Urgent Action Fund Report
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF)
Grant Report Form
Name of person completing the report: Milena Abrahamyan
Organization: Beyond Borders: Linking Our Stories
Date submitted: November 23, 2015
1. Please provide a brief accounting of how grant funds were used. Please note it is not necessary to include copies of receipts.
Cost Unit Total
Accommodation in Buyukada, Turkey (7 days)
14 people x 315 USD 4410
Food Costs 2 days
14 people 590
The original amount of people who were supposed to be present was 16. In the end we were 14 instead, because some of the people cancelled in the last minute. We spent 9 days in total together, 7 days in Buyukada and 2 days in Istanbul at the houses of the Turkish participants. For those two days we did not need accommodation costs, but we needed to cover costs for food, which was spent from the remaining funds left after paying for accommodation in Buyukada.
2. Did the money help you reach your specific goal or objective? Please explain/describe.
With funds from UAF the group was able to meet, reconnect and work together for 9 days. During the days we spent together we broke into 5 working sub-groups based on the needs of the Beyond Borders as a project we want to continue and sustain. A number of group building exercises were carried out in order to connect the group and also create the sense that each member of the group has a responsibility to continue the project. The working groups that formed deal mainly with logistics and development of the Beyond Borders' methodology in body movement and performance art. The week also allowed room for having a deeper collective discussion around dreams and goals for the Beyond Borders project, which helped align everyone’s dreams, goals and expectations for the future of the project. The group is now prepared to move forward in the direction of developing each participants’; skills and capacity in the methods of body movement, healing practices and performance art, which we plan to use in future meeting with women's groups in the region.
During the latter part of our time together we created a video, which will be used to present the Beyond Borders group and the work we do, as we feel people have heard of us, but it is not clear what we do in general. This video will also serve as a tool for making us more visible, an important method for promoting women in peace-building in our conflicted region.
Another video, which is more like a short film to promote peace, was shot and is currently being edited. This video includes footage of the performance we had in Kamp Armen.
Because we use art as a tool for expression, we also learned a Kurdish song during our time together, which was later used in the performance we had at Kamp Armen. Although it was important to learn this song as a part of the performance, it was also a moment of connecting more to the reality of the situation in Turkey at the current moment for Kurdish citizens and the Kurdish populated East.
Overall, the funds we received from UAF helped us reach our goal of having a physical meeting, working together to develop and build our working structure, and finally to visit Kamp Armen and show our solidarity with activists resisting there.
3. What is happening now as a result of your assistance or intervention in this situation?
After our meeting two major things happened in Turkey:
1. Explosions during a peace protest in Ankara took the lives of almost a hundred people and injured hundreds more. These explosions happened against the backdrop of Turkey's renewed war with the PKK and increased militarization of Kurdish towns in the East. Furthermore, the protest was organized by the largest opposition party in Turkey today, HDP, which is the main minority political party in Turkey and is perceived as a threat to the dominant political party in place.
Our group immediately prepared and spread a letter in solidarity with peace activists in Turkey and the region overall. This would not have happened as quickly if we had not met and strengthened our working structure as a group. We believe that our messages of peace are integral in times of war and violence, especially when peace itself is under attack. (We have included our letter of solidarity along with this report).
2. After 5 months of struggling in order to keep Kamp Armen public and as part of the Armenian community’s historical legacy, the activists reached their goal and Kamp Armen was handed over to the Armenian Church in Turkey, as opposed to destroyed. Obviously, we cannot say that as the Beyond Borders group we have directly affected this achievement, but we have contributed along with other activists and groups who continuously visited, occupied and implemented activities in Kamp Armen in the span of the previous 5 months that the space was being occupied by protesters. Our visit in Kamp Armen was symbolic and healing for individual members of our group as well as the activists there and those who were visiting and took part in the performance we held there.
(We will be able to send the final version of the video we made of our performance in Kamp Armen once it is ready in the beginning of 2016).
4. How did the grant enable you to further your overall strategy for advancing women’s human rights? Please describe.
This grant enabled us to further our overall strategy for advancing women’s human rights first of all by allowing us a space and time off to meet one another outside of the hectic and stressful lives we lead as activists, women’s rights defenders and professionals involved in healing others’. This moment was important to reconnect us together and to rekindle our vision of peace and healing from a women's perspective. Furthermore, we developed a strategy and plan for the upcoming years of working together to advance our vision of using body movement and healing practices, including performance art, as methods for trust and peace-building among women.
5. Have you been able to raise sufficient funds to continue this effort?
At the current moment we are looking at possibilities for funding to continue our work in 2016, and if possible until 2018. At the moment, the most urgent funding we are in need of is to be able to attend the AWID Forum in May of 2016, as we have been accepted as speakers and we will conduct a workshop there. We are also awaiting a response from FRIDA to see if they will fund out exchange with Serbian group Femenergy in the Winter, early Spring of 2016.
6. Were you able to involve other groups in this activity? What groups?
If the activists in Kamp Armen can be considered a group, then we can say that we involved Kamp Armen in our activity, particularly via the performance we held at Kamp Armen. This performance was interactive and allowed room for everyone to feel a part of our group.
Furthermore, we involved individuals in our activities as well: one woman film-maker joined us for one day in Buyukada and filmed us near the sea in a performative manner, which is being included in the final video from Kamp Armen. What is special about this video and performance is that we chose the color white to symbolize our desire for peace and life and this is reflected from our time together in Buyukada. It made a big impression on everyone who saw our photos and posts on our facebook page and also who took part in the performance in Kamp Armen.