Reviewing 2006 and
a Sneak-peak at 2007
At this time of calendrical transition, it is helpful for us to look back at the past year and forward to the next. As founder and coordinator of RESPECT International, it is my honour to encapsulate where we've been and where we plan to go.
In the life of a young organization like RESPECT, founded in 2002, there can be no boring times. RESPECT introduced over a thousand Anglophone and Francophone war-affected youth to non-refugee youth in Canada, the USA, France, Australia and so forth.
RESPECT established a new portable computer resource center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with four laptops. The computer resource center we helped establish in Northern Uganda three years ago still has students attending classes and is now connected to the internet though they are having trouble paying the monthly subscription rate. The computer resource center established with Mohomou Refugee School is still teaching students though they've needed to reduce the number of computers they can use for lack of a good generator.
RESPECT and Roots & Shoots (Jane Goodall Institute) have officially launched a partnership in which we plan to connect all interested refugee and war-affected communities in RESPECT's network to communities involved in the environmental program through their Partners In Understanding project.
RESPECT University, under the vision and leadership of Ashok Pillai, has initiated courses including Small Business, Human Rights, and so forth in various refugee communities and is poised to launch several others. These courses give high school graduates in refugee and war-affected communities the opportunity to continue learning even if they are unable to go to a post-secondary institution for further training.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Will Wallace for his tireless work in keeping RESPECT website afloat, our e-Zines pumping out biweekly, which is no small feat, and in being a friend. To Sandrine Cortet, French RESPECT Coordinator, I give hearty congratulations on the birth of her son Marty. Thank you also for your continued efforts to coordinate work with Francophone countries and so much more.
We are also very proud of Dieudonné Mutambala who received one of the United Nations Online Volunteer of the Year Award from Online Volunteering (UN Volunteers) for his tireless work online and off to coordinate RESPECT's activities in the DRC. The expressions of appreciation are much too numerous to list — suffice it to say that there are dozens of people who have worked hard in 2006 to bring us RESPECT e-Zine articles, RESPECT University courses, and coordinated letter exchanges. Thank you all! (If volunteers do not thank each other — who will thank us?)
2007 brings new challenges and opportunities. I am committing to working to establish RESPECT as a registered charity, which will give us the opportunity to seek grants for funding as well as better position us to receive private donations. It is my intention to establish a local board of directors and an international advisory council. Also, I am starting a Master's degree in January related to RESPECT work. My thesis will be a study to evaluate the workings of RESPECT's global letter exchange for war-affected populations. By looking intensively at how what we do affects war-affected populations, RESPECT will be able to improve and grow and we'll have a chance to get what we do into the academic record which may begin to inform policies and practices of other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well. RESPECT hopes to establish at least one more computer resource center in the coming year through World Computer Exchange.
To all of you who receive this e-Zine — I wish you a very Happy (belated) Hanuka, a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza and a healthy and meaningful New Year. May 2007 bring us the opportunity to do things of which we are truly proud.
RESPECT International Coordinator