Monthly Archives: March 2014

Volunteering Scheme to Build a New Generation of Global Entrepreneurs

A new volunteering scheme will help young people work in start-up enterprises and companies in fast growing economies like Bangladesh, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Organisation:  Department for International Development

Page history:  Published 27 March 2014

Policy: Helping developing countries’ economies to grow

Britain’s most promising young entrepreneurs will learn vital commercial skills while working in developing countries under an innovative new volunteering programme announced today by International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

Volunteers will build business skills, confidence and knowledge of overseas markets so they can return home to become the entrepreneurs and business leaders that Britain needs to remain a global success. Meanwhile, host countries will benefit from the volunteers’ hard work, helping them to become more competitive and, ultimately, less reliant on aid.

Ideas and the drive to succeed are what counts and volunteers do not need a degree to apply. The 18 to 25-year-olds selected will spend up to three months working in start-up enterprises and companies in fast growing economies like Bangladesh, Nigeria and Tanzania creating business plans, managing finances, devising marketing and boosting sales.

The new scheme, called ICS Entrepreneur, is part of the UK’s successful VSO-led International Citizen Service programme. Around 400 young people will go through the programme over the next 18 months and participants will also qualify for academic credit that can be used towards qualifications from the Open University.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

Britain was built on the dynamism and graft of its entrepreneurs and our country’s future will be no different. That’s why we’re investing in the skills and energy of young people, no matter where in the UK they’re from or what their background, so that we continue to be competitive and successful.

For anyone determined to be the next James Dyson or Hilary Devey this is an amazing opportunity to kick-start a career in business and entrepreneurship. It’s a win-win for the host countries where the volunteers will work and great for British employers who are crying out for workers with the right skills and a global perspective.

Brian Rockliffe, Director of ICS, said:

ICS Entrepreneur is based on the established principles which underpin ICS and its proven approach in bringing together young people from the UK to work alongside young people from developing countries to contribute effectively to international development.

ICS Entrepreneur will not only support private sector development and economic growth in developing countries, but it will also enable skilled young volunteers – both from the UK and in-country – to build a global perspective and a practical understanding of the vital role of economic development in reducing poverty.

A recent survey of CEOs in the UK highlighted concerns that young people’s horizons were not broad enough for a globalised and multicultural economy. They warned that Britain faces being left behind by emerging economies if this narrow outlook isn’t changed.

“Creating and building a business enterprise gives everyone involved a hugely positive and constructive focus,” explained Nick Badman, Chairman of the Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship at City University’s Cass Business School. “As well as the tangible job creation and economic value that ICS Entrepreneur aims to achieve, the experience should build life-changing confidence and resilience in all those involved.”

“For bright young professionals from the UK, ICS Entrepreneur will offer an accelerated experience of growing a business enterprise within a supported environment. Volunteers will be challenged and energised by ambitious young entrepreneurs from the developing world while applying their skills and early career experience with greater impact than they might achieve immediately at home.”

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “As world economies evolve, an international perspective has never been more important. Enhancing the global outlook of our talent, enables a more outward-looking Scotland and at the same time, motivates developing businesses to reach their potential.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for young Scots to aid the development of frontier economies but also utilise their knowledge back in Scotland to grow our business community.

“Scottish businesses have a proud history of helping people in the world’s poorest countries to develop businesses that can create jobs and the Chamber of Commerce network is fully behind this endeavour.”

Read the full speech

Notes to editors

  • Justine Greening will launch ICS Entrepreneur at the Innovation Warehouse in East London on Thursday 27 March.

About ICS Entrepreneur

  • International Citizen Service is a UK government-funded development programme led by VSO in partnership with respected development organisations, which brings together 18 to 25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities.
  • The new ICS Entrepreneur arm of the programme will be delivered by VSO, Raleigh, Challenges Worldwide and Balloon Ventures.
  • Between June 2014 and September 2015, 400 UK volunteers will work alongside local volunteers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda to advise micro enterprises and SMEs. The placements will last 10-12 weeks.
  • Applicants will be assessed on their ability to make a strong contribution to meeting the objectives of the programme: to support micro-enterprises and SMEs in developing countries, promote economic growth in these poorer communities, and build their own entrepreneurial skills. Volunteers do not need a degree or other qualifications.
  • Volunteers will either:
    • Work with micro entrepreneurs in Kenya and Uganda to help them innovate and create new businesses ideas with the potential to grow and create jobs
    • Improve financial management, sales and marketing and business planning at small and medium enterprises in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia;
    • Work with social enterprises focused on water and sanitation or agriculture in rural communities in Tanzania and Nicaragua, helping them develop skills, make their business sustainable and build partnerships
    • Help develop micro and small enterprises focused on agriculture, women, tourism and conservation in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Kenya, and using maths and science expertise to improve teacher training and curriculum development in the countries’ schools.
  • To find out more and to apply, visit

Kenyan’s Hit The Jackpot in Lucrative Business – E/Waste, Diamond in the Rough!

