Building connections between San Antonio and Africa

WGC cardSaturday I attended an interesting “Economic Empowerment for Sustainability” forum sponsored by Women’s Global Connection (WGC) at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW).     

The forum started with a SKYPE video conference with women in Tanzania who have been matched to local entrepreneurs through a WGC program. A UIW volunteer, Terri Horne,  is currently living in Tanzania working with the women.  She is computerizing their handwritten business records so that the women can apply for financing to grow their businesses.  A WGC Local Business Partner, Melynda Caudle, then shared her experiences traveling to Tanzania in July 2009 to meet an entrepreneur she sponsored.  The third presenter was Celina Pena, Director of the South Texas Women’s Business Center in San Antonio.  Echoing what we heard from Tanzania, Ms. Pena said her biggest challenge is persuading entrepreneurs to formalize their businesses, set up computerized accounting records and complete the many forms needed to apply for financing.   Dr. Lopita Nath then reflected on the forum thus far and recommended the book Banker to the Poor

The next segment of the forum was dedicated to pre-school education in Zambia.  Elaine Talarski, a Ph.D. student at UIW, and Jessica Zesch, a recent graduate of the UT School of Public Health in Houston, spoke about their experiences conducting and evaluating a WGC training workshop for preschool teachers in Mongu, Zambia, on HIV/AIDS and first aid.   

Mary Walker then spoke about an organization she started in Kenya called Global Relief Resources Fund.  Ms. Walker traveled to Kenya and learned about the Tasaru Girls Rescue Center which provides a safe house for Maasai girls rescued from forced childhood marriage and FGM.  Mary is facilitating education, employment and economic support to the girls living at the rescue center.  Mary recommended a video on YouTube entitled “I Dare You.”  She also highly recommended the Rekero Safari Camp in Kenya.   

The final presentation by WGC staff described the programs currently operated by the organization in Tanzania and Zambia. WGC recently completed five years of work in Africa and 70 individuals from the San Antonio area have participated in volunteer immersion trips to Africa.  WGC is now formally evaluating the impact of WGC’s programs in Africa.  

Dr. Nath reflected on the presentations and talked about other societies in the world where girls are mistreated including Nepal where girls are sold by their families to brothels.  Dr. Nath also mentioned honor killings and recommended the book  In the Name of Honor .  Dr. Nath noted that changes to these societies need to come from within the society.  

WGC announced that the next forum will be in October.  The keynote speaker will be Phil Smith, author of A Billion Bootstraps.

2 responses to “Building connections between San Antonio and Africa

  1. It also has easy access to major freeways that make it easy to get to almost anywhere in San Antonio. Economic

    • I agree that the recent improvements to Hwy 281 and Loop 410 make it easy to around the city. Thanks for your comment.

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