Tuesday, May 31, 2005

THE WORLD THROUGH MY EYES – Trying To Get Off The Ground

Enriching the lives of Mozambican children is the object of The World Through My Eyes .

In the first phase of The World Through My Eyes, children were provided photographic equipment and taught basic photography to see if they had the aptitude to excel. At the end of that program, after these children had produced their own photography portfolios, they received a program certificate, ten of their photos in an album and a photo CD. The first phase proved that photography is of value and interest to Mozambicans and was well received both by those who partook in the project and those who attended the two gallery showings.

The long-term goal of The World Through My Eyes is to create a permanent photography school for young Mozambicans. At the present time, photography is not being taught at Mozambique's journalism institute. And less than twenty people study at the Center for the Formation of Photographers, the only photography school in Mozambique annually.

The founder and Project Leader is an American from Portland, Oregon, Blake H. Schmidt who served in the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 and was teaching English at the Agrarian School of Chókwè when he became involved with The World Through My Eyes.

As a published photographer and having experience in freelance photography as well as teaching photography to children Blake was well suited to lead this project.

According to The World Through My Eyes website, Blake is currently in Portland, Oregon promoting the project, searching for funding and looking into possibly partnering with an existing group or NGO in the States or Mozambique."

"The South West Community Connection," a Portland, Oregon community newspaper stated:

"While in Mozambique, Schmidt was inspired by an article he read about Fotokids, a nonprofit that teaches photography in Guatemala and Honduras. He partnered with Marcílio Nhampossa, a friend from Chókwè and secured a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique."

After his Peace Corps service ended Schmidt along with Chókwè launched a pilot project intended to last four months.

The U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique helped fund this first phase of the project, which was completed in April 2004.

The Professional Photographers of America has also published a story about The World Through My Eyes in their monthly magazine, Professional Photographer. Both the article from The South West Community Connection and the Article from the Professional Photographer can be accessed from The World Through My Eyes' web site.

Marcílio Nhampossa is the Project Assistant. While Blake is back in the U.S. Nhampossa is in Chókwè still teaching primary school and studying at night. The organization's web site says that he is "taking computer courses to become more knowledgeable and proficient with computers." After he finishes his computer studies, he will work with the children on the weekends to keep their skills sharp while they anxiously await the opportunity to continue the project.

In the meantime, The World Through My Eyes is under the non-profit umbrella of Perception, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization in the U.S. They are soliciting donations and have made copies of the children's photographs available for sale at their web site.

The World Through My Eyes has a long way to go in its efforts to enrich the lives of Mozambican children through photography. But what has been done to date inspires confidence that they will get there some day.

It's well worth a look to go by their web site and look at the photographs the children have taken. And consider making a purchase, if you are so inspired.

The World Through My Eyes can be found at:

Friday, May 27, 2005

STREET CHILD AFRICA:Helping The Wretched Of The Young

If you believe that every child deserves a decent chance in life, then you believe in everything Street Child Africa stands for.

It was to be a friend to street children, and to help others helping street children that motivated the formation of Street Child Africa in 1998. A registered charity in the United Kingdom, Street Child Africa want to help these children to survive, to prevent their abuse and to give them hope and self-respect so that they can look forward optimistically to the future.

Life for street children in the cities of Africa is brutally harsh. And even those these children may seem invisible to many urban dwellers in those cities, the children are nevertheless there. All to often, the shoe-shine boys, the gutter cleaners, the street barbers and the girl porters in the markets are not the children of poor families but instead are street children. Many of these children have come to the cities alone, leaving their families in their poor rural villages.

As the numbers of street children rise, there are more children competing for the few sources of income that are available and the governments of the African nations do not have enough resources to address these social issues. This problem is also overlooked by western NGOs focusing on larger economic projects. The United Nations estimates that 50% of Africa's population are under the age of 16, and with 34 of the 42 poorest countries in the world being in Africa, this puts stresses on the traditional family and village structures and indicates that the numbers of street children will continue to rise.

The rising number of street children is already placing incredible strain on the resources of Accra, Ghana. There, the population of street children has more than doubled in the last five years.

Having been founded by a Catholic priest (Fr Patrick Shanahan) Street Child Africa receives support by many churches all over the United Kingdon. However, all of their work in Africa that they support is non-denominational and the support they receive is from all denominations.

On its web site, Street Child Africa states: "We do not support any person or project which attempts to influence the religious beliefs or background of any street child in any way. We help any and every street child who needs it, regardless of their religious beliefs or background. We do not permit attempts to convert or influence street children in any aspect of our work, or the work of our partner agencies."

The strategy of Street Child Africa is to support African Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and Charities working with and for street children in Africa. They intend to do this by

- Fundraising on behalf of African agencies working with street children
- Raising awareness about the plight of street children in Africa's towns and cities
- Generating fresh approaches to working with and for street children in Africa
- Shareing information with all agencies working with and for street children in Africa.
- Offering advocacy to any agency working with and for street children in Africa, and to any individual street child in Africa.

Recognizing the need for fresh approaches to working for the street children of Africa, Street Child Africa wants to share information between and provide a forum for all concerned agencies dealing with this problem. In line with this philosophy Street Child Africa belongs to the Consortium for Street Children UK (CSC), a group of some 40 agencies who work for Street Children in 63 countries around the world.

Three of their projects give a glimpse into the way Street Child Africa operates.

In Senegal they work with Avenir de l'Enfant, a NGO working with street children. They are leading the way in Francophone Africa with their 'Observatory', a centre run by trained professionals where children who have been physically or sexually abused may be counseled. Street Child Africa is hoping to fund their programs further and enable them to build a re-habilitation center where a "home away from the streets" can welcome street children.

In Mozambique they work with Meninos de Mocambique, a partner they fund in Maputo. A country ravaged by unemployment, HIV/Aids, and crippling poverty Mozambique has many children that are driven into the streets by these pressures. One of Meninos' projects is the operation of a mobile clinic that helps malnourished street children, who are even more susceptible to malaria, skin diseases and sexually transmitted diseases. Meninos also has outreach workers who visit the streets of Maputo on a daily basis and befriend the street children. Street Child Africa believes that through a gradual development of a trusting relationship, Meninos can help street children make choices about leaving the streets.

With partners like St Paul's Catholic College Sunbury, and Dutch donor agency Wild Geese, Street Child Africa is able to help its partner agency in Ghana, Street Girls Aid, build and equip a new skills training center for street girls in Accra, Ghana. The center will allow girls to train in useful vocational skills like hairdressing and sewing, which will help them find employment so that they can support themselves and their babies. It will also generate income for Street Girls Aid so that they can help even more street girls.

With effective fund raising efforts and expanding through new chapters like the one in Scotland, Street Child Africa is becoming a effective force in fighting the tragedy that is drowning these street children.

You can also go to their web site:
and download the Global Call for World Bank Commitment to Street Children that was developed at the Street Children Initiative International Conference organized by the World Bank in Washington, D.C. in April 2000.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

AFRICA NOW Is About Business

A UK based NGO working to alleviate poverty in Africa, Africa Now was founded in 1981. Its primary focus originally was on improving the security of individuals' livelihoods and the well being of communities through small business development and the creation of income generation opportunities.

Currently based in Kisumu, western Kenya, Africa Now has worked in a number of countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Swaziland, the Gambia and Egypt. Though much of their current operations are still based western Kenya, they also have offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Harare, Zimbabwe.

Over the years Africa Now has concentrated on business development and income generation, this organization has a wider scope that also focuses on work ranging from helping farmers to construct and manage small-scale dairies, to training groups in spring protection and water tank construction. This they do, in addition to assisting those same farmers in the development of clients and markets.

Appropriate technology is deemed important for Africa Now and it encourages its use for income generation. One example of their putting appropriate technology to good use has been their establishing businesses producing manual seed presses, which extract high-value oil from sunflower seeds.

In the area of providing financing to these individuals and communities they have managed a number of projects delivering microcredit and business development advice to disadvantaged and isolated communities.


The Vision of Africa Now is:
A world of enterprise and opportunities in farming, business and paid employment in Africa so that people can realize their full potential and achieve a decent standard of living.

And its Mission is:
To develop equitable and sustainable work and jobs for poor people through projects, advocacy and partnerships with individuals, businesses, non-government organisations and public agencies

Africa Now's Strategy is to build on its strengths in small-scale enterprise development to improve access for small businesses to finance, training, appropriate technology and other business services. In addition, Africa Now wants to use its knowledge of the social and economic conditions facing small-scale producers and workers to ensure that poor people receive competitive prices for their goods and labor.

