The organization ARF, Film and Culture for Human Rights, works to make Sweden more socially sustainable.
ARF reaches out to school children and the public through films on relevant themes, always accompanied by dialogue and discussions after the film sessions. The films which are shown by ARF highlight themes such as racism, social justice, minorities, democracy, housing and ethnic segregation.
During 2020, a total of nearly two thousand persons – pupils, teachers and others – participated in the activities arranged by ARF, according to the project report. This was made possible in part thanks to the grant from the Rights Now foundation.
The organization ALEF, Adult Learning and Empowerment Facilitators, supports people living in poverty by education and training.
The grant from the Rights Now foundation was used to provide math lessons for people in villages in Togo in Africa. 70 study groups were formed at the village level for the purpose of learning math and discussing related matters. During 2020, a total of 1 400 persons between 15 to 40 years of age participated in the study groups. 74 percent of the participants were women.
According to ALEF, basic skills in mathematics are of great value to the people – in order to better run their agriculture farms and increase harvests. Knowledge in math has the potential to generate better income opportunities, and can thus be empowering and eventually lead to reduced poverty.
The organization FARR provides support to refugees arriving in Sweden. The grant from the Rights Now foundation was used for the benefit of adolescents arriving alone to the country, without any family members or relatives. They in particular have been shown to face difficulties and risks. FARR offered them advise and information about their rights, about the asylum process and how the legal system works.
The organization Les Amis des Migrants Suédophones en France used the funds from the Rights Now foundation to support Swedish speaking afghan migrants in France. Asylum seekers received information about practical matters and the organization also made efforts to increase awareness among the public about the problematic situation of the migrants. Funds were used to develop the website with facts and testimonies from the migrants themselves (www.lamsf.fr). The website presents valuable and useful information in Swedish, French and Dari.
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We visit a preschool in a village in Mae Ai district, northern Thailand. The villagers belong to the minority group Lahu. A minority of which several are without citizenship, even though they were born in Thailand. They speak a language that is not in writing. They have no or little knowledge of human rights and no real access to medical care. This is a preschool Rights Now supports – to provide access to education and thus a chance for children of Lahu to create their lives and assert their rights as Thai citizens.
A day at the preschool
We arrive at the end of the day. Children stand in line to get a fruit before they go home. After closing, kids are running around and playing. In and out of bambu huts that are built on stilts with a rickety ladder up to the entrance and with an open hearth cooking place. They run up and down the hills, and their skin becomes reddish from the lightly iron colored sand. Pigs, chickens and dogs walk freely around the village. It is visible poverty by many standards.
In the preschool 39 children aged three to nine years have access to a safe and creative environment where they can practice Thai and numbers. Their parents will be able to work in the fields without having to worry about their kids. Walls in the school are filled with drawings and various creations made by the children. It is a room full of knowledge, creativity and joy. In addition to math and writing exercises, children are served one nutritious meal a day. The children get along with their teachers and learn about hygiene, washing clothes, and knowledge of nutrition. Together, they have planted a vegetable garden to enhance school lunches. If the harvest is good, the children take the vegetables home.
Dreaming of development
The teacher says that she dreams about evolving the school even more, to use new teaching methods and provide the children with more opportunities. For them to take advantage of their dreams and develop their talents. She tries to work with educators at other schools. The village also has a “non-formal school” whose teachers do not always have the chance to come to the village because of other engagements. That is a non formal school; No guarantee that a teacher is present. That is how it works when you do not know your rights when you are not a formal citizen, when you partially live outside the formal society and lack knowledge in the formal and written language. When the teacher from the non formal school is not able to come to the village – the preschool teacher even teaches the schoolchildren. She sees needs and takes advantage of every opportunity.
Language, health and confidence – how children grow
After the preschool opened, the children have not only gained an entrance into the Thai language, several children have better health status and self-confidence. Parents have greater opportunities to take the jobs offered to support the family. The preschool has made a clear difference to the whole village, where 78 families live. All of the children can not participate, some need to follow their parents into the fields. Teachers and teacher assistants try to have a dialogue with the parents about the importance of children being in preschool and school.
During the conversation with the teacher and teaching assistant a man steps into the school building. He walks around the room, trying to listen in on our conversation. After a while the teacher explains that he is the “head of village”. He has heard that someone from the Rights Now Foundation is in the village. And, he would like to thank Rights Now of behalf of the entire village. The preschool means so much. Even small means changes the lives of children, parents and families. Provided a greater chance of a life beyond the village, if you will, a life with a greater chance of being free of diseases and to have enough to eat. A chance for more opportunities for people of Lahu.
As told by Karolin Kral, Boardmember of the Rights Now Foundation, visiting the preschool in northern Thailand.
The Push Community Initiative (PCI) focuses on education about menstruation.
PCI reports to the Rights Now foundation: ”PCI is aware that Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is an essential aspect of hygiene for women and adolescent girls between menarche and menopause. Quite often, young adolescent girls tend to be less prepared for MHM and suffer from anxiety, apprehensions, fear and shame during their menses. Despite being an important issue concerning women and girls in the menstruating age group MHM is often overlooked by caregivers, parents and other stakeholders contributing to increased defilement and school dropouts.”
“Overall eighty (100) people have been trained on making reusable sanitary pads (90 adolescent girls and 10 adults (para-social workers). The para-social workers are helpful in mobilizing the community and cascading the information on reusable sanitary pads and menstrual hygiene management.”
“There is huge demand for empowerment skills in the community, most especially by women and girls. This was observed when the mothers and older women expressed their interest to join tailoring training and art and craft.”
“Push Community Initiative board and beneficiaries with pleasure, extend their gratitude to the Rights Now Foundation for the support and partnership.”
The organization Kodul Muga supports single mothers and girls in Kochia, Kenya.
Due to the covid-pandemic the planned education on sexual and reproductive health, including the distribution of menstruation cups, had to be postponed. Kodul Muga instead turned their attention to other possible ways of supporting the women and girls. The money was eventually used to support improved income opportunities for the single mothers, in this case in the form of hens. This turned out to be a successful and welcome source of income for the women. It was for example possible to use the money generated to pay for school fees for their children.
Thanks to the grant from the Rights Now Foundation the organization GamCup could purchase 800 menstruation cups. These were distributed among women in the village of Tujereng in Gambia. The cups would according to GamCup contribute to the women saving money. The education which was part of the project also improved the women’s knowledge about their menstruation and reproduction. Awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, safety and hygiene is also increased as a result.