Innovative Partnerships Provide Online ESD Training to Women Working on the Front Lines of Humanitar



An exciting initiative piloted by ESD Global in collaboration with Global Whole Being Fund and Indigo Volunteers will enable dozens of women in refugee hotspots to receive Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) training, equipping them with tools they desperately need in times of crises, when they are most susceptible to violence.


15 participants shared very positive feedback surrounding their training in June 2020: "The instructors have managed to create a caring and open atmosphere . . . there is also a good balance between thinking, discussing, and then doing the practical moves. Considering that this is all being done through Zoom it is really impressive!” Another participant stated: “I have gained a sense of empowerment and knowledge about self-defense".


The COVID-19 global pandemic and associated lockdowns meant that in-person instructor trainings funded by GWBF and ESD Global were put on hold. Instead of postponing trainings, ESD Global, GWBF and Indigo Volunteers decided to adapt to the global pandemic and came together to pilot an online program that would create a safe learning space to support women. GWBF committed to donating $25,000 to the ESD Global Refugee Fund to support ESD training for refugees and women working on the frontlines, and promoted the innovative partnership between the three organizations, in addition to helping ESD Global develop and teach the curriculum. Indigo Volunteers identified frontline workers in refugee hotspots and recruited them for training. ESD Global founder Yudit Sidikman provided a $25,000 matching donation for The Refugee Fund to raise funds for additional programs.


Negar Tayyar, Director of The Global Whole Being Fund, Sophie Rihm, Refugee and Migrant Team Lead at Indigo Volunteers, and Aude Mulliez, ESD Global’s Latin America & Caribbean Regional program manager partnered to bring 8 hours of ESD training to 15 women working for 9 different organizations aiding refugees in Greece, Calais and Sarajevo. Aude Mulliez taught the 5 part online course for Humanitarian workers stranded during COVID-19, assisted by Negar Tayar who has partnered with ESD Global since 2019 on different projects such as teaching ESD to refugee women and girls in Samos, Greece. Being humanitarian workers themselves, Aude and Negar recognize the importance of providing organizations with ESD methodology and once ESD Global is able to provide Instructor Training programs again, they will be shared with refugee communities.


Negar and Aude, with the support of Nina Milburn, Manager of the Child Protection Unit at Still I Rise, who participated in an ESD Global Instructor Training in Israel are facilitating discussions, games and sharing of tools surrounding physical techniques, boundary setting and assertive communication online. The online program pilot experience has shown that virtual webinars further foster a sense of group solidarity, providing a safe space to share challenges and acquire basic understanding of ESD pillars.

The webinars received much praise from attendees. 100% of the participants rated the trainers’ expertise a 5/5. “It was a great training that I enjoyed very much. I learned some new things that I will be able to use in my work and daily life,” said one participant. “The two instructors of the course have managed to create a caring and open atmosphere" shared another participant. The success of this resilient program prompted ESD Global to replicate this model first in Greece with Nina and Negar facilitating the course with the support of ESDG. Negar and Aude are planning to support humanitarian workers on the US-Mexican border as well as Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

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