Disclaimer: The blogs on this site are written by our volunteers and guest writers. They do not reflect the views of the WCIA. We hope that sharing a range of views will encourage discussion and debate. Please get in touch if you wish to contribute a blog. Blogs are published in the language the volunteer has chosen to write in (whether that is Welsh or English) and we welcome submissions in both languages.
by Hannah Isaac, work experience placement, Howell’s School
Modern slaves can be hard to spot. Believe it or not many people are unaware that slavery still exists in our modern world. There have been some stories of human trafficking which have made their way into the headlines, however this will focus on a more specific and recent scandal, so we can raise awareness of this problem and learn how we can help stop it.
At the beginning of July 2019, it made the headlines that the UK’s largest modern slavery gang trafficked over 400 victims. The Polish gang cruelly exploited vulnerable people like the homeless, and those who had just come out of prison, in their homeland – bringing them over to the UK. Many people who flee from persecution or war in other countries are then vulnerable and are picked up by traffickers or slave gangs and brought over for illegal labour. Slavery is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
They were being starved, and when they did eat, their meals came from food banks and food kitchens. For all their toil some were paid 50p per hour, and sometimes their wages were stolen. They were forced to work on farms, rubbish recycling centres and poultry factories and made to live in squalor whilst the gang’s bosses maintained a luxurious lifestyle and made about £3 million over several years.
One victim even said, “I would say some homeless people here in the UK live better than I lived after I arrived over here,”. They were kept tightly under lock and key – their identity cards were taken from them; if any complained they would be threatened and beaten.
Nobody knew the troubles they were going through, which were hidden right in plain sight. An anti- trafficking charity noticed an increase in the amount of Polish people attending one of their soup kitchens and alerted the authorities.
These tragedies are taking place right under our noses – and if we become more aware of them and learn signs which may help us to spot and prevent misfortunes like this continuing. If you come into contact someone some signs that may help identify them is victims are if they look malnourished; if someone else is speaking for them. They may look reluctant to interact with others; they may not have personal identification with them; if they’re being dropped off and picked up from work at unusual times – consistently; and they may not able to move around freely. These are always things to look out for, because these people are living in fear, and do not have a voice and you could make the difference in their life. We must remember that when you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.
Spot the signs of slavery
“International Cooperation, the shaping of our common future, is far too important o be left to governments and experts alone.”
Willy Brandt, “The Independent Commission on International Development: A Programme for Survival”, 1980
Willy Brandt, “The Independent Commission on International Development: A Programme for Survival”, 1980
In August 2014, the Welsh Government published their grant bid for the ‘Wales for Africa’ programme – long awaited by civil society organisations and those active in internationalism – stimulating debate about how future programming might best be focused.
Online discussion, stimulated by an excellent blog post by Associate Professor Ele Fisher, focused on how Wales for Africa could be more recognised in international development circles. But is it ‘international development’… or is it actually an international volunteering sector, with a strong ‘communitarian’ element, and if so what difference does this make? Should our reference be the UK / DfID approach, or does Wales have more in common with European approaches – in particular, emerging thinking around the ‘Fourth Pillar of International Cooperation’, which explicitly focuses on the role of burgeoning ‘citizen initiatives for development’? And how should the government’s Wales for Africa programme (and perhaps more importantly, civil society’s response to it) be framed, in order to be more effective – and better understood?
One could posit that Wales for Africa is actually not a governmental international development strategy in the sense that the wider international development ‘establishment’ see it; but a support mechanism for Wales’ civil society movements, through global citizenshipand volunteering, to participate in international cooperation – with shared aspirations to contribute towards ending poverty (the MDGs). The challenge – quite apart from these words meaning little to Ioan or Joan on the street – is that the language of Wales for Africa over the last few years, and therefore the focus of critique, has been framed firmly in international development.
To the ordinary volunteer or person on the street, the great goal of ‘making poverty history’ is what motivates them to give their time, money, energy, commitment and passion. The public pressure for the Welsh Government to create ‘Wales for Africa’ in the first place emerged directly from communities’ involvement in the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign. It reflected the desire of ordinary people to do more than just sign a petition; and the desire of civil society organisations ‘beyond the development sector’ to offer tangible skills and knowledge.
Over recent years, this has started to be recognised as what some call a ‘distinct Welsh model’ with an approach that has been coined as ‘communitarian’. It is about harnessing the power of community-based civil society links, connecting professionals such as health, teachers and environmental workers as well as members of the African diaspora, Fair traders and equality activists, to support each other on a ‘community to community’ basis – not just communities of geography, but communities of interest, knowledge and expertise. Rather than professional staff in country offices, it is volunteering and cooperation through direct contact with local in-country partners.
