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Cathy Duffy Review ~ Africa a Land of Hope : A word from readers

Cathy DuffyAfrica: A Land of Hope is a unique study of Africa that can be used with all ages. To create this resource, Donna Ward and her publishing company, Northwoods Press, have teamed up with Compassion, the international organization most well known for its sponsorship program to aid poor children in developing countries.

The study should take about 6-8weeks. Course components are a beautiful 60-page book printed in full-color and a companion DVD.

The book has six chapters, one on the continent of Africa, then the other five on North, West, East, Central, and Southern Africa. At the end are reproducible map and activity pages (for a single class group or family). The book covers some history, geography, and culture, but it is not a comprehensive study of those topics. Instead, it is a much more personal presentation, focusing on the lives of specific people and people groups, such as the Tuareg, Pygmy, and Maasai. The author also presents problems such as lack of safe drinking water, AIDS, and poverty. The Compassion connection is evident throughout with mention of Compassion activities and concerns plus the inclusion of Compassion contact information at the end of the book. (You can even get a free copy of this curriculum by signing up as a sponsor.)

The book includes lists of recommended resources for further study, including internet links to a number of interactive websites, books, African folktales, and films. The author maintains her own website (www.donnaward.net) with the best links, each identified by the page in the book to which it relates.

Lessons include some activity suggestions such as map work, atlas research, discussion topics, instructions for using the activity pages at the end of the book, and an African game to play. Students should each create a notebook for their study of Africa.

The DVD has 10 primary segments, each about 5 minutes in length. These focus on specialized topics such as projects to provide safe water and a Compassion project in Uganda to provide for children orphaned by AIDS. They are beautifully filmed and, even though they might have specialty themes, they really provide a realistic picture of life in Africa.

The entire study is designed to both inform and “move to action.” Clearly, Compassion supports this project as a means of gathering more sponsors and contributors as well as to awake hearts and minds to the needs evidenced here.

Author Donna Ward wants to challenge students (and their parents) to think critically about the situation in Africa and possible solutions. She promotes solutions for sustainable development that can be run by indigenous citizens rather than outsiders.

In addition, the study is written from a Christian perspective with numerous references to Scripture and Christian teaching. It challenges us to consider the comparative wealth we enjoy, to become less driven by consumerism, and to become more involved as part of the solution.

I expect that Africa: Land of Hope will work well for many homeschoolers both because it’s simple to use and it’s a short enough study to easily fit into the curriculum while leaving time for broader study of world history and cultures.

 See it on Cathy Duffy's site.