At the end of April, Afri’s Co-ordinator Joe Murray and Choctaw Gary White Deer travelled to Moville for a ‘Just a Second’ event, as part of our WorldWise Global Schools Project. The ‘Just a Second’ educational programme focuses on the absurdity of in excess of €40,000 being spent every second on war and weapons while a billion people suffer from hunger, lack of clean water and adequate housing. We began by walking from Moville Community College to the Quays. This was the departure point for many people from Donegal and surrounding areas who emigrated down through the years, often because of poverty or famine. We were joined there by Rose Kelly and students from Scoil Eoghain. We had music, poetry and readings focussed on those who are being forced from their their homelands today as a result of poverty, war and climate change. Following this moving event, participants walked back to Moville Community College where we planted a mountain ash together with students and teachers and then had a short seminar touching on issues to do with climate change, militarisation, famine and forced migration. Continue reading “Just A Second in Moville”
Afri joined with St. Columb’s Park House in Derry for the launch of their ‘Campaigning Communities’ initiative on December 3rd 2015. This project aims to support communities who are campaigning around a broad range of justice and peace issues. As part of the launch, Donal O’Kelly performed his award winning play Fionnuala about the community resisting Shell in Erris, Co. Mayo, who are an inspiration to many communities throughout Ireland.
Director of St. Columb’s Park House, Helen Henderson, opened the proceedings with a profoundly insightful reflection entitled ‘Spaceship Earth’, which was followed by an introduction to the ‘Campaigning Communities’ initiative by its co-ordinator Nuala Crilly. Joe Murray also spoke, referring to some of the significant campaigns in which Afri have been involved – such as the Dunnes Stores Strike, East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign and supporting the community resistance in Erris. The evening concluded with a rousing medley of protest songs performed by Paddy Nash and Diane Greer.
The following day, Afri’s former Development Education Co-ordinator, Rose Kelly, travelled from Moville to St. Columb’s Park House with around 30 pupils from Rang a 4 to launch her book Pathways of Peace and to plant a tree, donated by the Woodland Trust, in honour of the occasion. These were an exceptionally talented group of students who had written and performed their own song as well as sharing their own reflections and poetry on care for the planet. They even drew inspiration from the haka – made famous by the New Zealand rugby team – to convey a message of hope and peace!
Pathways of Peace is an excellent development education resource, comprising stories of the lives of inspirational young people and the example of peace and justice that they have embodied. The resource includes their stories as well as suggested activities for use in the classroom. This resource is now available to buy from Afri.
Around thirty people gathered at the Guild Hall on Friday, July 31st 2015 to take part in Derry’s first Famine walk.
Deputy Mayor of Derry city and Strabane District council, Thomas Kerrigan of the DUP officially launched the walk which was also addressed by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Helen Henderson, director of St. Columb’s Park House, spoke about the importance of the walk and the danger of history repeating itself. She warned especially about the dangers of TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, regarding things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations and has been described as “an assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”
Following the opening speeches, walkers proceeded from Guildhall Square across the Peace Bridge to the Londonderry Poor Law Union Workhouse, located on Glendermott Road, the Waterside. First opened in 1840, Derry’s workhouse didn’t close its doors until 1948. The Walk had been called “The Longest Walk”, referring to the 13 steps to the workhouse master’s quarters that starving families once had to climb to ask for admittance. Continue reading “Derry’s First Famine Walk”
Imagination and celebration were the order of the day at our 22nd annual Féile Bríde gathering in Kildare. ‘Occupy the imagination’ was the theme and the new Solas Bhríde a cause for celebration – built with the utmost attention to detail, as explained by Rita Minehan, in the teeth of the recession – a prizewinning example of a sustainable building in the heart of the Curragh. Warmth and welcome is added in abundance by Mary, Phil, Rita and members of Cairde Bríde who continue the tradition of hospitality for which Brigid was renowned.
Bruce Kent and Colin Archer, who have devoted most of their lives to promoting peace and – daringly – to the abolition of war, gave dynamic and thought provoking presentations on the extent to which ‘the world is over armed and peace is underfunded’. Bruce, who is in his 8th decade is an inspiration, with his indomitable spirit, his great sense of humour and his constant commitment to the cause of peace.
Film of Féile Bríde by RoJ
The essence of Bruce’s presentation was that ‘unless war is eliminated, the human race will be’ and so he has founded the Movement for the Abolition of War. This may seem like a far-fetched idea but so did the elimination of the slave trade when small groups of Abolitionists met in various parts of the world in the 17th century. (Of course we now have a new slave trade in the form of human trafficking but – unlike the slave trade – it is generally regarded as the odious crime that it is).