As BOND’s own research on public attitudes to global poverty has found, the mainstream international development sector has left the public behind in understanding of poverty issues – and as research led in Belgium & Holland has identified, this has been paralleled by a burgeoning movement across Europe of small scale, private, voluntary and citizen-led initiatives, as people seek to make a more personal contribution in an ever-globalising world. In the Benelux nations this has been dubbed ‘the Fourth Pillar’ of development cooperation – and it is all about relationships. It should perhaps be emphasised that these initiatives exist throughout England too – it is just that there is no (properly resourced) support infrastructure for them, nothing to steer them towards good practice, or away from bad practice which can therefore flourish undetected.
Networks in Wales that have blossomed have to date been primarily been ‘identity driven’ (ie by the inputs of the Welsh participants who make them up, such as health professionals, diaspora or community linkers), rather than ‘outcomes driven’ (i.e. by the change they are seeking to create). Consequently, individuals across Wales have very different interpretations of why they do what they do, and what they believe Wales for Africa is (or should, or could, be). There is a great opportunity here for civil society to shift the narrative, defining real goals and priorities, and redefining ‘effectiveness’ against the outcomes we collectively seek to achieve.
Back to Schools (of thought)
One can identify three distinct schools of thought across the ‘Wales for Africa sector’:
Let’s explore these pillars.
A driving force of the Welsh Government’s narrative around Wales for Africa is to engage ‘more’ people with global issues. Perhaps the most stunning demonstration of this is Wales’ becoming the world’s first Fairtrade Nation in 2008 – a cumulation of many thousands of individual achievements by campaigners, schools, community networks, local businesses and institutions. But this also encapsulates a staggering array of schools activity, awareness raising, local events, debate, media coverage, fundraising, casual volunteering, creative arts and community outreach work that infiltrates almost every community across Wales in some way or other.
Global Citizenship in itself is not a driving force of other governmental international development strategies – this tends to fall under schools policy, in the domain of development education and awareness raising. Following the last change of UK government, DfID deprioritised awareness raising initiatives in the UK, considered to dilute the remit of a ‘development agency’ (indeed, DfID Minister Andrew Mitchell viewed it as no more than brainwashing to support the government’s development commitments).
But in Wales – whilst arguments for stronger Welsh Government schools policy are backed up by a recent June 2014 Estyn Report into ESDGC – global citizenship is also a motivation behind the government’s support for work with Africa. It is part of a wider narrative about Wales’ place in the world, a distinctive nation and culture with values that are complementary but not the same as ‘Britishness’; a leader in sustainable development, a good place to visit and to do business, a nation where relationships are important. Encouraging people to engage with the world through Wales for Africa seeks to broaden horizons, knowledge and aspirations. Just think what could be achieved if all of these exciting and disparate activities could be better supported and joined up.
Welsh health professionals delivering training with Liberian nurses, are giving their voluntary time and energy. Welsh citizens from the African Diaspora are volunteering their knowledge and connections. Environmental workers are volunteering their expertise to conservation or clean energy projects. Ordinary citizens participating in exchange visits are building long-term relationships and friendships that many southern partners value highly indeed, as a refreshing change from the ‘transactional’ nature of many vertical development programmes. International volunteering is perhaps the cornerstone of the Wales for Africa programme.
Development practitioners hold valid concerns around parochialism, poor practice, and grasp of ‘do no harm’ principles whilst volunteers (and hosting African partners) are going through these life changing learning journeys. A similar debate around ‘Voluntourism’ in the USA highlights great gaps in ‘thinking about linking’. But this is precisely where Wales for Africa’s resourcing can make perhaps the greatest difference.
It is easy to forget that Oxfam started out as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief… a small, amateur, voluntary organisation on a learning journey. With the right nurturing, acorns grow into great oak trees.
The Welsh Government do not have devolved powers to directly fund poverty project partners in the south – this is the domain of DfID. But they do have competency to support professionalization of Welsh organisations, and of the (very small number of) people employed across Wales’ international sector to date, all are employed to support and advise Welsh volunteers and organisations to involve more people in delivering better projects.
The challenge I would opine for the next phase of Wales for Africa is to shift towards support that is tailored to the very different types of volunteering contribution that Welsh individuals make. The support needs (and risks) are greatly different between a casual volunteering role such as local campaigning or fundraising, semi-structured volunteering such as charity trusteeship or a 2-week exchange trips to Africa; and a structured placementsuch as internships of ILO, VSO or UNA Exchange. Delivering cataract surgery in a remote rural village presents a whole basket of risks that are not mitigated by the ‘intent to do good’, and for which proper support and training are essential. But a volunteer is less likely to do much harm running a fundraising tombola – although support and training in how to communicate poverty issues might deepen people’s understanding and propensity to support African development.
