We had the pleasure of attending a mural unveiling last week at Ottawa Community Housing together with local Ottawa artist and musician Claudia Salguero. Ottawa Community Housing provides programs for safe and vibrant communities throughout Ottawa, and UWV is working with the organization to establish and conduct a program for sewing and tailoring skills for income generation. To be launched early in 2016, this UWV program will provide disadvantaged women, new immigrants, and youth with new skills to assist their families and generate income. Not only will this program benefit the community in Ottawa, but it enables UWV to pilot a program that we hope to launch with a partner overseas within the year.
Check out Jamaal Rogers if you get the chance. He is an amazing Ottawa-based spoken word artist that does terrific work with youth, both in the schools and with other organizations, to build self-confidence and creative self-expression. We’re building plans to work with him on some innovative programs for youth in 2016!
We had a great meeting with Operation Come Home earlier this month. They are doing wonderful work with vulnerable youth in Ottawa. UWV is building up a program that we hope to operate in collaboration with Operation Come Home early in 2016, focused on income generating activities combined with employment and life skills training. We’re working with local artist and musician Claudia Salguero to build out an innovative program that combines artistic expression and specialty hand-crafted items that will engage youth and enhance community integration. This amazing program is the initial launch of a broader initiative that we will also conduct together with youth-oriented partners overseas.
Upon my return to Canada from visiting the children’s homes run by CHI in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal I had the pleasure of working with Gaye Taylor who runs Cool It For The Kids (CIFTK). CIFTK is an Ottawa-based organization that provides climate change awareness for children. Together we visited local Ottawa schools to provide presentations to children on the issues and impact of climate change and social responsibility.
In my presentation and discussion, I was emphasizing how climate change has affected children in the developing world, particularly in Bangladesh, and our social responsibility on a personal level. The presentations were well received with a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the children. The kids were particularly interested in the daily lives and challenges of the children in Bangladesh. It was wonderful to see their positive engagement, and their very challenging questions and great ideas about how they could drive change in the world.
These presentations reinforced for me the importance of engaging youth locally to increase their awareness of their connection to other children around the world who are in a more vulnerable environment.
In addition to learning from Bonnie at Child Haven International (CHI), I’ve been excited that I can give back to CHI as part of United World Voices activities throughout this trip. At each of the homes, I have been conducting eye screening to determine if there are children that may need glasses or more detailed eye exams. Poor vision hinders the ability of a child to learn in the classroom and to develop the knowledge and skills that will lead to a better life, so identifying those that need corrective lenses is really critical. Over the past four weeks, I’ve provided eye screening to over 600 children in 5 homes and about 20 of those kids require some kind of vision correction. At each location, I’ve also taught the administrators and nurses in the CHI homes how to conduct the basic eye screening so that they can routinely screen the children themselves as part of their regular healthcare check-ups. Education and life skills is a key program element of United World Voices and good eyesight is fundamental to achieving that learning and launching children on a positive path. On behalf of UWV, I’ve been privileged on this trip to be able to support the children in each of the CHI homes with this critical service.
I have had the pleasure and privilege, over the past few weeks, to travel with and learn from Bonnie Cappuccino and Robin Cappuccino of Child Haven International (CHI) as I visited the homes for destitute children and skills development centers they operate or support in India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bangladesh. Bonnie founded CHI together with her husband Fred in 1985 and they have developed a Ghandian model of support for children and women that complements my goals at United World Voices. Their experience is helping to shine a light on the challenges that will need to be overcome in local operations and working with local partners.
The women at Manav Vikas Parishad (MVP) currently produce sanitary napkins which they sell at reasonable cost within the local community to support the MVP operations and earn some personal income. While visiting with Bonnie Cappuccino from CHI, we provided a sample design for a yoga mat bag that the women could learn to produce and that could be sold to generate additional income.
I was excited to visit Manav Vikas Parishad (MVP) in Ghaziabad, India in November 2014 to see the new sewing machines that were purchased with UWV funding. MVP is an organization supported by Child Haven International (CHI) that provides a community development program for women. MVP trains local women in sewing skills and provides basic healthcare programmes. The women learn basic sewing skills in a six month course after which they have the knowledge to work with other tailors or sew for their families.
Check back regularly for thoughts and commentary on our initiatives and international development.