James Madison University

Dreams Can Come True 

PHOTO: AfricaAcross the ocean in West Africa is a small country called Benin. In Benin there is a village called Zoungbomey, which means “in the big forest.”

The people who live in Zoungbomey had a dream. They dreamed that one day they would be able to buy a machine to help them make palm oil. This would help the village buy healthy food to eat, help them send their children to the school, and help them see a doctor when they are sick. But saving enough money to buy the palm oil machine was going to take a long time. The village needed some help to make its dream come true.

PHOTO: African womenDr. Brad Striebig, Associate Professor of Engineering at JMU, and his co-author, Dr. Susan Norwood have just released a new book, “In The Big Forest”, a book about how to fight poverty in Africa. This book tells the story of how people from James Madison University, Gonzaga University, Centre Afrika Obota and the Songhai Center worked together to help the people in Zoungbomey realize their dream. The book is written with young readers in mind (2nd to 8th grade) and it tells the story of partners working to promote sustainable development in Zoungbomey, Benin.

The book also contains a series of reflective questions. The questions are designed to:

  • help children explore how their dreams can come true,
  • help children learn about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and
  • help children learn about how to develop the skills in science, technology, and engineering  to help people in need.

One hundred percent of any profits from the sale of “In The Big Forest” will go directly to support the goals of the WATER foundation, including continuing work in sustainable development in Africa and working with Dr. Striebig’s special friends in Zoungbomey. You can visit the website for “In The Big Forest” at www.inthebigforest.org, and see how you can play a role and help to build the capacity in Africa to end poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

View website and podcast by professional photographer, Martin Bailey.

WATER:  Water in Africa: Technology, Education & Reciprocity is a partnership between James Madison University, Gonzaga University and the Songhai Center.  Students interested WATER, an international study abroad program in Benin should contact Dr. Brad Striebig