As anyone who has ever tried to help another can tell you, your assistance will only be helpful if the need and the solution match up. You cannot give a 10-year-old child a car when what they need is a ride. This holds true for nonprofits as well. As we work toward the establishment of Third Chapter in Africa, it is vital that we listen to the community that we hope to serve. To that end, here are the steps we are taking to hear this voice at Third Chapter:
- We reached out to a cohort of mostly ACLS Fellows involved in the African Humanities Project through their network website and invited them to take a short survey. The goal was to gain insights into the conditions these scholars were facing. What we discovered after the data was analyzed was that almost 80% of our respondents reported they did not have access to the basic material needed to complete their work. We heard things like:
- “(we need) recent publications from Africa: Many of these publications are not available in Ghana and so I have to rely on trips abroad to purchase them or get friends (to buy them)”
- “Folk Music collections of other African Countries, they are not within reach”
- “If I want to stay up to date on scholarship and participate in contemporary debates, I need to buy books myself…”
- “…not available because they are expensive to subscribe to and Music Education is not valued as much by my university.”
2. We added Lala Pop to head up our African Studies Advisory Committee. Ms. Pop tapped into her 12 years of experience working with the African Humanities Project in Africa to create an incredibly deep roster of 13 scholars from different countries with diverse experiences.
3. Most recently, we welcomed Dr Toboho Moja to the Third Chapter board. Dr. Moja is a visiting professor at NYU. Her background includes time at the University of Oslo and the University of Tampere, as well as several universities in her homeland of South Africa. She has been instrumental in the formation of the Center of Higher Education Transformation in South Africa and has served on boards of international organizations examining and researching education policy. Dr. Moja was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the position of Executive Director and Commissioner at the National Commission on Higher Education. She has written extensively on Education policy and politics in Africa within a global context. All of us at Third Chapter are thrilled that Dr. Moja will be able to help guide the future direction of our organization.
We are excited to be building Third Chapter with the knowledge that we are providing the resources requested by the community, rather than what so many in the developed nations think they need. This helps to tie together the symbolism of our logo… the light shining from within… outward.