News from the Africa Scout Region
Mother nature turns hostile...
Disaster has struck Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 17th January, a dormant volcano erupted, gushing out deadly lava at speeds of 20 km/h and temperatures in excess of 1000f C. The flow, at times 200m across and up to 3m deep, cut a swathe of death and destruction in many parts of the town.
The Scouts have not been spared by the disaster. The Scout centre in Goma, like all other buildings in the town has been completely burnt down. The centre had been put up by the Scouts themselves and housed fully equipped offices as well as a brick and tile-making workshop run by the Scouts as an income-generating project. The Scouts, like all other residents of Goma, have become "refugees" overnight. They are now living in a number of displaced people's camps around Goma and in the neighbouring Rwanda.
The Africa Scout Regional Director, Kinuthia Murugu visited the Scouts of Goma
immediately after the eruption. His mission was to condole the Scouts and to
assess the kind of support they needed based on the destruction they
had suffered. He says that he found the Scouts busy helping in the disaster scene. "The Scouts of Goma have refused to sit and mourn their misfortune.
Instead, they are rendering service in the area of disaster; helping separated children find their parents, assisting humanitarian agencies in the distribution of aid as well as helping clean the displaced peoples camps. Like good Scouts, they are keeping their spirits up", says Murugu.
The Scouts of Rwanda and Burundi have responded like good neighbours to the
people of Goma. In Rwanda, Scouts are housing children from Goma who have been
separated from their parents. These, together with Scouts in other
camps in Rwanda are being fed using funds donated by Danish Scouts AID. The Scouts of Burundi have sent tents over to the Scouts of Goma to provide shelter after the eruption rendered them homeless.
At the same time, the Regional Office has sent Scout shirts that had earlier been donated by Scouts Canada.
When Murugu visited Goma, he found Scouts working in the disaster scene. Their spirits were up, and they received him with song and dance. But they were suffering; had nowhere to sleep save for the few tents sent over by the Burundi Scouts, and had not eaten regularly for some days. Food is now being availed through a donation made by Pro Victimis of Geneva.
The Scouts of Goma need help! Assistance is needed to settle the displaced Scouts whose homes were destroyed. Financial assistance is needed to support the community service activities that Scouts are carrying out around the disaster area. These include cleaning and disinfecting displaced people's camps and re-uniting lost children with their families.
Help is also needed to re-establish the block-making project, which was an
income-generating project for the Goma Scouts. The Scouts centre and office
equipment which burned in the aggressive lava need to be replaced, and the
Goma Scouts are counting on their brother and sister Scouts in the world to come to their rescue now: their hour of need.
Any help for, or information about, the Scouts of Goma can be channelled through the Africa Scout office.
National Scout Associations preparing for the great Day
National Scout Associations in Africa are now preparing for the celebration of the Africa Scout Day, on the 13th of March.
Every year since 1998, the Africa Scout Region marks the Africa Scouts Day on the 13th of March. This is a result of the OAU Heads of States Summit held in Addis Ababa in 1995, which voted in favour of an Africa Scout Day, as a recognition of the important role Scouting plays in developing the youth of Africa. On this day, Scouts in member countries organise special activities to sensitise the general public on the importance of Scouting to the growth and development of young people and to the society as a whole.
In 1999, a monument was erected in front of the Africa Regional office in Nairobi to commemorate the Africa Scout Day, and the OAU's resolution. The monument has space for member countries in the Region to post their message in the form of a plaque. Such a message must be brief and relevant to Scouting. The space is limited and will only accommodate plaques received while space lasts. A plaque should be a maximum of 30 cm by 10 cm.
The monument was rededicated to the late Kiraithe Nyaga, immediate former Regional Director who lived and died in the service of Scouting, and who was instrumental in the realisation of the Africa Scout Day.
Scouting reaching out to Children in Especially difficult circumstances
Today, there are more than 1 million active Scouts in Africa. Unfortunately, this is less than one percent of the youth in the continent. Benefits of Scouting have not been accessible to certain cadres of youth because of the unique, and often-unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in. Foremost in these cadres are the disparate groups which have come to be collectively known as Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (CEDC.)
The World Scout Bureau, Africa Regional Office is proposing a five-year project that utilises the Scout education method to incorporate those less fortunate members of the society into Scouting. By so doing, it is hoped that they will experience fundamental changes in their lifestyles to become individuals who are self reliant, motivated, productive and responsible citizens. The office is currently looking for a partner to provide financial assistance in implementing this project.
Individual countries in the Africa region have designed and implemented national projects aimed at involving CEDC in Scouting activities to varying degrees of success. In the next issue of our Africa Regional Bulletin, we shall focus on the role played by the Scout Movement in Africa in reaching out to CEDC with a hope for a better tomorrow. The issue will be out in March, and will be circulated beginning of April.
We have in the past reported about the ongoing production of radio programmes under the banner of Africa Scout Radio. These are 15 minute programmes on Scouting, recorded by Scouts for broadcast in Africa. The first package of six programmes in English are ready. National Scout Organisations in Africa are asked to negotiate for airtime with their various radio stations, and to request for the tapes from the Africa Regional Office in Nairobi. The next series of six programmes is in the production process and will be ready for distribution at the end of February. We are reaching out to more young people with the Scout message through the Radio.