One of the most visible elements of Wales for Africa since 2007 has been the expansion (or perhaps more accurately, raised profile) of organisations actively in Wales Africa linking exchanges and mutual project development – community links, health links, diaspora links, school links. As mentioned earlier, the ‘identity focus’ on Welsh networks has perhaps excluded some organisations who don’t identify with these (such as, ironically, small international NGOs) – and confused those with multiple identities (such as community links with health and fairtrade projects). Perhaps the most important need for Wales for Africa programming going forward, is not to ‘label’ organisations with an identity, but to recognise and support them for what they are.
The greatest opportunity here, is to elevate the involvement of some of Wales’ leading organisations. Many linking groups are primarily focused on volunteer exchanges and learning; but some have gone on to develop projects that, through cooperative working, are truly building the capacity of their African partners and supporting delivery of cutting edge, effective, small scale community development work. But these organisations face a massive jump between the ‘small grants’ level (£2-4k) of community linking funds, and those of international development project funders such as DfID, Comic Relief and Lottery which tend to be £100k upwards, with a laser sharp focus on poverty reduction rather than more general ‘cooperation’ and capacity building activities. Again, there is an opportunity gap here.
Professor Fisher’s article highlights the ‘grand project’ of global development that is moving increasingly towards big players, multi-billion budgets, aid choice, infrastructure projects – and how this may open an opportunity for Welsh organisations to move into the ‘community level gaps’ that emerge. With £600,000 – is there any added value in Wales trying to play on the grand development stage? The whole WG Wales for Africa budget could be spent on 2 water boreholes in the Sudan, or a couple of miles of road in Angola, that could indeed benefit thousands of people and seem more focused. But against many hundreds of others playing on this stage, with vastly more resources and experience, it is difficult to see what ‘USP’ Wales could add to this mix.
But Cooperation is another ‘development language’ that is the focus of many European and Scandinavian development agencies, carrying with it a whole load of different connotations. Cooperation implies more ‘equity based’ relationships, which would go a long way towards addressing concerns about paternalistic attitudes and charity dependency – and would align Wales with wider European models of practice.
Three ‘pillars of development’ are universally recognised:
Approaches that do not fit these models, such as volunteerism and community linking, struggle for credibility with an International Development practitioner community who can see these as an amateur infringement at best and a major threat to practice at worst. However, across Europe, there have been recent shifts towards recognising a ‘Fourth Pillar’ of Development:
Individuals, private initiatives, community groups and small voluntary organisations, independent of both the state and multinational NGOs, have been a rapidly exploding movement across Northern Europe in the last few years , and international cooperation agencies in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany are exploring how to engage with this untapped energy. The first mapping exercise of which (titled ‘The Accidental Aid Worker’) was published in January this year by Leuven and Nijmegen Universities, as the platform for a first European Conference on the topic.
Flanders, a devolved state within Belgium with strong parallels to Wales, have had a devolved Flemish International Cooperation Agency since 1993. They have now grown, with a budget of E31million, to a point of directly funding south-south cooperation projects; but retain a strong foundation and support across Flemish Civil Society through core funding 11.11.11 , the ‘Fourth Pillar Support Platform’. This services more than 550 Flemish citizen initiatives through training, advice and information exchange – a not dissimilar function to the Wales International Development Hub.
That Wales could learn from these models is undoubtable; but perhaps there is more to this. Is Wales for Africa actually more akin to European models of international cooperation? And could civil society and the Welsh Government position our future scheme to be a lead player in this emerging arena of thinking and practice?
So, more of the same, slight change or radical redirection? Is it too idealist to seek all three – a radical redirection that builds on Wales’ strengths?
My ‘radical redirection’ would be to shift the language and thinking of Wales for Africa to explicitly recognise and build joined-up programmes around the three pillars of global citizenship, international volunteering and development cooperation. One could reinforce this by committing roughly equal resources to each pillar. This would chime with calls from International Development practitioners to commit more dedicated resources to well-established Welsh organisations with strong southern partners (the international cooperation pillar), whilst balancing the recognition that there are other players in the sector whose contributions, through more focused support to Global Citizenship and International Volunteering, will lead to a truly holistic Wales for Africa programme for the future.
Time to celebrate all the young people who have been active in the pursuit of peace in their local or wider community this year. Many have been working towards achieving Peace School status.
