This morning, I saw Kony 2012 on Facebook and so I took half an hour to watch a very powerful video. My initial impetus was just to keep up with youth culture. But by the end of it, I was thinking about my overall priorities and how I might make some adjustments in my life. If you haven't watched Kony yet, you should. I am sixty millionth viewer, more or less. You should be the next one.
Being a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who lived in West Africa for over two years, I feel more of a connection than those of you who might never have left the country, I was in Cameroon which is just two countries over to the northwest from Uganda.
I have read and contributed to such causes before. In the last few years, I've backed
|Books for Cameroon - From Wendy, the Peace Corps Volunteer who organized the Books for Cameroon Project:|
Wendy wrote about her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon... I began teaching English at the 4-room primary school by my house. Through my interaction with the children, I realized they can't read, at all. Even at a 5th grade level, many of the kids can't read. And then I realized most of these kids have never even seen a story book in their life. I thought how differently my childhood and life would be if my mom hadn't dropped me off at the library during her errands and busy afternoons.
Most of us take the ability to read for granted. But being here allow me to see the harsh reality that in fact, a lot of people have trouble reading. Even the adults in my business classes. While they can read, they can't read at ease. Hardly anyone in village ever read for leisure. I wanted to change this, and I thought it would be the easiest to begin at the schools. Bring books into the country, and then provide training so people know what a library is and how to utilize it.I never imagined that I would be building 30 libraries…
|Grassroot Soccer: Founded by former professional soccer players in 2002, Grassroot Soccer (GRS) trains African soccer stars, coaches, teachers, and peer educators in the world’s most HIV-affected countries to deliver an interactive HIV prevention and life skills curriculum to youth.|
Thinking more broadly, I'm I'm embarrassed to admit how little I've done in this area in the last decade. I use to be involved lending support and writing letters to help focus attention. I let my Amnesty International and ACLU memberships lapse many years awhile ago. I wonder if they are still the best civil rights advocates in the world.
I have done some reading on these topics in the last few years and I think after having finished those books, I made a point of passing them on and contributing to their recommended charities. I'd recommend two books:
Sold. By Patricia McCormick. This novel documents how a girl ends up as a sex slave in Calcutta. She, like the boy soldier slave in A Long Way Gone, is rescued by American aid worker.
A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. By Ishmael Beah. This book, heavily promoted by Starbucks, tells the story of child in Rwanda who when the civil war hits, becomes a refugee and then, is forced to be a soldier. Given drugs, he fights and kills for years before being rescued by the UN and ending up in the US. Not a pretty story but very real. BTW, this kid was rescued by UNICEF. And while the UN has many many many problems, the grassroots projects that they support in many of the most needy places on earth make our world, in my view, a more humane place.