. Despite widespread protests and condemnation, the world community has been unable to prevent the deaths of more than 300,000, the displacement of 2.5 million, and untold sexual violence against Darfurians in the past several years.
Meanwhile, violence in south Sudan is intensifying, with several thousand dead and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes in 2009. This situation shows that Sudan’s problems are national, rather than isolated, regional conflicts.
While other international efforts have failed to resolve conflict there, the African Union is poised for a breakthrough.
Last year, it commissioned the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD). The result was a special report released in October that provides a road map for achieving a political resolution to not only conflict in Darfur, but also to the historically recognized root causes of conflict in Sudan, including in south Sudan.
The panel was commissioned just prior to the official indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The panel was led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was a chief architect of dismantling the apartheid regime in his own country. It also included former African heads of state, ministers, and prominent Sudan specialists.
An unprecedented process
Unprecedented in any previous attempt to address conflict in Sudan, Mr. Mbeki and his team carried out four trips to Sudan within six months. They did not limit their interactions to diplomats. They met with people from across the country, listening to voices that had previously been shut out.
This inclusive and consultative process means that the recommendations of the Sudanese people themselves formed the basis for the Mbeki report. Previous inquiries and mediators failed to achieve this crucial level of credibility with the Sudanese.
Contrary to what some critics expected, the panel did not set out to help President Bashir find a way out of the ICC indictment. Instead, it stressed the importance of justice and reconciliation in Darfur, and proposed a combination of mechanisms to repair the damaged relations between Darfurians and the central government. Suggestions include a hybrid court to address gross impunity and implicit support for the ICC to try “last resort” cases.
Further, the report emphasizes the need to combat impunity for crimes of sexual violence. It recognizes the shortcomings of prosecuting such crimes and the critical importance of addressing these limitations, not only for successfully combating impunity, but for building the confidence of the thousands of Darfurian victims of sexual violence.
This is yet another milestone in the report.
Women: vital to peace talks
Crucially, the panel understood that a sustainable peace and authentic justice cannot be built on the backs of men alone; women must be equal partners in the process. Its recommendations highlight the need for Sudanese women to be at the forefront of all conflict-resolution processes, in Darfur and across Sudan.
All too often, women are excluded from formal peace negotiations. The historic Security Council Resolution 1325 mandates women’s full participation in conflict resolution, but their appointment to the process can slide into mere tokenism. Research and experience demonstrates that women’s involvement at the peace table leads to broader inclusion of issues aside from security and power, and that women are able to build bridges between disparate groups.
The Mbeki report is right on track in recognizing the value of women in building peace. In fact, to ensure that women are empowered as real peace partners, the panel is pushing for women to make up at least 30 percent of teams in the ongoing negotiations in Qatar.
Mbeki and his esteemed colleagues deserve recognition for their tremendous leadership and innovation. Their report is a genuine attempt at African solutions for the Darfur problem in particular and conflict within Sudan more broadly. The report reiterates that the conflict in Darfur cannot be resolved in isolation and that the root causes remain the same for what could potentially destabilize the east and south of Sudan again.
A time to act
African leaders are now gathering at the African Union summit that got under way yesterday in Ethiopia. They will usher in 2010 as the year for “peace and security” in Africa. African leaders must seize this moment to put pressure on the government of Sudan to embrace the Mbeki report – and work in partnership with the African Union and the Sudanese people to push the recommendations forward. The timing is even more critical, because Darfur negotiations are set to resume this week in Qatar.
I appeal to Africa’s leaders to continue their support for the Mbeki report recommendations and provide the moral and financial support to the high level panel to make the recommendations a reality for the people of Sudan.
Additionally, I call on Sudan’s international peace and development partners, including the United States and the European Union, to support and complement the work of Mbeki and his colleagues to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach. The people of Sudan are counting on them.
Distance had become on obsolete word over the past 12 days. 753 miles may have separated those who were asked to reevaluate their faith and those who lifted their voices to God asking him to help the helpless. And today, as you looked into the eyes of the congregation, behind their smiles and welcoming gestures you still sensed the silence that can only be experienced through great loss. A loss that was not far away, but here in the hearts of those who wept for their people and their country.
Today’s sermons saw some new faces in the pews. Led by Representative Maria Sachs, a small group of community leaders like Ronald Hirschel, Bill Weg, and Sandra Devoe came to the churches to spread a simple message; it was to tell the Haitian community not to give up hope.
WCCCI is honored and privileged to have known Maria Sachs (www.mariasachs.com) for a number of years. As a close personal friend to Betty Williams, Maria has provided invaluable advice on a number of issues fueled by her passion to make a positive change in the lives of people on a local, national and international level.
An international lawyer and humanitarian, Maria has championed a number of noble causes, and today was no exception. Although West Palm Beach was not her elected district, the earthquake in Haiti moved her to act on behalf of all Haitians in Florida.
As she spoke to the congregation, Maria gave hope by telling everyone that she had secured the use of seats and cargo space on JetBlue flights from Fort Lauderdale to the Dominican Republic. Asking for professional help, Maria requested that doctors, nurses and engineers get in touch with her office so that they could use the seats on these flights. As for cargo space, the congregation could gather urgently needed supplies and send them to those affected by the earthquake.
Also, due to the emotionally stress, Haitians in Florida were allowed to fast-track their applications for US citizenship. Understanding that there is a small window of opportunity, Maria has enlisted the help of 3 lawyers who will help with applications and are at the disposal of Haitian community.
Other organizations helping to provide services to those who have been impacted by the recent tragedy include:
St. Thomas University Human Rights Institute
American Red Cross, Greater Palm Beach Area
Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Lake Worth Resource Center
United Way of Palm Beach County
Food for the Poor
When it came time to leave each of our venues, we heard the following words over and over again “Merci beaucoup”.
Please visit the website of Representative Maria Sachs for further information and check out some more photos in our Photo Gallery.