AFRICAN DREAMS, AFRICAN HEROES
by Tony Meloto
“Last night, 600 young professionals and business students gave me a standing ovation after watching a 30minute movie made by Shamengo about helping end poverty with GK in the Philippines. They are amazed by the solidarity and passion of our ordinary everyday heroes and our detachment from money and power for self which gains the trust of those with money and power to help the poor and the powerless. Just like us, they are excited by social entrepreneurship in agri-business and they want to learn more how to create platforms and proof of concept like the GK Enchanted Farm where rich and poor combine compassion and competence to create inclusive wealth together.
This is how it should be - sharing the good to make the world better.”
Join us for the GK Social Business Summit on January 15-17, 2016 at the GK Enchanted Farm. Visit www.socialbusinesssummit.net to register and find out more.
It was an amazing week in France, all arranged by a great French humanitarian impressario, Olivier Girault, who loves the Philippines and Gawad Kalinga, and many friends like Jean-Francois De Lavison and Christine Bisch, who gave us great company and great food in Lyon.
It was the most hectic week of all my trips to Europe in the last 5 years, at a time when my body and bones are 65 years old, but nonetheless, truly inspiring for me because of the impact of our shared dream for a caring humanity in all our sessions in 10 universities in Paris and Lyon and 2 speaking engagements at COP21, and side meetings with heads of foundations and corporations, especially the International CEO of Microsoft, Jean-Philippe Courtois.
We had lunch in Paris with Jean-Philippe after my session at COP21, to discuss how we can link his family Foundation, Live for Good, with Gawad Kalinga, particularly the GK Enchanted Farm, with their program for marginalized but striving French teenagers. He was accompanied by his daughter Aurore, who was inspired by the session of our social entrepreneurs Fabien Courteille, Louis Faure and Camille Meloto at HEC Business School and linked us with her father. It was a good lunch with a good and humble man who has great influence in France and the global network of Microsoft.
From the near winter cold winds of Paris I flew to the hot sun of equatorial West Africa last Sunday. It was simply a matter of removing 3 layers of clothes to adjust to the warm weather so reminiscent of home, and to enjoy the familiar sight of mango, papaya and banana trees all around.
I'm in Togo now, enjoying great hospitality from Fondacio, and I have the most fantastic time with people and places I hardly knew. I'm hosted by inspiring African heroes doing amazing service to humanity, running a center and farm for street-children and victims of war, an institution to mitigate AIDS and a farm village for tribal farmers, like the GK Enchanted Farm. I've just added Antoine Dzamah of Sichen Village, Gabriel Amouzou of Ange Foundation and Belgian Ria Etienne to my list of living African heroes, after the great Nelson Mandela.
Last night, 600 young professionals and business students gave me a standing ovation after watching a 30minute movie made by Shamengo about helping end poverty with GK in the Philippines. They are amazed by the solidarity and passion of our ordinary everyday heroes and our detachment from money and power for self which gains the trust of those with money and power to help the poor and the powerless. The Director General of the Ministry for Youth Development was deeply impressed and expressed her desire to visit the Philippines with her Minister.
Every moment here in Africa is a touching moment for me.
I have a deep affinity with the dreams of the young people of Togo to find their soul and shape their destiny amidst the threats of local wars and Ebola in their neighboring countries and HIV in their everyday life which is making orphans of many of their friends and classmates.
Just like us, they are excited by social entrepreneurship in agri-business and they want to learn more how to create platforms and proof of concept like the GK Enchanted Farm where rich and poor combine compassion and competence to create inclusive wealth together. It's a long journey for us in the Philippines but they admire our courage to begin it.
I am impressed with the clarity of their own vision and the depth of their passion to challenge the seemingly impossible in their country.
I saw this at the Ange Farm where they relocate street-children to grow chickens (mostly layers), goats and pigs and study math and science after their daily chores. I met a barefooted 18 year boy who is a local fencing champion and will compete in Paris next year. He takes care of younger boys who are orphans just like himself; he lost his parents in the war in Ivory Coast and has not seen his 6 siblings since 2009. Now he wants to go to the Philippines to learn more from GK how he can take care of orphans in Africa. His name is Dieudonne, which means 'gift of God.'
It was refreshing on such a hot day to have a round of cold beer in the cafe along the highway ran by the Foundation to create jobs and augment income for their wards and staff. Beer also tastes better when drank for a good cause, in the company of good people like Fondacio President Francois Prouteau, kindred spirit Nicolas Cordier, and Bernard Gilles Flipo, former Managing Director of ICAM school of Lille, a kind-hearted father of five who is looking for a new direction and passion in life.
Sichen Village Farm is a fascinating wonderland just like the GK Enchanted Farm, only instead of bamboo and concrete, they have beautifully engineered red brick homes, library, classrooms, training centers and B&B. They educate, farm, process food and provide support to 250 school children and hundreds of neighboring farmers, while they nurture and showcase their beautiful indigenous culture.
Tomorrow at 4am we will take a 4 hour drive to Benin.
Fondacio was founded in Benin 35years ago and has come to the Philippines to help the most marginalized Filipinos in Payatas. Gawad Kalinga began in the Philippines 15 years ago and is now being shared to social entrepreneurs in Benin and Togo to help the homeless and the hungry in Africa.
This is how it should be - sharing the good to make the world better.
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