Northern Ireland - Ulster Teachers' Union - thank you

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Ulster Teachers' Union have been staunch supporters of A Ray of Hope for many years allowing us to begin and complete projects that would not have been possible without their help. We are grateful to the President, General Secretary and members for their generosity and can assure them that it has not only been appreciated but invaluable for many who for what ever reason have been disadvantaged. The UTU have also kindly promoted our projects in their newsletter and for that we are also delighted . Thank you UTU.

Uganda - Sierra Leone - from PCET -

Yet another big thank you to Pictorial Charts Educational Trust who have donated the educational resources for schools in Uganda and Sierra Leone. Also the provision of classroom science books for 18 libraries.

Nigeria - Pam's Visit

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At the Fantsuam Foundation (FF) Knowledge Resource Centre, I worked with teachers and learners, adults and children. This was the main purpose of my working holiday. There is a strong culture locally of rote learning and never asking questions. John Dada, the director of (FF) wants me to help him to break away from that at the KRC. He wants the pupils and students to have enquiring minds, and he wants the teachers and trainers to encourage questions. The photographs are of John showing me the new site, which will be Attachab Eco-village. John is planning to gradually move all the existing work of Fantsuam Foundation over there. He will also include new projects related to livelihoods and eco-development. He hopes to demonstrate appropriate technologies there as well as esistign work. He will try things out and if they work then he will help other people to learn about them. He has only recently got the land. I told one of my contacts, Marcus Simmons, about the Eco-village, and he travelled out the same time as me to learn more about the local realities and to make a trial demonstration building. The final photo is a group back at the present main site - key Fantsuam Foundation people plus Marcus and me. From L to R: me, TY Shinggu, Marcus Simmons, Kazanka Comfort, Kelechi Micheals, Ochuko Onoberhie, and John Dada.

Bulgaria - from Snejana - folk beliefs - days of the week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

*……..The folk holidays are like birds – they fly in, fly away, but are always with the Bulgarians for they are the spirit of the ancestors. *

About the days of the week, according to the folk beliefs of the Bulgarians

Monday - A male day, working day. The ones born on this day will earn their living arduously and labour will be their fateful sing. It is recommended not to wear white clothes on Monday.

Tuesday – A female day, a difficult day. You must not begin anything on Tuesday. It is recommended not to wear red clothes on Tuesday.

Wednesday – A male day, good for any kind of enterprise. Those born on this day are balanced, wise and slow. It is lucky to wear blue or violet clothes on Wednesday.

Thursday – Again a male day. Those born on this day are lucky in love and good in arts. It is recommended to wear green clothes.

Friday – A female day, but good for business. Those born on Friday are good at business and are successful.

Saturday - Again a female day. The ones born on Saturday are considered to be *Satan’s children*, they are devilishly dextrous and talented, enterprising and can handle everything. They have prophetic gifts. It is recommended to wear gray and black clothes for luck.

Sunday – A sunny day. The ones born on this day are destined for happiness and wealth. Fate helps them generously, especially if they wear orange and golden clothes.

Lebanon - Tray and Friends "Initiative"

Hungry for Help
Since hunger knows no friend but its feeder, we would like to ask for your help feeding the less fortunate on Christmas just like every year.I’m so grateful for all your efforts my dear friends and I want you to know that because of you we are able to feed more families year after year.Those who wish to participate are kindly asked to submit their donations to me before 15 December 2008.Any contribution, no matter how small it is, is highly appreciated.P.S: If you know families who can benefit from this initiative kindly provide me with their contact details to include them in our distribution channel. Whoever wishes to participate in the packaging and the distribution process is more than welcome.Thank you and may God bless youFor Food Donation , please call 03- 742930 / 03-146087

Nigeria - Pam brings ICT expertise to her friends.

Greece- Denmark from Per

Monday, November 24, 2008

PAN - Europe
The prison school 2ο Γυμνάσιο & Λ.Τ. Αυλώνα in Hellas has many cultural activities. As a school for juvenile prisoners the school is responsible for the cultural life inside. It is very often the case that the activities in prisons is driven forward by the schools. The juvenile prison school in Avlona, Athens, has a long tradition with cultural activities like drama, music and handicraft.
Prison schools are essential for a democratic and cultural development of prisons and especially needed in juvenile institutions.
Here are recent examples: Link

China - Nigeria - Temmy

Dear Don,

Please find attached pictures taken at the World urban Forum In China.

The first picture was taken at the launch of the Youth-Led Opportunity fund.
The second was when we were walking to the opening of the forum with the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga.
The third was with David the president of Peace Child International.


