Monday, August 07, 2006

Hey up/rooted friends!

Last week about 100 of us crowded into Kristine and Brian Socall's home in Winfield to hear an amazing lady from Kenya speak to us about global poverty and what we as American citizens can do about it. It was an amazing night. With her permission, I wanted to share my wife, Julie's, comments on the evening (also posted at the Emerging Women's blog):

Last night I went to hear Nobel Peace Prize nominee and 2007 Kenyan presidential candidate Wahu Kaara speak. The occasion was an event called Wake up to Poverty and Kaara fearlessly called on us suburbanite Americans to wake up and care.

Kaara, the founding coordinator of the Kenya Debt Relief Network, is also the Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals in Kenya at the All Africa Conference of Churches. With Brazilian President Luis InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, Kaara launched the Global Call to Action against Poverty in Brazil in 2005, which has grown into the world's largest anti-poverty movement. Its organizations together represent more than 150 million people globally, with campaign actions in more than 80 countries.

What amazed me is how her role as a woman is helping change the world. She was one of the lucky women in Kenya who was blessed with an education. She had a comfortable life first as a teacher then as a school principal. Yet she saw the conditions of her people living under systems of oppression (often inflicted by countries like the US) and realized that she had to do more. She said she saw how in communities in Kenya the women formed networks of support to help care for each other and that inspired her to create networks to help end global poverty.

The groups she has founded have made tremendous impact already. And she is running for the Kenyan Presidency with strong goals and dreams (in many ways aiming at nothing less than ending poverty and helping form a United States of Africa). Her call to us was to wake up to poverty and see the need for aid without conditions, just trade, and debt relief. She wasn't afraid to touch issues that American Christians usually avoid – ones that point out the sinfulness of certain policies, the greed of corporations, and the pain our consumeristic ways causes to other countries and the environment. This wasn't some college hippie liberal ranting about the government, this was an educated leader who has lived through and amidst the pain asking us to open our eyes, be educated, and work for change.

Most encouraging was that even amidst the vastness of the problems (poverty, debt, disease), Kaara had hope. She no longer wants Africa to be seen as a desperate, hopeless continent, but as a living continent. She has hope and has strategies and plans for making it happen. Some of that involves people in America pressuring our representatives to set the standard for the world in participating in the Jubilee of debt relief and aid.

In all it was a fascinating evening listening to a women who has looked at a problem and is stepping up to fix it. She is a modern hero and role model for women.

Brian from Adventrek (the group that helped sponsor this event and bring Ms. Kaara here) has promised to put the audio of Wahu Kaara's talk online soon. I'll send out the link as soon as that's up.

We don't have a date or topic yet for our next up/rooted gathering. I'll let you all know as soon as we get that figured out.


Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

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