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May 11, 2021 30 min

When Papa Balla Ndong launched his ambitious SIETAR Art Project, I had no idea how profound his initiative would have. The work spans hundreds of pages and threads together work, perspective and letters from contributors around the globe. It started in Europe, debuting in Paris, and has found it's way to Japan, Switzerland and countless other places across the globe. As a product of SIETAR, the Art Project embodies what both SIETAR and Papa Balla personify - unity. And while Papa Balla is a member of SIETAR, after speaking with him, it became clear that he is an ambassador for a great and global movement. 

Papa Balla Ndong sat down with 54Lights to take us through his selfless work and life mission. One that has landed him on the front lines of supporting migrants in Spain find a way and a home. Papa Balla explained how his educational background inspired him to discover more about migrants and how different cultures can collide and clash but also how they can collude and conspire for good.  He candidly takes us through his work and how he's been navigating tensions to create safe and productive spaces where migrant communities can flourish. His generosity, spirit and passion are clear reasons why he's been successful at working with policy-makers to influence progressive changes in government. And while a lot of his work lies with government and the migrant community, he somehow finds time to work with youth to educate them about racism - cutting it off before it takes root. As he took us through his journey, he explained the stark realities and challenges that face migrants...the systematic racism that they face...and the hard work that we all have to do to collectively open up our communities.   

Notable Words of Wisdom during our conversation

  • One hand doesn't clap... Papa Balla's perspective on working together
  • You are not born with racism, you are taught racism...Papa Balla's perspective on racism and why he works with youth on curbing it

  • About our guest
    Papa Balla Ndong, from Senegal, is a Human Migration Expert and holds a Masters degree in International Migration from the faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia. He has worked in Solans Lawyers Office, specializing in Foreign Law and participated in training courses in the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ). Currently he performs the following charges: President of the Alternative Forum on Immigration, Coordinator of the Citizens Assembly Against Racism, Accredited Intercultural Mediator from Valencia Government, General Secretary of SOS Racisme Pais Valencia, Vice President of the Local Council of Immigration and Interculturality of the City of Valencia.

    Find out more on the SIETAR Art Project here

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