Global Partners Forum

October 16th-19th

 

On October 16-19 the Faith Action for Children on the Move Global Partners Forum will be held in Rome, Italy. The Forum provides a platform to bring together a diverse group of faith-based organisations.

The co-organizers, ACT Alliance, ADRA, Anglican Alliance, Arigatou International, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, Mennonite World Conference,  Micah Global, The Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance and World Vision believe that by working together we can end violence against migrant, refugee, and displaced children and their families.

In preparation for the Forum, the co-organizers along with participating partners reviewed the evidence and approaches on how to work as faith actors. Three themes emerged which will shape the programme and the collective action plan:

  • Spiritual support to children and caregivers as a source of healing and resilience
  • Strengthening the continuum of protection for children on the move
  • Building peaceful societies and combating xenophobia

Forum Goals

  • Learn: Compile and analyse current responses of faith communities, the programme approaches we use, best practices, policy frameworks, advocacy efforts and gaps.
  • Exchange: Discern, share, and build consensus among faith groups, alongside decision makers, children and communities on issues related to violence, migration, displacement, and trafficking.
  • Inform: Produce a publication capturing the essence of the process, key issues, and the plan of action to inform, inspire, and equip others into the future.
  • Plan: Plan action to increase awareness, strengthen partnerships, improve delivery, scale up interventions, and influence decision-making.

 

Read the Learning Briefs

Learning Brief: Continuum of Protection for Children          Learning Brief: Spiritual Support          Learning Brief: The role of faith in building peaceful societies and combating xenophobia

We invite you to participate in the forum to bring experiences to share on the three themes, or follow along with with us virtually.

Click the link below for further information about the forum, registration, and accommodations can be found below. Please share the information with other colleagues and institutions which may be interested in participating.

 

 

To see the Children on the Move resource platform here

*please feel free to upload & send additional resources as well

JLI is happy to announce new board members joining the JLI Board of Directors

Catriona Dejean

Catriona Dejean is Tearfund’s Director of Strategy and Impact, and previously headed up the their Impact and Effectiveness Team. Prior to this, she was a consultant in the social enterprise sector, providing advice to UK and international clients. She has also worked for World Vision on development programmes, and at strategy level – predominantly in Latin America. She started her career in environmental consultancy in the private sector. Catriona also served as a trustee for Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (now Producers’ Direct) – an award-winning fairtrade enterprise, led by farmers across East Africa and Latin America.

 

Christo Greyling

Rev Christo Greyling is the Senior Director for Faith – Advocacy and External Engagement for World Vision International. He was co-responsible for the development of the Channels of Hope methodology which has catalysed nearly 500,000 faith leaders in 45 countries to respond to difficult development issues such as child protection, maternal and child health, HIV and gender. He is passionate to build meaningful partnerships and collaborate with faith based agencies and faith actors to meaningfully contribute towards SDG outcomes and child well-being.

 

Mohammed Shareef

Dr Mohammed Shareef is the Research and Development Manager at the Humanitarian Academy for Development. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (London). He has previously worked for the United Nations and as a Visiting Lecturer in Politics and International Relations of the Middle East at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. He is also a former Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sulaimani in Iraqi Kurdistan. Shareef completed his PhD in International Relations at the University of Durham and has an MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

 

Thanks and best wishes to Hiruy Teka from Samaritan’s Purse and Lucas Koach from Food for the Hungry who will be leaving the JLI Board of Directors.

 

Learn more about the JLI Leadership

Religion and Sustainable Development Goals Webinar

Agenda

  • Keeping the Faith in 2030: Religion and the Sustainable Development Goals (Dr Emma Tomalin and Dr Jörg Haustein)
  • Sustainable Development Goals Indicators and Best Practise Guidelines for FBOs & LFCs (Major (Dr) Elizabeth Garland)
  • Discussion and response moderated by Dr Olivia Wilkinson, JLI and Andrea Kaufmann, World Vision International

If you have any follow up questions, please feel free to email [email protected]

Discussion questions included

  • Many faith actors don’t want to be seen as FBOs but rather as non-state actors. Is this simply a development trend?
  • The preliminary observations suggest that instrumentalization of FBOs for SDG will not work. What would you say would be a good alternative approach rather than instrumentalization?

