Monday, January 19, 2009

FilmAid - Production Company Partners with UNHCR

"Films are powerful and evocative tool for fostering understanding and tolerance in the world." - Nelson Mandela, Nobel Laureate

From FilmAid's website:

FilmAid International uses the power of film and video to reach the world’s most vulnerable communities with messages that inspire them, address their critical shared needs, and effect social change.

FilmAid has been embraced by many leading humanitarian organizations due to unwavering commitment to its core principles:

FilmAid works with local advisory committees to ensure that the content used in its programs is appropriate and relevant for the intended audience. These Advisory Committees represent a cross-section of the local population and engage the rarely heard voices of women and youth.

FilmAid collaborates with local communities in program design, implementation and evaluation.

FilmAid partners with humanitarian experts, physicians and nongovernmental organizations in the field.

FilmAid performs ongoing evaluations to measure results and identify possible program improvements.


Good Thoughts

If you want to become whole,let yourself be partial. If you want to become straight,let yourself be crooked. If you want to become full,let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn,let yourself die. If you want to be given everything,give everything up.- Tao Te Ching

Picture: Artist and Naturalist Andy Goldsworthy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Howard Zehr on Contemplative Photography

Professor, advisor, and restorative justice pioneer Howard Zehr talks about contemplative photography, its meditative approach to life and subject and how that approach can change our predatory relationship to the greater world.

"When I have the camera, I see things in the world that I would miss otherwise." - Howard Zehr

Listen to his interview at:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Yorker Article about UNHCR in Chad

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Right to Self Defence is Not a Strategy for Peace

by Lisa Schirch

Washington, DC - From an Israeli perspective, the cost in international outrage and Palestinian civilian lives of the current attacks on Gaza is worth the price of crushing Hamas’s firepower. The goal is seductive, and Israel will likely succeed in slowing the development of rockets by Hamas in the short term. But just like Israel’s siege of Lebanon in 2006, the Israeli “shock and awe” military strategy in Gaza will not undermine Hamas’s leadership or bring long term security.

Both Israel and Gaza have a right to defend themselves. But there is a difference between a right to defence and an effective strategy for ending the attacks and ongoing violence.

The key ingredients of Hamas’s rockets are not metal casings and bags of explosives brought through tunnels from Egypt, and then built and launched from Gazan garages.

Blasting Gazan infrastructure and killing members of Hamas do nothing to destroy the motivation that compels a young Palestinian boy to pick up a rock or strap explosives to his body.

The real recipe for Hamas’s rockets is an environment of desperation and humiliation spawned by a complicated brew of poverty and political impotence.

Gaza is a prison with 45% unemployment, the highest in the world according to the United Nations. Half the population is under 18 and a third of the population lives in refugee camps. Palestinians have little land and few rights. This fuel of despair and humiliation gives rise to new generations of extremists and an ambition for more sophisticated rockets.

The siege of Gaza could consolidate extremist leadership in the Palestinian territories in the same way Israel’s 2006 attacks on Lebanon strengthened Hizbullah. The attacks undermine the development of moderate leadership in Gaza and the West Bank as moderate leaders look impotent to their people in the face of Israel’s attacks.

Since only moderate leaders in Gaza are willing to look at a future of coexistence with Israel, one wonders with whom Israel expects to negotiate in the future. Israel’s military strategy will make security that much more difficult to achieve.

The same is also true for the prospects of more moderate leadership in Israel.

Hamas’s attacks make it more difficult for moderate Israeli politicians to negotiate for peace. Hamas’s rocket attacks ensure that Palestinians will remain isolated and cut off from international support.

The rockets prolong the Palestinian wait for a homeland and for their legitimate human rights.

Achieving both Israel’s goal of security and Hamas’s goals of land and human rights for Palestinians requires a better, smarter strategy. The recipe for peace and security comes not from one-sided plans. Rather, it requires equal attention and empathy from both sides.

The strategy starts with a new, more inclusive narrative of cause and effect. The predominant Israeli narrative vis-a-vis the current attack on Gaza starts with the inexcusable shower of Hamas rockets on Israeli homes and schools and resonates with a history of more than 2000 years of discrimination and fear. The predominant Palestinian narrative centres on the devastating loss of their land, homes and businesses to others, causing many to become refugees crowded into small, barren enclaves.

An effective strategy must acknowledge legitimate grievances present in the narratives on both sides. Both Palestinians and Israelis have a historical legacy in the region.

Both know what it is like to be a people without a land and share the passion to retain what they see as their land. Both feel victimised by the other.

A smarter strategy would be for Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to existence and safety and for Israel to recognise and address the economic and political fuel of desperation among Palestinians. Palestinians need a state, freedom of movement and international assistance to create jobs.

Public opinion polls show there are plenty of people on both sides who support these steps. It’s time the United States and the international community stood behind Israeli and Palestinian moderates, rather than allowing themselves to be distracted by the militants on both sides who search for an elusive military solution to this political and economic problem.


* Lisa Schirch is professor of peace-building at Eastern Mennonite University and director of the 3D Security Initiative. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

UNHCR - a Community Based Approach to People of Concern

Here is a link outlining UNHCR's change of approach to the people that they serve. The change looks at people of concern not as dependent beneficiaries who are to be saved and assisted, but rather as equal partners who have an active role in protecting themselves and organizing for their own basic needs. The document states the need for an attitudinal change within the organiztion. This is useful to me as I begin working with UNHCR's Community Development section.

Monday, January 12, 2009

VBlog #2 - Paulette Goes to Switzerland

It is two days before I begin my work at UNHCR and today I left Annemasse, France where I live to explore Geneve where I will work. This is my first attempt at Flip video AND IMovie - so please give me lots of leeway for this rough product! It will improve!

ABCs and SATs: College Life as a Single Mom

Michelle Vilandry is a single mom to 5-year-old daughter Julie and a full time sociology student at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. This film, which covers one day in November 2008, follows Michelle and Julie's challenges, rewards, philosophies, joys, dreams, logistics, banalities, art, and relationships. Made in collaboration with Dr. Amy Sarch Schopick, Director of Women's Studies at Shenandoah University.

15 minutes

ABCs and SATs: College Life as a Single Mom from Paulette Moore on Vimeo.

Pillars of Justice - documentary

Shenandoah University filmmaker and Eastern Mennonite University grad student Paulette Moore teams up with Winchester attorney and EMU grad student Brenda Waugh to explore how architecture in the courthouse aids the pursuit of justice and solving community conflict.

Pillars of Justice from Paulette Moore on Vimeo.