The Birth of Migrants MatterIt all started in Venice, in a classroom full of students from all over the world. It was the 3rd of October 2013 and news of the shipwreck close to the small Italian island of Lampedusa, which cost the lives of over 360 migrants from Libya, had shocked us. As students of human rights, coming from different countries and diverse backgrounds, we were migrants too! It was not acceptable to do nothing about these deaths – to watch on in hopeless silence. We started thinking of ways to act and promote the rights of migrants. Within ten days we had begun to set the wheels of an exciting advocacy campaign in motion.
Our Campaign and Our Aim
Our aim is to improve conditions for migrants in Europe through developing awareness and lobbying for effectual policy for migrant workers, specifically through promoting and urging the ratification of the UN Treaty on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. During our time in Venice, we organised events like the ‘Silent Walk for Migrants‘, built our blog and discussed our strategies. We saw our Facebook page fly past 1000 likes, and we conducted a Skype call with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, perhaps the campaign highlight of 2013.
In February 2014, we moved to different cities and attended different universities all across Europe and meetings became feasible only through Skype. With different lives, schedules and time zones, we were worried that it would be difficult to keep up with the early successes of the campaign. There were times when we were increasingly reminded that we were working a dual role; as advocates, but as masters students too. Masters students who had to attend courses and write theses. We were so busy working that time seemed limited for anything else. However, we not only maintained the campaign, but organised exciting events to promote it, all the while, developing our advocacy strategies.
Our proudest achievements include: firstly, the question that our lobby group succeeded in asking the European Parliament, concerning the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrants, secondly, our ´100 Pictures’ Event, which saw people worldwide send pictures pledging their support for Migrants Matter, and thirdly our team of ten, who participated in the Brussels 20km run last May, wearing handmade T-Shirts of support.
Generally we work as three distinct teams. The Lobby Group, situated in Brussels, focus on contacting Members of the European Parliament, asking for their support. The Blog Group write and publish articles on our blog, gauging recent news and trends, and exploring themes of migration. The Social Media Group, meanwhile, spread the word, sharing our activities, and our articles, and busting myths about migration.
Currently we find ourselves in a now familiar position; we are once again spread across the world, some of us already working, others in search of new employment. In our most recent meeting, we agreed upon new and exciting changes such as a new blogpage, new and fresh strategies, contacts and articles, but distance and lack of time make everything move slowly. Quite often we think about how much easier our cooperation would be if we were in the same place. However, our motivation and passion to work together for the rights of people who are denied equal rights, although living and working beside us, remains the same and annihilates the distance. This is the second year of our campaign and we have more energy and hopes than ever!
If you wish to find out more about us visit: http://migrants-matter.blogspot.it/
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