E-Waste: Kenya’s Diamond in the Rough

Published Wed, Mar 26, 2014  |  

Kenya hit the jackpot.  It’s been sitting on this lucrative business for a while, and now, e-waste is turning into e-profits…

Nairobi’s Kibera district, a place far off from wealth and prosperity, with most of it’s population (0ne million) living on less than minimum wage, is Africa’s largest slum. But a new source of income has reached the surface. And we can thank Leonard Ngatia, a Soweto Youth Group collector. Every day he scrounges around local repair shops for electronic waste, banking up to $45 per day.

Leonard Ngatia says, “We don’t make money every day, but what we do get, we are able to plan for – we buy what we can, we pay rent… I can’t complain.”

Not too shabby. Electronic waste could be quite lucrative for business, after all. It all adds up: nine tons of copper, 24 kg of gold and 250 kg of silver. All can be found in every one million phones. Thousands of tons of e-waste pass through Kenya every single year. Charles Kuria, Managing Director at HP East Africa, argues that this resource is largely untapped.

Charles Kuria says, “We need to educate the population that this so-called electronic waste is actually a resource. It becomes a resource when it is recycled in the correct way.”

But there’s a downside: If the waste is disposed of in the wrong way, harmful toxins can be released. This Nairobi plant is training collectors (like Leonard) on how to handle it properly. This may prove to be promising for the jobs market.

Supposedly Kenya’s first sustainable e-waste recycling center, East African Compliant Recycling (EACR) has big plans: Process the waste and sell it back to the companies throughout the country.

EACR CEO Robert Truscott says, “This is the first model of its kind, not just in Africa… but anywhere in the world. This model is about connecting the collector to the global markets for the materials, and providing them with a fair and transparent price in actual fact to ensure they get the maximum value for the waste.”

One thing’s for sure… electronic waste has no shortage. By 2017, e-waste is predicted to reach 65 million tons (worldwide). That’s a 33% increase over the past 5 years, alone.

Join YALI Live Twitter Chat Today!- Connect with & Network

ViWiDAusa is striving to Empower our Youth wherever they may be; knowing these young adults are our future and they need our support, encouragement, also the Washington Fellowship.  The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a new flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative.


Learn about President Obama’s vision to engage the continent’s next cadre of leaders and strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa, and how you can get involved.  To receive updates and other opportunities available for young Africans from the United States Government    Join the Young African Leaders Network

Today, March 26th at 1330 UTC. –   Secretary Stengel (@Stengel) along with Assistant Secretary Evan Ryan (@ECA_AS) and Coordinator, Bureau of International Information Programs, Macon Phillips (@Macon44) will personally answer your questions and lead a discussion about the Young African Leaders Initiative.
Here are the simple steps to join the chat today:
1.     Follow @YALNetwork for your questions and our answers here:
2.     Use your Twitter account to ask questions.  Make sure to include #YALICHAT in your tweet so we
can find your questions and respond to you.
3.     Connect with others participating in the conversation here:

Help us build YALN by encouraging your friends to join today’s chat and our official Network:

Hope to catch up with you today at:

13:30-14:30 UTC
14:30-15:30 West Africa Time (WAT)
15:30-16:30 Central Africa (CAT) and South Africa Standard Time (SAST)
18:30-19:30  Eastern Africa Time (EAT)

The presenters of this live twitter chat are really excited for this chance to connect with you. If you can’t join us from 1330 – 1430 UTC, remember: this is just the first of many chats that YALN will be hosting.

P.S. This chat is open to everyone in the Young African Leaders Network community and holds no bearing on the selection process for the Washington Fellowship.


Overcome Writer’s Block and Be a Better Writer

If you are a graduate from the University of Phoenix-UOP, then you know writing is the most important part of being a student there. I know, I acquired my Bachelor’s degree at UOP and I can tell you, they do stress on writing. And not just to write, but writing in a certain style as well as being efficient with your writing, avoiding plagiarism.                                                               They have a center for writing excellence and a writing lab, where your writing could go through criticism to a point; you’ll want to present excellent papers to avoid being criticized by those people at their writing lab. They can be tough!                                                                                        If you had problems with writing, when you get to University Of Phoenix, you will learn to write just about anything.                                                   Below, are two articles from the University of Phoenix; One will show you how to be a better writer by following eight tips and the other will show you how to overcome writer’s block

Here goes:—->

8 tips to help you be a better writer

By Robrt Pela | March 12, 2014

Phoenix Forward: Student Life

Writing well is one of the most useful and important skills a student can acquire, says Vita Alligood, JD, an online instructor in the communication program for University of Phoenix. Yet, she notes, developing this ability isn’t always the highest priority for many scholars.

Here, Alligood offers eight tips to help you refine your writing:

1.      Write every day.

Does practice make perfect? Yes, Alligood insists.

“Writing in a traditional context — term papers, letters and journals — can make a real difference,” she says, because all involve creating thoughtful, carefully crafted sentences and paragraphs. “But writing every day in a social media context, with its abbreviations and short, ungrammatical phrases will not improve your writing skills,” she cautions. “Beware the difference.”

2.      Read other writers.

“Read accomplished, published writers on a regular basis,” Alligood recommends. “Their knowledge of language and skill with words will have an impact,” she notes, because reading well-constructed fiction and nonfiction will help you understand how good writing should look and read.

