threads of our fabric

Reflections on navigating between two cultures and understanding the self-awareness process

What is on my mind today?… Women + Girls + Africa June 5, 2011

Blooming AfricaIs change truly change when it is the product of an organic growth process? When progressing through a transition is necessary, I am always puzzled by people who resist it. Is not part of life growth and change?  If one refuses to be part of the process, then I believe life becomes passive living. I think life would be quite boring. Life can be an evolution towards a greater self. We learn and integrate new experiences into our perceptions and understanding. My view of Africa’s potential parallels this same thought structure – a tabula rasa or blank slate – endless immense opportunities.

 Every time I have conversations with amazing African kinfolk I redouble my efforts on the Threads of Our Fabric Project. The TOF Project enables and empowers African women and girls to share their culture, identity, and unique selves through media. There has been an increase in the use of multimedia to present realistic solutions and raise awareness about various societal issues. USAID, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with an infographic on “Why invest in women?” a topic that is forever near and dear to my heart.  I really enjoyed the graphic representation of some of the hard truths in women and girl’s lives. It saddens my heart when I see others in more developed countries unconcerned about some of these issues affecting their peers worldwide.

Please take a moment, not more than 5-10mins to go through this infographic and may it stir you within to pick a cause greater than you that you can champion. There are many lives dependent on you to support them and ensure their future. Time, money, and skills…pick one and invest in a woman or girl. Bring a welcomed positive change in the lives of women and girls who are desperately in need of something different, something other than the status quo.

USAID 50th Anniversary: Why Invest in Women?

 

What about the youth?… May 30, 2011

Never have I been more certain of the critical importance of the voices of young people in society than yesterday…I had the privilege of presenting the Threads of Our Fabric Project at the annual Lebialem Cultural Development Association (LECDA). The theme “3C Convention” (Culture, Committment, and Construction) complemented my project quite nicely. My project focuses on examining the unique attributes of the African Woman and showcasing all her wonderful qualities with world. Along the way changing the representation of her image and encouraging young emerging African women to *Dream*Create*Live*Inspire*

In many parts of the world, the voices of youth, particularly girls, are continually silenced. To most being young is often associated with rebelliousness, inexperience, and simply a happy-go-lucky carefree unreliable character. I believe that all these supposedly negative attributions are the trademark beauty and blessing of being a young person. For example, rebelliousness can endow a person with a daring spirit and a creative outside of the box thinking. Such qualities are useful in situations where the status quo is a false substitute for the desire to be part of a great story… The longing to be part of something grander than self…

I remember quite vividly my teenage years; rollercoaster emotions, casual attitude towards everything, and trapped in a perpetual war with a good number of adults who I believed were always meddling in my affairs. As a teen the yearning to be an adult was an all consuming maybe borderline obsessed wish…I saw freedom from the influence of parents, independence and employment. To me being an adult was like heaven. Now as I reflect on those years, there was a critical element that significantly provided a buffer against many negative influences…a few adults who believed in my potential and always saw the best in me.

Throughout the 3C convention, I kept thinking “What about the youth?“…I hope that some of the information I provided during my presentation will offer some guidance as LECDA develops more youth-friendly and youth-involved programs. From focus groups with African Immigrant Youth, most of them thrive in an environment that encourages creativity and utilizes interactive engagement. Many adults shy from working with young people, I don’t blame them…it’s a thankless, challenging, nerve-wrecking, frustrating, unpredictable, intense task…but the most rewarding experience in one’s lifetime ! The more adults invest time, energy, and love in the lives of young people…the higher likelihood that the reward will be phenomenal…It’s been proven true countless times over…How do I know?…I am walking proof.    

Reflection: How can one nurture a love for culture, tradition, and heritage in youth aside from creative arts?

 

 

Women: Undervalued, Untapped, and Unaccounted for… April 21, 2011

Women often contribute to the world in many ways – mothering, beauty, nurturing, passion, sensitivity, intuitiveness, resourcefulness – which are oftentimes perceived as insignificant in the eyes of some. Women are continuously lost in the shadows without a voice to express their stance on issues that profoundly affect their lives. Women are also disproportionally affected by many of the world’s burdens today such as poverty, maternal mortality, HIV, war, and illiteracy.

