Post from: November 2013
Race to the Finish
This is the last month's stretch to the finish of the year for ForgottenSong. It's crazy to look back and see all that has happened over the past year 2013. We have started 3 poultry farms in Uganda and seen our childhood education center in Iraq make its first profits and be recognized by the Kurdish government as a model school! What great successes in just the first two years of project implementation.
To complete the goals for this year, ForgottenSong must complete the remaining 2 poultry farms in Uganda, with a goal of $25,000 so that we can build these remaining 2 farms and sustain orphanages with over 2,200 children! We are on our way to completing these two farms through the Race for Febby initiative, where Americans are empowered to do individually what our organization aims to do as a whole!
Consider partnering with our Race for Febby participants to reach their incredible goals; or even participate in the NightFlight 5k that our Race for Febby group, "4 Chicks For Chicks," is hosting to raise money (more to come on this event soon!). Visit www.forgottensong.webconnex.com/raceforfebby to donate to any of their races! YOU can ignite sustainable change in East Africa!
Also - Check out our latest video of the Uganda Poultry Project to see how it has grown in the past 10 months. Many thanks to Dylan Roberts for making another incredible video for us!Read More >
Post from: October 2013
Iraq Update :: October 2013
Hello all! Here is a video update from our Iraq partner, Pastor Armen. Our preschool "Angels of Dohuk" in northern Iraq is doing very well. They are now making profit and providing employment & sustainable income to 6 Iraqi refugees and their families!
Pastor Armen shared with us that the Kurdish Government (government of northern Iraq) has recognized the childhood education center as a model school for all of Iraqi Kurdistan! What a compliment and encouragement to our work and the work of our Iraqi partners. The school provides excellent childcare for a widely diverse group of children in Kurdistan, including the families of city leaders in law enforcement and government as well as refugee families.Read More >
Post from: September 2013
Back to the Basics // Part 5
Back to the Basics // Part 5
Visibility Means Power
“The problem with aid is that the poor are mostly invisible. Foreign aid and other development efforts take place in the attic of the rich people’s world.”
- The White Man’s Burden
When it comes to international development, the rich and powerful of the West, according to The White Man’s Burden by William Easterly, prefer big utopian visions of development, of helping the poor, and of curing diseases. The politicians and international development bureaucrats focus on lofty, unrealistic dreams of development instead of simply getting to know the poor and meeting their needs.
As Easterly explains the quote above, the effective and lasting solutions to development are actually occurring in the “attic of the rich people’s world,” meaning that the stuff that matters is pushed behind dark doors for the sake of utopian philanthropy & rescue. The stuff that matters is not seen by the rest of the world. We are more interested in saying what will do good and making glamorous plans to change the world, when in reality, we’re just fueling our own pride in our “knowledge of development,” if we do these things without empowering the poor to lead, or without listening to the real needs & seeking ways to sustainably meet those needs.
And this is why the poor have a problem. Their actual needs are not being heard (or listened to for that matter). Few have taken the time to spend time with locals, eat their food, share in their laughter, and listen to their needs… until recently.
ForgottenSong’s (last but not least) standard of “worldwide connection” is for the sake of those whose voices are not heard. This standard and effort of our mission is to share the forgotten songs with those in the Western world. To make the invisible visible. To bring light to the darkness.
As many of you can probably relate, this concept of worldwide connection is not new, but a need that many organizations like ours have adopted. There is a new trend in international development (in my opinion) to go, to listen and to serve in a way that is unprecedented. We have recognized mistakes in the past that our own Western knowledge of development is not enough. We recognize that true change can only happen through the leadership of those in the developing world, partnering with our Western willingness to listen to them.
Our goal at ForgottenSong is to not just listen to their stories, but to share their stories with you…and vice versa, even. If we are a global community, then we must share our stories with one another. A community is a group of people or people groups that share a common interest or a common heritage. To be a global community is to share in a common bond: the bond of humanity and brokenness. We have all experienced brokenness to some extent, and some more than others. But this is how we relate, and we have compassion for one another. We can share in each other’s sufferings and, with hope, help relieve the pain of those who suffer more than we do.
People, be listeners. Join us in our efforts to listen to and share the forgotten songs from around the world.
If you have a story to share, or if you like to tell or communicate stories, contact us about getting involved in our pursuit of making this “Worldwide Connection” tangible.
~~~Read More >
Back to the Basics // Part 4
The Justification of the Poultry Project
This week, we’re taking a step away from our standards and honing in on our Uganda Poultry Project. There are actually some REALLY good reasons behind why we started chicken farming as opposed to an array of other possibilities.
The decision to create a system of poultry farms was thoroughly researched by both the Ugandan partners and ForgottenSong staff. In fact, there is an increasing demand for poultry meat and eggs not only in Uganda, but also in the Great Lakes Region of East Africa for the development of the local population’s standard of living. Currently there are many egg exports from Uganda to South Sudan, Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo. Poultry is one of the most promising enterprises in the Ugandan livestock sector, because it requires little space and relatively small initial capital per unit compared to other livestock enterprises. The continuous availability of chick feeds & medicine on the market enhances & promotes the success of poultry farms in Uganda.
Moreover, ForgottenSong has chosen to use the Kuroiler chicken for each of our poultry farms in Uganda. The Kuroiler chicken is a crossbred scavenger chicken developed by KeggFarms, India. These chickens are resistant to many diseases and have a higher survival rate than that of the indigenous chicken. According to KeggFarms, “this chicken thrives under harsh rural environments. The strategy to introduce these birds in rural Uganda is likely to substantially increase returns from family flocks.”
Additionally, “[t]he Kuroiler chickens offer a significant improvement in virtually all areas of breeding. While indigenous chickens lay just 30-40 eggs per year, the Kuroilers can easily produce five times that number or around 150-200. Kuroilers also grow to about double the body weight of their native counterparts, providing much more edible meat” (http://www.keggfarms.com).
By starting with these small farms to reach many children at orphanages, our goal is for these farms to organically reproduce at an exponential rate so that in the next 10 years, Uganda’s economy will actually be changed for the better while having drastically improved the health and education of orphaned children throughout the country.Read More >
Back to the Basics // Part 3
Back to the Basics // Part 3
“Let Them Lead”
By: Lauren Blanco
For decades, Western foreign aid has attempted to rescue the poor with their grandiose and lofty plans, though with little regard to the actual opinion and wisdom of those in developing countries. Money is shelled out over and over, without proper accountability and strategy to see goals achieved, further escalating the dependency that cripples those on the receiving end. The intentions are most often honorable, but there’s something missing if our subconscious arrogance in our own limited knowledge, hidden behind our compassion for others, leaves us with the mentality that we know what is best for those whose lives and livelihoods are vastly different than what we are familiar with.
What we have discovered in our work is, more often than not, they know better than we. Of course we have valuable ideas and knowledge from our own education and experiences, but if we fail to partner that with the knowledge and insight of those we are working with, we will be left with empty shells, no substance, and projects and programs that do significantly less, if anything, to truly help and empower those we work with.
This is why one of our standards as an organization is “Native Leadership.” In anything we do abroad, we MUST partner with locals who will lead. Because the goal is not to put ourselves in power, but to put others in power….
True empowerment lies in the willingness to relinquish one’s own desires for authority and in the ability to entrust responsibility to others. Personally, I think we (international development folks & organizations) and our unwillingness to think outside the box can be some of the greatest hindrances to empowerment. Instead of clinging to easy solutions (hand-outs and ‘charity’ work), we must instead think how we can “work ourselves out of a job” by equipping others to work while also creating job opportunities.
Luckily for us at ForgottenSong, this has actually been pretty easy. Particularly with our Ugandan partners. And I say this not because we are so awesome, but entirely because our partners are some of the most incredible, intelligent and wise men we have ever met. They are visionaries and teachers and diligent workers that are true to their word and full of integrity. Their hearts are set on their country, its people and its development. They have completely taken the ball in their court by following through with their commitments, seeing their poultry farms to success, and casting vision for the future. Not only are we empowering them through small financial donations, but they are empowering themselves and their communities by taking initiative and serving others as they lead.
In partnering with people of other cultures, we must have discernment and look for the leaders who are going to take initiative and truly partner with us in the vision, that is to take on the vision in their own hearts and minds - not just follow a list of instructions. We like to call them “men of peace,” those who are truly invested in the partnership and those who follow through on their word.
We also recognize that we must be wary. Cultures are vastly different, especially in regards to the use of money. The process of communication is slow and humbling, but perseverance is essential in communication so that both partners may find peace in their work and their agreements.
So let them lead because they are more than able. For sustainable development to occur and truly transform societies, we must think not of ourselves and how we can be the supermans of the world, but how we must partner with the unnamed leaders of the world to ignite change within their own cultures, communities & countries. It is not up to us. It is up to them. But it is up to us to find them and work together. We’re a global community.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have opinions? We'd love for you to share your comments in the box below!
Next week we will share the details of our poultry farm system: why it’s working and why we began this project in the first place. Stay tuned! We'd love for you to share your comments in the box below!
Suggested Reading for the Week:
When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert
~~~Read More >
Back to the Basics // Part 2
"What is Sustainable Development?"
By: Lauren Blanco
ForgottenSong has standards.
As I'm sure you were all wondering.. yes, we really do!
Our standards hold us accountable in our work abroad and keep us focused when it comes to planning and implementing projects overseas. You listeners out there are an integral part of what we do (more to come on this subject in a few weeks!); we want to include you in our thinking & explain why these standards are such pillars of international work!!!!!
The standards are :
1. Self-Sustainability & Reproducibility
2. Native Leadership
3. Worldwide Connection
These standards help us reach our goals & meet the needs of our global community in a holistic manner. This week we will focus on the first standard.
S E L F - S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y & R E P R O D U C I B I L I T Y
What does sustainability mean and why is it so important to us?
Sustainable development is defined by the Brundtland Commission as “the kind of development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” While this concept is often and recently associated with environmentalism, our focus in international development is directed towards social & physical needs as our first priority.
Our goal as an organization is to seek out the basic needs of people in war-torn countries, then to integrate the solutions to these needs in a multi-faceted way.
Take our first project in Iraq, for example. We were presented with a need for childcare. Widowed mothers & refugee families could not work without leaving their children at home, and they could not bring in a sustainable income source if these mothers stayed home with their young children. We met this need by providing subsidized childcare, so that single parents could provide their children with excellent childhood education while being able to work and provide income for their families.
Though we were presented with one need, the solution meets 3:
Vocation, Education & Health needs.
These three basic needs are what we aim to fulfill through projects that will sustain not only this generation, but equip the next generation to do the same. While parents can provide food and income for their family, their children are now equipped for a brighter future.
>> The “Angels of Dohuk” childhood education center in Iraq currently provides excellent childcare & education to 30 children. <<
ForgottenSong is passionate about sustainable development for several reasons.
Sustainable development is effective, empowering & long-lasting. By working with local people to become self-sustainable, they are empowered rather than left dependent upon the foreigner (like us). This empowers them to overcome cycles of poverty as well as stay OUT of this cycle once their initial donation has been used up. Being self-sustainable not only provides a means of income, but of education and nutrition that equips the following generations to grow and develop.
Additionally, in the history of global aid, we have seen the reverse effects of aid, mostly of which is NOT self-sustainable. Many organizations rush to the aid of others with honorable intentions, but, as expressed in books like When Helping Hurts and The White Man’s Burden, international aid has done more harm than it has done good.
As an international development organization, we see sustainable development as the key to doing more good than harm. Through programs and initiatives that are self-sustainable, we can empower individuals and communities, as well as fuel economies and positively affect the socioeconomic realities in countries that have been trapped by poverty and violence.
Our efforts in sustainable development partner with the concept of micro-loans: small & short-term financial investments to a start-up company or self-employed person. We believe that these small and short-term financial investments into a project or business initiative with our overseas partners will become a long-term source of income for families & orphanages, benefit local markets & economies, all while improving the lives of victims of war. When we give a “micro-loan” or small financial donation to our partners, they do not give back to us, but give back into their communities. Our desire is to see this form of organic giving as the fuel of growth and development throughout war-torn regions.
In regards to “Reproducibility,” this concept is a bit more straightforward and simple. We want our projects to be reproduced for the sake of positively impacting more lives. In the development of our projects, our desire is to ensure the projects ability to be reproduced in the same region or in other regions to multiply its effectiveness. This means that we want to implement projects that relate to and are useful for many people, not just an elite or specific few.
Next week we’ll focus on native leadership as an integral element of self-sustainability. Post YOUR comments below!
Suggested reading for the week:
The White Man’s Burden by William Easterly
~~Read More >