AFRICA UNITE CHOOL CLUB x SHAWCO HEALTH – COMMUNTY HEALTH LIAISON.

On the 13th of April 2019 Africa Unite School Club together with the University of Cape Town student run organisation; Student Health Welfare Centre Organisation (SHAWCO) Health partnered on an information sharing workshop at the SHAWCO Health Offices at the University of Cape Town’s Medical Campus . SHAWCO invited 6 Africa Unite’s School Club Ministers of Health and Environment as well as their 3 deputies. The following schools attended the workshop; Dr Nelson Mandela High School (Nyanga) , Hector Peterson High School (Kraaifontein), Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Heideveld High School (Heideveld), Rosendaal High School (Delft) and Portland High School (Mitchell’s Plain).

The workshop was aimed at educating the ministers deeper regarding  health issues that affect local communities. Thus, creating a space which informs the ministers on how they can bring about health change within their school and communities.

The workshop began with general introductions where the SHAWCO team introduced themselves and what they stand for as an organisation. They further elaborated on how they continue to assist local communities regarding health issues.

As the educational program continued, the SHAWCO team explained the difference between health promotion and health education so that the ministers could get a better understanding between the two. This aids them to decide on the kind of projects they would want to coordinate  to address health issues in their respective schools or communities.

The workshop also focused on addressing diseases such as High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and HIV and Aids. Following this, the club members were tested on what they had learned throughout the day as SHAWCO conducted a quiz which addressed the topics they had covered.

The following questions were asked:

  • What is HIV and AIDS?
  • How does HIV and AIDS affect the human body?
  • How can people be infected by HIV or how can people pass on HIV?
  • How to monitor HIV and AIDS?
  • Which steps may a person who is infected by HIV take?

Furthermore, what stood out throughout the workshop was the reaction of the club members towards the topics that were discussed. As they had enthusiasm throughout the whole session, therefore absorbing all the information relied to them.

An outcome to this workshop was the determination to spread the information they gained at the workshop. As the ministers vowed that they will commit themselves to creating awareness campaigns related to health and environment in their respective schools and communities.

We would like to thank SHAWCO Health for inviting our club members to such an informative workshop.

For more information on SHAWCO Health please visit, https://shawco.org/health/.

For more pictures of the event please click here: https://www.facebook.com/auschoolclubs/?ref=settings

PLEASE BE ADVISED TO ALWAYS CHECK ON YOUR HEALTH STATUS.

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South African Government Officials Fuelling Xenophobia:

For Immediate Release

The recent xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu Natal Province did not come as a surprise considering the upcoming general elections in May 2019. For the past 2 years, different political authorities both in the ruling and opposition parties have labelled migrants as the main cause of their failure to deliver quality services to the historically disadvantaged communities. We were not surprised that since the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mr. Herman Mashaba, took office he has officially declared that majority of the social ills in Johannesburg are created by ‘illegal migrants’. Early this year Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health argued that South Africa must re-evaluate its immigration policy in order to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. But he offered no data or evidence to substantiate his claims about immigrants being such a burden on the public healthcare system.

During an interview last year, Congress of the People (COPE) Leader Mr. Mosiuoa Lekota, one of the opposition leaders alluded that if his party formed a coalition government after this year’s general elections, it would push for refugees and illegal immigrants to be placed in camps. Lekota said foreign nationals were being allowed to ‘flood’ the country, adding that they now constituted the majority of the people who occupied buildings in cities like Johannesburg. Such exaggerations from a leader are extremely dangerous since they give credence to the belief that South Africa is overrun by foreigners who are stealing local jobs and putting a strain on services. How can an estimated population of 3 – 4 million migrants overrun a country of almost 54 million inhabitants?

Last year a new political party called African Basic Movement was formed in KwaZulu Natal with the aim of pushing out all the migrants by the end of 2018. Africa Unite and other civil societies were in total shock and challenged the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for registering such a party that is based on discrimination and hate. During the ANC manifesto launch in January this year, the president of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to crack down on businesses operating illegally in townships and rural areas. Consequently, after his speech the police started to harass migrant and refugee traders in Mpumalanga Province.