In order to do this, they intend to:
- help small scale producers and entrepreneurs increase their ability to identify and produce appropriate products for the market
- improving the access of organized groups of small producers to appropriate markets
- promoting rules based equitable trading relations between producers and their suppliers and buyers
- building local capacity in Africa to develop and audit codes of conduct on social and environmental conditions
- building capacity in Africa to plan and set up production systems that comply with current codes of conduct in force
- helping workers and producers have an effective say in codes of conduct development and application
- demonstrating the advantages of fair prices and sustainable business practices in Africa to consumers and businesses in Europe

Believing that strategic and operational success in their chosen field depends on having projects and programs that are well-rooted in local communities in Africa. Africa Now keeps it UK base small and bases as much program support as possible in Africa. Though small, the UK base is of sufficient size to manage fund-raising and donor relations, review strategy, manage advocacy and research in the UK and Europe and provide overall financial control.

Using its Vision, Mission and Strategy, Africa Now feels confident that it will reach its Goals, which are:

- Small scale producers integrated into stable and appropriate markets, receiving competitive prices for their goods
- Codes that ensure high quality products produced under conditions that safeguard and improve livelihoods
- Producers and their workers adhering to well worked out codes of conduct that help create safe and sustainable livelihoods
- Buyers and international supply chains ensuring that the goods they buy are produced under conditions that are regulated by codes that have been written with regard to local conditions and with the participation of those affected

The impact it hopes to have is to place more people in jobs and businesses that are sustainable, non-exploitative and which provide secure and predictable livelihoods for them and their families. They are also hoping that there will be a wider understanding and adoption of business codes among workers and businesses so that both have tools to negotiate, assess and ensure compliance with negotiated standards.

With trustees who have expertise and experience ranging from business development, international development, conflict resolution and community development, finance, agricultural economics, international economics, Africa Now has the brain power to put its plans into action.

Africa Now relies on funding partnerships with a wide range of donors including government bodies, individual donors, companies and private trusts. The grants and donations they receive help to develop projects and to research new ideas. Among their donors are:

Beatrice Laing Trust
Comic Relief
Department for International Development
John Ellerman Foundation
European Union
Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust
Finnish Embassy in Nairobi
Fulmer Charitable Trust
German Embassy in Nairobi
Marr-Munning Trust
McKnight Foundation
Meditor Trust
Oakdale Trust
Swedish International Development Agency
Water for People
World Bank Development Marketplace
Zochonis Trust

Aiming to place eighty percent of their expenditures directly on programs, Africa Now makes its summary of accounts available for inspection on the internet at its website.
Summary of accounts 2002/03 (81k)

Stating that as a small organization, they have limited staff that they employ as well as limited volunteering opportunities, they do post such opportunities on their web site when they arise. They also post paid and volunteer positions for development organizations on their web site as well.

Their project ideas a may originate from one of several sources, an official body, a local organization or community in Kenya or Zimbabwe requesting our support, or it could be from a piece of research conducted by Africa Now. But all of their projects tend to focus on the areas of:

Enterprise development
Fair and ethical trade

Enterprise development
Since its inception in 1981, much of Africa's activities have been grounded in work with small-scale farmers looking to diversify their income sources or improve the technical and production skills. And they also worked with small businesses to improve their marketing capacity and their ability to develop new products.

However, Africa Now believes that it is equally crucial that farmers, producers and businesses also have reliable and sustainable markets available to them, through which they can sell their products. Because of this belief much of their current work places an emphasis on developing market access and opening new markets for producers and businesses in Africa. These efforts can range from helping rural hardware stores in Kenya market locally produced equipment to farmers, or assisting honey farmers in their efforts to access national and international honey markets.

Fair and ethical trade
In addition to improving market opportunities for producers and businesses Africa Now also aims to ensure that producers not only have access to markets, but that producers get a fair deal for their work, are treated equitably in the supply chain, and are able to represent their interests to buyers at a local, national and regional level.

Africa Now believes that embedding socially responsible principles in the supply chain, trade between Africa and Europe has the potential to improve working conditions, job security and income for workers in Africa. So Africa Now is working to support the development and implementation of appropriate codes of practice in the supply chain. It is doing this by working with European buyers to ensure these codes do not compromise product quality, and by ensuring that workers in Africa have a say in their own working practices and how trade develops

Because it sees the lack of access to credit as one of the greatest obstacles to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa, Africa Now Microfinance is of great importance in the progress of development in Africa.

According to their web site, Africa Now's microfinance schemes have been successful throughout Africa, and a recent initiative in Zimbabwe achieved a 99% repayment ratio. This group is constantly testing new systems for providing loans, and working with major banks to develop suitable packages for start-up enterprises.

At their "What We Do" web page, Africa Now has a list of its Projects and concepts:

AFRICA NOW maintains its web page at:


Wednesday, May 25, 2005


A Canadian charitable organization with over 40 years in experience in promoting education and literacy in the developing world, CODE seems to have a formula for success.

Having been awarded the UNESCO International Prize for Literacy in 1987 and the Government of Canada’s Literacy Innovation Award in 1999, in addition to many other awards, it is clear that CODE’s value to the global community has been recognized.

CODE’s Vision is “To support a sustainable literate environment in the developing world." And its Mission Statement is "Enabling people to learn by developing partnerships that provide resources for learning, promote awareness and understanding, and encourage self-reliance."

Founded in 1959 as “Books for Developing Countries” it changed its name once more before becoming “CODE” in 1982. By 1970 it had become a registered charitable organization under the name “Overseas Book Centre” (OBC)

By the time it was renamed CODE, the organization was shipping more than 20 tons of books each year to 85 countries. And in that same year, it expanded the items shipped to pencils, audio-visual equipment and typewriters.

In order to share its expertise in book donations to developing countries CODE has edited, designed and printed a book in Canada entitled: “Book Donations for Development.” This book was written by Mauro Rosi of the Division of Arts and Cultural Enterprise of the Cultural Sector of UNESCO.

Building on the work of UNESCO, CODE and the International Book Bank when these three organizations sponsored a symposium in 1992. The international symposium entitled, Donated Book Programs: A Dialogue of Partners, in Baltimore, USA. The proceedings of the symposium were published by The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in 1993.

Hardcopies of Book Donations for Development are available from CODE for distribution through non-governmental agencies and library associations/institutions involved in book donation projects. This book provides both policy and practical information for donors and recipients of book donation projects and it is intended as an educational and training tool.

Believing that there is strength in numbers and unity, CODE has been working in partnership with affiliates in order to achieve its goals. In 1991 the International Book Bank became a CODE affiliate. CODE, Inc. and The CODE Foundation are affiliates as well.

CODE works with 13 partner organizations in eight countries in Africa and one in the Caribbean. Its primary target group is primary school-aged children through programs designed to support communities where children have inadequate access to literacy resources and skilled teachers. And while CODE does work with partners who provide services to address the needs of the total population CODE only provides support for the portions of the programs directed towards increasing the literacy level of children.

There are four general areas where CODE concentrates it efforts:

Provision of children's learning materials;
Skills development in teaching/librarianship;
Promotion of literate environment for children; and,
Strengthening resource and education networks.

In Guyana, the Guyana Book Foundation (GBF) was established in 1990. And according to CORE’s web site: “Long-term funding agreements with CODE have allowed GBF to implement projects throughout the country in the establishment of community libraries, in the distribution of educational materials, in supporting the local publishing sector, and in the training of teachers, library assistants and literacy workers to facilitate literacy development.” GBF has also been awarded contracts from other funding sources to help it carry out its missions. The objectives of this CORE funded program, which will continue through 2006 are “to continue to provide reading materials for children, to increase the ability of children to read, and to build capacity to support a literate environment in Guyana.”

In 1987 CODE began a program in Ethiopia in co-operation with a committee of government department heads in education, curriculum development and book production. This program focused on addressing the widespread shortage of appropriate learning materials in schools and communities. Together, CODE and its Ethiopian partners have coordinated paper support for the production of textbooks, and the production of rural newsletters. They have established reading rooms, and distributed books donated from North American sources.

In 1994, CODE and Ethiopia partners established a non-profit, non-governmental organization - CODE-Ethiopia. CODE-Ethiopia’s goal is to support a sustainable literate environment in Ethiopia as well as to encourage development through education by focusing on three areas: book distribution, library development and publishing.

