Coming Full Circle

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I wanted to take my final blog post to bring together everything that I’ve talked about in my last four posts. I thought about talking about another topic, but it didn’t make sense. I guess I thought just like with any good paper, discussion, or debate the best way to end is with reflection. This is exactly what I decided to do. So if you’ve read all of them beginning to end or maybe just now begun, (not totally sure how accessible this blog is) that maybe you can at least take away these main points that I’ve compiled into this final post.

One of the main issues that I have presented in my last few posts is the importance of development projects being used as a tool to defuse violent conflict. Conflict disproportionately affect  women and youth who constitute 80% of the civilian deaths in conflict. (Toole) This means working on programs that empower youth and women is in desperate need.  Youth and women play an important role at finding a solution to the problems their countries face. Young people have unique experiences in armed conflict and specific needs when recovering and contributing to peace-building. They play an important role because they are able to mentor other children and provide friendship and companionship for one another in times of need. Youth take on leadership roles. This is so crucial to remember because not only can they play an important role in contributing to the solution, they can also become part of the problem when neglected.

The way that I believe this can be done is through three crucial areas, while I don’t believe these are the only areas they are the only ones I had time to delve into. These three areas are, youth empowerment which I used the example of sports, education, and work. I choose to take about these three things in my previous post because they tie neatly together and without one I believe they all fall apart.

These things are crucial because it gives children the opportunity to use their voice, like in a few previous articles that I talked about. One being the instance of two university graduates who were tired of the state of their country and demanded there be a change. (Choksi) They came back with an education to make a difference for not only themselves, but their fellow brothers and sisters. This is the empowerment education provided for them. If this didn’t inspire you then maybe when just this past spring for the first time ever a joint netball team of Palestinians and Israelis women came together to compete in a tournament in Eilat with 2,000 other players from across the world for the first time ever. (Sinai) When people are given a reason to work together in a peaceful manner its amazing to see what they can accomplish. Keeping with the importance of empowerment and work, the UN has even pushed for youth volunteerism. This means engaging youth as more than just participants and/or beneficiaries of volunteerism programmes. They will be active youth citizens, empowered for peace and sustainable development through a programme that is specifically targeted to their needs and strengths. (OSGEY 2013) If given the opportunity most young people will choose to work and make a difference in their community if they are valued and empowered, so to see that its taken us so long to realize this is sad. Maybe now though we will take the steps needed to make a difference.  Lets educate these kids! Without an outlet to turn to with either education or work, youth in war-torn areas turn to violence and gangs as an outlet to their problems. We can combat violence just by giving them a productive outlet and from what we’ve seen with what I’ve talked about above, when given a voice youth will take it and try to do something productive with it.

I want to stress though that we, as Westerners need to know is that we can’t come at this from what we’re use to. It won’t solve anyones problem and could probably cause more. We don’t want to look at education and employment as a one size fits all model. Every culture and person is difference. Education doesn’t always mean the traditional book smarts and college that we’re use to. Epstein and Yuthas made some eye opening points in their research. We don’t have to always open up schools that teach children books smarts, sometimes we need to teach life skills that’ll improve their quality of life now. (Epstein and Yuthas) Not down the road when they maybe graduate high school and get into college. Teach them skills that’ll allow them to go into a apprenticeships or technical schools when they’re old enough. We can’t look at things as a one size fits all model.  We have to combine what Ivan Illich said in his famous speech “To Hell with Good Intentions and what Ernesto Sirolli. talked about in his Ted Talk. We have to forget our good intentions, we have to stop trying to fix everything in the way that we are use to fixing it. We have to take a step back and listen. We have to empower a group by hearing out what ideas they want to explore and implement in THEIR community. We have to forget everything we thought we once new. This is hard, but when we do this I believe we truly begin to learn.