3.      Create a writing schedule.

Few people write well under pressure. Starting on your school paper the night before it’s due, for instance, means you’ll likely have less time to edit and polish your prose. Most instructors provide a list of assignments at the beginning of each course. Since you’ll know all of the deadlines ahead of time, make it a point to plan and prepare strong papers, Alligood says.

She suggests creating a schedule for each paper — perhaps a week for research, a week for writing and a third week for revision and rewriting.

4.      Outline your work.

Even if you don’t use a traditional outline, at least sketch out your paper before you begin. Start with a sentence or two that summarizes your theme, then list the points you want to make and a basic concluding statement.

This approach not only helps guide your writing, but it also gives you a means to measure your progress and stay focused on your topic, Alligood says.

5.      Write your introduction last.

A big stumbling block for many writers is how and where to begin. Try starting with your second paragraph, Alligood suggests, with the goal of returning to your introduction once you’ve nailed your theme. You often can summarize your points more clearly in an introduction after you’ve written the paper. This trick, she notes, can take the pressure off of having to craft a perfect first paragraph.

6.      Be meticulous in your points.

Pretend that what you’re writing will be read by an expert on the subject, Alligood advises. “Otherwise, you’re less likely to try very hard to make your points,” she notes.

For each point you want to make, she suggests that you write a setup, followed by an expert quote and then specifics from a recent study or paper on the point you’re making.

7.      Use Internet resources.

Alligood recommends checking out the University’s Center for Writing Excellence, which offers live tutorials, style guides and advice on everything from grammar rules to how to organize a term paper.

She also routinely refers students to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab. “It uses plain English to describe basics of writing and its best application,” she says. You also could check out apps for better writing at sites such as TeachThought.

8.      Proofread routinely.

Spell-check and grammar-check don’t catch everything, Alligood warns. Having another set of eyes review your work is always a good idea, so offer to swap proofreading chores with a classmate or friend.

“The most frequent mistake I see is students skipping that final proofread,” she says. “Don’t do it.”


How to overcome writer’s block

By Jill Elaine Hughes| October 29, 2013

Phoenix Forward: Student Life

Your paper’s due in a few days, but instead of writing, you’re staring at a blank computer screen.

Don’t panic. “Everybody experiences creative blocks from time to time,” says Dorothea Bonneau, MA, a novelist who teaches a creative writing course at the University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus.

“As human beings, we’ve evolved to survive, and survival mode sometimes blocks our ability to be creative because we’re programmed to stay safe,” she points out. Here are six expert tips to help you get the ideas flowing:

1.      Be reflective.

Bonneau encourages students to approach each new project by asking themselves questions and seeing what ideas they come up with.

“Formulating questions about the assignment can help you generate writing ideas that you wouldn’t think of otherwise,” she explains, noting that she uses this method in her own writing. “It gets your mind off the blank screen and gives you some breathing room.”

2.      Take a cue from the corporate world.

Mind-mapping techniques — types of structured brainstorming — that are popular at businesses can help you ace your writing assignments, Bonneau points out.

“Take a sheet of paper and jot down as many ideas as you can in two minutes,” she advises, stressing not to judge your thoughts. Adding doodles or drawing arrows between related ideas can help you better understand them before you begin your assignment. “It really jump-starts your thinking,” she says.

3.      Use your imagination

Creative geniuses from Albert Einstein to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used visualization, says Bonneau, who frequently employs this method in her classes. “If you relax and close your eyes,” she explains, “images will arise spontaneously.”

Bonneau asks students to visualize a dancing piece of fruit as a creative exercise. “Everybody sees something they didn’t expect,” she says, acknowledging that the approach is unconventional. “This visualization takes less than 30 seconds,” she adds, stressing that it helps give students an idea of how creative they can be.

4.      Set a deadline.

Use both assigned and self-generated time limits to spur your creativity, suggests Marla Dean, PhD, a playwright and online creative writing instructor at the University. “Deadlines are sometimes of great assistance,” she believes, because they force you to at least write something.

“Fill up the page,” she adds, emphasizing that what you write isn’t as important as starting the process. “It will become easier — you’ll forget it was ever blank.”

5.      Seek inspiration everywhere.

Dean keeps folders of photographs and news clippings near her desk and mines them for ideas whenever she feels stuck. “These are bits of inspiration to me,” she says, noting that listening to music, reading great authors or walking around a mall also can help spark creativity.

6.      Focus on yourself.

Sometimes the best way to beat writer’s block is to reassure yourself that you possess natural creative abilities, Bonneau says. “Acknowledge that you are a unique individual, trust your perceptions and express yourself from the core of [who] you are,” she says, “[rather than] the expectations of others.”


How to Turn a Worthless Business Idea into a Million-Dollar Startup

Everyone has ideas. I get ideas by the dozen. When I’m brushing my teeth, when I’m driving to work, when I’m at my desk reading an article. But that does not mean that all can be converted into million-dollar businesses.

Not that these cannot be converted into million-dollar businesses, but I may simply not be driven enough to see those particular ideas through to that milestone.