Project Love was began by CODE on Valentine's Day in 1987. In this program, which targets young Canadians in order to help them learn about the challenges faced by children and teachers in other parts of the world and at the same time provides them an opportunity to act in order to help people their own age. CODE says that Project Love “talks to young people about international development in terms they can understand.”

More about CODE’s Project Love can be found at the following site.

CODE is involved in a lot of things, too many for me to list in this Blog article. So, if you want to know more, I suggest you go to their website at:


and learn more about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


According to a October 2004 article in Computing Magazine, almost 99 per cent of children in Africa leave school without having touched or seen a computer in the classroom.

Computer Aid International is trying to do something to change that. And with help from its friends it has already shipped over 45,000 PCs to more than 90 developing countries since its beginnings in 1998.
Over 25,000 of those computers have gone to educational institutions and the rest have gone to community organizations working on problems such as HIV/Aids, environment, human rights, and primary healthcare.
In stating its goals on its website, Computer Aid International says that it aims to:
- Increase the number of refurbished computers being re-used overseas
- increase the number of UK organisations donating their used IT equipment for re-use overseas
- identify and work with those organisations in recipient countries able to derive maximum value from refurbished computers
- provide training and work experience in computer repair to people from socially excluded communities in our workshops in the UK

A registered charity operating out of the UK, Computer Aid International was set-up in 1998 in response to the great need for quality and affordable access to computers from the developing world.

When businesses in the UK upgrade to newer and more powerful hardware for their IT demands Computer Aid International encourage them to donate their old PCs for re-use in schools and community organizations in the developing world.

Because security and confidentiality is of great importance to these donors Computer Aid International provides a high-level decommissioning service to its donors, and as a consequence the much-needed PCs are is donated with the confidence that no information will be inadvertently shipped with the hardware.

This is able to be done because Computer Aid International has formed a partnership with the leading data removal specialist, and Ministry of Defence approved, market leaders to thoroughly data-wipe the donated machines to the highest standard.

After the hard drives have had all of the data removed the PC is then fully refurbished and tested before it is boxed and made ready for shipment to the developing world.

And even though Computer Aid International is rightfully proud of having donated 45,000 computers to the developing world it knows that there are close to 3 million PCs decommissioned in the UK every year.

Partnering with donor companies in the UK such as:
· British Airways
· Tokyo Mitsibushi
· PeopleSoft UK & Eire
· Diageo
· HM Treasury
· National Audit Office
· Christian Aid
· Barnardos
· Enfield Council

Computer Aid International has been able to donate computers to organizations such as:
· Computers for Schools Kenya
· World Links Zimbabwe
· World Links Rwanda
· British Council Cameroon
· Christian Relief Development Association, Ethiopia
· SchoolNet Malawi
· SchoolNet Mali
· Computer Education Trust, Swaziland
· Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria
· CIDA University, South Africa

To cover the cost of collecting, testing, refurbishing, and packing of a single computer Computer Aid International charges £39 plus shipping per PC. Once an organization has submitted their application, Computer Aid International provides them with an invoice for the full cost, including shipping.

When Computer Aid International receives the payment of the invoice from the applicant organization the computers are transported to its shipping agent who then take on the responsibility of shipment to the appropriate destination.

There are many projects that receive computers form Computer Aid International, but below are brief outlines, taken from Computer Aid International's web site, of two of those projects.

Computers for Schools Kenya

"Computers for Schools Kenya was established as a non-profit organisation to facilitate the productive and sustainable use of computers in education on a national level in Kenya's secondary schools.

"Since August 2002 Computers for Schools Kenya has installed over 1,000 high-quality, fully refurbished PCs into 54 Kenyan state secondary schools. Computers for Schools Kenya also advises upon and assess the preparedness of each school's infrastructure and provides ongoing timely technical support to recipient schools.

"Who benefits? The project will ensure an equitable balance of distribution between rural and urban schools, girls and boys institutions and ensure the inclusion of marginalised sectors, and schools for children with disabilities.

"Over the coming months Computer Aid International International (through the generous financial support of a UK trust) will provide 450 professionally refurbished Pentium II and Pentium III computers needed for this project

Computer Education Trust (CET), Swaziland

"CET was established in 1998 to facilitate the productive and sustainable use of computers in Swaziland schools.

"Before this project began, over 90% of students graduated from the state high school system without ever having seen, let alone had the opportunity to make use of a PC in the classroom.

"Who benefits? Under this project, Computer Aid International has provided 2,186 PCs to CET with which it has equipped schools across all regions in Swaziland. This represents a move from almost zero coverage to over half of all secondary schools in the country equipped since the project commenced in August 2000.

"This project is making a massive difference to the quality and scope of education provision in Swaziland and provides an exemplar model of refurbished PC use that is transferable to other countries in the developing world."

Computing Magazine has also stepped up to assist in a big way. The magazine is asking its readers to pledge unwanted PCs to be donated to Computer Aid International, so that PCs, as Computing Magazine puts it, "can have a second life in the developing world."

And hundreds of private and public sector IT managers have answered the call.

Computers are necessary in today's world, and they are not cheap. So, if you can get behind this effort, go to Computer Aid International's web site at: http://www.computer-aid.org/
and check out what they are doing.

And while you are at it, show a little love for Computing Magazine and Computer Aid International's other sponsors that you can find listed on their web site.

Monday, May 23, 2005


In its Mission Statement, Books For Africa says that it has "A simple name for a simple organization with a simple mission." That mission, it goes on to state is to: "collect, sort, ship and distribute books to children in Africa." Period.

In an effort to end what they term the "book famine in Africa" Books For Africa says that THAT IS ALL THEY DO. But that is QUITE A LOT.

With the help of volunteers they collect books donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals and organizations. They then sort and pack those books that are carefully examined and found to be age and subject appropriate.

Books For Africa does not just send a few books at a time; they send enough books for a whole class to use. And the books that they send are good books.

Anybody that has tried to carry out a book project that involves the collection and shipping of books learns quickly that the difficulty is in the shipping. Books, especially in large numbers, are heavy, and they have to be shipped IN something. It is not easy to get large numbers of books from point A to point B without considerable effort and expense. Books For Africa makes it clear that shipping is the program's largest expense.

Books For Africa ships their books in containers that are paid for by public contributions. And at the approximate cost of 38 U.S. cents to ship a book from a United States port to Africa, a lot of public contributions are needed.

The effectiveness of Books For Africa in getting these contributions is attested to by the fact that it has shipped more than 10 million books to Africa since 1988.

The books that are collected come from public and private schools, libraries, as well as from publishers and the general public and they range from primary to post secondary levels.

All of the books are transported to Books For Africa's warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota where they are sorted and processed for shipping by volunteers. The books leave St. Paul 25,000 at a time in sea containers that are 20-feet long. The price tag on shipping these containers full of books runs at about U.S.$8000 each.

Once the books arrive at their destination in Africa a BFA partner takes delivery and is responsible for seeing that the books are delivered to the appropriate schools and libraries. The BFA partners are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as local YMCAs, Catholic and Protestant Church Dioceses, local member clubs of Rotary International to give a partial list. But the partner organizations are not just the distributors of the books, they usually finance the shipping as well, and as Books For Africa reports "either on their own, or with a financial sponsor." And the state that: " In some cases, when need can be demonstrated, BFA will provide matching funds for a portion of the shipping costs.

Books for Africa also works with non-profit organizations in the United states as well. Three of the organizations which have been written about in this BLOG have benefited from the work of Books for Africa. SAFE has had books shipped with the help of Books for Africa, Better World Books has collected and sent thousand of books to Books for Africa to be shipped on to Africa and the student group at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. known as "Books For Africa Student Organization" has had twice annual book drive on its campus and shipped the volumes on to Books for Africa with the help of Better World Books. There is more on all of these organizations in the BLOG archives.

Books For Africa a non-profit (501.c.3) organization got it start in 1988 after its founder, Tom Warth, made a commitment to create a system for collecting discarded books from American schools, libraries and publishers and send to Africa.

Tom was inspired to make this commitment after he visited a library in the town of Jinja, Uganda and found the books that it had so few book, and those there were on the shelves were in extremely poor condition. Jinja is no minuet village. It's actually the second largest city in the nation of Uganda.

When he got back home to Minnesota he spoke to a group known as the "Minnesota Book Publishers' Roundtable." This led to the genesis of Books For Africa.

