Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's good to have amazing friends

Every once in a while, one of your buddies really makes you proud of their commitment, dedication, and willingness to do something to make things better. When this happens, you get more than a nice, warm feeling in your gut, you also get a little ambitious about doing something yourself.

And so it is with my man Jason Dudek. Read the news story I'm excerpting, and then consider helping him meet the $15,000 target to help some young people in Sierra Leone. Although I don't know very much about the situation there, I do know Dudek enough to be able to vouch for his awesomeness, and his ability to spot a cause worthy of support. I'll be sending along a contribution, and I hope you do this too.

Here's the organization he's founded: Braveheart Youth Foundation

Here's the news story:
Foundation aims to bring hope to children of Sierra Leone
Mon Jan 8 2007
By Heidi Hagenlocher

Jason Dudek has looked past the poverty and sees hope for children in Sierra Leone.

Dudek, 25, started Braveheart Youth Foundation, a registered Canadian charity, after working in the country in 2005 with the international organization Right to Play.

As part of the Winnipegger's job, he became connected with local projects, including a drop-in centre for street youth called Braveheart Miners and Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, run by nurse Aminata Conteh.

"She's just such a humble person, I really wanted to help her anyway I could. Out of her own tiny little house she started up this organization to take care of kids on the streets," said Dudek, who is now attending the London School of Economics, working towards a master's degree in development management.

He met Conteh while he was living in Koidu, the capital of the eastern province Kono. The nurse had escaped the country and lived in the U.S. during the war, but she returned afterwards and started the centre in 2003.

"If you were in Koidu during the war, you were either running for your life, a soldier, or dead," Dudek said.

He described the town as the epicentre of the 11-year conflict (1991 to 2002) in Sierra Leone, which borders Guinea and Liberia in western Africa, because of the diamond mines in the area. Tens of thousands of people were killed, more than two million people were displaced, many of the street children Conteh works with became orphans or were separated from their families during this time. A trademark of the rebel forces (Revolutionary United Front) was to use child soldiers and initiate them through killing and mutilating civilians.

"The children need a life and a chance to be children, for their sake but also for the good of their community. They need a shelter and to go to school. They need to survive," Conteh wrote in a funding proposal.

What struck Dudek about Conteh was her desire to help, working out of her 300-square-foot leased house, sometimes having 50 children sleeping in and around it, even though she didn't have much money or support.

She had the opportunity to buy a 3,000 square-foot building, but needed money to renovate it before they could move in. After asking international agencies to help her without success, Dudek decided to start the foundation to raise $15,000 to pay for the renovations.
When he returned to Canada he asked Father Fred Olds, from St. Bernadette Parish, the church he attended in high school, to give him advice about setting it up.

"I think it's an extremely worthwhile project... I'm just giving him moral and spiritual support," said Olds, who is also the treasurer for the foundation.

Dudek started fundraising in September, but he already has close to $7,000. He plans to raise the money within one year and then deliver it to Conteh. Until then, she continues to work with the children out of her small home.

"If we disappear, she's just going to keep doing what she's doing," said Dudek.

"It's the future of development, it's not imposing a structure or an idea, it's working through an existing community organization... give these people the tools, they'll rebuild themselves."

To find out more about Braveheart Youth Foundation, check out www.braveheartyouth.ca.


Blogger Michael said...

Hey Peter,

I don't have any other way of contacting you, oddly enough, but I found a book which you might find interesting in your pursuit of the Truth.

There is a book by Nussbaum entitled "Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law" which looks like it is up your alley. I'm not sure what sort of philosophy you're into these days, so you should give me a ring and catch up.


1:58 p.m.  

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