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African Microchip Training Project- VAD

Summary of Project

African Microchip Training program is part of Virtual African Diaspora (VAD). The objectives of the project are:

Community empowerment

Cross cultural awareness and integration

Youth Employment

Virtual African Diaspora Project (VAD) was designed as a means of helping Africans in Australia find their place in their new homeland. The aim is to help them integrate and make their mark in the growth and development of a multicultural Australia. Such contribution can only happen when there is an understanding of the various cultural backgrounds that make up the African continent and the various cultural groups that make up their new homeland Australia. To this end this project is geared towards creating cultural awareness among the youths, empowering them through skills training and recognising their roots through a new form of cultural preservation. The pilot project is geared towards enabling the following objectives:

• Poverty Relief as part of the Millennium Development Goal

• Digital Story Telling

• Cross Cultural Awareness education

Project Analyses

Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society ... I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action ... I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns (Yunus, Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2006). In their work, Growth and Empowerment: Making Development Happen, Stearn et al (2005) emphasise that for sustainable projects to succeed in developing countries, there needs to be an environment where people can take charge of their lives-where they are their own agents of change. The major problem confronting young Africans outside their country of origin is that they have no identifiable cultural signifiers in their uses of modern technologies. Such a situation creates a sense of alienation. According to Mathea Ekra, then Minister of State, The Ivory Coast, “those who have recently achieved their independence must take care this time not to miss the last train of the twentieth century”. This new train is the digital highway and its added technologies. The United Nation's Millennium Development Goal for poverty relief has challenged us all to take a collective action through our various skills and cultural powers to enable such change to take place. We believe that given the opportunity, those migrants who have witnessed first hand, the inhumanity of poverty and neglect can make a huge difference to both their own lives as well as those of their fellow humanity hence the need for this training centre.

To this end this project aims at assisting the training and empowerment of the younger generation of Africans in the community to take full responsibility of their own future as well as help their struggling brothers and sisters in their motherland. The idea behind this project is to use eLabtronic's Corechart program to train young African migrants on how to develop sustainable projects and programs which will both help keep them off the streets, enable them develop positive cultural integration as well as skills needed to make valuable contribution to their new homeland Australia. It is expected that if this pilot project becomes successful it will be rolled out to various socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in the state to help young children in self empowerment and skills development and it can also be exported to help developing nations like Africa. The expectation is that every youth who goes through this training can be mentored into starting a small viable business initiative which they can use to help their families and in turn help to export such skills to people in Africa as part of their diasporic contributions.

Digital Story Telling

The second part of the VAD project is the creation of a digital storytelling database for cross cultural integration. In today's Australia with its cultural diversity and consequent contradictions, leaders are having a difficult time coming to terms with juvenile crimes. The Rann Government in South Australia has even suggested what he calls 'show and shame' action on juvenile crimes especially those who deface or disturb public peace (see cover page Sunday Mail 12 Feb 2006). On February 13, 2004 we witnessed the Redfern riot in Sydney which claimed the life of a seventeen year old Aboriginal boy. We are still grappling with the shame of December 2005 racist riot at Sydney's Cronulla Beach between what some termed the “Lebs versus the wogs”. In December 2006, the Tamworth Council refused to accept five Sudanese refugee families to resettle in their community. The counsellors' flawed reasons were that many of the younger migrants were child soldiers, that they were likely to engender gang related criminal and violent activities among the youths of the town. The second reason was that as people from “third world countries” they would bring diseases such as tuberculosis to the community. This racial tension was not helped in 2007 by the controversial comments made by the then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (Kevin Andrews) in which he said that Sudanese refugees are not adapting to the Australian way of life and therefore used such unproven position to justify his decision to limit the quota on African migrants to Australia. With the ongoing crack down on terrorist activities and its implicit racial and religious tension, there is need for us to understand each other's cultural backgrounds as well as enable minority cultures among us feel free to participate and make contributions toward a harmonious Australia. With the influx of many refugees from war ravaged African countries and other parts of the world, digital storytelling becomes an important psychological healing process, a way of integrating various cultural experiences so that people will both feel empowered as well as a sense of belonging to make significant cultural contribution toward a truly multicultural Australia.

In traditional African societies children are not told that their actions are right or wrong instead they are told stories. From such a story children are able to learn, judge and make future decisions. This method has held the people together for centuries. In the age of information technology many of these children spend most of their time online and on computer games. This is also made worse for African children who have been uprooted from their motherland cultures into other countries such as Australia where such stories are non-existent. These children are confronted with new cultures, technologies, language and economic hardships despite governmental assistance. This project intends to design an interactive teaching template which incorporates African traditional stories with new technologies to be used in educating the younger generation on issues such as cross-cultural tolerance, health, governance, civic responsibility, environment, and leadership qualities. It is also geared towards empowering these children to own and control the technologies of interaction rather than be passive recipient of alien ideologies.

The digital storytelling project can be summed up as trying to achieve two major objectives: creating an integrative cross cultural environment that empowers African children in Australia to become equal participants in the new global economy through a self-managed information network; secondly, it aims at creating a cross-cultural education template and forum through which younger generation of Australians and Africans can harmoniously interact and build a world together. The success and challenges from this project will then be used to build a broader international template to address the plights of children in other socio-culturally marginalised communities.

Contact: Dr Chika Anyanwu