April 2007

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The Dawn of a New Era

Empowering the Youth of Georgina

A Story of Social Transformation

Public Schools Improvement in Manshiet Nasser

Reports from Isinya and Nairobi


Training in Nepal Reveals Hope

Simbo Masway of the Makuyuni Saving and Credit Cooperative

Laughter during ICA Taiwan and ICA Nepal training programs in Nepal

United Kingdom:
Youth Participation Programme


In the midst of crisis, ICA  Zimbabawe is moving on!

ICA International

The Dawn of a New Era
ICAI Set to Play Leadership Role in International Development

Lambert Okrah

When the General Assembly of ICAI met in Toronto last June, it reaffirmed a commitment to strategically position ICAI in the field of international development. In line with this decision, a five-year strategic plan has been developed and ICAI’s operational office has now been relocated from its former home in Brussels, Belgium to Montréal, Canada.

With the investment made so far, ICAI has strategically positioned itself to play an important role in international development. Everywhere we look, the role of culture has been left behind in development processes, with deleterious effects. It is totally unacceptable that, in this age, we still see such a high level of human suffering around us. The global ICA network possesses the theoretical framework, the methodologies, and – now – the institutional framework required in order to realize change. For when we ensure a role for cultural affairs, we make it possible for just, sustainable development outcomes to be realized around the world.

In the coming years, ICAI will build on the structures developed so far and establish enduring systems to play its role in galvanizing the energies of well-meaning individuals and groups towards an aggressive human development agenda. ICAI will engage with world leaders from government, the private sector, and civil society to design policies that are human-centered and culturally- oriented for sustained growth and development. This is the only way that we can reduce the pain and anguish that we see around us today.

ICAI will also focus an equal amount of energy on building the capacities of its member institutions around the world, in order to increase their national impact and effectiveness in all of these areas. In addition, we will endeavor to assist in the establishment of new national ICAs in other countries around the world.

Thus we have exciting years before us, and wish to call on all members to rally around ICAI for effective leadership around the world. We need your support in order to ensure continued progress.

I think it is appropriate at this time to quote an important African proverb, which states: “If you think you are too small to make a change, enter a room with a mosquito.” We have entered the room, and I can assure you that ICAI is ready to make an indelible mark in world development.

Lambert Okrah is the Secretary General of ICA International.


Georgina Youth Mentorship
Empowering the Youth of Georgina
Shelley Chapman

In the rural community of Georgina, Ontario, ICA Canada’s Youth as Facilitative Leaders (YFL) programme has partnered with Earth Day Canada’s ecoMentors programme and Jericho Youth Centre, a local organization, to develop the Georgina Youth Mentorship (GYM) project.

The project involves training Georgina youth as group facilitators, trainers and ecoMentors.  Five local youth-serving organizations have sponsored seven youth who joined GYM to be trained in the ICA ToP® facilitation methods and to deliver the group facilitation workshops to other youth.  Now trained, these seven youth are called Youth Trainers.  The Youth Trainers vary in age (14 to 18 years old), as well as ability. 

The Georgina Youth Mentorship project at work

York Support Services Network (YSSN) is one of the youth-serving organizations that is taking part in the project.  YSSN services individuals with developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses.  One Youth Trainer sponsored by YSSN has been an inspirational story for all.

Shawn, a Youth Trainer sponsored by York Support Services Network

Shawn is a young man with a developmental disability who has taken the YFL training head on.  During the workshops, Shawn persevered and worked hard to master the art of being a facilitator.  Once he completed the YFL training, he took his training manual to one of his classes and showed it to his teacher who immediately asked him to do a presentation for the class on what he had learned.  Shawn also went on to use the Focused Conversation and Workshop methods to assist him in his end-of-semester projects. 

The support staff person from YSSN, who was trained alongside the Youth Trainers, phoned Shawn one day to check in with him.  She asked Shawn how he was feeling after having received the YFL training and if he felt ready to lead his own workshops.  Shawn proceeded to tell her about all the great things he had done at school with his new skills, saying “I really think I can do this.”  The support staff was delighted and phoned me right away to share the story.

