Célia em Movimento

an E-CHANGER volunteer for 7 years, celia worked until june 2007 for the 'gender sector' of the MST/BA - the rural landless workers movement in the northeastern brazilian state of bahia. from then until june 2010 she worked at the international secretariat of the world march of women in são paulo. although she is no longer a volunteer, she still works in brazil with the WMW and E-CHANGER and will therefore continue to share her professional and personal experiences... enjoy!

18 December 2006

Celias Christmas Appeal

On the 16th December, I will have been in Brazil for 3 ½ years… It’s a fair while and I feel very much at home here now. 8 months of this time was spent working for the CMP in Aracaju (see the first Em Movimento newsletters), and since March 2004 I have been supporting the work of the ‘Gender Sector’ of the MST in the state of Bahia (the size of France!). 2006 has been a year of both:

Successes…
- Never before has the word ‘gender’ been used and discussed so much within the movement in this state. At the beginning of the year, the theme was included – for the first time in 17 years of the movement’s existence in Bahia - as part of the programme of the yearly State Conference… a huge victory!
- Despite serious money shortages the ‘Gender Sector’ has been able to maintain its yearly time-table of activities: the I State Women Leaders’ Conference from 18th – 20th January; the VI Women Rural Workers Camp, with 1300 participants, from the 5th – 9th March; 7 Regional Women’s Conferences; workshops in rural camps; the production of 2 educational leaflets distributed to women and men in the rural camps for use in study groups (the central themes of which were ‘Violence against Women’ in the 1st and ‘Reproductive and Sexual Rights’ in the 2nd); Gender trainings with ‘Gender Sector’ coordinators and camp women and men; the launch of a “No to Violence Against Women” campaign…

And challenges…
- With the regional offices finding it difficult to keep their accounting up-to-date (imagine, for example, vouching for every centavo spent, when many of the rural camps are accessible only by moto-taxi, none of whose drivers even carry receipts!), financial project instalments are delayed and, therefore, so too are activities that had been planned a long time in advance.
- Communication continues to be one of our greatest challenges as a movement. It’s easy to get frustrated after spending 4 days trying to speak to one key person in a decision-making process because the public phone in the rural camp where they live isn’t working and their mobile phone (if they have one) doesn’t have any reception!

As you already know, I am supported financially in my work here by E-CHANGER, a Swiss-French NGO (Non-governmental Organisation) based in Fribourg, Switzerland. As well as my work with the MST, as part of my contract I am required to share with you all – my ‘support group’ - the reality of life here, and the general struggle and work of the MST - hence these Em Movimento newsletters and the Blog (address given below). E-CHANGER recognises that the work of a small number of people (us, the volunteers) has a limited impact on redressing the imbalance between ‘north’ (the minority world) and ‘south’ (the majority world). What is crucial, therefore, is that those in rich, ‘developed’ countries, not only understand that this imbalance exists (by learning about the struggle of rural landless workers for land and survival in Brazil, for example), but also why it exists (the huge inequality between rich and poor, colonial systems of land distribution still in existence, 3rd World debt, the ‘free’ market, privatisation of state assets and other capitalist and neoliberal politics) and how they can use their power (political, economic, social) to challenge this reality…

Every month I receive £364 to pay my rent, food and other living costs, and I am required (by contract) to raise between £141 and £281 of this per month, approximately £2529 per year. Some of you have already, very generously, made a donation, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you enormously. But many of you have up to now chosen not to – and of course I respect that decision totally - and that might be because you hadn’t realised just how much a small amount goes a very long way. If 15 of you were to give £10 a month (perhaps by setting up a direct debit to the Barclays account given below), or 7 of you were to give £20 a month, I would already be close to raising what is required of me. How amazing that would be! I realise that you have lots of other worthwhile commitments, but if you feel you could support my work with the MST – a people’s movement that is a worldwide reference and with whom I feel very privileged to be working – I, E-CHANGER in Switzerland and the MST in Brazil would all be very grateful.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you. May 2007 be a year of peace, participation and fulfilment for all the world’s peoples.

Much love,
Celia

Bank account details…
In Switzerland (the same account used by both Jean-David and I in the past): U 3264.25.97 BCGE CITY (Banque Cantonale de Genève)

In Britain: Barclays Bank, sort code: 20-59-42, account no: 90891983
(account name: Celia Alldridge Re: Brazil)

For more information about…
- My work and personal life:
www.celia-emmovimento.blogspot.net and former editions of the newsletter Em Movimento (ask me to send you back copies in pdf, if you’d like them)
- The MST:
www.mst.org.br (Portuguese) / www.mstbrazil.org (English)
- E-CHANGER:
www.echanger.ch (French with some English)
www.echangerbrasil.org.br (Portuguese)

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