During the 2016 Global Symposium on Overcoming Social Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness, we had the opportunity to connect with many individuals including youth, Indigenous Elders, practitioners and other professionals who shared their insights, experiences and strategies in overcoming social isolation to accelerate a global movement of unity and inclusiveness within their communities.
We spoke to Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro who knows a thing or two about the effects of isolation and the importance of connectedness. The McGill University Professor of Practice was born in Rwanda, a country still recovering from genocide and the long-term effects of civil war. For Dr. Ubalijoro, connectedness is all about “building peace… building prosperous communities… allowing children to have safe childhoods…” At the very heart of social connectedness is community, safety and inclusion.
One of the major takeaways from the Symposium for Dr. Ubalijoro was the importance of cherishing Indigenous wisdom. The wisdom of elders in Indigenous communities around the world can be a truly powerful tool for social connectedness. The lessons of elders and ancestors can be shared globally and can “help us bridge what was powerful from the past, bridge the wounds that are present, and have all of us work together towards a common future.”
To Dr. Ubalijoro, the movement for social connectedness has the potential to bring about peace, to increase awareness around environmental issues, and to strengthen efforts around gender parity. How do we bring this movement forward? To Dr. Ubalijoro, the answer is simple: we do it as one because we are more resilient together. “If we work together, our vulnerabilities are our places of connecting to each other’s strengths.”
Watch the full interview with Dr. Ubalijoro below and listen to her thoughts on her participatory research project in Rwanda with female farmers documenting their opportunities and successes for the first time. You can also access this interview and the others conducted by visiting the Social Connectedness YouTube channel.