The above political rhetoric paved way for the recent xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu Natal. Despite the government refusing as usual to acknowledge that these attacks were xenophobic but rather acts of criminality. According to IOL News, these recent attacks left four people dead, hundreds of migrants and refuges displaced, and many of theirshops looted. However, as witnessed in the past years there have been no consequences for those behind these attacks. It has become institutionalised for children to believe that killing or looting foreign owned shops is normal.

The common term used by majority of these politicians is ‘illegal migrants’. We wonder how ordinary citizens in these townships can determine the difference between a documented and undocumented migrant. We also need to ask the question what makes them undocumented, when we have many cases where Department of Home Affairs has refused to renew their documents.

Many refugees have lived in the country for more than 20 years but others are still using asylum seeker permits which needs to be renewed after every 3 – 6 months. Some of them have been issued with South African green IDs and passports, but the home affairs has also largely refused to renew their documents. This makes it difficult for these refugees and their families to live a normal life where they can access basic services such as bank accounts, school, travelling etc.

On the other hand, almost all of the white people who came to South Africa as refugees from Eastern Europe 20 years ago are now South African citizens. This shows clearly how xenophobia is institutionalised against African migrants and refugees at the expense of poor South Africans. We the Africa Unite youth, totally condemn the scape goat attitude of our government and politicians towards our fellow African brothers and sisters who just yesterday paid the price for standing against the Apartheid system.


Africa Unite Human Rights Youth Peer Educators
Western Cape
Yonela Msongelwa
074 528 5483
KwaZulu Natal:
Melusi Mahlaba 076 223 3442
Email info@africaunite.org.za

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Immigration Orientation Programme

On the 30th of March 2019 Africa Unite held its first immigration orientation session at 6 Spin Street Cape Town. This information session was designed in order to raise awareness on the South African socio-political context, cultures and by-laws among immigrants who often become victims or perpetrators of the law. The event attracted more than 45 people that included a few young South Africans and immigrants from other African countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Burundi and Tanzania.

Three guest speakers were invited that is, i.) Mr Patrick Raolane Provincial Manger of Police and Prison Civil Rights’ Union (POPCRU) ii.) Ms Zanele Figlan who is a Health Inspector at the City of Cape Town and iii.) Mr Fwamba Mukole who a former refugee from DRC and currently a permanent resident and has been living in South Africa for 20 years.

Participants listening to the speakers share their knowledge & experiences

The three speakers covered different topics as follows: In the absence of major general Berry the head of detectives, Mr Pat spoke on some of the crimes committed by immigrants and also some of the innocent immigrants who fall victim of the police. He also recognized that some of the police are not well trained to deal with issues pertaining immigrants such as the different types of identification they need to carry. He also mentioned that one of the challenges is the issue of language that often hinder the police investigations.

Ms Figlan from City of Cape Town covered the by laws regarding health issues. She mentioned that it is critical for all immigrants to be documented as often there are communicable diseases that need to be traced their origins such as malaria to avoid further spread of the diseases. She also highlighted that there are many barriers that render quality health services especially amongst immigrant shop owners such as non-compliance with health standards, language barriers, fear of deportation, lack of knowledge, bad attitude from refugees to officials or vice-versa, overcrowding etc. She also alluded that some of the immigrant shop owners fall victim of the health inspectors who often ask money while these services should be rendered for free. One of the stumbling blocks she highlighted was that improper service delivery is caused by some immigrants who are undocumented and the State does not know the actual number of immigrants its dealing with.


Ms Figlan from City of Cape Town covered the by laws regarding health issues

Mr Fwamba shared his own experience and journey as a young refugee where he temporarily stayed in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique before settling in South Africa. He advised the immigrant audience to make an effort to learn local languages, love the host country and not always see yourself as a victim. He also echoed that most immigrants fall victim because often they do not get the right information on different issues.

