Corporation For Economic Opportunity
WEST AFRICA INITIATIVES
In addition to its other initiatives, CEO also works to promote economic development in certain distressed communities in West Africa. Because of the historical relations between South Carolina and West Africa, CEO has a special focus on creating expanded economic, cultural, educational and social linkages between the people of South Carolina and the people of West Africa.
In furtherance of this effort to create expanded relationships between South Carolina and West Africa, CEO has created the West Africa Council of South Carolina, which is described below. CEO is helping to encourage individuals in the US and members of the Africa Diaspora to join together to invest in viable projects in West Africa and other parts of the Africa Diaspora.
Recognizing that education is a key component in developing economic opportunities, CEO assisted South Carolina State University in securing a $3 million, USAID-funded grant to provide textbooks and learning materials for school children in Tanzania, a country in East Africa.
THE "LIBERIA'S HOPE" QUILTING INITIATIVE
In the spring of 2007, CEO began to help a group of predominantly women quilters in Liberia, West Africa, by providing materials and helping to develop markets for their wonderful, hand-made work in the US and elsewhere, under the trademarked name of “Liberia’s Hope”. View this PDF which includes more information on "Liberia's Hope" and beautiful pictures of many different symbolic images.
You can help support these women and their families today!! All proceeds go to the women who made these quilts. Click on the photo on the left to view the quilts we currently have available for sale. You can also view more photos on the Facebook page dedicated to these quilts, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Liberias-Hope-Quilting-Initiative-at-Union/176177675750216
Please contact us if you have interest in "Liberia's Hope" quilts.
Click on this link to view explanations of the various symbols found on the quilts.
CEO has provided similar assistance to artisanal gold and diamond miners, in West Africa. In all of its endeavors, CEO promotes and carries out “Fair-Trade” principals, as a member of Co-op America’s Fair Trade Alliance.
In 2004, a group of women, who had fled the earlier civil crisis in Liberia, and now live in and around Caldwell Township, near the country’s capital city, Monrovia, came together to begin making quilts, in order to help provide for the basic needs of their families.
They named their group Quageh, which comes from the Kpelle language and means "We can make it". Quageh’s leader, Maude Coker-Davis says, “We hope to see every Liberian woman do something, like quilt making, to help their family.”
In a country, which recently emerged from civil war and suffers from an 80% unemployment rate, the Quageh women learned this handiwork from the elder women in their communities, who made and sold quilts as a means of helping support their families.
It is believed that the elder women may have learned quilting skills, directly or indirectly, from women, who were among the freed slaves, brought to Liberia, after the U.S. Civil War.
Quageh currently has ten (10) quilters, including four of Maude’s children, two women from nearby Bentol, and three other women who were taught the skill by Quageh. They do excellent, very artistic work. Quageh is also happy to have trained four other persons, who now do work on their own.
An Historical Note:
There is a wonderful book, entitled Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria, which provides an account of a freed slave from Tennessee, living in Liberia in the 1800’s, who made a quilt for Queen Victoria, as thanks for her abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. See www.blackthreads.com , for more information. CEO is encouraging Quageh to make a replica of that quilt to present to Queen Elizabeth, as part of a celebration of the 200 anniversary of the abolition.
The Next Generation:
Maude, a proud mother, who has also taught her sons the art of quilting says, “My two sons have learned the work. I can say that my elder son is a perfect quilt maker. Each of the quilts he has made, have been greatly admired by people. He has just graduated from college and quilt making sent him through college. He even made a special quilt, called "Master the Bed", to commemorate his graduation. My other son is about to enter college.”
Liberia’s former President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, made the uplifting of Liberia’s women a high priority of her Administration. The President was pleased to learn about the Liberia’s Hope Quilting Initiative, when she was briefed about it, in May of 2007.
Quageh’s and CEO’s Gratitude:
Speaking for her group, Maude expresses their gratitude, as follows: “Quilt making has helped us so much. We have been able to cater to our home affairs and even educate our children through selling the quilts that we make. We say thanks to our many buyers who have supported and inspired us through the purchase of our quilts. This is why we work so hard to satisfy them with good designs and durable quilts. And, to the Corporation for Economic Opportunity, we say thanks for helping and promoting us.”
CEO’s motto is “Prosperity for all” and the Liberia’s Hope Quilting Initiative is beginning to make the motto real for Quageh’s quilting group. True to their name, they are not only “making” great quilts, they are “making” it in life.
We thank the many new customers and supporters for their patronage and help. Feel free to contact us.
THE WEST AFRICA COUNCIL OF SOUTH CAROLINA
The Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CEO) founded the West Africa Council of South Carolina in late 2005.
MISSION: The mission of the West Africa Council of South Carolina is to help its members and others initiate, increase the awareness of and support for individual, group and organizational initiatives that connect South Carolinians, through business, educational, cultural and social relationships, to countries and communities in West Africa. The Council intends to be an advocate and to build upon the strong historical, social and blood connections between the people of West Africa and the people of South Carolina.
ACTIVITIES: In addition to meetings, the Council will hosts and participates in a variety of events, which inform, educate and enhance the interests of the members of the Council and the public at large about things related to West Africa. In addition to encouraging dialogue among its members, experts and foreign dignitaries will be invited to speak at Counil-sponsored events. Relevant television and radio shows and events will be promoted and supported. The Council will also explore ways to create formal and informal linkages between business groups, communities, churches, educational institutions, governments and other public and private organizations in West Africa and South Carolina. The Council may arrange for a variety of trips and trade missions to West Africa and will help host delegations from West Africa, when they visit South Carolina. The Council will help to develop, attract or display exhibits, art, artifacts and other items related to West Africa, that help to further the Council's mission. The Council may raise funds for a variety of humanitarian purposes related to West Africa and for other purposes in support of its mission.
MEMBERSHIP: Council membership is open to anyone who lives or works in South Carolina and pays the appropriate membership fee. Out-of-state Associate Members are also welcome. To become a member of The West Africa Council of South Carolina, simply complete the membership application form below and mail it along with a check made payable to: The Corporation for Economic Opportunity, for the applicable membership fee, to: 116 Wildewood Club Court; Columbia, SC 29223.
THE WEST AFRICA COUNCIL OF SOUTH CAROLINA
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION FORM
Street Address: ____________________________________________________________________
Area Code/Telephone: (If international, please include country & city codes)______________________________
E-Mail Address: ___________________________________________________________________
Signature / Date: __________________________________________________________________
Please select a Membership Category:
______ Student ($10) ______ Individual ($25)
______ Family ($40) ______ Associate ($50)
______ Corporate ($100) ______ Benefactor ($250)
Please Make Checks Payable to: The Corporation for Economic Opportunity