Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tasks for the Next Two Weeks

Thanks to everyone who was able to chat today - I thought it was really useful to have a few of us together to discuss where where we are at and where we are headed.

And a reminder - we will have another group chatroom conference session at 3 eastern on Friday.

I think Paul is going to post proto-minutes soon, but I think I promised to outline people's basic tasks for the next two weeks or so -

Andy, Webmaster -programming and marketing of website, link optimization, set up blog and then donation elements on website, finalize press release for website, do research on activist/advocacy orgs and institutions/groups in OH

Paul, Policy Coordinator - write-up/clean-up a few pieces as initial blog entries, search for major news stories of last month relating to war and summarize, develop comprehensive list of links to any Uganda-related websites and esp. reports, group and orgs search for NY, recording of chat room meetings

Johnny, Operations Director - support web programming team, create template and commence work on brochure, do research on activist/advocacy orgs and other institutions/groups in MI, create grant template

Jimmy, Lead Programmer -programming and marking of website, link optimization, set up blog and then donation elements on website, get email addresses for all of us at our website

BJ, Web-designer - finish design of website, support work on brochure, activist/advocacy group and institution search in WA

Michael, Co-Director - get ready for Uganda, use time in Uganda to get video and photos and stories, use time in Uganda to establish partnerships with Ugandan orgs, draft partnership letter and draft rough budget, work on policy platform

Peter, Co-Director - write-up/clean-up a few piece for blog pieces, news analysis, organize reports on war, draft partnership letter for Uganda orgs, group search in MA, have finalized funding letter and draft budget by tomorrow at 5, work on policy platform

and for everyone -

1.) Fundraising - sent out our 2-page letter to everyone you know and people you don't know, look for grant applications

2.) Think of creative actions we can take to get people engaged and push our agenda on Capitol Hill (esp. think how we can gain media coverage)

3.) Recruit others who might be interested in working on the campaign

4.) News analysis

5.) When you finish your group search in your state, pick another one...

Thanks guys.

Embedding Peace through Negotiations

a second piece from Stephen. This one is 320 words.

Embedding Peace through Negotiations
By: Stephen Okello


Stephen Okello is a Ugandan from the war-torn north, who now works as a programme director for the Center for Conflict Resolution in Kampala. Stephen has been involved in numerous activist and research endeavours to end the war that has raged against his people for 19 years. He is now working with Uganda-CAN.

The problem of conflict is “the greatest unresoveled riddle” in politics today. It is the great curse on society, the endemic disease lurking in the background of politics.

Human history is full of the gloomy records of war and conflict. It suggests that war and not peace is the normal condition of “civilized human society.” It is arguable that recent history is the story of wars, the preparations for wars and the consequences of war.

The most unfortunate thing about war is that it accomplishes nothing. All the efforts that go into it are wasted. I deeply wish our leaders would reflect on this before plunging our country into wars that never resolve the issues involved. Norman Angell says war is “a great illusion that pays,” yet that great illusion has very unfortunate human costs.

The conflict in the northern Uganda has turned uglier recently with the death toll rising to an alarming level, leaving the suffering of so many people. I do not want to imagine how many resources have been wasted on this war, while our people have undergone so much suffering.

However, our hope today lies in the fact that more and more people are realizing that war is too dangerous to employ and that it no longer secures the traditional objectives of human security and economic advantage. It has become clear that war cannot be used to end war; peace comes rather through wise diplomacy.

Successfully ending the divisions that lead to war, healing the social wounds created by war and creating a society where the differences among social groups are resolved through compromise rather than violently. Peace agreements provide a framework for ending hostilities and the initial guide to post-conflict reforms to embed peace.

In northern Uganda, the government cannot just contain this war anymore; they must use real peace negotiations to end hostilities, and even more, to address the real grievances held by the people of the north.

We Have to Save the Next Generation

Here is a 380-word piece from Stephen Okello, one of our Ugandan bloggers. I will email it to all of you in an attachment, but I wanted to put it up here.

“We Have to Save the Next Generation”
By Stephen Okello


Stephen Okello is a Ugandan from the war-torn north, who now works as a programme director for the Center for Conflict Resolution in Kampala. Stephen has been involved in numerous activist and research endeavours to end the war that has raged against his people for 19 years. He is now working with Uganda-CAN.

It has been called one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the world, but few people realize the magnitude of devastation cause by the 19 year-armed conflict in northern Uganda.

Some years ago, many Ugandan politicians argued that the war in northern Uganda was an Acholi issue, thereby leaving it for the Acholi to find the solutions to the crisis. This blatant neglect led to suffering for the people in northern Uganda as the conflict persisted. By the end of this year the war will be in its 20th year.

The painful truth is that the people of northern Uganda have only been playing survival games caught between the UPDF government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army. The result – untold suffering, skyrocketing poverty and gross insecurity punctuated with rampant death. There is nowhere to hide.

