Archive for the ‘political refugees’ Category

RESPECT in Ghana

September 24, 2009 3 comments

An affiliate of Respect International Respect Ghana acts as a bridge between the refugee population in Ghana and the international community.

A dedicated team of volunteers works to raise awareness of refugee issues in Ghana. They are always working to build new ideas for raising awareness and linking refugee students with non-refugee students. They have a number of plans for the future towards these ends and readily collaborate with any organisation that is working for human rights and refugee issues.

RESPECT Ghana: Working for durable solutions

  • Resettlement: RESPECT Ghana believes that this option needs to be explored fully to allow refugees to settle permenantly in a third country if they are unable to return to their country of origin or integrate sucessfully in their country of asylum.  This is a unique way for developed countries to help protect and support refugees who in turn have opportunities to contribute in other ways to their new communities.
  • Repatriation: The descision to return to their country of origin must be taken by the refugees themselves and any return must be safe and dignified for the refugees and their families.
  • Local Integration: The aggreement of a host country for the refugees to remain their permenantly.   There need to be opportunities for refugees to earn a living and become self-reliant in their host countries.   They need to be full members of the community without discrimination but also allowed to keep their own cultural identity.

RESPECT Ghana also actively pursues and supports innovatinve project schemes by refugees themselves.

How You Can Help

The first step is to recognise that refugees are not a threat but that they themselves are threatened.  They are ordinary people who need protection.

  • You and members of your community can encourage the government to addopt policies at home and abroad which help refugees find peace and safety.
  • You can support financially through donations and by providing International Reply Coupons for Our Global Letter Exchange Programs.
  • Your ideas and information as well as proposals for projects or educational materials for refugees will be an incredible resource for the Refugee Communities we serve.
  • Individuals and organization willing to partner with RESPECT Ghana and help make its dreams and plans become a reality, please do not hesitate. Kindly contact the Country Coordinator or the International coordinator.
  • Country Coordinator
  • RESPECT Ghana
  • c/o FOBET
  • Ayifli Fred Kodzo
  • PO Box TA84,
  • Ghana-Accra
  • Tel – (233) 20-8160450

Respect Ghana

To learn more about our Global Letter Exchange click here.


Students Receive Gift of Art Supplies

Art teacher at Immaculate Conception High School Virgina Hernadez and her students raised some money to send art supplies to students in Elite Friends Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. They had a bake sale to raise to money. In the photograph Viginia Hernandez is holding a basket of the supplies they sent and the students are taking part in RESPECTs Annual Poster Contest. (For the results of the poster contest see below)

The students from this school were given these supplies by their teacher, Austin W. Ngabwe, who sent photos of the children with a note of thanks.

Website Helps Refugees Find Families

Refugees United is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit registered organization aimed at reuniting refugees with their families through the use of a unique Internet search engine.

  • Free of charge
  • Easy to use
  • Anonymous to all but family

Read more about them on their website:

CELA Encourages Women’s Groups in Fizi to Save

Since February 2009 the Centre for Youth Development and Adult Education (CELA) in the Fizi Territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been training Village Savings and Loan Associates.

Amka – Organization AVEC for micro saving and credit.

The organisation moved from Lugufu Camp in Tanzania when the refugee cam closed. The 24 staff run language programs, youth empowerment programs, adult education and vulnerable assistance programs.

CELA also aims to improve women’s social and economic conditions in Fizi’s rural communities. Currently there are five Village Savings and Loans Associates: Amka in Kasaka/Sebele, Umoga ni nguvu in Katanga, Matunda Bora in Mwamsombo, M’mwatelecha in Mwandiga, and Makene in Malala I.

Each of these communities has elected a group of 30 women to save money. Each of these groups governs itself and raises its own funds. The members meet on a regular basis to save money and buy shares. The share prices are set at a rate at which every member can afford to buy at least one share at each meeting.

The five CELA volunteers assist the groups in implementing the scheme and achieving their goals. CELA have also provided metal boxes with three keys to keep the money.

Other organisations such as CARE, Plan International or Oxfam have implemented schemes such as this with the aim of improving the lives of women within these communities by fighting poverty and promote women’s socio-economic development.

In addition to this the revenue generated will empower the women to become leaders, to provide choices and help them acquire civic, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

As the poorest members of the community women need resources to be able to make choices and fight oppression and exploitation.

In order to reach our goals, we are asking friends, partners and sponsors to financially support the VSL groups and raise their credit resources. You can also help to train the VSLA members about selection, planning and management of income generating activities and women’s leadership.

For further information, please contact M. Atuu Waonaje at, +243 (0) 817 474 387.

2008-2009 Poster Contest Winners

RESPECT International is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Poster Contest. The theme of this year’s contest was Bring Peace to the World.

Thirty participants, from China, Thailand and USA, took part in the poster competition.