All of the Youth Trainers are currently working with their partner in preparing to lead their own group facilitation workshops for other youth.  Of course they are a little nervous but they are also excited to share the amazing skills they have just learned.  They are also looking forward to using their group facilitation skills to help ensure the voices of Georgina’s youth are heard in matters of community development and social change. 

Shelley Chapman is the local co-ordinator of the Gorgina Youth Mentorship project and joined the ICA team last year. She has a backgound in recreation and youth involvement.


A Story of Social Transformation
Ana Maria Urrutia

For most of my life, I worked as the Director of a center for the rehabilitation of physically handicapped children. Now I work with ICA Chile, and implement programs using ToP methods with the former patients of the Center, together with the help of my daughter Isabel de la Maza and a team of 18 others (six of whom are handicapped themselves). Sometimes I say that the most challenging part of my life has been this period, working directly with the young former patients and caring for their projects of life.

Patients leave the Center at around 18 or 20 years old, once they have finished school and their rehabilitation program. Some of the main issues that a handicapped person faces after leaving the Center include: difficulty obtaining advanced education due to incomplete secondary education; living isolated in their homes; limited money for transportation; depression; heavy dependence on the help of others; low self-esteem; few friends; and very few (if any) visitors. Many are severely handicapped and come from very poor families as well, adding further layers of complication and stress.

My observation of this reality and knowledge of ToP methods led me to develop a unique course called PELP: Programa de Entrenamiento Para Lideres Participativos (Training Program for Participatory Leaders). Its purpose is primarily to increase handicapped persons’ self-esteem and confidence in themselves. The course includes many exercises, designed to stimulate and energize participants, as well as training in how to direct a focused conversation, a consensus workshop, and an action plan. Participants practice these methods until they are quite comfortable with them.

PELP is an eighty-hour program, distributed over nine months. The group is composed of about 24 handicapped youth ages 16 through 25 years old, together with about 12 non-handicapped youngsters, generally university students beginning their studies. Through this program, handicapped youth learn how to speak in front of other people, improve their capacity to relate to others, listen to other life stories, and learn from each other in order to discover new meanings in life. We also teach them broadly-applicable management concepts such as project planning, participatory leadership development, and fundraising.

Some of the achievements that our students have being able to realize include:

  • They look at life in new and different ways.
  • They have a new group of friends and a more positive outlook.
  • They have increased self-esteem.
  • They feel stronger and more independent.
  • They are more tolerant and open to new ways of life.
  • They know how to facilitate group processes using ToP methods.
  • They are more adaptable, and thus able to be more independent.
  • They have learned how to raise funds through small projects.
  • They often make major life and career changes, based upon a new understanding of their own potential.
  • They learn to live in a world of diversity and to be more patient with others.

Currently we are beginning with three new courses, one in Antofagasta, one in Valparaiso, and one in Santiago. These courses are shorter and are designed for adults. Yet the results are more or less the same. Participants are challenged to work by themselves and to look forward to being more independent. This is especially important for women.

ICA Chile is very satisfied with this experience, as we have seen the dramatic progress achieved in a very short time. This success is thanks in large part to the methods that we learned in Phoenix with our teachers there, John and Marilyn Oyler, James Wiegel, George and Keith Packard, and Raul and Angelica Jorquera.

Ana Maria Urrutia is the Director of ICA Chile.


Public Schools Improvement in Manshiet Nasser
Dina El Wakil

Manshiet Nasser is an urban slum dwelling in Cairo known for its high levels of poverty and illiteracy. Manshiet Nasser has 800,000 residents and 31 schools - 17 of which offer basic education. A recent achievement for ICA MENA is the signing of a contract with the Embassy of Japan in Cairo for a project entitled “Improvement of Public Schools in Manshiet Nasser.”

Classroom conditions in Manshiet Nasser are generally of very poor quality, with broken chairs, old desks, and an overall aesthetically displeasing learning environment. With this grant from the Japanese Embassy, ICA will provide eleven basic education schools with desks and chairs. With this small initiative, many students will be given the opportunity to learn in enhanced classroom conditions. Experience in this area has shown that improved school conditions serve as a source of encouragement for many students to seek an education. Therefore we expect that, with this initiative, greater numbers of youth will be more willing and accepting of the idea of attending school, and the schools will in turn provide them with the classroom experience that they humanly deserve.

