Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guyana's Ministry of Education dispatches Olato Sam to Lesley University to develop professional programming degrees

On November 29th Guyana's Ministry of Education dispatched Olato Sam, Technical Adviser to Minister Baksh to Cambridge, MA to meet with staff at Lesley University and MCF staff to discuss advanced training for Guyana's school Welfare Officers and Guidance Counselors. The trip was funded by MCF and viewed as a critical step forward in further professionalizing staff in Guyana who work in schools with children and families in crisis. Lauren Stevenson was present on behalf of MCF throughout these discussions to participate and to document the progress as the programming was discussed.

Margaret Clemons (MCF), Olato Sam (Guyana's Ministry of Education) & Gene Diaz (Lesley University Associate Provost) pose for a picture!

Dr. David Morimoto, Olato Sam, Dr. Michael Schindlinger and grad student meet and pose for this picture at the Lesley Campus.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


THE MARGARET CLEMONS FOUNDATION (MCF) is delighted to announce our partnership with HELP & SHELTER, Guyana.

Help & Shelter ( is Guyana’s most prestigious NGO whose efforts on behalf of women & children have reached into all 10 administrative Regions of that country. Help & Shelter provides a safe haven for women and children escaping violence at home. This wonderful organization operates on the highest level of internationally accepted standards for sheltering victims of violence, fostering awareness, providing community outreach and counseling and conducting research to name some but not all of the important work that is undertaken on a daily basis by this vital organization. MCF is thrilled to join Help & Shelter to end violence against women and children in all of its forms. MCF will support training programs for Help & Shelter’s social service providers and counselors, which may include Certificate Training Programs and Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in counseling and expressive therapies which will help to further professionalize social services in Guyana. This training will initially be targeted at counselors and social service providers working with women & children and would include expressive art therapy approaches in which counselors engage clients in the healing process through the therapeutic use of the arts. Lesley University staff in a “train the trainer” model written to be culturally specific to Guyana will deliver programming and training.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Minister Priya Manickchand visits Lesley University

MCF’s vision to create advanced training programs for social service providers in Guyana’s Ministry of Human Services and Social Security culminated with a visit to Lesley University, Cambridge, MA by Minister Manickchand. This MCF sponsored working visit was designed to introduce the Minister to Lesley staff who will provide training to the Ministry’s social service providers and to show Minister Manickchand how arts integration in counselor training can work to enhance the delivery of services and particularly to women and children. The Minister observed a Master’s level course in expressive art therapy designed to address power, privilege and culture in counseling and over the course of several days met with Lesley University and

MCF staff to explore possible options for the design of the counselor training program. Minister Manickchand also described Guyana’s social services and articulated the interests of her government that all training be culturally relevant and have a train the trainer component so that capacity is built within Guyana to deliver and sustain training in the future. The Minister met with Lesley University president Joseph Moore who reconfirmed the University’s commitment to partner with the Guyana Government. Meetings were also held with Lesley provost Martha McKenna, Associate Provost Gene Diaz, Division Director of Expressive Therapies Mitchell Kossak, dean of undergraduate studies Mary Coleman and professor of education Marjorie Jones who is Guyanese born and who was formerly employed as vice chancellor and dean of the education faculty at the University of Guyana. Staff of the Margaret Clemons Foundation, who introduced leaders in the government of Guyana to leaders at Lesley University, reiterated that it would continue support of this emerging partnership and other activities that could help to end violence against women and children in Guyana through the arts.

In this photograph Minister Manickchand chats with Lesley University president Joseph Moore.

Minister Manickchand and Director of International and Collaborative Programs, Vivian Marcow-Speiser discuss Guyana’s social services with staff of Lesley University and MCF

Dr. Marcow-Speiser described how she helped to develop a similar counselor-training program in Israel, which now has a 30-year track record of success. That program was also designed as a train the trainer model.

Minister Manickchand talks with Lisa Donovan, Director of Lesley University’s Creative Arts and Learning Division and MCF president Margaret Clemons.

Minister Manickchand also met with Lesley biologists, David Morimoto and Michael Schindlinger who both serve on the Board of Directors of Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, which provided the seed money and technical training to build the Mapaima Eco lodge at Nappi Village (Rupununi). Nappi Village has been recognized as one of Guyana’s premier places to encounter wildlife and the eco lodge now plays a pivotal role in supporting the village’s ability to create non-extractive income streams from tourism. Morimoto and Schindlinger lead Lesley students to Guyana every year in a course entitled ‘Field Experiences in Tropical Ecology’ as a way of increasing students’ global awareness of issues in biodiversity, development and human ecology across cultures.

The Minister was truly moved to hear the stories and witness the enthusiasm of these scientists and jungle adventurers/artists as they described their travels to the Rupununi. How could she not

be moved after hearing David Morimoto confess to her that he cried when he saw the Harpy Eagle in its natural habitat deep in the interior jungle of Guyana?

David Morimoto and Michael Schindlinger and students, who traveled to Guyana to study that country’s biodiversity, pose with Minister Manickchand.

Casey Grenier showed Minister Manickchand the photographs taken on her trip to the interior jungle in Guyana.

Casey Grenier, one of the students who participated in this program earlier in the year subsequently created a blog and posted the photographs that she took of the jungle wildlife in their natural habitat and the indigenous folk who hosted and guided them in and around Guyana’s pristine, wild and sensational jungle ( You will be amazed at the photographs taken by this talented amateur photographer and Lesley student.

Minister Manickchand invited as keynote panelist at Harvard University’s conference “Closing the gender gap: the business case for organizations, politics and society”

Staff at MCF contacted Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Women & Public Policy Director Iris Bohnet to inform her of Minister Manickchand’s visit to Cambridge and to invite her to meet with the Minister to discuss the Minister’s many accomplishments and

initiatives underway in Guyana in defense of women and children. This resulted in an invitation for the Minister to participate as a keynote panelist with Prime Minister Kim Campbell of Canada at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s conference “Closing the Gender Gap”. Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders Laura Liswood moderated the panel discussion. The Council co-sponsored the conference with Women & Public Policy at the Kennedy School. Minister Manickchand who is a lively, talented and thoughtful speaker brought new perspective to the discussion at the conference and was very well received by all who participated and by the media. Live blog coverage was handled by MSNBC.

Laura Liswood and Prime Minister Kim Campbell look on as Minister Manickchand speaks on the issue of quotas to the audience, which included professors, students, presidents and directors of organizations and banks, and business owners and CEOs.

Minister Priya Manickchand addressed this packed audience at the Kennedy School of Government while Prime Minister Kim Campbell listened in. Minister Manickchand posited that political power matters in closing the gender gap across the world and expressed the view that political power derived from political office has tremendous benefits one of which is to allow for the culture of a country to be shaped and changed by public policy derived from political office.

A private moment shared between PM Kim Campbell and Minister Priya Manickchand at the start of the panel discussion.

Minister Manickchand in an after conference interview by MSNBC live blogger.

Minister Priya Manickchand & South African artist and activist Hugh Masakela honored at Lesley University’s “Arts & Activism” conference.

During a two-day Arts and Activism conference on October 14th and 15th at Lesley University, Minister Priya Manickchand and world renowned jazz Musician and civil rights activist Hugh Masakela, were honored by Lesley University for their demonstrated commitment and leadership to advancing gender and racial equality around the world.

Minister Priya Manickchand posed with world-renowned jazz Musician and civil rights activist Hugh Masakela at a dinner held in Cambridge to honor them both.

MCF’s president Margaret Clemons introduced Minister Manickchand the morning of the keynote address. Minister Manickchand delivered the keynote speech for the conference “Arts & Activism” and spoke of her early years working as an attorney for Guyana’s Legal Aid Society, an organization that she has since expanded to 7 regions in Guyana. Her compelling speech touched the audience who in later workshops referred to her accomplishments as “PRIYA’S RADICAL LOVE AND LEGISLATION”.

Minister Manickchand told of her early years at the Legal Aid Society in Guyana.

She told professors, students, and professional counselors about the destructive effects of gender based violence, its causes and possible solutions. The Minister was adamant that an intensified global effort has to be made for gender equality using innovative means if the world is going to be all it is capable of being.

