By Leani M. Auxilio
UN CHURCH CENTER, NY— In an audience comprised of men and women from Ghana, Sweden, Zambia, Taiwan, Korea, and countless other countries, the Sound Essence Project Founder Ms. Susan Bradbury told a story of how a group of women in a rural town in Mongolia had the excellent idea of opening a bakery to support their village. The Sound Essence Project helped them raise funds, and with just $500, they built their bakery. In time the bakery paid off the $500 (with $5 interest), and not only were they such a massive hit in their village that they had to build yet another one, they also managed to raise funds to send 20 children to college, and essentially save their village from economic ruin.
On February 27, 2012, the Sound Essence Project, the Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI), and the Center for Wisdom and Character Excellence, Philippines (CWACE) co-sponsored a parallel event in coordination with the 56th annual Commission on the Status of Women.
The event Growing Sustainable Projects in Rural Communities, Women to Women was moderated by UN/WFWP International Representative Ms. Bonnie Berry, and featured panelists who worked with rural towns in Mongolia, Haiti, the Philippines, and Cameroon. These panelists let an equally diverse audience learn firsthand how they partnered in rural communities and made a difference through hands-on and practical grassroots work.
First panel speaker Ms. Susan Bradbury of the Sound Essence Project talked about dreams, trust, people working across boundaries, courage, and respect as the five key principles needed in designing sustainable projects for rural women.
Ms. Evelyne Drake, coordinator of WFWP-USA’s Relief Project for Haiti, discussed about how the Relief Project has been providing Haiti with relevant activities and projects such as health education seminars, planting Moringa trees, and building schools since 2008. When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, Ms. Drake met up with Cap-Haitian government officials, and along with other WFWP members, gave medical aid and relief, and seminars on coping with trauma. More than a hundred and fifty thousand Haitians were in attendance.
Ms. Merly Barlaan, Center for Wisdom and Character Excellence, Philippines (CWACE) founder imparted to the audience details of CWACE’s Highway to Overcoming Poverty Everywhere (HOPE) Project. The project consists of ten phases designed to help her hometown Montesunting in Carmen, Bohol become an environment-friendly major tourist spot, and generate sources of income for the villagers. She has since built a school, library, computer learning center, and has spearheaded other projects such as the planting of Moringa trees, launching of family vegetable gardens, and planting for a botanical garden and orchid sanctuary. A multi-purpose visitor center and Bed and Breakfast Cottage are slotted to open by April 2012. (See Main Feature on Merly Barlaan).
Dr. Nessie Ndive-Hill, professor at Essex Community College talked about the problems faced by the rural women of her native Cameroon, and proposed teaching better preservation strategies of main crops such as cassava, and other tubers, to the women who do much of the farming and harvesting. She advocates employing environmentally-safe preservations techniques. As a last remark before Q and A began, she has notably said “Rural women have demonstrated that they can sustain an economy even in the midst of global crisis.” It seemed a fitting closing remark, as it encapsulated the trials, hard work, triumphs, and every underplayed contribution of each and every rural woman to the world.
The 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will run through 27 February 2012 until 9 March 2012 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This year’s theme is “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.” For more information, visit the website: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/56sess.htm
About the author:
Leani M. Auxilio is a New Media Technology student at LaGuardia Community College in New York. She is the digital and content editor for OSM!. Her interests are anime, manga, the mysteries of the world, and sleeping in during the weekends. She is a proud bookworm, left-handed, and can get hyper if fed more than two chocolate bars at a time. Leani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org