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West Africa Calls for Help in Supporting Communities Devastated by Ebola

West Africa Calls for Help in Supporting Communities Devastated by Ebola


“We never had any mechanism in place for such an invincible and merciless virus. . . The situation is still not under control. It is too big for government to handle we need to step up.”
Br. Pious Conteh, Sierra Leone, Sep 2014

Just last week, Edmund Rice Development received the very sad news that two students who attend one of our schools, St. Martin’s in Liberia, and their families, have been killed by the Ebola virus that is currently sweeping West Africa.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak currently devastating the people of West Africa is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa. It began in Guinea in March and has spread to the neighbouring countries with confirmed cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and most recently Senegal. At time of writing there have been 2,106 laboratory confirmed cases. This disease has had a devastating effect on West Africa and has directly affected our schools, projects, Brothers and the communities in which they work.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the magnitude of the disease has been underestimated and there are “invisible caseloads of patients who are not being detected by the surveillance system.” Families are hiding infected loved ones, on the assumption that, because Ebola has no cure, it would be better for them to die at home rather than in hospital. However, effective treatment can improve chances of survival  – a message that health authorities have been struggling to communicate to increasingly fearful populations.   Br. Sylvester Lahai writing from Liberia also said that “the problem is further complicated by the belief on the part of some people that the disease is not real.”
The World Health Organization has drawn up a draft strategy plan to combat Ebola in West Africa over the next six to nine months, implying that it does not expect to halt the epidemic this year.

Brothers and Edmund Rice people in Sierra Leone and Liberia are trying to help people in extremely difficult circumstances. In many of the communities curfews and restrictions have now been put in place in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease. The West Point district in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia has been put under quarantine which means that approximately 75,000 people have been sealed into a densely-packed slum. This type of situation is now being repeated in many parts of Sierra Leone. All schools remain closed in a further attempt to limit contact between people.

Br. Pious Conteh, Province Mission Officer for West Africa sent us the following update on the situation on the ground:
‘Within just one week the number of cases in Freetown have almost doubled. Freetown nurses have undertaken a sit-down strike this week following the death of one of their colleagues after contracting the Ebola disease in Freetown. The Ebola outbreak has exposed a weak health care system in Sierra Leone and West Africa at large. Ebola as an emerging disease in Sierra Leone caught us off-guard. I cannot honestly criticize anybody or political party or government for the havoc the disease has caused because we never had any mechanism in place for such an invincible and merciless virus.
We should all remember that we are still recovering from ten years of destructive intra-state conflict. Although the civil conflict officially ended over a decade ago, Sierra Leone is still classified as a fragile state and it is our responsibility to catapult ourselves from fragility to resilience. To all our supporters and partners, please keep Sierra Leone in your prayers, we need it. A lot is happening in the country that is not Godly. The situation is still not under control. It is too big for government to handle we need to step up.”

Edmund Rice Development has launched a West Africa Ebola Relief Fund to help West African Brothers, and the communities they live and work in, to respond to the Ebola crisis.
Funds raised will contribute towards such critical items as:

  • Hygiene materials for families (buckets, gloves, chlorine etc.)
  • Food items
  • Telephone credit to allow identified people in communities to pass on information on any Ebola suspected cases
  • Rain gear (It is currently the rainy season)
  • Initiatives to reduce the local stigma, fear and ignorance surrounding the virus
  • Support of children orphaned by the crisis – incl school support after the crisis is over

To contribute please call +353 1 8196782 or send your donation to:
West Africa Ebola Relief Fund, Edmund Rice Development, Edmund Rice House, North Richmond Street, Dublin 1.

ERJA Mobile Phone APP!


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Keep up to date on the go with our new mobile phone app!

It has links to Edmund Rice Websites, ERJA on Facebook and twitter,

up to date  information on events such as the upcoming conference on Advocacy in Aotearoa and much more!

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Advocacy in Aotearoa Conference – From the Grassroots to the United Nations

Focus issues: Child Poverty, Climate Change,  

                 Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Youth Justice

Sponsored by the Edmund Rice Network* 

17 & 18 July 2014,  St Peter’s College 
23 Mountain Road, Grafton, Auckland   

A networking and training event for those involved or seeking to be involved with advocacy.

Register Now!

As an attendee, you will have the chance to learn from some of New Zealand’s leading advocacy organisations and create valuable links with others that are committed to bringing about positive change.