So if you’re joining me for the first time or you’ve been following along I hope you can read these and take something positive away, I hope I was able to expand your knowledge on some topics and maybe if I’m lucky inspire. I know that when I take a moment to reflect upon all that I’ve learned from writing and researching  these post I realize I’ve learned a lot. When I think about all that I can now take away from this I am empowered. I am empowered and inspired to continue my education and hopefully one day make a difference or maybe even just write some pretty awesome speeches like Ivan Illich or Ernesto Sirolli. We all have to start somewhere and this is where I’ve dug my roots.

– Caitlin Marie

 

 

 

Work Cited:

Toole, Daniel. “Peace-Building Strategies: Transition from Relief to Development: Why Children and Early Intervention Matter.” (2006): n. pag. UNICEF, Oct. 2006. Web.

Choksi, Mansi. “Yellow Pigs Make a Political Point about Youth Unemployment in Uganda.” Yellow Pigs Highlight Youth Unemployment In Uganda. Al Jazeera, 8 Apr. 2015. Web.

Sinai, Allon. “Israelis, Palestinians Team up for Netball Tournament.” The Jerusalem Post, 17 Mar. 2016. Web.

Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. “Empowering Youth through Volunteerism – Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.” UN News Center. UN, 3 Sept. 2013. Web.

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web.

Ivan Illich. “To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich.” To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects, 20 Apr. 1968. Web. 18 July 2016.

Sirolli, Ernesto. “Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!” Ernesto Sirolli:. Ted Talk, Fall 2012. Web. 18 July 2016.

Stop Tying to Save the World and Simply Listen

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This topic is either at the forefront of development or at the back.  I’ve always wondered why the positives and the negatives are never integrated together, tied together to show the highlights and the downsides because how can we ever learn and develop projects that’ll work if we never stop to actually look at the work that has been done and what we are going to do. It why I wanted to take a minute to step back from the amazing things that development projects can do to highlight a side that we often times overlook in our eagerness to change the world.

 

One of the first articles that I read was Ivan Illich’s speech, To Hell with Good Intentions. (Illich 1968) I think it’s a staple for most of us to read this as ID majors at some point in our schooling and it opened my eyes to a lot. In his speech he talks about the hypocrisy that we often times see with mission trips, services trips, and mission vacations. We ignore the immense amount of privilege that one has in order to take such a trip. To be able to ‘help” others in foreign countries is a privilege and one I believe doesn’t always need to be shared. We have this attitude that because of our privilege that we most in return help other, that we most impose our Western way of life on them because it’s worked so well for us. People go into these countries just as Illich describes with “good intentions”, but good intentions are deadly when not educated properly about the task at hand. We don’t look at how when we go into Africa and build homes for those in need that our generosity is hurting those in the homebuilding business, while you are helping in that moment you often times never stop to think about the long term effects of your actions. Whether you’ll put the family who once did that job for a living out of business with your “generosity”.  I don’t say this to be a pessimist, I say it to hopefully educate whoever is reading this on the importance of their actions and the long term effects they could have on a community. That even the best intentions can backfire on us.

 

I found it hard to find a report that would address what I originally wanted to talk about. Instead I stumbled upon something I don’t think I normally would have looked into and that is aid. In a report published by Global Issues it delves into a few topics that I am going to talk about. The first being is aid actually hurting development? Despite grand promises aid has not achieved much. It 2006 it was estimated that the West had spent around 2.3 trillion on foreign aid, yet still had not managed to provide cheap medicine to children in order to prevent malaria or provide 4-dollar bed nets for families. While this is almost a decade ago we still see this happening today, its one reason why I choose to use this report. We also see that aid is often times used as a way to establish priority in influencing domestic policy in the recipient countries. One of the root causes of poverty lies with powerful nations. They are the ones who formulated the aid polices that we see today. They allow for countries to remain dependent on their aid without ever helping and teaching them how to become independent on their own. (Shah 2014) An article in the Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, not only stressed the issue with the dependence that occurs when one nation becomes reliant on foreign aid, but also how its not all about the money, but in fact the structural and attitudinal reforms that are required for aid to properly work. (APEB 2014)

