GNRC Third Forum – Latin America Report
GNRC Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Session Report and Action Priorities for 2008-2012
Third Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children
LEARNING TO SHARE
Values, Action, Hope
33 people from 15 countries participated for Latin America in the regional meetings of the Third Forum. They included 4 children and one person from the United States of America. The participants were from different Christian denominations as well as the Jewish and Baha’i faiths. 9 regional institutions were represented: the Latin American Episcopal Council, the Latin American Council of Churches, the Caribbean Conference of Churches, the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians, World Vision, the Peace and Justice Service, the Latin American and Caribbean News Agency, UNESCO and UNICEF.
The sessions began with a presentation of the work already implemented by GNRC in Latin America, in the following countries in which it is present: Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Honduras and El Salvador. Since the path already traveled should be taken into account for purposes of continuity and for future planning in the region, it can be summed up as follows:
- An emphasis on violent situations, which has led the Network to prioritize intra-family violence and to gain deeper knowledge about it in the region.
- The implementation of Ethics Education using the “Learning to Live Together” manual, through training workshops on its use with the educational community, through workshops aimed at children, and follow-up using the arts as part of the methodology.
- Direct work with children in Education for Peace.
- Direct and active participation of children in all events, as a characteristic of the Network in the region.
- Importance given to inter-generational dialogue, and
- The creation of inter-religious national committees, which has allowed follow-up on events, and the possibility of sustaining the work of the GNRC at the country and regional levels.
Latin America Agreements
Following the Forum’s sub-themes, and in the spirit of learning to share values, action, and hope, the Latin American participants summarized their proposals for the GNRC in the region as follows:
As people of faith, with diverse spiritual roots, united in the ways of life to share the bread that nourishes the body and the spirit, and in use of the freedom that the Maker of life gave us to love the children of the world, we pledge:
In general terms to:
- Monitor country-level implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Reaffirm the right of children to be protagonist participants in the events, actions and decisions of the Network, emphasizing their learning about ethical leadership, human rights and conflict resolution.
- Reaffirm Ethics Education as a priority and a cross-cutting element in the implementation of commitments related to the three Forum themes.
- Promote dialogue at various levels, on the basis of our identity as people of faith.
In operational terms to:
- Expand and “weave” the GNRC in other countries, promoting interfaith dialogue through viable proposals, and seeking to influence religious leaders.
- Reaffirm inter-religious and inter-generational Management Committees at the national level with members formally delegated and funded by their institutions as part of economic co-participation in the initiatives of the Network, and which can operate from a particular physical space. Such committees should be able to develop 4-year work plans, with funding projects tailored to the specific requirements and priorities of the country.
- Develop voluntary human resources, while ensuring the funding of activities.
- Use the media and the arts to spread principles of the Network.
- Maintain a website as an essential task, providing a summary of current events and information about available materials.
In relation to Poverty:
Transformative and liberating education including ethical values
Feeding the hope for change, believing that change is possible, and activating creativity for justice and equity. Integrating ethics with economics. Appealing to ethics to counter corruption and identifying the latter as a cause of inequity. Linking material poverty to spiritual poverty that allows for the former. Recovering shared memory as spiritual communities. Linking faith to the practice of citizenship, and ethics as an element of social transformation and mobilization. Supporting access to education for families.
Structural policies for the redistribution of wealth
Identifying the growth of the gap between rich and poor, between countries and within them, as a matter of inequity and an ethical challenge. Participating in public policy matters, demanding that the State comply with such policies, while working on small-scale solutions. Supporting peaceful claims for people’s rights. Prioritizing the satisfaction of children’s basic needs, creating conditions for quality education and training young people to become productive actors in society. Fostering engaged citizenship among children and youth, working with them as they take concrete actions.
The elimination of all forms of discrimination
Prioritizing Network activities favoring excluded and vulnerable populations. Incorporating the involvement of children and young people with different abilities and disabilities. Addressing the situation of women and discrimination against them with affirmative action in communities of faith and in public policies.
In relation to Violence:
Mobilizing churches to address issues of violence using existing public policies and promoting the creation of policies which are lacking and badly needed. Defending life in all its dimensions. Empowering minorities and those who suffer systematic violence, especially girls, aware that they are more frequent victims of violence. Analyzing reality at the country level in relation to different forms of violence, thus emphasizing in some cases work with victims of migration and displacement.
Education on Human Rights, Ethics and Citizenship
Listening to children and promoting their participation. Training leaders who can replicate within their communities the principles that promote a culture of peace. Announcing a culture of life and denouncing a culture of death. Training religious communities in the holistic prevention of violence. Linking the secular development of Ethics with ethical religious language. Taking action about the harm inflicted by the media on children, and reversing its use to raise awareness and sensitize people about family and societal values. Training educators, both in the formal and the informal spheres. Promoting Ethical Education in school curricula.
Actions for promotion, prevention and care from infancy
Using media and proven methodologies. Organizing information and a database to allow work on Ethical Education from an early age and from within the family.
In relation to the Environment:
To relate to the Earth as a mother, and as a work of God, educating so that all will be protectors of the Earth.
Affirming the need to link environmental degradation with ethics and the need to care for future generations. Using media to disseminate the work of the GNRC with children on this matter. Denouncing from faith communities the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources. Promoting and implementing educational programs, especially those for children and adolescents, which include concrete practices.
Food Production as a priority in relation to energy production, while respecting the environment.
Making this issue a priority in the socio-economic policies of the region, and establishing a dialogue with governments. Promoting actions and educational programs on production and food security, including water as a resource.
Seeking the influence of churches and faith communities in the making and enforcement of policies, starting with training on the subject and concrete commitments. Drawing lessons from native peoples in the pursuit of balance and interdependence with mother earth, beyond mere economic development.
Day of Prayer and Action for Children
Regional participants found that this initiative is very important in the activities of an inter-religious network dedicated to children.
The GNRC in Latin America will implement the Day of Prayer and Action for Children in the countries where it has a presence, hoping that this practice will be expanded gradually to other countries in the region. The manner in which this initiative will be concretized during 2008 will be determined in consultation with the GNRC national groups, learning lessons from these first experiences about what is feasible and what may be the best practices for the future.