What a thrill to see my profile on The Huffington Post Post 50 section last weekend, which allowed me to share with whomever will read about my two decade-long work to create culture of peace-building. It was very fitting of the site to publish my profile on Easter weekend, for during the past two decades I have seen incredible miracles and heart wrenching tragedy, but learned that love and forgiveness are always the first step to peace-building anywhere and anytime.
The week before Easter, I was in Los Angles for day, where I lived for most of my life before we moved to the Coachella Valley several years ago to look after my mother-in-law. She is now over 100 years old and also an inspiration to all who are around her. Last week at a party on the Culver Studios Lot for a bunch of techies and young Hollywoods, which is what my studio focuses on, I met some guests closer to my age. Actually, hip hop artists of some renown. When they discovered that many years ago, 1979 to be exact, I created and owned a family entertainment center called World on Wheels, a roller skating rink in the South Central Part of Los Angeles -- it stopped everything, people held their breaths, and after that moment our relationship changed. I became part of their community through their memories of a place that allowed them to have a community out of the chaos.
Violence is on the streets, sometimes for so many generations that folks just don't really hear about it any more. Where are the interrupters that promised to stop gang violence while it was happening? Why is violence up when law enforcement has so much power and backing of the judicial system as well as local politicians? See how they cringe when the NRA calls? Where are the voices of reason and forgiveness? How can the majority of people want to stop violence and deaths by violence, yet our leaders can't figure out that stopping violence is the first step to eliminating poverty? Changing how we educate our youths is a good start to eliminate poverty, by building character, injecting civility back into our lives and teaching how to speak before acting, as the Peacemaker Corps motto says, use "words before violence." That goes for everyone, especially those who make themselves our leaders.
Four years ago, I was being considered for the position of Deputy Administrator at USAID, the then Representative Diane E. Watson called me to testify before her oversite sub-committee, part of the House Ways and Means committee about issues under the Bush Administration and operations at USAID. I looked back on that testimony and what has transpired during the past four years, and want to share with my view in 2004 as a world nation towards Peace-building.
Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement.
"United States for International Development (USAID): Management Challenges and Strategic Objectives." April 28, 2009</strong>
I, Carole Sumner Krechman, respectfully accept the honor to share my ideas as written testimony before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement. My testimony will deal with issues of the "United States for Agency International Development (USAID): Management Challenges and Strategic Objectives; I want to thank the sub-committee Chairperson Diane E. Watson for inviting me to submit my written testimony before this committee. She and I have had a long and positive relationship. Ms. Watson has helped me with California humanitarian projects, such as the United Nations NGO that I founded over a decade ago; the Peacemaker Corps Association's program which trains youths at risk in the urban areas of Los Angeles and nationwide. I was a member of the team in 1982 that implemented a pioneering effort of voter registration in her State Senatorial District, adding thousands of new voters in just one day at an event titled Skatefest '82 and then again 15 years ago when Chairperson Watson selected me to Chair an ad hoc committee to investigate the Digital Divide in her California 33rd Congressional district, learning important facts that have impacted her decisions regarding technology in underserved areas of our urban environment. Without her support these successful projects might never have gone forward.
I accept this honor, which I take very seriously, since this is the first time I have been asked to officially submit my vision to a Congressional Committee. This testimony that I am submitting explores USAID issues that I have been reviewing for many years; through my two decades of volunteer work at the United Nations and as a participant for the past four years on the sub-committee dealing with worldwide conflict resolution and peacemaking organized by the USAID Faith Based and Community desk. I am going to communicate suggestions for an active legislative agenda for this subcommittee of the 111th Congress and beyond.
A recently released IMF report estimates the loss to the world economy from the current financial crisis to be approximately $4 trillion. As you can imagine, the legislative challenges and commitments made by this committee in the following congressional term are becoming increasingly more important for re-capitalizing the world's economy. To global third world countries, USAID is becoming more than just a lifeline. It is now the foundation of growth and, in some places, the last hope.
My goal is to expand all opportunities by creating coalitions of public/private and not-for profit organizations into working partnerships with the USAID so we can start the process of moving away from the top down approach and stop giving funds to organizations that are not creating results. I would instigate an audit of all existing funded programs as a first step in starting the change process. We need to develop a consistent meritorious system to assess needs and extend the system to test the use of funds donated that is fair judicially and promotes human rights across the world. While each existing program is being vetted, I would begin the transition to a grass roots approach. USAID has a very extensive infrastructure in place that can be focused and utilized quickly."
I will share more from my testimony in my next blog.
We need to rebuild our communities starting with those closest to you: family and friends. Then, we need to look beyond that world and help expand connections, with a view towards sharing and giving. I don't think we need to look backward to a better time, but take a view forward. It's time to speak with those closest to you.
Carole Sumner Krechman Founder/President
Peacemaker Corps Association
NGO ECOSOC Status UN