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ROLAND ALEXANDER FOULKES
Born, raised and educated in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida
Post Office Box 101492, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33310-1492 ,
United States of America, RolandAFoulkes@gmail.com
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Ghana, West Africa, 1982-1984
“Primary Health Education and Training for Indigenous Healers --- PRHETIH ---
I arrived in Ghana in 1982 as a well-educated and well-travelled Cornell University-trained Medical Anthropologist.
Prior to that arrival in Ghana, I had completed studies of the health and medical system of the United States of America through such vehicles as Chair of the Board on Student Health (BOSH) of Cornell University's Health Services, Representative to the Ithaca, New York Tompkins County Health Alliance, Research Scholar in the Houston, Texas Baylor College of Medicine under the tutelage of, and in an undergraduate surgery program created by, pioneering and famed heart surgeon Dr. Michael E. Debakey, and as a Political Appointee in the Office of Health Legislation, United States Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.
Globally, by the time I stepped foot onto the tarmac in Accra, Ghana’s international airport (March 1982), with three tanks welcoming my Pan American Airlines flight (Ghana was just months into the second Coup d ’Etat led by then-Flight Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings and its People’s Revolution), I had completed studies of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) health and medical system --- in the PRC --- through the University of Michigan, and Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) through Emory University (and the Social Science Research Unit of the University of London, the Guys and Charring Cross Hospitals and Thamesmead Clinic), and the United Nation's World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
It was in Geneva, at WHO, where I met one of two of my supervisors. One was Dr. Robert H.O. Bannerman, Africa's first trained Obstetrician-Gynecologist. He was the head of the WHO's Traditional Medicine Program. And, he was from Ghana! I was a member of a pioneering program that documented EVERY healing and medical system across Planet Earth. The Purpose: To help the world health community marshal every resource so as to help achieve the goal of "Health for All by the Year 2000 ( HFA-2000)." This is the goal that world health leaders and their respective nations had committed to in 1977 at an historic conference in Alma Ata, former U.S.S.R. The key vehicle for achieving HFA2000 was Primary Health Care (PHC). PHC is defined as “Essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound & socially acceptable methods & technologies made universally accessible to individuals & families in their community through their full participation & at a cost that the community & country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in spirit of self determination.” The elements of PHC are: (1) Education concerning prevailing health problems & methods of preventing & controlling them; (2) Promotion of food supply & proper nutrition; (3) Adequate safe water supply & basic sanitation; (4) Maternal & Child Health including Family Planning; (5) Immunization; (6) Prevention & control of locally endemic diseases; (7) Appropriate treatment of common ailments; and, (8) Provision of essential drugs / medications.
Throughout much of the world, then, as today, local, indigenous, traditional, culturally aware, culturally knowledgeable, culturally proficient, and culturally respectful healers provide the bulk of health services to their people: Not western oriented allopathic bio-medicine, its facilities and practitioners! From this WHO project emerged the book, TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AND HEALTH CARE COVERAGE: A READER FOR HEALTH ADMINISTRATORS AND PRACTITIONERS (WHO, 1983).
As I mentioned, Dr. Bannerman was from Ghana and it was he who suggested that I apply to the Peace Corps and, in that application, request assignment to a project for which he was a consultant: Namely, the “Primary Health Education and Training for Indigenous Healers --- PRHETIH --- Project” based at the Holy Family Catholic Hospital in Techiman, Brong-Ahafo, Ghana. A major market community, Techiman is a village of roughly 20,000 people. On Fridays, that population swelled to near 90,000 with traders from throughout West Africa (including the nations of Ivory Coast, Bourkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Togo, Benin, Nigeria). This project grew out of the doctoral dissertation work of a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and Stanford University-trained Medical Anthropologist, Dr. Michael Warren. Simply, as the third consecutive volunteer assigned to this project, I coordinated hospital-based doctors, nurses and other public health workers as well as regional health care workers, conducted train-the-trainer workshops for them and prepared them to go into remote villages to identify and train --- over twelve weeks --- local, indigenous, traditional healers, herbalists and priest/priestess healers in the basics of primary health care. This was a pilot initiative that was to be extended throughout Ghana, West Africa and other parts of Africa. It was during my years with the PREHETIH Project, when I, and my Ghanaian counterpart, Mr. James Donkor, had the privilege to screen the Warren-inspired and created documentary, Bono Medicines (The Healers of Ghana), for the very healers trained through PRHETIH, and in the villages, featured in the film.
