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    The IncluderEpisode 1Sisterhood

    by Andrius Kulikauskas
    September 28, 2008

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    The Includer can’t work simply as a device. We can write, but whose heart will leap to respond? We learn from Wendi Losha Bernadette of Actwid Kongadzem, a women’s organization in Cameroon:

    We all wish to thank Janet for her wonderful contribution written out on our behalf which
    first read exactly as if she was writing from our minds eyes. It is
    wonderful that you could read our minds directly as if you were here
    with us. We all read through your letter and that of Andrius and others
    but we were really moved from the bottom of our hearts that you
    understood our problems and have the know-how and an inside into our
    NGOs works here with all its challenges.

    Janet Feldman is a social networker of contagious empathy.
    A respiratory ailment ended her career in the US State Department. As
    she cares for her own life, she cares for others. She’s the founder of Kenya AIDS Intervention Prevention Project Group, and the international arts coalition ActALIVE. At home, in Rhode Island, she cares for her father.

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    I would like to learn how to balance caregiving for an aging parent with time spent on my own work.

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    The Includer is about feeling the presence of another, their mind, soul, heart, so vividly so that we grow strong to respond. Wendi:

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    I have my life’s dreams
    that I started nursing from childhood as I was growing and witnessing
    my mother and her eight mates all suffering in my fathers house as we
    are from a polygamous home. … I am the first child and being a girl, I
    was discriminated upon not to go to school but to grow up quickly and
    get married. So from that time I developed a likeness for education of
    a girl child as well as education of rural women. I saw education now
    as a means to get rid of a forceful marriage, and making a choice of a
    husband etc for myself.

    In 2005, Janet agreed to lead our Minciu Sodas working group Holistic Helping, which is her deepest value in life. (Join us!) She monitors sixty discussion groups and she ever wonders whether she has time for this. She asks:

    How can I help those individuals who are coming to me, while also taking care myself, and generate a ripple effect into a wider community?

    I ever argue that her group Holistic Helping, working openly, allows others to jump in and learn to help each other by her example. Janet:

    I believe that creativity and all forms of communication will truly help to save the world, one painting or radio program or email at a time!

    Janet lavishes love on the weakest people with the smallest projects. This can’t make sense in a world that optimizes resources, which is to say, acknowledged resources. Janet makes a new world. She values every seed and every soil. Janet is an Includer.

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    Tagged: aids email helping includer social network women
    • Janet Feldman’s letter, Public Domain, September 9, 2008
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/holistichelping/message/3489

      Andrius and Wendi: Greatest Thanks for Your “Sisterhood”:)!!

      Hello Dear Andrius, Wendi, and All,

      I’ve returned from a rather disheartening couple days cleaning up after a bad storm here (tail end of Hurricane Hannah) to find this lovely and uplifting letter/blog entry on “Sisterhood”. Andrius, I can’t thank you enough for what you have said about myself and my work (if emails could blush, this one would be red, haha!!), and for your focus on Wendi and Actwid Kongadzem, who so richly deserve the spotlight for their remarkable work on behalf of thousands of women, young people, and men in Cameroon.

      Wendi and all at AK, your letter was deeply moving to me too, and I am so happy that I could say something that speaks to your situation and goals, life experiences and challenges, and to who you are and what you are striving to accomplish. It is a great joy to me to be able to be of some assistance, and an honor to know you and work with you.

      Andrius, you have captured so well the connectedness of mind, heart, and spirit which is an essential aspect of the Includer project. That answers one of the most important questions we can ask: “why” strive to do a project like this in the first place!

      I thought I would append below my HASTAC recommendation of last fall, as an FYI for anyone interested, because it may give people some food for thought as to how the Includer can be helpful to members and to individuals and communities in Africa and other regions of the world.

      I was more focused at the time on what it could do for people at the grassroots in developing countries, especially related to income. Your letter extends this idea into multiple dimensions of use, relevance, and value–psychological, emotional, spiritual, political (re activism on women’s issues, for example), international, interactive–and the importance of each and all of these is crucial both to its development and to its implementation, and ultimately to its effectiveness.

      Andrius, when you wrote this below, I have to admit I shed a tear! This is such a beautiful way to describe what I am trying to do (I almost didn’t recognize “me” :)))). You have made a reference to what motivates me–besides that ever-essential component, love!–to do “inclusive” networking and projects: some of my own experiences with being or feeling “excluded”, one of them involving health.

      Janet lavishes love on the weakest people with the smallest projects. This can’t make sense in a world that optimizes resources, which is to say, acknowledged resources. Janet makes a new world. She values every seed and every soil. Janet is an Includer.

      My health challenge–which stems from a weakened immune system (sometimes described as a “cousin” of HIV)–isolated me for many years from the mainstream of physical life (one reason I turned to the virtual world). I have experienced other exclusions too–related to gender, religion, sociopolitical views, and more–so I have some familiarity with how that feels.

      On the other hand, I also know what it feels like to be “included”, as I have been included within the Minciu Sodas family. I want to bring others into that circle of inclusion and belonging, and it encourages and uplifts me as much as it hopefully does others, when I am able to draw upon my skills and experiences to be of help and service in this regard.

      This ultimately is what the Includer is about: sharing, growing, learning; developing ourselves as individuals and as members of groups, communities, and the “global village”; interacting and working together for the greater good; celebrating and supporting the independent thinker in us all; connecting, creating, and communicating; and forging in the process links of love that extend in all directions, both inwardly (to oneself) and outwardly, to loved ones, friends, family members, partners, colleagues, strangers, “enemies”. And even farther, we hope, to the whole of humanity (and to many, many more besides :))).

