I’ll be honest, when I think of Africa, I think desert, famine, elephant poachers and war. Certainly these are not feel good things. My vision of Africa has been shaped by the nightly news and infomercials asking for donations amounting in no more than the price of a cup of coffee to save children.
In my life to date I have never sat down and talked to someone that was here after living in Africa. Only a handful of people I have ever met have even visited Africa and those that have were pretty much there on safaris designed for tourists. Until May I was disconnected by distance and honestly, interest from Africa.
In May I sat in a room alongside 3,000 people and I heard Lopez Lomong tell his story at the opening session of the 2014 Alltech Symposium. The theme of this year’s meeting was ‘What If?’ and beyond hearing Lopez tell his story, I was exposed to a new way of thinking about Africa. Instead of just thinking about all the problems in Africa, I was introduced to the idea of all of the potential in Africa. I left thinking “What if the answer to global hunger is Africa?
Did you know?
- 65% of Africa’s workforce works in Agriculture.
- Only 6% of land in Africa is under irrigation.
- 50% of the people in Africa are under 25 years old.
- Women in Africa produce 80% of the food but only receive 10% of credit.
- Africa is huge!
View the Alltech Symposium presentations on Africa by clicking HERE.
After leaving Alltech Symposium, I certainly had a new outlook on Africa, I now saw potential instead of just problems. I had the desire to help but I still wasn’t sure what I could do. It was floating around in the back of my mind when I got a message from Rowan Childs. She and I met almost a year ago at a Social Media Breakfast Club get together that I spoke at. She is the founder of Madison Reading Project, an idea created to combat Wisconsin’s status as the state with the highest rates of illiteracy among low income children.
What does this have to do with Africa?
Rowan was reaching out to me about a project she created. A project combining childhood literacy, humanitarianism and cows. Obviously, I was in.
In Rowan’s words “We (Madison Reading Project) enrich Salvation Army’s afterschool and summer camp with reading, geography, and other activities that focus on purposeful reading and learning more about their partnered school and village in Tanzania.”
So how does teaching kids at the Salvation Army summer camp how to read help African farmers? Rowan says, “Our sister nonprofit AfricaBridge.org runs sustainable programming in Tanzania for rural communities including many agricultural co-op’s. Cows, pigs and chickens are the biggest animal programs. They learn how to take care of the animals, proper techniques, programs and education. The cow raises them out of poverty and malnutrition. By having milk for their families and then excess milk to sell they go from lack of food, lack of money, lack of bedding, electricity, Etc. The family and then the community thrives through having these programs. You can go to their website –specifically the blog to see some great stories, pictures about these programs: http://www.madisonreadingproject.com“
This summer the kids involved in the Madison Reading Project at the Salvation Army Summer Camp have not only improved their reading skills, they have learned about agriculture and cows. Perhaps most importantly, despite being from low income homes themselves, the kids have been empowered to help others. They have been raising money by reading and that money will buy cows for farmers in Africa. That’s pretty awesome and something I think we can all get behind.
Each cow costs around $500. So far the kids have raised almost enough to donate 2 cows. A donor has stepped up to match funds and I think that we can join together and help them not just meet their goal but smash it out of the park. Let’s help these kids head back to school knowing that they exceeded their goals and have really made a difference in someone else’s life.
Visit this link to learn more about the project and donate.