Mr. Fwamba sharing his experience in being an immigrant & his work with foreign nationals

The three presentations from the speakers raised a lot of questions amongst the participating immigrants such as: general negative attitude of the police towards immigrants: the attitude of the officials from other departments who see refugees as a milking cow for money: home affairs failing to renew documents of immigrants making them undocumented: hospitals always require a proof address whilst many immigrants struggle to have one: the abuse of immigrants in public transport such as trains etc.

Recommendations

After a long fruitful discussion, the following recommendations were made:

  1. All the immigrants must appreciate the hospitality of South Africa as the host country.
  2. Immigrants must be informed and do their best to get the right information from the right people.
  3. In order for them to be integrated easily they must do their best to learn local South African languages, customs and by laws to avoid ongoing conflicts with host communities and different institutions
  4. The South African government must promote more education about African history and political context in Schools and communities in order to break stereotypes and prejudice which is often the main causes of xenophobic violence
  5. City of Cape Town Department of Health will conduct a series of information sessions with immigrant shop owners mainly operating in townships in order to raise awareness about the environmental and health issues. Africa Unite will assist to identify the immigrant shop owners.
  6. Immigrants and locals must work together must work together in order to break the common challenges such as unemployment, poverty, crime etc
  7. The officials of different government departments dealing directly with immigrants (police, home affairs, health, education etc) must learn at least basic languages (Swahili, French, Portuguese etc) spoken by the majority of the immigrants. Africa Unite is willing to provide these lessons to the authorities
  8. The Immigration Orientation Program should spread to the other parts of the country and not only Cape Town.
  9. To avoid ongoing abuse of immigrants in different institutions (police, banks, hospitals, public transport, schools etc) human rights education and the rights of immigrants can be conducted with these institutions, including the different types of documents used by immigrants
  10. A stakeholder platform needs to be created where different stakeholders such as City of Cape Town, Police, Home Affairs, health, NGOs etc can meet and share information relating to immigrants
Participants eating and networking

Conclusion

All the participants were thankful to Africa Unite for creating such a unique informative platform. They encouraged us to run this initiative more in different areas and provinces because it will assist in integrating and creating a common understanding between locals and immigrants in townships.

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Africa Unite School Club Leadership Camp 2019

“Our emerging  leaders join us for a week of leadership training”

On the 24th -27th of March, we hosted our annual Africa Unite School Club Leadership camp at the Rotary Youth Club Camp in Glencairin in Simon’s town. It is here where we spent 4 days, laying out the foundation and grooming our youth leaders  to understand what the Africa School Club is about and what it is expected from them as club members

As per usual, we invited 7 cabinet members and 2 parliamentarians to join us for the leadership camp, and this year we had all 60 learners from our school clubs present at the camp; Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Dr Nelson Mandela High School (Nyanga), Portlands High School (Mitchell’s Plain), Heideveld High School (Heideveld), Rosendaal High School (Delft), Ashton Combined School (Ashton) and  our new school club Hector Peterson High School (Kraaifontein). 

On the first night, the learners set out their expectations for the camp; these included growing their leadership skills, learning more about tackling the problems they face in their schools and communities and more on their roles and responsibility as club members determined to better their schools and communities and from there proceeded to map out their school and community and identify the different issues present. During this time, many of the schools mentioned drugs, alcohol, gangsters, teenage pregnancy, robberies, and insufficient school supplies to be major issues they face. Following this, the learners had to come up with ways to combat these issues along with which minister would tackle which issue. This was an ongoing process throughout the camp.

The following days, the club members were capacitated to their expected roles and responsibilities as portfolio holders and general club members. Thereafter, they were presentations on good leadership and addressing social issues such as climate change and cyber-bullying.

As an exercise to test their knowledge from their capacitation during the camp, learners were also given a project where they had to present about the Africa Unite School Club and what they would do if their club was given R50,000,000 by the “Minister of Basic Education” in a fun but practical way. It was during this that the learners  had to show off their leadership skills and how they would work as a team to improve their school.  As well as rationalise how they were going to tackle the issues they current face in their schools and communities. The criteria for this ranged from; creativity, knowledge on the school club and the organisation, practicality addressing the issues, as well as showing lobbying and advocacy skills. Here, Ashton Combined School in only their second year as club members, blew the judges away and took the 50,000,000 check.

