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Monday 29 May 2017
Social Justice and Advocacy Event in CBC 2016/2017 in Collaboration with the Cork Education Support Centre
By Lorna Mulvany (RE & English teacher in CBC)
In April 2017, eleven students from Transition Year and Fifth Year, attended a Social Justice and Advocacy event, organised by Mr. Edmond Hussey, PDST advisor and facilitated by Louise Callaghan of ERST and Thomas Murray Edmund Rice, U.K. Youth Advocacy coordinator. Several schools from the Edmund Rice Network also participated in region 4. The day was structured around three main topics: the refugee crisis, homelessness and HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The aim of the event was to give the students the opportunity to understand what advocacy is really about and to allow them the chance to have their voices heard.
There were three inspiring presentations, each followed by an opportunity for students to reflect and respond to what they had heard. First, we heard from a sixteen year old Syrian refugee, Abdullah Ramil, now attending an Edmund Rice school in Cork. He gave an extraordinary account of his experiences in Syria, life as a refugee in Greece and how he eventually came to Ireland where he has been for over almost two years. The second presentation was given by Cormac McArt of Edmund Rice N.I., who described his work with those who are out of home in Belfast. We listened to stories from people who found themselves homeless and what it took for them to turn their lives around. Following this was an engaging conversation, via skype, with Jessica Dewhurst, Human Rights Defender, Director of the Justice desk in South Africa and Edmund Rice International UN Ambassador. Jessica painted a picture of the complex and widespread problem of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. She explained how people living in townships, have no access to lifesaving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and how her team of volunteers are campaigning to encourage pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of these drugs so that they are more accessible to those who most need them. The campaign also focuses on educating people about HIV/AIDS and reducing the stigma associated with it. This is only one of many campaigns with which Jessica is involved. She described how all of us involved in the Edmund Rice Network can help: by being compassionate to those in our own lives, by joining campaigns and by being an advocate for those who suffer injustice.
The afternoon session focused on ‘Active Citizenship and how your voice can be heard in the EU context’, facilitated by Dr Mary Murphy of UCC and an introduction to the new leaving certificate specification ‘Politics and Society’, with Ger O'Sullivan of the NCCA. The main aim was for students to identify a campaign that they could work on with another school in the Network.
Overall, the event gave a flavour of the kind of social justice and advocacy work being carried out in Edmund Rice schools, both in Ireland and internationally. It also gave a greater understanding to students of how they can contribute to social justice and advocacy.
Daniel Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Andrew Kelleher and Michael O’Grady
Robert Loftus, Cormac McCarthy Hann, Luke Masters, Andrew Kelleher (back), Daniel Kelleher, Michael O’Grady, Charlie O’Meara (back), Sean Wallace, Conor Bradley, Conor O’Sullivan, J.D. O’Hea, Mr. Edmond Hussey
Mr. Gerard O'Sullivan (Chairperson of Management Committee CESC) Ms. Niamh Ní Mhaoláin (Director CESC) Mr. Edmond Hussey (PDST Advisor)