Local Workshop for Children In Preparation for the GNRC 4th Forum, Sudan, February 2012

Arab States

The GNRC AS Local Workshop for Children in Preparation for the GNRC 4th Forum was organized from 4- 5 February 2012. It was attended by 34 children and youth from various regions in Sudan. Participants were Muslims (Sunni), Christians (Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestants). They came from different ethnic groups including Egyptians, Ethiopian Africans, and members of Muslim tribes in Sudan. Some participants originated from South of Sudan, which is now a separate country.  They aged 14-17 and the Workshop was held in St. Georges School in Om-Dourman.

Members of GNRC Sudan Committee and representatives of GNRC Organization were present throughout the workshop, as well as Chaperons of Children from different regions and organizations.
The two working days were facilitated by Miss. Hind Farahat and Miss. Rand Farahat, with help from Mrs. Marian Wagdi, member of GNRC Sudan Committee.
Saturday 4 February 2012
The first day started with a silent moment for prayer, as is the tradition in all GNRC AS events. Afterwards, the facilitator welcomed the participants and explained the aim of the workshop. The Program was discussed and agreed upon by the participants and they shared their learning expectations from the workshop.

To start the training, the participants had the chance to introduce themselves via a small ice-breaking activity. A presentation about Arigatou Foundation, GNRC and the Learning to Live Together Toolkit followed. The Participants were briefed about the plans of the GNRC Fourth Forum, its themes, and the importance of their recommendations for the growth of the Network as a whole. Everyone present at the workshop joined in suggesting sand agreeing on certain rules to guide the learning and the experiences throughout the two working days.
Afterwards, the participants were led into a discussion to define and discuss poverty and its dimensions. They were asked to define poverty as they see it and write their definition on a piece of paper that was provided.

The participants defined Poverty as follows (quoted and translated):
• Poverty means that you don’t have money; you lack your basic needs. Also being poor doesn’t have to be about money only. You can be poor with information or experiences.
• Poverty is not having anyone to care for you. You might be without family or with no friends. It affects you physically and emotionally. It is also about not having money and you needs, like in Darfur, poor children are in the streets where they suffer and get abused.
• Poverty is not having basic needs like food, house, clothes and proper education. A lot of people are fortunate and they have resources but some are really unlucky and they don’t have their rights.
• Being poor is not being able to afford food. Everything else is not as important.
• Poverty is not to have resources or maybe these resources are not distributed in a good way. Sudan is a poor country but it has a lot of resources. The problem is that these recourses are exploited by a small number of people while other people live in poverty.
• Poverty is to have no one to give you money or buy you what you need. It’s also not to be able to work.
• Being poor is not being able to afford your everyday needs; the things that allow you to live well and be respected.
• The poor person is the person who doesn’t have someone to care for him. No family and no guidance. This can result in the person being lonely and sad.
• Poverty is not to have financial means. It has a very bad effect on children in particular because it can lead to malnutrition and lack of education.
• The poor person is the person who doesn’t own anything. It can lead people to do unethical behaviors like stealing and cheating. 
• Being poor is not having enough money to buy good food. It’s also not having a family to love you. A person can also be poor if he/she doesn’t have friends.
• To be poor is not to have power and rights.
• Poverty is not having your basic human rights like care, education and health services.
• Poverty is to lack something important. It can be money, education or even dreams and aspirations.
• It’s when someone lacks basic human needs. This includes nutrition, health care, safety, education, and accommodation.
• Child poverty is not having anyone to care for the child, not having games or toys… also some children don’t even have food or houses.
• The poor person is the one who has enough money only for today. He is afraid of tomorrow and doesn’t have security.
• Poverty is when the person doesn’t have the means to earn money to afford his needs. It’s being helpless and oppressed.
• Poverty depends on what country, region or culture you are from. People who have 20 Sudanese Pounds [around 5 USD] are not poor in Sudan, but they will be poor in Japan.
• Poverty means not having a future, not being empowered or educated.
• Poverty is a social problem that can lead to other problems like crime and diseases.
• To be poor is not to have enough money to secure the basic needs.

A discussion followed that linked poverty with Child Rights, wants, needs, as well as the types and manifestations of poverty.
The second session was dedicated to discussing the first Sub-theme of the Fourth Forum: Unequal Distribution of Resources. The participants were guided through the LTLT Activity “Diminishing islands”. A discussion with inhabitants of each island followed with reflection empathizing how reconciliation with others and the universe could be one way to elevate poverty.
The participants touched on the global structures that widen the gap between the rich and the poor. They reflected on how ignorance of the other and their circumstances, and indifference to their problems can increase poverty and estrangement between peoples.
They reflected on power relations between countries, groups and individuals. They expressed a very real experience with manipulation of power and leadership (Taking into account the recent wars in Sudan and the separation of South of Sudan).
The participants were asked to join in a small evaluation exercise to monitor their learning before ending the working day with a moment of silent prayer.
Sunday 5 February 2012
The First session of the day discussed the second theme of the GNRC Fourth Forum: Violence and Wars. Children were asked to share, in pairs, how they see and experience violence in their own situations and contexts. Afterwards, they were divided into small groups and asked to choose one type of conflict or violent situation. They were asked to list the causes of this conflict and its results. The outcomes of the groups were as follows:

Group 1: Violent Conflicts and Wars
Reasons:
• Unjust distribution of resources, money and power.
• Inflation and increase in the cost of goods.
• Lack of Job opportunities.
• Disrespect of others and their opinions and beliefs.