 

So not that we’ve gotten the problem with good intentions and a few issues facing foreign aid, lets dive right into the issues with development projects themselves. One huge issue in Africa has always been finding a way to provide fresh, clean drinking water for those in need. An NGO, PlayPump International came up with an idea so that every time a kid spun one of their devices water would fill an elevated tank a few yards away. This would provide the fresh, clean water that anyone in the village could access. They had it all planned out, it would cost $7,000 to install and help up to 2,500 people. Donations came flooding in and raised $16.4 million dollars for the project. Sadly, less then two years after the initial grant money came in already more then 1,500 of the pumps stopped functioning and needed repairs. When they went to inspect why this was happening they discovered that the pumps they had invested so much time and money into simply sat rusting and instead of children turning the pump like originally planed that found women stooping down in pairs turning the pump or adults paying children to turn the pump for them. (Hobbes 2014) This isn’t a surprising outcome. This happens more times then people will often admit, its embarrassing to say that a new promising development idea that showed so much promise came crashing down.

 

So how can this all be prevented? Well having tried to find a Ted talk that I had discovered a few years back which inspired me and opened my eyes to the failures in development and how it can actually cause violent conflict in areas, I instead stumbled upon a video by Ernesto Sirolli. He is a noted authority in the field of sustainable economic development and is the Founder of the Sirolli Institute, an international non-profit organization that teaches community leaders how to establish and maintain Enterprise Facilitation projects in their community. What he had to say was enlightening to me so I thought I would end with it. He talked about a few different things. First how aid has done nothing for these African countries, but instead done more damage then good in most cases. How we as Western people are often times two things imperialist or colonialist missionaries, and there are only two ways we deal with people: We either patronize them, or we are paternalistic. Finally, which I think is the most important take away is that he fell into a pattern of working with “good intentions”. What really struck me was how he got out of this mind set and started making a profound impact and this was by simply shutting up and listening. The first principle of aid should always be respect. We have to respect if a community actually wants the aid or not. My mom always had a saying growing up “You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped” and this is exactly the case. In the instance with the pumps, no one asked if these villages actually wanted the pump, they instead thought they were being saviors and helping without ever considering what the people in these villages actually wanted. Sirolli also stressed the importance of sitting down with the community on their time, not our own. There are some wonderfully brilliant people in these villages that could make a difference if we only stop and listening instead of talking the whole time. If these projects are really for them then we need to make it about them and not ourselves.

I believe by just listening to what other have to say, stopping and listening to what people are actually wanting is often times forgotten when we forge ahead with our “good intentions”. So I encourage those who want to pursue a career in this field that we stop and listen. Not just when it comes to development, but in our everyday lives. We may just be amazed what we are able to accomplish.

 

Work Cited:

Ivan Illich. “To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich.” To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects, 20 Apr. 1968. Web. 18 July 2016.

Shah, Anup. “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance.” – Printer Friendly Version. Global Issues, 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Asia-Pacific Economics Blog. “Apecsec.org.” Apecsecorg. Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Hobbes, Michael. “Stop Trying to Save the World.” New Republic. New Republic, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Sirolli, Ernesto. “Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!” Ernesto Sirolli:. Ted Talk, Fall 2012. Web. 18 July 2016.

Give Us Something to Work For

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So far in these blog posts I’ve talked about how sports and education can be used as tools to empower youth and help break down violent and nonviolent conflict from building up. The next topic I want to talk about is employment and youth involvement. For those who don’t have an education its hard to find high paying jobs, especially for those in developing countries who drop out at a young age to join the labor market and find that their prospects in moving up are immensely small. Instead just as talked about in my last post they are more much more likely to be recruited into gangs.

