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Connecting New York and Lesotho through Art and Architecture

           

So what do you know about Lesotho?

Do you know where it is? It sits entirely within South Africa, but is its own country.

Do you know how to pronounce it? The “h” is silent.

Lesotho has the highest lowest point of any country in the world (4595 feet / 1400 meters). It’s only fitting that an organization named rise is working there. rise stands for Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise.

New York City, on the other hand, is famous for its high-rise buildings.

The two places may have little in common, but they will bond in a most creative way on October 25. rise is holding a fabulous fundraiser for their programs in Lesotho, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the cause. Prominent architecture firms, designers and artists have created works of art representing one of 100 area “blocks” around the city. The art pieces blend elements of Lesotho culture with the vibe of the assigned NYC block.

The results are extraordinary, and they’re available for auction or immediate purchase online until 10 PM ET October 25. Or experience the bicultural excitement and submit your bid in person by attending the exhibit from 7 to 11 PM at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, 172 Norfolk St, New York, NY, 10002. Tickets must be purchased before 10/23 here

This is truly art with benefits. In addition to owning a unique work of art you’ll be contributing to rise’s inaugural project in Lesotho, cleverly constructed to yield multiple gifts of mojo.

Constructing Buildings…. and Businesses

The program seeks to build a much-needed accommodation facility at the God’s Love Centre Orphanage. (Currently 54 boys & girls sleep three-on-a -mattress in two matchbox-sized dormitory rooms.) The planning, design, and construction of the new facility will be executed by 20 recent graduates from local architecture and construction schools. It’s real-world experience that builds the capacity to build out the rest of the country.

Who will guide the freshly-minted architects and construction workers? A mix of local and international architects and tutors. In addition international architectural students will also have the opportunity to go to Lesotho and participate in topic-specific ten-day workshops. What an opportunity to exchange ideas, share knowledge and form international professional networks!.

But the win-win-win doesn’t stop there. Coming back to the orphans, what happens when they grow up and must live on their own? They need skills. rise has that covered, too. It will work with the God’s Love Centre to set up an Entrepreneurship and Work Skills Development Program. Through internships with local businesses and knowledge support from industry experts, the business and mentorship program will help develop the competencies and contacts needed to establish income-generating livelihoods. Plus the businesses have access to young talent trained by them.

Not only that, rise seeks to leverage the same training to help the orphanage improve its management skills and raise some of its own revenue.   Add three more wins to the list.

As a business professional who passionately works with entrepreneurs in Africa and other developing regions, I’m all about this elegant synergistic approach. There isn’t nearly enough attention paid to providing business skills to micro-entrepreneurs in under resourced countries; it’s something I’ve been known to rant about. Helping people help themselves. Ya think?

So go get some amazing art that’s a lot more than eye candy. You win on that one.

The preliminary judging has taken place, and you wouldn’t envy the superstar judges who had to select the top ten pieces. The overall winner will be announced at the event and will receive the grand prize – a 10-day trip to Lesotho to take part in the international in loco workshop. Another win—for all the artists who have cumulatively donated more than 3000 hours of their valuable time to creating these masterpieces.

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Donna Rosa is an international business development services (BDS) consultant who provides business advisory, business planning, strategy development, training, and mentoring to microenterprises and small businesses in developing countries. After a long corporate career she now works in international development and has coined the term “aidtrepreneurship” as a way to develop economies through entrepreneurship. Donna feels that a passport is a terrible thing to waste. Find out more about her adventures at www.donnamrosa.com

 

 

 

 

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