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Farewell Anisa and Suzanne

14-07-2014

ACTION enjoyed having Anisa and Suzanne from the University of Edinburgh with us for 2 months. They slotted into the team well and were active in contributing to many of the various projects that ACTION is involved in, as well as performing research for their studies. 

Anisa also assisted in the ASC work with SASOWNET. As a diaspora Somali with a fluent grasp of the language, she helped build relationships with both old and new members of SASOWNET, and acted as a liaison for the organization of meetings and events. Suzanne worked closely with Pretty, the ASC community liaison for Local Peace Committees. She spent a great deal of time visiting Alexandra, attending meetings and engaging in discussions to build on her research and contributing to the broader ASC programme in support of stronger local forms of organisation.

The research outputs that Anisa and Suzanne are expected to produce promise to be useful resources to inform future work with SASOWNET and the LPCs.

They describe their personal experiences below;

Suzanne: 

My time at ACTION was definitely exciting and eye opening. My work here at ACTION consisted or two main elements: the work at the ACTION office and my research in the Alexandra community. In the first weeks I was mostly busy with getting to know the organisation and the work being done at the ACTION office. In our first week we attended the Applied Conflict Transformation course and the two weeks after that we were very busy with the organisation of the African Solidarity Caravan events during Africa Week. Furthermore, I have been involved in using social media, writing reports and pieces for newsletters, as well as contributing to writing a grant application and making a promotion video for the Africa Solidarity Caravan. All in all, I believe I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about working within an NPO setting, and the staff at the ACTION office has kindly taken the time to introduce me to these things. 

Besides my work at ACTION, I have also been researching the Local Peace Committees in Alexandra that ACTION have supported in the past couple of years. In this aspect of my work I learned many things, both about the context of Alexandra, as well as about doing qualitative research. It was challenging for me at first to find a frame of research that would fit within the work of ACTION, fit within the university requirements as well as benefit the community. However, the people in Alexandra were extremely helpful, and kindly took the time to tell me their histories and opinions on conflict and opportunities for Local Peace Committees in the community of Alexandra. It has been interesting and inspiring to listen to the stories of the challenges encountered in Alex, but mainly to listen to the stories about ways that people have found to overcome those challenges. In short, my time here in South Africa has been very valuable, and I am looking forward to incorporating the newly gained insights into my dissertation and my future. A big thanks to ACTION and the people I talked to in Alexandra for giving me this opportunity!

Anisa:

As part of my MSc program at the University of Edinburgh I had to undertake a work-based placement project with a development organization. ACTION Support centre provided just such an opportunity for me. In my first week after arrival I was fortunate to start my placement by attending the Applied Conflict Transformation course, which is held by ACTION every three months. The course allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the values and the commitment ACTION has to conflict transformation in Africa and beyond. Thereafter I was based at the office where I was very warmly welcomed by a friendly, hard working team who made me feel part of the team right away. In addition, my placement coincided with the launch of the African Solidarity Caravan and Africa Day celebration, which was a deeply enriching experience. However, My placement at ACTION mainly consisted of conducting research to produce a piece of work which was both suitable for ACTION and met the requirement for my MSc thesis. In addition, ACTION give me the opportunity to do some office based work such as writing reports, newsletters and assisting in event planning.

When I was not at the office I was out and about in Mayfair doing research. I had the pleasure of working with the South African Somali Women’s Network, and the discussions I had with the ladies were very informative, and an eye-opening experience for me. They taught me a lot, not only with regard to my research but also personally. Amongst other things I was very impressed with their survival strategies in such a challenging environment. I very much appreciated all the help and support I received from the Somali women in Mayfair, which made the research project a pleasant process. My work with the Somali women in Mayfair has been an unforgettable experience; it’s one that will stay with me forever. I am grateful to ACTION for giving me this experience, and a special thanks to Richard and everyone at the office for making my stay easy and enjoyable. 

We will miss having them as part of our team, but wish them well as they return to Edinburgh to complete their studies.


Burma Workshop: Protect the Rohingya

14-07-2014

A plea for one of the most persecuted groups in the world 

On Thursday 12th June, Cosatu House in partnership with the Protect Rohingya organisation hosted a workshop on the persecution of the Rohingya people.  The workshop was facilitated by Advocate Shabnam Mayet and David P Karmes who have both been very influential in raising awareness about the plight of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, alongside the Free Burma Campaign, South Africa who have been building solidarity for many years. 

The workshop highlighted that the Rohingya people are an embattled ethnic group that have fallen victim to the Burmese Government’s ethnic cleansing campaign. While ethnic violence is not new to the Rohingya, the recent level of intensity and persecution has led the United Nations to label them one of the most persecuted groups in the world today.  

The workshop encouraged all individuals to contact their organizations, political affiliations, members of parliaments, ministers and officials to show solidarity and concern for the well being of the Rohingya people as well as sign petitions, donate, fundraise and raise awareness in order to prevent what seems to be nearing a genocide. 

The strong connections between the ACTION Support Centre and our sister organisation the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia, who are actively involved in support of the peace processes in Myanmar, and in working alongside several Burmese civil society groups, makes this initiative all the more relevant to the long term transformation agenda of the ACTION Support Centre.


Photo Credits: Photograph by UNHCR/ACNUR Américas licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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