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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 17:34 EDT

Students Invest in Honey Micro-Enterprises to Help Empower Refugee Women in Houston

December 5, 2013

Hashoo Foundation USA’s Culture Shock Charity Show raised needed funds to establish the Plan Bee Houston pilot project.

Houston, Texas (PRWEB) December 05, 2013

Hashoo Foundation USA (HF USA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to enabling and empowering communities to be independent by facilitating equitable access to opportunities. The Foundation is working with students in Houston to raise funds for this goal through the Culture Shock Charity Show for Plan Bee. The objective is to invest these funds to replicate the foundation’s Women Empowerment through Honey Bee Farming program in Pakistan in the Houston area to enable refugee women in increase their financial independence, learn financial management skills, and generate income for their families through participation in a honey producing micro-enterprise.

The Culture Shock Charity Show for Plan Bee held two successful performances at Talento Bilingue de Houston. This initiative was a collaborative effort with Klein Forest High School Pakistani-Indian Students Association (PISA), Lee High School Interact Club, Xavier Educational Academy Interact Club, Clements High School and Sharpstown International School Senior Capstone Program, the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, Talento Bilingue de Houston, the Mayor's Office of Education Initiatives & the Mayor’s Volunteer Initiatives Program, Houston Office of Protocol and International Affairs, St. Thomas University Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), Rotary Galleria, and Rotaract Galleria.

Over seventy students from Klein Forest High School PISA, Lee High School Interact Club & ROTC, Xavier Educational Academy Interact Club, Clements High School Interact Club and Sharpstown International School Senior Capstone International, volunteers and organizations worked together under the direction of producer, Alex Hernandez, and theater technician Hugo Valiño, of Talento Bilingue de Houston to put on a truly international Show. The participants represented twenty-two countries with diverse cultural backgrounds and faiths, including Albania, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, Taiwan, Venezuela and United States. This initiative was an element of Houston's Citizenship Month 2013 celebrations. It demonstrated an example of perseverance and commitment to philanthropy in action.

The funds raised by the students through the Culture Shock Charity Show for Plan Bee will be used to empower five (5) refugee women in Houston through Plan Bee Honey Business Group. During the pilot phase, this project will aim to empower refugee women from Bhutan and Burma, who were resettled in Houston by the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services in the past five years. The five (5) women will be allocated four (4) beehives each and the necessary basic equipment including, bee-suits, beekeeping gloves, bee smokers, hive tools, bee brushes, uncapping knives, wax pans and extractors to share among the women in the Plan Bee Honey Business Group.

The Chapelwood Foundation has extended their support to Plan Bee Honey Business Group in Houston to empower refugee women their families as they have done in Pakistan since 2010. Chapelwood Foundation has funded four Honey Business Groups in Pakistan and has made a remarkable difference in 85 women and 27 men and their dependents in Pakistan

According to Dr. Norman LaFave, PISA advisor, "The Show provides students with opportunities for philanthropy that are not available as part of the standard school curriculum. It is my hope that, through this effort, we are creating the next generation of philanthropists and community volunteers to make the world a better place."

In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Hashoo Foundation USA and the Alliance for Multicultural Services, the Alliance will be responsible for administering this project and providing the refugee women with training in honey bee farming. Additionally, the Alliance will coordinate the technical assistance with Fort Bend County/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services, as well as local beekeepers. The Alliance Project Coordinator will ensure the quality of the beehives and honey production, and that best practices are being followed. The Fort Bend county agents will also supply the equipment that tests the moisture of the honey to ensure that all honey produced is of a high quality.

"It is projected that each woman will be able to increase her household income by $2,880 – $3,200 per year. Honey yield fluctuates from one year to another and varies between colonies. The average production of honey per beehive is approximately 40 pounds. Each beehive is expected to produce 40 pounds x 4 beehives = 160 pounds of honey per crop (harvest). Southeast Texas has a long "honey run" season, so honey production yields are relatively higher in this area. With favorable weather conditions, it is projected that two crops per year will yield a harvest of 320 pounds of honey. If sold to the market for $9 to $10 per pound, the financial support goals should be met," explained Cristal Montañéz, Hashoo Foundation USA Houston-based Executive Director.

Under this project, the Alliance will recruit women who have experienced barriers to long-term employment in the U.S. The challenges that many newly-arrived refugee women face in the job market may include limited English proficiency, child care needs, and a lack of formal education. Developing honey micro-enterprises will help these refugee women gain more economic independence and financial management skills. On November 2, the students participating in the Culture Shock Charity Show for Plan Bee visited the farm where the Plan Bee Honey Business Group micro-enterprises for the refugee women will be established. These students will have the opportunity to volunteer and participate in the project at various stages.

Plan Bee was initially implemented by the Hashoo Foundation in Gilgit-Baltistan in Northern Pakistan to empower women through honey bee farming. "For the last three years, PISA has partnered with the Hashoo Foundation to help the Plan Bee beekeepers of Northern Pakistan. To date, my students have helped 21 beekeepers rebuild their honey enterprise by donating 79 beehives. Their contribution has indirectly impacted 157 dependents and provided access to education for 69 children. We are excited our students are contributing to establish the Plan Bee Honey Business Group in Houston to empower local refugee women to earn a secondary income," explained Dr. Norman LaFave, PISA advisor.

Culture Shock Charity Show for Plan Bee Highlights – The Klein Forest High School PISA team presented performances that ranged from singing original songs by singer/songwriter Sade Page, to an international mash-up including Pakistani, Indian, U.S. and Mexican music and dances; The Lee High School Interact Club & ROTC coordinated the Color Guard and Flags Parade, the Nepali dancers, and the band; The Sharpstown International School Senior Capstone International recruited the Mexican guitarists; Xavier Educational Academy Interact Club presented an Italian dance and singing with guitar performance; Clements High School Interact Club presented Japanese dancers which included students from Mexico, USA, Taiwan and India; Ian Hox from Rotaract Galleria coordinated the traditional performers from Albania and Kosovo; The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services facilitated folk dances by Bhutanese refugees; and Gunes Sofuoğlu represented Community College International Program (CCIP) volunteers and delighted the audience with a Turkish dance.

Chipotle Burritos provided the delicious and hefty burritos and drinks for the Culture Shock Charity Show team; and Frost Bank supplied goodie bags to the participating students.

About the Participating Organizations

Hashoo Foundation USA

Our mission is to enable and empower communities to be independent by facilitating equitable access to opportunities.

Alliance for Multicultural Community Services (AMCS)

AMCS is a non-profit organization dedicated to help refugees, immigrants, and low-income residents of Harris County become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.

Chapelwood Foundation

The Chapelwood Foundation exists to provide perpetual funding for significant projects and programs consistent with the priorities of the church.

Talento Bilingue of Houston

The mission of Talento Bilingüe de Houston's focus is to create Houston's multicultural arts experience through collaboration, education and preservation.

Community College Initiative Program (CCIP)

Established in 2006, the program provides international students with the opportunity to build technical skills, enhance leadership capabilities, and strengthen English language proficiency while attending U.S. community colleges.

Rotaract Gallery

Galleria Rotaract efforts begin at the local, grassroots level, with members addressing their communities’ physical and social needs while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.

St. Thomas University Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP)

The mission of the Center for International Studies is to provide a global understanding and respect for the cultural, political, economic and social conditions of the world.

Mayor's Office of Education Initiatives & the Mayor’s Volunteer Initiatives Program

There are many resources in your community to help students graduate high school, receive workforce training or a college degree, and find jobs with opportunity. The Education Initiatives office is a division of the Department of Neighborhoods.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11391156.htm


Source: prweb