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Meet i-ACT Team Member: Pauline Lendrich

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations with a focus on conflict studies from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and have previously interned with several NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders Germany.

I act because I believe that things can change when we understand why they’re happening. By educating both genocide-affected populations as well as the public in unaffected yet powerful countries, we can contribute to creating lasting peace.

Currently, I am doing research for i-ACT in the field of Early Childhood Education and Development, specifically Child-Friendly Spaces, in emergencies. An individual’s early childhood is a significant period in his or her life and fundamental for further development. In fact, a focus on ECD has proven effective in improving developmental assets as well as mental and social well-being. Moreover, studies on ECD in emergency environments show that children who consistently attend educational settings such as Child-Friendly Spaces were able to increase these abilities. At the same time, however, there has been little practical progress in providing long-term concepts or even a clear-cut model for the specific case of Early Childhood Education in conflict or post-conflict environments. Creating a model specifically for post-conflict environments could help prevent future genocides especially in tense, violence-prone, traumatized communities.

In addition to that, I am focusing on the interaction between genocides and the international community as a bystander. I believe in the importance of international bystander action during genocides. While we easily accept the concept of a individual citizens’ responsibility to intervene when others are being threatened or harmed, this idea does not seem to be nearly as expected to apply on the international sphere. If the populace here could be made aware of atrocities in remote countries far off their radar as well as the aftermath of the violence and its effects on these countries’ development, they could realize their huge potential to intervene and prevent.

In order for this to happen, I believe it is crucial to point out the double standards that are involved in perceiving remote conflicts. Imagine the hypothetical media outbursts in a powerful, Western country such as the United States concerning horrible atrocities in a country like Canada, including mass rape and mass murder of women, men and children, the neglect of survivors and their exposure to a cruel shortage of basic needs, daily danger, hunger and fear of repeated internal displacement. Imagine if thousands of refugees in Canada belonging to a persecuted minority group, a large part of which are children, cannot rely on regular nutritious meals, not to mention an education or access to even remotely normal activities.

The truth is that all of this has already happened – just not in Canada, but in countries that are deemed much less relevant and worthy of attention. Like Sudan, Rwanda and Bosnia.

This scenario is extremely unfair. In my opinion, it is the reason why we let genocides happen while chanting “Never Again!” after an atrocity like the Holocaust.


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