Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Journey Towards the Light

Bhim Bahadur Nepali is one of many Future Generations students who is heavily involved with Share and Care, a group that works with marginalized and vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, throughout Nepal. As a self-directed project for his Graduate Study Foundations course, he worked as the production coordinator on "Journey Towards the Light," a short documentary that focuses on Share and Care's Advocacy on Women's Empowerment Project (AWEP).

Bhim estimates that AWEP has directly benefited about 6,000 people. "Women and adolescent girls are aware, empowered, and transformed through direct intervention from our AWEP project," he says. Bhim came up with the idea for the documentary in order to showcase a handful of the personal stories of some of these women. "They might be role models or sources of inspiration for others in the community."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Voices of Future Generations: Helping Mom

In the early 2000s, Future Generations began a documentary audio project called Voices of Future Generations. The idea was to create a radio program by children, for adults. "Children endure the most difficult circumstances with joy, creativity, and hope," read the promotional brochure. "Through their stories, children open our eyes to the smallest details, help us understand the diversity of culture and the wonders of nature, and help us solve problems by looking toward the future. Adults need to hear children tell stories of how they see the world. Unlike the news that focuses attention on the present or the past, the stories of children point listeners to the future and help to restore hope in a rapidly changing and unstable world that looms with big questions."

The radio program never materialized, but Future Generations staff did record nine children from seven different countries, talking about things that were happening in their lives - everything from fishing to terminal illness. Most of these children would be in their twenties by now, but the importance of listening to their voices is timeless.

Over the course of the next few months, Future Generations will make these three-minute recordings available here, beginning with a young girl in Vancouver talking about helping to take care of her family while her mother is in a hospital seeking treatment for cancer.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Future Generations Graduate Student Works to Expand Recycling Opportunities and Education in West Virginia

West Virginia is one of the most scenic states in the Eastern U.S., if not the entire country. It's rivers and forests, many on public lands, draw tourists from around the globe. Unfortunately, many of these beautiful landscapes are littered with trash. 

“I noticed all of the litter in these pretty natural areas and I thought that something could be done,” said Ashley Akers, a Future Generations masters candidate (Class of 2017). Originally from Charleston, Ashley moved to Elkins for an Americorps position with The Nature Conservancy. When her Americorps year ended, she accepted a job with the Randolph County Recycling Center (RCRC) and began attending meetings of the Randolph County Solid Waste Authority.

The work that Akers is doing for her degree in Applied Community Change from Future Generations overlaps heavily with her position at the RCRC. Her capstone project is to assess the possibilities for expanded recycling opportunities in Randolph County and ultimately to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills or worse yet, in rivers and streams. She is looking at a number of options, including curbside pick-up, single stream recycling, and even composting.

Akers is also working to get recycling bins into school classrooms and to develop lesson plans that tie recycling to math. Students could measure, for example, how much food waste is produced in the cafeteria during a typical day. Right now, she is focusing all of her effort on Randolph County, but she is hopeful that "if we get things in place, this could be a model for other counties, other cities in the state."

Monday, May 9, 2016

"An Imaginative and Practice-Based Example"

This is how George Rupp, former dean of Harvard Divinity School and president of Rice University, Columbia University, and the International Rescue Committee, refers to Future Generations Graduate School in his book Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities

The central claim that Rupp makes in his book is that modern Western individualism must engage with the more collective patterns that are common in much of the world. He makes a compelling case for enhancing local capacities - educating and training individuals within communities in order to do the work that is needed there, rather than relying on help from the outside. Not only does this facilitate the delivery of services, it prevents outmigration and keeps human capital in the community, creating a multiplier effect that continues even after relief workers from other areas are gone. Education, he writes, "cuts across all of the exemplary practices."

He cites Future Generations' efforts, saying "its programs are specifically designed for staff of international relief and development organizations. Students continue in their positions, interacting with faculty and other students online. Over a two-year period they participate in four one-month residential sessions with faculty and fellow students. Each student also develops a two year practicum for field-based research in his or her own community. There is limited financial aid, which together with some support from the student's organization makes the two-year program affordable. The degree earned is an MA in Applied Community Change. I can testify that IRC national staff members have enrolled in the program to great benefit."

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Honoring the World’s Number One Healthcare Provider: Mothers

Mothers are the world’s primary healthcare providers, and the home is the world’s primary healthcare facility. Although formal health systems and facilities are necessary, effective work at the household level can both improve the overall health of populations and help the formal health system focus on those conditions that cannot be addressed by families and communities alone

Future Generations Graduate School has focused on strengthening the evidence base for community-based health through its experiences running programs and doing research with students, alumni, faculty, and partners. Central to this is the empowerment and education of mothers so that they have the knowledge and support to become more effective providers of child healthcare services as well as addressing many social determinants of health in their families and communities. Evidence of the impact of such efforts from around the world includes dramatic reductions in infant mortality rates, increased immunization rates, improved nutritional status, and many related social changes such as improved transportation and expansion of the voice of women in community life.

How can we move towards a more equitable and inclusive state of health for the world? There are myriad ways, but further supporting mothers is one of the most powerful. We know that primary healthcare interventions such as hand washing, breastfeeding, oral rehydration therapy, and use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) that can be implemented in homes and communities tend to be more equitably available to all households in communities, especially the most vulnerable and difficult to reach sub-population groups. We also know that, if families are bypassed by or cannot access healthcare services and knowledge, their health outcomes suffer. These situations are deeply unjust, often avoidable, and can undermine efforts to move the health of the entire global population forward by leaving sub-populations vulnerable to infectious diseases and by putting strain on the formal health system through costly and often avoidable interventions.

A mother’s job is not just during business hours, or just when she feels like it. We honor every mother who contributes to the health of her children, family, and community every single day. Here is a way you can help show that respect and appreciation, too: This Mother's Day, please consider shopping on  smile.amazon.com By using the Future.Edu account. A percentage of what you spend will come back to Future Generations so that we can continue to support mothers throughout the world. Use this link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/20-4093450. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.