What it means to be a human being in the Great Lakes state

“Yo miraba la luna de Rasquí, tumbado en la arena blanca. Y la luna me hablaba sólo a mí.” Jorge Drexler, La luna de Rasquí

Every night that I slept in the District of Columbia I listened to this gift from a dear friend. She is a woman like no other on this green Earth. I deeply admire her. I have learned as much from her in the moments we have coincided in time and space, but I have learned as much from her when this has not been the case.

Random thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge: can it be pink ribbons or yellow wristbands?

A recent amazing viral campaign, the Ice Bucket Challenge has attracted many celebrities, politicians, and ordinary individuals from all around the world and generated huge amount of dollars for Lou Gehrig’s disease charities, the ALS association particularly.  As I have worked as a fundraiser, marketer and campaigner, I am very jealous of the campaign.  It should be a kind of life dream for any fundraiser to develop huge campaigns with great success and almost free marketing cost like the Ice Bucket Challenge.  According to the Time magazine, the ALS has raised $79.7 Million until now.  Considering that it started on July 29, it generated significant awareness and funds for the disease in a very short time.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820: Addressing sexual violence in conflicts (cont’d)

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More work at hand

A view of the diverse challenges shows that a lot more remains to be done with respect to effective implementation of the UNSCR 1820 in order to mitigate sexual violence in war affected countries. A number of people, even women, are ignorant of the rights of women. This is one reason why awareness campaigns are organized to create or increase public awareness of this problem and its effects so as to check its rate of occurrence. There is a need for more efforts to educate both men and women about their rights and more particularly on sexual violence against women. The public must be continuously educated on this matter through all media possible. The more the issue of sexual violence is discussed, the more awareness is created; the more responsible people will be in ensuring protection of women and girls from sexual violence;  and consequently the more women’s rights and dignity will be respected.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820: Addressing sexual violence in conflicts (cont’d)

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Gone are the days when sexual violence against women was no crime!

Historically, states have rarely prioritized the issue of sexual violence which occurs especially in times of war and aftermath of war. And though a number of international instruments and mechanisms for the protection of women’s human rights exist, sexual violence during armed conflicts was not counted among cases of this sort until the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Moreover, until the adoption of Resolution 1325, women’s issues had seldom been considered by the Security Council which has the mandate to ensure the maintenance of international peace and Security.

Just Another Hashtag Challenge

hashtag

In the past I have poured over  selfies and the limited effects of “hashtag diplomacy”, but today I have a confession to make: I recently joined a social media challenge* without really knowing what it was about (don´t judge me).

However, to redeem myself, I took on the task of digging through the objectives of some social media challenge campaigns highlighting what differentiates them from some other forgotten or failed hashtag  initiatives.

 

#IceBucketChallenge

Waht is my passion??

    I grew up in a country that experienced the longest civil war in Africa; I think this shaped the political interest for my generation. We grew up dreaming about peace and democracy. I have been a member of a political movement since I was 19 years old.
In 2005 after signed the peace agreement, and the country looked at a beginning of political transition, on this stage I became more focus on women’s rights, in particular, increasing the political participation, I became a member in different activists groups that advocate for quota, signing CEDAW and reforming the family affairs law.
In 2011, I started my master in Gender and Governance. As an activist it was a turning point. I began to realize that just believe in something and have great passion toward it, is not enough to achieve it, I should know how to make my dreams come true.
In this stage my mind shifted to local governance, now I have more interest in this level. My thesis was building on the belief that working for effective women’s political participation at the lower levels will guarantee increasing in the quality and quantity of the women’s representatives.
I got the opportunity to interviewed 30 women from different social and economic backgrounds; to reflect their experiences and stories, and the main things that I learned from this experience it that “Every woman has her own story”.

My reflections at graduation

Excerpts from my speech at Class 13 graduation

 

How does one start talking about the end of a wondrous year, an era of change and change making? For a lot of us, this was a big step in our lives – having to leave our friends, families, and loved ones behind, some of whom are in the middle of crises today. Atlas Corps gave me, and all us fellows, the chance to speak up, speak out, and work…oops scratch that – SERVE at brilliant organizations here in the US; an opportunity for us to learn from them and them from us, and an even bigger opportunity for us to bring our worlds, our work, and our passions to a stage where key world policy makers and organizations would not only listen, but also learn from us.

What is Home?

He peered through the window as the plane descended towards the airport. The ground seemed to slowly yawn and stretch itself towards him and all he could see was white, a persistent cold white of the snow that covered the landscape. Was this new place going to be his new home? This complex tapestry of Midwest culture, nuances, faces, sights, demands and expectations? Home to him was comfort, and safety and warmth but now he had to find home in unfamiliarity. Or did he have to find home in his unwavering resolve and determination to do everything to make the fellowship a success?

Strengthening Individuals Capacities for Community’s Empowerment (Atlas Corps – Independent Community Project)

Many Atlas Corps Fellows and our partners may know little why all class 14 Fellows from South Sudan returned home only in six months. But the answer to this is because the pact Atlas Corps have agreed with the Fellow concerns with regard to what is known as Atlas Corps – Independent Community Project (ICP) to be undertaken in Africa in which the Fellow come up with a draft concept paper on what he thinks feasible to share with people back home for a period necessary to this project.

Walking on Water

Aside

Last week I was a lector in the early Sunday morning mass and happily dragged my flat-mate and fellow-fellow Smiti to church with me! It takes a lot of courage and will to get up on a Sunday morning at 6 am especially when you’ve spent most of your Saturday out hiking and discovering the gorgeous Columbia River and taking tons of pictures along various falls. In one afternoon, Smiti and I were able to visit the Horsetail falls, the Wahkeena Falls and my favorite the Sheppard’s dell as well as go berry picking!

Columbia River

Columbia River