Amnesty International Auckland Regional Training Workshop

I’ve had a busy weekend!

Today, instead of indulging my mother and spending the day with her for Mothers’ Day, I went off to the free Amnesty International workshop held at Auckland Uni, which went from 9:30am to 4pm – a full day, especially including the travel times.

So yesterday, to make up for this loss, I tidied my room and mowed all the lawns and folded 4 loads of washing. I also babysat so my parents could go to watch a documentary running as part of the Documentary Festival being celebrated in New Zealand at the moment, and wrote a letter in my mum’s stead, so that she didn’t have to (this was a letter complaining about a completely unjust parking fine of $65). I think I did pretty well – and today I also got her some chocolate.

This is for my mum, and all of you out there who are also mothers!

So at half past nine, I rocked up to the Arts block, and of course, got the wrong building, so spent the next five minutes trying in vain to open a locked door (I’d forgotten my wand, silly me). When I finally made it, I almost missed the room entirely, as I thought that there would be a whole room full of kids and teens, and instead found a half-empty room mainly made of adults. I thought I’d turned up on the wrong day or something. But, after a while, more teens arrived from their various homes, so I wasn’t alone anymore. ABout five other girls from my Human Rights group at school turned up, which was great. After introductions were made and chocolate was eaten (really good quality Russian stuff, yum!), we got to the first presentation: what Amnesty was going to focus on next.

Child poverty was decided, as it is a current issue in New Zealand, and has both domestic and international impacts. Amnesty has decided to do some more child-focussed campaigns, as they are considered to be one of society’s more vulnerable groups. The child poverty campaign will be on the rise, though it will be a subsection under the international Demand Dignity campaign, and hopefully we will be getting some actions to take soon, as Amnesty is revamping their website.

After that, there was a talk about all the different levels of Amnesty involvement one could take, from easy monthly actions taken online at Amnesty’s website to doing a six month internship which takes about 30 hours of work per week, and is a voluntary programme. There are youth groups, which are usually held at schools or at religious youth groups, and then after that, if you go to University, you can transfer to your Uni group, and get one year’s free membership. After University, there are also regional groups and local groups which you can transfer to at any point. The great thing about Amnesty is that it’s INTERNATIONAL, so if you go to almost anywhere in the world, you can probably get in contact with at least one Amnesty group.

The meeting was adjourned for lunch, and then returned to discuss this year’s Freedom Challenge, which is held from 30th July to 3rd August. Forced evictions are the topic of the 2012 Freedom Challenge, and the focus is on Cambodia and the Occupied West Bank in Israel. We brainstormed actions that could be taken, and got some background information about the two situations.

We also had three power points about how to take advantage of media coverage and how to get it, all about taking photographs and the importance of images, and about the power the social network now has all over the world. The social networking talk was particularly interesting, as it showed that real-time postings were very good on the one hand, but on the other, any post had about a lifespan of only TEN HOURS before sinking back into the enormous abyss of the internet. Comments,  likes and shares help to revive information, but not a lot of people do comment, apart from maybe saying “wow”, which doesn’t really do anything to start a conversation and keep it flowing.

So, that was my day today, condensed and edited. I found it really informative, although it was a lot to take in in just one day.

Hopefully, all of you are aware of what Amnesty International is, but if not, I urge you to check the website and start taking action!!

Also, spreading the word via word-of-mouth, myspace, facebook, skype, msn, instant messaging, texts, facebook and twitter, or by sharing this post or liking it, is great publicity for Amnesty International, as it helps to spread awareness all over the globe!


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