Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plans for Philly's Kids

Michelle Obama's campaign against obesity in American children led her to invite several Philadelphian youth to the White House to help plant the Kitchen Garden. Teaching children where their food comes from is not a new idea. Jamie Oliver has been pushing food and nutrition education for the past decade, and school food is on every parent's proverbial dinner plate.

Regan's school vegetable "ketchup" showed us that we had better not leave the future of our children up to politicians, although the Obama's have so far proven to be champions of children's futures. I just hope any education reform goes more smoothly than his recent Wall Street reform. The biggest difference, instead of lobbyists for credit card companies, we face the soft drink lobbyists and the like. Will the mythical 5 cent/ounce sugar tax ever kick in?

I have my own plan. Along with my book, I have been sitting on a steering committee of s school to open in North Philly called St. James the Less. Last year, the diocese along with Father Mullen of St. Mark's Episcopal Church ran a City Camp for the local children. In the Western Clearview area, this is considered a vulnerable community and is in need of education reform. We are hoping to open a middle school on the property in the next year or so, but in the meantime, we are working on other projects such as afterschool programs in the meantime. I am opening a children's garden.

I will use this garden to instruct planting of seeds, maintaining the herb's and vegetable's growth, the harvesting, the cooking, and of course, the eating! My goal is to show children that food comes from the earth and not a McDonald's bag. That you can eat something green and have it still be delicious! This is the beginning of a new adventure for the One Legged Chef. Wish us luck!


Monday, May 10, 2010

The New Rwanda

Dear Readers, I am sorry its been awhile.

In last weekend's Saturday New York Times, a fascinating story on Rwanda appeared front page. Under the headline photo read "Hundreds of young adults and minors suspected of petty crimes have been rounded up and sent to an island in Lake Kivu." It later explains that those brought to the island in the middle of the huge western lake were being taught basic skills such a patriotic songs, marching, motorcycle maintenance, bricklaying and hairdressing. This is a classic social re-structuring format used in many pro-socialist African regimes, but in Rwanda, there are clearcut goals and clearcut problems.

The rebel buildup of genociders in Uganda and former-Zaire are a constant border problem. I myself was friends with the Lieutenant Colnel of the western RPF guard whose daily job it was to send guerilla patrols into the jungles in search for these militias. Rwanda is in constant need of trained military personnel and what better than a bootcamp for petty thieves and young male citizens already inclined towards danger or nefarious activities. Therfore, on one hand, the island on Lake Kivu could be a feeder into the RPF armies. A problem I see however is with the infrastructure of the prgram. One boy interviewed by the New York Times coorespondent begged to tell his father that he was alive. The boy was literally picked up off the street and sent west without any contact with the boy's family by telephone or otherwise. In African countries where a majority of families live without a phone or other telecommunication, it is atrocious to think that the government would practice such behavior.

Paul Kagame has pushed for a brighter and bigger future for his country. In fact, in the midst of the post economic global downslide, Rwandan businesses grow as does there business abroad. His love for his country is clear, and it has taken some strict policy, but has nonetheless been effective. This most recent (and internationally publicized) move on petty street criminals is not a step in the right direction. Too long Kagame has ignored the sound advice of European and other Western powers, but he must put the differences aside. It does not make sense to continually bad mouth and ignore countries who unfortunately were not there during the genocide. But they are there now, and deserve a voice. Kagame was a great general, but now must learn to be a great President.

You can read the story yourself at this link: