<Back Print
News from Global Citizen Journey - August 2007
GCJ News
August 2007

After a bit of a newsletter hiatus, we're back on track, and we've got a lot to catch you up on. Read on to get the latest on GCJ Nigeria, Ghana and Burundi, as well as an introduction to some exciting new projects.

If you're new to Global Citizen Journey, you can catch up on past newsletters on our web site.

In this issue
  • Try today's GCJ trivia question
  • Peace and reconciliation in Gujarat, India
  • Orphanage/community center in Axim, Ghana nears completion
  • Meet Benjamin and Gloria - Orphans from Ghana
  • Leaps and bounds for Konogo library
  • GCJ Goes Green!
  • GCJ Burundi: The Journey has already begun!
  • Sweet Crude draws a sold-out crowd
  • Niger Delta Quick Hits
  • Join Us in the Exciting Evolution of GCJ
  • Trivia Answer

  • Peace and reconciliation in Gujarat, India
    Map of Gujarat, India

    As we continue to expand our interests around the globe, Global Citizen Journey is delighted to announce that a journey to India in the works, under the project direction of Sapan Parekh, a native of Gujarat.

    The India project will focus on the western state of Gujarat, an area with a fascinating mixture of contemporary and traditional social structures. Caste and gender distinctions are still immensely important, as are the colorful clothes and traditions untouched by British influences. Gujarat has great religious diversity, with numerous Hindu sects, Muslims, Jains, and Parsis. Unfortunately, due to such differences, Gujarat was the site of the worst religious violence in the history of post-Partition India. In 2002, massive riots, many of which had political ties, erupted between the Hindus and Muslims. The state has striven to rebuild, and the situation since has been mostly peaceful.

    Overall, I find inspiration in helping people overcome identity-based conflict; hence, India serves as the perfect location for a Journey. The Journey will strive to foster dialogue in a region of India that so desperately needs it, so that the delegates and host town will leave seeing religion not as a source of conflict, but simply as a source of diversity. This project is still in the early planning stage, with an approximate 1.5 year timeline. We are researching to find an ideal Host partner NGO by the end of this year that focuses on peace building. From that point, given the partner's guidance, we will proceed with the plan for the service-legacy project.

    - Sapan Parekh, Future Director GCJ Gujarat Journey

    Sapan Parekh is a Master Teacher for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions in Seattle. He has a Master's degree in International Relations, with a focus on religious conflict management, specializing in India and Indonesia.

    Orphanage/community center in Axim, Ghana nears completion

    The Ghana Alum team hosted an outstandingly successful yard sale the last weekend in July in Bellingham. Thanks to generous friends and neighbors who were delighted to help, a 5-family sale turned into a neighborhood sale and we cleared more than $3000, which we immediately wired to our WHH partners. The roof has been WON! We're still short about $15,000 to complete the whole building, but we're getting close.

    The main priority is to finish the first floor -- which is the children's area - by September 1 so that we can move the first 21 kids in. They're all attending Manye Academy now, some for the first time in their lives! The director and teachers have welcomed them warmly, and the school has given us a discount for their fees. We've learned that the focus of the teachers is to dramatically improve their science instruction, and so as a "thank you" for their reaching out to our kids, we are currently gathering the scientific aids and supplies to support the Ghanaian science curriculum and stock one junior high level science classroom.

    Meanwhile nine members of the team are returning to Axim in September to attend the dedication of the building---WHH and local leaders are planning a traditional "Durbar". We also have been invited to participate in the annual Kundum Festival, a festive gathering of Ahanta people in their traditional center in Axim. Each of us is working together with a Ghanaian counterpart on small sub-projects begun last year during our initial Journey.

    Also, our GCJ Ghanaian alums are planning a followup Forum to the Town Hall we hosted in Oct last year. The 100 invitees will focus on five major areas that surfaced during our original Town Hall: Roads, Sanitation and Water, Education, Axim Landing Beach, and WHH Orphanage/Community Center. We wish the team, led by Gifty Asmah, Frank Cudjoe, and Isaac Bentil, a successful and enjoyable day.

    --Maryanne Ward, GCJ Ghana Project Co-Director

    Want to help? We're looking for 25 computers, software and science equipment for the lab. If you know of good used or surplus science equipment, or if you are or know of a supplier of XP-level refurbished computers call Rich at 360-848-6568.

    Meet Benjamin and Gloria - Orphans from Ghana
    Benjamin and Gloria

    Of the 21 children we'll be moving into the orphanage/community learning center in September, we'd like to introduce two: Benjamin and Gloria.

    Benjamin's mother and father have died, as well as his grandmother, and now his great grandmother is caring for him and his sister. During rains, it is very bad in their rudimentary dwelling, and the great grandmother can't bring him to the roadside for the bus, especially since an accidental water burn on her leg has limited her mobility. Benjamin has a sister who is two-and-a-half years old; she will be moving into the orphanage, as well, when the building is ready. Their great grandmother is happy to have them live in a place where they can be better taken care of.

    Gloria and her older sister Abigail lost their mother to sickle cell anemia one month after Gloria was born. The father is now married to another woman, but has no permanent job and neglects his children from the first wife. The children live with their 70-year-old grandmother in a shack where she supports them and two other children by begging. They are Pentecostal, though Gloria and Abigail went to the government Methodist nursery school. Currently, Gloria is in nursery and Abigail is in KG1 at Manye Academy.

    Leaps and bounds for Konogo library

    When Ghana Project Director Barbara Gilday visited the Konongo Odomase Secondary School where she taught many years ago while in the Canadian University Services Overseas, she noticed the library had few books and mainly very old ones. She committed to creating a library project and has gathered a great group of dedicated US and Canadian volunteers who are raising $20,000 before the school opens in September. They are within $1200 of their goal as of this writing.

    Additional Ghanaian support is coming from Helena Asamoah-Hassan, a school alum and current Chief Librarian of the second largest university in Ghana. She has agreed to take responsibility for the purchase, cataloging and installation of the books. Helena and her staff are training the Konongo librarian as they do so, and hope to have more than half the books requested by the teachers available for the students when the school opens in mid-September.

    As the library project reaches completion we are turning our attention to its future sustainability. The headmaster has requested that a National Service Librarian (after graduation, students are required to do one year of national service) to come to the school and manage the collection, assisted by the current library monitor. Ideally, as the collection grows in the next years, a full time librarian would be hired.

    The library currently will only be open until 5 o'clock, but Helena hopes that some students could be trained to operate the library during the evening study hours.

    - Barbara Gilday, Coordinator.

    (Read more about the Konongo Odumase Secondary School Library project)

    GCJ Goes Green!

    GCJ has been inspired to add climate change thinking to our programming and planning. When you think about it, there's hardly an issue more global or interconnected than climate change. The green house gases we each emit disperse around the globe, the effects of climate change leave no community untouched, and communities all across the globe will need to be part of the change process.

    The Green Team is just getting started with brainstorming how to incorporate carbon offsetting into our travel and our journey projects. We intend to offset the carbon emissions from our air travel by investing money and sweat time directly into climate-smart projects in communities where we build relationships. We have far larger aspirations, too. We'd like climate thoughtfulness to become part of who we are and what we do at all levels, from hands on journey projects to cross cultural dialogue to our messaging here at home.

    If you have technical expertise in renewable energy or the carbon cycle, green ideas from past journeys or simply a passion about the environment, think about joining the Green Team and help us bring ideas to life.

    -Morgan Ahouse, Green Team coordinator

    GCJ Burundi: The Journey has already begun!

    Just think: exactly one year from now, we will have just returned from our first Journey to Burundi, Africa. We'll be telling firsthand of all of our new friends throughout Central Africa, about our visit with Prosper Ndabishuriye (see photo), our Burundian host, his family, and community. We'll be sharing the stories of how the African delegates joining us from Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya brought a stronger sense of solidarity to this oft-forgotten Burundian nation.

    We'll be filled with new songs and hope as we tell you of the two Town Meetings led by our delegates and the Carama Community. We'll be full of stories about how we uncovered even more peace-making/reconciliation dreams and actions bringing attention and pride to the Burundian community. The Women's Talking Circle and Youth Talking Circle will have been highlights in the deepening of our relationships. We'll share how even more awareness and understanding grew from our side trips to the Congo and Rwanda, and we will have firsthand knowledge and testimonies as to the practical next steps to support the Burundian people in their building of a more safe and secure united Burundi.

    Our visits to NGO's, national and community leaders, the Burundian Wildlife Refuge, and ecovillage, refugee camps, local microcredit new business, and cultural gatherings will be fresh in our hearts and minds as Burundi and Africa now feel more like a global neighborhood to us.

    How would you like to be sharing these stories with us? Mark your calendars for the Burundi GCJourney: June 28 - July 14, 2008.

    I close with a much beloved Burundian proverb "Buke buke bukomeza igihonyi" (when translated from the native tonuge, Kirundi) "Little by little, the banana tree matures." And so it seems to be with all of our multicultural peace & journey work!

    Deborah L. Adams, Burundi-Africa Project Director

    Have we piqued your interest? Contact Deborah at deborah@globalcitizenjourney.org

    Sweet Crude draws a sold-out crowd
    sweet crude

    A sold-out crowd at the Neptune Theatre responded enthusiastically to the Sweet Crude work-in-progress screening at the Seattle International Film Festival June 15th. The audience was engaged and hungry for more information about the Niger Delta, evidenced by the very thoughtful, action-oriented questions during the Q&A session with filmmaker Sandy Cioffi and Nigerian guest Joel Bisina. Joel's NGO NIDPRODEV was the Nigerian host organization for the 2005 GCJ trip to the Niger Delta village of Oporoza. Joel is a key character in the film, which also features many Oporoza residents.

    In conjunction with the SIFF screening, photographs shot on location during filming were exhibited at three Verite Coffee locations in Seattle. Store employees reported lots of buzz, as customers learned about and talked about the Niger Delta--in true coffeehouse fashion. Verite owner Jody Hall is one of the film's Executive Producers. Although the exhibit is over, framed prints are still available for sale. For more information, please contact Leslye Wood at 206.282.0880 or email info@sweetcrudemovie.com.

    Meanwhile, Sweet Crude is moving ahead on several fronts. The film is being finished. There has been some serious discussion with a major distributor who saw the work-in-progress screening. And entry applications are being sent to upcoming film festivals. Political advocacy continues--with third-party peace talks being explored with U.S. lawmakers and international diplomats.

    For more information about the film and the latest news from the Niger Delta, visit www.sweetcrudemovie.com. To get updates on future screenings and purchasing DVDs, be sure to sign up for the email list.

    Niger Delta Quick Hits
    Nigerian NGO partner Joel Bisina distributes micro-lending checks

    - Earlier this spring, groups of women from three communities nearby the Oporoza library were accepted into the micro lending program established by alumni of the November 2005 journey. Approximately $6,000 was distributed to the women, who are primarily fisherwomen, with some involved in petty trading and food vending. The women are formed into cooperative groups who take turns receiving loans as the proceeds of earlier loans are repaid. (See photo: Joel Bisina awards funds to the women in the microlending program.)

    - Muhammad Mustapha, one of the Nigerian delegates who took part in our 2005 journey, writes that his visit to the Niger Delta really made an impact on him. Mustapha, who is from the city of Kano in the northern part of Nigeria, is working on creating tours for others from his region, who have never had the opportunity to see the reality of life in southern Nigeria where the oil which supports the entire country comes from. He hopes this small step will help bridge the gap between North and South which contributes to the lack of infrastructure development in the delta.

    - The Grand Opening Celebration for the internet access in the Niger Delta Friendship Library is scheduled for August. Already we've had test messages sent from the library to the US - the first time that there has been internet access in the "creeks"!

    - Due to increased post-election violence, we have decided to postpone further planning for our August 2008 delegation to the Niger Delta. While there are some hopeful signs that the new President is trying to address the issues of the Niger Delta, a previously unseen level of violence caused by criminals and thugs has arisen. We have decided to wait until the situation calms down before making further plans for another delegation to the Niger Delta.

    -- Mary Ella Keblusek, Project Director, Nigeria

    Join Us in the Exciting Evolution of GCJ

    GCJ is at an exciting juncture: with the grace period of a year before our next Journey, we are using the time to harvest the learning from our first two Journeys and to integrate all of this into handbooks for delegates, project directors, hosts, and volunteers. We are awed by the power of the model we are spawning as we witness the amazing spin offs and dedication of delegates, here and abroad, in their expanding work as global citizens. We are dedicated to BEING the change, so the way we work together is as important to us as the work we do.

    We invite and treasure the energy and passion of all who join us, aspiring to work in ways that help us each learn and grow, generate new ideas, are choice-creating, and transformative, with passion, joy and interconnectedness as guiding principles. Please feel free to read more about our principles and values.

    Please join us! We have a growing cadre of dedicated volunteers and leadership developing - a fabulous diverse group of many faiths and ethnicities, from high schoolers to senior citizens. We are organizing into teams and welcome others to join in where their interest and talents lead them. We are working to develop an organization that promotes collaborative, shared leadership in new ways that are powerful and sustainable.

    Send your ideas! Some of our current projects include developing resources for handbooks and for the web, such as compiling a list of resources for global citizens, including books, articles and weblinks. Please send your contributions: for example, books about community based development, Africa, citizen diplomacy, etc. We would like any contribution to be annotated with a brief synopsis and recommendation.

    With appreciation for everyone helping to bring GCJ into being,

    Susan Partnow - Founder

    Trivia Answer


    Media coverage and of course the fame of Hotel Rwanda have brought attention and resources to Rwanda, including aid plus the activities and establishment of many NGOs there while, sadly, Burundi remains overlooked and languishing.

    Learn more about Burundi:

    Join Our Mailing List

    Try today's GCJ trivia question

    What is the gap in the GDP per capita income between Burundi and its neighbor Rwanda? (According to the International Monetary Fund 2006 estimates)

    a. No difference

    b. $330 (Burundi $545/year, Rwanda $875/year)

    c. $515 (Burundi $1195/year, Rwanda $680/year

    d. $725 (Burundi $680/year, Rwanda $1405/year)

    (see answer at bottom of page)

    Quick links

    Download our brochure

    Visit our web site

    Check out our wish list

    Images of Ghana, Nigeria & Burundi

    laying the library foundation


    Phone: Leslye Wood: 206.282.0880

    Forward email

    This email was sent to newsletter@globalcitizenjourney.org, by newsletter@globalcitizenjourney.org

    Global Citizen Journey | 4425 Baker Avenue NW | Seattle | WA | 98107