Keynote Speakers include:

sue bradfordSue Bradford has spent her entire life advocating for those caught in cycles of poverty both from inside and outside the walls of government.  Currently a fulltime lecturer at Unitec’s School of Social Practice, Waitakere campus and in the final stages of a PhD in public policy at AUT, Sue is also theco-chair of Auckland Action Against Poverty.  Best known for her 10 year stint as a Green MP (1999 – 2009) Sue has also been active in unemployed and beneficiary organisations since 1983. 

During her 10 years in parliament,  her key portfolio areas were welfare, employment, housing, ACC, industrial relations, mental health, childrens’ issues, community economic development, gambling, community and voluntary sector. The most significant  achievements during this period were securing support for the passage of three private member’s bills in one term of Parliament: amending s59 of the Crimes Act so that there is no longer a defence of ‘reasonable force’ for physical assault on children; ensuring that most 16 and 17 year olds receive adult rather than youth minimum wages; and extending the time some mothers in prison can keep their babies with them.   


Phil Glendenning has been the Director of the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney since its inception in 1996 and is currently the President of the Refugee Council of Australia.

With a background in education, law, political science, and overseas aid and development, today he is primarily involved in human rights advocacy and education, peace and reconciliation work, raising awareness of the impact of climate change on marginalised peoples.

His work for the rights of Indigenous people saw him co-found Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) in 1997, and for ten years he was National President.

He has served on the Boards of the Australian Council for Social Service (ACOSS), various committees of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, and the Centre for an Ethical Society.

In his work for the rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Phil led the Edmund Rice Centre’s research team for the Deported to Danger series which monitored the safety of rejected asylum seekers in 22 countries, and resulted in an internationally screened documentary, “A Well Founded Fear”, in 2008.  He was a consultant on the 2012 TV series “Go Back to Where You Came From”.

In conjunction with the Pacific Calling Partnership, he has been part of delegations to Pacific Island nations, particularly Kiribati, monitoring the impact of climate change on the population and joining them in international forums to advocate for change.

He is widely sought after for media comment and consultancy in Australia and overseas.

In 2007, Phil was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Australian Catholic University and was also recognised by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) with the Sir Ron Wilson Award for Human Rights.

chrisChris Nolan Recently retuned from training at the United Nations in Geneva with Edmund Rice (ER) International and will be    sharing with us the power and possibilties of advocacy with the United Nations.

Recently admitted to the bar, Chris is a fully qualified lawyer and his experience includes:

  – Coordinator and contribution of submissions to the United Nations for the NZ Universal Periodic Review in January 2014, on the treatment of  Maori in our criminal justice system and its connection to child poverty. 

  – Advocacy through the Community Law Centre in the area of criminal justice, particularly around justice reform for the most marginalised in NZ society; those affected by poverty and ethnic devaluation.

 – On behalf of the Edmund Rice Justice Trust Aotearoa (ERJA) Chris manages and leads as a restorative conference facilitator in the Te Kaupapa Whakaora project in collaboration with NZ Victim Support and Pathway Trust ( prisoner re-integration), providing high end, intensive, post sentence, in prison restorative conferencing to offenders and victims mostly of murder, sexual assault and death by drunk driving.

  – Monthly prison service in Christchurch Men’s Prison with The Howard League for Penal Reform providing legal advice and information and advocates regarding systemic issues.

  – Is establishing the ERJA Hinau Tree Project ( seeds of new life) in the youth wing of the Christchurch Men’s Prison  in collaboration with Corrections, the University of Canterbury Maori Law students who are volunteering in this project, NZ Police and Nga Maata Waka.

  – Along with two other ERJA trustees, Chris represents the ERJA on the steering committee of the Christchurch Community Justice Panel ( and volunteers working as a coordinator). The panel takes offenders out of the courts and enables their offending to be addressed by restorative principles as they are held accountable to and by their appropriate community.
 – Chris has also been a Greenpeace activist and boat driver.

Programme Guide

Day 1, July 17th

8am – 9 am – Arrival and conference check in

9 am – 10 am – Powhiri and Introductions, break with Kai (Morning tea)

10 am – 11:30 – Keynote Presentation – Sue Bradford followed by a panel of local advocacy experts

11:30 – 12:30 – Group workshop – a series of discussions and working in small groups

12:30 – 1 pm – Lunch

1 pm – 3 pm – The story of Child Poverty Action Group and related workshop – Amplifying the message

3 pm – 5:30 pm – Break and networking opportunity (Afternoon Tea)

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm – Dinner and Keynote speaker – Phil Glendenning


Day 2, July 18th

9:30 am – 10 am – Introduction to Day 2 plus morning tea

10 am – 12 pm – Choice of Facilitated Workshops and Discussion Groups

12 pm – 1 pm – Lunch

1 pm – 3 pm  – Choice of Facilitated Workshops and Discussion Groups

3 pm – 4 pm – Afternoon tea, Feedback and Conclusion

*Please note workshop and presentation times are approximate

You will have the opportunity to select workshops for day two at the end of day one.

