birds fly,migrants move

i attended the INAFI conference in AIM yesterday. the focus was how microfinance, remittances and migrants’ philantrophy can be leveraged for development and  migrants become a positive force of development.  i found the day heavy with left brain activities – lecturers with their powerpoint presentation filling each minute ( no one used the guy kawasaki template of ZEN powerpoint  of 10 slides-20 minutes-30 fontsize ). no one  provided right brain stimulation until two women spoke , leila rispens-noel and amalia  garcia-medina.  leila is from oxfam-novib of netherlands while amalia is the governor of Zacatecas MEXICO. they both spoke with passion and gave a clearer picture of how governments and citizens regard migration. our  three delegates – chato basa, lorna  villamil and me – were excited with their inputs and we wish many women can meet these two feisty women.

amalia  garcia-medina is the governor of zacatecas which has a tres por uno policy – for every dollar a migrant remits for the community, the government at three levels, contributes a dollar each. the province of zacatecas has developed its social policy because the migrants are treated as key stakeholders in governance and development. amalia  explained that a citizen who wants to be elected in the legislative council must register his/her interest in representing women and migrants. there is a strong advocacy for migrants’ rights and respect for their generosity in zacatecas.  amalia said that the generosity of migrants is a proven track of citizenship. “you cannot rule over a migrant’s will to give. she gives out of her own free will as a citizen.”  amalia told the forum that zacatecas is building a museum of migrants.  she narrated the history of migration of mexicans to the USA “during the second world war, the US invited mexicans to work on the farms. they went to the US not as unwelcome workers. they were needed .” the museum’s entrance will be a mural of flying birds  with the aphorism “Birds fly…”

leila spoke about the  migrants programs that her agency Oxfam-Novib is funding. she gave a  progress report of all the projects in the different countries. she stressed that it is a challenging work because many migrants are women and their role is crucial in economic and social development. it seems that she has met many women  migrant leaders and had been inspired by amalia garcia-medina. i found her persona very enriching.

there were many more women to talk with in the forum and i spent the whole afternoon meeting old friends from the netherlands, the habagat delegation. i didnt have time to meet the handsome mexican delegates but noted that their lectures, especially dr.  manuel orozco’s, are documented and will soon be in digital forms.

lorna and i went home after the last panel of lecturers feeling that our day had been productive. i thought of my siblings who are in the US, i thought of my cousins who have been remitting their earnings to their families. i whispered a prayer for all of them, so they may fly and live well, remembering the many years they worked  to provide a better life for all.

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