Brighter Tanzania Foundation

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  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 4:42 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    I will give you the good news first.  For the first time ever, the majority of the world is not living in poverty.  Just over 50% of the world’s population has now inched into middle class or wealthy status.  That’s 3.8 billion people. (2) Actually, this isn’t good news. This is great news.

    Now for the bad news.  We still have just under 50% of the world’s population living in poverty.  Further, the rate of decline the world has seen in the number of people living in extreme poverty has slowed. (2)

    The difference between moderate and extreme poverty is an important distinction to make.  Moderate poverty is defined by the World Bank as an individual living on just $3.10 per day.  Extreme poverty is defined as living on just $1.90 per day. Those in extreme poverty are simply fighting for daily survival.  In October, 2018, the World Bank made a preliminary forecast that extreme poverty in 2018 would decline to 8.6% of the global population.  That is down from 10% in 2015 and down from 36% in 1990. (3) By any measure, great strides have been made to reduce global poverty over the past several decades.

    World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim agrees.  He stated: “Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history.  This is one of the greatest achievements of our time.” (3)

    Still, the fear is that if progress continues to slow, the world will not meet the 2030 sustainable development goal of reducing extreme poverty to no more than 3% of the global population. Predictions are that extreme poverty will increasingly be concentrated in a small group of countries, most located in Sub-Saharan Africa. (3)

    The reduction of extreme poverty globally has taken place in shifts.  First, the world saw a drastic reduction in China. Next, came India. Now, the world’s eyes are turning towards Africa, which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes should be the priority over the next several decades. (1)

    Why the concentration of extreme poverty in Africa?  One explanation is population growth. If it stays on its current track, the continent of Africa is expected to double its current population by 2050.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has predicted that by this same year, nearly 90% of global poverty will be concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa. (1)

    Because almost 60% of the population on the continent of Africa is currently under the age of 25 (compared to 35% in the U.S. and 27% in Europe), the foundation aims to put their money and efforts in the young, focusing on health and education. (1)

    Across the globe, the Number of Children and Adolescents Not Reaching a Minimum Proficiency in Reading

    In their 2018 Goalkeepers Report, Bill and Melinda Gates said:  “The conclusion is clear: to continue improving the human condition, our task now is to help create opportunities in Africa’s fastest growing, poorest countries….This means investing in young people.” (1)

    In Tanzania, one investment is at Saving Grace School which currently serves 72 preschool age impoverished children who otherwise would not have access to an education.  Brighter Tanzania Foundation aims to use Saving Grace as a blueprint to build other schools throughout Tanzania. In so doing, BTF will continue to serve those suffering from extreme poverty by providing a foundation for communities through strong education.

    Without a doubt, Saving Grace School (and Brighter Tanzania Foundation) are at ground zero for battling poverty.


    Sources:

    1.https://www.gatesfoundation.org/goalkeepers/report?download=false

    2.https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/education-for-fragile-states/

    3.http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty



  • Wednesday, December 05, 2018 5:46 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    It’s that time of year. For many of us in the U.S. December means busyness and festivity, whether it’s celebrating Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Christmas. The season may include shopping and spending more time with family and friends, and it definitely means cooking!

    Tanzanian Christians are probably cooking up a feast of their own this month. Dishes one might expect to see on a Tanzanian Christmas table include pilau, a rice dish with lots of spice; a chicken, red meat or seafood dish often cooked in coconut; and chai tea.

    While one-third of the Tanzanian population practices Christianity, another one-third practices Islam. (2) A Muslim holiday marked by a feast comes a little earlier in the year - Eid al-Fitr, which ends a month of sunrise to sunset fasting. The dishes on this feast table might include plantains; fish; dates; and ugali, a cornmeal-based dish often served with a sauce. Ugali is a staple throughout Africa although it goes by different names depending on the region. (2)

    Interested in learning more about East African cuisine? African Eats, An Introduction to African Cooking might be a great addition to your cookbook collection or as a gift for someone else in your life. Written by Jane Leuchter, Felicia McKenzie and Emma Hill of Brighter Tanzania Foundation, the book is a collection of mostly Tanzanian and Kenyan recipes with a sprinkling of recipes from other regions on the continent. It includes recipes of both traditional and modern dishes, and the recipes are accompanied by a bit of history.