To maximise the benefit of bringing together such a dynamic group of people, (as advocates always are!) we are allowing for organic programme development and are excited about the contributions that our conference attendees can make.You can follow this development via this event page and on Facebook

Along with our already selected mentors and keynote speakers, we are inviting other reputable organisations to register and offer their special skill sets and resources.

As individual attendees, we are asking you to indicate your own special interest areas and will seek to provide connections, discussion opportunities or even workshops if there are sufficient numbers interested in a particular type of learning.

*This conference is organised by the Edmund Rice Centre New Zealand and supported by the Edmund Rice Justice Trust Aotearoa (NZ), Edmund Rice Centre for Awareness, Advocacy, Action (Sydney)  and Edmund Rice International (United Nations Geneva)

Organisations supporting this Event:

The Edmund Rice Centre for Awareness, Advocacy and Action (Sydney) : Focus areas are advocacy for Indigenous Rights, Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Climate Change and Community Education. Activites have included the making of a human rights documentary screened internationally both in cinemas and on television – ‘a Well-Founded Fear’.

Edmund Rice Justice Trust Aotearoa NZ (Christchurch): Focus areas are Restorative Justice Conferencing post-sentencing, Advocacy for young people particularly in regards to youth justice and the marginalisation of Maori through the criminal justice system and related child poverty, local advocacy for those suffering the worst impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Edmund Rice International (ERI): is a faith-based non-governmental organisation based in Geneva with the United Nations. It is committed to working for children and young people who are marginalised because of poverty, lack of access to education, legal status, environmental degradation, or involvement in armed conflict. 

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG): Focus area is on the rights of the child in New Zealand.  CPAG works to produce evidence about the causes and effects of poverty on children and their families. It looks carefully at how government policies affect children. CPAG publishes reports, makes submissions and conducts small-scale research projects to achieve its goals.

The NZ Refugee Council: Focus area is on the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers entering New Zealand in regards to international law. It also serves to raise public awareness and understanding of refugee and asylum seekers issues and the necessary networking and information needs for effective advocacy. 

JustSpeak: is a non-partisan network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want change in our criminal justice system. Focus area is on the preservation of human rights and a socially constructive response to crime and punishment.

Catholic Worker Advent Appeal

cwThe Catholic Worker has a commitment to a hands-on practical approach to the teachings of Jesus as outlined in the Beatitudes, the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, and the Social Teachings of the church. From them we learn how to love God and our neighbor better.

In periods of economic recession, times are tough. The Catholic Worker is no exception. Funds are running low.

Each quarterly edition of the newspaper The Common Good costs nearly $2500 to print and mail. It is distributed free of charge. The remainder of our $20,000 annual budget is used for helping the poor and destitute from our three “houses of hospitality.

No wages are paid. All work is voluntary and freely given. The Catholic worker movement in New Zealand has been like this for 23 years. They do not seek funding from traditional sources.

This is an appeal to our general readers, especially those who have not contributed thus far, to respond to this annual appeal. Any amount will be gratefully received.

Should you wish to make a regular contribution, you can do so through the Te Wairua Maranga Trust Westpac account (03-1703-0036346-02). Like other Catholic Worker houses, no tax receipts will be issued, since we the Catholic Worker is neither a business nor a church social agency. We invite people to participate personally and unconditionally in the Spirit of Jesus

Crowd Funder for West Papua Media alerts

wpma-banner1-300x250mediablackout-webDear Friends of Free and Independent Media:

Edmund Rice Justice is launching a crowd funder for West Papua Media Alerts at

As civil resistance movements across the world start shaking their way into global media consciousness, West Papua Media is one of the few independent media networks that have a head start on nurturing ‘witness journalism’. West Papua Media is a project that came into play to counter Indonesia’s foreign media ban, which was making it increasingly difficult for international news crews to get into West Papua to document events and abuses on the ground.

 West Papua Media was created in 2008 to close a critical information gap in coverage of the human catastrophe in West Papua.  Long term human rights, environmental and human security investigators and journalists covering the Melanesian area were disturbed at the wilful ignorance of the Western media to the ongoing human rights abuses and corruption of the Indonesian occupation of West Papua.

