As they prepared for their workshops and panels at the Boston Social Forum, I had a chance to talk with Paulo de Marck of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) and Ruba Eid from the Democratic Wokers Rights Center (DWRC) in Ramallah, Palestine.
Paulo and Ruba have come to Boston to share stories from GRI’s partner organizations, and to meet people engaged in similar struggles here in the States and around the world.
Why come all this way for a conference?
“The people, together, are like a pool of wisdom,” Paulo said. “When you share that wisdom, the pool gets deeper.”
The MST has made a great commitment to sharing their experiences from 20 years spent building one of the world’s largest social movements, and to seeking out other groups who have something to share–from workshops with landless Brazilians in MST encampments to global encounters like the Boston Social Forum. Sharing their vision for the possibility of a new world, where human beings are more precious than money, is an important part of the struggle to make that world a reality.
Paulo also pointed out that everyone has something to contribute. “So many different kinds of support are important–political, moral, financial. The key is to make as many connections as possible, and to strengthen those bonds every chance you get,” he said.
Grassroots has been strengthening its bonds with the DWRC for ten years, beginning at a time when all the organizers and lawyers there were volunteers and they held meetings in the street because they couldn’t afford to rent an office. Grassroots was their first partner and donor, and we’re proud to say that our support helped them find their feet.
Since then their mission has grown to include human rights work, worker safety campaigns, and legal aid work throughout the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and beyond, including projects in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Jordan.
Ruba says that support from international partners like GRI and from international solidarity movements is crucial to their work building a democratic future for Palestine, and fighting for workers rights throughout the Arab world.
“International support means a lot to us,” she says. “It’s why we’re still standing.”
“It was a great opportunity for me to be here at the Boston Social Forum,” she says. “I know lots of people here don’t know the reality of Palestinian life. I believe the Forum is a great opportunity for people to learn about our suffering and our struggles, and to see that the whole world has to work together to achieve peace and democracy.”
I hope you have a chance to see Paulo and Ruba (along with our Haiti consultant Paul Altidor and several members of the GRI staff) at the Forum this weekend.