You may get many ideas, too. But if you don’t, don’t despair. You don’t need ideas to start a business. Regardless, your business ideas are worthless. Let me explain why.

Ideas are just ideas. An idea is the seed of a successful product or service. Without proper care and maintenance, it will not bloom. Ideas require solid research of the target market, a good strategy and a sound business plan, without which, ideas cannot go much further.

Related: 4 Ways to Find Your Next Revolutionary Business Idea

If you want to start a business and make a go of it, you need more than just an idea. To begin turning startup dream into a million-dollar business, consider the following advice.

1. Settle on one business idea.
If you’re mulling a number of ideas, odds are good that none of them will see the light of the day. Why do I say that? Because your approach is all wrong. Skimming through different ideas every day and figuring out whether they motivate you or whether they work won’t get you anywhere.

The amount of time you’re spending on them will likely be insufficient. An you’re probably not passionate about any of them. So how do you fix it? Take one idea that moves you, that you feel most passionate about and stay with it. Stay with one till you can’t go any further. Until you’ve given it your all.

Only then will you know whether or not that business idea is worth a million dollars.

2. Validate your idea.
Your idea is absolutely worthless if you keep it to yourself and do not test it with actual customers.

Writing a business plan with projections through market research is a sure-shot way to a startup doomsday. Nothing beats an actual customer using your product or service.

So how do you get to customers when you’re at the idea stage and don’t want to spend a huge sum building something they don’t want?

Build a minimum viable product or a prototype. The idea is to put out something that offers the main value of your startup or that solves the core problem of your customers.

The prototype could be a PowerPoint slide, a dialogue box or just a landing page. This is something that you can often build it in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning product with the core features offered.

Share this with your network and see the response. Are people excited to use it? Do they feel their needs or problems are resolved by using your product? Is it easy to use?

3. Execute.
There is no such thing as a million-dollar idea. Facebook was not a million- (or billion) dollar idea until it saw the light of the day, until it was executed.

Ideas evolve into products which themselves evolve over a period of time through constant customer feedback and use. You must build a prototype, beta or a minimum viable product and get it out in the hands of the customer. Let your customer decide whether the idea is of value or not.

Related: 5 Ways to Hatch Your Next Business Idea

Most people just don’t get their products out in time and spend most of their resources in trying to build that one perfect product. Save yourself some grief, time and, most of all, cash, and build on a product that your customers want.

4. Find a large market.
Don’t waste your time on an idea that does not cater to a large audience. Sure, you can start local and expand later, but is your idea solving the needs of a few hundreds? Is your idea scalable to the next hundred thousand? If not, you’re not building a business.

Validate whether the problem that you are trying to solve is truly the problem of the masses. And not just yours and a few neighbors and friends or your network.

Think big, think global, if you can.

Base your idea on a large audience and you’ve got yourself a product with the potential to grow into a larger and a more successful business.

5. Make it a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
A lot of ideas are utter nonsense. Those can surely be turned into selling products, but you won’t end up building a business out of them. These are the nice-to-have ideas.

You must spend time getting to know from the market whether your idea or product is a nice-to-have or a must-have. Nice-to-have products are mostly in the novelty domain or are not compelling enough for customers to buy or own.

If you want your ideas to develop into successful products that help you create and sustain a business, then go after must-have ideas.

So, decide what is important to you: the figment of your imagination that tells you your idea is a million-dollar one or validating it to build something that can get you the actual million dollars.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea LLC, a company committed to helping entrepreneurs and businesses build, market and monetize their mobile apps, with offices in San Jose, Calif. and Pune, India



For troubled teens, making and sharing poetry may be unexpected source of happiness

We strive to empower youth and women at Viwidausa; therefore, please support programs, such as youth education and empowerment, which is part of giving our youth a voice.  Youth today need guidance to prepare them into becoming adults; something our societies seem to have neglected for a long time, as a result, most of our youths are in danger of being in prison, homeless, or dead.                                                             Most adolescents go through life by trial and error nowadays, that cost them their lively hood; before they know what they did, they find themselves in detention centers, pregnant or homeless. Can we save our youths? You know you can help don’t you?! Just as the Pongo Teen Writing Project is doing for our troubled teens so can you do something also. 

The Pongo Teen Writing Project has been working with troubled teens in detention centers, mental health facilities and homeless centers for nearly two decades, taking their stories and turning them into poetry. In our ongoing series “Where Poetry Lives,” Jeffrey Brown and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey learn more about a program that empowers young people in crisis to express themselves.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Now Jeffrey Brown has the latest report in a series we call “Where Poetry Lives.”He and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey are exploring poetry in various corners of American life, seeking to connect those trips to aspects of Natasha’s personal experience. They recently traveled to Seattle to look at a writing program for troubled teens.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY, U.S. Poet Laureate: My brother spent about a year in a work facility.

JEFFREY BROWN: For Natasha Trethewey, our latest trip brought back vivid memories of visiting her brother in jail after his conviction for a drug crime.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: My brother started writing poems in prison. He told me it was about making something out of the bad situation that he was in. To be able to make a poem out of that situation felt like the act of creation that was a triumph over the experience.

