In 2016, I visited NGO Husk’s community and school hub in Kompheim, Cambodia where I worked with local people in the sewing room and classrooms. Fiona and Anthony Jaensch warmly welcomed our group and shared the programs for building well being, literacy, financial skills and environmental conservation.
I’m heading down a different path today.
KOGO which stands for Knit One, Give One, started out as a small group who wanted to knit for others. In the first year, 180 scarves were knitted and distributed to those experiencing homelessness. Enabling others to be protected from the cold and to experience the self worth that comes from being valued, the group has grown over to over 5000 knitters and crocheters in 12 years. They come from all walks of life and they vary in age – the youngest being an 11 year old girl and our oldest being over 100. In 2015, the not-for-profit organisation distributed 65,500 hand knitted winter woollies to the most vulnerable in our community through 250 community partner organisations.
What’s the point of ALL this?
Let me give some background…
Caritas Australia calls upon Catholic Social Teaching to guide its work. No human being should have their dignity or freedom compromised. The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world.
The Global Perspectives Framework highlights global values and attitudes and mentions a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people and maintaining a sense of personal identity and self esteem.
Partnerships for action work best when those whose skill base can be shared, find those who will gain value from that skill. Generosity of effort can make an immeasurable difference to someone else. The benefits are mutual.
In KOGO’s work, the principles of ‘the dignity of the person’ and ‘the common good’ apply. KOGO’s values are global values and action starts right at their own front door.
Many months ago I came across a TED talk by Elora Hardy. I marvelled at her attitude to designing stuctures in bamboo.
Magical houses made of bamboo Take a look at this inspiring TED TALK
Elora Hardy’s designed her dream house was when she was nine.
She shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination.
Then months later a friend was inspiring me with talk of our proposed visit to Bali and a visit to Green School. We checked out a TED talk about this unique school built by John Hardy but still the penny hadn’t dropped.
You know when you have that AHA moment. Well that happened!!
John is Elora’s father.
An experiment in justice
The national court system was unable to handle the aftermath of trialling perpetrators following the genocide in Rwanda.
Another system hand to be found to supplement the overcrowded justice system. Rwanda embarked on an ambitious justice and reconciliation process at grassroots level with the ultimate aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace.
The Rwandan government in 2005 re-established the traditional community court system called “Gacaca” (pronounced GA-CHA-CHA).
Watch this video and decide whether the principles of Gacaca could be applied to handling bullying in schools.
Divine chocolate is absolutely delicious and even more so knowing the story behind its fair trade and sustainable production story. Congratulations CEO Sophi Tranchell; you’ve shown the world that business does not have to profit at the cost of the people who matter.
This is a business model worthy of demonstration to students who aspire to be global citizens.
PHNOM PENH – “Welcome to our Global Knowledge programme on the Voice of Persons with Disabilities broadcasting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap province (FM92.25 MHz) and Preah Sihanouk province (FM88.75 MHz).”
From inside a crammed studio on the ground of a Buddhist pagoda, the announcement by Ms. Phoum Leakhena, an anchor, made debut for the first time a radio programme by and for people with disabilities. Its mission is to provide an airwave channel for them to make their voices heard and to promote their rights and opportunities as equal members in the Cambodian society.Radio for Persons with Disability
Disability in Cambodia
- The number of people with disabilities is around 700,000 or 5 percent of the country’s population
- People with disability face many barriers including physical, social, economic and attitudinal.
- They lack access to appropriate, quality and affordable healthcare, rehabilitation, education and disability services.
Also One man’s story
Research and experience tell me that parents, government leaders and business want young people to become active and responsible citizens of the world and to obtain jobs where interaction with people in other countries and from other cultures is productive and economically rewarding. Continue reading
It has been more than a year since Liberia, a deeply religious country, embraced one of its biggest taboos, cremating bodies-to rein in the rampaging Ebola pandemic. Thirty young men have been shunned by their community.
Find out more about burial practice, culture and Ebola with some discussion and critical thinking to explore at http://bit.ly/1IYEakQ
At a recent sports day for young children I reflected on the purpose and learning opportunities of the event.
The organisation of the morning was outstanding. Every element from volunteer assistance, evacuation procedures, entertainment, medical facilities and choice of not for profits to support had been thought through in detail.
Lesson no 1: My community will go to great lengths to make an event relevant to my age, ensure my safety and at the same time make it fun for me. They will give me an opportunity to help others through my effort.
Children were registered by families and were sponsored by relatives and friends. The proceeds of the morning were donated to a not for profit chosen by families from a small range that the organisers had thoughtfully selected.
Lesson no 2: I can ask my loved ones to support my efforts to help others.
Events were offered in varying lengths and staggered across the morning.
Lesson no 3: I have a chance of completing the event, feeling proud and fulfilling my commitment to my sponsors.
Toilets were brought in, sunscreen and water were on hand and even fruit was freely available.
Lesson no 4: As a child my needs will be looked after.
Children ran, walked, were pushed and were held. Their adults walked dogs, pushed strollers, prams, supported and encouraged their children’s efforts. Bystanders offered words of praise. Certificates available to every participant at the finishing line acknowledged the effort not the winning.
Lesson no 5: I’m a champion for participating and trying hard. Winning is for one; participating is for everybody.
After the events, families shared picnics, listened to music and mingled. Children could involve themselves in activities set up in the ‘Giving Tent’, where families could meet representatives of the not for profits. The ‘Giving Tent’ was set up to foster a spirit of generosity and participation for social good.
Lesson no 6: I can enjoy helping others.
The big lesson I learnt today: It’s not the speed but the journey. There was so much to learn along the way.
What skills and knowledge will it take to go from learning about the world to making a difference in the world? First, it takes seeing oneself as capable of making a difference. Globally competent students see themselves as players, not bystanders. They’re keenly able to recognize opportunities from targeted human rights advocacy to creating the next out-of-the-box, must-have business product we didn’t know we needed. Alone or with others, ethically and creatively, globally competent students can envision and weigh options for action based on evidence and insight; they can assess their potential impact, taking into account varied perspectives and potential consequences for others; and they show courage to act and reflect on their actions.
“We can choose the path of sustainable development” – open letter to world leaders – Action 2015.
Speaking of making a difference by taking action, I had the privilege of writing the teacher notes for Deborah Hart, author and herself a climate campaigner, brings together twelve passionate Australian activists from all walks of life. Willing to deal with fall-out served up by the government, the courts and the media, these advocates inspire us to follow their lead.