In addition to this primary assignment, I also Chaired the Primary Health Care Committee of, and convened national primary health care conferences, for the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), was a Consultant to the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healers Association, was a Research Associate and consultant for the Ghana Center for Scientific Research into Plant Medicines at the Korle-Bu Medical School in Accra, and was an occasional lecturer at both the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and the University of Ghana Korle-Bu School of Medicine in Accra.
Since leaving Ghana, though I have returned every three or four years since 1984, I earned a Certificate in "Health Care in Developing Countries" from the Boston University School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts (where I also lectured), a Masters of Arts Degree in (Medical) Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley where I also Advanced to Candidacy for the Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology --- "Politics and the Delivery of Health Services in Maun, Botswana, 1900 - 2000" through both a National Science Foundation Grant and Fulbright Fellowship. From Berkeley, I taught several courses as an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida at Gainesville ("Peoples and Cultures of Africa," "Introduction to Medical Anthropology," "Trans-cultural Psychiatry / Ethno-Psychiatry," and "Astro-Anthropology and Futuristics" to undergraduates and graduates). In my second year there, I was awarded the university's "Outstanding Teaching Award."
Following my departure from fulltime work in academia, I continued to run my own consulting and training company focused on Medical Anthropology, inclusive Diversity, Cultural Competence/Cultural Proficiency, Social Determinants of Health, Leadership and Local-Level Politics, the Politics of Health and Medicine, Health Legislation, Alternative / Complementary Medicines, HIV/AIDS Prevention amongst African American Populations and Communities, The Fall of South Africa’s White Racial Apartheid and the Rise of Global Racial Apartheid, etc. This work has taken me all over the United States and world. In fact, I have worked, conducted research, taught, consulted in over 85 nations on 5 continents over the past 30 years. And, I have published over 80 articles and book chapters --- e.g., “Global Organization, Transcultural Leadership in a Multi-Cultural World,” Reviews in Anthropology, Malaysia and The Netherlands, 1996.
Also, I have completed a book-length, not yet published, manuscript, America’s White Ethnocracy: An Anthropological, Historical and Political Study of Euro-centric Preference, Power and Privilege in the United States Presidency from George-The-First (Washington) to George-The-Forty-Third (Bush). I began researching and writing this volume in 1992 while still teaching at the University of Florida. Between 1993 and 2008, I introduced this discussion at American Anthropological Association annual meetings in Washington, D.C., , Presidential Studies Quarterly, the American Anthropologist, and the annual South Florida Diversity Alliance Diversity Summit at Nova Southeastern University.
Amongst its foci are: (1) Seventeen of the presidents, from George Washington to George Bush, were related to one another with the Bush family related to at least sixteen. These genealogical relationships were researched, documented, charted and reported in the book, The Ancestors of Presidents (1993 & 2001), by New England Genealogical Society genealogist Robert Boyd; (2) Based on research by numerous other scholars, including J.A. Rogers, in his The Five Negro President (1965), at least six of our pre-Obama presidents were “Black.” How? Because of the U.S.A.’s “One-Drop” rule of racial categorization whereby those individuals with “one drop of Black/Negro/African” blood were considered “Black” even if those individuals were not obviously “Black.” This is where the practice of “passing as White” allowed such men as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Dwight Eisenhower to pass and be portrayed as “White” and, without controversy, to run for, to be considered serious candidates for, and to be elected president; and, (3) Accordingly, on the election of Obama in 2008, his moniker as this country’s “First Black President” was, is, in fact a dishonest and historically inaccurate distinction. After all, according to Federal Directive 15, his mother is classified as a “White American” and his father is classified as a “Black African”. He is, however, the “’First Black’ President both to SELF-ACKNOWLEDGE, and SELF-IDENTIFY WITH, his Africanity, his “Blackness.” Likewise, he is the first president to have others acknowledge and identify him as such consistently and officially.
