Tuesday, January 18, 2011

T minus 22 hours and counting - Monday, Feb. 8, 2011 (ignore the date above)

It's almost time. John and I leave for Africa tomorrow with a pretty ambitious agenda.

First, a few days in France visiting with lovely niece Claire and celebrating Judy's 60th.

Then we'll be in Niger, with an important meeting to work on curriculum development for Farmers of the Future, a program to teach older primary school kids to be agribusiness people, not just subsistence farmers. We'll also work on Pads for Peace, discussing the possibility of the Pencils for Kids sewing center manufacturing reusable sanitary pads.

Next is the Songhai Center in Benin, learning about their approach to training people in integrated market-based agriculture.

Then we're off to Kenya, to do a video on Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre, an amazing nursery school in Kibera, the huge slum in Nairobi. The nursery school has a sewing center where we plan to start manufacturing reusable sanitary pads for distribution to schoolgirls enrolled in reproductive education/empowerment programs.

At the MDG Centre in Nairobi, we'll meet with Belay Begashaw, the Director of Millennium Villages in East Africa (and former Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia!) We'll visit with the artisans of Nanyuki Handcrafts, who make the beautiful glass-beaded necklaces we've been selling in the States. And we'll also meet Megan White Mukuria, someone who originally raised our awareness of how important access to sanitary pads is on girls being able to finish secondary school.

Our last stop is Uganda. We'll visit the Millennium Village of Ruhiira for the first time and see the grain warehouse funded by Eliminate Poverty Now. Finally, we'll meet Moses Musaazi, inventor of Makapads, a low-cost, biodegradable disposable sanitary pad.

Those are the things I know about. But I'm sure there will be lots more. I know there will be surprises, new projects we'll want to be involved in, people we'll want to introduce you to. We're excited to be finally on the way.

Talk to you soon from France - but not in French!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oh my gosh, so much has happened in the last few days. It will take a little while to process it all, and fill you in, but for now let me tell you about the progress being made in the sewing center in the Leona, Senegal Millennium Village. This sewing center was initiated and funded entirely by Eliminate Poverty Now (after much prodding by Papa Sam!). It began operating just after the fall harvest in 2010. (The girls were needed for the harvest and couldn't begin their sewing classes until the harvest was done.)

We heard today from Serigne Kandji, one of the leaders of the Millennium Villages Project in Senegal, that the girls have already earned nearly $1000 from their sewing activities! The slideshow is proof that their work is extraordinary. I want one of those beautiful embroidered gowns!