From staff reports
Forty seven percent of the world's children who do not attend school live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Half of the world's 10 million under-5 deaths occur this impoverished region, where 158 of every 1,000 children born die before age 5.
Statistics such as these from UNESCO prompted the creation in 1999 of Ohio University's Institute for the African Child (IAC), now celebrating 10 years of advocacy for Africa's children.
The institute, housed within the Center for International Studies, will commemorate the anniversary with an international conference, titled "Including Children: Celebrating 10 Years of the Institute for the African Child." The conference will take place March 12-14 in Grover and Walter halls on the Athens campus.
"For a decade, the Institute for the African Child has provided an interdisciplinary venue for conferences and symposia, bridging academic, governmental and humanitarian fields in the spirit of advocacy for Africa's children," said IAC Assistant Director Andria Sherrow. "We are excited to share a fantastic lineup of presentations, art and music to celebrate the IAC's 10th anniversary with Ohio University and the local and international community."
Steve Howard, director of the Center for African Studies and founder of the Institute for the African Child, will provide a history of the institute at the welcome reception at 7 p.m. March 12 in Walter Hall Rotunda. It will be followed by a performance of the Ohio University African Ensemble, under the direction of Paschal Yao Younge and Zelma Badu-Younge.
An exhibit by Heifer International's commissioned artist, Betty LaDuke, titled "Surviving War, Dreaming Home" will officially open at the reception and be available for viewing on campus through April 20 in the Fine Arts Library Reading Room, located on the third floor of Alden Library. LaDuke is a highly accomplished painter, printmaker, activist and teacher whose work celebrates cultural diversity and the planet.
Kole A. Shettima, Africa director of the Catherine T. and John D. MacArthur Foundation, will deliver the keynote address during the honorary banquet at 8 p.m. Friday, March 13. Shettima, who taught at Ohio University in the 1990s, will speak on the need to integrate health policies for mothers and newborns. He now oversees a $20 million annual portfolio investing in reproductive health, human rights, higher education development and democratic reform in Africa. Shettima works out of the foundation's Abuja, Nigeria.
Papers and panels relating to issues impacting African children will take place throughout the day on March 13 and14. Complementing the sessions will be a non-governmental organization fair from 3:30 to 5 p.m. March 13 in Grover Hall. The fair will provide an opportunity for students, faculty and community members to network with other Africanist scholars and activists, learn about volunteer and internship opportunities, and engage with civic organizations serving children in Africa. Organizations at the fair will include Firelight Foundation, Heifer International, Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF, The Empower Campaign, HEDA Resource Centre and Zienzele Foundation. The fair is free and open to the public.
Concluding the conference will be a performance by the world renowned African Children's Choir at 7:30 p.m. March 14 in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
The African Children's Choir was created following the brutal reign of Idi Amin in Uganda, during which hundreds of thousands of children were orphaned and left starving to death. The singing of one small child inspired founder Ray Barnett and his team of volunteers to recruit the first choir from among these desperate children. Their mission is to show the world that Africa's most needy and vulnerable children have beauty, dignity and unlimited ability.
The African Children's Choir will present "Journey of Hope," which tells the story of their way out of war-torn Uganda in 1984. The choir's joyful music is a blend of song and dance throughout the entire continent of Africa, featuring more than 10 languages, unique cultural dance and gospel favorites.
Tickets for the concert, part of Ohio University's 2008-09 Performing Arts Series, are on sale now at the Memorial Auditorium ticket office. Tickets are $17 for students, $25 for seniors and $27 for general admission.
For more information on the Institute for the African Child, the preliminary conference schedule and registration information, visit www.afrchild.ohio.edu.