BARKA Burkina Consortium Aims to Achieve MDGs in Burkina Faso

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The BARKA Foundation, an NGO dedicated to bringing the indigenous voice to a prominent seat at the table of world discourse on crisis issues facing the planet, announces a 7-year collective effort to develop a new model for sustainable development that is bottom-up, community-led, powered by women, integrated with music, art and culture and incorporates the gifts and strengths of the postmodern and indigenous worlds. Partners unveiled on Peace Day. Consortium cites 'Clean Water' as its first initiative and begins with village "micro-model" based on reciprocity with indigenous peoples. The BARKA Burkina Consortium brings together NGO's, UN and government agencies, businesses, schools, youth groups, women's associations, faith-based and civic organizations, philanthropists, political leaders and interested parties to focus on setting an example of achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals in Burkina Faso. 1st annual 'Peace, Water & Wisdom Concert' planned for 2009 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Girl @ the Well

The BARKA Burkina Consortium has the support of the Burkina Faso Permanent Mission to the United Nations

The BARKA Foundation joins hands with Pathways To Peace, The Gandhi Tour, ZZYX Entertainment, Earth Day Network's Global Water Network, Aqua Dynamic Solutions, Railroad Street Youth Project, Greenagers, Center for Peace Through Culture, The Colonial Theatre, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Healing Winds, Humanity in Concert, Women With Wings, and Future Now to create the BARKA Burkina Consortium, a 7-year collective effort to unite strengths in a cross-cutting, integral approach to achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals in Burkina Faso, West Africa by the target date of 2015 and to develop a model that can be replicated.

The concept of the Consortium was created in large part through the cooperation and support of the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI), a worldwide community of peacebuilding organizations. The annual highlight of this Initiative is the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2008. Michael Johnson, UN Representative for Pathways To Peace was instrumental in inspiring the idea of the consortium. The BARKA Foundation's membership within CPI enabled UN support and helped BARKA forge relations with 11 UN agencies in 6 months.

"We see the Consortium as a model for best practices within CPI as it relates to peacebuilding through the achievement of MDGs. By addressing economic violence, the procurement of basic survival needs and sensitivity toward indigenous peoples, the creation of a culture of peace becomes possible and replicable," says Michael Johnson.

The Consortium is working in concert with the United Nations and in cooperation with the Burkina Faso government: "We welcome this endeavor to improve the living conditions of Burkinabe and also to share Burkina's gifts with other parts of the world. The Consortium is an innovative model leading the way toward a new form of cooperative development and humanitarian assistance. The Burkina Faso government looks forward to working with the Consortium and its partners," said His Excellency, Ernest Paramanga Yonli, Ambassador, Burkina Faso Embassy to the United States.

"The BARKA Burkina Consortium has the support of the Burkina Faso Permanent Mission to the United Nations," said His Excellency Michel Kafando, Ambassador, UN Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso.

"This initiative resonates strongly with the work of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Permanent Forum has repeatedly called for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in designing, implementing and monitoring MDG related programs and projects. Indigenous peoples are the custodians of some of the most biologically diverse areas of the world. They have an amazing amount of traditional knowledge about their environment which is transferred from one generation to the next, and this knowledge is essential for the success and sustainability of development projects aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals," said Elsa Stamatopoulou, Chief, Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

"The Consortium is searching for a new paradigm of development that is grassroots, community-driven, and can join together indigenous as well as modern technology. Indigenous culture, languages, and human rights must not be sacrificed in the process. We will serve as connective tissue between these two civilizations to bridge understanding and appreciation of each culture's respective consciousness, gifts and vulnerabilities," said Esu Anahata, aka Howard Ross Patlis, Co-Founder of The BARKA Foundation.

"The Burkinabe opened their hearts and their homes to us. We are grateful for the opportunity to join hands, to be of service to one another, to be engaged with the people of Burkina. When I think of 2 billion people living on less than a dollar a day and 1 billion without access to clean water, I ask myself how can this be so in this sophisticated world of modern culture and technology," says Ina Anahata, Co-Founder of The BARKA Foundation.

"By joining together new technologies of the West with the Old Ways that have been held onto by the world's indigenous peoples it becomes possible to find a new way to adapt to and mitigate the crises the global village is facing. Indigenous life represents an entirely different paradigm from which the West has much to learn. We're extending and accepting an invitation. We believe we have medicine for each other. We wish to approach Burkina with humility, respect, gratitude and optimism for co-creating a new way out of poverty and toward a sustainable future for us all," added Ina & Esu. The BARKA Foundation is dedicated to bringing the indigenous voice to a seat at the table of world discourse on issues of sustainability, social justice, spiritual healing and peace.

It was through BARKA's discourse with mothers and grandmothers in the bush of Burkina Faso that 'Clean Water for All' was chosen as the Consortium's first major initiative which includes sanitation, hygiene, irrigation, sustainable agriculture, women's empowerment and children's education.

The Consortium's work will begin with a micro-model in a single village of eastern Burkina Faso. Best practices will be established before expanding. The Consortium will involve in-country organizations, local and national government, NGO's, experts in the field, initiated elders, women's associations, schools, faith-based and youth groups, researchers and private sector businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to pioneer a collaborative approach for the achievement of MDGs that is specific for each community. Governance, democracy, economics, land and resource management and corporate social responsibility all come into play in the process.

The Consortium has established international relationships for development (MDG #8) in 3 initial locales: the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Bangor, Maine, and Moscow, Russia. Massachusetts State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli (D-Lenox) says, "This project is helping not only Burkinabe through the eradication of poverty and achievement of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, it is expanding the minds and hearts of everyone here in the Berkshires. The Consortium is providing a vehicle for cultural understanding and appreciation and offering us all concrete opportunities to experience the richness of living in a global village. Barka!"

Recently, with the help of an all-women's singing group called Women With Wings based in Bangor, Maine, The BARKA Foundation established an initial micro-loan program for sustainable women-owned small businesses. "As we seek the spiritual empowerment of women through music, we will work to support the empowerment of women in Burkina Faso," stated Linda Koehler, Director.

The Peace, Water & Wisdom Concert is being proposed as an annual event in Ouagadougou, the capitol of Burkina Faso to raise funds for the Consortium's water initiative, to promote peace and to provide a platform for indigenous wisdomkeepers.

Barka is an African word of gratitude, blessing and reciprocity. Barka!

Contact:
U.S.: Ina & Esu Anahata at 413-446-7466
Burkina Faso: Ibrahim Coulibaly at 226-70-24-90-33 or 646-945-7276

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ina and esu anahata
The BARKA Foundation
413-446-7466
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