A Kiwi in Warsaw

February 1, 2016 by  
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Former New Zealand lawyer Lorraine Lipman writes about life in her new home in Warsaw.

From: Lorraine Lipman, Warsaw

Lorraine Lipman

Lorraine Lipman

My father died in England in June 2014. He was 95 years old and having escaped Lodz in 1939 he was a prisoner of war in Siberia for 2 years.

Then as part of the Polish allied army he won the Polish Cross for Valour at the battle of Arnheim. After the war he settled in England and met my mother and as they say, the rest is history.

As I sit in shul on a Friday night in Warsaw I often wonder what my Father would say about me living here and experiencing the wonderful revival of Judaism in Poland.

So how did I come to be living in Warsaw? After 16 years in practice as a family lawyer in New Zealand it was time in March 2015 to leave the comforts of Auckland for an “old age” OE. After 3 months of travel in June 2015 home became Warsaw, Poland. It is an exciting and vibrant city but “retirement” was never on the agenda.

I am fortunate to have become part of Tag International Development (“Tag”) as their Director of Girls’ Empowerment.

Tag is an International Development charity that shares the best of Israeli expertise with vulnerable communities, delivering sustainable, scalable and measurable impact, benefiting thousands of people over the past year alone. We share expertise and build capacities in developing countries around the world. www.tagdevelopment.org

These are exciting times as we work to establish our first advocacy centre (“centre”) in Ndhiwa, Kenya. This is a rural area where we already partner with Team Kenya, a UK registered charity on girls’ empowerment projects (teamkenya.org.uk). The proposed centre will provide a community-wide resource for advice and support on rights and prevention of gender-based violence, focused on girls and young women.

In rural Kenya, gender based violence, rape, child pregnancy, early marriage, girls’ not completing their education is common. The legal system including the judiciary and police and the complex male dominated society create more imbalances against girls and young women.

Recent examples from the Ndhiwa social worker’s report on the girls include:

  • She was defiled by a school teacher where she was schooling before and the teacher is serving jail for the offence and this was a very good talk since the girl was able to share with other friends and give them tips of what they should do in such cases.
  • This 15-year-old was engaged into sexual relationship with a man who was a houseboy in a neighbour’s home, due to her desperation to get the basic needs and being an orphan, the man could provide her with some things she needed. Later she discovered that she was pregnant and told the boy who instead of helping the girl, disappeared from the village and now the girl is asking for assistance of legal action taken upon the victim. The girl is 6 months pregnant and still in school.

The centre will focus on 3 main areas:

  • Advocacy through empowerment education of the girls and young women, educating the judiciary, police and other civic authorities on the rights of young women and raising awareness in the community at large to reinforce and support respect for the rights of young women and girls.
  • Legal Support for its clients, so that victims of gender based violence and sexual exploitation will have access to the options available for resolution including community based mediation; restorative justice and the Court process.
  • Protection including provision of counseling for victims of gender based violence or sexual exploitation.
Ndhiwa office

Ndhiwa office

We are fortunate that we will be able to share office accommodation with team Kenya in their new office in Ndhiwa but need to raise initial funds to set up the centre with furniture, office supplies, computers, a vehicle as this is a rural area; and salary to staff the office. Phase 2 will be to raise funds for the ongoing support of the centre.

 

We want supporters in Australia and New Zealand to get “hands on” with the project. To come out and see the centre and get involved with the community. In December 2015 Kenya was voted the word’s leading safari destination by the world Travel Awards so the opportunity is there to combine this with further travel plans.

For more details on how you can get involved and contribute please contact me at: lorraine@tagdevelopment.org

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