Ashton Combined School, Winners of the 50,000,000 presentations.

Finally, on the last day of camp, the club planned  a year calendar which was inclusive of their activities of the year and the stakeholders they planned to work with in order to make these events a success.

Overall, the camp was a success, as we engaged and had fruitful conversations with  young leaders who are determined to change their schools and communities for the better. This was one of the most well-behaved group of learners, as everyone was very attentive to the presentations given and the tasks they were assigned to. The learners were very engaging, and  everyone was able to share and relate to the different topics discussed. Essentially, the learners seemed to fully understand their new roles in the club as well as what needs to be accomplished.

AUSC 2019

We would like to thank the principals of the schools for allowing their learners to be involved in such a program, the venue of the Rotary Youth Camp and Ms Praxia for catering for us throughout the 4 days. Thank you to the different facilitators who capacitated the future leaders of our country. 

And of course, thank you to all the learners who participated in the leadership camp.

We are looking forward to the upcoming year and foresee nothing but success in the events our club members will be organizing.

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Inter-Varsity GBV Dialogue

Gender based violence is a phenomenon that is prevalent in today’s society and is deeply rooted in gender inequality which continues to be a serious violation of human rights. This concept can be best defined as violence perpetuated on a person because of their gender and it can be physical, emotional, sexual etcetera. Inter-Vasity GBV sessionSouth Africa is considered one of the rape capitals in the world with victims being mostly women, girls and the LGBTQI+ community.  A number of rape and assaults have been reported in universities but there is also a significant amount of cases not reported on campuses. Due to only some cases being reported to the police it is difficult to understand how serious the issue of gender based violence truly is at universities.

It was discovered by some students that gender based violence was not talked about or widely known about at universities. Instead it is kept quiet on campuses. Due to this lack of knowledge among universities, Africa Unite had a gender based violence dialogue on the 9th of March 2019, among several different universities: University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and University of Stellenbosch. Other organization’s such as Activate! and Total Shutdown were also present.

Africa Unite has been involved with multiple dialogues about gender based violence but this one was specific to gender violence among higher education institutions. The purpose of this dialogue was to discuss the issue of how and why universities do not address gender based violence enough for the people to be aware of it on their own campuses. Ultimately, the discussion was to lead the students to coming up with solutions about how to combat the problem and future implementation plans.

Issues raised

The issues raised by the participants during the dialogue about why gender based violence occurs were:IMG-20190311-WA0032

  • Religion and culture are a root cause of gender based violence. Gender roles are in present in religion and culture; as religion and culture are taught and followed so are those perceived and expected gender roles.
  • It is hard to break or question tradition. Families may think that we are disrespecting them by questioning traditions when that is not the case.
  • People and society need to be cautious when investigating violence because there is always more than one side to the story. How a person deals with the perpetrator and the survivor is very delicate. People may be too quick to blame the survivor for what happened to too quick to believe them and not investigate.
  • Gender roles play a huge part in gender based violence; this stems from how people are raised at home and how our elders view gender roles.
  • Gender based violence is prevalent among the LGBTQI+ community as well, many people think it is just women who are GBV survivors when anyone can be hurt by gender based violence. It also happens within the community.

Recommendations

After a long and open conversation between everyone several solutions were proposed to help stop gender based violence at universities:

  • Have quarterly meetings among the universities to stay in contact and keep up on progress that each school is having while trying to combat gender based violence.
  • Expand on who is involved in these dialogues: bring these dialogues out to the townships, involve school police and surrounding police stations, church members, younger children, elderly, etc. By gaining perspectives of people who are more prone to committing or condoning gender based violence it would help people understand how to go about implementing change. This will help sensitize the public and public workers who often deal with GBV survivors.Discussion the solutions to the GBV Challenges
  • Create a list of demands that university students want to help prevent gender based violence at their schools and give it to their school’s management. Each school should have their own GBV dialogue, while also possibly working with SRC, and come up with list of demands prevalent to their school situation. With each school having their own dialogue, this expands the awareness of GBV and also gets management from all of the schools involved.
  • People need to be educated on the fact that survivors can be everyone, not just women. By saying only women can be targeted by gender based violence is excluding the rest of the population (men, gays, lesbians, non-gender conforming individuals, etc.). To spread this awareness more material should be developed to put around schools to educate people.