Austria - Bettina's Vacation to Austria: Castle Grafenegg

South Korea - Wedding 3- from Serena

Eum/Yang (Yin and Yang) Marriage represented the perfect union and balancing of the two primary elements of the world: Eum, the dark, female element; and Yang, the bright, male element ("yin" and "yang"). Often, the marriage ceremony took place at dusk, representing a balance between light (day) and darkness (night) The color blue stands for Eum, while red represents Yang.

Chickens A male and female chicken (one wrapped in a blue cloth, the other in a red one) sit on or under the wedding table. One meaning is the symbolism associated between roosters and the morning. The crowing of the rooster marked the beginning of the day, a bright, fresh start, just like the marriage should be. The crowing of the rooster also told the evil spirits that day was coming and they had to disappear.
The rooster in the wedding ceremony marks a hope that evil spirits will go away and not trouble the new couple. A secondary meaning represents the hopes that the couple will have many children, very important in a traditional agrarian society. As productive chickens made many eggs, thus should the new bride produce many children.

Hapgeunrye (Drinking)
This part of the ceremony had two main variations, due to regional differences. The first variation had the couple drinking from the same cup, with their assistants passing it back and forth between bride and groom. The second variation had them drinking from separate halves of a gourd. The drinking signified the destiny of the new husband and wife, as well as their harmony together. Using two halves of the same courd further symbolized that the bride and groom each made up one half and only together could they be considered whole.
First, one of the helpers poured alcohol into a small cup for the groom, who then drank it. Another helper poured for the bride who sipped it or only pretended to drink. The groom's helper then poured into the cup again (or used the gourd in the other variation) and the groom drank again. The bride's helper poured again, with the bride sipping or pretending to drink again. Finally, the grrom and bride joined together and bowed three times: once to their parents, once to their ancestors, and once to the guests.

Modern Weddings
Although Koreans have kept several aspects of the traditional ceremony, most modern ceremonies resemble Western marriage ceremonies more than traditional Korean ones. However, many folk villages and museums across the country regularly perform ceremonies to keep the traditions alive.

Somali - from David Wardrop in London

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Independent - from David Wardrop - a friend and member of A Ray of Hope - and chairman of the Westminster Branch of the UNA.
Daniel Howden describes well the dilemma facing northern Somalia's fishermen who have been powerless to stop fleets from distant states fish their waters with impunity (We're not pirates. These are our waters, not theirs, 14 November). At last, the international community is paying attention although it has yet to define its strategy. The best immediate solution to this continuing piracy lies with the EU, not NATO. By combining an offshore policing role with a commitment to development in the North Somali coast region, it can kickstart its existing, stuttering programmes.
The EU's new UN-granted mandate should have these elements. Firstly, to reassure Somali fishermen that their territorial waters are no-go areas to foreign fishing fleets. This will encourage local Sultans and other leaders to counsel rejection of pirate activities, as Daniel Howden implies. Secondly, to involve Somalis in the effective surveillance of this programme. Thirdly, to direct allocated but unused ECHO funding towards rebuilding piers, docks and freezing plants in Laasqoray and along the northern coast. This will encourage these leaders, along with international agencies, to release unused post-Tsunami grants to these same ends. Fourthly, to set up, equip and train an East African Community littoral patrol fleet. There are indications that the worldwide Northern Somalia diaspora who mostly support development, not conflict would then commit supporting funds to such local programmes. In this way, the circle of support is completed.
In summary, the UN’s mandate to the EU should be one which seeks to engage the coastal inhabitants of northern Somalia, not one which knocks their fishermen turned pirates out of the water.

David Wardrop

South Korea - Wedding 2 - From Serena

Napp'ae (Exchanging Valuables) Before the wedding, the groom's family sent presents to the bride and her family in a box called a Ham. Additionally, the Hamjinabi (person who delivered the Ham) and a small group of close friends of the groom also took a pot of Bongch'i Deok (red bean rice cake) from the groom's family. The bride's family would have a small party for the group, offering them food and drink for their efforts. The ceremony of delivering the Ham has evolved into a major event for friends of the groom, with the bearers "selling" the contents of Ham to the bride's parents. The Ham usually contained 3 items. The Honseo (marriage paper), wrapped in black silk, specified the name of the sender and the purpose (marriage) of sending. It symbolized the dedication of the wife to only one husband. The wife was to keep this document with her forever, having it buried with her when she died. Ch'aedan was a collection of red and blue fabrics, used to make clothing. The blue fabrics were wrapped with red threads, while the red fabrics were wrapped with blue threads. The two colors represented the philosophy of Eum/Yang (Yin/Yang). The Honsu was a collection of other valuables for the bride from the groom's parents.
(Wedding Box, Ham) Wedding boxes, bridal chests and rice chests where often elaborated with beautiful Chinese characters which can be found on prominent places and give each item a special touch.
Wooden Goose/Wedding Ducks (Kireogi)
A pair of wild geese made from wood represent the new husband and wife. In the Jeonanrye part of the marriage ceremony, the groom gives a single kireogi to his mother-in-law. The geese symbolize several virtues that the couple should follow in their married life:
Wild geese keep the same partner for life. Even of one dies, the other will not seek a new partner for the rest of his or her life.
Wild geese understand hierarchy and order. Even when flying, they maintain structure and harmony. Wild geese have the nature to leave their existance wherever they go. People should leave a great legacy for their descendants when they leave this world.

