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The WoodSTock IndependenT
Sept. 12-18, 2012
Congrats, One Acre Fund; Welcome, NIE
Looking back, I first wrote about One Acre Fund in November 2007 after attending its first gala fundraiser in Chicago. My husband, Jim, and I were invited to attend by our middle son, Paul. Thursday night, Jim and I attended OAF’s sixth Chicago gala. Paul is now on the OAF fundraising board. One Acre Fund is a U.S. nonprofit and a nongovernmental organization headquartered in Kenya. OAF was started by Andrew Youn, one of Paul’s MBA classmates. Andrew visited Kenya in a summer internship program before he started the two-year MBA program at Kellogg. What he saw changed his life, and what he has done since has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands East African farmers and their children. Andrew saw hungry and starving children. Though their parents were farmers, the yields on their 1-acre farms weren’t enough to provide food from one harvest to the next. While in business school, Andrew developed a business plan to increase farmers’ production by providing high quality seeds, fertilizer and education. In its first year, 2006, OAF worked with 38 families in Kenya. The harvests were beyond the farmers’ wildest imaginations – two- to three-fold – enough to pay back the cost of the seed and fertilizer, feed their families and still have extra to sell – providing money to send their children to school, improve Cheryl their housing or buy Wormley a goat or cow. The payback rate of OAF farmers was 98 perDeclarations cent in 2006. Fast-forward to 2012, OAF is now serving 130,000 farmers, parents of more than 520,000 children, in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, and the payback rate continues at 98 percent. OAF is nearly doubling in size every year. Thursday night, Andrew shared the organization’s vision and goals for 2020. He said what’s been accomplished is only “a drop in the bucket compared with the ocean of need. There are nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world today – and most of them are small farmers.” OAF, he said, is a launching pad to grow a revolution in small-farm productivity in Africa and the world. OAF’s 2020 goals are to grow the core service program to at least 1.5 million farm families, collaborate more with African governments to provide agricultural services to large numbers of farmers and begin franchising the OAF model with extremely large companies and nonprofit organizations. Seeing what has been accomplished because of one young man’s vision and passion is truly amazing and inspiring. Andrew’s ability to engage others in support and in sharing their expertise and funds has fueled OAF. His commitment to putting the farmers first keeps the organization focused, and the business model provides necessary checks and balances, structure and evaluation. One of the joys of attending the galas has been seeing Paul’s friends and his generation coming together in support of OAF. They made up about 75 percent of the 250 supporters who donated nearly $600,000 Thursday night, allowing OAF to serve an additional 20,000 farmers and 90,000 children. I encourage you to visit the OAF website, oneacrefund.org, for more information. Welcome, NIE readers Welcome to our more than 300 Newspaper in Education readers. For more than 20 years, students in Woodstock School District 200 and St. Mary School have been reading The Independent through our NIE program. You can thank your teacher for asking us to deliver The Independent to you every week. Each teacher decides how to use The Independent to teach reading, math, spelling, language arts or social studies. Your subscription to The Independent is supported in part by adult subscribers who contribute when renewing their subscriptions. I encourage you to call or email us with news tips. We also welcome your letters to the editor and your ideas for improving The Independent. If you would like to know more about what we do, invite us to make a presentation to your class. Have a great year. Teachers, for information about using The Independent in your classrooms, email jenwilson@thewoodstockindependent. com.
Cheryl Wormley is publisher of The Woodstock Independent.
Give pits a chance
The pit bull has become one of the most abused and misunderstood dogs around the world. Due to sensationalism, the breed is feared by many people and has been banned in municipalities around the country. Ninety-nine percent of pit bull attacks occur due to neglectful and abusive owners and not because something goes haywire in a pit’s brain. People seem to always want a scapegoat in the dog world – before pit bulls, German shepherds, Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers were all seen as threats. Attacks from large dogs are often over-reported, while attacks from small dogs tend to be under reported, though they may occur much more frequently. My brother and sister-in-law adopted Brad Pit several years ago. The dog was heartlessly thrown from a vehicle traveling down a highway in Joliet. His ears were nicked with scars and for a long time he didn’t bark. The rescue center suspected he was used as a bait dog – a dog used to test the fighting ability of other dogs – and when he Rhonda didn’t want to fight, his ownMix ers discarded and left him Mix to die. Messages Brad Pit is one of the most loving and sensitive dogs I’ve ever met. He suffers from separation anxiety – no doubt due to his shadowy past – yet he latches on to people with unconditional love. He acts like a lap dog, spends most of his time cuddling and giving kisses and is a great teacher of forgiveness. I am deeply saddened when I compare Brad to the monsters the media has created.
What many people don’t know is once upon a time pit bulls were considered “nanny dogs” and chosen for their companionship. The pit bull was originally used for hunting, guarding and as a loyal comrade. They were thought to be especially good with children. Though at times used for fighting because of their hunting instincts and great strength, pit bulls were more often family pets and famous pit owners included Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder and President Theodore Roosevelt. The dogs were chosen as mascots by the Buster Brown Company and by the United States. A pit bull named Sgt. Stubby was the first canine decorated with medals by the armed forces after World War I. Sgt. Stubby survived being wounded in combat, captured a German spy and saved his platoon from a gas attack. Later, pit bulls were used as catch dogs for cattle and pigs. The abuse of the dogs grew as people began to use them more often for dogfighting. Through selective breeding, the pit developed a stronger prey drive but continued to love people. Because of irresponsible ownership, by the 1980s the pit developed a reputation for being a dangerous fighting dog, its history of friendliness and loyalty to humans slowly fading from memory. Pit bulls are, sadly, now one of the most rejected breeds in the United States. Shelters across the nation are overflowing with unwanted dogs, many of whom have a bleak future due to society’s prejudices. Kara Plonczynski, director at McHenry County Animal Control and Adoption Center, said between 50 and 70 percent of dogs in the facility are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. “They tend to be some of the nicest dogs in the shelter,” she said. I pray there comes a day when pit bulls are recognized once again for their positive traits and loyalty. For more information on pit bulls, visit www.pitbulls.org.
Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
— St. Augustine
Rhonda Mix is a staff writer for The Woodstock Independent.
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