These dialogues are crucial in trying to combat gender based violence. By expanding this conversation to students at universities more young minds can help come up with new, innovative ways to change and stop gender based violence.

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2019 Human Rights Peer Educators Training

“A weekend uniting Africa’s youth Human Rights Practitioners”

It’s a new year and a new wave of human rights activist have committed themselves to be Human Rights Peer Educators to develop the continent of Africa.

Africa Unite held its annual Human Rights Peer Educators Training Weekend from the 22nd to the 24th of February 2019 . The training was held at the lovely resort of Goedegedacht Farm in Malmesbury Cape Town, South Africa.

This year the training included a diverse group of youth from across the African continent, from 23 local and 7 youth from our Africa Exchange program. The exchange youth included 5 youth from Madagascar, 1 from Zambia and 1 from Lesotho. The purpose of the exchange program is to continue building a bigger movement of young people in Africa that can collaborate together in the realisation of their human rights and to build a culture of human rights communities in Africa. The 7 stayed with us for a period of 1 month where they worked closely with local South African youth and stakeholders as part of their practical implementation of human rights. The youth are expected to transfer some of this knowledge and experiences in their own countries upon their return. 

On Friday the 21st of February, the youthful group participating in the training started off their journey and throughout the traveling, networks were already being built. Upon arrival at Goedgedacht the participants familiarised themselves with each other and further engaged on the topic of human rights. Together, the youth participating had a continuous dialogue pivoting on the subject of human right. This was an engagement which continued throughout the training weekend, with an edition of looking further into the art of human rights education. Hence after, all participants were further equipped with skills on how to be human rights educators by our facilitator who is a renowned humanitarian and Africa Unite Chairperson Mr Vincent Williams.

The training covered the following topics:

  • Human Rights Principles
  • Human Rights Education: What and Why?
  • Instruments protecting Human Rights locally and globally.
  • The rights of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, women, children, elderly people, refugees and migrants etc).
  • The Death Penalty Controversy
  • How to build Human Rights Communities.
  • How to facilitate human rights information sessions in various communities.

The most exciting event of the weekend was the mock presentations to the African Union assembly by the youth who were divided in different African countries. For this, the activists were grouped in 4 different countries; Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia and it is in these groups were the countries competed for $200 Billion offered by the World Bank through the African Union. Each country was asked to select a president and the rest of the members were either civilians or cabinets of the country. As the final group work, the above countries were instructed to deliver a presentation to the acting Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. The youngest in the group, Marchilino February from Mannenberg in Cape Town, was selected as the Chairperson of the African Union. Each country was tasked to do a presentation based on the following topics: a brief history about the country, current political issues, socio-economic and cultural dynamics, and how each country intends to use the $200 billion donation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

After outstanding presentations which further combined the arts, the 4 countries executed their presentations, and ultimately Ethiopia took the prize due to their well informed and highly creative presentation. To mimic the traditional winning procedure, the group members were issued a mock cheque of $200 billion for aid to their country. Nonetheless, the purpose of this activity was not just to highlight the importance of team work, but rather to also allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of other African countries. A background which we stress all Africans to familiarise themselves with.

On the final day; Sunday the 24th of February, the workshop was concluded by Mr Williams with a set of exercises which encompassed everything which was covered throughout the weekend. He further opened up the session to more engagements on the steps forward and how the skills acquired during the training can be utilised in practice in the communities the participants work in.

Moreover, the youth from different backgrounds was extremely excited about the different levels of interactions, content of the training and the skills which were gained throughout the weekend. They reflected on their experiences, provided constructive feedback to enhance the program, and thanked Africa Unite for this learning opportunity.

Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back in their respective communities and countries, and conduct similar information sessions.

