By Linda Oucho
The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Civil Society Days 2012 was opened by John Bingham who introduced panellists Ali Mansoor (GFMD Chair in Office), Shakeel Mohammed (Minister of Labour Industrial Relations and Employment in the Government of Mauritius) and Patricia Adele Felicite (Secretary General of Caritas Mauritius).
Ali Mansoor advised us to always bear in mind that we are not looking at labour but human beings. Shakeel Mohammed recounted the story of his experience of migration to Canada. The support he received on arrival demonstrated the importance of being received at your destination country by a familiar group. He added that we should focus on confidence building between civil society and the government in order to tackle the issues plaguing migration. Patricia Felicite asked us to question our part in trying to deal with some of the MDGs that still need to be dealt with asking are we part of the problem and do we want to be part of the solution. These welcoming remarks reminded us of why we are here and what we have been called to do.
The morning session revealed some inspiring stories from the work by George Joseph (Director of Migration Department, Caritas Sweden), who told us of a 16 year old Afghan girl who has endured horrible conditions in order to improve the lives of herself and her family. Even though she has lost everything, she wants to become a lawyer to fight for the rights of migrants in order to protect others from facing the same things she has experienced. George Joseph reminded us that we should seek to help all migrants and protect their rights from being violated.
By the time the afternoon session had begun, we had already taken up part of the time due to interesting discussions overrunning. I attended the working session on "Engaging Diaspora as Entrepreneurs, Social Investors and Policy Advocates". Panellists informed us of the activities of their organisations and asked us to recommend ways of improving their work efforts for the benefit of the diaspora and the government. Let’s just say the discussion was so engaging, the co-moderator, Gibril Faal (AFFORD UK) had to work hard to ensure we did not go over time. At the end of the day, everyone left with recommendations that will help to improve their efforts towards migration initiatives.
We were treated to an eventful cultural night where they showcased Mauritian culture from their vocal talents to their artistic dances from China and India. It was a perfect end to an intriguing day of discussions. I look forward to the next day....
Linda Oucho is the Director of the Research and Data Hub at the African Migration Development and Policy Centre (AMADPOC), a core partner within the Migrating out of Poverty consortium. She is participating in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Mauritius with the support of the Migrating out of Poverty programme.