Tuesday, July 3, 2007

About This Blog

Welcome to the Project FOCUS blog! Project FOCUS is a Chicago-based non-profit organization composed of young artists and students bound by a common purpose to educate, inspire and empower youth through art. This summer, members of Project FOCUS are working in Uganda from June to December planning and implementing art projects that serve disadvantaged youth affected by absolute poverty, disease, gender inequality and a lack of educational opportunities. But instead of focusing on what these children lack, we want emphasize their assets -- their skills and stories.

We conceive of this blog as a work of art in itself -- an outlet for creative expression, a space for dialogue and an avenue of exploration.

We also want this blog to be based on a variety of media, presenting a layered and complex view of life in Uganda. this requires patience and thought on our part. We'll try our best to upload images, to present work in progress. But some weeks may be slower than others. We don't know what's possible yet, given our limited access to the internet and our lack of formal expectations.

We'll have to be creative.

We want to ask you to stay involved in our project by offering comments, criticisms, contacts and ideas. We envision this blog to be interactive, a meeting point for a community of the like-minded. For this to work we need your buy in. The more you contribute, the greater motivation we'll have to share. and the more we share, the more you'll have to respond to. Let's keep it natural and informal. respectful, but never boring.

At this point there's no set structure to the blog. We want to keep it flexible, leaving room for growth and creativity. We value your support and we look forward to hearing from you.


susan singh said...

Sounds like the trip is starting off with a bang! You guys are spectacular and its great finally having communication with you guys. If you have any engineering related questions feel free to ask me. Can't wait for your next entry guys!

Anonymous said...

Hi all--I just want you to know that I think about your group everday and I send positive energy to you. I commend you for working through the difficulties you encountered with PARDI. Open and active communication is the key. Also keep in mind that collaboration, consensus and a no-fault approach builds a strong and productive partnership.

Love from Aura's mom!

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody involved with such a powerful and meaningful project:

I am a friend of Aura's mom and I can tell you I am so touched by what you guys are doing I just want to thank you. As an African American female, I have often questioned my lack of involvement in the plight of my people in Africa. I am currently enrolled in a class in the states that will prepare me to be an administrator in the school system I am currently employed in. Aura, your mom is a great person, no doubt she has you to prove my point. It almost frightens me to think of the coincidence of working with your mom and finding out her daughter is doing what I hope to one day incorporate into my life's journey. Aura and others, continue to listen to the "beat" of those that beat to a different drum than yours. You will learn from them as they will learn from you, what we must do together to become one in humanity. God Speed!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aura and All,

Hope everything is progressing as you would like. Just wanted to know if there is anything in particular I could do to show my support. Please continue to help those so desperately in need. Thank you and God Speed. Aura's mom's friend.

Anonymous said...

Hi again,
You know I just took the time to read about Project Focus in it's entirety and everytime I read, I become more excited and engaged. I'm not surprised there is a disconnect between your expectations for art therapy as a means to help heal the children as well as bring financial support to the Ugandian people, and there acceptance of some of your ideas. Obviously, as you stated this is not unusal given the inherent problems associated with trying to work within another culture.
I remember once when I was teaching a unit in my class about
Africa, I learned art in fact does have a totally different meaning in this culture than ours. Without recalling exactly what I read, I think the idea was art in the African culture is merely an extension of the spirtual. In other words, art is not thought about, it just is. The dancing, the adornment on the bodies, the song, the making of tools and instruments, as well as countless other things that we as Americans consider "art", is just a way of life for these people, and a way to celebrate and give homage to the gods that sustain them. Based on this, I guess it would be extremely problematic to convince the people of Pardi an "art curriculum" as we know it to be in the traditional sense of relating creative expression, is not anything that can be taught even if it means exposing the children and adults to modern technology. If you haven't already done so, might it be helpful if Focus dive deep into how the origins, the beliefs and the symbolic connection of each aspect of life is represented in the culture, is a way that is as natural as eating and sleeping in the African culture. In other words, how do you teach art, or call it art when art is the air, the rain, food, birth and yes,death.
Just my thoughts. God Speed

Aura's mom's other daughter said...

I am sending you positive energy with Mom!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi all -- I'm so glad to be able to access this post and to continue to follow your organization's journey as you've made the return to Uganda this summer. It sounds like you've encounters some difficult situations recently but your honesty and humility in addressing those situations is commendable. I hope you enjoy your remaining time in Uganada and I look forward to hearing more about the caring and productive work you will continue to do there.

Sending you lots of Love and Hugs from Chicago -- Tessa & Dan
(friends of Aura's and fans of Project FOCUS)

Harish said...

i am amazed by people's input about this blog.
I am also excited because the next few blog posts are very interesting. The second group of people who are here are going to be introduced and also a photo story on the vocational training school is going to be up very soon.
on the other note, I urge people to email directly if they have any questions apart from the posts, at harishibrahim@gmail.com or info@projectfocus.org....
also, thanks to aura and her family, we have had so many amazing people that are looking out for us. It makes me happy to see your input and also keeps me in check with all the work we are doing here in uganda.
it is hard for me to comment on the art therapy part, but i agree with the post by aura's friends mother, when she says that art is in everything in africa, but at the same time that can be said about anything. i.e. cooking as form of art.. and what not...
but using art as a tool for story-telling, while using it for therapy purposes and empowerment is what we hope to get out of my visit.
If nothing else, we are starting to build long - term relationship with some amazing people and amazing organizations.

More on other organizations will also come up in the next few posts.

thank you

Terence said...

Hi I am impressed by your group and what you are doing. It is exciting to read that you are using a strength based approach in your activities and interactions.
You are an inspiration to some us here in New Zealand. I look forward to reading your posts.
Terry Gosset

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone!
I am a friend of Aura's whole family. I was also Aura's teacher in elementary school.
I can not tell you how much I admire each one of you. You are an inspiration to so many people. The work you are doing is very important. I am sharing your current info with people at my school. The pictures that you placed at our school really made an impact on our students and families.They need to see and understand more of the project.
I am sending all positive energy to you.You are in my thoughts.
Take care! LZ

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone! Keep up the great work! Grant, we all miss you, Bruv. Much love!

Anonymous said...

"commitment" ... I see it. I thank you for the clarifaction. Be well Ironman. I am very proud of you!

Harish said...

Five more blog entries coming in next 10 days.
Sorry for the long wait, but promise that these entries will be informative, educational and hopefully inspiring.