    For example, readers will learn that the migrations of  different peoples into the region has influenced the East African culture of food. As noted in the book, about 1,000 years ago, merchants from the Middle East began settling along the Swahili coast, thus incorporating many of their spices in the diet of Tanzanians and Kenyans. Indians have also migrated to East Africa, and it is from their culture that chapati, a flour-based flat bread, became a common breakfast in Tanzania. (3)

    The cook book’s authors begin with a summary of the East African diet: “East African dishes tend to be simple, centered around a few ingredients, with bold, assertive flavors, thanks to fresh ingredients and complex spice blends.”  Its collection of recipes are organized in four sections: breakfast, entrees, sides, and drinks/desserts. Be aware: each section is chocked full of vibrant photography that will wet your palate. African Eats is available on Ebook for $9.99 or soft cover for $39.99 and can be purchased at http://www.blurb.com/b/7723794-african-eats.

    As you plan your holiday feast, get comfortable with a cup of chai or a mbege (banana beer) and browse African Eats. You may just add some African dishes to your menu this year!

    Sources:

    1.http://www.foodbycountry.com/Spain-to-Zimbabwe-Cumulative-Index/Tanzania.html

    2.https://epicureandculture.com/tanzanian-recipes/

    3.http://www.blurb.com/b/7723794-african-eats



  • Saturday, December 01, 2018 8:34 AM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    The 35 million individuals around the world who have died from an AIDS-related illness remind us that the pandemic is one of the worst the world has ever seen. The 36.9 million individuals living with HIV today call attention to the fact that this deadly disease has not gone away. (1) World AIDS Day, and the ubiquitous red ribbons associated with it, helps us with that grim reminder, too.

    Photo Credit:  David Dallaqua/Freeimages.com

    The news is not all grim, though. The development of antiretroviral treatment means that HIV can be managed in a way not possible in the 1980s when the disease first appeared. At that time the average life expectancy for a person diagnosed with AIDS was about one year. (7) Now, by slowing down the virus, antiretroviral treatment enables HIV-infected individuals to live longer, healthier lives. It also reduces the risk of transmission.

    According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Antiretroviral therapies have transformed HIV infection from an almost uniformly fatal infection into a manageable chronic condition.” (7)


    Photo Credit:  Vittore Buzzi/Unsplash

    With this life-saving treatment in place, much focus has been placed on prevention so that one day treatment will not be necessary. UNAIDS leads in solving the problems that still exist in treating the global health threat. Their campaign “Start Free Stay Free” focuses on creating an “AIDS-free generation.” (2) The “Start Free” portion of the effort includes preventing new infection among women of childbearing age through primary care, providing prenatal care, and testing and diagnosing infants early. If an infected woman is treated during pregnancy, delivery and breast-feeding, the risk of the virus being passed from mother to child remarkably reduces to 5 percent or less. Prevention is vital, but so too is early diagnosis. The peak mortality for infants with the HIV virus is six weeks to four months.  However, only half of the infants exposed to HIV globally are tested before eight weeks of age. (2)

    The ”Stay Free” portion of the UNAIDS campaign aims to increase access to educational information on sexual and reproductive health as these infants grow into adolescents and young adults. It also encourages young people to stay in school and gain skills in order to gain economic independence. In 2019, adolescence is the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are increasing. (2)

    Tanzania helps illustrate the HIV/AIDS story. The population is young with half of the population between the ages of 10 and 24. One of the barriers to effectively treating diseases such as HIV/AIDS is the low physician-patient ratio, one of the lowest in the world with .031 doctors per 1,000 people. Other barriers include gender inequality, high rates of gender-based violence, stigma, and a lack of knowledge within the populace about the virus. (4)

    Because child marriages and young pregnancies are common, a disproportionate number of girls fail to receive a full education.  According to Human Rights Watch, only 60% of adolescents in Tanzania can access a lower secondary education. Of these teens, only one-third of girls who enter secondary school graduate. (6)

