Education, Awareness, and Special Programs in Support of the People of Sub-Saharan Africa
Ladder to the Moon Network
24 Preble Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Ladder to the Moon Network’s first program is titled “ Education and Awareness ”. This program focuses on educating the public about the continuing crisis in Africa and the challenges that New Americans face when they leave Africa and come to America. This program includes speaking engagements throughout the year, culminating in an annual Conference in December. Our targeted audiences are government leaders, communities and organizations, universities, colleges and high schools, young professionals and New Americans. We strongly believe that an educated community is a responsive community. Little can be expected from a community which is not informed.
The second program is “Surviving to Thriving”. This program focuses upon helping the New Americans who have moved to Maine develop proficiency in English and computer skills as well as providing them with the other supports they need to resettle successfully. Ladder to the Moon Network understands that the process of resettlement elicits an array of feelings: hope and relief as well as confusion, guilt and grief for families left behind.
It is a tragic irony that the most significant limitations in those programs designed for New Mainers are found within the most important program component: the process of teaching and learning English (also known as “English as a Second Language” or “ESL”.)
With the exception of ESL classes available to full time college students, the primary goal of community ESL programs is to teach the minimum language skills deemed necessary to survive in the community. Nicknamed “Survivor English” by the teachers themselves, it is English in its most rudimentary form.
Unable to effectively communicate in the business community, the majority of Immigrants must accept low paying shift work in order to care for their families; many working more than one job in order to fulfill a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility to those family members who remain in Africa as well.
These individuals are deprived of the hope that comes with opportunity and we, as a community, are deprived of the array of skills, training and education that remains locked behind the barrier of language.
The ability to speak English is necessary but the ESL classes alone are not sufficient. African immigrants must also develop computer skills in order to fully pursue and participate in the “American Dream”. Most jobs in America require you to have a basic facility with the computer. Without this facility you are again relegated to doing low paying shift work.
These skills are important for the adults but also are needed by the children if they are to succeed. Both young children who are cared for as their parents learn, and older children who can come on their own, will get assistance in English, Math and Computer skills. This program accelerates their adjustment into American schools and improves their acceptance by their peers.
We also present workshops on reconciliation, conflict resolution and the practical skills needed for leading a successful life in America. These include buying a car, purchasing insurance and renting an apartment- just to name a few. Living in a new country and becoming a part of its culture means that you must learn new ways. We support immigrants in this process and accelerate their acculturation.
All of these supports are critical to the process by which African immigrants can RISE above their difficult histories, RISE above the complexities and confusion of their resettlement, RISE above their dependency on the generosity of the host community and most importantly RISE above the hopelessness, helplessness, and isolation they feel. We believe participation in these activities results in more than opportunity and independence; it restores long lost feelings of hope, self-respect, personal dignity and the belief in one’s own ability to be successful in new surroundings.