“This is My Territory”: The Afro-Colombian Experience

By The Phelps Stokes Team

This is My Territory is an Afro-Colombian group consisting of 27 members.  It is a group of young people who once struggled  with  hunger, violence, homelessness, but they have all come together to create music.  They believe that music is an apt medium to spread their message and the central message is that they are fighting for their land.  With no place to call home, many young adults live like nomads in Colombia.

The band was created last December at an urban music festival.  The event was created to allow youths the opportunity to speak out against the violence in Buenaventura.  Buenaventura acts as a haven for those displaced by violence between illegal armed groups.  There are about 75,500 displaced Colombians living in Buenaventura.

The family structure in Colombia has been affected as a result of the violence. One of the group members was displaced in 2006, he expressed that it was easier to leave his home than to fight off the rebels.  The displaced youths have had a limited education and struggle on a daily basis. Never admitting defeat, the young people are rallying to work in the building of homes and public projects to further establish a community.

For more information about This is My Territory, visit www.trust.org.

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Filed under Buenaventura, Colombia, Urban Music, Violence, Youth

Some Children are Starving for an Education in Kenya

By Phelps Stokes Team

Phelps Stokes believes that education is essential. It is difficult for students in Africa to fully focus on their education.  Most recently, many Kenyan children have been forced to drop out of school due to malnutrition. The Nairobi Star reports that over 5,000 students have left school in Turkana and Pokot because of famine. Many children leave school to help their families find food and to work on small family farms. The amount of food in the region is severely low. The government has made steps to fix the food shortages. In addition, the government has increased security and food distribution throughout the region. But, merely distributing food won’t be enough.  So, they are also introducing a program to help teach its citizens how to produce food and maintain healthy livestock.

For more information about this topic, visit www.allAfrica.com.

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Filed under Africa, Afrodescendants, Kenya, Nairobi

Recent African Graduates Aren’t Too Different from US Graduates

By Phelps Stokes Team

According to www.allAfrica.com, recent American graduates have something in common with Rwandan graduates, unemploymentThe US economy has made it difficult for most recent grads to infiltrate the marketplace in America.  This is a shared experience for recent grads in Rwanda.  A 26 year-old college graduate from the National University of Rwanda (NUR) was unemployed for two years.  His major was Applied Statistics. There are more in need of jobs than there are jobs available in Rawanda.  Also, the job creation rate is not matching the number of potential employment seekers.  There is an influx of young adults leaving their rural communities. They believe the city will provide them with a better life.

Professor Silas Lwakabamba, a professor at NUR, believes that the creation of a job center would bridge the gap between employers and college graduates.  He also believes that the usage of entrepreneurial programs will help the students gain a new skill set.  This would be a skill set they could use to become self-employed. Rwanda’s Minister of Labor encourages graduates to look outside of popular city centers for employment.  He remarked that there are many jobs available in more rural parts of the country.

For more information about this topic, visit www.allAfrica.com.

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Sesame Square to Debut in Nigeria

By Phelps Stokes Team

For many young American children, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was a source of home education. The PBS programs Sesame Street, Arthur, Mister Rodgers Neighborhood, and Barney teaches children how to share, count, and recite ABC’s.  Sesame Street has been running for over 40 years in America

Nigeria has recently launched its own version of the popular children-educational program. The show is entitled, “Sesame Square.” The show has Big Bird, with a Nigerian accent; and the show also has a HIV-positive puppet named Kami. The show is not only focused on academics, but social education as well.  Malaria kills approximately 300,000 people a year in Nigeria, so some of the focus is placed on Malaria prevention.

The American Free Press (AFP) interviewed Yemisi Ilo, the Executive Producer of “Sesame Square” and she mentions that Statistics show that at the end of the day malaria and HIV kills more people in this part of the world than anything else. The series is already slated for 3 seasons.  The first season is called, “We Can.”   The season will focus on empowering Nigerian children. US ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley hopes, Sesame Square will “inspire children to perceive learning as fun and a necessary pathway to success, and to echo President Obama’s ‘Yes, We Can’.”

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What are your thoughts about the First World Summit of Afrodescendants?

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International Leaders Support the Launch of The First World Summit of Afrodescendants

Latin America is the area south of the Rio Gra...

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By Phelps Stokes Team

2011 is the year of the Afrodescendants. In celebration of this occasion, there will be a summit focusing on the issues surrounding Afrodescendants around the world. The summit is scheduled to take place August 18-21, 2011 in the city of La Ceiba, Honduras. The First World Summit of Afrodescendants announced its launch May 26, 2011 at the Pan American Health Organization building in downtown Washington, D.C.

The event was led by Dr. Marijke Velzeboer from the Pan American Health Organization. “We are committed to equality in health and health for all; and it is really a privilege to be supporting this summit,” remarked Dr. Marijke Velzeboer. Dr. Santiago Cantón, Executive Secretary of the Inter American Commission of Human Rights of the OAS; Dr. Jorge R. Hernández, Ambassabor of Honduras to the United States; Mr. Jim Coffin, Acting Vice-President of Phelps Stokes; were just a few of the people asked to speak at the launch. There were also performances by Vicky Leyva and Efraín Martínez.

Panelists from Launch of First World Summit of Afrodescents

The President and Executive Secretary of the summit, Mr. Celeo Álvarez, wants to have tangible results from the summit. He hopes the summit will result in the creation of a recognized body for Afrodescendants in the United Nations. In addition, he’d like to create a fund for Afrodescendants in Honduras. It is important that this summit set a chain reaction that will be felt throughout the world. It isn’t enough to just recognize how marginalized Afrodescendants are treated throughout the world, but it is time to be proactive. The summit will be about creating solutions to help Afrodescendants all over the world.

When asked about the importance of the First World Summit of Afrodescendants, Dr. Santiago Cantón commented on the historic oppression of Afrodescendants. He added that it is important for everyone to work together to solve the issues that face Afrodescendants. Analyzing the gaps between Afrodescendants and other ethnic groups around the world is one of the principle goals of the summit. Honduras’ Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Jorge R. Hernández, mentioned that Honduras has several Afro-Latinos working in the government, ensuring that Afro-Latino have representation in the government. The Honduran government has set in place quotas that guarantee Afrodescendants a place to work. Many attendees echoed the words of Colombia’s Vice President, Angeliono Garzon, that there should be a certain percentage of government officials that are Afrodescendant and Colombia’s Vice President made this statement in a press release addressing Afrodescendants in Colombia.

Afro-Peruvian singer, Vicky Leyva is excited about the summit. She expressed her happiness to see progress occurring in the world, as it relates to Afrodescendants. The summit’s website states, “The main purpose of this Summit is to harness the unique opportunity presented by the proclamation of the “2011 International Year of African Descent” for a critical analysis, assess the conditions of Afro-descendant populations, the achievements under the implementation of international treaties, and not least, an analysis of the social status of Afro-descendant movement.”

For Registration and additional Information, visit the official World Summit of African Descendants (Cumbre Mundial de Afrodescendientes) website: http://cumbremundialafro.org.

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