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15-04-21

Launching the Shelter City Alumni Community

Last week, the Shelter City Alumni Community for human rights defenders was launched and kicked off with an online celebration.

Over the last few months, our team at Justice & Peace has been working together with former Shelter City participants to set up an Alumni Community. The purpose of the Community is for Shelter City alumni to continue connecting, sharing and learning with and from each other once they have returned to their home countries. 

The Community is hosted on a safe and secure Open Source online platform, and so far can accommodate alumni of Shelter City in the Netherlands, which makes a total of 115 human rights defenders from all around the globe. We hope that eventually alumni from all international Shelter Cities will be able to join the platform, creating even more connections within the human rights movement across the globe.

As the initiator of Shelter City, we are facilitating the community by helping to set up trainings, webinars and lectures by staff, partners, external experts and alumni themselves. A community for and by Shelter City alumni, from the onset their input has been decisive in what the platform should look like. In addition, a Working Group composed of seven alumni, representing diverse genders, geographical regions, and working themes, plays a key role in mobilizing others to join in and keeping the community vibrant, creative and inspiring.

At the official launch of the Community last Thursday April 8th, alumni reconnected with each other, enjoyed a virtual feast of local snacks and drinks, and shared about the strengths they feel they owe to their cultures. In a short session, the participating alumni brainstormed about the future of the Community and expressed how they would like the platform to serve them. Among their wishes and expectations are capacity-building trainings, casual meetings and wellbeing sessions, exchanging resources and existing opportunities.

We hope that this Community will enable the alumni defenders to strengthen relationships already formed during their time in Shelter City, but also to meet new people and widen their networks of solidarity locally and globally.

The Shelter City Alumni Community has been made possible with the kind support of the National Endowment of Democracy (NED). We thank NED for their continuous contribution to supporting and strengthening Shelter City and human rights defenders.