As you can learn from their web site, to date, "Books For Africa has shipped books to the countries of Botswana, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe." The web site even has a map for their visitors to visualize the countries that have received their donated books. http://www.booksforafrica.org/maps.html .

While Books For Africa has made millions of volumes available to African children, they realize that they still have much work ahead of them in combating the "book famine in Africa." remains a reality. BFA cites the statistic that: it is common across the continent to see five or six school children sharing one book in schools and empty library shelves are a constant reminder of Africa's desperate need for printed materials.

Books For Africa plans to send millions more volumes to Africa, and if you want to be a part of that, visit them at their website:
and find out about what you can do to help.

Friday, May 20, 2005

FARDA: Friends of Africa Relief and Development Agency in Sierra Leone and Canada

FARDA's Executive Director S. Ansumana-Kawa was working for the Seed Multiplication Project in Makeni in the Bombali District in northern Sierra Leone in 1992 when he registered a rural development project with the then Ministry of Rural Development. That project was called the Small Farmers Rehabilitation and Development Project (SFRDP).

Two years later, Ansumana-Kawa traveled abroad to pursue a course in agriculture, but once abroad, the raging insurgence and the political climate in Sierra Leone would not permit my return. Because of this, he sought asylum in South Africa. And while there he re-named the SFRDP to Friends Reach Us Now, or Friends RUN.

Once back home in Sierra Leone in August 1998, together with the help of friends, he re-named Friends RUN to its current name, Friends of Africa Relief and Development Agency (FARDA).

The name was again change in 1998 to FARDA to reflect the broader roles of the organization mandated by the suffering taking place during and after the war and international chapters were created in Canada and the U.S.

But throughout all of the name changes, Ansumana-Kawa says the mission has remained constant. Today, FARDA still commits itself to engaging and assisting in seeking sustainable and compatible solutions to the problems of rural women, children, youth, and grassroots movements in post-war Sierra Leone. Since branching out and becoming international, the FARDA operation in Sierra Leone is now known as FARDA Sierra Leone (FARDASL)

FARDASL was recently engaged in programs/activities such as:

- Trauma Healing and Counseling Center for Street Children and Child Miners in the Kono District: funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the National Commission for War Affected Children (NACWAC);

- Food-for-Work Program for women gardeners in 10 communities in Kailahun District. Supported by the World Food Program (WFP);

- Garden Program for Women in three chiefdoms in the Kailahun District: tools and seeds provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN;

- Garden Program in the Kono District: tool and seeds provided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR);

- Skills Training Program for youths in Mobai, Kailahun District: UNDP funding through NACWAC;

- Environmental Education for School Children in five chiefdoms in the Kono District: supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Conservation Society

- Skills Development Training for Disadvantaged War Widows in Daru, Kailahun District. Supported by the German Ambassador’s Trust Fund.

FARDASL is registered with the Government and with the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations of Sierra Leone. It benefits from duty-free concession on materials brought into Sierra Leone for the lawful implementation of the organization’s programs. In the United States, the American Fund for Charities, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supports FARDASL, making donations from US foundations and individuals tax-exempt to the extent allowed by US law.

And in Canada, FARDA Canada Inc. , founded in 2004 is a registered as a non-profit membership organization whose function is to lend support to FARDASL.

The projects with which FARDA Canada Inc. hopes to help FARDASL are:

Project 1: Rescue the Child Miners: Many unfortunate children out there deserve a place in the home and at school, not in mine holes. Join FARDA to rescue these kids and, through education, feeding, housing, and other support, give them a future. It is their right.

Project 2: Educate the Youth and Stop the Killer Disease: HIV/AIDS is slowly but steadily wiping out communities in Africa. Help us fight HIV/AIDS through education and other support. Educating girls may perhaps cut HIV/AIDS-related problems to a far lesser extent than we might have imagined.

Project 3: Women in Farming & Education (WIFE) Program: Especially in polygamous marriages, the woman is the backbone of the rural household in Africa. She farms and prepares food, and raises and educates the child. Help these impoverished women realize their struggle for recognition and equality.

Project 4: Basic Internet Knowledge and Education (BIKE): After a brutal and devastating war, contact with children and youth of other regions offers psychological and spiritual healing for Sierra Leone’s children and youth. Computers and the Internet can help address this need.

FARDASL argues that it is specifically worthy of support because even though during much of the war and even afterwards, international Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) played vital roles in providing basic services in the country, many of the INGOs have already left, or are in the process of leaving, the country.

Now, donor interest in the country is dwindling and international focus seems to be now diverted to other regions whose conflicts overshadow those in the West African sub region.

Because many services will collapse as the INGOs gradually leave, local organizations, like FARDASL, must organize, support, and assist Community-Based Organizations (or CBOs) and grassroots movements and, ultimately, rural communities and families at risk.

FARDASL also believes it can accomplish many basic goals and programs by far cheaper ways than many INGOs and therefore can, to a large extent, supplement the programs of INGOs, either as partners or when the INGOs leave.

Finally, FARDASL says that the communities in which they operate need any - and every - thing. And so that it can continue to provide service to communities in which it operates, FARDASL appeals for help – in cash or in kind – especially in the areas of transportation equipment: truck, school bus, motor bikes, bicycles; essential drugs and medical supplies; books and other school materials; office equipment (computers, printers, photocopiers, etc.); furniture (for school, office, and home); clothing and building materials; and seeds and farm tools and equipment. Used but still usable forms of these materials would be most appreciated.

FARDASL is asking, so, you may want to go to their site at:


and see if there something you can do.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

FARM-AFRICA: The Name Says It All

FARM-Africa (Food and Agricultural Research Management) is an international non- governmental organization that aims to reduce poverty through developing innovative approaches to natural resource management in Africa.

They work with marginal farmers and herders to help them manage their natural resources and develop sustainable livelihoods from their land. Through projects that work to improve small-scale dairy goat farming, resolve conflict among pastoralist communities, developing new roles for villagers to manage forests, just to name a few, FARM-Africa works to help rural farm communities dramatically improve their own well-being.
Through Projects located in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda they work in partnership with marginal small-scale farmers and herders to improve the ways in which they farm their land. Working with a wide range of rural communities, and concentrating on three priority areas:
Pastoral Development
Nomadic livestock keepers who move with the seasons to find water and grazing land for their animals, living on the milk and meat products they provide are Pastoralists. They numbers exceed twelve million in Ethiopia and Kenya alone. And they are amongst the most marginalized peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa suffering from high rates of poverty and having inadequate access to education and health services.
The Pastoral Development project aims to improve the abilities of pastoralists to plan and manage their own development. This is done by increasing their participation in food security and drought management activities. FARM-Africa uses a Mobile Outreach Camp approach to achieve this. A team of professionals move with nomadic communities supporting a range of activities including drought early warning systems, veterinary services, crop and animal production and marketing, and advocacy.

One specific Pastoral Development program is the Afar Pastoralist Development and Emergency Project in Ethiopia

Afar has been severely impacted by drought in recent years. In response, FARM-Africa has provided emergency support to the people of that region and their livestock providing assistance during the drought and by helping pastoralists rebuild their herds and their lives in a post-drought environment.

Working through the Mobile Outreach Camps FARM-Africa works directly with Afar communities and collaborating with government and other agencies, to draw on their expertise and also to provide training. This emergency program is possible because of strong and efficient networks and partnerships that they have built through their long-term development work.

It is intended that the emergency rehabilitation work will continue until mid-2005, when the pastoralists will be able to participate again in long-term development work, now managed as part of FARM-Africa's Ethiopian Pastoralist Project.

Community Forest Management
According to FARM-Africa's web site, Africa's forests are at risk. In Ethiopia only about 2% of the original forest cover remains, whilst forest resources in Tanzania have been significantly depleted over the past three decades. This has a serious impact on forest wildlife and threatens water resources. The situation is ever more serious given that Africa's forests provide livelihoods for millions of poor people across the continent.
FARM-Africa believes that the solution to this problem lies in working with the local community, linking their interests with the protection of the forest resources and is key to conserving forest resources, both now and for the future. FARM-Africa work together with the Ethiopian and Tanzania national governments and local communities to establish their rights and responsibilities over forest resources. Ultimately, communities, with government support, become custodians of the forest.
The Babati Agricultural and Environmental Education Project in Tanzania is one such project. The Babati Agricultural and Environmental Education Project is designed to improve agricultural and environmental education in thirteen primary schools in Babati district.

