Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chicken Coop Update No. 2 from Senegal: Falling down and getting back up again

Here is Joyce's Chicken Coop Update No. 2 from Senegal.

Hello from Senegal--

It is with mild dread that I write this update. 

It was smooth sailing until about two weeks ago: the chicken coop was essentially finished, yet one fateful day, the construction workers were taking a post-lunch siesta inside, and the building collapsed without any warning. Nearly all 300 villagers ran to the field and many a woman was wailing about the young men they collectively assumed were dead. Thank the stars that just one guy broke his leg and another strained his arm. The rest were fine. The cause? Termites was the conclusion. 

Just the week before, the organization had hosted an event prosthelytizing about why their mud buildings with vaulted roofs were better than typical cement ones with sheet-metal roofing, winning many hearts in the act. So to save face, they are paying the masons to return all the sand to where it came from and try again with new, different sand brought in from somewhere else. If this sounds like the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, well, you haven't worked in international development. I'm not convinced this is the best idea, clearly, but I'll soon be leaving. So it's up to the main local counterpart to call the shots, and he has decided to give it another go.

It's incredibly disheartening to have something you've put so much into literally fall in on you, especially when people have to go to the hospital firstly, and secondly, when you let all the people supporting you down. I'm so sorry. Over here though, as E.B. White once wrote, we are continuing to wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day. 

I hope to write with better news next month.

Until then,

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Building the vaulted roof.

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The village chief peruses the organization's promotional material as they spread the good word.

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But not so fast!

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Shoveling the fallen bricks into a wheelbarrow...

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...and returning them to the land from whence they came.

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Making mud, take two.

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Found feathers mixed into the manure on some green pepper plants.

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A chick spotted on the farm. I was pretty chuffed to walk into a store this month and say "We'd like 200 chicks please," but alas. Maybe one day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kwibuka 20 ... Rwanda's Story of 20 Years...

On April 7th, 2004, a historical genocide began in Rwanda: a genocide that progressed at the fastest rate in human history. 10,000 lives were slaughtered a day over 100 days, totaling one million. This genocide has been now recorded officially as "Genocide against Tutsis."

On April 7th, 2014, Rwanda commemorates the 20th anniversary, with all citizens murmuring "Never again."

But, Rwanda does not live in the tragic pains of the past. Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has become an example of a thunder bird that relives out of ashes.

Rwanda has recorded a remarkable success in many fronts, including economic development.

The following article describes this success although partially focusing more on woman empowerment. So I quote it as written by Dr. Michael Grosspietsch, Executive Director of Global Engagement Institute. - Jeffrey


Commemorating the genocide - and celebrating the biggest success story of the developing world today 

The world's eyes are upon Rwanda once again. Has it already been 20 years since we saw those horrific pictures in the news? Up to 1 million people killed in only 100 days? Today, on April 7, the world community has united in Kigali for the 20th commemoration of what is frequently called the 'most effective' genocide of the past century.

And yet for many it is also a time to celebrate. Rising from the ashes of a completely destroyed country, Rwandans and their friends created what is frequently considered to be the biggest success story of the developing world today.

Rwanda today is probably the safest and cleanest country in Africa. Corruption levels are among the lowest on the continent. Experts laud progress in healthcare and education, and the World Bank describes the country as the third easiest in Africa to do business in.

The most remarkable success, however, might be Rwanda's efforts to empower women, whether in leadership positions or at the grassroots level. It is the only country in the world with a female majority in Parliament (currently at 64%), and it has established a 30% quota for women's participation in all decision-making bodies nationwide, from the village councils all the way up to the level of national government.

Women were crucial to the reconstruction of Rwanda, and their hard work and commitment remains just as indispensable today. In the past few days, various excellent articles have appeared on the subject, and we particularly recommend thislink.

In this spirit, GEI invites passionate and open-minded individuals to travel to Rwanda with our guest leader, Prof. Shirley Randell, AO, PhD, in order to discover just how these achievements were made possible and to celebrate women's continuing vital role in leadership in Rwanda. Click on the link below for further information and dates.

Dr. Michael Grosspietsch
Founder & Executive Director
Global Engagement Institute
To read this article in the original form, please click here.

Also, I posted a blog earlier on Kwibuka Flame. To read this blog post, please click here.