The young people have inspired so many and we are all very excited by the entries. The WCIA Young Peacemakers Awards will be presented on Thursday 4 July at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen by the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Young artists and writers from Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge almost swept the board on the art awards: Lois William’s Poem on meeting a Holocaust Survivor took first prize in the Young Writer category.
Elgan Edwards, with Peace quotes on black with doves, won the 2D art category; Llio Mutembo came joint first in the 3D art with Poppies, barbed wire & a bullet together with Tigi Hirst-Williams, who used natural materials in her art work to remind us of the link between peace and care of our planet.
Year 5 at Ysgol Tirdeunaw delighted the judges with their story and images about Bubbles Troubles (Tirdeunaw – Bubbles’ Troubles – Tirdeunaw – Bwrlwm a’i broblem) a turtle, who finds friendship, overcomes discrimination and teaches us what we can all do to help the environment. (Gwern William, from Ysgol David Hughes, won the prize for digital peacemaker with his song about a victim of the Holocaust.
The young Kindness ambassadors at Peace School Ysgol Dyffryn Aman were absolute stars spreading peace in their school and community by random acts of kindness and took the first prize for Peacemakers.
Here is a selection of some of the great work.
Visit our young Peacemakers Awards exhibition at the Eisteddfod to see more and check out the full entries list .
See more images on our twitter account
Mae’r byd wedi cael ei galonogi’n gyntaf, gan y protestwyr heddychlon yn Khartoum. yn galw am ddiwedd cyfundrefn unbenaethol Omar al-Bashir yn Swdan, a arweiniodd at ymddiswyddiad yr Arlywydd ac at Gyngor Milwrol Trosiannol yn cymryd rheolaeth. Y ddelwedd eiconig o’r chwyldro oedd dynes, wedi’i gwisgo mewn gwyn i ddynodi heddwch, yn sefyll ar do car yn annerch y torfeydd. Mae’r trais eithafol ar brotestwyr heddychlon ar 3 Mehefin gan filwyr Janjaweed yn ol pob sôn (Rapid Support Services), a arweiniodd at tua 200 o farwolaethau a llawer mwy o anafiadau, wedi achosi dicter, ac mae’r Undeb Affricanaidd wedi gwahardd Swdan rhag bod yn rhan ohono.
Mae protestiadau heddychlon yn erbyn yr unbennaeth 30 mlynedd yn aml wedi arwain at drais. Ers mis Rhagfyr 2018, mae protestwyr wedi meddiannu rhannau o ganolbarth Khartoum, yn galw am gael dychwelyd at reolaeth sifil. Mae’r proffesiwn meddygol wedi cael ei dargedu’n arbennig gan awdurdodau, oherwydd eu bod yn cofnodi’r anafiadau a’r mathau o arfau a ddefnyddir. Mae staff meddygol wedi cael eu curo mewn ysbytai, eu llusgo allan a’u cadw yn erbyn eu hewyllys, a’u lladd hd yn oed. Yn ddiweddar, mae ysbytai wedi dweud bod staff meddygol wedi cael eu treisio hefyd. Ceir adroddiadau hefyd, am gyrff protestwyr yn cael eu taflu yn y Nîl i gelu’r gwir am nifer y marwolaethau. Mae defnyddio’r milwyr Janjaweed, sy’n enwog am yr erchyllterau a gyflawnont ar sifiliaid yn Nhalaith Darfur, yn dacteg i ledaenu arswyd a trawmateiddio’r protestwyr. Adroddodd Fergal Keane ar gyfer y BBC ar ôl yr ymosodiadau ar brotestwyr. Mae’n ysgrifennu “Sudan has been driven backwards by the conspiracy of a military elite whose priority is the survival of their power and privilege.”
Mae rhyddid mynegiant hefyd wedi’i gwtogi, yn sgil y ffaith bod y rhyngrwyd wedi cael ei gau i lawr yn Swdan ers 3 Mehefin. Er gwaethaf hyn, mae adroddiadau wedi cyrraedd y tu allan i Swdan, ac mae pobl yn parhau i ymfyddino y tu mewn. Cynhaliodd pobl ifanc yng Nghaerdydd brotest ddramatig yn Heol y Frenhines, yn cerdded tra wedi’u gorchuddio â gwaed ffug. Mae’r gymuned Sudaneaidd yng Nghymru yn galw am undod, ac mae protest byd-eang yn cael ei gynnal ar 30 Mehefin yn erbyn y distawrwydd ynghylch y digwyddiadau yn Swdan. Ar 30 Mehefin, bydd hi’n 30 mlynedd ers i Omar al-Bashir ddod i rym.
Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health was built as the nations’ memorial to the fallen of WW1 – thanks to the vision of one family of philanthopists from Powys, who made it their mission to support the people and communities of Wales in building a better world.