Non-refugee Winners

6-9 years old:
Suen Ying Sum, Honk Kong (age 7)
Sum's poster

10-11 years old:
Chan Oi Hei, Honk Kong (age 10)
Hei's poster

12-13 years old:
Jirapat Sukraseranee, Thailand (age 13)
Jirapat's poster

14-18 years old:
Tsoi Sin Ting, Honk Kong (age 14)
Ting's poster

Non-refugee Honorable Mentions

6-9 years old:
Wong Suet Ming, Honk Kong (age 6)
Ming's poster

10-11 years old:
Ng Cheuk Wing, Honk Kong (age 11)
Wing's poster

12-13 years old:
Mak Hau Lam, Honk Kong (age 12)
Lam's poster

14-18 years old:
Alise Owens, New Jersey (age 17)
Alise's poster

However, the judges for this year’s contest were impressed by all 30 entries, making it very difficult to select the winners. We hope each student who entered the contest is proud of their outstanding artwork.

We are very grateful to this year’s judges: Bob Silery, Matti Liane and Virgina Hernandez, for their time and effort.

RESPECT Touches the World

RESPECT International is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation which provides a variety of initiatives aimed at improving the lives of both urban refugees and those living in camps.

Around the world a team of volunteers work towards achieving RESPECTs main aims: to raise awareness on refugee issues among world youth; to build relationships between refugee and non-refugee students through a pen-pal program, and make the first two possible by promoting events and advertising RESPECT’s ideals in order to raise funds and recruit more volunteers to work with the organization.

Since RESPECT was founded in 2002, its activities have been well documented in the ezine: a publication which highlights the collaborative nature of this truly international organisation.

The Letter Exchange Program aims to bring refugee and non refugee children from many countries together, building relationships and promoting the children’s desire for rewarding friendships. This is beneficial because it:

  • Stimulates curiosity and learning among the children.
  • Creates the likelihood that as adults they will get seriously involved in refugee issues in the future.
  • Increases awareness of refugee issues among the wider community as parents take an interest in who their children are writing to

RESPECT University (RU) was created to bring post-secondary education to refugees and internally displaced persons. This benefits people who have had their education interrupted by war and violence. It is important, despite this interruption, to continue to build for the future and cultivate hope. Through volunteer tutors and coordinators from many countries (Canada, United States, England, France, Pakistan, Brazil, for example) RESPECT U is now able to offer courses in different academic fields.

RESPECT U is a dynamic project. Coordinators in the field balance the needs and requests of the refugees with the availability of tutors in particular fields. The university began by teaching Social Psychology as a way of addressing the physiological needs of the refugees. Helping them to understand their own thoughts, needs and expectations and perhaps find ways to deal with the day to day suffering that haunts many of the students.

By the second year of operations RESPECT had already connected 1200 students from Azerbaijan, Benin, Canada, Guinea, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Taiwan, Uganda and United States.

Also, a network of affiliates and partners which is still growing provides material support and human resources which make the education and letter exchange programs possible.

It was with the help of organizations like iEARN, Roots & Shoots, the Winnipeg Refugee Education Network, Teachers Without Borders, and Reach Out, among others, and the fundraising events of non-refugee schools communities, that RESPECT could manage to send computers, books, school and office material, toys, and other equipments and goods to refugee schools.

During 2004/2005, volunteers from the francophone world (Canada, France, DRC, Guinea) set up a regular and increasing letter exchange in French, which gave more visibility to RESPECT in Europe and led to the creation of the RESPECT European branch in Barcelona, Spain, in February 2006.

After the success and growth of the first couple of years the next few years were a time of management and recognition of the results letting RESPECT take its place among refugee services worldwide.

The future for RESPECT is the hope to build contacts in and run the education and letter exchange programs with Refugee students and communities on the Thailand-Burma border, Afghanistan, Nepal and Azerbaijan. Also, the maintenance and growth of the initiatives which are already up and running to continue to improve the lives of refugees around the world.

To read more about RESPECT or subscribe to our ezine click here .

For more information on RESPECT University click here.

RESPECT International website.

Salone Diary

The Salone Diary is a vivid account of life in Sierra Leone written by David LaMattina, from the Brownstones Crew. It recounts the day to day life of refugee children in Freetown over the period of a two week stay for their latest documentary Brownstones, Red Dirt.

Having already filmed children from Brooklyn speaking about their lives, the second part of the story was to record the Brownstone Crew meeting and interviewing the refugee children. Done in a rich narrative style, it gives an insight into a world often hidden from mainstream view.

The meeting of these two groups of children was made possible by the RESPECT Letter Exchange Program. This program put non-refugee students in touch with refugee students, allowing them to learn about each others lives and share their experiences.

David shares his experience of the letter writing in the Salone Diary. “These kids have nothing and with each letter they get from Brooklyn,they gain another possession. It’s quite a gift and they treat it delicately, examining it with care while they try to decipher what their pen pal’s life might be like.”

Beginning with the eventful story of travelling from New York to Sierra Leone, the diary goes on to describe the moment when the children first met and focuses on the lives of the Sierra Leone children. They are children who have experienced war first hand and lost their families as a result, some witnessing brutal murders.

Despite this they are children with great humanity and hope for their futures. They dream of making the world a better place and by telling their stories they can help everyone to do just that.

Discover the Salone Diary here:

To learn more about the RESPECT Letter Exchange Program click here.

Or visit RESPECT International.

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