Throughout our many years of experience, ICA MENA has focusing mainly on the improvement of schools through curricula enhancement, training of teachers, capacity building of school boards, training in teaching methodologies, etc.  However, we have come to realize that it is of utmost importance that such educational enhancement is accompanied by the physical enhancement of the schools, so as to provide the students with a comprehensive schooling experience and help create a generation of children and youth that yearn to be a part of the educational system.

Dina El Wakil is Acting Fundraising Unit Manger for ICA Middle East and North Africa (MENA).


Reports from Isinya and Nairobi
Edward Mutiso

At ICA Kenya’s Isinya Programme Office in the Kajiado District, a grassroots partnership programme focused on sustainable agriculture and food security is underway. Highlights of recent accomplishments include:

  • Two water ponds have been completed and will be used to irrigate two demonstration farms used for training local farmers in the area.

  • A video crew from Japan – Mr. Hide Yanagihara, Mr. Chao Takanashi, and Ms. Yuka Takahashi –visited the project on 16 February to film the project activities. The crew visited Mr. D. S. Wanyonyi, the Kajiado District Officer, who had this to say about ICA Kenya:

When ICA Kenya came, they did the right thing by introducing themselves to my office. I have visited their project activities in the field and am happy with what I see. ICA Kenya and ICA Japan, through the support of JICA, have done a good job of introducing farming in the area. The local Masaai Community engage in livestock farming, but in a nomadic way, and have never believed in agricultural farming. ICA is being positively received in the area because the project is flourishing and the local community residents are learning new farming skills, which they are practicing in their own homes. This is a big step forward.

  • Mr. Saaya Tema, Coordinator of Ilingwesi community project in the Laikipia District of Northern Kenya, which is supported by ICA Canada, also visited the project recently and noted, “There is a lot that my community can learn from this project to enhance food security.” The same sentiments were echoed by Mr. Philiph Leseiyo from Embololoi Village, who has been an active participant in agricultural training organized by ICA in the area. He tells us:

During the drought I can sell one of my big bulls at Ksh 20,000, which is then all spent buying food for my family. The food will only last for two weeks. With the kind of training we have undergone, we can produce our own food and when I sell my bull, the money will be used to undertake another project.

Back in Nairobi, ICA Kenya’s Programme Director German Gituma recently facilitated two Strategic Planning workshops: one for FONOWI, a national NGO that supports people living with HIV/AIDS through home-based care and the initiation of income-generating activities; and another for the Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya (COTU), through the support of DANIDA (Denmark).

Edward Mutiso is Executive Director of ICA Kenya.


Ken Hamje

AVANZA PERU participants engaged in a
team-building activity

The ICA Peru staff just finished the first AVANZA PERU leadership formation program at the totally remodeled Azpitia Training Center. After 3 weeks of intensive, 14 hour days of methods training and over 30 workshops, field trips, and events, the 28 excited community leaders headed back to their communities to start something new.  They were the first group of many to begin the huge task of awakening the communities of the High Sierra to their potential as great places to live and work.  Another group starts on March 4, and there will be thousands more in the coming years.

Slide presentation during an AVANZA PERU
training session

This first group left behind a lasting memory for the staff – a memory of something experienced often during the three weeks, but most strongly in the weekly celebrations.  Every community group of three participants had things to share from the unique culture of their region: music to dance to, traditional clothing and hats, lively songs, poetry to recite, and stories to tell in Spanish or their native Quechua or Aymara.  Their culture was alive and vibrant, and full of the joy of living.  We danced and sang and laughed – and felt deeply honored to have the chance to work with such people whoso enjoyed sharing their gifts with us!

Graduates of the first AVANZA PERU leadership formation program

Now the 10-year “100 Valleys” project has taken on a new dimension for our staff. Yes, it will be long and challenging work. But we now look forward eagerly to “crossing over” to this great culture, which is alive and well in our neighbors from the high Andes. 