Webinar slides:

JLI SDG Webinar 6-18 Slides

Relevant Resources:

About the speakers:

  • Dr Jörg Haustein is Senior Lecturer in Religions in Africa at SOAS with a focus on Christianity and Islam. He has a special interest in the historical intersection of religion and development in colonial and post-colonial Africa and its effects on the present. Jörg Haustein is Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded research network ‘Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals’.

 

  • Major (Dr) Elizabeth Garland is Impact Measurement Learning Coordinator and International Statistician at The Salvation Army International Headquarters. Major (Dr) Garland has worked in a number of settings within the Salvation Army in both Australia and overseas. Overseas appointments include Ghana, Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. Whilst overseas, Major Garland completed further degrees in health, including a Master of Primary Health Care and Master of Health and International development (Flinders University Australia). Major Garland completed and was conferred a Doctorate of Public Health (Flinders University Australia) in 2015.Currently Major (Dr) Garland is working at the International Headquarters of the Salvation Army in London as the Impact Measurement Learning Co-Ordinator and International Statistician. Part of this work is developing ways of measuring The Salvation Army’s work and ministries across the world. This work includes how we measure the Salvation Army’s programmes and activities in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.

For immediate release

June 28, 2018

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is pleased to announce a research collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in 2018-2019. Generously funded by the European Commission Department for International Cooperation and Development, the project, titled “The Roles of Faith and Local Faith Communities in Supporting Refugees” aims to examine the ways in which local communities provide different forms of support to, and advocate for the protection of refugees in Honduras, Mexico, Uganda, Germany, and Lebanon.

The research will involve interviews and focus groups with approximately 180 refugees, members of host communities, and faith leaders in Honduras, Mexico, Uganda, Germany and Lebanon. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh at University College London and Atallah Fitzgibbon at Islamic Relief Worldwide, the co-chairs of the JLI Refugee and Forced Migration Learning Hub. Dr Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the action-research project, which aims to generate locally-grounded evidence and identify examples of good practices of community-led responses to refugees across these diverse countries. We will then draw on this multi-sited evidence to inform the development of a pilot training module for local faith actors and international partners seeking to work with each other.
Project activities will examine the role of local communities and local faith actors in responding to the needs and rights of refugees in the above countries within the context of the implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and upholding the New York Declaration’s commitment to meaningful consultation and engagement with diverse stakeholders. The first phases of the project include the completion of interviews, a desk-based evidence review, and preparation of case studies of locally-led responses which will serve as inputs to the Global Compact on Refugees.
Other activities will focus on creating a pilot training & modules to not only build capacity but also raise awareness between local faith actors and international partners. These will help to inform new audiences in the humanitarian and development field of the existing and growing evidence base on the nuances of religious, and faith-based work for refugee response. It will also provide implementable recommendations for UNHCR and other stakeholders to improve partnership and the effectiveness of humanitarian response to people affected by displacement.
For more information please contact Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected]

Religious and Faith-based Contributions to the Well-being of Children

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is pleased to announce the initiation of a partnership with UNICEF over the next three years. The project, titled “Faith for Social and Behaviour Change Initiative” is a collaboration with the UNICEF Communication for Development in Programme Division and the Civil Society Partnerships Unit in the Division of Communication. The research aims to generate knowledge on the specific roles, caveats, effective strategies and demonstrated impact of faith-based organizations in social and behaviour change. The project will look across sectors including health, development, protection and empowerment of children, especially focusing on the most marginalized, across the life-cycle.

Project activities in 2018 will include a literature review, country-specific case studies, content review, and mapping culminating in the translation of this evidence into a conceptual framework and models for systematic engagement with FBOs at scale for social and behavior change. The partners will collaborate with Religions for Peace to hold a multi-country consultation in Bangkok in July to input into the programmatic framework.

Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the research work focused on evidence generation, development of programming frameworks, and provision of technical support for engagement of FBOs in social and behavior change communications. Jean Duff, JLI Coordinator will provide guidance on the conceptual framework for scaling up collaboration with the faith community for impact on the well-being of children. Stacy Nam, JLI Knowledge Manager, will support the research and promote collaboration with relevant JLI Learning Hubs and facilitate a “whole of JLI network” engagement in this project.

