Saturday, December 08, 2007

Motherland News

Some familiar faces outside the National Baha'i Center in Accra, Ghana 2006

"That the African believers are fully capable of taking their full share in building the Kingdom of God on earth, their natural abilities and present deeds have fully demonstrated."
(The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Dec 16, Traditional practices in Africa)

There has been quite a bit of Baha'i News coming from the Motherland recently that I wanted to share with my readers in case you weren't aware of it. It makes me miss Africa terribly. I'm actually getting a little misty-eyed over here. God willing these tired feet will land on African soul again soon! I want to give a shout out to my Baha'i brothers and sisters who are moving mountains spiritually in Ghana. I love and miss you!!!

In Ghana, The Olinga Foundation is doing some cool work:

For years, Owusu Ansah Malik thought his native language, Twi, was second-rate. English, the national language of Ghana, was emphasized at his school.

But a program that offers instruction, books, and mentoring in Twi has helped the 16-year-old see the value of his mother tongue - and improved his English literacy at the same time.

"I thought our Ghanaian language was too poor to be learned, since its teaching was not encouraged," said Owusu, who is in Class Eight at the Gonukrom Junior Secondary School. "But with this program, I realized that our language is rich and can be learned. It has also helped me to read English easily."

Owusu is one of 22,000 students in Ghana who have participated in the "Enlightening the Hearts" literacy program, which is aimed at helping young people age 9 to 15 read and write in their own language.

Operated by the Olinga Foundation for Human Development, a Baha'i-inspired nongovernmental organization, the program has offered training in more than 260 remote primary and junior secondary schools in Ghana's Western Region since 2000. Read the whole story here.

In Uganda, the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity is doing what it does so well:

After five frustrating decades of stalled attempts at development, a group of Ugandans have come together to examine the experience in their country and search for effective approaches.

A cross-section of community leaders, policy makers, and educators discuss their thinking in a new film, which was premiered in Kampala last month before an audience that included former Prime Minister Kinto Musoke and other dignitaries.

"Development has not fulfilled its promises," states businessman Gimoro Laker-Ojok at the beginning of the film, which is titled "Opening a Space - The Discourse on Science, Religion and Development in Uganda."

"In the 1950s and '60s, the disparities between rich and poor in Uganda were not this marked," continues Daisy Namono of CELSOL Consulting Services. "There is a need to look at what went wrong."

From the Rev. Sam Ebukalin, who works with a program called Yiga Ng' Okola (Learn As You Work): "Development has, for the past 50 years, missed its target. ... What is missing?"

"We need to go back to the drawing board in some cases," says Elizabeth Kharono, program coordinator for Living Earth Uganda.

Produced by the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, a nonprofit corporation associated with the Baha'i International Community, the film then develops the gist of the argument - that development programs have tended to view the poor as "bundles of needs" rather than as contributors to solutions. Read the whole article here.

Finally, Junior Youth Groups are making a difference in Zambia:

The Tonga tribe has lived in southern Zambia for hundreds of years, and members are proud of their longstanding traditions and strong social codes. But leaders say some of the customs are eroding - young people, for example, no longer seem to respect the elderly.

A new program involving hundreds of young teens working in small groups may help change that - and simultaneously help the youngsters get along better with each other.

"The groups have started with helping old people in the community," said Siankuku Sabantu, a local fisherman.

"This is something that sometime back was normal but in recent years has stopped. Now the youth have again started helping old people by drawing water for them, gathering firewood and cleaning their homes," he said.

The groups are part of what is known in the Baha'i Faith as the Junior Youth Program, a worldwide effort to help young people aged 12 to 15 - "junior youth" - make good moral choices in their daily lives. Read the whole story here.