Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Unite For Sight: Energy In Action

Some people may think that I am showing partiality by writing about some organizations more than once. But I do that because some organizations have so much going on, I think people need to know about it.

Unite For Sight is one of those organizations. I first wrote about Unite For Sight back in July of 2005 and I was very impressed with the organization then. I just received one of their newsletters last week, and they have so much going on I will not be able to talk about it all. I will give you their web site so you can see for yourself, though. In the meantime, I want to point out about a dozen of their projects in the works.

First, the are preparing for their Third Annual International Health Conference that is coming up in New Haven, Connecticut in April. This conference will convene over 600 people from around the globe who are interested in international service, global health, public health, and medicine. This will include: student leaders and activists, doctors, public health professionals, nurses, Peace Corp Volunteers, as well as others. The goal of the conference is to inform the public about health divides and empower them to develop solutions to improve access to care for the medically underserved. The public is invited and urged to participate in plenary sessions and breakout workshops

During the past 6 months Unite For Sight has sponsored 1,700 Sight-Restoring Cataract Surgeries. These surgeries were made possible by generous contributions of time and expertise as well as funding from both volunteers and donors. These sight-restoring cataract surgeries were conducted in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Now Unite For Sight's has set, as its Goal in 2006 at least 4,000 sight-restoring cataract surgeries.

Unite For Site has been successful in encouraging the academic community to support its efforts. As a result, Yale University funds Yale Students who volunteer for Unite For Sight. In 2005, Yale provided financial support for ten students who volunteered in Ghana. This year it will the university will offer 20 total internships with Unite For Sight. In addition to the Yale students who went to Ghana in 2005, additional volunteers participated in Unite For Sight's other country programs in Thailand, Honduras, and Sierra Leone. "Unite For Sight's student volunteers jointly participate with eye doctors on community-based screening programs. The clinic's eye doctors diagnose and treat eye disease in the field, and surgical patients are brought to the eye clinic for surgery. Unite For Sight helps to fund the surgeries for those patients unable to afford eye care."

This year, in addition to Yale, Mount Holyoke College will become an institutional supporter of volunteers participating in Unite For Sight programs. Mount Holyoke's Center for Global Initiatives has pledged to support one of its students in a Unite For Sight program in Ghana during Summer 2006. The student - to be selected through an application process - will receive full funding from the university.

Anyone interested in becoming a Unite For Sight International Volunteer for 2006 or 2007 should be told that positions are still available. These positions are open to both undergraduate and medical students, educators, nurses, and public health professionals, optometrists and ophthalmologists. The application can be found at:

Programs where positions are still available range from Spring of 2006 to Spring 2007 in India, Indian Himalaya, Western Thailand and Ghana.

Unite For Sight is still attracts the support of generous and innovative contributors. Smith Optics recently donated 700 Sunglasses and eyeglass cases to Sierra Leone through Unite For Sight. For those (like me) who did not know, Smith Optics makes highly regarded sunglasses and goggles (such as those used by skiers and snow boarders. This is why they are based in Sun Valley, Idaho. Smith Optics, Inc. was founded in 1965 with the creation of the first goggle featuring a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam. (And from what I understand that is supposed to be something they can be proud of.)

Over one billion people need eyeglasses in developing countries, but the excessive cost and lack of eye doctors are significant barriers. Smith Optics donated the sunglasses and eyeglass cases to Unite For Sight for distribution by its partner eye clinic "Southern Eye" in Serabu, Sierra Leone.

Those of you who read blog regularly may have read the article in November about The Buduburam Refugee Camp . There, refugees from the violence in Liberia have been sheltered at Buduburam in Ghana. Unite For Sight has volunteers from Liberia and Ghana who work in the camp to help with the other refugees in need. Unite For Sight tries to support, and seek support for the educational needs of these students.

Unite For Sight also tries to drum up support for refugee women at Buduburam who make eyeglass cases in order to generate income for the refugee community. The organization does this by promoting the financial success of communities by linking them to world markets. 100% of the revenues support the local community at the Buduburam Refugee Camp. This microenterprise program helps to create a sustainable program in which the local community can fund its own eye care expenses.

Unite For Sight in furtherance of its mission to eliminate preventable blindness has entered into an Eye Health Public Awareness Campaign through the use of Murals in Sierra Leone. They believe that this is crucial because prevention relies on proper education. Unite For Site's newsletter states: "After a city council member in Freetown, Sierra Leone asked Unite For Sight volunteers in a meeting 'aren't there any dangers to wearing sunglasses?', Unite For Sight, Peace Pals Education Network, and the United States Embassy embarked on an aggressive and ongoing public awareness campaign designed to convey basic messages regarding eye health.

With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone, Unite For Sight and Peace Pals Education Network painted twelve large murals with eye health messages in high-traffic locations throughout Freetown. Peace Pals National Coordinator Alex P. Columbus and Unite For Sight volunteer Natan Dotan designed and implemented the project. The murals were painted from September 1 - November 1, 2005 in collaboration with children from the Children in Crisis Orphanage in East Freetown. Many of these children are former combatants. Donald Venn, a Sierra Leonean artist and educator, helped to design the murals and worked with the children during the painting phase."

Unite For Sight has also implemented a cataract surgery program in Taiama Refugee Camp in Sierra Leone with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Unite For Sight is conducting another awareness program in Kumba Cameroon. There, the organization's Chapter is promoting vision education by producing weekly half-hour radio programs that began in late November 2005 and should run through March of 2006.

The main objective of this program is to inform the audience about the various diseases that cause blindness. It is hoped that the programs will also educate listeners on how to recognize eye disease symptoms as well as make people aware of preventive measures against eye disease.

Now, remember, I am just pulling items off of Unite For Sight's Newsletter. And this list is far from exhaustive of the contents of that newsletter. These guys are Energy In Action, so why don't you go to their web site and see all of the things they are doing at Unite For Sight .

Monday, January 30, 2006

THE WHEELCHAIR FOUNDATION : A Truly Inspirational Story

According to its web site, the Wheelchair Foundation delivers Hope, Mobility and Freedom. The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is leading an international effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities. They also seek to promote the joy of giving, create global friendship, and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen and adult in the world who needs one, but cannot afford one. It's a pretty big mission, but this organization seems to be up to the task.

Founded by Kenneth E. Behring, the Wheelchair Foundation is just one more philanthropic effort in the life of this remarkable man who has for many years sought to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the world.

Ken was a successful automobile dealer in Wisconsin, Ken and then entered the world of real estate development in the 1960's. During the next 35 years, through his companies he created numerous planned communities in Florida and California.

In 1988 he purchased the Seattle Seahawks football team and after that Ken established the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation. The Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation benefited numerous children's charities and it was the most substantial donor to the Western Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years.

Ken Behring also founded the Blackhawk Museum and the Behring-Hofmann Educational Institute in Blackhawk, California in the East Bay region (close to where he had created the world-renowned Blackhawk, development near San Francisco). In 1997, Ken pledged $20 million to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and in 2000 he pledged an additional $80 million to rebuild the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. So, it is not difficult to understand that we are talking about someone with a sense of responsibility and generosity.

For years Ken had of donated food, medical supplies, clothing, toys and educational materials as he traveled around the world. It was his personal mission to help those in need, and his first-hand involvement in helping others has given him a realistic picture of how much help is needed worldwide.

In 1999 Ken donated shipments of wheelchairs to relief organizations in Eastern Europe and Africa. Through these projects he gained a greater understanding of how much hope and happiness can be given to a person who receives a wheelchair. Soon after that, he traveled the world delivering wheelchairs to numerous countries. On June 13, 2000 the Wheelchair Foundation was established at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

The Wheelchair Foundation distributes wheelchairs through an established network of non-governmental or other organizations that have ongoing missions in the country of destination. These organizations must be qualified to identify recipients, and certified to import humanitarian aid duty free. They must also take full responsibility for the importation, transportation, and proper distribution of the wheelchairs, and then return photographs to the Wheelchair Foundation of each wheelchair recipient, using the numbered placards and single use cameras that we supply. These photographs are then used to create the "presentation folders" that are sent to Wheelchair Foundation donors.

According to the Wheelchair Foundation, "If all of the criteria listed above are met by an organization in a specific country, then the country is considered by the Wheelchair Foundation to be one with an established and successful distribution relationship. Absolutely no political, ethnic or religious affiliations are considered when evaluating any region of the world for the distribution of wheelchairs."