The mission of West Papua Media is simple: whilst reporting credibly on the issues facing West Papua today, we are here to assist in the development of a professional (unpaid at this stage unfortunately), robust, credible, and independent SAFE civil and investigative media capacity in West Papua.  In short, Free Media for West Papua, helping the Voiceless Roar, with the skills to counter any attempt to silence that voice.

We want to stop people from being afraid of speaking out, and we want West Papua’s voice to be its weapon, to broadcast its songs for Freedom.

Their live and committed monitoring of civil resistance mobilisations (and of security force mobilisations) has now begun to be seen by others as a deciding factor in creating effective restraint, a restraint that has prevented security forces from behaving badly on many occasions during civil resistance situations.  However, in those remote and dangerous areas where  teams have not been able to penetrate in real time, this has meant heinous abuses continue – something we need your help to prevent.

West Papua Media needs your help to grow, your help to be able to deliver Safe Witness Journalism Training to the people who need it the most – front-line journalists and human rights workers in highly dangerous situations regularly facing security force violence, corruption, or resource company abuses; in many cases these situations are further compounded by isolation and lack of safe communication potential.  They need your help to be able to pay for their stringers to penetrate active military zones, with relative safety, to report on the significant human rights abuses occurring there.

To get this to happen, West Papua Media requires assistance for major fundraising to enable effective journalist training, and to sustain their unparalleled efforts for Independent Human Rights Journalism for West Papua.


To help their work, we are asking for assistance from your or your organization, assistance that will play a strategic role in the future of a free media in West Papua, and thereby contributing directly to the exposure and ultimate prevention of human rights abuses in our region.

How will tour donation be spent?


  • $3500 would provide three weeks of extensive training for one West Papuan journalist in Safe Witness Journalism, including airfares, lodging and course materials;
  • $3000 would provide communications support for five of our journalists and stringers on the ground for up to three months of intensive monitoring across civil resistance mobilisations.
  • $2000 could provide the support for one journalist to enter into a closed military area to report on security force abuses, and bring the story to the world.
  • $1000 could provide a netbook, a smartphone, 3g access, and a digital camera for one journalist on the ground in West Papua.
  • $1000 could provide the West Papua Media Editorial team for communications costs for three months.

Please help us to support a free and independent pacific

Edmund Rice Christchurch host “Voiceover Riots Reframed”

Edmund Rice Justice Christchurch will host “Voiceover Riots Reframed” at Mt Sion St Thomas of Canterbury College, 69 Middlepark Rd. Sockburn Friday 12th July.

VoiceOver | Riots Reframed is a feature-length documentary which reframes England’s 2011 riots through voices of resistance – threading these perspectives together using moody instrumentals, dramatic monologue and raw spoken word. This hard-hitting film is unique both in its scope and the journey that produced it.

The idea was conceived soon after the producer, Fahim Alam, was released from prison on bail, after being arrested for taking part in riots. With virtually no knowledge of filming and editing, he set out to make an independent and complex documentary. Most of it was filmed whilst Fahim wore an ankle tag and was subject to a strict curfew as he awaited trial for the charge of ‘violent disorder’.

The documentary takes the viewer through a journey that begins in Tottenham and spirals out to a detailed look at the role of police, power, racism, government, prison, war, resistance and more.

Although the voices base their analysis around the riots, the scope of Riots Reframed is much wider and stands in its own right as a poetic but fierce challenge to the system we live under and the suffering it produces. The result is a radical social commentary grounded in knowledge and art, that synthesises a number of voices, from prominent social, cultural and political analysts, to prisoners still recovering from time inside.

VoiceOver | Riots Reframed is simultaneously engaging, informative, thought-provoking, emotion-stirring, and importantly, a challenge to the media institutions that serve the narrative of the power structure. This film is a historical document not to be missed.

Living on the Fringes report released by Edmund Rice Justice and Nga Maata Waka

NMW FlagThis research was commissioned by Edmund Rice Justice and Nga Maata Waka in order to explore the  issues  faced  by  those  living  on  the  borders  of  Christchurch’s  post earthquake  Red  Zones. Residents in these areas are in a unique position: although their own homes survived the earthquake 
large  sections  of  their  local  communities  have  been  rendered  uninhabitable, including residential neighbourhoods, local community shops and services. The needs of those living in these areas are greatly varied based on local geography and as such cannot be presumed to follow any established pattern. This study aims to make the concerns of those living near the Red Zones clear by allowing the people to highlight their own personal issues in a manner that is both unscripted and geographically specific.

Read the full report here