Nelson Mandela International Day: UNIC Windhoek Served the Trailblazers of Our Time

22 July 2016

As the population of people over 65 years old grows, society needs to be prepared to serve the elderly, the trailblazers of our time. Nowadays, many old people are neglected or forgotten by their children and support systems as society moves away from being more family-centric. This means volunteers are playing an important role in caring for the varying needs of the elderly, including not only spiritual concerns, but health and mobility issues, emotional needs, and other practical concerns of daily life.

In celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day, which is commemorated annually across the globe on 18 July, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek used its #Time2Serve the elderly of the Katutura Old People’s Home. The team aimed to provide companionship and support to this commonly neglected generation as well as to provide space for them to share their stories.

Sitting and listening to one after another sharing the story of how Mandela impacted their lives was quite impressive. The UNIC Windhoek team showed a short clip of Madiba in which he expressed his gratitude to all who celebrate and take part in highlighting the importance of serving humanity and in joining in promoting peace among ourselves and across the world. 

During the informal dialogue session, the elderly addressed critical social issues of prejudice as well as intergroup conflict of the past. Through their own histories and unique autobiographies, they shared what they have learned from the challenges coming in life. 

Although each individual had a unique story, they exhibited great respect for Madiba’s legacy and unilaterally agreed that Nelson Mandela helped transform Africa and the rest of the world into a better place, especially South Africa and Namibia after post-colonialism. 

An elder articulated his story through which he discussed the humiliation he faced and how he was not valued as a human being because of pre-independence laws. He then said that Mandela was the hero of all heroes as he suffered so much yet continued to give back to people.

The UNIC Windhoek team served the elderly scones and tea, and continued listening and celebrating the stories of the older generation through one-on-one interactions.

The 67 minutes that UNIC Windhoek shared with the elderly was extremely joyous, as the team was inspired by each person’s stories and tributes to Mandela. 

The members of the Katutura Old Age Home called upon the team to always involve them in outreach initiatives of such kind.

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UN Sports Day Event Draws Scores of Supporters in Cairo

22 July 2016

A group of 22 top Egyptian athletes pledged to promote world peace and advance the new and universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during a sports event organized by the United Nations Information Centre in Cairo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Participating athletes issued a declaration presented by the World Dean of Football Players, Ahmed Hassan, vowing to advocate for the goals and principles of the UN Charter and to “promote friendly relations and solidarity between world population groups...within the framework of intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations.”

After hailing such joint activities with the UN system in Egypt, Ambassador Mohamed Kazem of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that sports are not only a tool for entertainment, recreation and fair competition among individuals and peoples, “they are also a major linchpin in the health and prevention system, and are among elements of sustainable development.“

World squash player, Nouran Gohar, said it was inconceivable to aim for development in the absence of real peace, genuine justice as well as effective, transparent and accountable institutions at all levels. “Sport is one of the important tools in promoting national unity and solidarity among different regions and groups of the population,” she said.

Emad El Banani of the Youth and Sports Ministry expressed hope that such sports events and activities promoting peace and development would be sustained and perpetuated, commending the UN for partnering with Egyptian athletes to champion these lofty goals.

The program kicked off with a friendly game of squash between two of the top Egyptian players – Ali Farag and Nouran Gohar. It also featured two friendly football games between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its UN counterparts and two teams of some of Egypt’s best veteran footballers. There was also a martial arts performance by children organized by UNICEF.

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Muay Thai and Promoting Peace: Namibia’s Ophthalmologist Dr. Ndume Celebrated Mandela Day by Taking Action with Youth against GBV

21 July 2016

In light of Nelson Mandela International Day-commemorated each year in 18 July-, on Thursday 21 July 2016, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek honored Nelson Mandela’s dedication to peace by partnering with Combat Club, a local Muay Thai club, and educating learners at Jakob Marengo Tutorial College about self-defense.

On Nelson Mandela International Day, individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes - one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service - to helping others and jointly stepping towards a global movement for good. Because of the high prevalence of violence against women and gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia, UNIC Windhoek used its #Time2Serve to educate young girls about self-defense in order to provide them with the agency to protect themselves when faced with danger.Throughout the outreach, there was a special emphasis on the fact that violence should be the last resort in a situation of danger.

The event was officiated by the Namibian Ophthalmologist Dr. Helena Ndume, who encouraged the girls to help the country find solutions to end violence against women and girls along with the protection of human rights. Dr. Ndume was the first woman to receive the UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, which honors the outstanding achievements of people who have dedicated their lives to the service to humanity. Dr. Ndume’s lifelong work has encompassed the treatment of blindness and eye-related illnesses, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. To date, Dr. Ndume has helped over 30,000 Namibians receive eye surgery at no-cost as well as implant intraocular lens to address blindness, cataracts and myopia in many patients.Not only did she share her personal story of success, she further encouraged the girls to step it up, believe in themselves and take action for the people in their communities.

Following this motivational message, a professional Martial Arts trainer Pedro Costa and his colleagues of Combat Club Windhoek, a local Muay Thai club, taught the girls the basics of self-defense and emboldened the learners to believe in their strengths as well as to skillfully and wisely utilize them in case of danger.  

After a little warm-up and an instruction on proper body posture, Combat Club Windhoek taught the young female learners some basic punching and kicking techniques. Although the girls were timid and shy at the beginning, they were swiftly immersed into the world of martial arts and became eager to test their new skills against protection shields provided by the trainers. Not only were the exercises entertaining and fun, but they were also educational, as most of the girls have never before been taught about self-defense and how to properly behave when being attacked.

Lastly and most importantly, the training also aimed to deliver the message that, everyone, regardless of sex, gender, height, skin color or age, has the right to live a life without violence and discrimination, both physically and mentally. However, if this right is infringed, every girl and every woman should feel empowered and be capable of defending themselves and others. As Nelson Mandela put it, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

With this unique outreach campaign UNIC Windhoek, in cooperation with Dr. Helena Ndume and Combat Club Windhoek, hopes to spread the message of self-empowerment and gender justice to all those women and girls who are suffering from GBV and promote a society that values diversity and raises its voice for gender equality.

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UNIC Rabat Launched the UNCTAD 2016 Report on Africa’s Economic Development

21 July 2016

The UNCTAD 2016 report on the Economic Development in Africa was launched yesterday in Rabat by UNIC Cairo in cooperation with the North Africa office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The 2016 report, presented by Mr. Zoubir BenHammouch from ECA, focuses on the dynamics of debt and financing for development, analyses the key trends in Africa and provides policy recommendations to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of debt as a tool for financing development. Though it finds that Africa’s external debt seems manageable, the UNCTAD report was against rapid debt growth and advices African countries to opt for alternatives sources to finance their development such as remittances , public-private partnerships and fighting illegal financial flows. The event was attended by 15 journalists (a relatively important in Rabat) including the national TV and radio. The ECA expert was interviewed by 4 medias including the national TV and radio.

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