©2019 by Badi Foundation. 

HISTORY

                The Badi Foundation was established in 1990 in Macao through an initial endowment in honor of Badi'u'llah Farid and Shidrokh Amirkia Bagha, who were outstanding examples of dedication, service and self-sacrifice for the well-being of humankind. The fundamental purpose animating the Badi Foundation has always been to contribute, however modestly, to the spiritual and material progress of China. Drawing inspiration from the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, the foundation is guided by principles and convictions including the oneness of humanity, the nobility and inherent potential of every human being, the importance of justice, the harmony of scientific and spiritual belief systems, the equality of women and men, and the need for universal education.

Emergence of Programs in Macao

               

                Initial endeavors began in the area of formal education with the development of the School of the Nations in Macao. Established in 1988, the school was transferred to the foundation upon its establishment and the foundation was given responsibility for all aspects of the school’s administration and development.  A result of the efforts of citizens of Macao as well as the Macao government, the School of the Nations began modestly.  Over the years it expanded in size and devised a unique approach to formal education, focusing on promoting the physical, intellectual, and moral development of its students in an integrated manner. In 2008, with the generous support of the Macao government, parents, alumni and other supporters, the school completed construction of a state of the art new campus, enabling its further expansion and strengthening its ability to serve the community of Macao. The school is currently serving over 600 students from kindergarten through high school in Macao and has become an educational institution highly regarded for its academic rigor and its integrated approach to the moral and intellectual development of its students.

Initial Efforts in Mainland China

 

                Concurrently with the early development of the School of the Nations, the Badi Foundation sought to contribute to formal and non-formal education in mainland China.  Seeking to draw on the experience being gaining at the school, initial projects in China focused on formal education and teacher training.  The foundation’s early projects in China included an exploration of issues related to character development in conjunction with the Central Institute for Educational Research and providing teachers and teacher training to schools and education departments throughout China.  In the arena of non-formal education, an early project was carried out in Hainan Island, where the foundation worked with farmers and youth in collaboration with the Science and Technology Commission.

                Based on the lessons learned through these initial efforts, the opportunities that were available and recognition of the unique capacities inherent in China’s rural populations, the Badi Foundation in 1994 initiated its Social Enterprise Program.  This non-formal educational program sought to cultivate in its participants, most of whom lived in China’s rural regions, the qualities, knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to contribute to the advancement of their communities. As the program developed, it was implemented in collaboration with the State Council Office of Poverty Alleviation, China Women’s Federation and other government agencies. Based on experience over time, it was decided to focus the Social Enterprise Program on education in scientific principles and concepts related to sustainable development for women living in rural and semi-rural areas.  This program came to be known as the Environmental Action Program.

 

Building Institutional Capacity

 

                Initially, staff of the foundation’s Beijing representative office, which was established in 1997, would travel to different communities to carry out Environmental Action Program trainings and follow up activities. Based on the enthusiastic response of local participants to these efforts as well as the recognition of the need for institutional structures at the local level to stimulate and channel efforts and systematize learning, the decision was taken in 2005 to initiate the Institutional Capacity Building Program, which facilitated the establishment of community-based organizations in China’s rural regions and provided training and support to build the capacity of these organizations to serve the needs of the community.

 

                Community-based organizations implemented either the Environmental Action Program, described above, or the Moral Empowerment through Language Program, whose aim is to guide youth between the ages of 12 and 15 to acquire moral concepts, habits and attitudes needed to contribute to the transformation of their communities. Through the Institutional Capacity Building Programme, the Badi Foundation collaborated with interested individuals to establish more than 40 community-based organizations in rural and suburban localities in China.  In addition to supporting community-based organizations to implement the Moral Empowerment through Language Program in mainland China, in 2007 the foundation also began implementing the program directly in collaboration with local schools and educational institutions in Macao.

 

Achievements and Learning in Mainland China

 

                Over the following decade, the community-based organizations made significant strides in their efforts to serve their local communities and to empower rural women and youth.  Among the achievements and learning of the community-based organizations are:

 

  • Reaching over 56,000 rural women and youth

  • Enhancing understanding of moral, spiritual, and scientific concepts in women and youth through study of relevant educational materials

  • Strengthening capacity of local populations to carry out service to their communities, including activities such as cultural performances, village and neighborhood clean-up, consciousness-raising about public health and environmental issues, and small economic projects

  • Identifying, deploying, and raising capacity in local human resources to serve as facilitators

  • Raising institutional capacity in local organizations, including strategic planning, project implementation and evaluation, and development and management of human and financial resources

  • Reaching out to and development contacts with the wider society, including local government and community organizations

  • Strengthening capacity for fund development and financial management

 

                The experience generated by the community-based organizations has not only advanced the well-being of their local communities, but also contributed to a wider body of insight and knowledge about the process of empowering and building capacity in individuals and institutions to advance their own development.  Some areas of learning have included:

 

  • the process by which individuals are identified, trained and supported to implement grassroots social and economic development programs

  • the process by which an educational program is established in a local community

  • the development and use of suitable educational materials for empowering and building capacity in local populations

  • the development of human resources at varying levels of capacity and responsibility

  • the gradual acquisition and strengthening of institutional capabilities and the organic growth of an agency over time

  • the process by which relationships with government and the wider society are formed and sustained

  • the development of a system of support for community-based organizations, including both one-on-one support and spaces for reflection and sharing of experience

  • the development and strengthening of a system for delivering seed funding to community-based agencies

  • the process by which insights at the grassroots are collected, analyzed, documented, and shared with grassroots collaborators as well as the wider society

 

                In addition to carrying out programs at the grassroots, the Badi Foundation also partnered with a variety of organizations in government and civil society in mainland China, with a focus on creating spaces for learning and exchange drawing on the insights emerging from grassroots development efforts.  These organizations included the State Council Leading Group on Poverty Alleviation and Development, the China Association for NGO Cooperation, the China Charity Federation and the Tsinghua University NGO Research Institute.  We are deeply grateful for the collaboration and support of these partners at the local and national levels.

 

                A New Chapter

 

                In January of 2017, a new law regulating overseas nongovernmental organizations in mainland China went into effect. The Badi Foundation, as an overseas NGO, was required to re-register its Beijing Representative Office under this law. This development provided an opportunity for the foundation to look afresh at its strategy in mainland China, in light of two decades of experience and the current situation of the collaborating community-based organizations.  After a period of intensive reflection and consultation, it was decided not to pursue registration under the law. In line with the foundation’s focus on capacity building at the grass roots, a primary reason for this decision was the great deal of capacity that has already been built in a significant number of individuals and local organizations to take charge of and advance the development of their communities in China. The Foundation’s recognition of this existing capacity, and its whole-hearted confidence in the initiative and resourcefulness of those who have been so diligently and effectively laboring at the grassroots for so many years, made this an opportune time for the activities being carried out in mainland China to transition to new modes of operation and coordination.

 

                During 2018 the foundation brought the operations of its Beijing Representative Office to a close, and structures and resources for supporting and systematizing learning among the community-based organizations were devolved to the regional level.   From 2018 onwards, the foundation has been concentrating its resources on its programs in the Macao Special Administrative Region—including the School of the Nations and the Moral Empowerment through Language Program—as well as new initiatives in the area of teacher training and curriculum development.