Untold International is the product of a collaboration between Brady Blackburn and Kaitlyn Medina, two travelers with hearts for social justice and a shared love of literature.
Pursuing the written word after graduating with degrees in English literature was a high priority for both, but finding a way to do that, while at the same time working for sociopolitical change, proved quite a challenge. After earning TEFL certificates and working as substitute teachers, they answered a call to open a literary center in rural Ghana, where Brady had studied abroad. Thus, Untold International was founded.
However, Untold International is not about Brady and Kaitlyn. It is about providing resources and education to those who need it most, thereby unlocking the creative and innovative potential of people and communities who may not have had the means to unlock it themselves.
While Brady and Kaitlyn’s story is important to them, it is merely the preface in a larger world of
narratives and stories that have yet to be written and have yet to be heard.
UTOLD INTERNATIONAL’S VISION
Accepting that storytelling unlocks imagination which unlocks innovation, and that Ghanaian plights are resolved by Ghanaian people with Ghanaian solutions, they seek to provide literacy education in both the local language and English, stimulate appreciation through libraries of primarily African literature, and create a cultural revival wherein the world can hear the once-quiet voices of unsilenced narrative.
HOW DO THEY DO IT?
“Our plan is to start a literary center in a rural Ghanaian community where we can focus on literacy education. This will also be a space for oral artists and Ghanaian writers to share their passion and knowledge with the community. We intend to use this literary center to foster the creativity of those we seek to serve, and to teach them to express themselves through the healing power of literature— be that oral or written.”
“We strongly believe that the world is full of voices that, due to illiteracy or a global ignorance of their importance, are never heard. The world needs these voices and the innovative wisdom they may offer in order to answer the questions facing us in the future. No one should feel that her story is unimportant or irrelevant.”
“Joan Didion famously declared, ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live.’ This notion has profoundly influenced Untold International, which strives to give voice to those whose stories might have faded to silence without the resources and education they desperately need.”
“Additionally, and running parallel to the literacy center, we intend to help schools and communities in need through library reinforcement. Through talks with several educators, administrators, and others throughout Ghana, we have become aware of a staggering lack of resources for Ghanaian schools, particularly schools in rural areas. In many areas, it is not uncommon for classrooms to have only one copy of a text, and occasionally no copies at all. Operating under the belief that it is better for each student to have a copy of the texts he is studying, we seek to provide books for the English literature and local language programs to schools demonstrating a significant need, with a primary focus on senior high schools, which suffer to a greater extent from lack of government funding.”
“Let us be clear: The purpose of Untold International is primarily to provide resources to
Ghanaians living in rural communities who are suffering from lack of access to adequate literacy education. This includes unbalanced student-teacher ratios, lack of materials, and low prioritization of education. We believe the stories already exist; we simply want to provide the keys to unlock them.”
CALLED BY God
Although not advertised, there is a lot of faith behind Untold International. Kaitlyn (the president) and Brady (CEO) are both born-again Christians who felt very specifically called by God to be in Ghana.
They want to integrate these literacy centers as deeply into Ghanaian culture as possible, which means being respectful and observing their various creeds and beliefs. There may also come a time when they wish to enter a culture where “Christian organizations” are not welcome and would not want anything to hinder the call God has placed on them.
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