The main topics are basic crop production, chicken rearing, vegetable gardening and tree management. Pupils share what they learn with their families, making farms more productive and environmentally friendly.

FARM-Africa also encourages the increased involvement of poor parents in school management and the strengthening of the staff's ability to respond to community priorities. At the same time, the project provides materials and training for teachers in a more practical style of teaching called 'discovery learning'. Experiences and successes from the project will be shared with interested groups and key policy makers in Tanzania's education sector. This project is carried out in partnership with the schools and communities, government agencies (the District Education Department) and local educational NGOs including Oxfam and Haki Elimu.

Smallholder Development & Land Reform

FARM-Africa stresses that smallholder agriculture drives economic development and rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of Africans live in the countryside, relying on smallholdings of less than a few hectares to feed their families and grow surplus crops for sale
Smallholder agriculture is the main livelihood option for the majority of rural Africans and greater investment in it is the main pathway out of poverty for millions of people in Africa.

In order to allow the people's ability to build sustainable rural livelihoods, FARM-Africa also works on land reform, as land ownership is central to smallholder agriculture.
FARM-Africa believes that agricultural production can be increased through a variety of methods and processes with Africa's smallholder farmers, so they work in partnership to strengthen the abilities of community-based organizations including women's groups and farmers' associations, government extension staff, universities, local and international NGOs and the private sector so that together, they can drive their own process of development.
One of these efforts is the Community Animal Health Network - CAHNET in Kenya
Because farmers urgently need information about animal health developments, as well as new methods and new treatments FARM-Africa uses a range of information channels, including a website (www.cahnet.net ), newsletter and workshops to deliver that information. CAHNET puts grassroots animal health workers in touch with each other, with policymakers, with scientists and with the latest research. Three other NGOs work with FARM-Africa to manage CAHNET. They are CAPE, CLIP and PACT .

FARM-Africa raises money from a wide range of supporters to fund their program. Including members of the general public, schools and churches, Friends of FARM groups, trusts and foundations, and major donors and corporations. FARM-Africa also aim to increase our fundraising activities in Africa, with initiatives that are currently taking place in Kenya and South Africa.
FARM-Africa is doing some important work, so if you get the chance go by their site at:
Because if everyone pitches in, as FARM-Africa says:
"A prosperous rural Africa can, and will, be achieved."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

FORUM FOR AFRICAN WOMEN EDUCATIONALISTS Enriching The Lives of African Girls Through Education

The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) was created in 1992 as a response to the slow pace of implementation of Education for All goals in sub-Saharan Africa.

FAWE was registered in Kenya as a pan African NGO in 1993 with a Secretariat in Nairobi. Since then, it has grown into a network of 33 National Chapters with a wide range of Membership that includes women policy makers and male ministers of education who are associate members

FAWE seeks to ensure that girls have access to school, complete their studies and perform well at all levels.

Working at continental, national and local levels, together with its partners, FAWE says it intends to create positive societal attitudes, policies and practices in order to promote equity for girls education throughout by transforming educational systems in Africa.

Their stated goal at their web site is: To increase access and retention as well as improve the quality of education for all girls within the school system, and for women in universities.

FAWE is attempting to attain its goals by accomplishing it strategic objectives which are:

-To influence the formulation and adoption of educational policies on Girls' Education in order to increase access, improve retention and performance.

-To build public awareness and consensus on the social and economic advantages of Girls' Education through advocacy.

-To undertake and support demonstrative experimental and innovative programmes to increase girls' participation in education.

-To empower girls through education for effective participation in the creation of an equitable society.

-To create and sustain partnerships with governments, donors, universities, NGOs communities, and other partners in education for effective implementation of programmes to improve education.

-To strengthen organisational capacity to effectively implement programmes that promotes Girls' Education.

-To monitor policies, practices and programmes that impact on Girls' Education.

One of the unique aspects of this organization is that only women are Full Members. Full members are women ministers and deputy ministers of education, women permanent secretaries in education ministries, or directors of education, prominent women educationalists and the five founder members.

However, men are allowed to join as Associate Members. Associate membership is drawn from serving male ministers of education who are committed to the FAWE mandate and have been invited by the Executive Committee at its discretion, Full members who have ceased to be full members by virtue of holding office, but have been invited by the Executive Committee to remain as members.

There is a third class of membership, Affiliate Membership, which is reserved for the 33 National Chapters spread across the Continent of Africa and divided into four regions.

The Francophone Region consists of French speaking nations from Senegal, west to Chad and south to Gabon, but also including Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

The Western Anglophone Region is comprised of English speaking nations from Gambia west to Nigeria.

The Eastern Region contains seven countries from Ethiopia and Tanzania in the west to The DRC. It also includes the Seychelles Islands.

The Southern Region includes South Africa and its neighbors as far north as Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

FAWE lists its programs on its web site, but here are a few of the projects that will give the reader an understanding of type of work this organization is doing.

In Kenya FAWE has instituted a Girls' School in Kajiado. This school, which is one of FAWE’s “Centres of Excellence,” is unique because it serves rescued girls In order to increase access to education and ensure their retention in school. The school has built boarding facilities to accommodate 50 girls. Currently, 42 girls rescued from early marriage find a home as well as a school. FAWE has also provided bursaries to 15 girls at the center, while also providing textbooks, exercise books and stationery.

The school has also effectively mobilized the community in order to support these girls. Work has been undertaken to reconcile the girls to their families. Guidance counseling is being provided for the girls, as well as gender sensitization efforts for members of the community. A training workshop for the Local Administration Chiefs of Locations was held to sensitize them on the plight of the girl child and galvanize their support especially in combating early marriages. This was done as part of the effort to bring on board local community leaders, district leaders, education officers and the parents and teachers association.

FAWE has also instituted a Programme for Mass Information and Sensitization on the importance of educating girls in the Kayes and Mopti Regions of Mali and another enhancing the awareness of Ghanaian policy makers / implementers and the public to factors that militate against higher enrolment and retention of girls in Ghanaian schools.

The list goes on and on, and rather than my duplicating information that has already been made available on the web, why not just visit their web site and see for yourself what this group is doing.

Their web site is found at:


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

AFRICAN MEDICAL AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION: Bringing High Tech Medical Care To Rural Africa

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is the largest health development organization based in Africa.

Headquartered in Kenya, AMREF also has programs in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Their mission is to “improve the health of disadvantaged people in Africa as a means for them to escape poverty and improve the quality of their life.”

They do this with an annual operating budget of approximately $30 million and by employing 600 staff. But AMREF makes it clear that Africa is woefully underserved in area of health care. Their web site cites that in Malawi there are just 2.2 doctors to every 100,000 people, 4.5 in Kenya and 7.5 in Zambia. The nursing figures are staggering as well. In Malawi there is just one nurse to every 20,000 patients. To make matters worse, the health professionals are concentrated in urban areas, leaving rural sector and the poorest areas of the cities with hardly any health services at all. And it is in these rural areas and slums where the majority of the populations live.

AMREF also believes that “(l)ittle emphasis is put onto health systems by existing governments due to other pressing needs. One could argue that good health is mainly enjoyed due to the interaction of health-related NGOs.”

In providing healthcare in the underserved areas, AMREF has traditionally used the radio and the airplane to achieve this goal in a program known as clinical outreach, which was the best technology available at the time.

But recently it has developed a program based upon information and computer technologies (ITC) to take its services to the next level. Now, the eighty rural hospitals currently served by AMREF in East Africa will eventually receive the benefit of this technology. This new initiative is called “Outreach Telemedicine.”

This new technology will be used to provide second opinions to clinicians in those hospitals supported by the AMREF outreach program in order improve the quality of care for patients and provide them access to specialist surgery.

Practitioners in the rural areas seldom have the opportunity to improve their skill and knowledge because they have no opportunities for refresher or further training. But now, CME (Continuing Medical Education) courses will be available to these health care professionals through the use of the new technology.

Clinical staff from the rural hospital will be able to send by email to consulting physicians case notes and accompanying images of the patient, X-rays, lesions or any other views necessary for a proper diagnosis. Also the results of diagnostic procedures may be emailed as well. Once the consulting physician receives the transmission he or she may begin the virtual consultation. After the consultation, all of the data can be stored on computers for further reference if needed.

