Year end Development Goals
Four Goals for 2015:
- Enrich intellectual, emotional, and cultural development in Afro-Colombians
- Eliminate neighborhood violence
- Support community development initiatives
- Develop an international partnership with the Afro-Colombian communities
Enrich intellectual, emotional, and cultural developmentIn order to address today’s socio-economic problems affecting the descendants of African peoples in the Americas, these issues must be placed within an historical context. This applies to cultures as well as individuals because Africans, in the Americas, have accepted foreign cultures, different ideologies, narratives, and embraced new identities. As a result, modern history is a reflection of European conquest, according to their interpretations. Afro-American history in South America is taught in the context of slavery which has promoted and nursed the direct association between being African and being inferior, African and unequal, incapable and less worthy. It also promotes ways of thinking which continue to impede growth and development in the descendants of Africa living in the Americas. Because the pages of African history have been twisted, misinterpreted, and often ignored, the Afro-American child in South America develops a low self-esteem or a false sense of pride. As a result, they contribute little to advance the interest of their communities. In October of 2013 the BHR entered Cali and began conducting a two part series of lecture/presentations entitled “Awakening the Natural Genius in Black Children”. The First half of the presentation offers a recent yet brief historical commentary, without misconceptions and distortions, on the contributions of African people to mankind in antiquity. We believe that having an accurate historical representation of self enhances the self-esteem in children of African descent. The second half is a review of some of the numerous studies which have found that because the growth of intelligence rest on a sensori-motor process, a coordination of the child’s muscular system with his sensory system and general brain processes, children of African descent, from infancy until the time they are introduced into the educational systems, achieve advanced sensory, motor, and intellectual milestones Specifically, the tests for early intelligence developed at Yale University, studied 300 Ugandan infants and concluded that the African child enters the world well equipped to intelligently interact with the world and to mature intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Therefore, since the first agent of socialization is the home, and the second is the schooling environment then the education of the child begins with the education of its parents and caregivers and followed by changes in the pre-school, elementary, secondary and post-secondary and school environments. The BHR lecture/presentation offer and discusses several competencies and all are fundamental to highly positive intellectual, personal, social and socio-emotional growth and functionality in children. Culturally relevant education communicates to Afro-Colombian children how to survive with dignity and pride with the many challenges that confront them and it must be an essential component of early African education. The BHR workshops stress the need for Afro-Colombian parents, caregivers, and schools to include an African cultural identity and consciousness as part of their educational curriculum and that it is of first importance in the building of self-esteem. Therein, parents, caretakers, and instructors should demonstrate a love and enthusiasm for things African and model socially-appropriate Afro-centric interpersonal relations for their children.
English lessons through chess
The BHR has entered the community of Potrero Grande with the purpose of teaching English through a chess initiative. 30 children between the ages of 10 and 18 meet with BHR volunteers each Saturday and for 3 hours the youth are mentored in the fundamentals of chess after receiving 45 minutes of English instruction. The language instruction and chess strategies are built upon the previous lesson and monthly mini tournaments prepare and keep the children motivated for the major championship that will be held in October.
Playing chess has proven to help students improve their creativity, improve their power of concentration, develop and expand the skills of critical thinking, improve memory and retention, and achieve higher academic performance. Also, chess has been shown to increase problem solving capabilities, provide cultural enrichment, advance intellectual maturity, and improve self-esteem.
Chess teaches foresight; the ability to plan ahead, surveillance; the ability to monitor the entire chessboard, caution; the ability to retain ourselves from making hasty moves, and finally, they learn from chess the greatest lesson of life, so that even when everything seems to go wrong for them, they must not lose faith, but always keep hope that things will change for the better and firmly continue the search for solutions to their problems. “Chess can make kids smarter when taught properly and help to develop character.
The political system in Latin America is designed with hidden impediments built within that exacerbate condition of poverty in African-American communities and sustains their economic failure. These systems are institutionalized and are passed onto the next generation. Because of discrimination, unemployment, underemployment, and lack of promotion, African people are paid less, but in terms of buying power, are required to pay more for consumer goods, taxes, rents, and insurance. In addition, there are historical, sociological, and psychological forces that contribute to these impoverished Afro-American communities. African people are more probable to be in geographical areas where inflation is higher and they are likely to be land less, capital less, and asset less while their labor is robbed of its vitality by the forces of racism, discrimination, and limited educational opportunities.
Despite all of these impediments, the community of Potrero Grande in the aquablanca district of Cali, Colombia took matters into their own hands and searched for a way to stop the violence. They believed that if they could give the youngsters another outlet for their frustrations they could end the violence. The answer was found in a soccer tournament. They knocked on door after door until they found individuals who were willing to contributed prizes for teams who placed first, second, and third in a 4 month soccer tournament. In a barrio where homicides had risen to 110 over the period of a year the rate was lowered to zero for the four months of the tournament and 1 month afterwards. That was in 2 013. The homicide rate has risen again to 40 as of May 2014. The BHR mission in this community is not to reinvent the wheel but just to grease the wheel that works.
Encourage economic developmentAlthough there have been significantly high rates of economic growth in Colombia and in the total population, studies report that in the African Colombian segment of society reductions in poverty have hardly changed. African descendants living in Colombian communities remain in poverty due to the inability of much of the population to participate in the growth process that is occurring in the country as a whole. The term poverty from the Afro-Colombian perspective is generally associated with not being able to provide for basic needs such as access to health, education, housing, and employment and the lack of cash income. This situation is closely tied to the discrimination and lack of opportunity that occurs in cities with respect to the black population. In this context, the concept of poverty for urban Afro-Colombians is also tied to infringement of individual rights, the breakdown of ancestral referents and identity and the loss of personal relationships of affection and solidarity. Good social and community relationships play an important role in the quality of life of Afro-Colombian people. The well-being of the community and the individuals that comprise it depend to a large extent on social interactions within and outside the community. Poverty in these communities could be significantly reduced if income inequalities were not as high as they are. This situation is made worse by imperfections in the access to credit and other financial institutions. Unable to rely on indefinite increases in public expenditure on social services small community enterprises must be developed for the provision of better living conditions in these communities. If Colombia is going to increase the size of their liberalization programs, at the same time it must strengthen those systems of support and compensation for those that will be most negatively affected by the new reforms. Without particular attention paid to guaranteeing more equal access to political power by the more disadvantaged population groups, as liberalized markets become more productive, there is an increased risk that those with increased market power will capture the benefits of economic reforms. Therein government prioritizing integration policies must be designed that weaken the monopoly of vested interests, force the implementation of more accountable welfare programs and strengthened the social and political position of key groups.
Develop an international partnership for development
With certainty, an economic partnership with Africans on the continent and abroad is necessary and would be a step in the right direction to becoming part of the global economy. This is an example of self-determination under the banner of economic independence. Instead of being consumers throughout the world, the focus should be redirected to becoming participants in the production and manufacturing of commodities. This is feasible, and it must be implemented to ensure a future for the next generation. Creating an African consciousness within African communities that involves networking, cooperation, developing, distributing and competing in the world market place is a means of creating employment among its citizens.