Ken Hamje is Executive Director of ICA Peru.


Training in Nepal Reveals Hope
Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook

After ten years of strife, Nepal is on the brink of a new democratic government. While ICA Taiwan and ICA Nepal held our three programs on facilitation, leadership, and participatory training methods in February, it was clear that these tools are needed in Nepal. Protest rallies organized by bunds demanding participation in the decision-making process occurred within our two weeks stay. A voluntary team of seven worked together with ICA Nepal on ten days of training. The ICA Taiwan team was led by Larry Philbrook and included Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook, Laura Hsu, Jorie Wu, Shawn Chung, Jessie Hsiao, and Vivian Pau.

Jorie Wu presenting Basic Facilitation

We discovered that Nepalese facilitators and trainers are passionate about their people and their country. Nepalese want to be interactive, participative facilitators, and enjoyed, laughed, and talked through the exercises, games, and inventories. Nepalese participants were able to connect most of the concepts with their government or community/non-profit work. Some concepts are a huge leap from current practice, so at times we saw questions on their faces. Nevertheless, magic always happens as they try out the methods in small group practice and rich data came out of simple concepts. Some participants had never been asked their opinion, nor seen others asked for theirs, or gained a consensus from a group before – very heady work, very exciting, and very challenging.

Laughter in Ice Breakers

Participants displayed different levels of facilitation skills, from beginner to advanced. HIV/AIDS, Learning vs. Telling Organizations, and Agricultural Society Support are a sample of self-organizing topics that teams worked on diligently. After our Action Planning demo/practice sessions, the group broke out in song and dance at the plenary. Our certificates of participation ceremonies were highlighted by Kenyan Kilo Claps. We were touched by their warmth, impressed by their intellectual grasp, and beckoned by their courage.

Special thanks to:
Dr. Tatwa P. Timsina, General Secretary, ICA Nepal
Mr. Madan Bista, Programme Coordinator and ICA Board Member
Mr. Hare Ram Bhatri, President, Facilitator Association of Nepal
The Rudrimati Rotary Club of Kathmandu, Nepal
The Nepalese participants of all three programmes.

ICA Taiwan hosted by Rudramati Rotary Club of Kathmandu

Leadership in Organizations Training

Basic Facilitator Training: February 13, 14, 15 at the Everest Hotel; 26 participants.
Leadership in Organizations: February 16, 17 at Hotel Himalaya; 47 participants.
Training of Trainers: February 21, 22, 23 at the Local Development Training Centre Lilitpur; 30 participants.

Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook works with ICA Taiwan.

More photographs from training in Nepal are collected in the ICAI gallery.


Success stories from ICA work in Mto wa Mbu:
Simbo Masway of the Makuyuni Saving and Credit Cooperative Society Ltd.

The third of three case studies serialized in Network Exchange
Alanna Mitchell

Until 2001, Simbo Masway’s big dream was to have enough food to eat and maybe, if times got good, to scrape together the money to send her children to school.

Five years later, Masway’s business in second-hand clothing is so healthy that she’s thinking of opening a large restaurant on the same streets where she used to starve.

What made the difference was a group microcredit loan from the Mto wa Mbu office of ICA in 2001. Masway’s share was 12,500 Tanzanian shillings, or about $12.50.

The loan gave her enough financial clout to move from her job as a food vendor in the streets into the second-hand clothing trade. It went so well that later in 2001, once she had repaid the 12,500 Tsh with interest, she took out a second loan for 50,000 Tsh. She’s taken loans several times since then.

Before the ICA microcredit loans came available, it was difficult – if not impossible – for poor women to raise capital individually, Masway says, sitting in the cool office of the Makuyuni Saving and Credit Cooperative Society Ltd. (SACCOS), on a hot day in January.

The office is papered in flip-chart sheets containing meticulous lists of committee members and borrowers. The battered table where the SACCOS loans are granted has been carefully painted cream. A bouquet of plastic yellow and red flowers sits off to one side.

