The United Nations Association - Greater Seattle ChapterThe United Nations Association - Greater Seattle Chapter is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports the work of the United Nations as one of a number of local chapters of the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA). UNA Seattle encourages active civic participation in the most important social and economic issues facing the world today, from global health and human rights to the spread of democracy to equitable and sustainable development.
Our Mission: UNA-GSC is dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing members of the Greater Seattle community to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations and to advocate for full engagement by the United States in the United Nations.
UNA-Seattle is a chapter of the UNA-USA. We are a 501(c)(3) organization according to US regulations and all contributions are tax deductible.
Happy Holidays From UNA Seattle!
Look forward to doing more good work in 2015. Be merry and be safe!
UNA Greater Seattle Chapter presents Club UN
Join us on the last Wednesday of each month for Club UN, a social event where individuals interested in the work of the United Nations, human rights, and other social issues can gather and discuss.
Join our Meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Club-UN/ for more information.
On January 28, 2015, we are meeting at the Trophy Cupcakes at Wallingford Center. The address is 1815 N 45th Street, Seattle, WA. Free parking available at the Wallingford Center.
The topic: TBD.
Mission EDU Senegal: Our Story
Mission EDU Senegal is the pilot project of the Home Country Project (HCP) sponsored by the United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter and funded by the late Abdi Sami and Gerri Haynes, as well as a Peace with Justice grant.
From casual travelling to needs assessment.
My name is Peinda Diop. I have been an education advocate for over 20 years. I joined the United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter and became a Board member in 2009. I joined the organization and realized that my longtime dream came true. From 2009 to 2012, I had travelled to Senegal mainly to visit families and friends but also schools. During my visits, I manage to meet with educators and students to determine their needs and to also find ways to help them. I then decided to start an organization called “Mission EDU 2015”. While drafting the Mission and Vision, I kept travelling to Senegal and assessing needs in 2 schools. Mission EDU 2015 started with the simple idea of providing computer equipment and teacher training to public schools. After researching on all the failures and misuses of ICT in Africa, we decided to give the multipoint system to schools with a selected content that match the contextual component of the Senegalese curriculum.
In December 2011, I visited the school Kalidou Sy IDEN Parcelles Assainies, located in the outskirts of the city Dakar. I started asking questions related to technology and teacher training when the head of school Mrs. Diagne, to my great surprise, told me “It is a great initiative but we have a sewer problem, it goes by the classrooms’ windows and the students smell it all year long.” As I was talking to her, I could smell feel the smell filling up my lungs. I thought it was a temporary situation and I could only imagine the health risks those students were regularly exposed to. It is from that moment on that we thought of changing the way Mission EDU 2015 was going to operate. They needed 900.00 dollars to create a flow and stop the sewage stagnation. I used my savings and the problem was solved. After that visit, my mind had shifted. I started considering the idea of helping schools based on their needs. In December 2012, a year later, technology was still out of question, the sewer problem was solved. We visited the facilities again and noticed that the odor was gone and that there was a normal flow thanks to a local company’s great work. We also visited two classrooms and asked 10 year old students if anybody had a computer at home or has ever used one , the answer was “no” . There was only one student out of 80 who said “I use a computer from time to time to Skype with my brother who is overseas.”
After the class visit, we met the head of school who told us that they are starting to change the curriculum to a more student centered one that requires a lot of activities. She explained that thousands of copies are distributed to students to make them benefit from the new teaching method. She kept on saying that one teacher takes the bus to Dakar, about 30 miles to pay and make copies before the students can get their practice sheets the next day. The conclusion was that, the second major need was a copy machine.
During the same visit in Senegal, we added a new public school to our list; Imam Abou Ndiaye. It is in much better shape as it is located in Dakar and surrounded by other prestigious private schools. They want to have a computer room and a library. They told us that they do not have a library and that, out of 15 teachers, only 1 is computer literate and that sometimes they want to do some research but they cannot for lack of computers inside the school. If they were to do some research, they would have to find a cyber café and regularly pay. We also learned that they do not have a budget to undertake any research. Right after that meeting, we had an appointment at the UNICEF office in Dakar. During that meeting, we learned that the need to introduce ICT in some schools is the topic in many of their seminars and workshops. It validated our goal and we were ready to help as we knew about the multipoint system through Greenbridge computing. A cost efficient server that can support up to ten screens with a thin Client connector and adaptable to classrooms and libraries. We came back to Seattle with the promise. How are we going to do all these things we seemed to have promised by recognizing the needs? That was Mission EDU 2015’s daily question. The Organization changed its name to Mission EDU Senegal as the Post Millennium Development Goals took some momentum. As we are getting close to 2015, we decided that we needed to extend our vision and focus on our two schools in Senegal.
Mission EDU Senegal began looking for a fiscal sponsor
The Mission EDU Senegal Team had some great ideas to give technological support with a local content, teacher training, and a copy machine, but was facing a major problem. We needed some funds and a fiscal sponsor. From a conversation to a dream come true.
During the summer of 2013, I met Gerri Haynes at a YMCA swimming pool in West Seattle. As Board members of the United Nations Association of Greater Seattle, we started talking about the Organization and the project that I am working on. Our conversation led to my recent trip to Senegal and all the promises and things that need to be done to help those students at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Gerri said “I think this conversation happened for a reason as the late Abdi Sami left me some money and wanted it to be used for humanitarian purposes.” We could allocate 10,000 Dollars to the cause. At that moment, my pregnant brain and cells experienced an adrenaline rush as I gained another boost of hope and also thought of the promises coming to realization. I thought of those students whose parents nearly live by 2 dollars a day and yet work hard to keep them in school. With the donation promise, our dream came true. The United Nation Association of Greater Seattle Chapter agreed to be our sponsor so that we could benefit from their 501C3 tax exempt status from October 2013 to October 2015.
“Equal Chances”: A grassroots effort leads to Happiness The Mission EDU Senegal Team decided then to launch the “Equal Chances” pilot project in the two schools, Imam Abou Ndiaye and Kalidou Sy IDEN Parcelles.
The United Nations Association of Greater Seattle accepted, on behalf of Mission EDU, the donation from Gerri Haynes and the mission really started.
The United Methodist Church became our second sponsor with the help of Ann Eachus with a 1000.00 dollars from the Peace and Justice Grant. I also attended a summer camp event at the Bothell United Methodist Church where I was invited to talk about the “Equal Chances” project. After the presentation, an 11 year old girl named Joanne asked “what can we do to help?” I said that school supplies would be much appreciated. Joanne collected three big boxes of water colors and colored pencils in 3 weeks with the help of her friends and family. We received another donation of 200.00 dollars from the Bothell United Methodist Church.
I then planned a return trip to Senegal on August 19th 2014 with the Multipoint system from Greenbridge computing and the plan to purchase the monitors, mice and keyboards in Dakar. I also packed a suitcase full of school supplies from Joanne’s drive.
The Mission EDU Senegal team mobilized
The months of June and July 2014 were about visiting the schools and getting the computer room ready to receive the computers. They started painting the room and the shelves for the upcoming library. I arrived in Senegal on the 19th of august and contacted the team. We met the 22nd at Imam 1 with the metallic and wood carpenters. Mor Talla Mane the project coordinator in Senegal and his assistant Abass Diop were handling the money transactions with Octavia the UNA Executive Director.
The Carpenters starting from scratch
The carpenters really started from scratch (videos to come). They knew that we needed security in the room and a table and benches for the Multipoint system. They did an amazing job.
The EBOLA outbreak found me in Dakar. Had I been by myself, I would not worry too much, but I was with my 7 month old baby. There one case of Ebola in Senegal, a student from Guinea. While we were there, we followed the News and learned that he was treated. We left when they were still deciding whether to keep him there or send him back.
Keeping the Mission going. Copy machine purchased in Dakar. Kalidou Sy Elementary and community gift.
On September 9th, we purchased the copy machine and delivered it to the Kalidou sy Elementary Administration and Parent Association leaders. Video and pictures. Promise kept, the teacher will not have to travel to make thousands of copies anymore. The President of the Parents Association told us that this copy machine came at the right time and that some parents will really appreciate the help as it has been a challenge to keep their child to school because of a lack of books. Parents living on an average of 2 dollars a day cannot buy all the books the child needs and the schools do not have enough copies to share. The copy machine will allow them to make as many copies they want to give to poor families. The other good news is that the nearby school will benefit from it as well, it became a community gift. Delivering the copy machine and meeting with the Parents Association. Community involvement September 9th A meeting followed the donation. It was agreed that the PTA will be responsible for the sustainability of the copy machine by providing ink and paper. I love the agreement.
Meeting with the Ministry of Education on Sept 11th- Emotions and Validation of our Mission
Mr Beysi and Mrs Bodj both work for the Ministry of Education. When we met them, they told us that some public schools are on a red flag zone. Imam 1, our pilot school is one of them. They told us that they need support in Reading and Math. Word alone could not express their gratitude to Mission EDU Senegal, they made sure Mor talla , Abass and I heard it and pass the message along to every single person who supported the mission. They also told us that the Multipoint system is the right technology for the new curriculum in place” Aproche par les competences” that really creates a student centered learning experience and also alleviate the teacher’s task. Teachers can have up to 50 students in a classroom. Inside the facilities, there was a classroom with students who are really struggling in Math and Reading. Those students are selected from different schools around Dakar and are gathered during the summer to try to make them reach a decent level before the beginning of the next school year.
A volunteer student /Math teacher made my day
The morning of September 15th, we decided to go to Imam 1 to distribute Joanne’s school supplies, we got there when the little kids had already left for a field trip. We heard someone teaching, a male voice. I was really curious and I peak in the classroom, there were 8 girls. I apologize for interrupting and asked what they were doing in an elementary school .The teacher named Mr Ba, told me: “I am a 2nd year student in Math and Sciences, I am here as a volunteer helping these girls study math to prepare the next school year.” As I was talking to Mr Ba, I was deeply moved to learn that he travels about an hour, 3 days week, by bus to come and help these girls. I asked him why he was doing this and his answer was “I remember being an elementary student with no help, I decided to help students just like I needed it when I was their age”. I was very happy and moved to interview him as one of our future program will students tutoring services. We just found the Leader for the program that will start in November 2014. The computer room inauguration at Imam1, Sept 18th last day.( video , pictures) After 3 weeks of work and team effort, we had the opportunity to celebrate. It was such an experience to see the community and parents rejoice over Abdi’s gift, I am sure the prayers and thanks went to him. The Mayor and the Ministry of Education were represented.
Special thanks to Abdi Sami, Gerri and Bob Haynes, Octavia Hathaway, the United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter, the Bothell United Methodist Church, Ann and Jim Eachus and Joanne (11 years old).
The Epidemic of Birth Defects in Iraq: Conversations with an Iraqi Doctor
Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak, head of the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Basra Maternity Hospital is coming from Iraq, and will be joined by Iraqi environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, University of Michigan/Ann Arbor. This team will be speaking at a number of other U.S. universities, e.g., Harvard, Boston University and Columbia University.
This is the video of the event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4N_KZmdlDM
UN Day 2014
Thank you to all the participants who took time out on a windy, blustery day to join us in discussing these very important stories that affect not only us here in Seattle, but people all around the country and the world. Our opinions and comments will be summarized and submitted to UNA-USA, which is in the process of gathering up the various discourse from at least 33 other Chapters. Our thoughts and concerns will be part of the larger program, the Sustainable Development Goals.
A very special thank you to the UNA Seattle Board Members; our new Executive Director, Mike Beard; Heather Jarvis of City University; Kat Gjovik of Great Turning; Stacy Barmuta; Maureen Mullen and Kaitlyn Crawford. This event would not have been the great success without you.
Dr. Korten's speech is in the link below. An article by David Lampert ("Universal Development Goals For This Millennium") is also linked. This article recently appeared in Columbia University's sustainable development journal, Consilience. Both are fascinating reads, and we encourage continued thoughtful discussions among yourselves, and at Club UN.
David Korten UN Day 2014 Presentation
David Lempert Universal Development Goals Final Consilience
The World We Want 2015
UN Sustainable Development Goals
State of the Chapter 2013
2013 was a year of accomplishment and transition for UNA Seattle. We hired our first executive director in nearly 20 years. We held our largest and most important event of many years, the World We Want event at City University. We co-presented a major event at the University of Washington Law School on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. We launched a monthly group, Club UN, to discuss human rights and other pressing international issues in a relaxed setting. We had our best budgetary year for many years, finishing the year nearly $4,000 in the black.
More important than these accomplishments, we set a direction for the organization. We will engage immigrant and refugee groups here in Seattle, using them as a bridge to the UN and to international communities around the world. We will connect students and other volunteers with these organizations. In our first achievement related to this new direction, we reached an agreement with Mission EDU, an organization launched by UNA Board Member Peinda Diop, dedicated to bringing computers for the first time to classrooms in Senegal.
We also had a lot of turnover on the board this year. Three longtime UNA Seattle board members, Dick Blakney, Trevor Tate, and Camelia Ades, resigned from the board. Dick served on the board for many years, including a term of President, and was the guiding force behind UNA’s advocacy for many years. Trevor represented the organization ably both as chapter president and to the national organization in Washington, DC. Camelia served as Vice President and played a major role in organizing many chapter events.
New on the board this year are George Gose, a local banker who is serving as Treasurer, and Abdul Yusuf, a leader of Seattle’s African community. Also joining the organization this year was volunteer Chief Administrative Officer Octavia Hathaway, a local lawyer and community leader who provided an enormous boost to UNA by, among other things, editing our newsletter, revamping the website, and straightening out our bookkeeping.
In December, our interim Executive Director, Jennafer Cargill resigned, in order to take a position much closer to her home. Jennafer served the organization ably in her six-month stint and we thank her for all the hard work. We are presently involved in a new search for an executive director, and hope to have one hired by the end of January 2014.
UNA Seattle is making a push to become a major force in Seattle, connecting our local communities with the UN and other peoples around the world to address major world problems. I wish to personally thank all of you who dedicated your time, money, and ideas to the organization, and to encourage you to keep working with us to make the UNA a mighty force for good.
Watch Seattle In Action At The World We Want
Now this is what we're talking about!
Today Was Seattle’s Turn!
When the video of the proceedings is ready, it will be posted here and on Facebook. Please check back here often. In the meantime, please consider joining us in this incredible journey. Become a member of the UNA Seattle. Be informed. Be inspired. Together, we can do a lot of good.
The World We Want: Consultations for Post 2015 MDGs
Poised to be the first United Nations grassroots consultation initiative performed in the United States, "The World We Want" - UNA-USA Consultations on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda will be setting a precedence on how communities across the world engage with the UN. The initiative was developed from a request by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for a grassroots consultation process to be conducted in each UN member state. The goal is to hold unique conversations in each participating city to outline the world we want in 2030. Results from the US consultations, including interesting stories, ideas and emergent themes, will be assembled and presented to UNDP to support goals for the post-2015 development agenda.
The program's objective is to invite wider participation in the UN's development agenda and foster a community actively engaged in sharing in a global mission. The consultations provide the bridge to connect grassroots communities to the work of the United Nations, which might have seemed too far removed for citizens to have an impact on shaping.
This Saturday, it is our turn to convene participants from various communities and groups around the greater Seattle area to exchange ideas and stories in order to add to the growing collective of meaningful global conversations. Our chapter intends to nurture this process into an ongoing dialogue. Please keep tuned for future programming launched from this important process. In meantime, we encourage more people to submit their views on the survey at www.myworld2015.org.
Registration is required in advance, and the deadline to register is Thursday October 31st - no walk-ins please. For more information and to register, go to:
The 10 chapters/regions participating in consultation are the following: Chicago (Oct. 24) Seattle (Nov. 2) New York (Nov. 8) Kansas City (Nov. 16) Tampa Bay (Nov. 19) North Carolina, (Nov. 23) Southern California (Dec. 7) Denver (first week in Dec) Iowa (TBD) Northern California (TBD)