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United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter

Board Meeting On June 10, 2015

June 5th, 2015 by unaseattle

The Board is meeting on June 10, Wednesday, in the office on the lower level of the University Temple United Methodist Church in the University District. It begins at 7:00 pm.

Agenda is being developed. If you would like to attend, please let us know through email info@unseattle.org. There will be munchies and beverages.

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Mission EDU Senegal Open House on April 17, 2015

March 30th, 2015 by unaseattle

We are very excited to announce that Mission EDU Senegal is gearing up for its Open House. It will be on April 17, 2015 from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Eritrean Community Center in the Rainier Valley.

Come join us on this lovely Spring evening to learn about what Mission EDU Senegal has accomplished in the past years and what its plans are for the future. Specifically, we are happy to announce three new initiatives: Connections, Equal Chances and Focus2020. Come meet the Connection program’s Youth Ambassadors, who are already at work on a fundraising event.

Peinda plans to cook Yassa Poulet, a traditional chicken dish from Senegal. Octavia is prepared to make a big pot of chicken adobo, the ultimate comfort food from the Philippines. Sides are rice and couscous.

To help us kickstart this new phase, we are asking for a $20 donation from everyone at the door. Octavia will also have a limited number of handmade soaps for sale, the proceeds of which will all go to Mission EDU. $50 will buy a backpack and school supplies for one girl for a year, giving her an Equal Chance in the future. $20 provides 4 hours of Math and Science tutoring to girls in the Focus2020 program. So please open your hearts and wallets!

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UNA Greater Seattle Chapter presents Club UN

March 30th, 2015 by unaseattle

club unJoin 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 April 29, 2015, at 6:00 pm, we are meeting at the UNA office located in the lower level of the University Temple United Methodist Church on 1415 43rd Avenue NE in the University District.

The topic: TBD

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Come Visit Our New Remodeled Office

January 25th, 2015 by unaseattle

It’s the new year and our office is ready! Thanks to hard work by many, the entire office has seen a complete facelift, featuring comfortable sofas and chairs, more efficient computer workstations, and a modern look and feel. This inviting new interior will give the Board, staff and members the proper space to meet and do important work.

So we invite you to drop by and visit us. Coffee is always available.

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Mission EDU Senegal: Our Story

November 4th, 2014 by unaseattle

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.”

celebrating with the next generation

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.

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“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.

Scared

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.

home cp copy machine 2

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).

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