JEFFREY BROWN: It was a project aimed at that kind of triumph over difficult experience that we were visiting at the King County Juvenile Detention Center.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: When you see the streets in your mind’s eye, what do you look at?

JUVENILE INMATE: Death, shootings, robberies.

JEFFREY BROWN: The Pongo writing project has been working with troubled teens for nearly two decades, taking their stories and turning them into poetry.                                We were allowed to watch on condition we wouldn’t reveal the identities of the young inmates, age 17 and younger, doing time for crimes that include theft, violence and drug offenses.

JUVENILE INMATE: I feel like the boy who cried wolf.

MAN: And why is that?

JUVENILE INMATE: I keep on saying I’m going to better and stay clean and sober, but then the drugs just come back.

MAN: It’s painful, long and dark nights.

JEFFREY BROWN: Pongo volunteers, both seasoned and amateur writers themselves, meet one-on-one with inmates for an hour, asking questions.

WOMAN: Is there something you can sort of think of that that feeling — to describe that feeling?

JUVENILE INMATE: I felt like I was crushed by a boulder.

JEFFREY BROWN: And encouraging them, like this 16-year-old who’d suffered a miscarriage while in prison, to find words, including metaphors, to describe events and feelings.

JUVENILE INMATE: I kind of felt like a plant, a flower, just stuck in a cave.

JEFFREY BROWN: At session’s end, the volunteers type, the inmates add finishing touches. And the teens are given the opportunity to read their work to the group.

JUVENILE INMATE: When I found out I had lost the baby, I felt like I had been crushed by a boulder. It made me think about the father. It made me realize I didn’t want to have a family with someone like him.

RICHARD GOLD, Pongo Teen Writing Project: How did your session go?

JEFFREY BROWN: Pongo was created by Richard Gold 18 years ago after he left a position with Microsoft. Over the years, he’s brought the project to detention centers like this one, as well as a state psychiatric hospital and several centers for homeless youth, reaching more than 7,000 teens.

RICHARD GOLD: The people who have had a lot of problems that these have been — may have suffered betrayal by the people closest to them.                                                    That’s one of these ultimate complexities poetry can capture. I imagine that there are people out there who say that what I do isn’t poetry. I think what I do is the essence of poetry. What so many of us struggle with is the unarticulated emotion in our lives, and that when poetry serves that, it’s doing something essential for the person and for society.

JEFFREY BROWN: Later, the Pongo volunteers print up the poems, and then deliver them to the teens in their cells.

WOMAN: Thanks for writing today. Hope to see you again.

JEFFREY BROWN: A selection of them are eventually published.

LYNN VALDEZ, King County Juvenile Detention Center: That’s going to be the hard part for a kid like that.

JEFFREY BROWN: Warden Lynn Valdez says the entire experience gives teens hope that they can overcome all of the negativity in their lives.

LYNN VALDEZ: They find a sense of relief and accomplishment, a reward of seeing something on paper that will be published.

JEFFREY BROWN: Valdez knows something about overcoming adversity. A former gang member, he spent time on the other side of these bars before turning his life around. He says that, while the teens are initially wary about poetry, they quickly come around.

LYNN VALDEZ: First, there’s a slight hesitation because they’re not sure what they’re doing. But that — once they overcome that part of it, then it becomes a feeling or something they tend to write down. And they — the reward is, I think that they have actually released something that they have repressed inside.

JEFFREY BROWN: And you see that light bulb go off or something?

LYNN VALDEZ: Oh, you can see it. Oh, you can see it. I have been here 25 years, and this program or this group, what it does is give them some sense of good feelings.

JEFFREY BROWN: Pongo has also won over some of those, like juvenile court Judge Barbara Mack, who see and sentence these young people every day.

JUDGE BARBARA MACK, King County Juvenile Court: I see children who come before me every day who aren’t very good at communicating. They have been buffeted by trauma that most people can’t imagine. And they have never really learned how to express themselves. And Pongo gives them the opportunity to do that in a way that’s not threatening.

JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, Natasha, who’s now serving her second year as poet laureate, says she started writing poetry as a way to cope with a traumatic event: the murder of her mother when Natasha was 19.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: And it seemed that poetry was the only thing I could turn to that would help make sense of that enormous loss that I felt. People talk about poetry being therapeutic, and it can be a reductive way of thinking about poetry.



JEFFREY BROWN: That’s all it is.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: That’s all it is.

JEFFREY BROWN: To sort of help us feel better or something.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: That’s right. But it’s so much more than that.                                                        Percy Bysshe Shelley said that poems are records of the best and happiest times and the best and happiest minds. And I have read — given readings and people will ask me at the end, do you ever write any happy poems?


NATASHA TRETHEWEY: And I tell them that all of my poems are happy poems, because even if I’m writing about the — what seem to be the most traumatic subjects, the making of the poem is the moment when I am the happiest. So, if that’s therapeutic, so be it.

JEFFREY BROWN: At Seattle’s New Horizons homeless center, young people come for recreation, a hot meal and sessions with the Pongo project. The happiness of making and sharing a poem were on display at a poetry reading we attended, as were the hardships in these lives.

