Saturday, October 18, 2008

LOYAC, Kuwait for Kenya (K4K), and Nutri Viva Speak at AWARE Center—Is there hope for Kuwait and the Gulf Nations to Pick Up Slack in Development from

LOYAC, Kuwait for Kenya (K4K), and Nutri Viva Speak at AWARE Center—Is there hope for Kuwait and the Gulf Nations to Pick Up Slack in Development from WEST in Future?

By Kevin A. Stoda, Kuwait



On the evening of October 16, four youth-led organization volunteers--sponsored under the umbrellas of Kuwait’s LOYAC (Lothan Youth Achievement Center)--spoke at the AWARE center in Surra, Kuwait.

These two groups were K4K (Kuwait for Kenya) and Nutri Viva. The former group was formed in 2006 to help promote youth and leadership programs and their locations at 3 training centers in Mombasa, Kenya. The latter organization, Nutri Viva, was founded a bit more recently by Kuwait University students concerned with bad health in Kuwait promoted by the lack of common awareness about nutrition.

LOYAC is a non-profit foundation which seeks to train and empower youth in Kuwait—regardless of nationality--to build a better country and to build a better planet. Alas, many non-Kuwaiti youth are not aware of this great opportunity, so to date very few other nationalities have been represented in many of the LOYAC activities in a country where many schools are technically segregated by nationality, tribe, class or wealth.

Besides the Nutri Viva and the K4K groups, LOYAC sponsors drama and thespian groups. LOYAC also supports youth sports clubs and intra-school competitions. It assists students to study or serve as ambassadors for the organization or country in various lands around the globe. Some of these youth have recently worked in the United Nations or the British Parliament.

Moreover, LOYAC offers both mentoring and training seminars, such as on the 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE STUDENTS.

At a time when Kuwait has run many budget surpluses and as Kuwaiti-paid wages have increased at 10% annual rate in recent years, it is certainly a hopeful sign that Kuwaiti youth have an interest in reaching across borders and promoting international peace and development.

Youth in Kuwait have a few outlets, like LOYAC, to empower young leaders to reach out. The presentations at the AWARE Center on the even of WORLD FOOD DAY provided a very important glimmer of HOPE that the country of Kuwait—infamous for its badly run economy and for too many youth left to drug problems and drag racing on busy highways at rush-hour—can develop stronger leaders in decades to come.


K4K (KUWAIT FOR KENYA)

According to K4K’s own website, “The K4K (Kuwait for Kenya) project was sparked by the painful sights of the streets of Mombasa through the eyes of Kuwaiti youth. Children of five sniffed glue and gasoline as an alternative to food. HIV/AIDS is very prevalent and spreads uncontrollably among the youth, not to mention the millions of children born positive to it. Poverty is everywhere in Mombasa, which means furthering one’s education or career is not always possible. The flickering light of hope comes in the form of MYCC (Mombassa Youth Counseling Center) and K4K.”

At the AWARE center, two Kuwaiti volunteers, Sarah and Mariam, spoke on behalf of K4K. Both young 20-somethings had been active in the organization for the past year. After returning from studying abroad and after helping raise funds for K4K through various activities, exhibitions, auctions, and other projects, both Sarah and Mariam were obviously enjoying the fruits of their efforts.

When asked by the audience whether they would return to Kenya again and volunteer, both Sarah and Mariam stated, “We’d go [if we have the chance] again and again and again. They [the Kenyans] were so happy. The Kenyans are amazing people.”
When asked whether they experienced any risks in going to Kenya to work on building projects and to teach in schools, the reply was, “Basically no, we had our full vaccines and took pills. Kenya is just the friendliest place…. Of course, there are dark corners in every country where you don’t want to go alone.”

K4K projects in recent years have enabled three training centers for youth (their age and younger) in Mombasa to improve their infrastructures significantly over the past three years.

K4K volunteers have been involved in financing and building school rooms, blackboards, classroom desks, computers, and water installation projects. These Mombasan partner centers for K4K centers are the Goodwill Academy, the Mombasa Youth Counseling Center (MYCC), and Child Development Center (CDC).

http://web.mac.com/dari.alhuwail/k4k2009/K4K_Projects.html

K4K’s projects at the these three centers for 2009 include:

-At the Child Development Center (CDC)—K4K will be installing and fitting a new library, new kitchen, dining hall and the replacement of one old rickety classroom with 3 three new ones
-At the Mombasa Youth Counseling Center (MYCC)—volunteers working with their Kenyan partners, will be upgrading the HIV lab and the VCT screening center as well as upgrading or renovating the conference hall
-At the Child Development Center (CDC)—K4K activists will be donating new computer sets, purchasing student and teacher desks and tables and providing supplementary school uniforms to scholarship students.


NUTRI VIVA

Similar to problems faced by youth and families in the United States and in many other developed and developing countries, Kuwaiti adults and youth are overweight.
This life-threatening situation has partially to do with the permissiveness of parenting in Kuwait and is also due to the lack of nutritional oversight in households where children are handed over to maids at an early age.

In Kuwait, growth in obesity related problems have also to do with the fact that good nutritional educational role models are lacking in many corners of the land. NUTRI VIVA, founded by Kuwait University students and supported by LOYAC, was set up to counter these bad trends that are leading to an increase in diabetes and other advanced diseases in Kuwait (at a level heretofore not known in this corner of the globe).

Nutrition knowledge and food sciences are underdeveloped in a region of the world that went from great relative poverty to unknown opulence over the last 50 to 60 years. The opulence brought a mass importation of foreign and fast food eating habits in countries with few nutritionists around the Gulf.

