The Unity Project-Uganda

Be Known By Deeds

Be Known By Deeds

The Big Picture: Life, by now, will have shown you that we all possess deep pools of resilient strength. No one gives that capacity to us. Resilience arises from our own vast reservoir of potential talent and character, what we call our “dignity.” The Unity Project is about bringing out, uniting around and mobilizing that dignity so that we can transform our lives, our communities and our organizations. Our unique strength is our “Transformation Process” that that has been developed over 30 years. We focus the dynamic power of this Transformation Process on raising up a generation of competent global leaders who can resist the extremism and despair of our troubled age. We know that the struggles of life do not have to make us victims or psychological casualties, but can be the fuel to help us become beacons of hope and role models of resilience. We are building a global network of young people who are anxious to make their mark and bring our hurting world together.

Uganda: In the case of Uganda, there is a rich culture and deep pride that will allow the country to arise from decades of rebel war and deprivation the people have suffered through. It is the perfect example of the spirit of resilience arising from great loss and tragedy. Experience has shown that there is nothing wrong with Uganda that can not be solved by what is right with Uganda and her people. Efforts to help, then, must be centered around bringing out the strengths of Ugandans, the dignity of Ugandans, and not importing “solutions” from somewhere else.

For 23 years, the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led a macabre and vicious campaign of cruelty throughout northern Uganda in an effort to overthrow the government.  The primary methods of recruitment of these criminals was to kidnap children and turn them into soldiers and sexual slaves.  The children were typcally forced to commit atrocties against their own families to fracture family bonds and brainwash the children into submission.   The LRA bizarrely claimed that these methods would help institute the  rule of the 10 Commandments in Uganda.  Leaders of this psychopathic cult have been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In October, 2011, President Obama announced the dispatch of 100 US advisors and special forces to apprehend the criminal leaders of the LRA cult to bring them to justice.

The Unity Project-Uganda: The Unity Project has launched a major initiative in war-torn northern Uganda.   A “Unity Assembly” composed of 9 schools, public health, micro-enterprise, community organizations and media outlets has been created as a vehicle to begin a process of sustainable development and community healing in Lira, Uganda.  The district Ministry of Education has asked that the Unity Project’s efforts be extended to all the schools in the district.  This pilot effort holds great promise as a model for reconstruction throughout northern Uganda, the region and any post-confict area.
The Unity Project will engage youth in a series of service activities to launch a locally based sustainable spiral of growth for the Lira area of northern Uganda. Together, our partners reach many tens of thousands of young people. From our Unity Assembly of partners, we engage youth in service activities that build upon locally identified needs which also align with the Millennium Development Goals. This service activity “mines the gems” of potential strengths, talents and character in our youth. These “gems” are then refined through our expertiential “Transformation Exercises” into practical personal skills that can be used to provide a vision for a life of useful service to the community. In the process, the community benefits from the service and strengthens its institutional and community capacity through the growth of the Unity Assembly.

Working with local, national and international experts and agencies, youth will b involved in designing an implementing a needs survey around key development issues. They will then work closely with these experts to analyze the data, craft and implement a community-wide intervention. Youth will be central to the design and execution of an important community building initiative. Not as passive recipients of aid, but as active participants in their own development, youth will step into roles of being agents of change building competence, hope and the foundations of a sustainable and prosperous community.

In subsequent phases, we will direct these newly developed strengths and the ability to identify community needs toward employment and business creation. Our work is intended to establish the first rung of the ladder to stimulate the personal capacity, community networks and institutional strengths to lead to security and prosperity. In doing so, our methds also strengthen the foundations of democratic and cooperative community problem solving, the foudnation of prosperity.

In parallel to this work in Uganda, the Unity Project is launching chapters in high schools, universities and community organizations throughout the US. Soon, these sites in the US will be linked online with the our partners in Uganda creating a dynamic learning community of peers all taking action to transform their own communities and join together in projects with a global reach.

Currently in Uganda, we are focusing on 4 “Legs” that support the over-all “table” of this project. These are:

1.) Education: This involves the training of teachers and the staff of partners in the Unity Project’s resilience building Transformation Process to be incorporated into school curricula and youth programs.