WOMAN: Here comes trouble. I hear that she sleeps in a car. And when she needs a cigarette, she just finds half-smoked ones on the ground

MAN: Why would you make a child carry a child, then break a child, then cruelly take a child’s spirit by leaving that child and only that child behind? Never mind, because the answers won’t make up for the fact that my foundation is cracked.

JEFFREY BROWN: Afterwards, we talked to the young writers who asked that their names not be used.

MAN: I started writing because I didn’t have another way to cope.


MAN: To cope?


MAN: With life                                                                                                                                                I was in foster care for about 10 years, different places, group homes, institutions, et cetera. So, when I wrote, it kind of gave me a release to kind of get everything out. So it wasn’t in the sense that I was trying to be an artist or be creative. It was more of just like this needs to get out now before something happens.

WOMAN: All the things that I wouldn’t say to people regularly, I can write it down and make it sound beautiful.

NATASHA TRETHEWEY: Why does poetry become the place that you can say it?

WOMAN: The things that would normally sound disgusting all of a sudden sound beautiful, like, empowering, I guess? Instead of — instead of feeling ashamed, it’s sort of like you’re getting past that bad stuff.

MAN: Yes, it’s just taking a negative force and then turning it into a positive thing. I can take all of this negative energy I feel inside myself that I would normally bottle up, until eventually it’s going to reach a breaking point, no matter what, in my opinion, and then I just turn it into like literal art.

WOMAN: I looked forward to going to Pongo when I was younger because I could just speak whatever was happening. I was living in group care at the time, so you weren’t allowed to say whatever you want on the floor. Like, you will get sent to your room.                     So just to be able to just scream, cry, curse, laugh, chant, whatever I needed to do, and they wrote it all down, and then they give you the power to take out or put it wherever you want. And, like, for me, that was the ultimate empowerment.

RICHARD GOLD: He’s always got my back. I have always got his.

JEFFREY BROWN: Richard Gold says he’s now collecting poems from the project for a new anthology. He’s also just published a book about the Pongo method that he hopes will encourage similar programs to be set up around the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Listen to some of the heartbreaking and inspiring poems from the Pongo students and read Natasha Trethewey’s personal take from visiting with the teens. That’s on our Poetry page.



The Whole World Turns Green on St. Patrick’s Day

Living in the west afforded some of its travelers new identities; especially on St. Patrick’s Day where Everyone in the world are Irish. Today happens to be that day when everyone in the world say they are Irish. So, to get you into the St Patrick’s Day mood why not take the Irish Mirror’s quiz and test your knowledge on their country’s patron saint?

Everything’s gone green for Ireland as St Patrick’s Day celebrations light up the world from Giza to Glasgow

From the London Eye to Egypt, everything turned green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this weekend.

With an estimated 70 million Irish or their descendants scattered around the globe, some of the world’s most famous landmarks were bathed in the proud nation’s colour.

The Pyramids, Petra in Jordan, the Abbey Road zebra crossing in London and even the Great Wall of China got a new emerald glow.

Also joining the global greening party was Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Paris, Niagara Falls and Glasgow’s Hydro arena.

For V-Day Supporters from Eve in Bukavu

Victory Women in Development Association(viwida)U.S.A supports 1billion rising for justice against violence on women, children and some men. Every February, around valentine’s day, the whole world turn to a flashmob dancing in the streets. You can join v-day and get involve or donate and check out the videos from around the world and see how the supporters took Baghdad street in Korba, Heliopolis by surprise on Friday, February 2014 to rise for justice as part of the One Billion Rising 2014; or how Sophia College in Mumbai did a flashmob, or watch some great coverage from Mexico City. 

A letter from Bukavu, #Congo from Eve Ensler:

Dear V-Day Supporters,

I am writing to you today from Bukavu, a delicious morning – a sweater of heat, soft wind, and a sweeping melody of feisty birds. The smell of jasmine drifts and palms sway, all infused with the holy sound of church drums and singers in the distance.

Thanks to all of you for your glorious support and for being part of this community that is creating and spreading an oasis of transformation, healing, and love.

Both City of Joy and V-World Farm are thriving in ways we never could have imagined. Not only have we recently harvested seven tons of rice, but by the end of May we will have graduated more than 400 young women who have changed their own lives and are now impacting the lives of those in their communities. City of Joy has become a full fledged garden in all respects, the thick purple bougainvillea, the six foot roses, the compost pile host to a stunning garden of cabbage and carrots, 300 new chickens.

The women attending City of Joy are beautiful in their hearts, bodies, and spirits. Their energy is nothing short of radiant and electric. Their dance is the dance of those who returned from the edge, who have stepped into their bodies and vitality, released their shame and rage and hurt, and are now ready to seize the world.

The young women at City of Joy are hungry to learn and hungry to share what they have learned. You can see this in all their programs from literacy, English, and computers, to human rights, self-defense, and sex education. The women have also made a most wonderful CD of original songs and a stunning music video. There is much creativity and art emerging from City of Joy.

We also see the political impact of the program in the way girls are asking questions of the government, demanding their rights, rising for justice in the streets of Bukavu.