Since its founding in June 2000, the Wheelchair Foundation have continually worked to develop successful distribution relationships throughout the world. They admit that they have "been forced to remove some countries from the list" of those with an established and successful distribution relationship with the Foundation. But they say that they continue to work for new or better relationships that will allow them to serve more parts of the world under their established program.

Recently the Wheelchair Foundation has amended its policy and now, all wheelchairs delivered to "developed" countries require a sponsorship of $150 each. But the amount required to sponsor wheelchairs to "developing" countries will remain at $75 per wheelchair. For each $75 (or $150 for chairs to developed countries) donated, the Wheelchair Foundation will combine that with funds provided specifically for that purpose and deliver a wheelchair to a child, teen or adult without mobility.

The Wheelchair Foundation donates wheelchairs all over the world, but I am only going to list the countries in Africa that receive these chairs. For a full and complete list, Please visit the Wheelchair Foundation's web site.

Central Africa
Central African Republic

Northern Africa
Western Sahara

Southern Africa
South Africa

Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
Saint Lucia (UK)
Trinidad & Tobago
Virgin Islands (US)

As Saint Lucia is a territory of the UK, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are territories of the US, they are considered "developed countries" and $150 are required to donate wheel chairs to these locations.

The Wheelchair Foundation has many contributors and Sponsors, and some of them are listed below. But I would like to first draw attention the fact that since March of 2001 Rotary Clubs worldwide have sponsored over 100,000 wheelchairs to over 100 countries.

Rotary Clubs and Rotarians

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Oakland Athletics

Smithsonian Magazine


Crystal Cathedral Ministries

Samaritan's Purse

Knights of Columbus


Major League Baseball

Scott's Seafood Restaurant

Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation

The Auto Collections

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ascension Philoptochos of the Oakland Cathedral

That's it; I have to wrap up. But you will be missing a really inspirational experience if you do not visit the web site of The Wheelchair Foundation .

Friday, January 27, 2006


Two weeks ago, when I wrote an article about SkillShare - Namibia I listed several organizations that were supported by that effort. Today, I would like to focus on one of those organizations, The Urban Trust of Namibia (UTN).

The Urban Trust of Namibia was founded in 1994 by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and the Co-operative Housing Foundation. In addition financial assistance was provided by the Ford Foundation.

UTN focuses on "enabling communities, business associations, groups and institutions to promote effective, efficient, democratic and developmental forms of urban governance." Like many very effective non-profit organizations that operate as NGOs, UTN is not member-based, but it is registered as a charitable trust, managed by Board of Trustees.

The Aims & Objectives of the organization are:

- To promote policies for a balanced urban and economic growth that seek to improve the living conditions of the urban poor;
- To encourage policies that foster self-reliance, a sense of community participation in urban management decision-making and implementation;
- To increase the capacity of community-based organisations and manage their own development and resources;
- To empower low income communities through the dissemination of information based on data collection and research on urban management policies practices in Namibia and the region and through imparting of skills and abilities to effectively utilise information, resources and resolve;
- To cooperate with both central and local government agencies in the interest of promoting a democratic pluralist society;
- To promote the Namibian informal, small and medium enterprise sector throughout the policy-making process;
- To strengthen the institutional capacity of UTN to plan and implement initiatives that diversify its financial base and promote its sustainability and the technical capabilities of its staff.

The Target Groups of The Urban Trust of Namibia are:

- Urban Poor
- Local and Regional Urban Policy Makers
- CBOs

It focuses on Five Main Areas of Activities:

i. Research:
Mostly focusing on Urban Policy and Management Housing SME

ii. Training:
- Leadership
- Advocacy
- Skills Building
- Capacity Building

iii. Advocacy and Information:
Information dissemination influencing local authority policy at the local level

iv. Workshops / Meetings:
Awareness workshops on decentralization

v. Publications:
Comparative Study: Local Authorities in Namibia
Newsletter - The 'Urban Talk'

UTN receives its core funding from the Ford Foundation. Additional support has been received from FEF, Canada Fund and the Cooperative Housing Foundation, DED, ADF, UNICEF, NAMDEB, UNDP, and Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). However, UTN seeks to diversify its financial base by also generating funds through service provision.

The Contemporary Africa Database (of institutions) maintained by The Contemporary Africa Database (of The Africa Centre of London has posted a Case Study on Participatory Planning Initiatives that was presented by The Urban Trust of Namibia (Erastus Haufiku)

In that Case Study it states that "Democratic development in Namibia has not enjoyed so much of popular participation from the citizenry, with the exception of the civil society sector that is trying hard to mobilize communities to participate in democratic development process that are aimed at promoting and enhancing civic participation in strengthening governance at different levels of our society."

"Nevertheless citizen participation in democratic process is not exploited to its maximum. And UTN's vision is to help create "a society that is made up of self-reliant communities capable of self-management and determining their own destiny by mobilising local and other resources and promoting participatory and more equitable development."

"The Case Study is too long to include in this article in its entirety, but I would like to mention a project or two that are mention in the Study. One of these is the "Participatory approaches within Informal market Development Project."

This project has been developed with the aim of enhancing civic participation in market development planning and management. The project was develop to present an alternative models of Industrial Markets Development concept of the Namibia Development corporation that has not make much success in Namibia and also other approaches of similar nature by various local authorities of Namibia in their attempts of constructing market sides for the communities for trading.

"Most of this market have turned into white elephants or with some the initial purpose was compromise and the markets were turned into a business stalls for more advance business people. Most institutions are more result oriented and rash into things to expected better results with limited inputs into the process. In the case of above approaches the money is availed for the design and the construction of the markets with less time spent on generating the inputs from the people that will ultimately use the infrastructure and once the infrastructure is not sufficient to the clients then they immediately turn away from using the infrastructure with the result that resources are waisted for something that is not optimum used by the intended clients.

UTN has successfully advocated with the Local Authorities of three towns Namely Tsumeb Otavi and Windhoek to allow the participation of the local community in the planning and management of the informal markets. UTN believes that informal market tenants knows what exactly they would want the markets to look and how they want to operate on this markets. Allowing them in decision-making provides with the opportunity to influence the face of final products, which they feel ownership to and they ultimately make the optimum use of the infrastructure.

UTN started the project by organising a group of people into a committee that will be responsible for market management at the end. UTN took this group of people through capacity building programme to enable them to effectively articulate their need and aspirations with regard to their involvement in the informal market development initiatives.

One of the interesting developments that have taken place in Otavi is that there was a plot allocated by the Local Authorities for the construction of the Informal market, UTN has solicited resources from Africa Development Foundation to cover for the cost of construction of the Market. The community appreciated and thanked the municipality for its generous offer of the plot but the Market committee have indicated to the municipality that the side where the plot was offered was not strategically located to attract clients. They have requested the Local Authorities to identify suitable side that is strategically located and in easy reach to attract customers. Discussion on the suitable side for the market has went on for about Five Months between the Market Committee and The Local Authority.

What is interesting to note during the discussion process was that the committee has put their proposal forward on the suitable side and has motivated the suitability of the side they prefer the Market to be constructed. When UTN was approach by the Local Authorities for commend, UTN informed the Local Authorities that UTN not be part of this discussions directly but rather just to facilitate the process toward the solution of the problem since it does not have the mandate to decide on the side. UTN however informed the Local Authority that it is not surprise by the differences that has arose between the Local Authorities and Market Committee since it is healthy and encourage to allow dialogue between the stakeholders who wish to clear up differences on issues that are of common interest. I would say that progress has been made in solving the Market location problem, Local Authorities have considered the proposal from the Market committee and is finalising the decision on the request.

This indeed is the interesting and the outstanding learning experience, which UTN has observed and could regard as one of the best examples of participatory process where stakeholders are given the equal platforms to dialogue with the aim of reaching at the same end or solution with the political representatives at the local level."

Well, it looks like I only have time to review one project of the Urban Trust of Namabia, but please read the Case Study for yourself and visit the Contemporary Africa Database site on the Urban Trust of Namibia as well as the United Nation Association's Pilot Site for the Omusati Region that it has initiated in partnership with the Urban Trust of Namibia.

