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In Melbourne, We’re all Connected: Shinnyo-en Sponsors Grassroots Pacific Communities presence at the 63rd annual DPI/NGO Conference in Australia

The 63rd annual DPI/NGO Conference, “Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs” opened with an intercultural multi-genre experience of music, movement and visual art celebrating the importance of indigenous cultures from all over the world.

In a spectacular opening over 220 performers, composers, artists, and choreographers created a concert that reminded guests of the Conference that we are indeed all connected.

Choreographed in an effort to highlight indigenous art forms from around the world, the show was composed of various culturally distinct artistic interpretations of the 8 Millennium Development Goals.

Consistent with the Shinnyo-en Foundations ongoing attempt to bring more attention and services to underrepresented indigenous communities the foundation sponsored

Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) to moderate a workshop entitled ‘Achieving MDG’s in Grassroots Pacific Communities.

The workshop shed new light on issues facing Pacific Island communities. In a room overflowing with Conference participants and UN representatives the workshop addressed the work of Pacific Island Non Governmental Organization’s (NGO’s) in the areas of health protection and promotion and highlighted examples of how community led programs are not only addressing health issues, but social, economic, cultural and political inequalities as well. 

The workshop brought international visibility to the issues facing Pacific Island communities and highlighted what NGO’s are doing to face present challenges. The workshop brought to light practical examples from the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu on achieving the MDGs in the fields of gender equality, child health, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and environmental sustainability.

Four community leaders from the Pacific Regional NGO Alliance (PRNGOs) discussed the importance of improving the attitudes and behaviors towards children, women, and persons with disabilities by working with and from within their communities. Emphasizing the importance to the UN Community that some of the most effective ways of ensuring health and wellbeing in the Pacific Islands comes from the native peoples.

Consistent with the framework of the MDG’s Fijian Women’s Crisis Centre’s Edwina Kotoisuva emphasized that strong commitment to a right based approach and advocacy is needed to advance gender equality.  Highlighting the additional importance of global partnerships Margaret Leniston Regional Health Program Manager at the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI) added, “The most effective community based programs are those which use integrated health and human rights based approaches and include collaboration, sharing of resources, capacity support, knowledge and skills between NGOs, governments, regional and UN agencies”.

The conference participants that were able to squeeze into the tightly filled room were grateful to have heard health advocates from often overlooked communities speak about how they are collaborating within the region to find solutions to difficult challenges.