By January 2005 AMREF had four Outreach Telemedicine projects operating – two in Tanzania: Kibondo and Rubyia, one in Kakuma, Kenya and its one in Mandera, Kenya. All four sites are linked to AMREF’s office and laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya.

The further goals of AMREF Outreach Telemedicine initiative are to:

Development of a virtual referral centre

Establish partnerships with academic medical centres

Develop specialist teleconsultation support to pilot sites, particularly radiology, pathology, dermatology and opthalmology.

Produce an AMREF Telemedicine Manual as a tool to establish and maintain future telemedicine sites in austere rural areas

Develop a business plan to sustain the pilot sites after the funding period

AMREF has many more projects that are ongoing and in the works, and we will come back to talk about them from time to time. But for now, if you are interested in the work AMREF is doing, take a look at their web site at:


Because this is just a small part of what they have going on.

Monday, May 16, 2005


In December of 2002 when Oprah Winfrey broke ground for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Nelson Mandela, along with the South African Ministry of Education and the local Provincial Ministry of Education were all right beside her.

They were there because they knew it was the real deal.
"Education is the way to move mountains, to build bridges, to change the world. Education is the path to the future. I believe that education is indeed freedom. With God's help, these girls will be the future leaders on the path to peace in South Africa and the world," said Oprah. But she was not just “talking through her mouth;” she was “putting her money where her mouth is.” Her Oprah Winfrey Foundation is contributing $10 million to build the academy and maintain it (with additional funding from the Department of Education for the province where the school is being located).

The mission of the academy is to teach girls to be the best human beings they can ever be and to train them to become decision-makers and leaders. It is Ms. Winfrey’s hope that the academy will become a model school for the rest of the world. Advanced education techniques and advanced technology including a telecommunications system will allow girls at the academy to explore the changing world beyond their region or their nation. Ms. Winfrey plans from the beginning to take a “hands on” approach to the program by using the advanced technology to teach from Chicago. But the regular faculty and administration would be recruited from the best and the brightest of South Africa's educators.

The students will be chosen from those girls who are academically talented and exhibit leadership skills in their community, but whose families cannot support their education,” according to a web site posted by Oprah.com. The web site went on to state that the academy would begin admitting 75 students in grades 7 through 12 and would continue to add students in the 7th and 10th grades until 450 students are accommodated.

The academy, slated to open in 2006, will be located in the Guateng Province of South Africa on 22 acres of land in Henley-on-Klip, Meyerton. Guateng Province said by some to be destined to become the Silicon Valley of South Africa is a logical for the site which will include state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science labs, as well as a library, an auditorium/gymnasium, an amphitheatre, sports fields, modern dorm facilities and a dining hall. Home to Johannesburg, the commercial capital, as well as Pretoria, the seat of most government branches, the Guateng Province is said by some to be the bellwether of the nation's economy. Its health is critical to the stability of a new democracy where one in three people between the ages of 15 and 65 are unemployed. Young bright leaders in a skilled work force in Guateng Province is a crucial ingredient for the health of South Africa and Oprah intends to stir it into the pot.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls is but one project of the many initiated by The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which was established in 1987 and supports the inspiration, empowerment and education of women, children and families around the world. Through The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Oprah has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that carry out this vision and has contributed tens of millions of dollars towards providing a better education for underserved students.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is a private foundation, but while the work of making the world a better place is a responsibility of each of us individually, but we should never let one individual labor alone in this task. If providing the type of education to young women in South Africa is the type of effort you believe in, learn more about what you can do, go to Oprah’s “Christmas Kindness” page, which can be found at:
Christmas Kindness and click the link titled “What You Can Do”

Or you can go directly to the “What One Person—YOU—Can Do” page at:
What One Person—YOU—Can Do

Don’t just sit back in your chair and root her on with a “You Go Girl!” Pitch in and do something.

Friday, May 13, 2005

STAND UP FOR AFRICA Targets Poverty And Suffering In Africa

Stand Up For Africa (SUFA), a London based, African-led organization states on its Home Web Page that it seeks to “work with the African Diaspora and friends of Africa around the globe to help eradicate poverty in Africa.”

Almost two years old now, SUFA is taking three approaches that it hopes will bring it closer to its goal.

It seeks to engage in Activism: and “work alongside campaigners across the world to Make Poverty History In Africa.”

SUFA takes on Development projects: to “work in partnership with community organisations in Africa to tackle child poverty.”

Its third approach is to foster Youth empowerment: and “involve and support young Diasporic Africans in activism and development on behalf of Africa.”

An independent organization, SUFA is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee in the UK.

SUFA has a sponsorship programme where they now sponsor ten children in Benin. The money from this program comes from donors who are currently giving up to £25 a month

In May of 2003, former model and OXFAM fundraiser, Elsie Nemlin was inspired to found Stand Up For Africa when she attended an OXFAM Fair Trade event and noticed that very few Africans were in attendance. Working on the premise that the best people to help Africa are Africans with the support of the worldwide friends of Africa, Ms. Nemlin brought SUFA into existence in August of 2003.

With one of her goals being the bringing of more attention to the fact that greater effort is needed on the part of the African Diaspora, Ms. Nemlin says: “Africans in the Diaspora are going to have to play a far bigger role than they have so far. It is a must that Diasporic Africans fully participate and engage in campaigning and development work on behalf of the continent if change is to take place.”

Ms. Nemlin says that more voices are needed to advocate change; and she believes that Africans and their friends can make a real difference in supporting and carrying through what the International (Western) Aid agencies have begun for Africa. For example, Ms. Nemlin points out that in the area of child slavery, "there are so many charities working in West Africa, but the problem of child slavery keeps getting worse."

She cites poverty as the root cause of the child slavery problem in West Africa, and poverty in Africa has become one of the main targets she wants to eliminate with the help of the African Diaspora and the friends of Africa.

In July 2004, SUFA published its First report on Child Slavery. That report can be downloaded in PDF format at:

Part 1 explores and defines the various forms that contemporary slavery takes.

Part 2 focuses on child slavery as it occurs in the whole of Africa; the extent of the problem, the countries affected, why it occurs in the first place, and its impact on children and the continent as a whole.

Part 3 looks at child slavery as it occurs in Benin. The section also details the various actions taken in Benin to address the problem.

Ms. Nemlin is also calling for activist tatics at the upcoming G8 conference that the UK will host in Scotland in July 2005. In her appeal for people to get involved, she says:
“The eight world leaders who have the power to make Africa’s poverty history will be in one room in July this year. But the G8 leaders must have the will to change things. And they won't have this will unless a massive movement of ordinary people like us urges them on. So please, join us to make it happen. Please, stand up with SUFA and let’s Make Poverty History in Africa.”

SUFA’s contact information is:
Tel: +44 (0) 207 228 7733
E-mail: admin@standupforafrica.org.uk
PO Box 46815, Battersea, London SW11 5SF

And its web site can be found at the following URL:

SUFA says: “We support and create opportunities for all those who love Africa to help eradicate poverty and suffering across the continent.” So, if you love Africa, why not surf over to Stand Up For Africa’s web site and see what they are up to.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

BETTER WORLD BOOKS Mobilizes Campus Book Drives

Better World Books has only been in existence for three years; but in that time, they have collected over 600,000 books and since 2003 they have funded the shipping of 500,000 books to Africa in partnership with Books For Africa.

Better World Books is able to do this because it has mobilized approximately 300 university campuses to run books drives around the country. They target the books that students are unable to sell back to their campus bookstores. Natasha Harris, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for Better World Books says “Although these books are considered to be ‘dead’ or of ‘no-value,’ we know that there is a great deal that can be done with them in fighting against global illiteracy.”

Better World Books helps to maximize the effectiveness of the campus book drives by providing the student groups conducting the drives with shipping materials such as: cartons, tape, shipping labels. They also provide them with marketing materials: posters, flyers and buttons. In addition to this, Better World Books offers guidance and advice to campus organizations in order to help make their book drives a success.

Better World Books raises funds to ship their books by selling those that can be sold. But their web site boasts: “Since Day we’ve always donated 100% of our profits after costs to charity.”

At their web site a visitor can purchase books as well as help to donate books. Like Amazon.com the site allows one to search for a book by an ISBN number, Author or Title.

In addition to donating books to African communities, Better World Books helps to build libraries in Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam as well as other Asian countries

They have also partnered with local libraries in the U.S. and Goodwill Industries.

Along with the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, Better World Books is supporting Books For Africa drive that began in 2003 to collect and ship one Million books for Nigeria.