The Research And Teaching On Human Rights, Gender Issues And Democracy In Southern Africa site for the Urban Trust of Namibia can be found at this link.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONAL : If you want to get the word out.

When you first look at th web site for Media for Development International (MFDI) you may think that it is a commercial site despite its ".org" web address. But after you take look at what they are doing, you realize that it is an NGO tackling many of the problems facing Africa.

A quick rundown of some of its most recent movies will illustrate this.

MFDI helped to organize the premier for SHANDA, a new film made by Cross Culture in Zimbabwe and they partially supported it. SHANDA is "the life story of Oliver Mtukudzi (Tuku), one of today's most popular musicians in Zimbabwe." Mtukudzi also talks about his role as an AIDS spokesman in Zimbabwe. He has been a AIDS spokesman because he's been a very popular entertainer in Zimbabwe for years. In addition to its involvement in SHANDA, MFDI has worked with Mtukudzi on several projects, and helped get him interested in AIDS. MFDI even sponsored him to sing one of Africa's first AIDS songs at the first World AIDS Day in Geneva in the 1980s.

The film was primarily funded by a soft loan from the Media for Development Property Trust's revolving fund. This revolving fund was indirectly financed by MFDI several year ago.

Additionally, through efforts of MFDI a rough cut of the video was shown to Bonnie Raitt, who loved the film and offered to be involved in the premier. Ms. Raitt has also long been friends with Tuku, and has bought several of his songs, including "Hear Me Lord" included in her latest album. At the premier, Ms. Raitt gave a heart-warming speech. In addition to Bonnie Raitt, Huey Lewis, Micky Hart (drummer for the Grateful Dead), Gordon Radley (CEO of George Lucas Films) and several academy award winning documentary filmmakers were present at the premier.

MFDI is also distributing a new video title called "DUARA". "DUARA" was a video pilot project collaboration between West Virginia State College and the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, filmmaking program. The video is 28-minutes long and there is also a 24-minute "Making of Duara" documentary called "Sound the Drum" as well.

The well-known Kenyan filmmakers Stephen Makau of Worldview-Kenya and Albert Wandago of Alwan Communications have 2 new titles that are currently being made available by MFDI. "Life Must Continue" is a 35-minute video that deals with AIDS and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). "Naliaka is Going" is also a video about AIDS but covers the issue of girls education as well. This video is 85 minutes in length.

Over the past few years MFDI has undergone a slow transformation. From the 1980s to a few years ago, the principals of MFDI carried out their work through DSR, Inc, (which is now solely a computer business, based in the state of Maryland in the USA. DSR provided a very large portion of the financial and logistical support to the African film work of the organization in the early years. And it continues to provide support today.

MFDI is a 501©3 non-profit corporation located in the U.S. and has been operating for over 10 years. MDI is also closely related to Media for Development Trust (MFD) a Zimbabwean registered charity. MFDI's web site says that the two "have been sister agencies for about 15 years now, both were initially funded by DSR, Inc. MFDI provides support to MFD in Zimbabwe, and they work together in film productions as well as distributing African social message films and videos." MFDI also says that some of the films that they have produced have been some of the most widely viewed films throughout Africa.

While all of the titles in MFDI's stocks are available in English, many are available in several other languages. Additionally all titles are available in the VHS PAL and NTSC formats, and the French ones are also available in SECAM. MFDI tries to make the titles as available as possible because their motto is "A video is only as good as the number of people that see it."

MFDI sells videos to support the emerging African cinema industry, and regularly sends out royalty checks to African filmmakers, but it believes that its main contribution is "just keeping these titles available and getting them to audiences." Over the last 15 years, MFDI and its sub-distributors have distributed many thousands of videos and had hundreds of these videos broadcast on television stations. Most of the distribution and television broadcasts have been in Africa nations, but they have been distributed and viewed in other nations as well.

MFDI's main marketing tool, which is its catalog is now available online. In the catalog, titles are listed under categories, such as AIDS, Family Planning. In addition the listing by categories there is a search engine. Each title lists the synopsis, length of video, production information, formats and languages they are available in and price. Also there is a page listing the various languages in which the titles are available. Additionally, dubbing rights for most titles are available for those who are interested in making additional language versions of a title.

MFDI's web site also has a list of African sub-distributors from whom most titles can be ordered locally as well.

MFDI also has an African cinema email list server (that the call a "conference") that is free. The conference is for the discussion of African Cinema and currently has about 200 members globally. The conference has been operating since early 1996 and includes a variety of information on African cinema; including press releases about new books and articles, films and videos and as well as other resources relating to African cinema. Information on the conference can be found at the MFDI web site.

The various categories in which films and videos can be found are as follows:

Agriculture/Ecology/Socio-Economic Videos
AIDS Videos
Conflict videos
Cultural videos
Education & Training videos
Feature Films
General Health videos
New Titles
Teenage Pregnancy / Family planning videos
Women's Issue videos

I started out trying to list many of the titles that they have, but the number was too great. Just to give you an example, there are 31 AIDS videos alone.

MFDI is a 501©3 non-profit, registered by the US government. It has been active since 1990. MFDI owns no significant non-financial assets other than office equipment, many files and office and shipping supplies. It holds about 1,000 VHS videos of inventory at any time (valued at about US$6,500), as well as a number of 16mm and 35mm films, posters and promotional documents and materials. Copies of MFDI's Form 990 (annual IRS tax submission) are available from MFDI, or on www.guidestar.org .

MFDI posts it total annual income since the year 1990 as well as its sponsors. Some of its Major Sponsors include:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
DSR, Inc / Steve & Sally Smith
DFID / Department for International Development
Family Health International (FHI)
Ford Foundation
The John D McArthur Foundation
Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (JHU/CCP)
Pathfinder International
Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA)

In addition to the major sponsors there are also additional donors who have made Significant Contributions to MFDI. Those include, in part:

Anglo-American Corporation Zimbabwe
The Botswana government
British Petroleum (BP)
Canada Fund
Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)
Federation of Ugandan Employers
Johns Hopkins Program for Int'l Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO)
Kenya Institute of Mass Communication
National Video Resources
Norwegian Royal Agency for Development (NORAD)
PLAN International / Zimbabwe
Red Cross
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Rockefeller Foundation
Street Kids International
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Western Union
The World Bank

This is just a partial listing of these donors and the full list can be found at the MFDI web site. Finally, it should be said that over 10 private donors have contributed to the organization.

In addition the donations MFDI has earned interest and dividends on its savings accounts of about $35,000 and has received royalty payments of about $15,000 on video sales.

MFDI has Affiliate Distributors in the follow countries.

Africa Consultants International (ACI)

Film Resource Unit (FRU)

TANZANIA: No web site found
Kwanzaa Productions

Media for Development Trust (MFD)

As usual, there is too much to tell in an article, so I urge you to visit Media for Development International and see if there is a socially significant film or video you can use to get out your message.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

WOTCLEF : Restoring Human Dignity

Chief Mrs. Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar is the wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar. But Mrs. Abubakar does more than just attend state dinners and show up at photo ops. She is a woman of action and a woman with a mission. And one of her missions is the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF).

According to WOTCLEF's website its work is "geared towards the eradication of modern slavery the victims of which are women and children;" and its aim is to "Restore Human Dignity in those who have had theirs forcibly taken away from them while enlightening others about the dangers that lurk around them and in our societies today." And they believe that when this is accomplished then these victims can "be better human beings as well as assets to our communities."

Founded in 1999 by Mrs. Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar, The Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation is headed by an Executive Board of Trustees and has its headquarter in Abuja. Nigeria. WOTCLEF is also a registered and incorporated Trusteeship under Nigerian Law with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

In its Mission Statement WOTCLEF says that it is a "frontline non-governmental Organisation with the avowed responsibility of building community awareness and action against abuse of the rights of women and children and the foremost non-governmental alternative to development." And its areas of focus are:
o Human Trafficking
o Child Labour
o Violent Abuses of Women and Children
o Youth and Child Development
o Community Development
o Integrated Health and Education (including HIV/AIDS)

This Focus is intended to achieve the following objectives:
o To place the African dimension of Trafficking and Child labour on the global agenda for special attention and action
o To mobilize and motivate stakeholders at all levels to respond to the challenges posed by trafficking, Child labour and violent abuses of the rights of Women and Children
o To generate, organize and disseminate critical data and up to date information about trafficking and Child labour.
o To produce and public materials towards sensitization of the local, regional and global public about the problem.
o To rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims into their communities in accordance with their best interests.
o To network and collaborate with concerned parties worldwide towards eradication of trafficking, Child labour and violent abuses of Women's and Children's rights.
o To establish the WOTCLEF Rehabilitation and Special Purpose Centre in Abuja, Nigeria with Africa and worldwide affiliations.
o To establish special schools programmes for its 'catch them young' scheme.
o To work with relevant partners and concerned parities for the enactment and enforcement of appropriate legislation against trafficking, Child labour and violent abuses of the rights of Women and Children.