Emanuela Russo spoke about the urgent need to wrest control of food production from the hands of profit-driven, environmentally destructive corporations and to establish food sovereignty, defined as “the right of people to grow and consume food that is socially, culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate to local conditions.” She went on to say: “the current global food system creates hunger and obesity at the same time. There are 900 million hungry people in the world and almost the same amount of obese people. One of the reasons why this is happening is that all around the world, more and more food systems are controlled by big corporations and agribusinesses with the support of national governments and international institutions (such as IMF and WB, WTO), these food systems regard food as a commodity and their main goal is not to feed the people but to make profit.” Continue reading “Reflections from Féile Bríde 2015”
‘Another world is possible’ – A simple and confident expression of an ability to step outside the existing paradigm and imagine an alternative! This ability to imagine, to voice the imagined, and to take action to manifest it, is a wonderful gift and holds the potential to a life well spent; a seed full of potential for change. Whether it be in the small fields of power within which we operate on a day-to-day basis or whether the net of imagination is cast farther to embrace other fields and other people, the role of the imagination in creating change is a vital one.
Speakers at this year’s Féile Bríde include those who similarly inhabit their dreams and make them visible. Bruce Kent, a name synonymous with peace-making and founder of an organisation that challenges the military mindset of countless generations, the Movement for the Abolition of War; Colin Archer of the International Peace Bureau, another life-long peace activist who similarly and consistently presents the kind of world that would be possible if we stopped sacrificing life in its many forms to the god of war and chose instead to put our focus and energy into the protection of life; Emanuela Russo, member of the Via Campesina and founding member of Food Sovereignty Ireland, by word and example occupies the imagined world where food production is in the hands of the people in respectful alliance with Mother Earth; And Salome Mbugua, working to bring about the world she dreams of in common with Brigid where justice, peace and human rights are upheld and hospitality is a belief in practice.
We invite you to join with us; to bring along your dreams and to add your voices to the dreamers’ discourse. Together, let’s ‘occupy the Imagination’ and discover what great changes we can help bring into being. Continue reading “Date for your Diary – Féile Bríde 2015”
While many are aware of Afri’s work through our annual Famine Walk, Féile Bríde and Hedge School as well as our solidarity work with the Kenya Pastoralists Journalist Network and the community under siege in Erris County Mayo among many other activities, perhaps less are aware of Afri’s ongoing ‘education for liberation’ work with secondary schools. This work is supported by the WorldWise Global Schools and is carried out mainly by our development education manager Rose Kelly and dramatist Pete Mullineaux.
The theme of our education programme is ‘Just a Second’ and it focuses on the absurdity of the choices that we make or that are made on our behalf by governments and corporations. For example, the fact that in excess of €40,000 is spent every second on war and weapons while a billion people suffer from hunger, lack of clean water and adequate housing.
The film below, made by Dave Donnellan, is a snapshot of the development education work that went on in the ‘Just A Second’ project.
Just A Second!
An early afternoon interlude of film, art, music and words
On the theme of Afri’s Education for Liberation programme with Gort Community School, Coláiste Einde and Salerno Secondary School in Galway
Saturday 31st May 2014
12 noon until 1.30pm
At Galway City Museum, Spanish Arch
Featuring the premiere of a short film by distinguished film-maker Dave Donnellan
and paintings by Choctaw artist Gary White Deer
Choctaw Gary White Deer
Dreamer, schemer, hitcher for hope and member of President’s Council of State Ruairí McKiernan
with contributions from
poet, songwriter and dramatist Pete Mullineaux,
educationalist and environmentalist Rose Kelly
and Galway One World Centre
Admission free, but please let us know if you intend to be there: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 8827563
Music and refreshments provided
Share this event on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1386226938332112/
Afri gratefully acknowledges the support of WorldWise Global Schools and Concern
Ireland’s First Food Sovereignty Assembly
Organised by Food Sovereignty Ireland and Afri
Castlebar, 16th May 2014 at 7.30pm
Gaining control of our food
A panel of distinguished speakers will lead discussions at Ireland’s first food sovereignty assembly in Castlebar, County Mayo this weekend. Food sovereignty practitioners from around Ireland will also attend and contribute to this important event which is organised to coincide with the annual Doolough Famine Walk which takes place the following day.
Contributors to the assembly will include Paul Nicholson of Via Campesina, Luis Jalandoni who has been involved with peasant settlers and sugar workers in the Philippines, John Brennan of Leitrim Organic Farmers Coop Rose Kelly of Afri, Fergal Anderson of Food Sovereignty Ireland and more. The Assembly will explore the critical issue of food, how it works, who benefits and who loses out and why.
Organisers believe that government and agribusinesses are obscuring the story of how the food system works in Ireland and internationally – and that it is time for some home truths
Stepping into your local supermarket is like going to the arrivals hall of an international airport. Apples from New Zealand, chickens from Thailand, cabbages from Holland and pork from god knows where. Almost all the meat or dairy you see, Irish or not, has been fed animal feeds (mostly GM soya) from Argentina and Brazil.