Here are some reflections from the young leaders;

“The workshop was a great learning environment, Mr Williams facilitation was pure art, as he facilitated it in a straightforward and contextual manner. As a previous university student, this provided me with grassroots understanding of Human Rights and it allowed me to network with like-minded people” – Nelly Dludla (Lesotho)

“I gained more than I anticipated, I learnt how little I know about human rights. I am highly inspired by the use of arts in the presentations and this is an element which I will be taking home because it is effective presenting. Essentially, I will never get tired of learning how people think especially in South Africa. In my opinion, South Africans represent their nations disregarding their differences.” Lineo Mahlaka (Lesotho)

“Africa Unite as an organisation has met their objectives. This camp encompasses nothing but a diverse group of likeminded people. The workshop made me realise that there were limitations on my HR knowledge. This weekend I was remined that knowledge is power; however, application is needed, therefore how you apply it becomes the source of power” -Marlene Van Dieman (South Africa)

“The workshop increased my knowledge in human rights and really increased my confident even though my English is limited. I truly appreciate the friendships I have made and I’m looking forward to working together in building a better Africa” – Santatra Anjatiana (Madagascar)

 Africa Unite would like to give a special thanks to Vincent Williams for the professional and high-quality facilitation. Our special thanks also goes to our funders DKA- Austria and CCFD and other individuals.

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“Africa Unite School Club Alumni’s celebrate their Successful Matriculation”

After sleepless nights and constant study sessions, our Africa Unite School Club (AUSC) matriculants have risen above and are among the thousands of South African grade 12 learners who were  victorious in passing their National Senior Certificate.  

With such an achievement, the organization invited our now alumni school club leaders  to our Cape Town office to commemorate them for the achievement on Thursday the 17th of January 2019. Throughout the visit, the AUSC alumni expressed their joy in successfully completing  this chapter of their lives and later expressed their future career prospective.

Moreover, it was with great joy to hear the alumni express how the Africa Unite School Club has helped them throughout the years. Not only through exposing them to innovative ways in which they can help their schools and community’s development, but also helping them realize their true potential through exploring skills they were taught throughout their membership. Similarly, the students further expressed how the program has, to an extent, shaped their prospective career paths. Nelisa Fusa; ex-president of Masibambane Secondary High School (a school in Kraaifontein, Western Cape) stated  The Africa Unite School Club actually made me develop a passion for social work, a career which I didn’t think I was even interested in before. Originally, all I was interested in was being the minister of sport but ended up getting the minister of health portfolio, which may have triggered my interest in social work. These are the type of testaments which we aim to receive more regarding the influence of the AUSC.

Additionally, there was an open dialogue initiated by the learners on how we can improve the program, with them advocating for the program to be extended to more schools so more students could gain the rewarding experience they also received. This was a suggestion which was not just limited to the borders of South Africa but suggested expanding into international waters to spread the same human rights culture which they have learned and now have ingrained in their everyday lives. As an organisation which prides itself on growth, we enjoyed every minute of this fruitful conversation.

Following our prolific conversation at our Cape Town office, we then took our victorious matriculants out to celebratory lunch at V & A Waterfront in Cape Town. Throughout this experience, the table buzzed with joy and laughter as the alumni shared their most memorable moments of the program. The stories ranged from the funny moments experienced at their first camp which was where they first  united, thereafter allowing  them to form friendships which they will cherish forever. To the old age home visit, they organized in 2017. One AUSC alumni member expressed I’ve never done anything like that before, after seeing how happy the elderly was when we came to assist them for the day, I truly understood papa Zoe’s saying of it is the little things which make a difference”. This reminded us as an organization that the program isn’t only structured to help the children escape being captured by the normalized culture of violence, poverty and immense marginalization, but  it is to also groom our young leaders on developing a mentality of remembering our roots and helping our community even after we have mentally liberated ourselves from this marginalization. Henceforth, also echoing  the notion of “My school, My community, My community, My home” ,as throughout that visit, the learners were helping the foundations of their home.

Ultimately, we were very pleased with the proceedings of the day, and we are  over joyed by the AUSC members pride in participating in the program.

 We wish our matriculants all the best for this journey they about to embark on. May the human rights culture continue brewing within them.

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