WOTCLEF operates through a team of staff members and volunteers at its head office in addition to WOTCLEF Clubs in States throughout the federation and internationally. The staff, volunteers and club members have expertise in the fields of:
Child labour
Child abuse and
Issues of violence against Women

Additionally they have expertise in:
Integrated health education
Youth and community development and are
Available for project and consultation assignments.

It is through the following strategies that WOTCLF accomplishes its mission:

o Legal Advocacy covers legal representation of victims of these abuses. >>Click here to know more about the Anti-Trafficking Act!
o Legislative Advocacy deals with sensitization of policy makers and stimulating the adoption of best practices into policy in governmental and non- governmental fields.
o Policy Advocacy deals with sensitization of policy makers and stimulating the adoption of best practices into policy and both governmental and on- governmental fields.
o Advocacy meetings, workshops etc for opinion leaders,
o NGOs, professionals and the media.
o Sensitization of the public, especially segments of the population at risk.
o Training in aspects of development and community involvements in the protection of the rights of women and children.
o Training of trainers
o Training towards the promotion of health and prevention in the fields of sexual health and HIV/AIDS
o Youth-friendly services.
o Advocacy skills training with a focus on partnership between civil society and governmental agencies.

Rehabilitation and Counseling
o Counseling of victims of trafficking, Child labour and violent abuses agianst Women and Children.
o Rehabilitation and skills acquisition training of victims of these abuses.

Technical Assistance and Cooperation
o Programme and project development in areas with incidences of trafficking, child labour, etc.
o Partnership with communities through WOTCLEF Clubs, Vanguards etc.
o The building and sustenance of viable networks.
o Auditing and quality assurance of programmes and projects.
o Feasibility studies
o Organisation of workshops and other opportunities to exchange experiences and develop new approaches towards protection of Women and Children's rights.

Research and Publishing
o Assembling, packaging and delivery of the best thinking and practice concerning WOTCLEF's focus areas.
o Policy research and public discourse on areas of WOTCEF concern.
o On-line services with a focus on trafficking, Child labour and violent abuses of the rights of Women and Children.

The Youth Programme
"The youth programme consists of school clubs and youth bodies which focus on life skills training for the youth, girls child empowerment and the development of a new youth culture of service encompassing the building of competence, confidence, character, connections and contribution."

Institutional Collaboration
"WOTCLEF cooperates with a number of local and international bodies including the ILO/IPEC, UNICEF, IOM, NAPTIP, the National Council of Women's' Societies and a host of others. Also, WOTCLEF works with local law enforcement authorities to strengthen institutional capacity for dealing with trafficking and child labour. The aim is to promote mutual development of competence and long-term capacity building through joint pilot projects." And

WOTCLEF Networks
"The importance of networks, local national and international cannot be overemphasized and being a part of, building and maintaining such networks is a cardinal aim of WOTCLEF."

Integrated Health And Community Development
"This in summary, covers HIV/AIDS awareness amongst the youth, especially youth out of school and education on child spacing, family planning, adolescent reproductive health and family life education. The methods of achieving these are built into the programmes."

Since 1999 WOTCLEF has initiated and participated in many projects designed to further its goals. Below is a partial listing.

11th October 1999 - National Workshop on Women Trafficking and Child Labour Migration.

9th April 2000 - 1 Day Rehabilitation/Orientation Programme for the Deported Trafficked Persons, 25 of them.

11th April 2000 - Panel Discussion 1 - Day In-House Panel Discussion on Poverty as a factor in causes of Trafficking.

27th April 2000 - Rehabilitation assistance to 2 victims of women trafficking Purpose/Goal: To resettle and empower trafficked persons

10-11th July 2000 - Post Beijing + 5 Workshop.
Theme: Harnessing the Gains of Beijing + 5 for the WOTCLEF Agenda.

10 May 2002 - Graduating ceremony for the first batch of WOTCLEF trained victims of human trafficking. The WOTCLEF-NAPEP grandaunts were also graduated that day.

National Essay Competition - Organised for young girls in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria to celebrate the Year 2001 International Women's Day.

October 2003 - Red Card to Child Labour
Theme: A project carried out with financial sponsorship from the ILO aimed at eradicating child labour by top soccer stars and notable dignitaries. The programme was planned to coincide with the 8th All African Games (COJA) which was held in Nigeria from the 4th to the 18th of October 2003.

3rd of December 2003 - Panel Discussion on "Cross Border Trafficking in Women and Children"
Theme: A Panel Discussion on "Cross Border Trafficking in Women and Children", was held as part of the People's Forum at the Commonwealth Head of Governments' Meeting (CHOGM) on the 3rd of December 2003 at the Protea Hotel, Abuja.

10th January 2004 - "Battle of Hope" a partnership project designed to match the Nigerian initiative, commitment and drive towards fighting HIV/AIDS pandemic and Human Trafficking using sports and music with the catalytic strength of international support.

April 24-30, 2004 - AFRICANWOMAN2004 International Conference on African Woman and Gender Development, Abuja - Nigeria.

July 28, 2004 - Workshop on Presentation & Review of HIV/AIDS Teachers Training Manual for Secondary Schools.

On the 12th of October 2005WOTCLEF marked her 6th year anniversary. The occasion was also used to celebrate "WOTCLEF Children of Colour" in which the theme was "Globalization and the Nigerian Child." The unique features of the celebration were the presentations of papers by children on "The Effects of Globalization on The Child in Developing Countries Especially Nigeria" and "The Effects of Trafficking in Persons and Child Labour on The Nigerian Child."

In addition to other aspects of the celebration to mark the occasion, there were dramatic presentations and poetry recitations by children from different parts of the country.

Finally, it needs to be said that WOTCLF has provided some of its resource data on its web site and that data can be found on its Resources & Publications page.

Those resources include:

A Study on Trafficking in Women in East Africa
"A situational analysis including current NGO and Governmental activities, as well as future opportunities, to address trafficking in women and girls in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria."

"Key factors that increase a child's vulnerability to trafficking."

"Executive summary and background based upon plenary deliberations and position papers delivered during africanwoman2004 conference agenda sessions April 26-29, 2004."

(IPEC) - FACTS SHEET - "Education's role in combating child labour."
(IPEC) - FACTS SHEET - "The HIV/AIDS crisis and child labour"
(IPEC) - FACTS SHEET - "Child labour monitoring"
(IPEC) - FACTS SHEET - "Commercial sexual exploitation of children"
(IPEC) - FACTS SHEET - "Child domestic labour"

So, I strongly recommend to you a visit to the web site of Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation .

Monday, January 23, 2006


For those of you who need proof that: "Where There Is A Will, there Is A Way," I would like to introduce you to The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop.

The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop is a non-governmental, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote women's empowerment through involvement in the auto-mechanic profession. This may give some pause to those men who do not believe that a woman can find her way around an automobile beyond the accelerator and brake, but Lady Mechanic proves otherwise.

The ultimate focus of the Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop is to "invest in the girl child." this was the vision of Sandra E. Aguebor the initiator of Lady Mechanic. Ms. Aguebor, who is described as a young, dynamic, exemplary and self-driven Nigerian who is the "foremost female auto-mechanic with a rare passion for lifting the fortunes of the women folk through development of the initiative." The Initiative also seeks to democratize the involvement of ladies in the auto-mechanic profession / business.

In 1997, Ms. Aguebor became consistently involved in the exposure and training of hundreds of Nigerian females in the auto-mechanic profession. And since that time, about fifteen ladies have fully undergone the scheme for free. Also, since 1997 the Initiative has won high acclaim and been commended by national and international organizations. The Initiative has also been the subject of much media coverage, both print and broadcast.