At a bank, women needed to show a title deed to the family home before they could borrow, says Masway. But few women in Tanzania have these.

That’s partly because the title system in Tanzania is not formalized, and also because few women’s names are on the title deeds that exist. Even if women own houses, they don’t have the authority to borrow money against their equity.

And it wasn’t just the money. Training from the ICA office in Mto wa Mbu helped the group of borrowers to share ideas and learn business skills.

As Masway’s financial situation improved, so did her family life. She began to keep chickens, so her children would have meat. She had enough money to pay school fees so her children, Annaglory Ara-Msuya, 16, and James Msuya, 12, could go to school. She would like them to have higher education, too.

The SACCOS has expanded. Now it is an independent lender in its own right with 18 million Tsh in capital. It has made more than 80 loans.

And her restaurant plans are coming along. She’d like it to be big enough to seat 30 to 40 people, a large establishment for this part of Tanzania. It would serve chips, roast meet, chicken, rice, bananas and the cornmeal porridge known as ugali that is such a staple in this part of Africa.

Masway is a fleshy, strong woman now. And she is a business leader in her community, helping others rise above poverty and dream about the future instead of fearing it.

Alanna Mitchell is a former journalist for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, and is the author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots.

United Kingdom

Youth Participation Programme
Amelia Lee

Hello. My name is Amelia Lee and came into post as the new Youth Participation Programme (YPP) Coordinator for ICA UK at the start of January. I am originally from Leicestershire, but have lived for the past six years in Manchester.  When I was 16, I spent a month in Belize working on an ecological project with the Brathay Trust, which was when I became interested in volunteering and travel.

Since then, I have volunteered and worked in a number of youth, student, Co-operative and voluntary sector organisations, and am currently a trustee for LGBT Youth North West. I have also delivered a substantial amount of training in the fields of ‘women and girl’s work’ and ‘gender and sexuality’.

The programme for youth participation is jam-packed full of events and projects this year, including work with young people, youth workers, and organisations as a whole.  Thanks to the efforts of Martin, Jonathan, and Anne, the Youth Programme is in a healthy position financially, which is mostly due to two major projects that are being funded this year. The first is the Baring-funded project called Strengthening User Involvement.  This involves working in-depth with two London-based organisations: City YMCA and Castlehaven Community Centre.  Over the course of the project, we will work with them to come up with an action plan of how to involve their young people (service users) in all levels of their organisations, and will support them in working out the best ways in which this participation can be carried out.  This should run until July 2007. 

The second project is the v-funded project, entitled Young Community Leaders. This project will involve working with a group of young people in Manchester and a group of young people in London over 12 weekly sessions, where we will deliver training for the young people on being a young community leader, and how to action plan for projects.  The young people will then plan a community project with our support and will then (with the help of a partner organisation), carry out the project over the next six months.  The hope is that they will involve other young people in these projects, and that many of them will continue to volunteer in their communities, and also with ICA.  Once the project has completed this cycle, it will begin again with a new group of young people in both cities. For both of these projects, we are looking for volunteer associates to help deliver the training and support for the groups.

The other two main projects already planned are the Plan it Yourself project, and a GFM targeted at Youth Workers. Plan it Yourself will run as a pilot in April and will be a half day training course for young people in action planning.  If successful, it is hoped that this can be a course replicated across the UK.  This will be funded through three grants from the following trusts; Lee Bakring, P.S. Henman and Radley. The May GFM will have five bursary places for Youth Worker’s Training, supported by a grant from The John Grant Davies Trust. 

We also have some in-house facilitation and courses planned with the Miraflor Foundation for March, and potential projects with the Women and Girls Network and the Young Women’s Health Project.

Future plans for the programme include a continuation of the Plan it Yourself project, and looking to do more intensive work with organisations that focus on building young people’s participation.  I really hope that in the coming year we will have an active Youth Advisory Group too, and that we can develop a young person’s action group to invest in the ICA members of tomorrow! 

I would really value your help and contribution to the project (small or large) so please get in touch if you have any ideas, contacts, or free time!

Amelia Lee is Youth Participation Programme Coordinator for ICA UK. Learn more about the YPP through their online discussion group.


