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News Behind the News
October 2011

Posted by Naomi Schalm on October 17th, 2011

Kids in Camba Berua, Indonesia

A summary of news and reports from the field staff and interns of GHNI, Geneva Switzerland.


We’ve just received a report from our field partners working in Somalia. First of all, thank you so much to all of you who donated to help with this relief! Because of your generosity we were able to distribute food in the northeastern part of Somalia in an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp. There are approximately 700 families in the camp and we had enough funding to provide food to 250 of the most needy families.

GHNI is sponsoring aid for communities that are starving, but also ones we believe will be open to their own development through Transformational Community Development (TCD). TCD provides coaching and training in drip irrigation, sustainable agriculture and public health so that many families can have a future of less famine and more resilience. Donate to Food Relief.


The region where we work was recently turned over to the Afghan Army. Taliban signs have shown up and the area is becoming more dangerous. We are thankful one of our local staff was a former commander and has the respect and following of the local population. The situation for security in Kabul continues to worsen, but our director, Pat Lightbourne, continues on. The Adopt a Village Program is also continuing as a Swiss Company, Rimuss, has adopted a village of Pushtun people and we are getting regular reports of progress and change, one life at a time.


GHNI staff, Jeff Latsa and Hal Jones, are currently on their way to Armenia where the rural poor are largely neglected. Armenia is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia and has had very little economical strength since the fall of communism. GHNI is having our first Transformational Community Development Conference for Central Asia and more than 20 delegates from several Central Asian countries are attending.


The National Transition Council is very close to being in control of the whole country. They come from many mixed backgrounds, but the majority have told us they want democracy in Libya. A recent powerful group of oil buyers was told they must wait until the legitimate government is in place before any contracts are made. This is a good sign. We have friends who have been involved in our work there now, working to help give leadership to the new country. We are seeking to send top consultants from free countries to advise many of these leaders.


Relief efforts continue to reveal the extent of the damage to both infrastructure and human lives. We are helping a counseling center and will then transition to help some of the poorest of the poor. We are very excited about the expertise of our partners.


Northern Nigeria is one of the most neglected areas of the world. Almost no aid organizations provide this area with help for solving endemic poverty. A team lead by Hal and Lana Jones flies there this November with doctors and volunteers to help in several villages of the Dukawa people. We still need funding to drill a well and for medical supplies. Click here to help and type in “Nigeria” in the special instructions box.


In the wake of the end of the 26 year civil war, Sri Lanka is getting very little aid to help rebuild the country, especially for the rural areas. Our Director, Celeste, and his wife Jayrani have done a great job of getting Transformational Community Development going in some villages. Then Celeste was hit with a heart attack in India at a GHNI Conference just a few weeks ago. He is recovering and back home now. Thanks so much to those of you who contributed towards his medical bills!


Recent events in Myanmar include over 200 political prisoners being released from prison. We are hoping more peace and opportunity will return to help the poorest of the poor. Orphan care programs abound now in the country as a result of Cyclone Nargis. GHNI is teaching many community-based orphan care programs how to become self-sustaining through agricultural programs.


Technology and hope met in the community of Camba Berua as our team taught a lesson about self respect and believing in yourself. Two of our team-members, John and Julie, set up a Skype phone-call with one of their friends from the US. This friend of John and Julie’s is disabled with limited movement in her arms and upper-body.

The participants stared in amazement at the computer screen as John and Julie’s friend sat in her wheelchair smiling and talking to the participants. Julie translated for her friend, “Even though you may look at me and feel sorry for me, I believe (there) is so much to be thankful for. I am able to work, I’m able to attend college and one day I hope to get married to the man of my dreams.”


Thousands of families from Syria have fled to the relative peace of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. GHNI Jordan Director, Jamal Hashweh, has found many families in the northern desert of Jordan and is presently gathering a partnership of aid organizations to reach out with tents, food, clothing and medical help.


Ezbet El Nikhil is a slum inside the poorest part of Cairo’s suburbs. The majority of the people there collect and sort garbage for a living. They are so poor they often have their children work instead of going to school. With the insecurity in Cairo, many of the poor have been directly affected and often go without food. A short-term team of GHNI leaders went to help our partners with a food distribution. While there, the mostly illiterate women who stood in line for food said, “Please teach us how to read!” We are presently planning to teach community health to the families, as well as literacy.


As I write we have two leaders from GHNI helping the Ministry of Education in Irbil with a series of training programs called Transformational Leadership Development led by Mike Shea. Mike’s team is comprised of business men and women who teach and also spend time with the various leaders. The relationships that develop through the TLD programs are amazing! Contact Mike.Shea@ghni.org for more info.


Transformational Community Development is exploding in India. Mike Parks and his team have trained leaders of a group of 700 village workers.  In the next 30 days we will launch in the first 17 villages across the country. Over the next few years the plan is to help up to 80,000 villages learn how to help themselves. We need partners to help us adopt village clusters. Please contact Dan.Emig@ghni.org if you’re interested.


Villages of ancient Moab will soon be helped by our Transformational Community Center in Ma’in, Jordan. The Center will benefit five villages in the area and partners are helping us renovate a building to provide training for poor women, youth, and host short term teams! If you would like to help click here.


GHNI is partnering with a great group of partners in China, working from Cheng Du and the surrounding area. They will be training young business entrepreneurs in how to start a business that they can also use to train others in some of the poorest small towns in the rural areas, where much poverty still survives. The motivation and drive of these trainers is so exciting. The program we have engages top successful small business people from many countries to help them learn how to teach the poorest of the poor.


Our next conference is scheduled for June 2012. The theme is Post Conflict Leadership and Public Policy and we are planning on bringing together leaders from the Arab world, Africa and Asia. The world is changing and we are so encouraged that emerging and existing leaders want to hear experts from all over the world to provide counsel and model legislation for building stronger countries. It cost us almost $3,000 to bring each law maker. If you would like to help one, contact Jessica.Marchand@ghni.org, Senior External Relations Officer.