JPICFA REPORT TO MISSION ZENTRALE DER
The Office privileged to indicate that it carried out all the activities as had been planned for the year 2009.
As a center for advocacy, lobbying, communication and animation of the Franciscan Family in Africa, the office conducted a short course in Journalism for Justice and peace. It was conducted in the period between February and March 2009,for four Saturdays. The course was attended by 60 participants including Franciscan priests, brothers, sisters, members of the Secular Franciscan Order and youth from the various places of ministry for the friars and the sisters. The aim was to empower the participants with the tools they need to make use of print and electronic media to inform and alert the public on crucial issues happening in their locality.
The facilitators were experts in the fields of Newspaper editing, Radio Reporting, Television production and Internet journalism. The participants were involved in practical work in which they wrote articles and made audio and video recordings. The best articles were published on the website of the office. On major achievement is that some of the participants were inspired to take journalism to a higher level and have been allowed by their spurious to undergraduate degrees in Social Communication.
World Water Day
In line with our concern for the Integrity of Creation, we animated the Franciscan family to join the World Water Day Celebrations on March 22, 2009. The event in recognizing the irrefutable scarcity of water had the theme “Shared Waters Shared Opportunities”. The organization of the event was a collaborative effort between JPICFA and the Jesuit Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations Hekima College that has a strong programme on managing trans-boundary water conflicts.
The activities started on Friday 21st with academic presentations from scholars in the water sector. On Saturday 22, speeches from local and national politicians were made. Fr. Benedict ofm Cap addressed the gathering on the spirituality of water. Emphasis was laid on involving the young children in these activities to sensitize them on the necessity to manage water well. In this line, certificates were awarded to the winning students who had written reflective essays, poems and made artwork on the theme first above-mentioned.
Research on GMOs
Within the first quarter of 2009, a research was done on the prevalence of genetically modified organisms in the Eastern African Region. It is the case that GMOs are highly prevalent in the said region yet there is an absence of legislation to regulate their use. In the parliaments of Kenya Tanzania and Uganda, Bills have been tabled but the unrevealed sponsors of the said Bills are the usual multinationals including Monsanto.
Monsato has vested interests in the unlimited promotion of GMOs and has roots in the United States, which is not a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity. Monsanto and other multinationals are taking over research centers in this region through funding and outright influence peddling among the scientific community to literally market the uncritically good side of GMOs. This state of affairs may predispose this region and Africa as a whole to some level of Agricultural dependency on the said multinationals in future.
We have sent the preliminary findings to various Franciscan theologians for an input on the theological reflections on the said findings. When this is ready we will do a planning session to prepare for action. In the mean time we are networking with several civil society groups that are involved in awareness on the implications of GMO foods. Our hope is that we will find a network of groups willing to promote the growing some of the original seeds that are still surviving. Some Franciscan Brothers in Molo in the Rift valley Region in Kenya are running and a sustainable Agricultural College and are promoting more cautious means of propagation. The same brothers have obtained land in the North Western part of Uganda to establish a similar project.
Labour Day Celebrations
The office organized a one-day workshop on Civil and Cannon Law perspectives of Employment Contracts on May 1, 2009. A total 46 participants including religious superiors, bursars and administrators attended the workshop. These religious employers were enthusiastic about the topic and yearned for more. The questions and answers raised in this session raised a need for a deeper social analysis into the compliance to labour relations’ law by religious employers.
As a result, a survey was done in the months of June and July 2009 covering 70 religious houses in and around Nairobi. The data gathered, has been analyzed and awaits a theological reflection. These two will be combined, on consultaion, with basic tips on good conduct in employment and labour relations before it is published in the course of 2010.
Fraciscan Non- Violence Workshop in Molo
The Franciscans brothers in Molo invited the office of JPICFA to facilitate a two-day workshop on Franciscan Non Violence, August 12-13, 2009. This area of Molo was on of those worst hit by the Post Election Violence in 2007/2008. The participants were field workers of the Baraka College of Sustainable Agriculture. It was becoming increasingly obvious to them in their work that teaching people about livelihoods without touching questions of peace building was a hollow approach. The participants were led through the theories of conflicts and the impact of socialization on the predisposition for violent conflict in any society.
The group was then introduced to the Franciscan Non –Violence through the stories of St. Francis meeting the Sultan, the Wolf of Gubbio and Francis and the Thieves. The participants were also introduced to the concepts of Integrity of creation that they were very familiar with but had never addressed them from a Franciscan perspective of fraternity with nature that disposes man for peaceful conduct. This two-day session bore the necessity of conversations for social change among communities affected by violence. The Director and assistant of the office have attended introductory courses in conversations for social change. This is something the office considers promoting in the coming year.
