| Here in Shimonoseki while the flowers of the cherry trees were in full
bloom, the TV cameras were televising the tragic escape of the refugees
in Kosovo and their deportation. In the meantime people, here, are enjoying
a cheerful time with drinks, for a short while, under the cherry blossoms.
Although is good to enjoy nature, the pain and suffering of many families
and citizens like ourselves from all over the world are also shared by
us, as a result of the spread of global information. All through the 20th
century the world has cruelly experienced such tragedies, nevertheless
the existing frames on which religions, states or ethnic groups operate
have not only been unable to provide solutions, but, often, have aggravated
the seriousness of the problems.
President Clinton after deciding to strengthen the air strikes took off
for his Easter holidays. Great quantities of weapons, as well as human
lives and nature have been used up inhumanly. What an idiotic and fruitless
thing! The celebration of Easter in the middle of such destruction did
not bring any hope or joy. There must had been some possibility for states
and local ngos to confront the realities that ended in such a destruction.
Even in East Timor where independence is finally taking concrete shape,
it is said that arms have been handed over to provoke and instigate opposition
and, although there are forecasts for tragedies to come, the moves of states
and governments are really slow and ineffective. In fact, our own ngos
are very weak and dull also. Much less, at this time of local elections,
no matter how one may feel the need of trying all kinds of means to present
a representative from local citizens' groups, there is no strong backing.
In the midst of all this, we had at the end of March a long meeting, till
late in the evening, without being able to have a meal. The meeting was
of the group managing the "Ngos Network Yamaguchi". (Confer No. 84 of this Bulletin).
The establishment of this network of several ngos of Yamaguchi prefecture
last year, held many problems since its beginning. The "Network"
begun to function as a kind of a subcontractor of the prefectural administration,
with little time of preparation. The axis of it is the Yamaguchi International
Exchange Society which made the first call for the "Network "
and is acting as its liaison office. Big and small-scale ngos, gathered
together in a hurry with a variety of partners spread all over South and
East Asia, the Near East, Russia and the African continent. They were enthusiastically
eager to rectify the Japanese foreign aid and ODA that has gone a long
way off the mark. On top of that, the new Network started its activities
without solidifying its basis at the grass roots level, leaving everything
in the hands of the ngos' veteran activists, designing hasty plans which
could correspond to the orientations of the prefecture and Japan International
Cooperation Agency, in hope of obtaining their financial support. The three
main key programs are:
- Seminars on Global Citizens and International Cooperation
- Practical Workshops to Promote International Cooperation of Local Governments
- The International Cooperation Festival.
|For the small ngos that have to act with few members and scarce resources,
the assistance to the people of their own partner countries is their first
priority, but they have now the burden of implementing the plans of the
Network.. As an example, the transportation costs needed to attend just
one meetings of the committee will be able to cover the monthly expenses
of a family in the countries they provide aid. Most meetings deal with
events to perform and the ngos do not have much to say. Citizens of ngos
who are already overburdened with their own family lives have to undertake
tasks of the administration, as its subcontractors, besides the activities
of their own groups. Like the well experienced and social-minded they are,
they also criticize with discontent the slow and weak process of the plans
for a grass-rooted democracy.
It is there where they made a stop to prepare a solid natural basis for
their common action. While several ngos continued their preparations together,
the idea begun to originate that Shimonoseki will take the responsibility
to conduct plans for an International Festival. People talked about creating
a network with persons who knew each other well and could exchange information
satisfactorily, restricting themselves to strengthening their collaboration
and exchanges of information to the west side of the prefecture, before
establishing a total network covering the whole area of the prefecture.
As a result, they formed a network under the name of "Net Save".
Some people might think of rapid disintegration and splinter factions
in the Network, but for those groups and individuals who are not part of
the Yamaguchi Network their base for action has been expanded. "Net
Save" links close-by places in the west region (seibu) of Yamaguchi
prefecture, and includes local and international goals.
I, personally, feel the problematic limitations of international cooperation
and exchanges conducted by the central and local administration, and I
think that, in the process of a participatory cooperation, one must proceed
with mutual collaboration, and especially in case of emergency situations
across borders, I dream that ngos could act fast and efficiently. Is this
anything but a dream?
When I hear of the Abraham Mission or of the activities conducted by international
ngos, like JRS, I tend to think that even small ngos could temporarily
join forces together, provided that they do not miss the links they already
have with their original partners. But, this is never an easy task. One
doubts about the real aims of the network. The network which was created
to continue self-training to develop the existing ngos by themselves and
to promote inner reforms of the administration, is groping for its identity
in the midst of tensions. What can be acquired by a network of local ngos?
What has to be done? These are our questions from Shimonoseki.