In a traditional Korean wedding which was held in the bride's house, a bridegroom's first act after arriving at the bride's house was to offer a wooden goose to the bride's family as a token of lifelong fidelity which was the beginning of the wedding ceremony. Still nowadays, wooden ducks are nice wedding presents appreciated not only in Korea but also in the western world.

Gyobaerye (Bowing)
This often marked the first time that the bride and groom saw each other. The groom and bride each had two attendants who helped them throughout the ceremony. First, the groom walked to the east side of the wedding table.
Then the bride walked to the west end. The groom's helpers spread a carpet or mat out for the groom, then the bride's helpers did the same for the bride. The bride and groom then faced each other across the wedding table. The helpers washed the hands of the bride and groom. The washing of their hands symbolized cleansing themsleves for the ceremony. With the aid of her helpers, the bride bowed twice to the groom. With the aid of his helpers, the groom bowed back once to the bride. The bride then bowed two more times to the groom, who bowed back once more. They finished by kneeling down and facing each other. The bowing represented the promise of commitment to each other.

United Kingdom - David Wardrop - Chairman Westminster Branch UNA

Watch and comment on the best new international films from the United Nations, development agencies and independent producers.
2008 Festival Programme AnnouncedFriday, October 24th, 2008
The We The Peoples 2008 Film Festival will take place on 24-29 November 2008, and this year’s programme, and an alphabetical listing of selected films, are now available. The festival has contributions from development agencies, UN agencies, international filmmakers, policy makers and think tanks. Alongside this screening programme of films from around the world, the festival also will feature panel discussions following film screenings. This year’s festival also includes the Young Filmmakers for Development programme, which takes place on Saturday, 29 November. London schools are invited to view these selected films and participate in a master class with leading directors and producers experienced in development issues.

South Korea - Traditional Korean Weddings Part 1

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Traditional Korean Wedding
In Korea, the marriage between a man and woman represents the joining of two families, rather than the joining of two individuals. As such, the event was often called Taerye (Great Ritual), and people from all over participated.
Steeped in traditional Confucian values, the ceremonies and events surrounding the actual marriage were long and elaborate, from the pairing of the couple to the rituals performed after the ceremony. In the traditional Korean marriage, the elders of the prospective bride and bridegroom's families decided on all matters regarding the wedding, including the decision of whether or not to marry their son and daughter to each other.

Napchae (Date Setting) After confirming each family's decision to marry their son and daughter through a matchmaker, the family of the bridegroom-to-be sent the hour, day, month and year of his birth by the lunar calendar (known as the Four Pillars) to the family of the bride-to-be and, in return, her family informed the family of the bridegroom-to-be the date of their wedding. The family of the future bridegroom then sent a letter of marriage and wedding presents to the family of the future bride.

South Korea from Serena

Yesterday I went to the wedding of a friend with a member of the South Korean Parliament - Mr. Im hye-gyu. Because Mr. Im had to prepare for his evening Education Discussion on Live TV we left early. I watched that programme and I took some photos at my home's TV.
It might interest everyone to know a little about Korean weddings.
Of course it would Serena and we will publish what you sent in editions. Thank you Serena. Don

South Africa - Jenny and Friends of Goboti

Thanks again to
Pictorial Charts Educational Trust
"Friends of Goboti" -
3 education packs with posters, teachers' notes and lesson plans now en route to Goboti, South Africa.

Sierra Leone - Aminatta

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank you to Pictorial Charts Educational Trust (Carol) and the dedication of Aminatta, Simon and team which will allow for educational and science supplies to be delivered to Sierra Leone.

The photograph shows Aminatta in one of her previous visits to the Rogbonko Village community in Sierra Leone.

