I haven't had access to the internet in a while and am not quite sure where and how to catch you up on what has been happening. I haven't talked much about cultural resistance at the forum so i'll start there. It has been amazing to see people use music, popular theater, drumming, singing etc...to talk to people about their struggles. I saw plays about women's rights in Pakistan, people chanting and singing for Coca Cola to go back home to the U.S., people dancing and chanting slogans for transgender rights, people stepping to show people the effects of water privitization on their communities; people acting out parodies of the U.S., the WTO and the World Bank's roles in world domination. Seeing all that was probably one of the most inspiring parts of the whole experience for me. As someone from the MST put it though, the popular base and grassroots movement folks were out on the streets of the forum and weren't as well represented in the sessions and panels inside the halls. "Although Mumbai has been less elitist and dominated by intellectuals than Porto Alegre we still have to figure out how to engage with the local popular movements present at this forum. The popular base is still disconnected from the intellectuals and Ngo workers."
By: Carol Schachet | January 19, 2004
I haven't been able to do much of a personal reflection on what it's been like to be at the WSF and in Mumbai, because I have so much to process before being able to coherently reflect on the whole experience. I will say, that it feels really good; being out of the U.S.; in Mumbai and in a place where my mind is being stretched and I am constantly being challenged. One of the exciting things has been catching up with GRI partners and meeting people that are organizing around different issues in similar ways (migrant, women's and worker's rights for instance) and see them connect and dialogue with eachother and place themselves within larger movements.
By: Carol Schachet | January 19, 2004
One of my first experiences at the forum today was watching a group of women from Tamil Nadu shout Amandla Awethu! and sing several variations of we shall overcome. It took me a minute to figure out that they were chanting Amandla until I saw a fellow African nod and smile at me while pointing to the women.
So its another day and I can't quite figure out how my body is holding up. My task for the day: I promised Ziad Abbas (Co-director of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheishe, Palestine) that I would join him at his session on child labor, child trafficking and children in conflict situations but was also scheduled to interview Vandana Shiva (Indian physicist and activist against biopiracy, the production of GMOs and its effects on poor people) during the same time slot.
By: Nisrin Elamin | January 18, 2004
Each day seems to get a little more overwhelming. So I will try to highlight just a few experiences and interactions here. Just a quick note on organization though... because people talked alot about how the organization and logistical coordination of the last WSF was somewhat of a challenge. Given how many people are attending (My estimate is 100,000+) I think they are doing an amazing job logistically. There are "assistance" centers, food counters and volunteers with badges everywhere that have made my life a whole lot easier. The biggest problems they are facing are around timing, space and translation. The fact that translation isn't working out is to me the biggest problem and it limits the amount of audience-panel dialogue and other interactions that can happen.
By: Carol Schachet | January 17, 2004
Wow where do I even begin? I finally got access to the media center on the large WSF grounds here in Mumbai (am thanking the higher powers for having registered as media) and am for the third time trying to submit a log because the electricity keeps cutting so i'll keep it short. I want to backtrack to my trip over here for a minute before moving on to talk about being in Mumbai and the WSF:
The plane was basically one large WSF delegation mainly from Brazil and Western Europe. I did my first interview with Sasa K. Director of an development and social rights organization in Macedonia (former Yugoslav State which gained its independence in 1991; population 2 million) who was sitting next to me. Here are some things he shared with me.
By: Nisrin Elamin | January 17, 2004
It has been quite overwhelming to be in India and at the WSF. The past 24 hours here have been humbling and eye-opening to say the least. I have never felt more first world and priveleged than here partly because I don't speak Hindi and have so little knowledge of the grassroots movements from India that are represented here. It is hard to know where to begin. It is incredible to see people from all over the world connected to grassroots movements and organizations fighting for justice.
By: Nisrin Elamin | January 15, 2004
My fellowship program (New Voices) is bringing/sending 30 of us to Mumbai for the World Social Forum (WSF) a yearly gathering of social change organizations, activists, organizers, academics (100,000+ registered) etc... that began in 2001 in Brazil as an alternative to the yearly World Economic Forum organized by large multinational corporations, national governments, IMF, the World Bank and the WTO in Davos, Switzerland to discuss trade policies and agreements.
By: Jake Miller | January 9, 2004
Welcome to Grassroots Journal, the weblog of Grassroots International. As an independent human rights, social justice and alternative development organization, GRI interacts with the world in a number of different ways. This weblog is an attempt to share some of the things we learn from the people we meet and work with, and to open new paths of communication about the kind of work that we do.
To launch this project, we are proud to present a series of reports on the World Social Forum from Nisrin Elamin, GRI's advocacy coordinator.
The WSF, a gathering of civil society movements and groups who are committed to building a society based on human rights and social justice, takes place this year from January 16-21, 2004 in Mumbai, India. Many of the most exciting activists from around the world will be attending, giving speeches, participating in debates, and sharing the stories of their successes and struggles with one another, all in the interest of building a better world for us all. Nisrin will be attending this year's WSF and sharing her thoughts and experiences with us, here in this weblog.
In the future, we will use this space to document other journeys on the road to making the world a better place. We hope you will join us, and we hope you enjoy the trip.
By: Grassroots International | January 2, 2000
In 1997, Grassroots International released a research study entitled "Feeding Dependency, Starving Democracy: USAID Policies in Haiti." Offering an in-depth examination of USAID development policies in Haiti, the study concluded that, as the title suggests, official aid actually damaged the very aspects of Haitian society it was allegedly trying to fix – namely it created a lack of democracy and too much dependency.