V-World Farm

Here’s what’s new: an incredible road that facilitates better access to both sides of the land. We just harvested seven tons of rice. We had 10 pigs a years ago, now we have 168 pigs. There are eight ponds full of leaping Tilapia. There are ten young women from City Of Joy who work the lands and all of the City of Joy residents learn agriculture at the farm. There are avocados, Macademia nuts, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and orange trees.

The farm is now growing much of the food for City of Joy, reducing our budget. We are mid-construction on the administrative building and warehouse. Everything at V-World is recycled, all trees are turned into wood for building. We even make our own cement. We are incredibly grateful to the 11th Hour Project for making it all possible!


For years now the V-Men movement has been evolving both in Congo and around the world. Dr. Mukwege, the Godfather of this movement, was awarded the inaugural V-Men award (established in his name) in 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans. For months a core group of 20 men have been meeting in Bukavu, designing a vision of what this movement looks like and what it means to be a VMan. The selection of the 20 men was based on commitment and background. They were chosen by other local men who love and respect women. The group has advocates from a multitude of sectors including lawyers, teachers, doctors, a basketball referee, a psychologist, activists, military men and policeman.

At the first meeting the group discussed the origin of V-Men. They acknowledged the glaring gap in the feminist movement, which fights against violence against women. In order to bridge this gap, they decided they needed men to work in solidarity with women and share the same vision.  It is clear that men have largely ignored their responsibility in the community, namely to help protect women, speak out against the atrocities, actively be equal partners, and support women to go further and become leaders. Being a V-Man means breaking out of what Tony Porter calls the “Man Box.” The V-Men group decided to create a declaration that calls forth other men to join. The statement aims to announce that there are Congolese men who are committed and open and ready to fight with women to end this violence.

We were all in awe to witness this historic launching in South Kivu of the V-Men’s movement and public reading of the proclamation, done in chorus by the 20 men, including Marcellin Cishambo Ruhoya, Governor of South Kivu, who has committed to sponsor a national gathering of men from all over the country to escalate the movement.

One of the founders, Patrick Lwaboshi said, “The idea is to spread the seeds of the movement all over the Congo and the world. I joined the movement after working by the side of women for 5 years and after discovering men can easily convince other men to end violence against women. Many of us men are tired and heart broken to keep hearing the stories of rape and violence.”

The launch on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day, was wildly successful and many men joined the movement. It was picked up by press all over the world, motivating other men to do the same.

Mayo Doctors

I would like to take this moment to honor some amazing doctors, three of whom actually saved my own life when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Deborah Rhodes, Sean Dowdy, Eric Dozois, Emanuel Trabuco and nurse practitioner, Lois McGuire all traveled from the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. to Panzi Hospital and spent days performing operations and lectures with Dr. Mukwege. All of us at V-Day and City of Joy thank them for their amazing generosity and all the medical supplies they brought with them thanks to the Americares organization. We are overjoyed they came to dance with us at City of Joy on the last day of their visit.

A World of Thanks

And I want to thank every person who has done an event, organized a run, raised money at their high school, college, office, or church, by climbing mountains, throwing parties, or simply sending a check and telling their friends about our work. Your support and connection is crucial to our efforts. We cannot do this without you and we are forever grateful for your being with us and staying with us.

Thanks also to our incredible donors who are joined in community in the Circle of Joy (If you would like to join this circle, please let us know, contact Their very generous donations and vision have allowed so much to happen.

My deepest love and gratitude to you all,


March 9, 2014 –

CV/Resume Cannot be Understated & Things You Shouldn’t Say During An Interview

The importance of writing an exemplary CV/Resume cannot be understated                                         By  Oil and gas job search CV/Resume tips

A CV/Resume is the tool that recruiters within the industry rely on to assess your skills, experience and aptitude to fill an advertised role. To this end, I have provided this brief guide to ensuring that your CV is up to scratch and ready to do battle with others in the modern online arena.

Writing your CV
A successful CV/Resume should follow the following format: –
It should be no more than 2 pages of A4
Make every word count and keep it concise! Recruiters spend an average of less than 10 seconds reading a new CV, so you need to grab their attention! Keep it commanding, compelling and leave the detail until your face to face interview.
Include a brief personal statement
Talk about your passion, ambition and what you can bring to the role above and beyond anyone else. Try and link it to past experiences and jobs.
Mistakes do not sell you or your abilities
Have you spell checked your CV/Resume for spelling and grammar? If not, do it now. Recruiters have a very low tolerance level for mistakes in Cvs as the lack of accuracy compels them to go to the next CV in the file. Don’t let this happen to you!
Yes, make the CV look as good as possible. Something that is attractive to the eye, keeps the eye. And that is the idea. Make sure that it is easily readable with bullet points and try to keep sentences a short eyeful in length. Use space to keep it as clean and easy to read as possible.
Keywords! What are keywords?
When you type any search into a search engine, that is a keyword! Recruiters will most likely find your CV/Resume via a keyword search, so ensure that you use the industry standard job title that is most appropriate to you. Any industry, sector or project names should also be included. If possible, also include all geographical locations you have lived and worked in also with country, region and city information. These are all things you can do to send your CV to the top of the pile.
Make it relevant
If you are going for a job that requires certain skills or experience, tailor it to that specific job. This will make your skills more closely aligned to the job you are applying for and make you more attractive to potential employers.
Include interesting facts
Everybody loves statistics, even the people scouring CVs, so include some facts and figures. What was the project worth? How much did you or your team contribute? These are tangible metrics that back up your achievements and your value so use them wisely.
Ensure that your CV is in Microsoft Word .doc or .docx format
This is the industry standard and will ensure a greater open rate from potential employers. There is nothing worse than having to download a large .pdf file that contains lots of photos. Recruiters are not interested in these and the slower download times will mean they look elsewhere without opening the CV.
If you have an existing CV, it is always worth reviewing what you have put in it before. Are there any other skills and/or experiences that you had forgotten about? If so, put them in the relevant place.