In the last ten years, since returning permanently to my home in South Florida, while, as the “only child’, being the primary care-giver for my now 87 year old mother with early stages of Alzheimers Disease , I have continued my consulting and training though with diminished travel (thank God for the Internet, telephones, Video Conferencing, Skype, etc.) Among my clients: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta); the National Center for Cultural Competence (Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.); the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland; the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. and Fort Lauderdale/Plantation, Florida; the Broward County Health Department (Fort Lauderdale); the Florida Department of Health (Tallahassee); the School Board of Broward County; a host of not-for-profit community based organizations, local universities and colleges throughout South Florida.
Currently, amongst many other obligations, I am Director, Public Relations & Governmental and Corporate Affairs for the Florida Intercultural Academy (FIA) in the cities of Hollywood and Davie. FIA (K – 8) is the brainchild of, and was founded by, Dr. Gwen Purcell (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – Jamaica, 1994-1996). This publicly-funded, privately-run, charter school was established in 2005. FIA’s curriculum is saturated with Peace Corps World Wise Schools educational materials.
I continue a heavy, and generous, volunteering schedule in this county: Former Chair, Multi-Ethnic Advisory Board & Diversity Advisory Council (Broward County Commission), Chair, Hiring Practices and Procedures Committee, Council for Diversity and Equal Opportunity (Broward County Sheriff's Office), Chair, Diversity Committee (School Board of Broward County), Charter Member and Diversity Summit Planner and Workshop Presenter, South Florida Diversity Alliance of Colleges and Universities, among many other initiatives and organizations.
In 2004, I led the initiative to have Broward County’s Public Schools District be the first in the nation to adopt the Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding as well as other Paul Coverdell World Wise Schools curricula. Annually, between 2005 and 2011, I have created and facilitated workshops for nearly 500 Broward-based teachers on the Building Bridges and related curricula during the Broward Education Foundation’s IMPACT II Idea Teacher Summits.
In recognition of this and other work, I received, in 2005, the Peace Corps’ Franklin H. Williams Award for Returned Volunteers of Color (at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.) and, in 2006, I received one of five of the Peace Corps’ FIRST "John F. Kennedy Prizes for Public Service" (at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston, Massachusetts). That was my second “Kennedy”: The first I received from Cornell University in 1978, during my fourth and final year there.
Today, driven by my dedication to Peace Corp’s Third Goal --- “Educate Americans about the Word” --- in commemoration, in 2011, of both the Peace Corps' Fiftieth Anniversary, and the United Nations’ declared "2011 International Year for People of African Descent," I have been involved in, completed, and am planning, projects related to both.
With respect to the United Nations Declared "2011 International Year for People of African Descent", and in collaboration with the WPBT/Channel 2 Public Broadcasting Station for which I serve as a member of its Community Advisory Board, I organized and moderated screenings and a series of panel presentations related to the new "Black in Latin America" documentary by Harvard Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Fort Lauderdale's African American Research Library and Cultural Center on April 16, 2011. This four part series --- focused of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil Mexico, and Peru --- was broadcast nationally through the Public Broadcasting System and its local affiliates between April 19 and May 10, 2011.
In the fall of 2011, WPBT Channel 2 will be broadcasting a documentary, one that I proposed and am helping to create, focused on the "2011 International Year for People of African Descent". Also, in collaboration with WPBT/Channel Two, I will be interviewing 1960's-Era Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who call South Florida home for another documentary that I proposed and am helping to create in commemoration of Peace Corp's Fiftieth Anniversary. This will be broadcast in the fall 2011 also.
F i f t y Y e a r s
[A statement inspired by, borrowed from, a modification of, James Weldon Johnson’s “Fifty Years” penned on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Signing of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863]
Roland Alexander Foulkes, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (cAND.)
Founder and Chief Strategist – ONE BROWARD
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer/RPCV–Ghana, West Africa, 1982-1984/Franklin H. Williams & John F. Kennedy Awards Winner, 2005 & 2006
Chair, Diversity Committee, School Board of Broward County, 2008-present
Member, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Association of South Florida
AN ODE TO PEACE CORPS AT FIFTY
O fellow Americans, RPCVs / PCVs mine, today we stand,
Where five decades, from the height of racial segregation to this de-segregated day, sweeps our ken,
Since God, through Kennedy’s vision and ready hand,
Signed off on our eternal ideals creating compassionate armies serving children, women and men.
Just half a century — a pre-Spring, March first, ‘61, day —
As runs the history and journey, of our nation;
Yet, as we look back to Shriver, like Kennedy, an Irishman he, leading the way,
How distant, yet so near, seemed our first pre-New Age “think global, act local” youthful jubilation!
A Divine truth is. we are all citizens of one country, Planet Earth,
This world is ours, as passengers not,
but as full-fledged, God-commissioned, crew,
This world is ours, not by adoption, but by right of birth,
Our Peace Corps task, charge, mission? To bless and transform humankind, and Mother Earth, anew!
We were born and raised in, or became citizens of, these United States of America,
This nation is ours, not needing her for us to do, but asking what we can, and ought, do for her,
This nation, ours by right of birth, or naturalization -- life, liberty & happiness pursued, an enviable trifecta,
The red, the white, the blue, that standard, the flag, to which we pledge, privilege, and prefer.
Where once our corps-diplomatique, and our military’s soldiering troops, were her only face abroad,
Where suits and spies, uniforms and u-boats, tanks and jets, secured a separate, perhaps, shaky, peace,
Behold the also-young, courageous, intelligent volunteers, on America’s Janus- faced non-violence road,
Blazing trails to new nations, the far-reaching fingers on our long foreign policy arms, two apiece.
Living global victories for which we sacrificed, leaving behind homes, families, friends stateside, at will,
Behold our new host-country families, peoples, cultures, histories, faiths, languages, beliefs, and lands,
Houses & clinics, hospitals & schools, IT businesses & farms did our fingers, their fingers, build,
Arm-and-arm, our backs, strained, burned, bent bare beneath brutal suns, daily callusing hands.
That Peace Corps Banner, now the world’s development standard,
Through service, on mountains, in valleys, fields, jungles, deserts, and isles, our global neighborhood—
Remember, our multinational vision, mission, service, lives and living do lovingly bombard,
A world crying out for freedom from politicians’ and warriors’ spilling of guilty and innocent blood.
We’ve taken that Banner, for half a century, now as then, two years at a time,
to 139 countries eradicating poverty, starvation, illiteracy and disease,
Gripped by our well-worn hands, guided and protected by the Divine,
Planted in lands scattered across the seven shimmering seas.
And yes, my brothers and sisters, this well I know,
Our restless feet and wide-spread wings,
Vaulting, yea soaring, our spirits far above each woe,
Our hearts grow strong, pumped fully for Peace Corps’ World Wise Schools, teachers, and dreams.
Because the voices of Kennedy
And Shriver now are stilled by their deaths,
Think you their work cannot today those woes remedy?
Or extinguish the fires lit five decades back by their eternal vision, words and breaths?
That for which millions may have explored, pondered and “what if” sighed,
That through which we 200,000-plus actually, boldly, committed, lived, and gave,
For which so few others freely vied,
May God continue empowering, keeping, us serving afar; staged from the land of the free, and brave!
Though, since 1776, “E Pluribus Unum: From Many, One,” our country’s claim to inclusive diversity,
Regrettably, in 2011, with Obama & Williams, Black men both, leading our country and her Peace Corps,
Illusions of inclusion--of Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans--remain our half century reality,
Fifty years hence, or sooner, I pray, more of them, as volunteers, will advance peace through her door.
Last, in James Weldon Johnson’s own words:
“Courage! Look out, beyond, and see, The far horizon’s beckoning span!
Faith in your God-known destiny! We are a part of some great plan.”
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