One of the key purposes of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation is the protection of human rights, and in particular those of children, whereas its main areas of action are education, the promotion of a culture of peace, the support of dialogue, tolerance and understanding between the different cultures, and the gradual decrease of the number of children that fall victims to abuse and exploitation.
In this context, it is collaborating with the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” foundation, bringing to Greece the “Speak Truth to Power” Educational Program, which is a world exclusive program launched by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Centre and has been taught to millions of students of all educational levels in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America, showing them that they can make a difference in the global struggle for justice.
The “Speak Truth to Power” educational program was based on a book titled “Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World,” written by international activist Κerry Kennedy, President of the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” foundation and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. Κerry Kennedy, the mother of three girls, is a graduate of Brown University and the Law School of Boston College and is a dynamic and decisive defender of human rights, having worked in more than 60 countries, while also receiving multiple awards as an author. The book was first printed in English in 2000, and has since been printed in seven languages including Greek. Featuring interviews with more than 50 human rights defenders, including Nobel Peace Prize winners Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Muhammad Yunus, the book is a remarkable tribute to the indomitable human spirit. Endorsing the book, Nelson Mandela wrote, “The lives of common women and men, in this book, heroes every one, inspire all who believe in liberty and justice.”
Alongside the interviews are portraits by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Eddie Adams, which have since been developed into a museum-quality exhibition.
Award-winning playwright, Ariel Dorfman adapted the words from the book into a play, Speak Truth To Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark. Many of our greatest actors have performed in the play, including: Alec Baldwin, Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Sean Penn, Vanessa Redgrave, Martin Sheen, and Meryl Streep. The play has been produced across the United States and performed by major actors in capitals around the world.
Based on the book written by Kerry Kennedy, the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” educators then created a new book for teaching the “Speak Truth to Power” program in schools.
The Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation undertook the publishing of this book in Greek and the chapters that were included were chosen by the Educational Policy Institute of the Ministry of Education. The book therefore contains chapters of the special educational material created by the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” foundation. Kalendis publishing house undertook the editing of the publication.
In the Greek edition, with a preface by the Foundation, an additional chapter was added, dedicated to the great Greek Nobel Prize winning poet, Georgios Seferis.
The Speak Truth To Power human rights education curriculum, comprised of over 50 lesson plans using the stories of courageous heroes from around the world to teach students about human rights and empower them to become defenders themselves. As students begin to self-identify as human rights defenders, they learn to take active roles in the work of creating a more just and peaceful world. What sets Speak Truth To Power apart is its power to inspire action. By allowing students to see themselves as human rights defenders, they begin to act as human rights defenders.
Speak Truth To Power encourages governments, NGOs, major foundations, and individuals to support human rights, and brings much-needed attention to continuing abuses. But perhaps its most lasting effect will be to demonstrate the capacity of each individual to create change.
In line with a Greek Education Ministry circular, the “Speak Truth to Power” program will be taught to senior high-school students, and will be launched on a pilot basis in public and private senior high schools around Attica during the 2016-17 academic year.
The Foundation’s goal, through the “Speak Truth to Power” Programme is to give Greek students the opportunity to study and discuss in depth the subject of respect for human rights, learn from the wisdom of historical figures and defenders of freedom, peace and democracy, implement these teachings in their daily life and learn in the end that the true hero in life is the one who defends the weak and not the one who attacks.
The President of the Foundation wishes that this book may reach many Greek children and inspire them with universal values and ideals.
The teachers and schools that wish to participate in the “Speak Truth to Power” programme can click here*, fill in the relevant participation form and send it to the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” (fax 210.8094484) or email at [email protected]