      Greatest thanks again, Andrius, and immense admiration and appreciation for your dedication, caring, faith, hope, encouragement, love, and dreams of a “new world” of thinking, feeling, acting, and being! You yourself have done exactly what you describe about me, which is why you are a “knight” (as well as a prince of a fellow:) not just in news, but in shining a much-needed “light”!

      On that light-hearted note, I will close for now with love and infinite blessings, and look forward to spreading seeds in soils from the grassroots to the global, and from cyberspace to outer space (with stopovers to inner places and to see MS-member faces :))! Janet (aka Farmer Feldman)

      October 14, 2007
      Janet Feldman
      KAIPPG International
      ActALIVE
      6 Echo Drive
      Barrington, Rhode Island 02806 USA

    • Wendi Losha Bernadette, Actwid Kongadzem, Public Domain, September 10, 2008
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/holistichelping/message/3494

      Comments on the Includer: Episode 1: Sisterhood:/proposed budget for our dream project proposal

      Dear Andrius,
      Immense thanks and congratulations for the first
      episode that quotes but Janet and Wendi)ACTWID
      KONGADZEM as we shared our thoughts. I read it and
      copied it to share it our members and they were very
      excited to to read it too; We all are thanking you
      for being such an *includer * yourself too for we
      have our minds opened widely to actively be
      participating in M.S. Lab work as it is really very
      interesting. We were away from the internet cafe for
      five days as we were working with some other village
      women in a distant village Mbokjijah which is still
      lacking both pipeborn water and electricity. Since
      there has been very heavy rains these days here, many
      of these members had their property carried away by
      floods including alot of maize, cocoyams and beans
      recently harvested and dried in farm hurts together
      with some homes built constructed very closed to the
      streams that were also carried away.
      A community school has just started too in this
      village and today is making their third day in school
      and our organization was there to support the children
      especially the orphans )five)starting school there
      with some food stuffs and uniforms; That is why we
      could only return yesterday to find the Sisterhood
      Episode from you.

      We will also like to refer you to our project plan for
      the Includer too which we have conceived roughly to
      have three main parts of our project included which
      we suggested to be as follows;;;

      a) Making an impact in the lives of the poorest
      village women and children here in three villages for
      a start and the ones we have selected are
      Mbohkijah,Shiy and Sop villages in Jakiri
      Subdivision.Here we are thinking of using about 5000
      usd for microloans where women can borrow and buy
      improved seeds of a variety of foodcrops and
      vegetables to be grown to improve the poor nutrtion
      here as well as Artemisia seeds and other medicinal
      plants to cultivate, pay labour on part of their farms
      so that cultivation of large hectares can be hoed
      faster to meet the planting seasons. then making
      garri) from cassava) for consumption and sales which
      has been identified as an additional dish to add to
      the daily eaten fufu corn and vegetables with
      beans.Another small part of this amount will go to buy
      cells phones two per group to communicate with us and
      other groups nationally . Mbohkijah and Shiy groups
      have no electricity and water but they can trek to
      one neighbour who has brought a generator to his
      compound from luckily working out in the coast of
      Cameroon and charge the cell phones there.

      b) We have thought of equally budgetting another
      5000usd to set up a good airy internet connected room
      with about 25 pentium four good computers where we
      shall rent this room, employ a well trained computer
      technician with both hardware and software skills
      who will take goos control of the computers and two
      women will also be trained to work two shifts in this
      computer and internet room In addition, a good
      photocopier, printer and scanner will be bought from
      this same amount to add to the computers. Here now
      some few selected women leaders )30 for a start )
      from villages without or poor electricity will be
      trained on computer usage for 9 months their by
      improving integration of gender concerns into ICT
      policies and programmes since we envisage too to
      carry out a study on the use of ICTs and impacts they
      have on poor rural women all from this same budget.

      c) The third concerns that we looked at too was the
      creation of a small bank still in our office
      facility where our members women and some inteligent
      youths whom we have identified to have a keen interest
      in studying an advance stage of computer hardware and
      software detailly can loan small amounts to buy their
      own one computer each and one flash drive and other
      tools needed to do practicals if they happen to
      benefit from trainings we all feel that you will
      arrange and organize when this your great project
      takes up effectively.Our youths here will join the
      exchanged trainings in Kenyan,Minici Soda lab. in
      Luthinia or anywhere else where you Andrius and other
      M.S. team members will decide to do these trainings of
      trainers who should then come back to their various
      groups to in turn train more members too.Women who are
      educated or semi literate will be selected to be
      trained too alonside the youths as we will surely be
      handing our battons to youths as we age along the line
      to our graves for sustainability of our project. Here
      too we are thinking of improving our production of
      traditional crafts that we have been producing so that
      these crafts can attract the international markets ,so
      some selected skilled producers can be given
      microloans from a budget of about 4000 usd envisaged
      for all these activities, thereby bringing a rough
      estimate of about 14000usd for the first three years
      of your project.These are our dreams for a good
      project that can inturn assist all classes of poor
      rural women,youths and children that we work with in
      our organization.What do you think about these dreamed
      project of ours for the new innovations for Africa
      that you have conceived?

      Immense thanks from Wendi Losha Bernadette, national
      president and members of ACTWID KONGADZEM NGO in
      Cameroon.

    • localvore

      I write to the light and it leaps to respond. That moth beating on my window – is it inside or out?

    • Localvore, Thank you for your poetry! I would love to learn more about you!

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