My name is Gracia Violeta Ross. I am from Bolivia and I have been living with HIV since 2000. I am the National Chair of the Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (REDBOL), which remains the strongest HIV advocacy organization. In October 2014, thanks to the Legislative Fellows Program supported by the State Department and with the administration of Partners of the Americas, I did my fellowship at AIDS United, an HIV organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on domestic policy-making in the United States.
This week, Partners of the Americas joins people around the world in remembering the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. As we commemorate the horrific event, we also hope to offer readers some insight into the current situation in Haiti.
A Ganar (Vencer in Brazil) is a youth workforce development program wrapped up in a soccer ball. By utilizing soccer and other team sports to help youth in Latin America, ages 16-24, find jobs, learn entrepreneurial skills, or re-enter the formal education system, A Ganar combats the serious problem of youth unemployment.
Here, Paul Teeple, Partners' Sport for Development Director, answers a few important questions about A Ganar and its innovative approach. Read on!
In 2004, a former teacher at Iowa State University, Dr. George Beran, first recruited me for a Partners project. The project consisted of consulting farmers associated with an agroecological school and what may have been Mexico’s first consumer-supported agriculture (CSA) effort. I have actually been visiting the Yucatán Peninsula since 1994, when my wife began research in Quintana Roo State. We fell in love with the food, the music, and the great people – you know how it goes.
2014 has been a productive year for Partners' Agriculture and Food Security (AFS) Unit! Under the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program, 78 volunteers traveled to eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to work with close to 40 producer groups, NGOs, universities, and other hosts. They provided training in areas as diverse as business plan development, honey harvesting, animal nutrition, marketing of organic products, and much more, and directly assisted over 6,000 people.
“I believe in the power of sport, and great facilitators, to change lives.”
One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting with our amazing A Ganar Phase 1 facilitators. These are the people who work day and night leading field and classroom sessions with youth in some of the toughest neighborhoods in our hemisphere. These facilitators make sport come to life and use it to literally save lives. They open their hearts to youth. They risk their own lives traveling to and from sessions and working in environments that can explode in violence at any time. Some of the youth we work with are dangerously close to gangs, often only one or two steps away from being full-fledged members. For these reasons and more, I always say that our facilitators are the most important members of our A Ganar staff.
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I’m a big admirer of the work that Partners of the Americas does, and I've had a long connection to the organization through my service in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. I’d like to tell you a story about an amazing youth from my community in Paraguay that has accomplished much with the help of Partners.
Last month, for the first time ever, the small town of Montevideo, Minnesota was introduced to the 200-year-old Afro-Uruguayan “candombe” music their sister city, Montevideo, Uruguay, is so well known for. Candombe is a cultural heritage, music and dance native to Uruguay, with African roots. With a travel grant from Partners, Uruguayan drummer Álvaro Salas traveled to Montevideo, MN in June to present workshops on candombe drumming, history and culture in Minneapolis and Montevideo, as well as attend and perform at the town's annual Fiesta Days, a celebration to commemorate the town's asso