The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop's web page states that they have successfully trained three girls, one of whom has her own workshop and the other two are working with reputable organizations.

Currently, 28 girls are in training at the workshop. According to the web site among these 28 girls, some of them were once involved in commercial sex work; others are with school certificates but could not afford to further their education. Some of the women were street vendors such as water hawkers and medicine sellers. Ms. Aguebor was able to talk these ladies into acquiring auto-mechanic skills so that they can live meaningful lives and have a positive impact to themselves and the society.

The Matron of The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop is the wife of the vice president of the federal republic of Nigeria and the founder of WOTCLEF, Her Excelency Chief (Mrs.) Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar (WOTCLEF is the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation). In addition to Mrs. Abubakar, other Directors are: Ms. Aguebor, Stephenie Feckzo of Carbley's Garage in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S., Senator Daisy Danjuma, Chairman Committee For Women Affairs Member House Of Senate ( FRN), Lucille Treganowan, Transmission Expert and owner of Lucille's Car Care Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S. (and whom some call the most renowned female mechanic in America ) and Mr. Henry E. Omoragbon, Acting Managing Director AIICO Insurance (Nig.)

Because automobile repair has been a male dominated profession, local and international news and print media have recognized the performance and the quality of work of The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop. Among the Initiatives other clients, they maintain the fleets of vehicles for both BBC and CNN which are located in Nigeria.

The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop's web site says that currently, Ms. Aguebor has plans to travel to Germany for further automobile studies so that she can further train the girls in her program.

The organization makes it very clear that it is interested in partnering with any individuals, or organizations with a commitment to improve the lives of women girls. And for that reason, they have partnered with: WOTCLEF , the National Council of Women Society (NCWS), the Ministry for Women Affairs, Peugeot Automobile, and Nigeria Kaduna (PAN). They say that they "welcome any individual or organizations both local and international to partake in the struggle for women empowerment."

And with their partners they seek to target females with school certificate who do not intend to further their education for any reason, commercial sex workers on the streets, female deportees from abroad who want to re-integrate into the society and married women who intend to acquire mechanical skills. And they hope to soon be able to assist these women in the 36 states of Nigeria and FCT(Abuja).

The Overall Objectives of The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop are:

* To mobilize female participation in auto mechanic profession through seminars, consultations, multi media campaign, workshops, public forum etc.

* To give strong support to the women gender for their rightful places in our male dominated society.

* To minimize poverty level among women through which trained female mechanic will be given micro credit to open their own workshops.

* To reduce the level of prostitution and unemployment among the women population.

* To work and create partnership with major car care owners in the 36 states of the federation and internationally.

* To mobilize and engage multi-sectoral and trans-agency resource providers for the sustenance and holistic development of the struggle for empowerment.

* To promote women productivity and creativity in the society.

* To create auto mechanic apprenticeship and internship programs around Nigeria and the world in general.

* To increase awareness for the use of technology among women.

So, move over guys, the ladies are making their way in the auto repair profession, so wish them Much Success and visit the web site of The Lady Mechanic Initiative Workshop and read about the great work they are doing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

IVF: Getting The Word Out Through Film

While I was writing about the cool videos and the awardees of Staying Alive yesterday (see January 18th Article) I came across the name of Belinda Ngwadzai of Zimbabwe who works with the International Video Fair Trust. I will tell you more about Belinda later, but first I want to talk about the organization with which she works.

The International Video Fair (IVF) is a non-profit trust founded and based in Zimbabwe and uses film as a medium to disseminate development oriented information to its target audiences. IVH uses its "edu-tainment" / social marketing project to conduct free film screenings to mass audiences. These screenings are always open to the public.

The films screened by IVF address key social issues and issues involving development. These are the two issues that IVF believes are most relevant to local communities to whom they wish to deliver the messages. And through these screening, IVF provides crucial educational information for their many target communities.

The objectives of IVF are:

- To educate urban and local communities regarding crucial social and developmental concerns in a strategic program towards behavior modification,

- To cater to communities that have limited or no access to other forms of media based education and where specific development and social concerns are most prevalent and most threatening,

- To create local awareness and appreciation for African films and contribute to the development of infrastructure within the film industry in Africa,

- To exhibit and promote films which reflect the aspirations of Africans and which advance self-determination and equality within African people;

- To promote & support the development of local productions, with a clear focus on films that serve a developmental / cultural purpose.

IVF believes that they are very unique because their operations "have the capacity to congregate captive audiences and address them within the context of an entertainment event." They also believe that their strategy for deploying knowledge has many advantages over disseminating information through other forms of media.

IVF sees their potential for reaching target populations as being practically unlimited, and that, they believe is their greatest advantage. IVF conducts "screening road shows" that reach audiences that have little or no access to radio, television and newspaper media. And. unlike television and radio, IVF's real-time presence in local communities enables them to get to know their audience, gauge their response to the educational messages and to conduct thorough evaluations if the programs effectiveness. This helps to ensure a greater impact on those target audiences. In addition to the videos and as a core part of their programming, IVF often has speakers, who are experts in subject field, address the audience and initiate audience discussion before and after screening the film screenings.

A list of the films and a brief description of their topics in the words of IVF are listed below:

40 minutes, South Africa

"This is a realistic and moving film about an event that touches everybody. More than 12 000 mothers a year give birth in the Chris Hani Hospital in Johannesburg. Nearly 50% are HIV positive. The film shows the struggle of one woman after she finds out she is HIV positiv and how access to treatment can save the life of her baby. Also featured are the tasks and accompanying feelingsof the hospital staff around her: a doctor, nurse, counsellor and a cleaner."

40 minutes, Mozambique/South Africa

"Joachim is a migrant labourer who is torn between his responsibilities for his junior wife in South Africa and his senior wife and family in Mozambique. When visiting his home village after a long absence, he is also torn between his understanding of the responsibilities of his HIV positive status and what traditional society expects of him as a man. He has to make a choice: he cannot please and protect everybody at the same time.What will he choose?"

26 minutes, Zimbabwe

"A national hero turns public enemy when he confesses his tragic secret. Gilbert Josamu, Zimbabwean middleweight boxing champion, discovered he was HIV postive at the heightof his career, but forged his medical certificates and contiuned to box. Just months before he died Josamu finally confessed to having lived with HIV for 14 years. The public outrage that followed forced heim into his toughest fight yet-the battle for acceptance. A story told by those who are still alive."

26 minutes, South Africa

A mother and daughter are in a crisis because of their different responses to AIDS. Pinky, flamboyant and loud, lets everyone know she is HIV positive. Ntombi is battling to be just like everyone else. But her mother's courageous and touching refusal to be quiet or passive in the face of AIDS, sets them both apart.

26 minutes, South Africa

"Memory is one of the 75 000 street kids in Lusaka, most of them orphans due to AIDS. Although she is hard, streetwise and ready to fight, she has a softer side which influences her daily life, like finding a way to watch the solar eclipse, getting her hair braided, cooking, singing and talking with her friends. She is a street child child who fights for, and finds-her own identity and destiny. Vulnerable, yet strong, Memory is a compelling character.

7 minutes, Zimbabwe

"Issues around inheritence have a new twist these days in rural Zimbabwe. When Mai Tawanda is instructed by the elders to marry her dead husband's brother, she protests. "My husband, your brother, died of AIDS. I am HIV positive." The elders , saying she bewitched her late husband, dismiss her claims, thus revealing the problem of denial in rural communities in Southern Africa."

:: minutes, Zimbabwe

'Is a short film that IVF has done based on the current HIV/AIDS campaign. Belinda the Zimbabwean facilitator was filmed together with the roadshow crew. Through her discussion and her discussion and her life story, her testimonies inspired and motivated not only the audience, but also the crew members to go and get tested."

And this brings us back to Belinda, the Award Winning young activist who Staying Alive highlighted by saying that she is "21 and working with the International Video Fair Trust to educate communities on HIV and AIDS, teenage sex and pregnancy and gender issues through the use of videos to audiences who have no access to mainstream media."

And these guys are serious about getting the word out. A quick glimpse at the data provided by IVF and I found that in Mozambique alone, IVF had 139 screenings between February 25, 2004 and October 27, 2004 that reached 393,400 viewers . And In South Africa they reached 117,550 viewers in 143 screenings in 2004.

