Bangladesh – A volounteer’s research on women’s struggle
19-years-old college student Hannah Ruile from Boniswil (Switzerland) is currently spending a half year voluntary service in Bangladesh. During this time she visits numerous local YWCAs in the whole country and reports regularly about her experience. In Switzerland Hannah studies social work. She uses her stay to research on her final paper, which she writes about the living conditions of Bangladeshi women and the effects of the YWCA-microcredit-program.
The Circumstances for women in Bangladesh are alarming. There are huge deficits compared to men’s situation in regard to education and healthcare. Marriage in early childhood and forced marriages in general are still an everyday issue. A recently published study about gender equality ranked Bangladesh on 108th place – of 109 analysed countries. Professional occupation is an absolute exception among women and therefor it is almost impossible for them to be independent.
Hannah Ruile is interviewing women who are part of the microcredit-program of YWCA Bangladesh and Horyzon. Horyzon’s local partner-organisations support her in getting in touch with these women. Hannah tries to interview every woman individually, but often the interview-situation turns into an all-village-hype after a few minutes. The women are proud and glad to share their life-stories and successes with someone who cares. The openness and the affection that are transported in these situations are overwhelming. Read more about it in Hannah’s full report:
Gaza – Surfing far from tourist paradises
The beach is omnipresent in the Gaza Strip. Its 40km long shore is almost completely covered by sand and in the narrow strip of land one can reach the sea from nearly every point within a few minutes. If there were different political circumstances the place would be overrun by tourists. But for now the beach belongs fully to the Gazians. For many of them a day at the beach is one of the only possibilities to escape the dismal daily routine.
But even this last piece of freedom is in danger: women are frowned upon on the beach. Since the Hamas authorities took over control in the Gaza Strip, the so called guardians of public morals dictate more and more the lives of Gazian people. Women in revealing clothes or in physical activity are an anathema for them. Just a while ago they achieved a ban of music at the beach.
Two girls are deliberately disobeying these social norms. Sabah and Shrouq Abu Gunaim are enthusiastic surfers and they do not intend to stop their pleasure due to conservative attitudes of others. The sisters live next to the beach and their father thought them surfing at an early age. He is what could be considered as the surf-pioneer of Palestine. When Sabah and Shrouq were younger, nobody took offense at the two surfing girls. But now as they are considered as women, the bashing and hostilities increase. By now they are always accompanied by their brothers or father. The family supports them in their fight for freedom but the sister’s mother is worried that their daughters might have problems to find a husband one day.
Sabah and Shrouq are currently not worrying about this kind of things. They just want to practise their sport and have fun. At the moment there is no law that forbids women’s surfing. But one dream is still there to be fulfilled: One day they would like to explore other waves than the ones on Gaza beach.
Read the full report about the surfing sisters at womensnews.org.
Colombia – Rappers fight against violence
The Colombian major city Medellín is a though place to live. Especially this is the case in the city’s western quarter Comuna 13. Since 2009 ten young men from the environment of the YMCA found their death. They were murdered because they raised their voices and spoke out publicly against the gang violence and the drug crime in the community.
Hip-hop is the dominating youth culture in the neighbourhood in Colombia. Yet their exponents are often not politically active and socio-critical. In the year 2002 the local YMCAs launched a campaign to change exactly that. The creativity and energy amongst the youth should be used to create suitable conditions for an ideal life together in the society. For example, the hip-hop crew “La Elite” has its roots in this YMCA program. The formation consists of about 60 artists and they all try to make a difference. They do social work in the community and they take a stand against the drawbacks in Comuna 13.
Jeison Castaño – his artist name is Jeihhco – is one of the leaders of La Elite. He remembers laughing with his friends: “What kind of a rapper goes to ‘meetings’!” They went anyway and soon he began to understand the importance of the YMCA’s work. By now the 24-year-old has managed numerous projects in his quarter and convinced a lot of the kids to fight for peace. Due to his commitment in the year 2011 he could even travel to Switzerland and was having lectures about his social work in Comuna 13. Horyzon helped to organize this trip and to get in contact with interested people. One of the biggest projects so far was the organisation of a peace concert. With the help of the YMCA it was possible to organise an event that reached more than 30’000 people.