East African Youth Training and follow up
The office conducted its first regional JPIC youth training at Dimmesse Sisters from Thursday 19-22 November 2009. Members of the Franciscan Family in the five East African Countries identified the young people.
The guidelines for identification were that the young people be aged between 18 and 30 years of age; Having demonstrated leadership skills or potential to lead; Of college education or qualifying for college education; Associated with a friary or other regular or secular Franciscan institutes; Disposed to develop interest in the Catholic Social Teaching with particular reference to justice, peace and integrity of creation in the Franciscan spirit; Willing to start and animate JPIC youth groups in their locality within six months from the conference. Four countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) sent four participants each except Tanzania, which sent only one.
The participants were led through several informative and practical sessions that are in conformity with the mission and mandate of the office. In line with the office’s mandate for justice and its involvement with the FI on the human rights question, the participants were led through a session on the Human rights reporting mechanism and the universal periodic review. This session was facilitated by a professional from Pax Romana one of our collaborators on the question of human rights.
Following the office’s mandate for peace and the conflict ridden East African region, the participants were guided through a two relevant sessions. One was psychosocial response to conflictual environments and another on active non-violence. The relevance of these two sessions could not be over emphasized given the manner in which politicians use the youth in committing acts of violence. These two sessions were cemented by a recitation of the Decalogue for a spirituality of Franciscan Nonviolence by Rosemary Lynch, O.S.F and Alain Richard, O.F.M.
In line with the mandate of Integrity of creation, a session was given on Stewardship of Creation. The session followed the pattern laid down in the book The Earth Community; In Christ Through the Integrity of Creation. This book was prepared by the Integrity of Creation Working group of the Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the Union of Superiors General of Woman (UISG) and Men (USG) Religious, Rome and was given a Franciscan introduction. The approach was to give the young people an insight into what the issues are in stewardship for creation. In view of the climate change conference (Copenhagen 2009), this session fulfilled the requirements for the workshop that had been planned for the same time by the environment desk. The office had planned plant trees in commemoration of Cop 09 in the month of December and so the youth accepted to plant these trees in the respective countries. The office has supported them in this respect.
The volume of knowledge here above highlighted would have been incomplete if it was not crowned with the tools for application. The young people were accordingly introduced to the principles of social analysis and following the pastoral circle in issues of social justice. The session emphasized the need to use the catholic social teaching as a paradigm and framework for dealing with many of the issues that the young people may observe in their countries.
The young people resolved to work together as a team though spread over the whole East African region. They plan to start JPIC youth groups around them wherever they are staying to continue constructive dialogue on the issues raised at the training. It was agreed that the young people are going to be the JPIC listening ear on the ground in the East African region. The challenge will be in systemically following them up in their activities. The implication of these activities will be an expansion of the mandate of the office to enter more into the geographical region within which it operates. For this reason, the office is pleased to indicate that it carried out a successful visitation of all the youth groups in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania in the month of December. On this trip, an assessment was made on how best the youth can insert themselves into their own communities.
The JPIC youth groups have already began obtaining permissions from their local communities with the support of the friars. The permissions include those related to obtaining land for community tree planting or just for doing basic research on social justice issues. This proper insertion it is hope will help the office meet its objectives better.
World Aids Day
On the 1st of December 2009, the office of JPIC organized the Franciscan celebrations of World Aids Day. The celebrations were held at the Tangaza College in Nairobi and were graced by Msgr Januscz the councilor to the Nuncio in Kenya. In the runner up to the celebrations, essay, poetry and artwork competitions were organized in schools run by Franciscans across Kenya. The themes for these competitions were: “Holistic Approach to Aids Prevention” guided by the Pope Benedict XVI and “Compassion towards the infected and affected” guided by St. Francis’ kiss to the leper.
In the pope’s words:
“…. I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money…. The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering…..”
words of Pope Benedict XVI on his pilgrimage to Africa 2009.
In the words of St . Francis
) Francis bent down quickly and kissed the horrible hand of the poor leper who looked up with joyful surprise.
“The Lord first demanded of me, Brother Francis, to do penance in this way. When I was still living in my sins, I experienced strong revulsion at the sight of lepers. Now the Lord Himself led me to them, and I showed compassion for them.”
The competitors were to write essays and poems and construct art pieces to reflect these themes. The aim was to have school going children to own these issues and reflect on them and not to wait to be taught in class. The best pieces that were produced will be developed into a booklet that will circulated among the schools run by Franciscans.