    It follows that girls and women are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS with a prevalence rate at 5.8 percent for women and 3.6 percent for men. Females tend to become infected earlier because they marry earlier and often have older partners. In Tanzania, a country in which 27% of girls are pregnant or have had a child before the age of 19, nearly one-fifth of new HIV infections are a result of mother-to-child transmission. A mere 30 percent of infants exposed to HIV are given early infant testing and diagnosis. (4)

    One of the keys to reducing the prevalence rate, particularly in females, is education. Educated women are more likely to advocate for themselves and for better services including health care.   Educated women generally have fewer, healthier and better-educated children. In sub-Saharan Africa, universal secondary education would cause child marriages to fall by as much as 64%. (8)

    Brighter Tanzania Foundation and Saving Grace School contribute to the effort of providing a full, quality, and equitable education to all children in Tanzania. By providing a quality pre-primary program to impoverished children in Arusha, the school is building a foundation in which these children can successfully continue their education and eventually graduate from secondary school. In doing so, the school not only builds a solid economic base but makes a critical contribution in the battle to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

    It is also important to note the devastating impact that the loss of one or both parents due to AIDS has on a family, including the education of the children. Studies have shown that HIV/AIDS has a direct and negative impact on the educational outcomes of children. This impact includes enrollment and attendance, behavior, achievement, and completion. (5)

    Saving Grace School serves impoverished children in Arusha, Tanzania.

    Children whose families have been affected by HIV/AIDS are among the most vulnerable in Tanzania. These are the families that Saving Grace School serves. Through strengthening educational services, Brighter Tanzania Foundation joins in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS once and for all.


    Sources:

    1.https://www.worldaidsday.org/

    2.https://www.unaids.org/en

    3.https://www.who.int/hiv/pub/journal_articles/jaids-2019-supplement-article01/en/

    4.https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/tanzania

    5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22519300

    6.https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/14/tanzania-15-million-adolescents-not-school

    7.https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/antiretroviral-drug-development

    8.https://www.unicef.org/education/all-children-in-school



  • Tuesday, November 20, 2018 11:00 AM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    Wonder why this blog post is dressed in blue?  Today is Universal Children’s Day 2018. In honor of kids around the globe and in solidarity with other celebrants, we decided to #GoBlue.

    Many will wear blue. Some global landmarks will be bathed in blue. Others will share wishes of blueness on social media. Google will add a special doodle in its search engines around the world. (1)   What does it all mean? In choosing this theme for 2018, its creators are trying to raise awareness to the plight of children in need - of food, of education, of protection, of love.

    Children everywhere have a right to play.  Photo Credit: Robert Collins

    While children in many countries continue to enjoy a high standard of living, others struggle just to survive. It was on this date in 1989 that the United Nations adopted the Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Among these human rights are the right to life, health, education, to play, family life, protection from violence and discrimination and the right to have their views heard. (1)

    Who is most at risk for having these rights violated?  In considering that, let’s take a look at one corner of the world - Tanzania.

    The following statistics illustrate the need for stronger protection of children:

    • 29% of children are used for child labor (2)

    • 57 out of 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday (2)

    • In 2012, 48% of the poorest children were stunted due to malnutrition (2)

    • In 2011, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experienced sexual violence (5)

    Only 66% of school-age children in Tanzania attend school, and girls are particularly in danger of not receiving their full education through secondary school.  In 2017, the government began mandating pregnancy tests at school, forcing pregnant adolescents to drop out. Each year, approximately 8,000 girls are ejected from school. (3)

    On their website, Unicef states:  “These children - and others who are orphans, living on the street or in extreme poverty - are considered to be most vulnerable to violations of their rights and in need of special protection.” (5)

    Worldwide approximately 263 million children don’t attend school. (1)  In addition to sexual violence and a lack of protection for girls, another issue has taken center stage - the plight of refugees.  

    Unicef calls the refugee crisis impacting 50 million children worldwide “the worst since World War II.”  (4) These are children fleeing armed conflicts in places including Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq. It also includes children escaping extreme poverty and gang violence from regions such as Central America.  The children lose their security, saying good-bye to their homes and embarking on dangerous journeys. Many remain out of school for long lengths of time. Some are separated from their parents and families.