David Davies (1880-1944), Gwendoline Davies (1882-1951) and Margaret Davies (1884-1963) were the grandchildren of the remarkable Welsh industrialist and entrepreneur, David Davies, Llandinam (1818-1890), and used their inherited wealth with imagination to sponsor numerous cultural, educational and social projects to benefit the people of Wales.
This year’s Gregynog Festival season, in the Davies family home of Gregynog Hall, Powys, celebrates the anniversaries of two institutions founded by David Davies: the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University and the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff.
“‘A Dining Table Divided’ by war, yet united for peace, the Davies family are a microcosm of Wales’ WW1 story – and their peacebuilding legacy lives on today. Come to their home, to this year’s Gregynog Peace Lecture to hear their moving and inspiring story.”
For Tickets, click on links below
Gregynog Hall, Powys, home of the Davies family who founded Wales’ Temple of Peace. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Within weeks of the 1918 Armistice, David, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies made a bold offer to the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth. They proposed to endow the world’s first Chair in International Politics. Their vision was driven by the recognition of ‘the need for considering all the peoples of the world as one’. Dr Jan Ruzicka, Director of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, explains how such a world view represented a fundamental departure from the existing practice and show the difficulties David Davies met in his quest to realize it.
Craig Owen, Head of Wales for Peace (Welsh Centre for International Affairs), marks the centenary of the post-World War I Treaty of Versailles – signed on 28 June 1919 – with a special lecture exploring the ‘peace legacy’ of the Davies family, Wales’ unique Temple of Peace, and the extraordinary stories of ordinary people who, over the last 100 years, have shaped Wales’ role in building a better world. Can they inspire a new generation of internationalists?
Bottom: David Davies during WW1 Military Service, as commanding officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (14th Battalion), before witnessing the horrors of the trenches; Gwendoline & Margaret (Daisy) Davies pre-WW1; cousin George M Ll Davies, WW1 conscientious objector.Top: George M Ll Davies during his military service (prior to opposing WW1); Gwen & Daisy nursing at the front in Troyes, France; cousin Edward Lloyd Jones, killed in action in Gallipoli, 1915.
Volunteer Aphrael with Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language shaking a bucket for Cyclone Idai
From the 8th February to the 7th May, I carried out work experience as a website editor for the WCIA. Initially I believed this work experience would only consist of adding new posts to their website (something I was already looking forward to as I was very excited to learn how to do this) and perhaps I would write some blog pieces of my own. I did indeed do both of these activities (you can see a blog post I wrote here), however, there was so much more to this placement that really sparked my interest.
On my first day, Susie (the Chief Executive) asked me what aspects of international affairs I might be interested in, in hopes of tailoring my work experience to suit me. I explained how I was interested in policy work and she took it on board really well. I carried out work such as reading Welsh Government documents; I once did this to help Susie create a policy piece on a ‘Globally responsible Wales’. I also got to visit the Welsh Assembly to sit in a Human Rights cross party group, and I listened in on a meeting which focused on how the new Welsh curriculum could help created better global citizens. All of these experiences have allowed me to enhance my experience in the political and social policy area. This is something that is very useful as I wish to go into the political sphere as a career, this work experience has given me so much that I know will be useful in helping me achieve this goal.
I also helped out at events during my time doing work experience which was such a brilliant opportunity. As someone who finds it difficult putting herself out there, this was a huge confidence boost (especially when you get the opportunity to talk to Welsh Ministers which I was very lucky to do.) One such event I helped out at was ‘Wales in a Post-Brexit World’. At the start of the event I marked everyone in to ensure those who had a ticket received a seat (the event was quite popular!). During the event I wrote notes so that an article could be created the next day on what people had said and what was discussed. At the end of the evening I helped collect donations for Mozambique who suffered massively due to Cyclone Idai by standing with a fundraising bucket at the door as people were leaving to go home. This was all a first for me as I have never felt comfortable helping out at events, however, everyone at the WCIA were great at making the event fun rather than stressful as I always feared events would be!
I always felt like I could ask for help if I was uncertain about a task as no-one looked down at you for being unsure. They would instantly explain what was required which made the whole work experience process much more enjoyable as I felt like I was constantly progressing and gaining new skills.
I feel like I have gained so many skills from this work experience. From website editing to communicating with others, the list was endless. I think one of the skills I will take away with me as the most useful however, was learning how to effectively problem solve. As much as I knew people were around to help me, sometimes solving the problem through experimenting was more useful as it helped me to not only think outside the box a bit and it also meant that I gained better awareness of what each part of the website was useful for.