In its “Fall 2004 Newsletter” Books For Africa recognized Better World Books as its largest single donor for Fiscal Year 2005 with cash donations totaling $67,100 as well as helping Books For Africa collect 10 million books, a goal that was reached in October 2004.

Books For Africa Executive Director Pat Plonski. Said “We will have the capacity to ship hundreds of thousands of books to Africa as a direct result of this generous support by Better World Books.”

Proud of their relationship with Books for Africa Ms. Harris stated “In the three years of our existence, we have grown to be about 1/3 of Books For Africa's entire operating budget (and they are the largest shipper of donated books to Africa in the world), as well as their largest suppliers of college textbooks.”

Better World Books offers university students six ways to make a difference by helping to collect books.

1. By becoming a Campus Representative and organizing book drives
2. Starting a Bookstore program and collecting books that can not be sold
3. Starting a Library Program to help them market their discards
4. Starting a Thrift Store Program and forwarding books that can not be sold
5. Donating books personally
6. Donating money personally

Better World Books is an organization with a lot of punch. So drop by their web site at:

Fighting illiteracy has to become a high priority goal of the global community.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

AFRICARE: Three Decades Of Effort

It has been a long time since Africare has operated out of a few empty offices at the Embassy of the Republic of Niger in the early seventies.

Stating on its website that Africa is Africare's specialty; Africare boasts that it is the oldest and largest African-American organization in the field of aid to Africa. The organization was founded in 1970 and since that time Africare has delivered more than $450 million in assistance to 35 countries through 2,000 projects.

The brainchild of C. Payne Lucas and Doctor William Kirker, both former Peace Corps workers, Africare began as a health care program.

During the devastating drought in the Sahel region of Africa during the early seventies, Africare carried out many well digging projects. Today, the AIDS crisis its special area of interest. Other projects include the creation of a “digital village” in Soweto township. This project gave the community access to computers and digital libraries. Tutors at the digital village are also trained by Africare.

During the late eighties and the first half of the nineties, Africare was instrumental in placing South African graduate students in internships with U.S. businesses

They also:

Provided business-management training to members of a one of South Africa's largest black-owned farm co-op centered around Duthasa village, supported small business startups and created a microenterprise credit program that fostered economic development in the KwaZulu-Natal and Northern provinces and in the province of Mpumalanga, all provinces in South Africa.

Collaborated in Benin and Mali, with a variety of organizations to improve coordination of lending programs for microenterprise startups, and has also helped several hundred entrepreneurs in Malawi's Thyolo district by providing training in business proposal development and credit management.

Implementing the Ouaddaii Food Security Initiative in the Adre/Abeche corridor in the eastern region of Chad to improve food security and nutrition. Activities include water development (wells, dikes, dam construction), work with women and farmer groups to market harvests, support of income-generating activities, and seed distribution.

With support from the UNHCR, and in coordination with local authorities and other humanitarian agencies, Africare is also proceeding with the Care and Assistance to Sudanese Refugees in Eastern Chad project. This project provides assistance to Sudanese refugees by extending assistance in the areas of sanitation, shelter, community services, education, agriculture, and micro-credit.

Its expertise from many years of engaging in water projects is serving Africare well in a current water project in Uganda’s Ntungamo District. The Ntungamo District has partnered with Africa to provide safe water for human use. Africare is providing the supplies, materials and technical assistance to the people of the District so that they can engage in a self-help effort to obtain safe water from newly construct wells and “protected springs.”

Africare says it carries out this program by first identifying existing water sources. Then the skills available within the local community that can be used to assist in the project are assessed and a strategy is then developed. In these project Africare not only help to develop water resources but it also educates community members in the management of water resources by addressing the issues of water handling and storage. Also the areas of well maintenance, community sanitation and waste disposal are addressed.

There are numerous projects that this Washington, D.C. based organization carries out. Too many for me to highlight in this Blog. So, I highly recommend going to their website:

And taking a look at the things they have done and are doing today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SABRE Listens To Indigenous Organizations

Sabre, a Cambridge, Massachusetts based organization has been successfully distributing books around the world since it was started Book Donation Program in 1986. Sabre has now shipped $200,000,000 worth of new books and other educational materials to more than 80 countries.

Since 2001 most of Sabre's book shipments have gone to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These books are usually new college- and professional-level titles, but it also has high school, elementary and pre-school materials as well.

Sabre Foundation held the first meeting of its sub-Saharan African partner organizations in Accra, Ghana, in January 2002. Subsequently it held another conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in September 2004.

Sabre feels that a great deal of its success is attributable to the fact that they believe when it comes to the educational needs of developing and transitional countries, indigenous organizations know best. And because of this, they have designed a program that is “demand driven,” allowing overseas partners select the books and CD-ROMs that they want from a inventory list that is sent to them electronically.

Sabre obtains its inventory from donating publishers, and as a result, there volumes are new, high quality and up-to-date.

The books are in English, although a significant number of Spanish-language titles have also been added. In addition to books, Sabre holds CD-ROMS that cover many subject areas. Sabre also provides IT and computer training to partner organizations enabling them to take advantage of new technologies as a complement to more traditional media.

Not only is Sabre a 501(c)(3) organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, it is also registered as a Private Voluntary Organization with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Their Home web page states that Sabre provides “Humanitarian Aid for the Mind”

Sabre has also in active in distributing books in the Islamic world.

In September, 2004 Sabre attended the Algiers International Book Fair. This was done as
a pilot project, with the intent of possibly participating at additional fairs in the region.

Over a five day period of the Book Fair that lasted from September 8th until the 18th, Sabre distributed approximately 1,500 books and several hundred CD-ROMs.

The Fondation pour la Promotion de la Santé et le Développement de la Recherche (FOREM), partnered with Sabre on the project. FOREM made the arrangements for Sabre’s presence at the book fair and also distributed some 10,000 more children’s, reference, and medical books.

An unexpected outcome of Sabre’s presence at the book fair is the possibility that one of the books distributed by Sabre might be translated into Arabic. To paraphrase the way the Sabre newsletter put it: At the book fair the General Director of a subscription web site for travel and tourism, business, and geography expressed an interest in translating into Arabic the Harvard Guide to Women’s Health, which Sabre distributed at the Fair. Sabre put this individual in touch with the appropriate person at Harvard University Press, and negotiations are now underway for this translation project.

In addition to its book donation program, Sabre has conducted an IT training program since 1998. It does this by conducting workshops that cater to the specialized needs of librarians, teachers, students, trainers, scholars, entrepreneurs and NGO personnel.

Their website can be found at:


Monday, May 09, 2005

KABISSA: Providing A Space For African NGOs On The Internet

Building civil society is a priority for many non-profit organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

This organization may have its home base in Washington, D.C. but because of it’s presence on the internet its reach is global. And it’s working to give other civil cociety organizations that same global reach.

The name of the organization means “Complete” in Kiswahili and this ties in with its belief that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be a revolutionary force in civil society. And they want to empower African civil society organizations to use ICTs effectively for the benefit of their communities.

According to their web site they are attempting to do this by:

1. ENABLING organizations to access the power of the Internet
2. EMPOWERING organizations to integrate ICTs into their advocacy work
3. ENCOURAGING interaction within African civil society

Kabissa is providing access by hosting the web presence of African civil society organizations.

They also host e-mail accounts and mailing lists as well as web sites without charge.

This includes:

One subdomain
3 mailboxes
Up to 3 mailing lists
25 MB Disc Space
256 MB Bandwidth per month

Kabissa also has a book that can be downloaded for free that is a “How To” guide for having an internet presence. The book entitled “Time to Get Online” provides a self-learning curriculum, but can also be distributed at workshops conducted by ICT instructors. According to their web page, Kabissa is constantly fine tuning its book so as to be best tailored for the needs of African civil society.

In order to foster networking, Kabissa maintains an “African Civil Society Contact Directory” and a that allows for a search of organizations by specific region, country or objective.

Additionally, Kabissa hosts four different types of Mailing Lists for Working Groups, Networks, Newsletters and Conferences.

Kabissa can be found on the web at:


So, if you know of an organization that is aiming to improve civil society in Africa, but does not have the funds to establish a web presence, let them know about Kabissa. It might be their portal to the Information Highway.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

U.S. DOCTORS FOR AFRICA Targets Healthcare

U.S. DOCTORS FOR AFRICA (USDFA) may not be well known among advocates for Africa on the East Coast of the United States, but they are getting a lot of attention in California and are having a great impact among Africans on the Continent.