    Many refugees face walls, not welcome, after a long journey.  Photo credit: Cole Patrick

    The blue campaign for awareness is a first step.  Next, more action is needed both in home countries and refugee camps.  Every child has the right to learn, play, grow and love. In short, every child has the right to be a child.


    References:

    1.https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/20/what-is-universal-childrens-day-and-why-is-google-celebrating-it/

    2.https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/where-we-work/africa/tanzania

    3.https://borgenproject.org/human-rights-in-tanzania/

    4.https://www.unicefusa.org/mission/emergencies/child-refugees

    5.https://www.unicef.org/media/files/VIOLENCE_AGAINST_CHILDREN_IN_TANZANIA_REPORT.pdf



  • Tuesday, November 13, 2018 5:00 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    First there was Thanksgiving, a day of counting our blessings.  Next, came Black Friday, for some, a day of discounting holiday purchases.  Soon arrived Cyber Monday, a simple way to do an accounting of our loved ones, buying them gifts with a click.  For nonprofit organizations like Brighter Tanzania Organization, it is #GivingTuesday for which we are counting down.


    Giving Tuesday (or #GivingTuesday) began six years ago and has been growing ever since.  It is a day for charitable giving, its message spread through social media. In 2017, nonprofit organizations raised an estimated $274 million in the United States.  This was a 50 percent increase over 2016.

    The movement is spreading, too.  Other countries around the world have begun #GivingTuesday movements of their own.  Participating countries include the Dominican Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Kazakhistan, and Kenya.  In fact, on its website, #GivingTuesday is described as a “global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”

    In Arusha, Tanzania, donations to Brighter Tanzania Foundation on #GivingTuesday will be used to support literacy at Saving Grace School.  The school library currently holds 50 books. We aspire to expand that number to 500. We hope that an expanded library will help children strengthen their reading skills out of class as well as in.

    .

    Why do we need a national day to donate?  Donating can be done any time of the year.  Many people though, like to include gift giving in their end of year planning.  A giving spirit is also present at this time of year with holidays of all kinds upon us.  #GivingTuesday is simply a good reminder of the many worthy organizations that help people in need and that are in need of a little help themselves.  For those unable to donate money, other types of giving, such as time, are welcome as well.

    If interested in contributing to the Brighter Tanzania Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign, go to https://www.mightycause.com/story/Btfbooks.




  • Tuesday, October 09, 2018 2:17 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)


    What do you do for Brighter Tanzania Foundation?

    As a content creator, I research and write on a variety of topics that have relevance to BTF and Saving Grace School.  My articles, which are posted on the BTF blog, focus on poverty, literacy and the history and culture of Tanzania. I also help spread the foundation’s mission through the use of social media.

    How did you get involved with Brighter Tanzania Foundation?

    I am a freelance writer with a background in education.  I was looking for a volunteer opportunity in which I could gain more writing experience.  I found the BTF job posting on Volunteer Match. It was exactly what I was looking for - a chance to write, a focus on education, an opportunity to learn about another culture, and an inspiring mission.

    What do you like most about working with Brighter Tanzania Foundation?

    As I mentioned, I love learning about a culture that previously, I knew little about.  I feel like my global lens has widened. For example, the work has helped me appreciate the many obstacles that women face in developing countries.  Many have very limited life opportunities, and yet so much is being done to change the trajectory.

    Aside from stretching my mind, I love the photos that are shared of the children from Saving Grace School through social media or that Felicia has taken during her trips to Arusha. The kids have the biggest, brightest smiles.  They are absolutely infectious!

    What is the most interesting thing you have learned about Tanzania and Saving Grace School?

    An interesting fact that I have learned about Tanzania ( and included in my blog about Union Day) is that the name is a combination of Tanganyika (the original name of the mainland) and Zanzibar (an archipelago in the Indian Ocean).

    Regarding Saving Grace School, I am inspired by the school’s mission.  The school serves impoverished children whose cost of education is covered by the government.  However, because many families are unable to afford uniforms, supplies and fees, education remains inaccessible.  Saving Grace is at the forefront of fighting poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    What do you do during your free time?