The sponsors of IVF are:

Swedish SIDA
MS Zimbabwe
German Development Services
Experiential Marketing (link not found)

If you make a visit to the International Video Fair Trust , you will see that they have a lot going on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

STAYING ALIVE : Fighting AIDS With Cool Videos And More

I found out about Staying Alive site today because I was notified that Fredrick Ouka, a Local Representative of one of the Nabuur Villages was awarded the sum of $1,000 by Staying Alive to conduct his HIV/AIDS awareness program.

Staying Alive says that it is an "international campaign which provides information on HIV/AIDS prevention and protection, promotes safer lifestyle choices and encourages people to fight the stigma and discrimination which still surrounds the disease."

Staying Alive is actually a a partnership between MTV Networks International, YouthNet spearheaded by Family Health International, the Kaiser Family Foundation, USAID, UNAIDS, UNFPA, The World Bank, DFID, SIDA and other organizations.

This partnership was begun in 1998 when an award-winning documentary about six young people from around the world and how their lives had been affected by HIV/AIDS. Since that time, Staying Alive has expanded to become a global campaign promoting awareness, involvement and tolerance.

A wide range of programmes and public service announcements, documentaries and major concerts are provided free to broadcasters around the world by Staying Alive.

On the Staying Alive website you can also to watch some of the award-winning Staying Alive concerts, documentaries and TV campaigns from around the world. They also encourage broadcasters to request their programming that is available free of charge and rights-free. The email address to contact to request this programming is info@staying-alive.org.

In addition to making available video material available on their web site and encouraging broadcasters to use that material, they also encourage bloggers to include the Staying Alive videos on their pages.

Some of the videos available at Staying Alive are:

Transit is Staying Alive's first ever TV film, which premiered on World Aids Day in 2005

Spots 2005
This site contains new spots from around the world, including Brazil, South-Africa, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

The Hands spot is the winner of the Staying Alive- Creative Review competition.

Staying Alive: This is not a commercial
This is Staying Alive's latest production, which features celebrity and real life opinions on some of the most famous and infamous examples of AIDS awareness adverts from around the world over the last 2 decades!

Save The Humans
In this video, the United Nations of Animals debate the future of the human race in 3D animations created for Staying Alive, and which Staying Alive says is "stunning."

Ninja: The Enduring Master
This is another animated spot that was created by MTV China .

PSA Gallery
These are inspiring short films from around the world that Staying Alive encourages Bloggers and webmasters to use on their websites.

2000 Concert Highlights
These are highlights from the World AIDS Day concerts in 2000.

Concert 2002
This video features Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Missy Elliot and others in their historic concerts to mark World AIDS day in 2002.

Because there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, Staying Alive says that they can to protect people and make the world a better place for those living with HIV/AIDS. So in addition to the very informative and very entertaining videos they have the following major sections to their web site:

Believing that "Knowledge is the key weapon in stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS" Staying Alive provides the following sections with various information about:

- What are HIV & AIDS?
- How is HIV transmitted?
- Women and HIV/AIDS
- AIDS today
- Who gets AIDS?
- Getting tested for HIV
- Just got your results?
- Safer Sex
- How to use a condom
- Drug Use & HIV
- Not now (about waiting before having sex)
- Other STIs


At this section of the site they tell people how they can
- Become a Peer Educator
- Fight Discrimination
- Sign a Petition
- Link to us
- Downloads
- Jerusalem AIDS Project


Here they list 27 organizations (with links to their web sites) that provide information and assistance regarding HIV/AIDS

I would like to return to the awards that were given to your adults this year for their work in HIV/AIDS awareness. Awards were made globally, but I am only going to list the 21 young African adults who received awards. However, I strongly urge you to go to Staying Alive's awards page to read about all of the other awardees as well.

The African awardees are as follows (and I have just posted their text verbatim):

Hakima Djouadi (Algeria) - Hakima is a 23 year old actress and volunteer with AIDS ALGERIE, an organization that uses local theatre to teach how HIV and AIDS is transmitted and the methods of protection.

Mohammad El-Sheikh and Ahmed Malah (Egypt) - Mohammed is 23 and Ahmed is 20 and they are members of the Egyptian Family Planning Association school where they provide information on HIV and AIDS and train secondary students to coordinate efforts. www.efpa-eg.net

Elvis Donkoh (Ghana) - Elvis is 23 helps the Passion for Life Project train youth as community HIV and AIDS volunteers and to offer free VCT services.

Fredrick Ouka (Kenya) - Fredrick is 23 is a member of Kibera Community Youth Programme, an organization that use plays, poems, songs and dances that deliver HIV and AIDS education in an "edutaining" way to instill easy learning. www.kcyp.kabissa.org

Gilbert Makanda Murasi (Kenya) - Gilbert is 23 and is a member of Talking Horn Theater Club, a community based organization that uses participatory theatre to educate youth and community members on HIV and AIDS and reproductive health.

Hanatu Bawa (Nigeria) - Hanatu is 24 and interprets HIV and AIDS interventions into local languages for uneducated women in the grass root as part of the Local Voices Project with Unique AIDS Control Organization.

Onyinye Ndubuisi (Nigeria) - Onyinye is 23 trains and builds the capacity of young people to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS using peer education for behavioural change. This is a program of the Economic and Social Empowerment of Rural Communities.

Kingsley Essomeonu (Nigeria) - Kinglsey is 24 and volunteers with YOUNGIES, a program that harnesses arts and creativity to remove/curb the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS as well as promote safe sex among youths.

Onyeka Geraldine Bako (Nigeria) - Onyyeka is 20 and working with Good Neighbour's Making A Change: Leadership through Sport initiative which trains football captains to lead and educate members of their club on HIV and AIDS.

Eunice Aghete (Nigeria) - Eunice is 20 and volunteers with Education Vaccine against AIDS (EVA) to mainstream HIV and AIDS information for the hearing impaired. www.evanigeria.org

David Habba (Nigeria) - David is 17 and is working with local radio to establish a weekly phone in radio program campaign on HIV and AIDS. The show will be called Youth View and will be supported by the Jireh Foundation.

Ibiye Lawson (Nigeria) - Ibiye is 22 and volunteers with the Community Empowerment Initiative (COMET) to organize In-School/Community Peer Health training on HIV and AIDS to develop more peer health educators

Musab Mahmmoud Fadi ElMula (Sudan) - Musab is 22 and is a student at El Gezira University where he trains students on HIV and AIDS prevention and how to start anti-AIDS clubs. It is a program if AIDS Effects and Dangers Awareness Society. www.uofo.edu.sd

African Regional Youth Initiative (Tanzania) - Founded by Neema Mgana, African Regional Youth Initiative provides access to education for children residing in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia whose lives have been transformed as a result of their parent's dying as a result of HIV and AIDS. www.aryiinterconnection.org

Makoti Edwin (Tanzania) - Makoti is 21 and working with Africa Alive to organize HIV and AIDS prevention programs among pupils in primary and secondary schools. www.africaalive.org

Sewa Kwami Fumey (Togo) - Sewa is 23 and volunteers with Volunteers without Borders as part Ray of Hope, a program that uses music and sports as a vehicle for HIV and AIDS prevention. www.web-africa.org/havwb

Student Partnership Worldwide (Uganda) - Student Partnership Worldwide's Health Education Program recruits, trains and supports Ugandan peer educators enabling 45,000 rural youth to receive sustained, comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention programs they would otherwise not be able to access. www.spw.org

Masembe Paddy (Uganda) - Masembe is 23 and started the Uganda Network of young People Living with HIV AND AIDS AND AIDS. UNYPA equips young people living with HIV and AIDS with appropriate information on nutrition, positive living and management, sexual reproductive health and rights guidance.

Simui Adam (Zambia) - Simui is 22 and strengthens HIV and AIDS activities in high schools through the Sepo Centre's School without Walls program.

Bernard Mwansa Chindoloma (Zambia) - Bernard is 20 and is with Challenge International Ministry he leads community group discussions on HIV and AIDS prevention.

Belinda Ngwadzai (Zimbabwe) - Belinda is 21 and working with the International Video Fair Trust to educate communities on HIV and AIDS, teenage sex and pregnancy and gender issues through the use of videos to audiences who have no access to mainstream media. www.videofair.org.zw

These and the other awardees can be found at the Staying-Alive Foundation Award Winners

Well, I am way over my 1000 word self imposed limit, but I do not want to end the article with out mentioning the generous partners who make Staying Alive possible.