Nigeria and China Temmy's report re Urban Youth-Led Development

UN-HABITAT on Tuesday unveiled a groundbreaking US$2 million fund to finance inspiring youth-led development projects around the world.
The Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development, announced at the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China, was created to engage the partnership and leadership of young women and men in achieving sustainable urbanization. The Fund is initially being financed through a US$2,000,000 grant over two years, provided by the Government of Norway. Other governments and donors are being invited to contribute to the fund.
“Youth are the future of our cities, but often are rendered voiceless due to unemployment, lack of education and other issues,” said Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. “Through this new fund, we are recognizing the urgent need to bolster youth-led initiatives, and are at the forefront of a growing movement to place youth at the center of sustainable development strategies.”
The exciting event, featuring a series of illuminating speeches from international leaders in the field of youth-led development and performances from prolific young artists from across the globe, drew in a crowd which demonstrated the recognition which youth have achieved at this year’s World Urban Forum. Extra seating was required for scores of youth leaders, civil society representatives, government officials and private sector participants’ intent on being involved in this unique project. David Woollcombe, director of Peace Child International, underlined the uniqueness of this fund within the UN system, urging other agencies and governments to follow Norway’s example in supporting youth, as he says, “the world’s last remaining ‘superpower’”. Luis Zamorano, Director of Urban Infrastructure, Ministry of Social and Urban Affairs, Mexico agreed, offering to host the second global conference on Safety and Cities. As the Mayor of Dar es Salaam, Mr. Adam Omar Kabisa, stated, “Youth are leaders of yesterday, leaders of today and leaders of tomorrow.” Today marked a turning point in the history of international development: Youth integration must be considered crucial to the success of any future programme.
Young people are poised to play a crucial role in achieving sustainable urbanization in the world’s rapidly expanding cities and towns. According to the United Nations World Youth Report 2007, children and youth under the age of 24 make up nearly 40 percent of the global population. Nearly 18 percent are between the ages of 15 and 24, with 85 percent of these youth living in developing countries. The average age in the 10 least-developed African countries is 16 years or younger. This expanding demographic not only represents an unprecedented opportunity, but also significant challenges. Youth comprise 25 percent of the world’s working-age population, but account for nearly 44 percent of the unemployed. In the Africa region, 27 percent of youth are not in school or working.
“Youth-led development is about young people making a living and future for themselves and their communities,” said Mrs. Tibaijuka. “Any effective response to improve the living conditions of the urban poor and those living in the world’s slums must deal, prima facie, with the challenges facing youth.”

Nigeria and China Temmy returns from Nanjing.


As delegates from around the world exchanged views in the newly built giant Nanjing convention and exhibition centre on Tuesday 4th of November 2008, the buzzwords on everyone's lips at the fourth session of the World Urban Forum were "harmonious urbanization".
Barely a speaker at the UN-HABITAT biennial gathering missed a chance to give their views of what a harmonious city is all about.
Setting the tone in the first opening statement, Mr. Jiang Hongkun, the Mayor of Nanjing, said: "Building harmonious cities is our vision. This session of the Forum convened to discuss the theme, harmonious urbanization, will promote new ways of building cities at home and abroad. Nanjing will use the precious opportunity of the Forum to borrow new ideas and experiences from Chinese and international cities for its betterment in the most harmonious way possible."
The city was adorned with flyers and posters welcoming Forum visitors and laser light shows lit up the night skies from high buildings in the newly modernized city.
For the poor represented by some civil society groups, for young people represented by youth groups, or women's organizations, the concept carried a message of hope easy to understand in a world urbanizing so quickly that, according to UN-HABITAT figures, two-thirds of humanity will be living in towns and cities in another generation.

South Africa - UK - Jenny

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It gives us an added bonus, especially these last few days, to welcome Jenny and Friends of Goboti into the family of A Ray of Hope. Jenny and her team are desirous of furthering the wonderful work they have done to date in South Africa. Their needs are easy for us to assist. Don

Africa and Asia - multiple educational supplies.

Thanks to the support and generosity of Pictorial Charts Educational Trust (Carol), to the enthusiasm and endeavours of Education for All (Simon) and READ International (Robert), we have managed to allocate today over £130,000 worth of new educational supplies to Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Bangladesh and Swaziland - this includes plans for assisting over 300 schools in Tanzania. A big thank you from A Ray of Hope to all involved.

Ukraine - An Introduction from Olga

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lebanon - a Christmas Initiative from Tray and Friends

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Could I commend this wonderful initiative to all thinking of supporting the venture. Don

“The right time to eat:
For a rich man, when he is hungry
For a poor man, when he has something to eat...”

Since hunger knows no friend but its feeder, we would like to ask for your help feeding the less fortunate on Christmas just like last year.
The photographs show what we were able to collect last year because of your support and your devotion. I’m so grateful for all your efforts my dear colleagues and I want you to know that because of you we are able to feed more families year after year.
Those who wish to participate are kindly asked to submit their donations to me before 15 December 2008.
Any contribution, no matter how small it is, is highly appreciated.

P.S: If you know families who can benefit from this initiative kindly provide me with their contact details to include them in our distribution channel. Whoever wishes to participate in the packaging and the distribution process is more than welcome.

Thank you and may God bless you

South Korea - "Autumn" images and a video from Serena

A big thank you to Serena in South Korea for sharing her wonderful photographs and video with us.

Bulgaria - photographs from Snejana