Enas Elmohands, member of Arts Action Group, teaches students at Calhoun High School on Long Island, NY about the Moroccan government's occupation of the Western Sahara and the consequential refugee situation in Algeria. Calhoun High School has dedicated programming addressing human rights issues. Enas worked with Adelphi faculty member Diana Feige on this project.
Enas and another Adelphi student, Tyra Busigo presented to small groups of students on different pressing human rights abuses, including human trafficking and what's going on in the Western Sahara. In Enas's group a range of issues were covered including the history, geography, human rights violations, as well as the role of women in the camps. It's news to most people that women and men have equal rights and women take on leadership roles across the camps and in the diaspora. The role of arts and culture to push back against the human rights abuses was illustrated through the work of the ARTifariti festival. Early in the conflict between the Moroccan government and Western Sahrawi community, violent protests were the norm. Over time, the community has moved away from violent protests to working with arts and culture as a 'weapon' to fight the oppression as well as to raise global consciousness regarding this situation. The culminating activity was for each student group to share their human rights issue with their peers as well as to find some way of taking action in support of human rights for Western Sahara.
Finding ways of fostering human rights for all is a multifaceted endeavor, both large and small. Engaging youth in these issues is critical to imagining future worlds with less discrimination and more opportunities.
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