The conflict in northern Uganda has been characterized by brutal attacks on helpless villages, abductions of innocent children to create child soldiers, maiming and killing of innocent civilians and the gross internal displacement of almost ninety percent of the region. The war in northern Uganda is a forgotten one; a war deliberately against children.

The displacement of the population has excluded large numbers of children from learning in schools. More than 23% of school-age children (6-12 year olds) are not in school, and more than 50% of the 1,200 primary schools in the five northern districts have been displaced. Displacement and destruction of school facilities has led to overcrowding, poor health and awful sanitation. The classroom to pupil ratio ranges between 1:150 and 1:200. About 80% of children in Pader District study under trees if they are lucky to study at all.

Beyond the educational crisis, the over 1.6 million people displaced have little to no access to health service. Malnutrition is rampant, and the war situation has rapidly increased HIV/AIDS rates. Many in the camps fear that the entire next generation will be wiped out by disease and starvation.

The recent peace talks that just collapsed only paint a darker future for the Acholi peasants, prompting many questions that need to be answered. The situation continues to worsen, while the government just pumps money into its defence budget.

Our people are suffering. Any sober human being cannot accept such suffering to continue under normal circumstances. We have to save the next generation.

The Strategic Plan.

All of you should have received an email from me with an attached rough strategic plan. If you didn't receive this, email me.

This is totally a work-in-progress, so please send along or post your thoughts on revisions, additions, subtractions. Yet, I really think this document is important because it will help us to focus on the immediate tasks we need to accomplish. In that vein, please think about what parts of the strategic plan you want to invest in and take ownership over.

Johnny, I agree on a shorter funding letter - though perhaps we could have both a longer more-detailed version and a short-and-sweet piece.

In other news, BJ, I have two blog pieces from a guy from northern Uganda, which I am going to edit today and send to you. Perhaps they could be a few of the first postings on the blog. And that raises a question for the group - how do we want to kick off the blog? I'd be happy to write a short piece just explaining about the situation and campaign if people think that is a good idea...

Funding letter

I personally think that our fundraising letter is TOO LONG and worry that people won't take the time to read 3 pages. It might be better to grab attention with something shorter that they will actually read and then make more information available on the website...I have been editing it a little bit and will be able to send out a shorter revision later today - then you can decide if it would be best to go with a shorter version or a more thorough one...also, I'll be online today if we are gonna chat @ 3.

Let's Roll

Good morning all y'all.

Just so you guys know, as of today, I am working 40 hours a week on Uganda-CAN, thanks to some generous AFJN donors. So if you have some work that needs to be done or ideas to be followed up upon, let me know. And this also means you can now kick my ass if things don't start moving a helluva lot faster.

The strategic plan is underway and I should have a rough draft in your mailboxes by 1:30 this afternoon. Check it out and a.) let me know additions, subtractions and revisions and b.) let me know what pieces you want to lead and/or work on in the coming months. I agree with Michael generally on the categories, though I broke them up as Website Management and Marketing, Grassroots Organizing within United States, Partnering with Relevant Orgs/Campaigns, Linkage with Individuals and Groups in Uganda, Policy Analysis and Agenda and Mobilization for Action.

Also if anyone has any final recommendations for the funding letter and/or mission statement, send them by today.

Finally, I am not sure today's chatroom conference session is going to work as I haven't really heard from anyone. I am leaning towards canceling it formally (and if people are still online, we can still talk) and postponing it to the end of the week or weekend. I just think it is crucial that we all talk as a group at some point by the end of the week. I will let you know in my email later with the strategic plan.

In news, there was an attack by the LRA on Saturday, which is covered in today's NY Times. 8 people killed, I think, somewhere in the Gulu region (one of the three districts of Acholiland - the hot spot for the war).

Have a sweet Tuesday.

Pedro

Monday, May 30, 2005

STRATEGIC PLAN DEVELOPMENT

Peter left Seattle this morning under slightly different circumstances than was expected, so we did not have the time to draft a strategic plan-- one that would set the specifics of what is to be accomplished in the next two months, and also who can go about doing it all.

SO: if you all have ideas about various considerations, please post them. I'm thinking of six facets: development (fundraising), technical (web), material development (research and reports), organizing in the US (getting people involved), networking with Ugandans (key civil society players), and strategic coordination in DC so as to form relations with key actors and learn who should be the target of our campaigns (aka who has the most influence over this, what State Dept people set the agenda, etc.). If anyone has more ideas, or specific reccomendations within those categories, post.

ONE OTHER COOL NOTE: I dropped $1500 on a digital SLR camera yesterday (no interest credit card payments for a year...) so the pictures I bring back from northern Uganda (leave next Monday, gone until July 6, to DC July 11) had better rock some worlds.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Welcome

We can start using this blog instead of emailing each other 4 times day.

If you have a message to the entire group, please post it here. If the message requires an attachment, do please email that to the "listserv".