Asheville wins big grant through Sister Cities International

Here’s the press release from Sister Cities International:

North Carolinian’s combine business and social consciousness on a global scale through Sister Cities International

Raleigh and Asheville, NC win $100,000 grant through Sister Cities International’s Sino-African Initiative

Through the grassroot collaborative efforts of James Montague of F7 International Development of Raleigh and Valeria Watson-Doost of Zamani Refuge African Culture Center Asheville, cultural understanding and business go hand in hand through Sister Cities International’s Sino-African Initiative (SAI). The Initiative is a two-year program funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of 1.5 million. The North Carolina/Osogbo/Xiangyang portion will be $100,000. SAI is designed to address the manner in which Chinese, African, and U.S. cities can collaborate on economic development and urban poverty issues in Africa. By working with Chinese, African, and U.S. public diplomacy networks, local municipal governments, and businesses, this initiative seeks to create strategies that ensure development and poverty alleviation projects address community needs, safeguard human rights and safety, and promote transparent business practices and government accountability. The two year Initiative is based on a need specified by Asheville’s Sister City in Osogbo, Nigeria, an upgrade of medical facilities. It is a pilot program with the first year consisting of research and design. The Raleigh and Asheville Sisters are to bring city assets together in support of the program. Raleigh’s Chinese Sister City, Xiangyang is to be present at the table in the design and sustainability aspects. James Montague, Chair of the Xiangyang, China Sister City and Valeria Watson-Doost is Chair of the Osogbo, Nigeria Group. Raleigh also has a Sister City in Nairobi, Kenya where a training workshop will be held in February.

SAI builds upon a previous grant through SCI, the African Urban Poverty Alleviation Program for which Mrs. Watson-Doost was the Project Manager US, successfully building 29 hand-pump wells in the city of Osogbo. AUPAP is successfully completing its third year of programming, bringing together participation and support from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, municipal governments and traditional leaders in Africa to implement projects and provide sustained technical assistance. The grant specifically includes a business aspect which is expected to benefit the African, American and Chinese partners.

Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy. Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the center spoke in the wheel of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. By becoming friends, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences, instead of deriding them, fostering suspicion and sowing new seeds for war. To find out how you can become a citizen diplomat contact Sister Cities International HYPERLINK “”


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