For more information please contact the Joint Learning Initiative’s Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected]

The Center for Faith and the Common Good (CFCG) is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Program on Religion in International Affairs, to be carried out by The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI). The project, titled “Religion, Refugees, and Forced Migration: Making Research-informed Impact in Global Policy Processes” will be in collaboration with Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh at University College London and with the support of Atallah Fitzgibbon at Islamic Relief Worldwide, the co-chairs of the JLI Refugees and Forced Migration Learning Hub. Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the work focused on the translation of research for impact on policy and practice.
Project activities will include the production of policy guidelines and annotated bibliographies that synchronize existing research on faith and refugees with the three main themes of the programme of action for the Global Compact on Refugees (reception and admission, meeting needs and supporting communities, durable solutions). Other activities will focus on outreach through newspaper articles, podcast episodes, infographics, press releases, media packs, and social media messaging. To ensure that these activities reach the right people, the researchers will also undertake a mapping exercise of key influencers and then arrange a series of consultations and briefings to reach out to specific groups in global hubs of decision making and activity on refugee response. Briefings are planned in New York around the General Assembly in September as well as in Geneva, and Beirut or Amman.
These research translation activities will coincide with the final stages of the development and then adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees. They will help to inform new audiences in the humanitarian and development field of the existing and growing evidence base on religious belief, practice, and faith-based work related to refugees.
For more information please contact the Joint Learning Initiative’s Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected].

Event Date

Monday 12 March

  • Women of Faith Speaking to Structural Change: Empowering Rural Women
    Temple of Understanding (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)
  • Empowerment Stories and Interfaith Actions, United Religions Initiative (URI) (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)

Tuesday 13 March

Wednesday 14 March

  • Faith and Feminism: Voices of Affirmation National Public Radio (NPR) Interview with Randy Cohen – Person, Place (Must RSVP)
  • 8:30 am: Frontline Leadership: Rural Women in the Anti-Fracking Movement, Mining Working Group (Salvation Army,  221 E. 52nd Street)

Thursday 15 March

Friday 16, March

  • 10am: Launching the Global Consultation on the Islamic Gender Justice Declaration, Islamic Relief Worldwide (RSVP Required)
  • 12:15pm: Policy Roundtable of the Faith-Based Community of Praxis on Gender Justice, ACT Alliance (Invite only)
  • 6pm: 4th Annual CSW Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Gratitude, . Sponsored by United
    Methodist Women, NGO CSW, URI, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Temple of Understanding, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (Church Center for the
    United Nations, Tillman Chapel 44th St and 1st Ave)

Monday 19, March

  • 10am: Building Bridges: developing effective partnerships between faith and secular actors to
    challenge discriminatory gender norms and secure rural women’s rights. Co-sponsors: Danish Mission, ACT Alliance, UNFPA (Ex-Press Bar, UN Secretariat (Entrance on East 46th street
    and 1st Avenue)

    • Presentation from JLI GBV Hub
  • 2:30pm: Human Trafficking in America– Risks for women and girls in rural areas and collaborative prevention by Faith-Based Communities, UNICEF USA, Arigatou International, NY Board of Rabbis (Salvation Army  221 E. 52nd Street)

Wednesday 21, March

 

Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs: Perspectives on Migration

On 22nd January 2018, the Fourth Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs was held at the UN Secretariat in New York. The full-day event was organized by ACT Alliance, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the World Council of Churches. Co-sponsors were the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), the Parliament of World Religions, and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect on behalf of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Engagement with Faith-based Organizations. The focus of this year’s symposium was “Perspective on Migration: Displacement and Marginalization, Inclusion and Justice.”

Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed. Ms. Mohammed opened the event and reported that this was an issue close to the Secretary General’s heart. She acknowledged the ways in which faith-based organizations can bring both their extensive experience and moral voice to the work of providing for displaced people. Other speakers included many JLI member organizations, such as Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Church and Mr. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary of the ACT Alliance.

Jonathan Duffy, JLI Board co-chair and President of ADRA spoke in the afternoon session on “Development, Humanitarianism, and Human Rights.” In his speech, he highlighted the work of the JLI in convening on evidence related to religion and refugees and mentioned the new scoping study on this topic. Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, attended the event and spoke to attendees about the scoping study.

 

Working effectively with faith leaders to challenge harmful traditional practices

Date: Thursday, Feb 8 at 9am ET  (2pm GMT) via zoom

Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women.