Researchers have begun to study the interaction between youth engagement and positive development. The engagement that we are referring to is defined as “meaningful participation and sustained involvement of a young person in and activity, with a focus outside of him of herself.” According to youth development theory, young people need to be surrounded by adult support. This means instead of being looked down upon for their age and inexperience, they instead need to be mentored and supported, valued for their worth because ultimately they will one day be the ones in charge. Those who are brought up in resilient communities are more likely to adapt and overcome adversities and challenge as well as formulate and develop better relationships.  This stems from the second theory which is the theory of attachment. Empowered youth who are allowed to participate in their communities are much more likely to become engaged in community activities and develop skills required to be effective leaders in life. They are more likely to show better problem-solving and decision-making skills when compared to youth who are not engaged. When youth are able to engage in their community it becomes a place where they feel safe. One of the most important things to take away is that youth who are being empowered and engaged in a community are less likely to to use drugs and alcohol, less likely to drop out of school, and less likely to be involved in criminal behavior. Nothing benefits a community more then incorporating young adults into it! (Texas State)

A report released by the Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding last Spring presented research that reveled just how important the role that children can play in peacebuilding. This report found that the involvement of youth in peacebuilding increases peaceful cohabitation, reduces discrimination and violence, and increases support to vulnerable groups. So what does it take to do this?  3 easy steps. First, engage children as peace builders from a young age. Empower them and show that they are worth something and can do anything they put their minds to. Secondly, encourage multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder efforts to support children as peace builders. Lastly, we need to engage children and youth as partners, we can’t look at them as just children to be encouraged and mentored, we have to actually get them working at the forefront of these problems. (GPCYP 2015)

An article published by Al Jazeera showcased two two university graduated who have been placing pigs painted yellow in the streets as a political statement to show the greed of their government, telling their brothers and sisters that it is up to them to solve their problems because their government is full of greed and will not save them. According to the article Uganda has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world. This followed some statistics that I have quoted below.

     “A  joint study done by the International Labor Organization and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics puts the youth unemployment rate at 5 percent, with the number rising to more than 13 percent when taking into account “youth who are without work and available to work but not actively seeking work.” But independent studies put the number much, much higher. ActionAid surveyed more than 1,000 people and pegged youth unemployment at more than 60 percent while the African Development Bank has a study finding that unemployment for people 15-24 in Uganda is 83 percent.” Another study posted in the article showcased how  Over the past decade, Uganda’s economy, bolstered by generous foreign direct investment, grew faster than the median growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa, but somehow less than 10 percent of its youth have found work in this new bustling economy. “

While some say the lack of youth employed stems from the youth turning their nose to the less desirable jobs, the young adults seeking employment blames it on the corruption, nepotism, lack of reforms that their government has left them with. (Choksi 2015) This instance highlights just how important is is to include and empower youth within a community, without this you only see a community dividing itself.

We talked about education in my last post, and above we are still talking about those with college degrees that are seeking better employment. I wanted to finish my post off by stressing an alternative for those without a means for college education, or even one at all. The New York Times posted an article about bringing back the concept of apprenticeships and how it can be used to reduce youth unemployment rates. With an aging population and trade and skilled jobs once being seen as a thing of the past, they now more then ever are in need. (Bray 2014) This career rout could potentially be a way out for those who lack an education to pursue certain careers while still benefiting a community and economy in the long run. So maybe instead of going on our mission trips or service trips and building houses and wells for those in need, we instead teach them skills that allow them to learn how to do these things for themselves so they are better able to pass these skills onto their community and are better able to sustain themselves.

 

Work Cited:

Bray, Chad. “Apprenticeships Could Help Reduce Youth Unemployment, Business Leaders Say.” DealBook. New York Times, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 July 2016.

Choksi, Mansi. “Yellow Pigs Make a Political Point about Youth Unemployment in Uganda.” Yellow Pigs Highlight Youth Unemployment In Uganda. Al Jazeera, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 17 July 2016.

State, Texas. “The Positive Effects of Youth Community Engagement.” Texas State. Texas School Safety Center, Fall 2013. Web.

McGill, Michael, and Claire O’Kane. “The Positive Contributions of Youth to Peacebuilding.” Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding. Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding, July 2015. Web.

 

Education Only for the Few, the Lucky, and the Privileged

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I believe that one way that we can combat the conflict we see in underdeveloped areas doesn’t involve guns or soldiers, but simply education. According to a report released by the UN, 48% of the worlds population is under the age of 24. Most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa’s population are made up predominantly young people. With youth being vulnerable in war-torn societies and the lack of education and employment, many see their only option for survival being to join gangs or become child soldiers. (UNOY) So the question I purpose is can education help combat conflict and reduce violent crime?

 

In 2010 one report states that 6 people are murdered per day in Honduras, 8 in El Salvador and 14 in Guatemala.  While these statistics are especially grime when we learn that a report realize by the WHO estimated that the homicide rates for young men in these countries were among the highest. In Rio de Janeiro, more then 6,000 youth between the ages of 10-18 have been estimated to be involved with gangs and the almost 4 million incarcerated though that region are young, uneducated men with little to none labor market skills. (Dammert)

 

This is the sad reality for many young adults and children in low income, underdeveloped areas. According to an article reported by BBC there’s about a 100-year gap between the developed and underdeveloped world (Winthrop). This is mostly because the only ones who are allowed to access forms of education are the few, the lucky and the privileged. Even though these kids are enrolled it doesn’t actually account for if their actually learning anything. It also doesn’t look at the lives of each of these children. Most of the programs set up are built from a western perspective. The problem with this is we don’t have to worry about retrieving water from a well, or even the miles needed to be walked just to get to and from class, and while school is suppose to be free that doesn’t account for the supplies needed that most families just don’t have the resources or income to acquire.. While education in the sense of books smarts is hugely important, it only goes so far and children often times drop out before they reach the 5th grade and a large percentage of them still can’t even read.

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     So what can be done about this? I believe there has to be a different approach to education in the developing world, but don’t take my word for it. I found an interesting paper written by two professors, one at Rice University and the other at Portland State University and they had and interesting perspective on redefining education in the developing world. Their ideas focused around schooling these children with things that ae relevant in their lives, not the Western model of education that is often times taught. They believe that students in these impoverished regions don’t need academic skills so much as life skills that enable them to improve their quality of life. They do this through teaching life skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills; health maintenance and management skills; and administrative capabilities, such as teamwork, problem solving, and project management. (Epstein and Yuthas) The article was really interesting and I encourage anyone reading this with interest in this topic to check it out!

 

One thing that researching this has taught me is to check my privilege and be thankful for the educational opportunities that I have. Coming from a middle of the pack, middle class family I’ve always had to work for everything that I wanted, especially attending a school like Clark. As I reflect on my own pathetic self-wallowing that I have been doing these last 6 weeks while working 40+ hours a week and finishing up my classes. I realize just how lucky I am even when I haven’t always felt so. I am privileged to have had an education that prepared me for university. I am privileged enough to have a career opportunity that allows me to pay for the school I am attending. I am privileged to have transportation for work and school. I am privileged to attended a school that will prepare me for the world ahead. I am privileged when so many before me are not, so if you’re reading this way after the semester has ended or maybe you stumbled upon this on accident I encourage you to check your privileged even if you don’t think you have any and use that to fuel you in fighting the inequalities that so many face.

 

Work Cited:

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 July 2016.

Winthrop, Rebecca. “Global ‘100-year Gap’ in Education Standards.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016.

United Network of Young Peacebuilders. Agreed Language on Youth, Peace and Security. Rep. New York: United Nations, 2012. Print.

Dammert, Lucia. “Can Education Reduce Violent Crime?” Americas Quarterly. N.p., Fall 2010. Web. 15 July 2016.