PREVENT HATE diary for the week of April 20-24, 2009

Wow, what a week for PREVENT HATE. We spent time with first ladies of Africa, partied with celebrities, and put on a great program at Hollywood High School. Below is just a general summary of it. Separate updates detailing our work with the First Ladies of Africa, and at Hollywood High School, will be coming soon.

 

The name of the game … training!

 

Monday, April 20, 2009:

 

Numerous First Ladies of African countries were here in Los Angeles for a health summit sponsored by US Doctors for Africa. PREVENT HATE went to the summit and co-sponsored a private party for them at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in order to increase cross-cultural relations between the United States and Africa.

 

The party was star-studded and a huge success. Some of the celebrities who came to eat, drink, make merry, and support what we are doing were Sheryl Crow, Sydney Poitier, Goldie Hawn, Alfre Woodard, CCH Pounder, Gary Shandling, Anthony Edwards, Pras Michel (who is also our newest addition to the PREVENT HATE team as a board member) and a few others. We spent most of the evening talking with some of the First Ladies of Africa though. Wolfgang Puck made a ton of food, and we heard it was fabulous, but some of us didn’t eat a thing all night. We were working, and really didn’t want to sit and have a conversation with a first lady while we were worrying about jibs of food in our teeth.

 

First Lady Biya of Cameroon was one of the first to arrive to our party. Dr. Reuben Jaja, President of the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce and a PREVENT HATE board member, and I went to greet her. In my enthusiasm to be a gracious host, I momentarily forgot that she doesn’t speak English. However, even with no interpreter close by, somehow I figured out how to make her giggle in French. That was fun, but don’t ask me what I said. So many escaped Kodak moments, but what was I going to do? Pull out my digital cam and ask the first lady to say, “fromage” at a party I was helping throw for her? Hardly.

 

Shortly after the First Lady of Cameroon arrived, many other guests followed. Before long, we had around 300 people hanging around, having a good time. It also helped that the restaurant has a large patio and the weather was perfect that night. I found myself surrounded by the entourage of the First Lady of Niger, so I decided to talk with her about the new training program PREVENT HATE has been working on with the Los Angeles City Department on Disability to empower at-risk and marginalized populations, with the intention of offering it to her country. She expressed that she was very interested and we set up a meeting for Wednesday, late afternoon (see Wednesday’s entry). To me, that was the highlight of the evening … more than the celebs. The opportunity to engage Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, with constructive socioeconomic programming that could bring real transformation? Oh yeah. Gotta love it.

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

 

We spent the day at the health summit. We spoke with the First Lady of Angola, a big advocate for people living with disabilities in her country (due to their long civil war), about the training program PREVENT HATE devised with the City of Los Angeles. She referred us to the person standing next to her, which turned out to be the Angolan ambassador to the United States. We spoke with the ambassador for a few minutes, and she said she is very interested in our program and would like us to follow up with her on it this week. Exclusive PREVENT HATE training programs for the governments of Niger and Angola? Now we’re shaking things up in a good way.

 

We met quite a lot of interesting people at the summit. I’ll tell you about some of them in separate update later this week. But they entail Google, Chevron, Kenya, and the US Dept. of State.

 

Unfortunately, this week also had a dark cloud hover over it. My cousin passed away.

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I went to meet the First Lady of Niger at her hotel along with my colleague, Betty Wilson, Director of Community Affairs for the Los Angeles City Department on Disability. Betty and I worked together to devise the training program to empower at-risk and marginalized populations. The purpose of the meeting was to offer our training program to the Government of Niger. Details will follow, but we had a great meeting, and got what we set out to accomplish! Niger has accepted PREVENT HATE’s training program, and we now are ready to move forward with them making it happen. The First Lady’s daughter will personally work with us on it, which is great. We met with her too, so together we can craft a program customized to their specifications. Stay tuned …

 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

 

We had a meeting with Jean Stephan Biatcha, Executive Director of African Synergy, which is the First Ladies’ collective nonprofit organization. We had a very constructive discussion about how to increase cross-cultural relations between the United States and Africa.

 

Friday, April 24, 2009

 

PREVENT HATE put on our much anticipated program with the Lost Boys of Sudan at Hollywood High School. Wow, what a great program! The stories were inspirational. The students were interested and engaged. We laughed. We gasped. We made music. We were asked to come back soon … and we will.

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

Matthew Rosenthal

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