In the midst of crisis, ICA Zimbabwe is moving on!

Esther Razerera

Zimbabwe has been in the spotlight for the past few years, mainly for negative reasons, following the land reform programme. As a consequence, economic sanctions have been imposed and development aid reduced. Poverty levels have increased dramatically. Agricultural production in the small-scale, labour intensive farms (predominantly in communal lands) has declined sharply, together with employment opportunities in the large-scale commercial farming sector. Due to increasing urban unemployment, as a consequence of the economic downturn, remittances to the rural areas have declined, further aggravating the situation. Social safety nets are still present, but of limited effect due to scarce public resources and limitations in outreach capabilities at the local level (staff and transport). Food security has decreased dramatically. Inflation stands at 1700% and is rising, with the unemployment rate over 80%.

In addition to all the material support and knowledge that Zimbabwe requires at this stage, there is an underlying phenomenon that requires at least as much attention. This phenomenon is called “dependency syndrome.” Dependency syndrome is manifested in the many ways that people seem to have stopped thinking for themselves and engaged in copying ideas, opinions, and worldviews. There is serious need for increased dialogue, enhanced strategic thinking, and improved self-esteem and self-confidence in order to overcome this block. These capacities are clearly present in Zimbabwean society, but appear to be covered over by colonial legacies and contemporary political developments.

Against this background, ICA Zimbabwe exists to build the capacity of individuals, groups, and communities to improve their quality of life. The challenge for ICA Zimbabwe now is on the one hand to find a balance between being activist and being silent, and on the other hand between working with the issues that matter and the issues that are politically correct. This balance is found in what can be called critical engagement – that is, not to simply deliver services (however good these may be) and not to simply respond to whatever is demanded (however tempting this is, in the interest of politically correctness). Being responsive while maintaining identity requires that ICA Zimbabwe engage critically both within itself and with those whom it serves.

In the midst of this crisis, ICA Zimbabwe’s participatory methods training has played a critical role in facilitating social innovation and building capacity. The countries’ largest food processing company, National Foods, requested that ICA Zimbabwe help strengthen the income-earning capacity of its four thousand employees, most of whom are men. In this partnership, ICA Zimbabwe has already trained an initial group of ten women, whose husbands are employed by this company, in business skills and candle making, with the objective of supplementing their husbands’ income. This is the first group of women to benefit and more will receive this training in 2007. The women have since formed a vibrant, profit-making club called Shingai Candle-Making Club, with “shingai” meaning “soldiering on.” The women who were formally not employed are now engaged in an income-generating activity and contributing to the incomes of their families.

Some of the women who participated in the training are taking care of extended families, with as many as ten or more dependents.  29 year-old Patience Gumbo said that, with the current economic hardships, it is not easy to depend on one salary, hence the need for both men and women to work together and contribute to the family’s income:

I decided to participate in this project because employment is hard to come by these days. I am grateful for the training that I received from ICA in candle making because now I can work for my family.  Besides my own two children, I also take care of four other people. I hope to pass on the knowledge that I got from ICA to my own children and family.

Another participant, 42 year-old Mrs. Patience Makoni, says that family deaths have left her custodian to eight children. She needed employment in order to provide the children with food, clothing, and also send them to school:

The business skills and candle making training came as a blessing to me because I have a large family to take care of. I hope that as our business grows, I will be able to provide for my family and send the children to school so that they can have a better future. I also hope that more people will be trained in candle making or other skills so that employment is created. People need to come up with creative ideas to make their lives better.

In addition to the creation of employment, the candle-making project will go a long way toward fighting against the impact of HIV/AIDS. Participating families expressed particular concern about the future of these HIV-infected children and would like to provide them with education. Thus with these women already in business, they stand to not only make a profit for their families, but also benefit their communities.

ICA Zimbabwe has vowed to continue supporting this particular initiative, among many others, by applying our methodologies towards the eradication of extreme poverty.        

Esther Razerera is Media and Communication Officer for ICA Zimbabwe.

Designed by Peter Ellins; edited by Sarah Miller.
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