    I am an avid reader, and I love yoga.  Living in Wisconsin, I also enjoy getting out in the snow and cross country skiing.  I live in a community called Wauwatosa with my husband, John, and two sons, Will and Ryan.  The two other members of our family are Gus, our old tabby cat, and Tilly, our young and energetic golden doodle.



  • Tuesday, October 02, 2018 9:23 AM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    At a glance

     Population:  26.26 million

     Capital:  Antananarivo

     Official Languages:  Malagasy and French

    Religion: Traditional/Indigenous (50%) Christian (41%) Muslim (7%)

    Fertility Rate:  4.03 births per woman

     Life Expectancy:  66.3 years (64.7 Men)  (67.8 women)

     Literacy Rate:  64.7% (total) 66.7%(men)   62.6%(women)

     Currency:  Malagasy Ariary

     GDP:  4.1% growth (2017)

     Form of Government:  Presidential Republic

     Natural Resources: semi-precious and precious stones, coal, ilmenite, chromite, cobalt, iron, copper, nickel

     Exports:  cloves, ylang-ylang, vanilla


    A Vibrant Ecosystem

    Inhabitants of the island nation of Madagascar - and that includes its people, animals, flora and fauna -  are among the world’s most diverse.

    The plant biodiversity on Madagascar is a botanist’s dream.  A staggering 13,900 plant species grow on the island. Its animal kingdom boasts of over 350 species of birds and two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species.  (5) Its largest predator, the fossa, is found nowhere else in the world. (2) Not surprisingly, Madagascar is a growing eco-tourist destination.


    Madagascar’s human inhabitants are heterogenous, too. Though settlers migrated from the African continent in 1000 AD, earlier settlers arrived between 350 and 550 A.D.,  from present-day Indonesia. The Malagasy also have Persian and Arab influence from the traders who arrived around the 7th century.  Later, in 1896, Madagascar was colonized by the French before fighting and gaining their independence in 1960. Consequently, 18 ethnic groups reside in Madagascar, the groups clustered in regions across the country.  Still, most residents are multi-ethnic. (3)

    Geography

    Four times the size of the state of Georgia, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world.  It is located in the Indian Ocean east of Mozambique. Because of its large size, it has several climates - tropical along the coast, temperate inland, and arid in the south.  From May through October, the island enjoys its dry, cool season while November through April brings the hot and rainy season. The island is vulnerable to monsoons, cyclones, and southeastern trade winds. (5)

    Economy

    The population of Madagascar is mostly rural and poor.  Almost 80 percent live on less than $1.90 a day, a benchmark the United Nations uses to define extreme poverty.  In addition, only 15 percent of the population is able to access electricity. (4)

    A majority of its residents survive on subsistence farming.  Crops include coffee, sugar cane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava, beans, bananas, and peanuts.  Madagascar is one of the world’s leading producers of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang. Over thirty percent of the nation’s GDP is in agriculture.  Industry takes up a 15 percent share of GDP and the remaining 52 percent is in services. (3)

    Culture

    The Malagasy are proud of a rich oral tradition.  Their primary means of expression are poetry, public discourse and proverbs.  Music and wood carving are also integral parts of the Madagascar cultural heritage. (5)

    A meal one might expect to eat in Madagascar would likely start with a bowl of rice topped with a protein of beans or meat.  In some parts of the country, romazava, a side dish made of green leafy vegetables in broth, is served. Some might add spice to their meal with lasary, a condiment made of chili peppers, green mangos and lemon. (5)

    The Malagasy religious practices include different forms of Christianity and to a smaller degree Islam.  However, half of the population holds traditional Malagasy beliefs. In fact, Madagascar holds one of the highest proportions of its population practicing an indigenous religion.  Their beliefs focus on one creator, neither male nor female, called Zanahary. A close relationship exists between the living and their ancestors. They avoid disapproval from these ancestors by observing taboos called fadys. (7)

    Resources:

