By: Jessi Libbing, IOM—Micronesia
December 9, 2017
Spanish Wall, Pohnpei, FSM-The International Organization for Migration (IOM)—Micronesia and partners hosted the Second Annual Human Rights and Migration Festival on 9 December at the Spanish Wall. The Festival was the culminating event of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence in Pohnpei. The FSM Government, Pohnpei State Government, College of Micronesia (COM)-FSM, Pacific Community (SPC), Australian Embassy, US Embassy, and IOM partnered together to bring the community an array of events during the 16 Days centered around the theme “Youth Building Peace: Activism for Human Rights.” The culminating event of the 16 Days was the Human Rights and Migration Festival.
An estimated 400+ people came through the event between 4-9 pm. Pohnpei Director for Education Churchill Edward and IOM PREPARE Program Officer Victoria Nyawara delivered moving keynote speeches about human rights in FSM and international human rights and migration respectively. Their speeches centered around the Festival’s theme, “My rights, Are your rights, Are migrants’ rights.”
IOM, COM-FSM, Australian Embassy, and Pohnpei State Social Affairs had interactive booths for children. Human rights and migration related children’s games—from twister, to a geography bee, to creative plays and a living flower chain—helped recognize both Human Rights Day (10 December) and Migrants Day (18 December) in the most creative and easily understood ways for kids, and the Pohnpei Disabled Women and Senior Citizens Groups displayed local handicrafts at the Social Affairs booth.
Students from many of the local high schools and COM participated in the Festival.
Students from COM-FSM sang human rights related songs during the first hour of the event. The COM-FSM Teacher’s Corps created an original play for children that told a beautiful human rights story, and students from the COM-FSM Center for Student Life volunteered throughout the event.
Madolenihmw High School students Trudy Orlando, Membereen Orlando, Ande Jr Orlando, A.M. Eliou and Jeff-Ike Eliou performed their domestic violence skit and original song “Break the cycle of domestic violence”, which won the Australian Embassy-hosted 16 Days of Activism High School Skit Contest in Pohnpei this past November.
Twelve students from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School entered poetry for the IOM-hosted Poetry Slam and performed live on stage during the event. Eliza Woolcock, Chargé d'Affaires for the Australian Embassy, Kenson Santos, Music Specialist for Youth-4- Change, and Nathan Glancy, Chief of Party for IOM held the incredibly tough job of judging the live poetry slam. All 12 performances were moving, and the scores were incredibly close. Shania Helgenberger Dadius and Rianna Richard won the slam and received prized that included gift certificates to Ace Office Supply, noise canceling headphones, dictionaries, and other writing items from IOM, journals and other writing and snacking goodies from Ace Office Supply, phone credit from FSMTC, and many other great items from Pohnpei Public Health and Public Auditor’s Offices.
IOM-Micronesia partnered up with the Pohnpei State Government and COM-FSM to hold a 16 Days of Activism Youth Video Contest in the FSM. The Video Contest was open to all COM and high school students in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap from September to November 2017, and all videos were required to be original content and videography created by the contestants. Videos needed to fit into either a narrative or documentary category and the video topic had to relate to this year’s over all theme for the 16 Days of Activism in the FSM, "Youth Building Peace: Activism for Human Rights" and answer the question “How do you create peace in your community through activism?” The judging panel included Denise Oen, Director of the Institute of Student Learning and Excellence in Teaching at COM-FSM, Patrick Blank from Micronesian Productions, and Kester James, Acting Chief for Pohnpei Social Affairs. The winning videos were announced and aired for the first time at the Festival.
First prize for the narrative category went to COM-FSM students Kenneth, Percy, Ray, Natasha and Sady for their piece on human trafficking. It tells a fictional story of a college student who is trafficked into prostitution and later commits suicide. After the story, the filmmakers discuss how human trafficking is a violation to our human rights.
First prize in the documentary category went to COM-FSM Media and Arts Club students Shallea Yoriko Nanpei, Cyrena Panuelo, Caroline Apaisam, Richynne Gallen, and Shelton "Jun" Neth for their piece called #FSMFACED. This piece tells the story of what four college students are faced with to create peace in their community through their four unique points of view—"Love and Company," "Success in School," "Climate Change" and "Peace and Unity."
Second prize in the documentary category went to Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School freshman students Jade Togonon, Leila Lane, Julia Borda, Yrra Penascoza, and Jazzy Hairens. Their video answers three challenging questions from the points of view of teachers and students at their school: "What can you say about domestic violence?," "Do you think the cause of suicide is because of the restriction of human rights?" and "Is it okay to disrespect someone because of his/her race?"
Video contest prizes included certificates for professional assistance to finalize and disseminate the first place films from Micronesian Productions, Sharper Image Action Cameras and water proof bags from IOM, $25 gift certificates from Ace Office supply, $50 of phone credit and a brand new phone from FSMTC, a brand new tablet from the COM-FSM Bookstore, and many other great items from Pohnpei Public Health and Public Auditor’s Offices, Ace Office Supply, and IOM.
Thanks to donations from Palm Terrace and the US Embassy, Festival goers were able to enjoy grilled food and cold drinks during all of the festival’s activities.
The Festival ended with a screening of “Years of Living Dangerously: The Uprooted,” as part of the Annual IOM Global Migration Film Festival. The Global Migration Film Festival was launched by IOM last year, and it features new films that capture the promise and challenges of migration for those who leave their homes in search of a better life and the unique contributions migrants make to their new communities. IOM’s first global festival in 2016 took place in 89 countries. Nearly 10,000 people attended 220 screenings, including here in Pohnpei. This year’s feature film showcased migration and climate change through real life stories of the challenges that many are facing. “Years of Living Dangerously” asks the questions: What does the future look like under climate change? Is climate migration really a distant threat or is it already taking place now?
This year’s Human Rights and Migration Festival was a huge success. The Festival raised awareness for an array of human rights and asked the public to reflect deeply on what human rights really are, especially for vulnerable groups such as migrants and people with disabilities.
Stay tuned to IOM—Micronesia’s Facebook and YouTube pages where the winning 16 Days of Activism Youth Video Contest videos will be displayed. And remember, activism for human rights doesn’t end now that the 2017 16 Days are complete. Continue to build peace through activism in your own community!