In 2017, the JLI Gender-based Violence Hub (GBV Hub) led a Department for International Development supported project ‘Working effectively with faith leaders to challenge harmful traditional practices (HTPs)’.

Study Speakers

  • Dr Elisabet le Roux is the Research Director at the Unit for Religion and Development Research at Stellenbosch University
  • Dr Brenda Bartelink is an anthropologist and scholar in the Academic Study of Religion at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands

Discussion led by  JLI GBV Hub co-chair Liz Dartnall (Sexual Violence Research Institute) with Hub coordinator Natalia Lester-Bush (Tearfund)

Join as a member to continue collaborating with the GBV Hub

Brief Summary

Presentation from Lisa le Roux and Brenda Bartelink

Key findings

  • Discussed the use of the term harmful traditional practices creating resistance in communities
  • Role of faith, faith communities and faith leaders in HTPs
  • Effective approaches when working with faith leaders

Study Briefs

Discussion:

  • What is the desired impact of engaging with faith leaders around these texts, and perhaps changing the way that they interpret them? ie. for them to begin talking about them within communities, or individually with people, or mentioning in talks etc?
  • Are the small group based interventions mixed gender, or specifically targeting men/women separately? And secondly, is there any long term studies in this area?
  • How would you go about opening up these sorts of questions when they are so sensitive… what if the members of a small discussion group just do not bring them up? Did Tearfund/ Islamic Relief have any experiences where that would occur and how did they respond?
  • On how to prioritize HTPs in local communities- best to let the local communities prioritize their own issues. It’s their decision whether to work on HTPs. Also acknowledging that faith aspects are a part of local communities and not the sole factor to consider.
  • Many other organizations to be in touch with ex on FGM/C www.28toomany.org
  • Feel free to share more programs and resources on the JLI website

Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comment section and join as a member.

The GBV Hub will also be presenting results at CSW in NY on March 19, more details to follow shortly.

Repost from Refugee Hosts 

Efforts to bring local faith actors (LFAs) into the wider humanitarian apparatus have been a key aim of the localisation of aid agenda. In this piece, Olivia Wilkinson (Director of Research of Refugee Hosts’ research partner, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities) argues that there is a need to ensure that such engagements provide space for LFAs to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This requires us to reflect on the histories and values underpinning humanitarian principles, as well as the agency, complexity and nuance of local faith actors and refugees. For suggested readings on this theme, see the reading list at the end of this article, as well as our ongoing series, Contextualising the Localisation of Aid Agenda, for more. 

When Local Faith Actors Meet Localisation: Understanding the Space between the International and the Local in relation to Humanitarian Principles and Religion

By Olivia Wilkinson, Trinity College Dublin and JLI Director of Research 

In late 2016, the Joint Learning Initiative’s Refugee and Forced Migration Learning Hub -a Hub co-chaired by Refugee Hosts’ PI, Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Islamic Relief’s Sadia Kidwai – began scoping out what is known about the place of religion in refugee response. The overarching project was split into two studies: the first analysing religion and refugees in regards to localisation and urbanisation, in recognition that refugees increasingly live outside camp settings and that local faith actors (LFAs) are active in aiding refugees in urban settings; and the second to examine the stages and spaces of refugee experience in relation to religion, to understand the moments at which religion and religious actors play a role in the trajectory of refugee journeys and the places in which these interactions happen. The first part of the scoping study was launched in October 2017 at the “Localizing Humanitarian Response Forum: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Organizations” in Sri Lanka, which Estella Carpi wrote about in an earlier post in this series. The second part of the study will be launched towards the end of this year.

Echoing Estella’s post, in addition to other pieces published on Refugee Hosts (herehere and here), the study speaks to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with local religious actors in refugee response. The state of the art literature review and the interviews with key experts that underpinned the study found that religion adds immediate complexity to the localisation debate, often in ways that can be controversial and are therefore sidelined. While we found a multitude of ways in which local religious actors provide services for refugees, it is a struggle to find mention of these actors in any of the main documents tied to the localisation of aid (see page 14 of the report for some examples). While the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) includes faith-based organisations (FBOs) as stakeholders, the specificities of LFAs in their different contexts requires detailed analysis that is not included in the use of the broad-brush term, “FBO”.