Minister Manickchand reflected on her accomplishments and on the many gender-based challenges that confront her ministry and all of our societies. The Minister also took questions from this highly engaged audience.

The Minister’s MCF sponsored visit to Cambridge held a duel purpose. The first was to honor the Minister for her leadership and for her many accomplishments in defense of women and children in Guyana. Minister Manickchand is a recognized champion and activist who has utilized her position at the helm of the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security to work towards eliminating violence against women & children, bring societal change with regard to gender inequality and move toward gender parity utilizing every holistic means available. She has become a highly visible advocate for change in the Caribbean region. Our second purpose was to work with the Minister to create the best possible program training to take to her staff in Guyana and to show her how integrated arts in counselor training can be used to better serve the women and children that her staff work with on a daily basis. Her trip to Cambridge was highly

successful in moving our programming forward and served to better inform us so that programming could be Guyana specific and relevant. We are now moving towards training a first cohort of 20 counselors from the Ministry and Help & Shelter beginning in June of 2011 as well as rolling out our Community Arts program.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

THE MARGARET CLEMONS FOUNDATION (MCF) is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Lesley University

THE MARGARET CLEMONS FOUNDATION (MCF) is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Lesley University to support the government of Guyana in addressing the issue of violence against women and children in Guyana by integrating the arts into teacher preparation, counselor training, and community outreach programs. Lesley University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts is among the largest providers of teacher education in the U.S., offering among others, innovative interdisciplinary programs in counseling, psychology, and expressive therapies—a field initiated at Lesley. For over 100 years Lesley has prepared its graduates for service and leadership in the fields of education, human services, and the arts. Today Lesley offers programs across the United States ( and abroad. With support from MCF, the government of Guyana and other NGOs Lesley faculty will contribute practical and academic expertise and leadership to areas of need in Guyana and collaborate with MCF to develop sustainable, scalable, replicable models of programming for social change worldwide.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Interview with an artist from the UNICEF sponsored art project at the Seawall in Georgetown

In 2008 UNICEF sponsored an art project at the Seawall in Georgetown to celebrate Carifesta (Caribbean Festival of the Arts), considered the most important celebration of the Caribbean communities. Margaret Clemons was lucky enough to meet with and interview a young artist, Kimberly Morgan, who participated in the project.

"I heard from a friend about an art project at the Seawall in preparation for Carifesta and decided to participate. It was a UNICEF project for children artists whose theme was ‘One people, one nation, one destiny,’ which is our national motto. I had to do a draft of my artwork beforehand and it had to be in keeping with the general theme and it had to be good and it also had to work on the wall. They were pretty strict about the subject matter and the quality of the artwork. It was fun but also interesting. I was working on the wall for hours standing next to other artists who were complete strangers also engrossed in their own artwork. The artwork on the wall including mine is still there and people still comment about it. I have a sense of pride for having made that contribution to Guyana through my artwork. It's a piece of me on that wall for as long as it lasts". -Kimberly Morgan

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guyana Trip

On August 2nd Margaret Clemons traveled to Georgetown, Guyana to meet with stakeholders at the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security and Help & Shelter to discuss the programming scheduled to commence in 2011 and which will include Guyana specific training, including a “train the trainer” model, for school counselors, social workers and social service providers/staff. The training will be designed and delivered by Lesley University core faculty. Our week began with a meeting at Help & Shelter with Director Margaret Kertzious.


Ms. Kertzious invited us to a confidential tour of their shelter housing women and children and to speak with staff there. At the shelter we were given a tour by senior staff and had a chance to ask questions of staff and volunteers. The shelter itself is a warm, clean and safe environment where women and their children can find their footing and move forward in a way that is sustainable. We are delighted to provide support to this organization of dedicated professionals whose efforts on behalf of women and children have been well documented.

Help & Shelter called a press conference and invited Guyana’s four main news outlets (Stabroek News, Kaieteur News, Guyana Chronicle, and the Guyana Times) to meet with and hear from Margaret Clemons and Lauren Stevenson and also to meet with the Peaceable Schools attendee from Help & Shelter, Tessa Greene. The press conference provided us a platform from which we outlined our mission and discussed the success of the Peaceable Schools & Communities Institute and the talented Guyanese participants’ contribution to the program in Cambridge. We found that the press was very interested in the fact that the programs for social service providers and educators would be structured as “train the trainer” programs. They also were interested in our ultimate objective of creating a template for changing violent behavior. Check out the links to read the articles.