NUTRI VIVA is not only interested in health but in the body. That is, the volunteer group is wants to improve the situation in Kuwait in terms of more holistic development. NUTRI VIVA leaders, Dalal and Dalal, speaking at the AWARE center on October 16 just prior to the K4K presentation have with their peers organized at the Department of Family Sciences at Kuwait University a host of orientations for parents and their children.At the AWARE Center, the two Dalals shared slides of education days where both mothers and their children were educated separately.

The children’s orientation was done through fun and games. Dalal and Dalal are also receiving funding and support in producing a kids-educational animated-cartoon with a story line to teach children about nutrition and how to live and eat healthily.

LACK OF GOOD YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVITIES

In Kuwait, a chronic problem over the past thirty or more years has been the lack of things for young people--of whatever nationality--to be involved in. Indeed, there are, for example, in Kuwait too many clubs who don’t want membership from such-and-such nationality. I was happy to hear that recently two Jordanians had worked this past year on the fund-raising projects of K4K.

As a whole, there are also not enough sports clubs and other activities allowed or promoted in most public and private schools in Kuwait to a significant degree. This great lack leads to a lack in people trained to be leaders through achievement—i.e. not having leaders chosen by which tribe happens to have more voters or representatives on a committee.

Therefor, it is certainly great that such new organizations, like those sponsored under LOYAC since 2003, are beginning to make a dent in the consciousness of Kuwaiti youth. (By the way, according to the LOYAC website, youth from age 15 to 30 years of age can get involved. There are also many mentoring opportunities for volunteers from any nationality.)

Finally, I hope that the LOYAC will be able to get more non-Kuwaiti’s involved, especially as Kuwaiti youth make up less than half the country’s population, and many forces, rules and traditions in society keep the country ghettoized to a great extant. This keeps the land of Kuwait from developing positively as a successful multicultural model, which events of recent history could enable the country to become.

Also, I personally also encourage all Kuwaiti youth to look to the positive examples in LOYAC sponsored organizations. You, too, have opportunities now to become involved and help wealthy Kuwaiti society to make a more positive dent in its self-image and positively shine lights in other corners of the globe.

With rich lands like the U.S. in very troubled economic times, Kuwait and other Gulf states need to become more effective in aiding people-to-people development across our troubled globe. These leaders should focus on cultivate youth as LOYAC does to start leading the way NOW.


NOTES

K4K, http://web.mac.com/dari.alhuwail/k4k2009/Home.html

K4K (Kuwait for Kenya) 2007, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aiut3hpQmYk

Lothan Youth Achievement Center, http://www.loyac.org/

Loyac International Scholarship holders, http://www.loyac.org/loyac_InternationaInternaship.htm#

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are all kinds of groups for youths in Kuwait, run by Islamic organizations and including sports, leadership training, etc. You might not hear about them in the English newspapers or at the AWARE center or from people who send their kids to English schools, but there are many young people involved in them. (Many of them wouldn't care to join LOYAC.)

And Kuwait - the government and the people - give huge amounts to charity. If you like what K4K does, you might want to find out about the African Muslim Committee, which has been around for years and done an amazing job. (I guess AWARE wouldn't find that interesting, since it has the word "Muslim" in it.)

5:40 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

While this is certainly true, there appear to be limited areas of participation by the same folks time and again in Kuwait group life--and in teamwork life.

For example, years ago a lot of Syrians,Palestinians,Yemeni, and other Arab nationals participated together in all kinds of clubs, esp. sports clubs.

Now many of those clubs, such as the Bayan Club are pushing to be exclusively Kuwaiti--shoving out a large part of the local population in recent years.

Similar photo clubs function around town almost solely for the limited membership in their club--a very narrow part of the Kuwait racial or ethnic population. Winners at photo contests are selected almost exclusively in the know.

Concerning my own experience with clubs as an American, I have seen a few opportunities to play at a sports club---but I can count them on one hand in five years of residence.

Non-Kuwaiti youth are not integrated at all to any degree with the local population of Kuwaitis in most youth organizations and in a large percentage of schools in the country. LOYAC appears to be currently being vocal about its desire to cut down the distance between Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti youth.

Imagine the different and positive decades ahead if across ethnic and cultural lines activities were encouraged and made more real possibilities in Kuwaits future. Such an integration would be an alternative towards continued tribalism and traditional allegiances of youth who are often not happy with many of the clubs that are offered.

By the way, I have taught recently in Kuwaiti schools with 90% or higher population of Kuwaitis. It is from this very recent experience and from my university teaching experiences earlier here in Kuwait that I have come to comprehend that many Kuwaiti youth are burnt out on clubs organized in previous years--hence many in their mid to later teens are not being integrated into clubs.

Meanwhile, non-Kuwaiti youth, which make up the majority of the youth in Kuwait are prepared to move on to their homelands for college years etc. in their teens--focusing often in communal groups--some clubs but not nationally integrated groupings.

So, even if I can't read Arabic papers, I am fairly certain that we need in Kuwait many more authentically global and international ones.

Imagine if multicultural Singapore had tried to go it alone with only a single nationality dominating the youth landscape. How could it have ever have been so successful?

In short, Kuwait needs to compare itself to other multi-ethnic states and set some important local and global targets and go for it.

Make a better and more integrated Kuwait.

Build a better world starting now as these two LOYAC groups have taken the steps towards.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

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SEE THIS SITE FOR DETAILS:

http://tinyurl.com/5pul7l

7:51 PM  

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