But not everybody is happy with the success of the freedom project. Criminal gangs and the drug mafia are not interested in a self-reliant and self-organised community. Already ten people of the entourage of La Elite were murdered. One of them was Jeihhco’s best friend and crew member Héctor Pacheco, better known by his stage name Kolacho. That was one of the hardest blows I have ever had to deal with, says Jeihhco. But he isn’t thinking about capitulate. Even more he wants his work to make a difference and finish what he began together with his friend. The newly opened hip-hop school in Comuna 13 is reminiscent of him – it is called Kolacho.
A detailed report about the situation in Comuna 13 can be read on opendemocracy.net.
UN year of water cooperation
The United Nations declared the year 2013 as the International year of water cooperation. Like other resources water is very scattered over the world. The climatic change is aggravating this disparity. Whereas in some parts of the world drastic droughts are threatening the population, in other parts the danger of fatal floods is increasing. Water is no merchandise like any other which can be subject to free markets. Water is the basic requirement for all living existence on our planet.
The cycle of water doesn’t follow human borders. This fact makes it necessary for governments and international organisations to work together. The object of this collaboration should always be the equity of water – this is what is called water cooperation.
More than 800 million people suffer of water shortage. About 2.5 billion people have no access to hygienic latrines. This leads to illnesses like typhus and cholera. 3’000 children die every day because of polluted drinking water. All these giant challenges can only be tackled with cooperation between all involved players.
Also in the programs of Horyzon water is one of the key issues. For example in the Development Program for Health and Quarters in Bangladesh. The benefiting women learn the basics and strategies of how to avoid pollution of water and this helps in avoiding diarrhoeal diseases.
Check out the list of events all around the world surrounding the World Water Day on the site unwater.org.
75th anniversary of YMCA/YWCA Windisch
Last year the local YMCA/YWCA of the Swiss municipality Windisch was celebrating its 75th anniversary. All year round the members organised various festivities and activities. Also the team of Horyzon was present during some of the events and promoted their programs.
The main organisers Karin and Mojo realised a special gimmick for the festivities: They built a marble run for coins in the shape of the earth globe. The donated coin had to be filled in to this construction and the donators could – by turning around the globe – affect for which of the Horyzon projects they wanted to contribute. The process of the planning and the construction of this fantastic idea were captured on film and can be watched on YouTube.
During the whole year YMCA/YWCA Windisch collected over 6’500 Swiss francs thanks to the marble run. In coins this is more than 28 kilograms. In the name of all beneficiaries Horyzon wants to say thank you to the organisers who made that possible. It was very inspirational to see, how this creative idea could produce such an amazing support.
One Billion RisingOne in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution. Join it at http://onebillionrising.org
Martin Vogler succeeds Martin Bauer
The fourth quarterly meeting of the Board of Directors leaves us with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. We are excited to announce that starting February 2013 Martin Vogler will take over as president of the Board of Directors replacing Martin Bauer. Martin Vogler works at the moment as director for the Diaconis foundation until the end of January 2013. Living in Dulliken, Martin is a profound expert of finance and controlling processes and has acted during his professional career in several leading functions. His first executive function was at Credit Suisse, where Martin was head of apprenticeship training. After activities at CEVI Schweiz and a term of office as president of the World Alliance of YMCAs Martin continues in accordance to his deep Christian faith to advocate for the needs of youths.
We bid Martin Vogler welcome as new president of the Board of Directors and wish him continuing success. Furthermore, we are also delighted to announce that Julia Diener and Eliane Graf will join the Board of Directors starting from February 2013.
Thanks to Martin Bauer
After working more than 25 years for Horyzon, Martin Bauer will step down as director of the Board of Directors as of 31 January 2013. Martin Bauer has been supporting the structural changes for more than a decade. Under his supervision, Horyzon changed its legal form from an association to a foundation. Subsequently, Martin also has acted as the first president of our foundation. We would like to express our gratitude for his great efforts and his trust in the employees at the Olten office. Martin has always offered his help when needed and we would like to thank for his support. Moreover, we also would like to thank Melanie Zurlinden and Simon Plüss for their great efforts and wish them all the best for their future.
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