    1.http://www.realclearlife.com/daily-brief/elephant-bird-largest-history/

    2.https://www.earthtouchnews.com/conservation/conservation/caught-on-camera-the-fossa-madagascars-elusive-top-predator/

    3.https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ma.html

    4.http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/madagascar/overview

    5.https://africa-facts.org/interesting-facts-about-madagascar/

    6.https://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/Madagascar.html

    7.https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-madagascar.html



  • Saturday, September 08, 2018 10:40 AM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    In Ireland, one in six adults struggles to read and understand basic daily messages: leaflets, bus timetables, medicine instructions.  In response, the Irish marked International Literacy Day, September 8, with a conference in Dublin titled “Literacy Matters: Challenges and Solutions for Communicating Effectively with the Public.” (1)

    Established by UNESCO (the United Nation’s Specialized Agency for Education) in 1966, International Literacy Day is celebrated by different peoples in different ways.  One thing they all shared was the 2018 theme of blending literacy with skills development.

    The celebrations stretched across the hemispheres.  Here in the U.S. the Jonesboro Public Library in Jonesboro, Arkansas hosted a family storytime including a read aloud, flannel story and music.  Following the storytime, children could play in centers set up to encourage specific skills - a sensory spelling center, kinesthetic sand making and color sorting games.  (1)

    On the other side of the globe in Amritsar, India, college students competed in quizzes, essay writing and a debate, all live-streamed on Facebook.  They also organized a social awareness campaign for local citizens.(1)

    In Hamburg, Germany, an adult panel discussion took place.  Participants focused on the meaning of illiteracy and how it influences a person’s education, career, and daily life. (1)

    In Kingston, Jamaica, dignitaries including the country’s poet laureate joined in a morning Read-In .(1)

    In 1820 only 12 % of the world’s population was literate.  Two centuries later, 83% are literate. (2) We are moving in the right direction, so why the worries?

    For starters, literacy is not developed on an even playing field.  Of the 750 million people who cannot read or write, two-thirds are women.  Also, the largest chunks of illiterate populaces are found in the poorest of countries. (1)

    Also important to acknowledge, we are in an increasingly digitized and globalized world, a world where reading is more important than ever.  The 192 million unemployed individuals are a vulnerable population in need of both literacy training and skills development.

    Let’s step back for a minute and take a look at a brief history of literacy.  The earliest forms of written communication are believed to have taken place between 3,500 and 3,000 B.C.  It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that book production steadily grew as did literacy among the population in the Western World.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, literacy rates accelerated in 1st world countries, particularly after the middle of the 20th century when an expansion of basic education occurred. (2)

    It is improvement in basic education that will hopefully lead countries such as Tanzania on this same trajectory.  Sub-saharan Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world. It is no surprise that the region’s literacy rates are among the lowest.  Though Tanzania outpaces some in this region, the country strives to continue improving. It has a current literacy rate of 77.9%, with roughly 83% of males and 73% of females able to read and write. (3)

    International Literacy Day reminds us how far our global community has come, but also the inequities and gaps that still exist.

    Resources:

    1. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday

    2. https://ourworldindata.org/literacy

    3. https://www.indexmundi.com/tanzania/literacy.html

    4. https://www.literacyworldwide.org/meetings-events/international-literacy-day




  • Sunday, August 12, 2018 2:48 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    Though social media is utilized by people of all ages, it is with youth that the practice is nearly ubiquitous.  Nowhere was the popularity of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, more apparent than recent social movements organized by youth.  In 2010, revolutions in the Middle East, now known as the Arab Spring, began with youth organizing through social media. Here in the U.S and with a similar wildfire spread, March For Our Lives, a march on Washington, DC in support of gun-control legislation, was organized as a youth response to a  mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. (3) Now, UNESCO is encouraging youth worldwide to use social media once again to promote peace through an UNESCO online youth community on Facebook. (1)

    “Safe Spaces for Youth” is the theme of the 2018 International Youth Day celebrated on August 12, and social media is one of these spaces.