2.) Economic Development: Once youth have gained some skill identifying community needs and built their own strengths to meet those needs, they are far along the path to envisioning a life’s work. They have reason to finish school and the basics to envision a business that can help their community. We are creating a teams to explore a number of prosperity generating initiatives in Lira, Uganda: a farmers’ cooperative, an online store of local women’s crafts, and entry level IT services. These can then finance the project making it grounded in the community and sustainable. In exchange for particiapting in these income generating activities we ask families to their keep their children in school and participate in Unity Project capacity building programs. In this way, the project can become self-sustaining while building capacity.

3.) Health: Working with our local partners as well as local, national and international agencies, we are developing service teams in each of the following themes: malaria eradication, HIV/AIDS, water purification, gender violence and maternal and child health. One of these themes will be chosen by the partners as the focus of the youth efforts to begin in the fall of 2012.

4.) Learning Community: A significant innovation of our methods involves mobilizing young people to help define the information that is needed to create meaningful service plans. Youth will be directly involved in defining the information needed, collecting and analyzing it as well designing and implementing relevant and manageable service activities based on information they collected. In this way, a learning culture can evolve that is built upon the feedback of accurate and relevant data, cooperative reflection and planning and the united action and assessment of results. This process will greatly increase the effectiveness of the community and build local capacity.

The Lira District Ministry of Education has requested that the Unity Project extend this initiative to all schools in the district. We have also been invited by the Council on Higher Education in Rwanda to provide this model as a best practice example for the development of security and economic development in the region.

We have been approached by many high school and college students asking to do internships with the Unity Project. An application will be available soon when our website update is completed.

We welcome inquiries into this work. Also, we are now launching Unity Project chapters in the US to implement this resilience building model to develop youth capacity. Feel free to ask how you can start a Unity Project chapter in your community. Also, we are very grateful to those offering to help raise funds to support this work. Thank you! If you would like to have a lunch or dinner to raise funds among friends and colleagues, we’ll be happy to help you do so.

We’ll be posting more as this rapidly growing movement takes shape!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Caroline Day says:

    Hello John,

    I just got off the phone with my new friend and your old friend Richard Quinn. We are having a wonderful time exchanging stories and concepts for projects around creativity and collaborative capitalism and personal global contribution! He’s the one who introduced me to the possibility of creating movable temples/sacred spaces for these Ugandan communities. I really enjoyed reading this introduction to the Unity Project.

    I won’t use this email to refer you to my CV but suffice it to say I am entirely intrigued and enthusiastically gathering my thoughts around such a design.

    I hope we can further the discussion toward a collaboration.

    all good things,

    Caroline

    If you are so inclined my resume can be found on my Contact page of my slightly outdated website.

  2. Hi Caroline,

    Thanks so much for this note and thank Richard for his connecting us. The idea of creating sacred spaces for this work is enornously exciting. The key focus of this work is on facilitating the transformation process the Unity Project engenders. The use of a space and the technical elements that support that transformation act as adjuncts to facilitate the human interactions and expanding networks we create.

    Logistically, the Unity Project’s focus now is on creating, nurturing, activating and funding human transformation processes, the broad outline of which is mentioned in the post above and on this blog. We have been careful to keep our focus on people and the transformative quality of the interactions between them. Placing people and the dynamics of their interactions first, the physical structures and technology, while critical, support the human transformation. As we move ahead, the creation of spaces to facilitate and substantiate this work is very exciting, indeed.

    If you get a chance, browse through other posts on this blog, but also check out http://www.facebook.com/theunityproject for lots of pics, videos and posts to get a feel for what is going on. Conceptually, I think you’ll like this video that also appears on this blog:http://www.johnwoodall.net/2010/03/21/keys-to-transformation-part-i-dynamic-unity/

    Essentially, we are creating new styles of human interaction that create dynamic unity. This dynamic unity elicits new powers and capacities in participants. We want young people to become expert at creating this kind of unity as it is the hallmark of the age we are in and what they will need to succeed in the world we are moving into. It is the condition required to meet the global challenges we face. Like completing a circuit to allow a current to flow, it is the condition needed to unleash the undreamed of human potential we all possess and to propel our world out of the gravitational pull of its current linear/analog thinking into the dynamic interdependent complexity of a prosperous and healthy global culture that awaits us.

    The role of design and pattern (as the video link describes) is critical to embody this change process. I’m delighted to explore it with you!

    The very warmest regards,

    John

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