Post from: March 2014
Reflection on the Mission
Five years ago, our organization was birthed from the idea that war-torn countries should be equally valid a place to consider for development work because the people who live in war-torn countries should be considered equally as human as those who live elsewhere. We continue in this notion in ways that are evolving toward a greater understanding of our function:
Over the course of the past year, I have been attending graduate school at the University of Arkansas working on a Master’s in Anthropology. When I commenced the program the pattern of questions that I understandably received was, “will this distract you from ForgottenSong?” I was convinced that it would add more work, but that in the end, it would benefit this organization to have a director that understood (more than before) the complexities of working cross-culturally. I’ve still got one more year to go, but I can say with all honesty, it has been a driving force in the seeming obligation to shift my patterns of thinking and approach to our work.
Because most anthropologists really dislike international NGOs.
That’s a very complex question, but summarily speaking, NGOs while attempting to do a good thing (and usually with good intentions) resultantly shift systems of reliance toward the NGO. Alternatively, people should be relying on themselves and their communities not only for subsistence and basic needs like shelter and education, but for the type of political change that can lead to long-term well being. Instead, many NGOs set themselves up as not only the bearer of subsistence, but also the focal point of reliance. Remove the NGO, remove the source of subsistence and you return to the same place you began. The ultimate fate of the child who is given food for years but is never empowered to provide for herself is ultimately, starvation. Its like teaching someone to use a wheelchair who can be empowered to walk instead.
So where does that leave us?
I agree with my colleagues in the anthropology department. And I direct an NGO.
Therefore we as an organization move forward in light of one notion that has always been part of our ethos but is now more clearly defined: that if we do not see an endpoint to our work in a certain place, where ForgottenSong is removed from the picture, then we dare not start a work in the first place. We will not provide wheelchairs, we will provide dynamic mediums that can be utilized by communities for self-empowerment and revitalization in spite of the war that has tried to define them.
~~~Read More >
Post from: February 2014
Post from: January 2014
Snapshots from Uganda
I thought I'd start out the blog post with a photo of our noble director chasing a rebel chicken back into its coop. #wheninafrica
There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place; and I tried to trace such a journey in a story I once wrote... It concerned some boy whose farm or cottage on such a slope, and who went on his travels to find something, such as the effigy and grave of some giant; and when he was far enough from home he looked back and saw that his own farm and kitchen-garden, shining flat on the hill-side like the colours and quarterings of a shield, were but parts of some such gigantic figure, on which he had always lived, but which was too large and too close to be seen.
Uganda was quite the trip. As always, we're continually learning something new. Whether from our Ugandan partners, from each other, how to dream big, how to trust and take leaps of faith... No matter who you are or what you do, you end up coming back changed in some way. Big or small, it's inevitable. Whether you faced your fear of picking up a wing-flapping chicken or your eyes are opened to a new aspect of an unfamiliar culture, you will come back with a treasure, a memory that's invaluable.
There's nothing like leaving home and experiencing another culture to see your own in a new light. There's something in the midst of 'adventure' where we find something new about ourselves and about the purpose in our lives. I love the quote above, because it describes the power of leaving home to understand home. We don't just get a better grasp of Uganda when we go to Uganda, but we find a new understanding of the place from which we came. We realize that the place where we lived our whole lives is part of something much bigger than we could have realized. Everything we think we know is too large and too close to be seen and understood, until we walk round the whole world and come back to the same place...
Here's the team with our friend Eddie (on the right) having their very first "chicken on a stick"...
Say hello to our friend, Richard. He's a pretty great guy. "Hi, Richard!"
He's also a stellar singer and a bachelor. Single ladies, you know what that means...
Grace Adams, the founder of "Race for Febby," got to visit New Hope Academy where we established the poultry farm she single-handedly funded by running a half ironman race. Visit www.forgottensong.org/raceforfebby to learn more about this project.
These are easily two of our favorite men... ever. It's hard to describe how incredible and wonderful they are. If you could think of two very intelligent, wise, talented brothers that want to impact their country and the world...they would have these faces. Mzee Anthony and Pastor Joel, everyone. You should come with us to meet them.
Anthony, on the left, runs the "hub" farm in Jinja, Uganda. This farm is going to be used to exponentially multiply the amount of farms and impact across the country and region. Pastor Joel is our Ugandan host and first poultry farm recipient for Blessed Hope Orphanage and Academy in the capital city, Kampala.
Kyle got to learn from the locals how they make bricks. It's a fascinating process. Scoop up some mud, put it in some wood, throw it on the ground, let it dry. #Bricks #lifelessons
Charles and I had the opportunity to interview Pastor Joel to get a deeper perspective of his vision for his orphanage and the impact on his country. We will be posting his interview video soon! Keep ya eyes out for it!
Thanks for reading up. These are just a few glimpses into our trip to Uganda this year. If you are interested in participating in a future trip to Uganda, email firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More >
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 >