WORKSHOP ON THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 2014
25TH LUNGOS JUBILEE ANNIVERSARY
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
Judge B. Renaud
Members of National Assembly
Mr Patrick Payet – Principal Secretary- Ministry of Finance
Board Members of Lungos
NGO members and participants
I have the greatest pleasure to welcome and address you at this auspicious event which is taking place today on the occasion of the celebration of its 25th Jubilee Anniversary of LUNGOS, the Platform of NGOs that is currently leading the civil society. This half day workshop is being organized for members of Lungos and its partners, under the theme:
“KI NOU PE FER POU SESEL?”
The aim of the workshop is to identify the role of Civil Society in the development of Seychelles for the past 25 years under the guidance of the “Liaison Unit of Non Governmental Organisations” (LUNGOS), and the way forward for the next 25 years under “Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles” (CEPS).
On 20 July 1989, that is 25 years ago, a small group of NGOs met to discuss the formation of a liaison unit. This idea was initiated by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Seychelles Credit Union. At that time, the stated purpose of this unit was to promote and coordinate programmes and activities related to care and welfare issues through service delivery, mobilizing resources, research and innovation, human resource and development, education and advocacy to bring about change and development by all NGOs in the country, without prejudice to the autonomy of the individual member of Lungos.
25 years ago, Lungos started with no funds and had no annual budget. It relied on the membership fees of SR 200 per NGO per annum, money that was used to meet the costs of stationery and other minor expenses. At that time, there were around 20 NGO members. Thanks to the Seychelles Credit Union Lungos was assisted with the expenses of the day to day running of the office.
Since its inception in 1989, Lungos has forcibly evolved beyond its constitutional mandate from that of a liaison unit to one whose current operation reflects and is comparable to a national platform for civil society.
As we are aware, Lungos has during those 25 years, been consolidated its position by playing its roles as the national focal point for civil society in the country, establishing collaborative partnerships locally with the government and other partners as well as in the region and internationally. Through its continuous lobbying, Lungos succeeded in getting recognition of its existence and importance by the government through the signing of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ in the year 2008 which confirmed the recognition of the vital role being played by civil society organizations, although not to the fullest.
With the increase in membership as Lungos entered the 21st century, members were clustered into eight thematic commissions namely: Gender Commission; Socio-economic Commission; Social & Health Commission; Faith-based Commission; Rights & Governance Commission; environment commission; Youth, Sports & Culture Commission and commission of professional Organizations. To-date, it received an annual grant of one million rupees to cover its operational costs.
Considering the few achievements, today’s workshop aims to get the concrete positions of its members through recommendations which will be used as a guide for the new civil society platform earmarked to be established under a new name; with a new mandate & logo and under a new Constitution.
Today’s workshop is an opportunity for you to journey backwards 25 years ago and think of this small group of people who voluntarily sat together in unity to reflect on the needs of the vulnerable groups in the society. They spared not time criticising the weaknesses of each other but rather moved on with the positive initiative they had in mind. As you do this reflection, think also of those two people among this group who have already left this world without most of us having the chance to say thank you to them for what they started and left behind in our hands. At this timely event, we, the Lungos Board and members avail of this opportunity to extend our gratefulness and thankfulness to each of them, wherever they are and whatever they may be presently doing.
Today’s workshop is an instance for all of us to traverse the route which WE, movers in civil society want in order for our organization to take its rightful place in the society and become the third pillar necessary for nation-building. Today is the time for each of us to reflect seriously on our personal commitment and responsibilities demonstrated towards the development of Lungos in those past 25 years and what each of us expects to put in the organization in order to bring it to the next operational level as it journeys through the next 25 years. This is food for thought and I leave it in your capable hands.
Participants, as you are aware, Lungos has gone through a lot of hard times and it continues to face challenges as it progresses day by day. But today, we are celebrating our Silver Jubilee. For once, let us stop thinking of problems and think about our celebration.
What are we, members of Lungos celebrating?
– In short, we are celebrating the countless efforts and valuable time, small or big, that were put in by forward-looking volunteers which have aided our organization in remaining strong and alive.
– We are celebrating the additional knowledge acquired by our members during those 25 years of voluntary service; the determination to pursue our dreams and wishes to make Lungos become the recognized platform that is currently leading the civil society in the country.
– We are celebrating the vibrant partnerships existing between Lungos members, the government and stakeholders in the development of the country and which has facilitated the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with government in 2008.
– We are celebrating the opening to the world which Lungos has managed to gain through affiliation with regional and international organizations.
– Last but not least, we are celebrating the joy and happiness that Lungos members have brought to the hearts and on faces of people through service delivery and capacity-building projects implemented in the communities, at workplaces, in families; in the prison and in schools, on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
In conclusion, I sincerely wish to say thank you to all of you present, all our members who voluntarily worked to make Lungos what it is today. But most of all, I wish to make special mention of those volunteers who have been faithful to Lungos in all its ups and downs and who, have stood up in unity to defend the organization when others tried to pull it down. I also wish to recognize the spirit of unity and voluntarism that our members have spread and displayed during those years.
As we tread towards the last transition phase, let us remain united and walk the talk together. I am more than certain, the end result of this workshop will be worthy, full of recommendations but the most important thing amongst all is the commitment of each of us in the deliverance of this heavy responsibility that is ahead of us.
With these few words, I wish to workshop good deliberations and success. I now have the pleasure to declare it open.