Results:
• Decrease in the quality of education. Also, schools might close altogether if the conflict escalates to a war.
• Psychological effect on children and youth, especially those who see violence or are recruited as soldiers.
Solutions:
• Encourage building schools and raising the quality of education.
• Better the health services in the country.
• Civil society organizations are to spread awareness and encourage openness and dialogue.
• Create more job opportunities.

Group 2: Violence and conflicts within families (domestic violence)
Reasons:
• disrespectful behaviors by children.
• Parents don’t feel responsible enough of their childrens’ upbringing.
• Parents could be miserly especially fathers.
• Stress of work on parents.
• Lack of appreciation.
• Some parents are very controlling of their children.
• Difference in ideas and opinions between children and parents.
• Ignorance on the part of parents,

Results:
• Children might become violent and acquire wrong behaviors.
• Psychological problems especially if the children are young.
• Lack of care by parents. They might reach a stage of carelessness about the wellbeing of their children.
• Children will not learn values like responsibility or respect.
• Everyone will suffer depression, feelings of failure and lack of aspirations.
• Conflicts might result in children or parents leaving the household.
• The academic performance of the children will be affected.

Group 3: Political Conflict (between the leading party government and the people)
Reasons:
• The monopoly the Leading party has on power, recourses and all authorities.
• Basing the constitution and the national agenda on the values of one religion regardless of other religions present in the country. [Reference to the dominating leading party in Sudan with a government that depends on Islamic Law].
• The government is cutting down expenses because of the separation between North Sudan and South of Sudan. The separation resulted in a divide in natural resources especially crude oil.
•  People don’t have their social or political right.
• Oppression of freedoms and lack of political rights.
• Unjust distribution of resources as well us corruption and manipulation of power.

Results:
• Upheavals and insecurity.
• People lose trust in the government which cannot be rebuilt.
• Increase of poverty and destitution.
• Unrest in various regions and formulation of radical revolutionary groups who are usually violent.

In the next session the participants were given some time to take a break and present their talents and culture. They were given 15 minutes to prepare something and present it to all. They presented songs, dances, religious hymns and poetry.
After this session, work on the sub-themes of the Fourth Forum resumed with the Third sub-theme: Bad Governance. To discuss this issue the participants were divided into two groups. The first group represented the government and leadership of a country. The second group represented the country’s people.
They were given time to prepare for a debate between representatives of each group. The people had to confront the government about their shortcomings, while the government had to defend itself, explain its actions, and present the opinion that people are also to blame for their own poverty and bad circumstances. Both groups were given different spaces to prepare themselves and various materials to prepare any banners, slogan and expression methods.
A full transcript of the video recording of the debate is available with the GNRC AS secretariat.
The last session of training was used to bring participants to give their recommendations and action plans on both poverty in their communities and on their GNRC future work and organization.
The Groups recommended the following as solutions of poverty:
• Encourage education especially ethics education.
• Be just and ethical. Start with one’s self and help others to make ethical decisions.
• Organize charity events, campaigns and fundraisers to help the poor and needy.
• Raise awareness about poverty and its dimensions and implications.
• Governments should provide good services to peoples and respect their rights.
• Break the divide between poor and rich children by organizing common activities, open days and shared visits to places and organizations.
• Encourage family values and protect the family as a building unit in society.
• Sharing of experiences and more communication amongst everyone present.

General recommendations of the workshop:
First Group:
• Organize training workshops for children and youth in Sudan at least twice a year.
• More participation of children and youth from Sudan in Regional and International Workshops.
• The group recommends that it joins the GNRC Youth Net more effectively and be in touch and communication with other youth from all around the world.
• Workshops to be held for parents, educators and teachers on Child Rights and Ethics Education.
• We ask for more support for GNRC Sudan so it can celebrate the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) every year in an effective way.

Second Group:
• More training for Children and youth in Sudan.
• More workshops in different schools and in different regions in Sudan.
• Encourage children and youth to participate in these workshops on all levels.
• Times and details of future workshops to be in line with the academic year and vacations so a bigger number of children can participate.
• Establish a fund for GNRC Youth Net in Sudan to support future activities.

After agreeing on these recommendations and plans, the participants signed their names inside a figure of a palm drawn on a sheet, to symbolize their commitment and agreement.
The participants evaluated the workshop in terms of logistics and the content of the training before receiving certificates of participation from GNRC Arab States Secretariat. The Workshop ended with a silent moment of prayer by everyone present.
The GNRC AS Secretariat thanks the leadership and teachers of St. George School in Om-Dourman for hosting the workshop, and for accommodating the lodging of the Regional Coordinator and the training team free of charge, in the Guest House of the school.