In their Mission Statement USDFA says that among other projects they “focus on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases affecting Africa, addressing urgent local needs with manpower while working long-term for the creation of self-sustaining and self-directed public heath systems continent-wide.” They accomplish their mission by delivering “multi-disciplinary teams of healthcare professionals and advanced medical technology to those regions most affected by disease.”

Founded by Ted M. Alemayhu, an Ethiopian born physician in California and the current CEO, this 501(c)(3) organization has partnered with such diverse Non-Profit Organizations as:

The William J. Clinton Foundation
Mercy Airlift International
America Women’s Baseball League [which held a 24 hour baseball marathon for fundraising],
as well as with various other non-profits organizations, African nations, communities and hospitals.

In March of 2005 “US Docs” as it is affectionately called by many of its volunteers, in conjunction with the William J. Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, launched a pilot program to support the implementation of Tanzania’s National Care and Treatment Plan 2003-2008. This plan seeks to provide care for 1.2 million patients over five years. During this program approximately 400,000 people are expected to receive antiretroviral medication (ARVs). Additionally, treatment and monitoring will be provided for HIV-positive persons not clinically eligible for highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART).

If you have an interest in combating HIV/AIDS, it might be a good idea to learn more about U.S. Doctors For Africa at their web site.

U.S. Doctors For Africa

And if you are interested, the other non-profits mentioned in this article can be found at:

The William J. Clinton Foundation
Mercy Airlift International
America Women’s Baseball League

Friday, May 06, 2005

GWU STUDENTS ORG. Collect Books For Africa

George Washington University Students will be conducting a book drive on their campus May 9th through May 16th 2005.

The Student Group, which is called “Books For Africa Student Organization” was organized in October 2002 by students at GWU to send college level books to various African communities for use in community libraries and educational centers. And since their founding, Books For Africa Student Organization has collected and delivered over 35,000 volumes to the Continent.

Not only has Books For Africa Student Organization collected books from George Washington University, they have expanded to the campuses of Georgetown, George Mason, John Hopkins and James Madison Universities as well. A chapter of the organization was even founded on at James Madison University in 2004. And according to their web site, located at:

they hope to create additional chapters in the near future.

This highly organized group holds two book drives each year, one in May and the other in December. They chose these times because that is when students have finished with their books for the semester at their University. The founder of this organization said that prior to their book drives, students would discard their books in the rubbish in order to reduce the weight of the luggage to be shipped home. These hard working students even keep a calendar of their book drives posted on their web site as well as a brief “How To” for campus book drives.

Collecting books is easy compared to getting them shipped to Africa, and Books For Africa Student Organization has partnered with such organizations as the World Bank Book Project, Better World Books, and an NGO in Minnesota called “Books for Africa.” Books For Africa Student Organization provides links to these organizations under its “Partnerships” links at its web site.

You’ve gotta admire young people making a difference. If you want to help, or ask them for help, or just show them some LOVE, go to their web site and click their “Get Involved” or “Feedback” links.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

SAFE Brings School Supplies To Sudan

Now that you know what the All African (Self Help) Bazaar is and how it works, we are going to get down to brass tacks. Today I am going to post some information about an organization that is involved in trying to help improve the Quality of Life of Africans by collecting and delivering books to people in The Sudan. The name of the organization is “SAFE.”

SAFE (SUDAN-AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION, INC.) is an organization that, seeks to improve educational opportunities for children and youth in the Sudan by delivering donated books, equipment, and other educational materials needed by schools, colleges, universities and libraries in Sudan.

SAFE is a joint effort by both Americans and Sudanese educators, business people, public officials and other concerned individuals. It was begun in 1985 and since that time has been supported and operated jointly by Americans and Sudanese.

SAFE has no paid staff, and all work is carried out by volunteers in both Sudan and the U.S.

SAFE seeks to acquire books and other educational materials that meet the specific needs identified by Sudanese librarians and educators so that efforts and resources are not wasted collecting and shipping resources that are not appropriate.

SAFE also tries to maximize the use of donated services in order to reduce the expense of carrying out its project so as to maximize the effectiveness of the funds collected from the public and to make the operation as cost effective as possible.

SAFE is a non-profit, tax-exempt [501(c) (3)] organization and has:

Obtained donations of books, journals, and educational equipment and supplies worth more than $2.5 million.

Sent 28 shipments of donated material to Sudan, whose contents were distributed to more than 40 universities, colleges and libraries.

Delivered over 191,000 books and nearly 70,000 issues of scientific, medical, and scholarly journals and a variety of equipment (computers, CD-ROM drives and discs, typewriters, calculators) and supplies. [Data obtained from the SAFE Website]

The SAFE website can be found at:


Well, now that you know who they are, what they do and where you can find them, why don’t you check out their web site and while you’re at it, Show Them Some Love.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


It may be presumptuous to post a Blog entitled the “All African (Self-Help) Bazaar” and there are those who may resent my giving such a sweeping concerns to the writings of one individual. But in my discussions with Africans, both of the Continent and of the Diaspora, it is clear that there are many concerns that seem to be common to a large number of us.

Quality of Life issues are predominant in the daily concerns of Africans. There is a strong interest among most Africans to improve the quality of our lives as a community and to secure for our community those things that we value. Whether those quality of life values involve: Improved health, wealth sharing, respect, power over our own lives, the acquisition of skills and enlightenment, the ability to express affection and to enjoy the affection bestowed by others or the ability to live a life of rectitude in accordance with our own beliefs; these are things we desire.

Traditionally, a Bazaar is the place where people come to commune and exchange what they have for what they need. At this online bazaar it is hoped that quality of life issues can be addressed by members of the African Family who have and resources to share with those in need, and who also seek the abilities and resources of others to help address their own needs.

We are a community (or Family) because most of us claim cultural histories, which (in part) record periods of economic exploitation – either through colonization or enslavement. And most of us give voice to the opinion that lasting effects of those processes of economic exploitation still negatively impact upon our ability to maximize those values by which we measure the quality of our lives. And most of us wish to maximize those values for ourselves and our immediate families – as well as for our African Family. If you need clarification on what I mean when I speak of the “African Family,” you may wish to read the footnote at the end of this article.

So, what specifically am I attempting with this blog?

I wish to try to bring together and provide information to those individuals who are working to improve the quality of life of all members of the African Family – whom I shall simply refer to as “Africans” in the future. There are groups that are seeking to provide assistance in some small (or large) way to Africans in need. There are individuals and groups who know specifically where needs exist and how best to address those needs. And there are those individuals and groups who are seeking the types of assistance that be be offered by visitors to this blog.

It will be my intention to post descriptions of projects being conducted by those who are engaged in the process of trying to assist Africans. I hope to post requests for assistance by those who are seeking assistance in their projects. I also hope to post notices from those individuals and groups who wish to offer resources or other contributions to the various efforts to help Africans.

It might be best at this point to explain by example what the All African Self Help Bazaar intends to do, and how it intends to function.


There are several groups who are engaged in collecting books for schools in different African nations. These efforts include not only identify the sources of the books, acquiring the books, preparing them for shipment, but also shipping them several thousand miles.

There are literally thousands of Africans in the United States alone who have access to used school text books. These individuals can provide information about where those books are, who to contact to try to acquire them books and also what groups or individuals locally might be willing to lend assistance to the acquisition and shipping of those books.

So, for an initial attempt to try to help ourselves, I would like to hear from those individuals and groups who are seeking books and assistance in collecting and delivering those books.

I would also like to hear from those individuals and groups who are in a position to provide information and assistance to those groups who are engaged in book projects.

It is not difficult. One merely needs to submit your comments to the blog by following the directions.


This blog is based upon the premise that individuals who care for the African community have a relationship to one another and a duty to love and care for one another as best we can. And this makes us a “Family.” But to acknowledge our African Family is not to disavow our Global Family of all humankind. But, as there are those who try to improve the world by seeking to assist cities or towns or religious groups, I choose to try to improve the world by seeking to assist my African Family through the use of this blog. There are other blogs that deal with assisting people in other ways, and I encourage all those who choose to do so, to seek out those blogs. If, however, you are interested in improving the quality of life for African people, I hope to be of some service through this blog.

It also needs to be said that anyone who identifies himself or herself as a member of the African Family would be considered to be such in my book.