 

The plight of women…undervalued, untapped, and unaccounted for…so what?

 

There is always hope…light that stands strong when darkness surrounds and threatens to overwhelm…Hope always remains…

Countless enties such as the USAID (United States Agency for Internationa Development),  International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), The Coalition for Adolescent Girls, CARE, UNFP (UN Population Fund), and PSI (Population Services International) stress the importance of investing in women, empowering them, and providing opportunities for self-development and financial sustainability as the surest methods to alleviate some of the problems in the world today.

Additonally, there are women who in simple yet powerful ways have taken on the responsibility of safeguarding the future livelihood of many women and girls. For example, I came across this blog today, Shakesville that shared a photojournal chronicling many women farmers globally, who are contributing towards alleviating the world’s hunger in their communities. According to Dorothy Okello, Director of the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), “approximately 85% of farmers in Africa are women”, yet sub-sahara Africa has a huge proportion of undernourished people. Why? Well for starters most of these women are subsistence farmers..tilling land and growing crops to feed a family and some to sell to purchase other household goods. According to Rebeca Grynspan, (United Nations Development Program Under-Secretary General and Associate Administrator) “Even talking only about the rural areas, women produce 50 percent of the food of the world. They receive only 1 percent of the credit but they produce 50 percent of the food.” I wonder what would happen if these women had access to resources, information, and entrepeneurial skills that will exponentially increase their output and elevate the income levels of their families.

How is the Threads of Our Fabric Project adding its strength to these efforts?…

 

 

As a woman, I believe that our greatest contribution to the world is our whole “Self”. We are gifted with innate qualities that are needed, important, and necessary to the vitality of societies and the entire world. When we are connected to our inner qualities that are “heart”-based, we can fully live from our complete potential. This is one of the many reasons why I created the Threads of Our Fabric Project, seeking to bridge the gap and share the feminine wisdom of influential successful African women with other African women and girls who have begun or are still contemplating beginning their unique journeys towards “Self” discovery. 

 

The Threads of Our Fabric Project will be helping African women in Ohio honor the many women who are often unrecognized, yet significantly affect the development of strong, confident, courageous, and amazing African women.

Mothers Day Contest - OHIO

 

On May 7th, 2011, the Threads of Our Fabric Project in partnership with Mimi 4 Christ, will be hosting a Mother’s Day reception for African mothers and daughters. We want to honor the many women who silently and selflessly give so much daily to raise and support families. A contest is currently being held and finalists will get the opportunity to be celebrated for being a “Sweet African Mother”.

The process is simple –

Tell us why you think your mother is AWESOME and we take care of the rest… GOOD LUCK!!!

 

**NOTE: If you are not in OHIO visit the African Girl Development in the U.S. Facebook Page for information on how to participate in weekly contest Mother’s Day gifts delivered within the continental U.S.

BONNE CHANCE!!!

 

EXTRA! EXTRA! Camer Spotlight… March 17, 2011

This sums up why I created the Threads of Our Fabric project…Enjoy!! (Click here).

Note: Stay tuned for very exciting news! The Threads of Our Fabric Project is going international 🙂

 

Why CARE For Women and Girls? March 12, 2011

CARE 2011 National Conference - Washington, DC

“Over the past century, women have broken through barriers to achieve political, economic and social advances never before imagined. Yet, there are still many places where gender defines a person’s ability to reach their full potential. The fact that more than a thousand people have gathered here in Washington to speak out on behalf of girls and women in poor communities is a testament to the compassion of the American people” – With these words, Dr. Helene Gayle opened CARE 2011 National conference, exhorting all in attendance and defined our purpose for this important meeting. Over a thousand activists gathered in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day and CARE’s 65th anniversary. The energy was exciting, hopeful, and purposeful. These activists will celebrate CARE’s many achievements from investing in women, and prepare to storm Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 to meet with legislative representatives and advocate on three main issues – the importance of foreign aid, providing financial opportunities for women, and empowerment through education.

