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“We changed the way we speak about development”

2010-11-06

Kazimierz, Poland, November 5, 2010: Polish local organizations have come together with Polish Humanitarian Action and the Foundation for Education Democracy to brief each other of the campaigns they have undertaken during the year and to evaluate the Polish part of the GREAT project. From the 18 organisations in the program 12 were represented during the day and had a frank and lively discussion about their achievements but also about the challenges they faced during the implementation. Being local in Poland meant for many organisations that development concepts were difficult to convey to their local audiences, but through innovative and well-targeted messages they were able to understand that development is a right and not up for charity.
The campaigns targeted a wide variety of target groups from students to local decision makers and some organizations were able to get in contact with their MEP as well. The organization Ratuj Tibet launched a campaign for the rights of children in Tibet by drawing ‘legal’ graffiti in different Polish towns, including Warsaw, Gdansk and Krakow. More than 200 people participated in the making of the graffitis while the organization was also collecting signatures for a petition. Local media covered the events extensively.
The Center for Civic Education worked with 30 high schools across Poland to discuss with students about development issues from a rights-based perspective. The documentaries of Terre des hommes and Action Aid were used extensively as a useful tool to start discussions about difficult issues such as the rights of children to education in a development context. Students often had a hard time understanding the conditions children were facing in Haiti or Togo, but the films really helped them in this process.
Katarzyna Baranska of the Polish Humanitarian Action pointed out how profound the change was in her own organization as a result of the GREAT project: “we no longer talk about problems, but rather about the rights of people to, for example water or education. All our documents and publications reflect the rights-based language”. [JA]