The challenges faced in engaging local faith actors in refugee response are not new just because localisation is the current buzzword. The reasons why LFAs are not more involved in international humanitarian response for refugees have always been the same: religious actors can be party to the conflicts that drive forced migration; they can be partial in their assistance, prioritizing those of the same faith and overlooking those of other faiths; they can enforce cultural and gendered stereotypes; they proselytize, using their assistance to convert vulnerable people to their religion; and they are overburdened and lack the capacity to comply with humanitarian standards. Some of these points are common to other local actors as they are politically and socially embedded and equally lacking in capacity to keep up with the demands of international humanitarian donors.

Yet LFAs continue to respond to refugees around the world, including in urban environments. If we are to believe in the earnestness of the call to localise from the international humanitarian community, then this must naturally include LFAs. To be involved in localisation, LFAs must overcome, and international actors must equally find ways to overcome, these barriers so that equal partnerships can develop.

From the research, there were several examples of ways in which these challenges were encountered, yet had been, to greater and lesser extents, overcome. To dive in the deep end, it is often held that for LFAs to be fully inducted into the international humanitarian community, they must not proselytise their faith. This standard is of course crucial, allowing humanitarian actors to ensure that assistance is given freely and without conditions.

The literature paints a more nuanced picture however. First, it is often dangerous, or highly disadvantageous to convert. In research from Kaoues in Lebanon, it was found that Muslim converts to Christianity were doubly rejected, both from the Muslim refugee population of which they had previously been part, and the Lebanese Christians in their new religious community. This demonstrates that in many cases the short-term material benefits linked to conversion are soon outweighed by the social disadvantages. In particular, this example shows the important need to recognise the intersections of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’, and how this is ‘read’ and ‘ascribed’ by observers on the basis of ethnicity and other identity markers.

Second, local religious leaders are not necessarily playing a short-term numbers game to gain converts, but aiming to build prolonged relationships within their broader community. In comparison to short term missionary trips from various external countries, local religious leaders embedded in communities do not want to pressure people to convert through their assistance, as noted by research from Kraft, also in Lebanon.

Finally, as Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh has pointed out in much of her research, the agency of beneficiaries has been overlooked. In the Sahrawi refugee camps (in Southwest Algeria), she found that refugees’  political representatives, “mobilized religiously-related claims to maximize diverse short- and long-term benefits both inside and outside the camps,” accessing both material resources and the political support provided by Evangelical American actors in the camps and in the USA.

While this demonstrates a need to recognise the complexity of proselytisation and the nuances of the contexts in which it takes place, it does not do away with the fundamental concern of faith actors tying their assistance to conversion. Most of our interviewees reported having seen or heard about such practices. However, interviewees also explained the ways in which they had still managed to successfully partner with LFAs who had initially included types of proselytisation in their assistance. One interviewee described a negotiation with a local faith actor in which they held a meeting with refugees about their religion, but only after all distributions had been made so that attendance was a choice and not tied to assistance. In their opinion, the method maintained dignity on both sides, recognising that the refugees and local faith community involved in distribution were able to uphold their identities without compromising the distribution. This was a one-off solution, but in another example from the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development (LSESD), they conducted training on humanitarian principles for LFAs. They reported some initial missteps in explaining the concepts behind the humanitarian principles to LFAs and described how they had learned that specific examples were more effective than providing an abstract description of concepts such as impartiality and neutrality.

On one hand, there is the fear that LFAs will be “NGO-ised” through the localization agenda, to the point that they lose any identity as faith actors, becoming instrumentalised sub-contractors for international humanitarian organisations instead.

On the other hand, there are sensitive ways to conduct trainings that allow organisations to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This element of complexity in engagement with LFAs shows that international humanitarian organisations must be committed to capacity building in humanitarian principles, standards, and compliance with LFAs, while recognising the agency of refugees and LFAs to interact around and about their faiths, without assuming it is proselytization.

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Featured Image: Baddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon has been hosting refugees from Syria since the outbreak of the conflict. The Masjid al-Quds mosque – in the background – is at the geographical and metaphorical core of the camp. Masjid al-Quds overlooks the cemetery, the camp’s ultimate shared space in life and death for new and established refugees alike. (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 

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For more readings on the themes explored in this piece

click here for the Refugee Hosts Faith and Displacement series, here for other contributions to our Refugee Hosts ‘Contextualising the Localisation of Aid‘ blog series

Recommended readings: