The one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house... God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives... God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war... God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.
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Journey for Change
THE JOURNEY - SERVING AND VOLUNTEERING
On July 31, 2008, a group of 30 at-risk youth from Bushwick, Brooklyn traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa as part of Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service. The participants, ages 12-15, who attend The Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center for after-school services, summer school and/or church, participated in a rich volunteer and cultural program. They served in the poverty-stricken shanty towns of Diepsloot and Soweto helping orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) and granny-led households (grandmothers who are caring for grandchildren due to their own children dying of AIDS).
With a vigorous daily schedule that began with breakfast and a devotional, the participants made daily visits to the shanty towns to volunteer in homes, schools, clinics, and orphanages. Each day ended with supportive discussions, writing in journals, blogging for CNN.com on their donated (RED) Dell laptops, and calls home to parents. The most important part of the mission was allowing the participants to ascertain the needs of each household they visited by encouraging them to ask pertinent questions of the orphans and grannies and allowing them to fulfill the various needs. This included shopping for necessary goods, fixing and painting buildings and shacks, and alerting the NGO field workers of unique needs that were brought to their attention. Additionally, the participants were encouraged to participate in therapeutic play with small children and engage in singing and dancing activities with older children.
THE JOURNEY - CULTURAL AND RECREATIONAL
In addition to their volunteer work, through our partnership with South African Tourism, the participants were able to enjoy a remarkable cultural component as well. This ensured that they were able to learn about the country's most important historical facts and take part in some uniquely South African customs and practices. Some of the highlights included a visit to The Apartheid Museum, a tour of The Hector Peterson Museum, dinner at the world famous Soweto restaurant Wandies, and a safari at Sun City with dinner and dancing in the bush at Pilansburg National Park. Please click here to view the participant's schedule which includes their cultural and recreational activities.
Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service aimed to provide a life-changing experience to at-risk youth in Bushwick, many of whom have never left the borough of Brooklyn. We specifically targeted youth between the ages of 12 and 15, when they are beginning to make important life decisions. Our hope was to empower them not only to have a vision for their own lives, but to also empower those around them by living a life of purpose and service.
To this end, the children have pledged to be Journey for Change Global Ambassadors for one year acting as spokespersons within their own neighborhood, the United States and in the world at large. It is our goal that through this program we will create global leaders engaged in civic, political, and social change and who will one day serve as mentors for this program or others in the very near future.
CRISIS IN AMERICA'S INNER CITIES
Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service was born because we are witnessing a crisis for inner city youth across America. Children growing up in our cities face daunting obstacles as they enter their teenage years, and many youth succumb to the pressures facing them, whether that be to drop out of school, get involved in gangs, or use drugs. We need innovative ways to break this cycle incorporating the well-known and prolific African proverb "It Takes a Village." The Journey for Change volunteer mission to South Africa was a unique and extraordinary opportunity to change the lives of thirty such youth. The Global Ambassadorship Program allows us to continue to nurture and mentor these children, as well as encourage them to share their positive messages with other teens near and far.
We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of our many sponsors and supporters. Without their dedication, we would never have been able to take our 30 participants, most of who had never traveled before and did not possess passports to South Africa. The list of donated items, pro bono support, and discounted fees is a monumental testimony to their steadfast belief in helping to change the lives of inner-city youth. We encourage you to click here for a full listing of our sponsors and encourage you to patronize these philanthropic companies.
SUPPORT THE JOURNEY FOR CHANGE GLOBAL AMBASSADORSHIP PROGRAM
The Global Ambassadorship Program is just one way that sets Journey for Change apart from other volunteer programs. Along with taking youth from the inner-city to serve globally, the Global Ambassadorship Program aims to serve as a catalyst to stay fully committed to these young people for an entire year, with the goal of creating leaders engaged in social change, as well as mentoring each child individually to assist their parents in guiding them to make positive long-term choices for their lives.
As Global Ambassadors, the participants organize fundraisers; speak at schools and Salvation Army Corp locations; advocate the government; blog for CNN.com and Time for Kids.com; travel within the United States to volunteer in devastated areas and within their own neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn; and encourage their fellow inner-city youth to join them on their mission of service. To view a listing of all Journey for Change Global Ambassadors activities, please click here. We need your help to fund this important program. To find out how you can donate, please click here.
Bushwick is an underserved neighborhood in Brooklyn with a population of 100,000 people. It has consistently struggled to overcome obstacles, such as drug trafficking, a high incidence of child neglect, rising crime rates, and broken families. Over half of its population lives below the poverty line and receives some form of public assistance. Only a little over 50% of the students of its largest high school, Bushwick High, graduate in four years. Out of the 289 students that started high school as freshmen in 2002, 91 had dropped by 2006.
MENTORS AND STAFF
The 30 children from Brooklyn were paired with thirty college-aged young adults who served as mentors and chaperones helping to guide them during the journey. Along with the management team from our partner organizations, Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service consisted of a delegation of 70 people who traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa. The staff and volunteers who traveled to South Africa remain an important and vital part of The Global Ambassadorship program.
Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service, a program of The Angelrock Project, partnered with The Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center, The Salvation Army Greater New York, The Salvation Army South Africa, HOPE Youth Corps, and The Olive Leaf Foundation in South Africa for our inaugural journey.
The cost per child, including the 30 children from The Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center and the 30 mentors was $3500.00 for airfare, housing, transportation, and meals. This budget excludes the funding for programmatic, recreational, and staffing costs. The Journey for Change team profusely thanks all of the individual, corporate, and foundation grants that enabled us to fund this important journey. Please click here for a complete listing of our donors.
A vital part of Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service is that CNN is filming the program for a documentary hosted by celebrated CNN Special Correspondent Soledad O'Brien. Ms. O'Brien is a journalist of the highest caliber and her in-depth documentaries for CNN this past year, including "Black in America," have been insightful and highly respected. Having begun filming the documentary months before the participants traveled to South Africa and documenting every part of the trip, the production continued to film until April, 2009. The documentary is being released as part of Black in America 2: Solutions to air on CNN in July, 2009. Please also visit Anderson Cooper 360's blog "A journey for change" on CNN.com.
There is also a substantial web component on CNN.com where Soledad O'Brien and the participants are blogging regularly about the program. Additionally, the participants have blogged for Timeforkids.com. Furthermore, Time for Kids Magazine featured the program as the fall cover story utilizing photos taken by the participants themselves. Time for Kids Magazine reaches 4 million U.S. school children and is accompanied by a teacher's guide and valuable resources. Please click here to view the issue. Additionally, Essence Magazine published a feature on the program in their August 2009 issue. To view the article, please click here. Please click here for Wendy Wilson, the News Editor for ESSENCE.com's personal photo journal of the trip to Johannesburg, South Africa with the Journey for Change Ambassadors.
SUPPORT JOURNEY FOR CHANGE
To submit an idea or a possible pro bono donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journey for Change Global Ambassadors
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