At the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security we met with the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Trevor Thomas to discuss MCFs partnership with the ministry and plans for developing programming that would be of the highest relevance and impact for Guyana. This meeting also provided the opportunity to give thanks for the wonderful and talented staff that the ministry sent to the Peaceable Schools & Communities Institute. Mr. Thomas enthusiastically supports the certificate program we will offer to his staff of social service providers. [L1] Lesley & MCF presented Mr. Thomas with two books authored by Ms. Stevenson which she signed for him.

Priya Manickchand’s personal assistant Kamita Johnson interrupted her vacation to meet with us at the Ministry’s office. Ms. Johnson was the “go to” person during the preparations for the Peaceable Schools & Communities Institute and was instrumental in overcoming many of the challenges in bringing the Ministry staff to Cambridge. The Ministry graciously provided us with office space during our stay in Georgetown and made arrangements for us to meet the Ministry’s staff in Region 3 (about an hour outside of Georgetown) and the Local Board of Guardians on the island of Wakenaam on the Essequibo River. Ms. Johnson also made arrangements for us to appear on the television network NTN’s Morning Show.

The following day began early with our appearance on the popular television morning show, NTN NETWORK’s THE MORNING SHOW WITH REYAZ HUSEIN. Here we had an opportunity to introduce our mission, discuss the success of the Peaceable Schools & Communities Institute and outline future programming. Mr. Husein gave us a robust, on-air endorsement and invited us to return to his show for a more in-depth discussion.

Yogeeta Rampersaud from the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security escorted us to Region 3 outside of Georgetown to meet Ministry staff there. Ms. Rampersaud, who attended the Peaceable Schools & Communities Institute in Cambridge, said that she has already begun to work with her children’s group and four adult volunteers in the techniques that she learned in Cambridge.

At the Region 3 Ministry office we were warmly welcomed by all of the staff there that showed us their facility and asked us about future programming. We were invited to spend a day with them to see them attending to the public to help us in developing future training programs. Our next trip to Guyana will include spending a day in the Region 3 office.

After leaving the Region 3 Ministry’s office we proceeded to the Parika Ferry Stelling to take a boat to Wakenaam on the Essequibo River. The Ministry had arranged for us to meet at the Magistrate Court with the Local Board of Guardians (community elders from this island of about 12,000 residents) to discuss the issue of violence against women and children and to hear how they perceive this issue. This white clapboard building houses the Magistrate Court in the lower level and a guest house on the second floor. We also discussed with the group possibilities for bringing community arts programming to their and other communities in Guyana to address issues of gender-based violence. The discussion was spirited and we found the group to be knowledgeable and engaged. They listened carefully, told stories, voiced opinions about the issue of violence and embraced the idea of using the arts to change behavior. The meeting was a delight. At the close of the meeting all of the participants signed up to work with MCF to bring arts-based social change programming to their community.

We continued at the Ministry of Education where we met with Evelyn Hamilton the Chief Planning Officer for the Ministry of Education and then Olato Sam (technical advisor to Minister Baksh) to discuss programming for the Ministry’s guidance counselors and school welfare officers. These discussions have advanced with Lesley University’s participation and are ongoing. The Ministry of Education made arrangements for us to meet with staff at the Queens College Compound where the Ministry of Education’s “Allied Arts” Unit is located. There we met with the Allied Arts Administrator Desiree Wyles-Ogle and her deputy Lorraine Borkum to discuss programming and collaboration.

The week ended with a long and fruitful meeting between Minister Priya Manickchand and Margaret Clemons. Clemons and Manickchand discussed a range of programming and how these efforts will inform the practice of human services and prepare highly qualified, reflective, and proactive professionals to address one of the country’s most pressing social needs. They also discussed the value of structuring programming in a train-the-trainer model to build the capacity of human service professionals to train others in the methodology and to extend and grow the roots of peace.