CARE - Defending Dignity & Fighting Poverty

CARE is one of the largest private humanitarian organizations that has evolved to continue meeting the pressing needs of society. It was founded in 1945 when 22 American organizations came together to coordinate and rapidly provide relief packages to survivors of World War II.

Original CARE packages have been replaced with Digital CARE packages

It has since evolved to become a leader in fighting global poverty by providing resources to women and using them as leverage to change communities globally. CARE unveiled its virtual CARE package initiative as its anniversary gift to the world. An individual or a group can build a personalized CARE box online that can be sent to women and girls anywhere in the world! “Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health, and economic opportunity” (www.CARE.org). The CARE 2011 conference emphasized this focus of women and girls by providing tickets to a number of young girls 10-14yrs to attend this wonderful event. This is quite powerful, educating the future change makers by bringing them to experience solutions that have been proven to be effective globally in addressing social injustices against women.

When I arrived at the hotel, I eagerly descended a flight of stairs unto the international terrace. After making my way to the International Ballroom with a new found friend, we located a couple of seats a few feet from the stage. The kick-off session was invigorating and a wonderful energizer. It set the tone for the upcoming conference’s jam-packed panel and advocacy training sessions. This opening night’s atmosphere was relaxed, playful, yet focused. Despite the technical difficulties and the energy of the room blowing out some speakers, the liveliness was infectious, enduring and unstoppable.

Performing artists and fellow activists featured Michael Franti, Crystal Bowersox (2010 American Idol runner-up), Sarah Darling (representing Join my village initiative), and India Arie.

These artists helped us remember that we have a commitment and an obligation to the world to fight for peace and social injustices. Our actions as activists are essential as humans, for every life has equal value. The night closed with these words sung by India Arie “This is my prayer for humanity that we respect our women and protect our girls”. The first day of CARE 2011 closed leaving me radiating with optimism and hope that it only takes the power of ONE to change the future!!!

2010 Voices of Our Future Correspondent – World Pulse

 

Original Poem submitted honoring Mothers March 9, 2011

Filed under: Community,Inspiration — Sharon Asonganyi @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

From our Week 3 “Celebrating the inspiring women in our lives” discussion series, most of you shared the strong impressions your mothers have had on your lives. You identified key character traits that you aspire to develop within you over time. I too echo in the impact my mother (Rosaline) continues to have on my life. Her strength, faith, generous, selfless, and lively spirit inspires me to always give wholeheartedly in all that I do. This is why you will always see a smile from ear-to-ear as I continue work on the New AGE (African Girl Evolution) Project.  My mother is and will always be my inspiration to nurture beauty everywhere I go.

Rather than share a summary of the discussion threads, I would like to share with you the beautiful writings from an African Mother with a beautiful and passionate spirit…Enjoy!

             Happy Women’s Day

 

A day to look within you, and realize your beauty.
Woman, the force of the Home.
Your God-given strength is so amazing.
 
You can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.
You hold happiness, love, and opinions.
You still find a place in your heart to smile to make problems look easier! You sing when you feel like crying.
 
Woman the stronghold of the family, Church, and society.
Your cry should not be ignored, because
you laugh when you are afraid just to find peace.
Your love is unconditional: Motherly – Yes.
 
Strive to be you; no matter the ups and downs of life.
Your God sees; and His beloved son Jesus is always there.
Feel Him and Trust Him with your prayers; all will be well.
 
If you have no courage to approach Christ, His mother
(Mama Mary) is always ready to Intercede for you… Amen.
~~~~~ 
Happy Women’s Day:
To all my beautiful sisters / friends of the world!

~~~~~
Love, Peace and Hope
 Elizabeth Emeka Ngwa

One of my many mothers and inspiration - Ma Eli Ngwa

One of my many mothers and inspiration - Ma Eli Ngwa

 

 

The New AGE (African Girl Evolutiion) – Sneak Peek! March 8, 2011

It is with joy, many long sleepless hours of labor, and tears that I present to you a preview of The New AGE (African Girl Evolution)…