The reality is that this globalization of our food and agricultural system is failing consumers, the environment and farmers. Big retailers like Tesco are multi-national corporations, squeezing suppliers and eliminating local food providers. Much of the food they sell is produced mechanically, on industrial farms, in a multitude of countries using a cocktail of agrochemicals. The industrial food system then sells heavily processed foods with dubious labels to overwhelmed consumers, who eventually discard almost a third of the food they buy. Continue reading “Ireland’s First Food Sovereignty Assembly”
Report by Rose Kelly, Afri Development Education Co-ordinator, 6th May 2014
‘Out beyond notions of wrong-doing and right- doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.’ ~ Rumi
These were the favourite lines from poetry of young peace activist Aseel Asleh.
Aseel, who described himself as a ‘Palestininan citizen of Israel’, was a member of the international organisation Seeds of Peace .With his fellow members of that organisation, Aseel worked towards the manifestation of such a ‘field’ as Rumi describes. At 17 years of age, while attending a Seeds of Peace event, Aseel was shot and killed by Israeli security forces.
On the 29th April 2014, Afri facilitated a World Cafe event in St. Enda’s College Galway for over 70 young people all of whom are around the age Aseel would have been when he was shot and killed. The young people came from St. Enda’s, Salerno and Gort Community College. The session was the culmination of months of work involving a wide range of activities including art, story, drama, discussion, creative writing and imagining, as part of the Afri ‘Just a Second’ project.
The intention of the ‘Just a Second’ project was , starting with a focus on the amount of money spent on militarisation every second, to consider the real cost of war and militarisation; to imagine the alternatives; and to come up with ways in which we can work together to help bring about this alternative.
Symbols and story played a significant part in the unfolding of the project. At the event on the 29th April, we had several of these symbols in evidence eg peace cranes, dreamcatchers and St. Brigid’s Peace Crosses. Likewise, into the mix , we brought the stories of child/teenage victims of militarisation. Through their stories, we brought their presence into the room both as witnesses and inspiration. Six years old Celia Griffin who starved to death during An Gorta Mór, Ten years old Sadako Sasaki who died of Leukaemia, ( the A-bomb disease ) a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Aseel Asleh. We did our best to manifest Rumi’s field in the bright and spacious gym hall.
The three ‘questions’ up for discussion at the World Cafe were…
What are the real costs of militarsation?
How can we create an alternative Dream?
What am I/we going to do to make this happen?
What the young people came up with together was heart-warming and hopeful.
The event finished with the participants writing a message for peace on large sheets of paper which were then photographed as a contribution to the International Peace Bureau’s Global Day Against Military Spending.(GDAMS)
I began this piece with a reference to Rumi and to Aseel Asleh, not just because we included his story on the day but because, with a spine-tingling serendipity, as I opened my laptop to begin writing, waiting for me was a message from one of Aseel’s good friends, Jen Marlow. Today would have been Aseel’s Asleh’s 31st birthday.
Food Sovereignty Assembly: Gaining Control of Our Food
Friday 16th May, 7.30pm
TF Royal Hotel, Old Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo (opposite Mayo General Hospital)
Our food system is failing, both in Ireland and internationally. Failing to provide a secure income for farmers, failing to provide healthy food for citizens, and failing to nurture and care for our environment and the heritage of future generations.
The globalisation of agricultural markets long promised to bring prosperity and stability to farmers and consumers. Instead we have seen the eradication of our own local and traditional high quality food production and an abundance of low quality, mass produced food. Farmers cannot guarantee prices which cover the costs of their production and are increasingly trapped in a vicious circle of falling prices and rising input costs.
Furthermore, processors and retailers undermine and fail to reward the work that farmers do by selling adulterated and heavily processed food to citizens. At the same time, organisations, individuals and collectives are developing new ways of organising the production, distribution and consumption of food in their localities. They propose an alternative political framework for food and agriculture in our society, based on the principles of Food Sovereignty.
Food Sovereignty means the people of Ireland reclaiming the right to how our food system is organised. It means dignity for farmers in their work, and healthy food for Irish citizens. It means ensuring high quality food for our local markets instead of high quantities for global markets. It means working with nature and developing production systems which do not rely on external inputs. It means citizens and farmers coming together to take a stand and build a better way of producing, distributing and consuming food in Ireland and around the world.
This conference in Castlebar is a first step in starting this discussion, and towards building a better food and agricultural system both in Ireland and worldwide.
It will include contributions from Paul Nicholson (Basque Farmers Union and member of Via Campesina), Luis Jalandoni (involved with sugar workers and peasant settlers in Negros, Central Philippines), John Brennan (Leitrim Organic Farmers Coop), Rose Kelly (Afri) and a speaker from United Farmers Association.
Join us on the 16th May at 7.30pm in the TF Royal Hotel, Old Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo (opposite Mayo General Hospital).
Organised by Afri in association with Food Sovereignty Ireland. This event is organised to coincide with the Annual Famine Walk in the Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo. For details about the Famine Walk, go here or see our Facebook event
You can also download the Food Sovereignty Assembly Brochure