    What exactly is meant by safe spaces in this context?  According to the United Nations, they are gathering places where youth can participate in decision-making processes, take part in activities that address a variety of needs and interests, and express themselves freely.  Further, safe spaces ensure dignity and safety. Without them, young people of differing ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds and genders may be reluctant to contribute to their communities. (2)

    Feeling powerless can lead to conflict and even violence such as school shootings and political or religious extremism.  Empowering youth is one way to build peace. UNESCO’s online youth community “puts young people at the heart of addressing the root causes of violent extremism.” (1)

    Aside from social media, young people also exchanged ideas on International Youth Day by way of lectures, debates and symposiums.   In Arusha, Tanzania, a youth symposium brought together representatives from diverse groups: University students, disability groups, and clubs. Participants listened to several speakers and then wrote four resolutions to be presented at a national commemoration of International Youth Day. The resolutions emphasized the need for inclusion of special needs students in education, encouraged the empowerment of youth in the economy through vocational training and entrepreneurship, stressed the importance of life skills in education, and requested services be made available to prevent early child marriages and pregnancies. (4)

    International Youth Day was first recognized in 1999 by the United Nations General Assembly.  In 2018, we have 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. Approximately 1 in 10 live in conflict zones, and 24 million do not go to school.  These are the youth who are vulnerable to poverty, feelings of hopelessness and violence. International Youth Day raises awareness of the challenges and problems facing youth.(2)

    As U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said:  “In making the world safe for young people, we make the world better for all.”(2)



    Sources:

    1.http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/international-youth-day/

    2.http://www.un.org/en/events/youthday/

    3.https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/youth-activism-young-protesters-historic-movements/

    4.http://www.dsw.org/en/2018/08/youth-symposium-towards-international-youth-day-2018-tanzania/



  • Thursday, August 09, 2018 4:32 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

    There are two ways to travel. One is to pack your bags, hop on a plane, and go. The second is to pick up a book. On this National Book Lovers Day, join me in journeying to Africa. Let’s explore the great writers from this vast and varied continent. Below are several book lists that might help you discover a few great finds from one of Africa’s many talented authors.

    Photo Credit:  jeshoots.com / Unsplash

    Among the renowned and recognizable of African literary voices is Nigerian Chinua Achebe, author of the highly acclaimed Things Fall Apart in 1958 and winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2007. Achebe keeps good company with other African recipients of the Booker prize. Any of these prizewinning selections over the past 50 years could make excellent additions for your own book list:

    • 1999 - Disgrace by J.M Coetzee of South Africa

    • 1991 - The Famished Road by Ben Okri of Nigeria

    • 1983 - Life and Times of Michael K. by J.M. Coetzee of South Africa

    • 1974 - The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer of South Africa

    Photo Credit:  Olsztyn Poland/Unsplash

    Four writers from the African continent can lay claim to the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Residing at points in Africa distant from each other, these authors have contributed much to the African canon of literature.  Belong to a book club? Consider adding a work from one of the following authors to your schedule.

    • 1986 - Wole Soyinka, playwright and political activist from Nigeria

    • 1988 - Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian writer of Arabic literature including 50 novels

    • 1991 - Nadine Gordimer, South African novelist and short story writer

    • 2003 - John Maxwell Coetzee, South African novelist and essayist

    Another writing award focuses only on authors from the African continent. The CAINE prize for African Writing aspires to expose talented African writers to a larger audience.  The 2018 prize was awarded to Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrent.” A great way to dabble among the most up and coming writers on the African continent, the CAINE Prize Anthology includes a collection of short stories written by authors shortlisted for this annual award.


    Photo Credit:  Slava Bowman / Unsplash

    Finally, for those who like new releases but prefer diving into a novel rather than reading short stories, there are plenty of choices.  Below are a few that received some buzz in recent years. Each has a link to a Goodreads summary and review.

    Desertion by Tanzanian Abdulrazah Gurnah

    The Kindness of Enemies by Sudanese Leila Aboulela

    TheHappy Marriageby Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun

    The Book of Memory by Zimbabwean Petina Gappah

    Sometimes There Is a Void by South African Zakes Mda

    And After Many Days by Nigerian Jowhor Ile

    Enjoy your sojourn to Africa.  Read on!



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