CV/Resume checklist
In order to make you as attractive as possible to potential employers, your CV/Resume should include the following as a minimum: –
– Personal details
Name, address, phone numbers and email addresses should all be included. Further details about your nationality, location and preferred place of work are also very useful. If you are willing to work anywhere, you should say so.
– Work experience
Start with your most recent work and work backwards. This may not seem logical to some of you, but trust me, this is how recruiters expect CVs to be laid out. Use short concise sentences and don’t forget the all important keywords. Make sure you rise above the noise.
– Education
Include all your qualifications, even the IT course you did 5 years ago and forgot about. It may be the one thing that puts you ahead of the next person. Sometimes this is all it can take to get you the job. Also include details of languages you speak and the fluency level.
– Skills
Do you have an extraordinary professional skill? List it here.
– Hobbies
List any hobbies that you feel will fit with the job offered. i.e. If the job is on a piping ship, don’t mention the fact that you can’t live without a round of golf. Any hobby that demonstrates motivation and commitment is worth a mention though.
– References
Although it is not mandatory to offer references on your CV/Resume, a quick note to say they are available is usually expected. Make sure that you let the referees know your intentions before you offer them up as reference sources.



7 Things You Shouldn’t Say During An Interview
By The NonProfit Times – December 16, 2013
Chances are that you have said something you wish you could take back at least once in your life. While suffering from a sudden case of foot-in-mouth disease can be merely embarrassing in most instances, it can all but ruin your chances of getting a job when it happens during an interview.

Job seekers often focus on saying the right thing and while that is important, saying the wrong thing should also be avoided. A poorly-timed faux pas can be so damaging that it could force a hiring manager to overlook all the good things you did up to that point. Not all mistakes are created equal, of course, which is something that Kaitlin Madden was sure to point out in a recent article on In the piece, she listed the seven things you should never say during an interview under any circumstances:

“My last boss was an idiot.”
A stream of one-word answers.
Your opinions on politics, religion, or other hot-button topics.
“Of course I know [skill you actually don’t know but are saying anyway to increase your chances of getting hired]!”
“Want to get a drink or a bite to eat after this is done?”
Laughing hysterically at a joke the interviewer tells. It’s fine to chuckle, but don’t overdo it.
“I’m not THAT great.” Modesty is accepted in most walks of life but not in the world of interviews. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

Your first Pitch to a Grantmaker

It’s never easy to ask for money for your non profit project, but sooner of later one will have to do so. Just remember to write down what you going to say to your Grantmaker; make sure to make it short, sincere and start with your mission statement to stay on the path of what you are seeking.  Read more from the Nonprofit times original link here:

Perfecting your first pitch to a grantmaker

by The NonProfit Times – March 10, 2014

Your introduction to a grantmaker can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it’s an important entry-point in the grantmaking process. “First impressions go a long way, so make you opening pitch count!” said Holly Thompson, contributing editor to the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

Most people don’t relish the idea of having a “cold conversation” with a complete stranger. A good way of lessening the anxiety is to have a rehearsed and ready introduction, or “elevator pitch,” in your back pocket for when you meet a potential funder.

When crafting and delivering your pitch, Thompson suggests the following :

  • Write it down: Don’t shoot from the hip. Write yourself a short script so you have something to practice from and revise as you go along.
  • Make it clear, short and sincere: Don’t use jargon or acronyms and don’t be wordy — choose simple language that conveys your main points quickly. Limit your pitch to 30 seconds (at most), and be sure that it sounds like something you would normally say.
  • Say who you are and what you’re looking for: Begin with the basics: “My name is [name], I’m a [title, role] at [organization, group].” Next, state briefly what your organization does and for whom. Use your mission statement as a starting point, but be sure you use everyday language. End you pitch by stating what you are seeking, e.g., information, advice, resources, introductions.
  • Listen: Often the easiest thing to do when you’re nervous is to keep talking. Be sure to show you’re here to listen, as well. Remember that your pitch is an opening to a two-way conversation (not a monologue).
  • Practice, practice, practice: Say your pitch out loud to a colleague, friend or family member and get their feedback. Was it clear? Interesting? Too slow or too fast?

“The best way to hone your pitch is to deliver it in real time,” noted Thompson, “so have your pitch ready when you’re at a conference or community event, or when you have an opening for an introductory call.” In time, says Thompson, your pitch will come naturally, and the more comfortable you feel, the more fun and exciting it will be to network with grantmakers.