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Here are summaries of some of the workshops I attended today:
Organizing Across Communities: Age & Youth in Action by the Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington
People young and old across the US have connected with seven different communities across the African continent to support locally initiated health projects. Using the vibrant color of bananas and the enthusiasm of youth, a new nonprofit has grown to support the coming revolution in African health care.
It all began with one individual, Fr. Joseph Birungi, who had the dream of providing access to basic health care in a remote area where he worked. His dream was transferred on to me through his stories of those who died because they did not have access to basic health care. At the time I was a 14 year-old who knew little of the world beyond Michigan's borders, but I was inspired to do something. Just entering high school, I was full of naive optimism with a goal to figure out how I could make an impact in the world. Although I was youthful, naive, and optimistic I had an incredible mentor, my mother. She helped me form basic assumptions that laid the foundation for my understanding of "global health as everyone's responsibility.
Over the past 8 years Africa, international development, and health care have been the focus of my work and studies. Just last year (it's been a year already?) I completed an internship in South Africa at a center for children and youth affected by HIV/AIDS called VVOCF (Vumundzuku-bya Vana 'Our Children's Future').
SCOUT BANANA, in conjunction with Michigan State University's African Studies Center and Office of International Development, invites you to submit a manuscript to Articulate: Undergraduate Research Applied to International Development.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
16 January 2009
STUDENT ORGANIZATION GOES NONPROFIT TO BENEFIT HEALTH IN AFRICA
East Lansing - To suggest that college students armed with bananas could create anything wholesome and family-friendly may raise a few eyebrows.
But to suggest that college students and bananas are the backbone of a dynamic, progressive organization that has raised more than $150,000 to date and inspired countless people to improve basic health care in Africa? That may raise more eyebrows.
Last summer I wrote about the definition of development after having a conversation with an incredible Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana who was really making the most of his time and abilities. The conversation that we had really made me think about the term 'development' and what it really means.
Armed with underwear and ramen noodles the youth of America are set to overthrow the failed system! They will wait no longer, they will sit no more and they will apathetically listen to no one but Barack Obama anymore. Young people are fed up, that is for certain, but to what extent and will their record numbers in the polls really revolutionize American political life?
Previous entry: a first glimpse: zonke
13 May 2008
South Africa is much the same and different as many African countries that I have visited. Same in the sense of the smell of burning oil and gasoline, shipping containers as buildings, the red dirt, the friendly people, passenger vans as taxis, crazy driving, dogs for security, chickens and goats roaming everywhere, and the seemingly common practice of taking things as they come. The differences and nuances come in the country's history - white minority oppressive rule. White people are not unheard of in this area of Africa and South Africa specifically - uncommon, but not unseen. You get a sense that you are always being watched, but in a different way than what may be experienced in other African countries without such a history. It is more of a, "why are you here" look instead of the, "oh! You are white." The history of white oppression and the current issue of white organizations taking away from the communities makes the dynamic similar in skepticism, but different in why.
I will now begin filling in the gaps from my summer travels. I was only able to post four times during my three months in southern Africa.
My travels began in South Africa's largest city, Johannesburg and took me to a community development project (which became an official non-profit organization (NPO) this summer) in an informal settlement known as Zonkizizwe. Shortened to Zonke, the settlement was started during the apartheid years as a place for people commuting to live closer to their mostly inadequate jobs as farm hands, domestic workers, miners, and other menial jobs. The settlement is surrounded by farmland from which it owes its birth. The former Afrikaner farmland now houses close between 150,000 - 200,000 people (estimates are not clear). There are now other Zonkizizwe areas known as extensions. Where I was is called Zonkizizwe Proper as opposed to the five other extensions just nearby.