global new born conferenceHere in the US we are blessed with many places mothers can take their children for  maternal education, immunizations and care.  Around the globe  many mothers are not so fortunate.   There are many global initiatives to help change this situation and improve the health of babies thus giving them a strong start in life.   The upcoming Global  Newborn Health Conference in South Africa is a wonderful event that will offer NGO’s, researchers and health experts the opportunity to come together.  Through their collaborative work they will develop programs that will positively impact newborn health around the globe.   The conference will challenge these experts to answer the questions  “Why are so many newborns in the poorest countries dying? And what can we do as a global community to save them?”

newborn2013.com

UN Photo/Albert González Farran

 I encourage you to  join me in spreading the word about this important event on April 15 -18 in Johannesburg, South Africa  You can follow these organizations on Twitter for conference updates.  You can also follow Dr. Gary Darmstadt (@gdarmsta),    on Twitter.  He is the  Director of the Family Health Division of the Gates Foundation and will be tweeting daily “Did You Know?” facts about newborn health

 

 

UN Photo/Fardin Waezi

UN Photo/Fardin Waezi

 

africa

africa (Photo credit: qudsiya k)

The letter X was the hardest letter to find a topic to post about ….all I could think about was X marks the spot.  This is because my children love hiding and hunting for items…..detctive games and archeology adventures abound here.   Lots of sneaky, peaky walking and giggles abound!  Maps are truly part of our households idea of fun!

We have been studying the map of Africa during our Africa School lessons.   I think it is important for my children to understand that Africa is not a country!  Our first lesson was to study the five regions.  We colored and “puzzled” together the entire continent.  Our last lesson was about the Northern part of the continent.  We have idetified all the countries in North Africa and  the next session will be to create and label a pin map.

There is a wonderful site called Mega Maps  which  offers maps of the world availble for  download. The site offers visitors the option of creating maps of any size from 1 page to 7 ft across.   They are great to  use for teaching the children in your life about world geography.  Helping them to understand the many countries of the world and where they are located expands the world view of youth.   One great hands on activity my children loved was to  take the African map  – cut each region apart and glue them back together.  This can be done for all the contients and put into a goeography book for them to review and enjoy.  

 Teach the Children about the world

A Unique Map of Africa Design

I  love everything Family!!  I am sure you have guessed this with the many posts I have written  which include something about family.   I have worked quite a bit on my own family history ……an amazing journey that I feel is a gift for my children.  I want them to know they are here because of the prayers, beliefs and hard work of those who preceded them in the family.  My daughter can proudly name 5 generations of  grandmothers!!   I am very fortunate because my maternal grandmother kept and shared a lot of family history which we have today.  I even have the daily diary of my Great Great Aunt circa 1900…..a true treasure and window into what life was like during those days….very hard!!

Sankofa design from Kiarablu

Sankofa reminds us to Return & Get what was left behind

I  encourage everyone to do some family research and/or documentation.  It is not only for yourself but also  for the children of your family.   If you are wondering “where do I begin”  ?  I suggest right where you are.  Begin with your immediate family,  your parents and grandparents.  Fill out the family tree with all that you know –  it will be more than you realize!!  Then begin the Sankofa journey……. ask for the information that is missing from other family members….siblings of your parents and grandparents, their children and spouses.  This  can be done at family gatherings ( even if it is not an “official” family reunion) …..bring the tree with you and connect with others and their families.

Click on the image below for your own family tree to fill out!!  

Nice Hair

April 18, 2012

This blog post is dedicated to all the little girls with curly hair. As mom to a young girl of African descent I have had many discussions about hair.  When she first went to school, my daughter soon began asking questions about blonde and straight hair.  We talked at length about the differences between her best friends hair (blonde, straight , unbraided) and her hair ( curly, black and braided).  I have always taught her that hair comes in many, many varieties.  This fact means that there are many different ways people will style their hair.   My daughter can now admire many different styles without any envy that her hair is not exactly the same.  This makes me happy.

Fashion Doll - Pre Afro treatment

Fashion Doll selected to recieve an Afro

 Last year I came across a great article about creating an Afro  for Barbie.  I was pleasantly surprised because I have never seen a fashion doll with really curly hair.  Even way back when in the ’60s when Afros where high fashion in the African-American community.   (Yes I was the little girl way back then LOL)

The “hair prep”  steps needed for this Afro creation were pretty simple….twirl the hair, curl it up on pipe cleaners and dip in really hot water.

 

Pipe cleaner sor curlers!

The make over begins

When I posed this project to my fashion doll  lovin’ daughter she jumped  for joy -” Yes” she squealed to my delight.     So together we worked to twist up the doll’s  hair and curled it on pipe cleaners.  It was a very bonding experience to teach my daughter to get the twists  nice and smooth.  “Girl stuff” my husband noted — To which my dear daughter smiled and said Yes it is!! ( Gotta love the Girl Power there)

We were able to complete the style but we did not get a true Afro – maybe because her hair was so long.  My daughter loves the increased texture so all is well in the land of “lil Duafe”  which makes me smile and oh soooo happy to be in the mommy “hood”.

How have you explained hair differences to the little girls in your life?  Have you received questions or statements of  envy for another childs hair or styles?

Here is a link to the tutorial for how  give fashion dolls  an Afro 

http://playbarbies.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/custom-rotini-or-halo-hair/

Barbie with an Afro

what you should get

Mama’s Words !!

April 16, 2012

Today I lift my blog in a toast to all the great mothers of the world!!  It is a hard job but someone has to work on our collective future!!  There are many great women across the globe who have taught, sacrificed and generously given to the children in their lives.  Many are the  parent of the child they nurture but we cannot forget those who mother in the schools, neighborhoods and churches. ….giving selflessly of themselves  when called upon.   

Represents nurturing & discipline

Nurturing and discipline

This life in the mommy “hood” is not an easy existence.  It is filled with many amazing moments of course more good than bad ( thank  heavens)  And because I now hear my own mother’s words flowing  thru my lips each day I decided to create the wordle below!  It is a short sweet snippet of what I think many mothers voice on many days as they work to build a better future for us all!!

Mama Used to Say

 Let no one ever come to you without

leaving better………

……..and happier.

— quote Mother Teresa

 

 

Ok so what did I miss??  What did your Mama used to say?? 

Here are some great sites I love to visit and see all the good Moms are doing around the world:

Take the Million Mom Challenge

World Moms Blog

Mom Bloggers For Social Good

Jam…..Peace Jam

April 11, 2012

knot of pacification and reconciliation

Mpatapo is the Adinkra symbol that represents peace making

J is for Jam…..the amazing work of Peace Jam.   Peace Jam  is an amazing organization working to bring together youth and Nobel Laureates thru the work of community affiliates and volunteers.  The goal of this organization is to educate, inspire and call to action youth to make a positive difference using this powerful combination.  

Peace Jam is educating youth with the powerful stories of Nobel Laureates like Desmond TuTu and the Dali Lama and inspiring them to then go out and initiate community actions that promote peace.   The organizers and leaders of this organization are using their Peace Jam conferences to bring these “Jammers” together for even more inspiration and plans for action.

Peace Jam was founded by Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff in Denver Colorado. This dynamic duo is  now  working to continue their momentum  to keep youth excited about tackling and solving  the toughest issues facing our planet.

As a youth leader within my Church I am really inspired by this organization.  We have had  several discussions with our group about how they can make a positive contribution to their local community.   Are you currently working with youth in your community?  What local issues has your group worked to positively contribute to?  How have you been inspired by their views?

Here is a wonderful video with an Introduction of PeaceJam Global Call to Action

As we come to the next stop in the A to Z Blogging Challenge I have decided to look at Handmade books for the letter H.

Artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has an awesome site MakingBooks.com where she offers lots of great information about a variety of ways to work with children and teach them how to make their own books.   Designing and creating a book can be a powerful experience for a child.  It shows them that they can not only be readers but also writers of books!  And we all know there can NOT be too many good writers in the world!!  As mom to a growing little writer I am constantly looking for new ways to encourage my daughters  writing activities.   We have not tried any of  Susan’s projects but it is definitely on my list of  weekend “to-do’s”. 

Of course when I spied the Adinkra symbol book I was very excited!  Here is a picture of the completed project and I have linked it to instructions for the project on one of Susan’s blogs!

Adinkra Accordion book

Adinkra Accordion Book from MakingBooks.com

Be sure to stop by MakingBooks.com for instructions on how to make this great book and other great book projects.

Have you created any handmade books with children?  I would love to hear about the stories they’ve created!

Blogging A to Z Challenge

I recently connected with the creaters of a fantastic cartoon series called Bino and Fino on my  Twitter timeline!   Bino and Fino is the name of an adorable  African children’s cartoon now available   that  offers up enriching African culture to our children.  This engaging cartoon is  designed to be an entertaining  teaching tool for kids across the Diapora which addresses topics like African history,  African culture,  African maps,  black history in Diaspora, Life skills, African songs,  African languages, and much more!  

Sankofa "Return and Get it"

 Through engaging stories the cartoon offers the children a fantastic vehicle for Sankofa –  they can connect with the African continent on a familiar media format.  I love this!!  My children were immediately engaged when they watched the video below and it led to a fantastic discussion about colonialism, independance, history, and geography.  We have been studying regions of Africa so the children were happy to look at the map and identify where Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Mali  (etc) are   after watching the cartoon!  

Hope you enjoy this  episode of Bino and Fino as they learn all about Nigerian Independence Day . I encourage you to order a DVD for the children in your life!   What other things are you doing to bring Sankofa to youth of your life?  

Nigerian Independence Design from Kiarablu
Adinkra symbol for reconciliation and peacemaking

Mpatapo is the Adinkra symbol that represents peacemaking

September 21 is the International Day of Peace. We all are encouraged to promote world peace both locally and internationally. There are many things we  can do individually  to support the PEACE movement.

Engaging with children and providing them with activities to express their wishes of peace is one of the most powerful means to promote peace. If the next generation understands that they have the power to make peace happen then they will actively work to create a peaceful world.

Youth Art Work during Chalk4Peace Event

Chalk4Peace Art Work

One of the organizations that offers us a unique and  creative way to express our thoughts of peace is Chalk4Peace. This is a global art project for youth using sidewalks and chalk! This is a simple concept that is so POWERFUL! Chalk4Peace are events held around the world to offer youth the opportunity to creatively express their visions of peace. The children are able to proudly show off their beautiful creations to the world. This positive expression will be a part of their understanding of how important their view is.

Please drop over to visit the Chalk4Peace blog to list or find a Chalk4Peace event! Then be sure to share your beautiful creation here with me!

Take a moment to pray for peace today — then go out and make Mpatapo happen!

HBCU Proud Legcy tee by Kiarablu

HBCU Proud Legacy

During this week and next many Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be taking time out to celebrate their membership in the HBCU collective.  These schools have offered education and scholarship to African American students since the early 1800’s.

HBCUs  have continuously provided a place for African American students to increase their knowledge and scholarship despite lack of funding  or adequate  public support for over 170 years.  The original instructors and students were very commited to establishing and maintaining schools for the enrichment of the African-American community.  Early students  worked hard just to physically get to these schools –   Book T. Washington walked from West Virginia  to  Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) located  in  SE Virginia.  Another example of the students dedication to this same  institution was the funding that the Hampton Institute Choir obtained to build Virginia-Clevlend  Dormitory. The sung for groups around the country to raise money to build their  womens dorm! The faculty and students in the 19th century did not let the limitations of social stigma, lack of abundant funding or politics stop them from building these schools.  

Founder of Tuskeegee

Booker T. Washington

These determined men and women have left us an amazing legacy.   We must re-examine the current state of education within the African-American community and re-establish this “education warrior” attitude.   The Malcom X quote of  ” By any means necessay!” comes to mind when looking at how to implement this “warrior” attitude in modern times.   As a community we must come together to educate our students from the elementary level through post graduate.  Without a strong education, the foundation of the community is weak and that can only lead to an unempowered community in the future.   

As we celebrate the beautiful legacy of the HBCU’s,  we must also strongly encourage faculty, students and alumni of these great insitutions to take a critical look around for what they can contribute today to education within our community. These institutions should be creating an abundance of  “education warriors” who then reach out to others and elevate the community through teaching!   Every graduate should feel obligated to becoming a reading buddy, establishing a math club or developing a local  “Black History center” !  The completion of an undergraduate degree should be  look upon as the begining of a journey of enlightenment instead of the “end” of school!  One of the greatest examples of  how this type of attitude can make a difference is the building of Tuskeegee Institute.   The brilliant Booker T. Washington established  Tuskegee Institute in Alabama  using the education he received  Hampton Institute.   He did not take his education and go back home …..find a good job ….live the “good life”. He took  his knowledge, applied it and worked  to help others in the community reach this same level of scholarship!  

Adinkra symbol Akoben - Horn used to sound the Battle Cry!

Educational Warriors - Sound the Battle Cry!!

The time has come for the African-American community take education of   OUR community back into our own hands….we can not rely on local school boards, school systems etc to provide our children with knowledge.  Educational warriors are despeartely needed today…. to change the path so many children are on.   I offer this challenge to not only HBCU alumni, faculty and students but to everyone who can…..go out and become an educational warrior…..teach the youth  so they become better citizens which will give  our  community and our country a better future.  Stand on this beautiful HBCU legacy and help build a solid future  for the African-American community. 

19th century history class @ Tuskegee Institute

"Educational Warriors"

Do you know of some modern day “educational Warriors”?  I would LOVE to hear about them! So Please share here!