Featured image: The Biogas digester team on a project presentation in Paris, July 25, 2017.
Last night, I was chatting with a co-member of my choir about how year-ends either make people depressed or elated. We both agreed that, somehow, the passing of an old year and coming of a new one affects one’s disposition. This usually depends on the experiences and happenings from the old year and the hopes and wishes for the new one.
Then, I thought, perhaps this also applies to organisations? That the organizational experiences and happenings from the old year and the perspectives and plans for the coming year also affect the disposition of an organisation?
As the year approaches its end, allow me to take the time to reflect on ENFiD in 2017 and what we hope to undertake in the coming year. 2017 started with the annual face-to-face meeting of the Board of Directors in London, where ENFiD policy documents were deliberated and approved, the election of Board officers were held and activities and projects were approved.
On March 18, the Workshop on Stress Reduction at the Philippine Embassy in Prague marked the first inter-ENFiD country collaborative activity. ENFiD Czech Republic and ENFiD United Kingdom jointly organized this workshop with Mr. Edwin Dela Cruz, ENFiD-UK Chairperson, as one of the guest speakers and trainers. He gave a lecture and workshop on Stress Management and Mental Health, as well as Psychological First Aid.
In April, the face-to-face meeting of the Young ENFiD (YENFiD) was held in Belgium, where the Euro-Pinoy youth attended an orientation on ENFiD and drew follow-up plans. The meeting started the ball rolling in organizing YENFiD groups in Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in addition to the active YENFiD members from Germany.
On May 5 to 7, a Gender Training attended by 20 Country Representatives and members was held in Essen, Germany. Afterwards, in June, the first ENFiD Benelux meeting was held in Maastricht.
In July, the Tri-Nation Sports Fest was held during the Pista sa Paris event participated by ENFiD CZ, ENFiD UK and ENFiD France. The event was so successful that an ENFiD Sports Team was created to organize an inter-country sports fest again in 2018.
On July 6, I was invited as ENFiD Executive Director to speak in the Workshop on Which Roles the Diaspora Play Towards Sustainable Development, organized by the European Commission and held in Brussels. The workshop discussed how diasporas from around the world can further structure and organize their contribution toward ensuring the effective implementation of the development goals. Other speakers at the event included Pape Thiam, Director of Technical Cooperation of Senegal, Gibril Faal, Interim Director of ADEP (Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform), Marie Chantal Uwitonze of ADNE (African Diaspora Network in Europe) and Stefano Signore, Head of Unit Migration, Employment, Inequalities of the European Commission. Through participation in this workshop, I was able to profile the development initiatives and projects of the Euro-Filipinos, particularly ENFiD.
The biogas digester project continues to develop with ENFiD France, ENFiD the Netherlands and ENFiD Switzerland as joint proponents. NGOs in the Philippines, Filipino organisations in the UAE, Qatar and other parts of the world are excitedly waiting for the production phase of this project, which will commence after the product-testing phase in the first half of 2018. The municipality of Miag-au and the Department of Agriculture in Ilo-ilo, where the test units are produced, showed interest in supporting this project as well.
Also in 2017, ENFiD revamped its website for the better and published five issues of the ENFiD newsletter, News & Views.
The highlight of 2017 for ENFiD was the ENFiD Conference and General Assembly, remarkably organized by ENFiD Germany in Essen held from September 30 to October 1. This was preceded for the first time by a joint meeting of the ENFiD Board Members and Country Representatives on September 29. The Essen ENFiD conference, similar to the past conferences in Malta and Prague, was instrumental in bringing together the 111 ENFiD members and leaders from 13 European countries. The input and discussions were enriched by officials of leading Filipino NGOs who are in the forefront of migration and development programs like Atikha, LSE and Wimler. Special guests were Ambassadors Melita Thomezcek of the Philippine Embassy (PE) in Berlin and Nathaniel Imperial of the PE in Tel-Aviv as well as Regina Galias of the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO), Consuls Jed Dayang of PE Prague and Theresa Adlers of PE The Hague.
2017 marked a very dynamic year within ENFiD with the comings and goings of officers. This year we bid goodbye to some dear Board Members who had been strong pillars of ENFiD from the start and who had made a mark in ENFiD’s formative years: Romulo Salvador, Gene Alcantara and Marison Rodriguez. We also bid goodbye to three young energetic individuals whose term as part of the Board may not have been long, but contributed enormously to ENFiD: Vanda Brady, Oggie Maristela, Nadeen Shaw and Ric Cagayan. Last but not the least, we say goodbye to our Senior Communications Program Officer, Mary Grace Schardin, whom I will personally miss, having worked with her intensively this year. At the country levels, we say goodbye with gratitude to Criselda Silos Magsino of Malta, Rachel Hansen of Sweden, Joanna Wennstroem of Switzerland and Edwin dela Cruz of the United Kingdom.
We welcome the new members of the Board: Michelle Marquez of Czech Republic, Christian Estrada of the UK (who is also the new Country Representative of the UK), Ana Lindenhann of Denmark and Marru Oanes of the UK. In addition, we welcome the new Country Representatives and Country-officers which will strengthen ENFiD in the coming year: Marizel Roxas of Austria, Ysa de Jesus of Malta, Liza Lopez Pedersen of Sweden and Miriam Abalos and Eppie Balagasay of Switzerland.
In 2018, ENFiD will continue the tradition of organizing the annual General Assembly, to be in Paris. The theme and topics will be based (also) on the recommendations forwarded by the participants of the last conference. There are plans to hold a European cultural event and sports fest. In order to align the work, the committees were reorganized. From next year, there will be five major committees clustering the work areas: Core Programs, Communications, Governance, Finance and Membership.
Three leadership trainings are in the planning to be held in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.
We will advance plans for the development of the biogas digester. We strongly believe that every little effort to help improve the state of ecology of our planet counts. We are especially motivated now after the One Planet Conference last week in Paris, where nearly 200 civil society organisations from 60 countries joined the band in calling for a halt to subsidies and public finance for fossil fuels. This is mirrored in our home country, the Philippines, where the government decided to ban the iconic jeepneys more than 15 years old that spew black clouds of exhaust in the already polluted air.
We will also work to boost the YENFiD. Seeing that our youth are bursting with energy and enthusiasm, we encourage them to move forward. We are going to involve interested ENFiD country officers to posts and assignments at the European levels and encourage more inter-country collaboration to maximize the human resources available in our network and to bring country-ENFiDs closer to one another. We will also profile the ENFiD country initiatives and see if there are practices, projects or activities that can be scaled up. At the same time, we will seek collaboration with organisations who share the same vision as ENFiD.
With all these plans in the pipeline, 2018 promises to be an energetic year for ENFiD and yes, these give us a positive disposition for the future!
Rohlee de Guzman