Family Health International (FHI)
The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation
The World Bank
Youth Peer Education Network (Y-Peer)
Sida of Sweden
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The UK Department For International Development (DFID)


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOUTHERN AFRICAA Great Site For Research and Teaching

Today I would like to tell you about a web site rather than a specific organization. This site is called titled "RESEARCH AND TEACHING ON HUMAN RIGHTS, GENDER ISSUES AND DEMOCRACY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA" and is a collaborative project between the Human Rights & Documentation Center (HRDC) at the University of Namibia, the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Programme in Southern Africa (which is located in Windhoek, Namibia), and Human Rights Internet (HRI) in Ottawa, Canada. In addition, Universities and Organizations throughout southern Africa as well as UNESCO National Commissions and UNESCO field offices in the various southern African countries have participated in this project.

So you technical types will know, the site is hosted at the HRDC and the Department of Information and Communications Studies at the University of Namibia.

One purpose of this site is to foster a network of Universities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Institutes, and other interested parties in southern Africa undertaking activities in one or more of the thematic fields of Human Rights, Gender Issues and Democracy.

The site is also designed to act as a forum to both document and disseminate information regarding Human Rights and Gender Issues and Democracy of concern to the 14 member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Those 14 countries, in case you are not that familiar with SADC, are:

DR Congo
South Africa

Country profiles for each of the 14 members of SADC were submitted by a Contributors from each of those countries who were selected following a workshop on Human Rights, Gender Issues and Democracy in Windhoek NA. Those profiles can be found by clicking the various nations found on the map at the Home Page. Each profile contains information on

- Basic Facts
- Historical Background
- Political System
- Human Rights
- Gender Issues
- Democracy
- Institutions and Organizations

The Institutions and Organizations sections are of particular interest because it provides a basis from which one can try to interface with NGOs in the various countries. For example, under the Institutions and Organizations page for the Nation of Botswana, one finds the following listing:

Human Rights

Faculty of Law, University of Botswana
Law Society of Botswana

Gender Issues

Botswana Council of Women
Emang Basadi Women's Association
WilDAF - Botswana
Women & the Law in Southern Africa (WLSA)
Women's Affairs Dept, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs
Women's NGO Coalition
WorldView Botswana - Dilomakwati


Democratic Research Project
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) - Botswana Chapter

And all of these organizations except three had links to web pages giving greater detail about these organizations.

To take the matter a little further, if you follow the link provided for the organization "Ditshwanelo" (The Botswana Centre for Human Rights) you will find information about it under the following headings:


Aims & Objectives

Target Groups


Achievements & Publications

Governance & Funding

Another Great Feature of the web site is that it has a section for Teaching Resources in the thematic areas. These are online resources as well as resources that you can obtain from the sources.

Some of the sources for the online resources are:

The Human Rights Education Associates (HREA)

For The Record, (a yearly review of the UN Human Rights System published by Human Rights Internet (HRI).

Partners in Human Rights Education (PIHRE)

The People's Movement for Human Rights Education

The Teaching Human Rights Online (THRO) Educator's Guide

The University of Minnesota Human Rights Library

The United Nations Cyber SchoolBus

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Database on Human Rights Education

There is also an impressive list of available publications.

And if you want to find all of the Organizations and Institutions listed in one place, this web site has that also. Just go to their Institutions and Organizations page from their Home Page and you can find them listed by country and thematic area.

There is also a page of a long list of links to other web sites by thematic area. And if you need a "brief introduction" to either Human Rights issues in Southern Africa, Gender Issues in Southern Africa or Democracy Issues in Southern Africa, just follow the links at the home page, and they will take you there.

I could go on and on about this web site, but I want to get back to exploring it some more. So, I am going to leave you with its web address and a strong recommendation that you visit it for yourself if you have an interest in RESEARCH AND TEACHING ON HUMAN RIGHTS, GENDER ISSUES AND DEMOCRACY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

SKILLSHARE - NAMIBIA : Working Together can mean Working Better

Yesterday I wrote about Skillshare International and how well it partnered with other organizations in the countries where it had operations, and the response has motivated me to write about the various Skillshare Operations. Today, I am going to write about Skillshare International's work in Namibia. But instead of struggling to improve on what Skillshare International has already written about its work in Namabia and its partners there, I am merely going to post the text from their page ( which can be found at Skillshare International - Namibia ) and I will be adding BOLD TEXT as emphasis in order to highlight certain points.

"Skillshare International has been working in Namibia since 1998. We have established partnerships with the Ministry of Local Government to support the strengthening of local authorities, and with non-government organisations (NGOs) such as the AIDS Care Trust, YWCA, Namibian Rural Development Project, NANASO and the Joint Consultative Committee.

In Namibia, Skillshare International works in the following sectors:

Empowerment of Disadvantaged groups
The focus here is on women's groups, children, people with disability and other disadvantaged minority groups. In rural regions women lead the majority of households and are the principal bread winners for the family. However violence against women and children remains a major problem in Namibia. Skillshare works to address the empowerment of these groups.

The spread of HIV/AIDS in Namibia is alaming. About 20% of the 1.8 million population is infected. Skillshare International supports organisations which provide care and counselling for people infected with HIV or living with AIDS. We also assist organisations with HIV/AIDS education and awareness-raising programmes, in an attempt to decrease the infection rate.

Education, Training and Employment
The rate of unemployment in Namibia is officially 33%, with unofficial estimates of 40%. This is partly because 15,000 school-children at Grade 10 level are unable to continue their high school studies because of a lack of places in schools. Skillshare International is assisting in building the capacity of vocational training institutions, enhancing the quality of training through skills development and assisting organisations to provide education and vocational skills training to disadvantaged groups.

Local state - decentralization
The government's National Decentralisation Programme is running concurrently in all 13 regions. Due to unequal levels of development and income distribution, some regions have relatively strong local government with the infrastructure and institutional capacity to take over functions from central goverment. In other regions the process of decentralisation calls for the redevelopment of infrastructure. Skillshare has been assisting the government by providing a project advisor to work closely with regional councils and local authorities to address training needs and so help ensure the successful management of regional development.

Rural Development
Rural development and women's empowerment call for linked strategies because women lead the majority of households in rural areas. Local and international NGOs tend to offer direct support to small-scale income-generating initiatives in rural areas that are relatively easy to set-up. However, commercial ventures of this type can multiply very quickly and may create a competitive environment, raising issues of viability and sustainability within a limited market. Skillshare International has established a partnership with the Namibia Rural Development Project (NRDP), an organisation with good links to rural communities and which plays a major role in their development.

Here are brief descriptions that Skillshare International has provided about some of their Namibian Partner Organisations. I have also found and included links to either those partner Organizations' web sites or to web pages that provide more information about them.

Namibia Association of AIDS Service Organisation (NANASO)
NANASO "operates a non-profit networking organisation which provides network services to various NGOs and community-based organisations that are active in the field of HIV/AIDS. Its primary aim is to strengthen these organisations and enable them to actively address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Namibia. Skillshare International's inputs include a development worker placement and the LDP."

The Association for Children with Language, Speech and Hearing Impairments of Namibia (CLaSH)
ClaSH "was founded in 1989. This organisation was developed out of a self-help group formed by parents whose children had communication disorders. The parents had linked together with specialists for support and training."

Joint Consultative Committee (JCC)
JCC "is a non-profit, nationwide association of small and micro enterprises (SME). The JCC was created by SME service providers and SME promotion agencies to form an informal network for SMEs. Core activities include:

- Networking between local financial and non-financial service providers;
- Networking with other enterprise development networks across Southern Africa;
- Advocacy for:
1) National small businesses
2) Financial service providers to SME
3) Non-financial service providers to SME
Research on issues related to the SME sector in Namibia;
- Capacity enhancement of service providers;
- Assisting in monitoring and evaluation of organisations;
- Business advisory service;
- Information collection, production, dissemination;
- Operation of Small Business Information Centre; and
- Best practice promotion in the Innovation Entrepreneurs Award."

The Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA)
NAPPA "was established in 1996 as a voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organisation working in the field of sexual and reproductive health. NAPPA subscribes to current government policy on population and reproductive health. The Association plays a complementary role to the Ministry of Health and Social Services by providing information, education and counselling and services on sexual and reproductive health to disadvantaged groups, and young people in particular. NAPPA is committed to contributing to the alleviation of the prevailing social and health problems in the country, such as condom and contraceptive use, high rates of teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS and the perceived low status of women in society."

The Urban Trust of Namibia
UTN 's "mission is to promote democratic forms of urban governance to especially address the economic and social needs of very low income Namibians. UTN's goal is to guide, represent and empower community groups in their efforts to become self reliant and alleviate poverty by supporting and facilitating sustainable/participatory and gender inclusive development that is sensitive to the environment."

Namibia Rural Development Project (NRDP)
NRDP 's "mission is to alleviate poverty and suffering by empowering rural and disadvantaged groups to realise their potential and control their own lives within the Namibian socio-economic context. It works with rural households, community-based structures and family units to improve their capacity to use surrounding resources, improve their living conditions and to set them on the path of sustainable human development. This is achieved by:
- Promoting and supporting the development of small-scale enterprises in rural areas
- Supporting peopleto share their wealth of knowledge and experience with each other
- Helping people to identify their own problems and design their solutions
- Skillshare International's inputs have included the placement of development workers, the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) and securing project funding."

Skillshare International's success makes a very cogent argument in favor of developing Quality Partnerships. Take a look at Skillshare International and Skillshare International - Namibia as well as their Partner Organizations in Namibia to see how Working Together can mean Working Better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Skillshare International says that its vision is of "a world without poverty, injustice and inequality where people, regardless of cultural, social and political divides, come together for mutual benefit, living in peaceful co-existence." And its purpose is said: "to reduce poverty, injustice and inequality and to further economic and social development in partnership with people and communities throughout the world."

Skillshare says that it does this by "sharing and developing skills and ideas, facilitating organisational and social change and building awareness of development issues."

This organization values the right of self-determination of people and communities and for them to develop their own future. In order to do this Skillshare intends to:
- Respond and adapt to development challenges.
- Promote and protect the rights of disadvantaged communities.
- Support our partners to engage in policy development and debates in line with our shared vision and values.
- Run increasingly effective programmes and continually improve in all areas of our work.

The practical ways in which Skillshare intends to achieve their vision through improving the performance and services of those organizations they assist and also helping them to develop and grow.

Some of the ways in which this is done are listed as:

- The placement of international development workers with their partner organisations
- Financial resource development, such as building the capacity of programme funding
- The Leadership Development Programme (LDP), which is an initiative designed to develop the strategic leadership skills of Skillshare International's partner organizations.

All of this exemplifies their commitment to empowering individuals and communities and working in partnership with those individuals and communities to foster effective economic, social and organisational development.

One of Skillshare International's country programmes is in Lesotho and was launched in 2001 by the Honorable King Letsie II as a result of a merger between Skillshare Africa and Action Health.

Soon after Lesotho's independence, an organization known as International Voluntary Service (IVS) began to operate in that country and eventually became "Skillshare Africa." During the process of going from IVS to Skillshare Africa, the organization transformed itself from a volunteer sending organisation to a development organisation which responded to locally identified needs.

From 1999 to 2004, Skillshare International worked in 4 sectors in Lesotho:

- Education and training for employment creation
- Support for disadvantaged groups including people with disabilities, women, youth and people living with HIV/AIDS
- Rural development in particular construction of rural roads and bridges
- Environment science and technology
- Education, training and employment

The first Skillshare project piloted in Lesotho aimed to bring 11 development workers under the auspices of the Technical and Vocational Training Program. "This project sought to alleviate poverty in Lesotho through the development of improved skills training programmes and to provide new opportunities for income generation activities. A development worker has been recruited to assist the Ministry of Education Technical and Vocational Department with the completion of the policy and law which will pave the way for transformation of TVED. Skillshare is currently exploring an option to continue to provide support in business training and leadership development within the TVET system."

Skillshare International has also supported the "placement of 2 development workers within a period of 5 years to support the Lesotho Society of Handicapped Persons (LSMHP) to strengthen their managerial and advocacy skills within the organisation so that they are in a better position to perform their core function of advocacy for human rights and access to services for their clientele. This fruitful long term partnership with LSMHP also resulted in support to raise funds for LSMHP to expand their services to sensitise the families, community members and health professional about the needs of the children with learning disabilities. The family members have been empowered to advocate for the rights of their children as well as to practice community based rehabilitation to ensure that the children are well integrated in the community."

In order to promote the empowerment of people with disability, Skillshare, working together with the Department of Social Welfare has conducted an extensive needs assessment of the Department of Social Welfare and the needs of the organisations of the people living with disability to develop a capacity building project.

Initially Skillshare's focus regarding HIV/AIDS was on people living with HIV/AIDS. The lack of strong organisations in this sector presented a challenge and there are several initiatives under this sector including education and awareness creation, support for affected and infected people and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Establishing a very long partnership with the Department of Appropriate Technology Section (ATS), over a period of five years, four engineers and one food technologist were assigned to ATS. Through this partnership they have assisted ATS in the research and development of environmentally friendly and energy-saving applications as well as in promoting the entrepreneurial commercial manufacture of new environmentally friendly products. This component of the work is now coming to an end as we feel that we have given ATS support over the last decade.

In their partnership with the Lesotho Council of Non Governmental Organisations (LCN) Skillshare has committed to change public attitudes towards environmental degradation through fostering support for LCN, the Environment Commission, NGOs who deal with environment and government institutions involved in environmental awareness-raising programmes.

In order to alleviate poverty the organization's focus has been on assisting government with qualified, highly experienced engineers to offset the high shortage of engineers in Lesotho. This partnership was to support the department of Rural Roads Construction with a total of seven engineers for the last five years who were based in Maseru, Mohale's Hoek and Thaba Tseka. The objective of this was to support the government's overall policy to have a road network that is capable of supporting national economic activities, connects all district towns, and provides better access for isolated rural communities.

I have given only the briefest of sketches of the programmes mentioned above, but if you go to Skillshare's website, you can read more about them.

Skillshare has several new programme areas as well.

In a new regional initiative that incorporates their offices in Botswana, Swailand and South Africa, Skillshare International's country office in Lesotho has recently completed an assessment of the status of handicrafts produced in Lesotho. "The information gathered from the needs assessment is being used to develop a regional project which will support handicrafts producers in all areas of their businesses which will include:

Product development and diversification
Acquisition of supplies of materials
Quality control
Market development
Financial management
Electronic communication and business English
Facilitating smooth boarder crossing."

Another needs assessment revealed that "there were a number of individuals who were sick and dying in their homes and yet they were not receiving medical attention or food supplements. The pilot Basali Moho Project, Women with Women, will support 20 single women who are very sick together with their 60 children and their family members. The project aims to establish a network of women, which will be composed of family members, community health volunteers, clinic and national level staff to support the affected women and their families to live longer despite HIV/AIDS. We have recruited a development worker with palliative care experience to provide technical expertise to the Basali Moho Project. A long-term proposal for a hospice at Mohatlane is being developed."

One of the things that Skillshare does well is to partner with other organizations. And this is one of the reasons for their great success and effectiveness. Here is a brief description of Skillshare's Partner Organisations. More about these organizations can be found at Skillshare's Lesotho web page.

Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) is an umbrella organisation which was founded in 1989, the primary mission of which is to stimulate, promote and support NGOs in Lesotho in their development efforts.

Katlehomoho Community Eco-Tourism Project is a youth project of 120 young people from 6 villages.

Department of Rural Roads' mission is to build rural roads, foot bridges and air strips in the highlands of Lesotho using labour-based methods.

Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) strives for self-organised community organisations that are able to run their own affairs so they can work towards improving the standard of living and contribute to poverty reduction in Lesotho.

Lesotho College of Education aims to train student-teachers in areas that will enable them to feature in schools as efficient, competent and professional teachers who will be able to convey knowledge and life-survival skills to pupils and society.

Taung Skills Training Centre was founded in 1998 to provide skills training to young people, who for one reason or another failed to complete their formal schooling, leaving them at a disadvantage in the labour market.

There is a lot to learn about Skillshare, they operate in many other countries besides Lesotho. And hopefully I can write some more about them in the future. But for now take a look at their web sites listed below.

Skillshare International

Skillshare International Lesotho