Tag Archives: Human spirit

The volunteers risking their lives to secretly educate Afghanistan’s girls

Nine months on from the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, teenage girls remain deprived of their right to education

By Deepa Parent  Published 6-3-2022 by openDemocracy

Matiullah Wesa and other PenPath volunteers travel around Afghanistan teaching children Photo: PenPath

In 2002, when Matiullah Wesa was a teenager, the Taliban burned his school. It was this, he told openDemocracy, that led him to dedicate his life to ensuring other children in Afghanistan can get an education.

Wesa is the co-founder of PenPath, an NGO that works to reopen closed schools in the country’s rural areas – from the Spin Boldak district in Kandahar to Helmand province – and has so far educated more than 57,000 children. Continue reading

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Ukraine’s women fighters reflect a cultural tradition of feminist independence

A Ukrainian soldier on March 9, 2022, waits for a train in Lviv that will take her to the front line.
Vincenzo Circosta/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mia Bloom, Georgia State University and Sophia Moskalenko, Georgia State University

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women have taken up arms during the war sparked by Russia’s invasion. According to media reports, women constitute as much as 15% to 17% of the Ukrainian fighting force.

In the first two weeks of the conflict, social media was replete with images of Ukrainian women training for combat. On March 15, CNN reported that after dropping off their parents and children in the border town of Przemysl, Poland, some Ukrainian women are turning around to go back to the fight. Continue reading

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Ukraine is benefiting from generous donations – and many other global causes need help, too

A Yemeni mother holds the tiny foot of her malnourished child in 2021.
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Jessica Eise, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Ukraine’s resistance to Russia has captivated the world, dominating social media and the news since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion. With this attention has come a massive outpouring of financial support.

Ordinary people, governments, corporations and celebrities have pledged billions to support Ukraine and have dispatched everything from missiles to cryptocurrency. Stories of sacrifice inspire courage, and photos of vulnerable victims, such as the pregnant woman on a stretcher after a bombing, have ignited rage and pain. When reports surfaced that the woman and her baby had both died, the collective sorrow only deepened.

The urge to express solidarity by making your own donation is only natural. Continue reading

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Red Cross Declares First-Ever Blood Shortage Crisis in US

The warning that “lifesaving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed” comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Due to problems tied to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross on Tuesday declared its first-ever national blood shortage crisis, warning that already, “doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait.”

The plea for “critically needed” blood and platelet donations comes during National Blood Donor Month and amid a surge in U.S. Covid-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. Continue reading

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Abdulrazak Gurnah: the truth-teller’s tale

Winning the Nobel Prize in literature means his work could add essential nuance to the global conversation about identity and belonging

By Rashmee Roshan Lall  Published 10-31-2021 by openDemocracy

Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. Screenshot: The Hindu

Until recently, Abdulrazak Gurnah, a professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury, had little media attention other than a brief mention in stories about refugees.

As a refugee who arrived in England from Zanzibar in 1968, and as a novelist who wrote about refugees and immigrants from east Africa, Gurnah would sometimes be mentioned in newspaper stories on asylum and migration. After the 2016 Brexit referendum and that notorious anti-immigrant UK Independence Party poster, his name was mentioned among other writers who championed a less insular worldview. And after the Windrush scandal, when the children of Caribbean migrants who had come to the UK decades ago were asked for paperwork to prove their right to live in Britain, Gurnah’s opinion was sought. He was, after all, a refugee himself. Continue reading

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A Good Start: Minnesota’s Return of Dakota Land Makes Space for Healing

While most Native communities in Minnesota, such as the Ojibwe and others fighting pipeline projects through their land recognize that their fight for sovereignty is far from over, the land transfer to the Lower Sioux is a good, if small start in countering centuries of whitewashed history.

By Raul Diego  Published 2-22-2021 by MintPress News

 

The state of Minnesota returned 114 acres of land to the Lower Sioux tribe after the final vote of the Minnesota Historical Society completed the last step in a four-year process that capped off a long fight by the sovereign Dakota nation to recover official title to their original home.

Mni Sota Makoce is the Dakota phrase that the name for “Minnesota” is derived from, which means Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds (or Cloud-tinted Waters). Incorporated as the thirty-second state of the Union in 1858, the ancestral home of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people saw the gradual arrival of French fur traders and loggers followed by other Western Europeans looking to make their fortunes mining for iron ore and exploiting other natural resources in a place settlers would later describe in the much more banal terms “land of ten thousand lakes” in tourism brochures of the early twentieth century and embossed on the state’s license plates since the 1950s. Continue reading

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Labor Day celebrates earning a living, but remember what work really means

Doing a job to help other people can give greater meaning to work. Photo by Eddie Kopp for Unsplach, CC BY-ND

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. employment is dire. Economists estimate that 1 in 5 workers have lost their jobs. As a result, many people are finding it difficult to keep a roof overhead and put food on the table. Yet there can be more to work, and Labor Day provides an opportunity to see how through the writings of a woman who thought especially deeply about it, Simone Weil.

Weil looked at work as more than an exchange of money for labor. She argued that people need to work not only for income but also for the experience of labor itself. From her perspective, money does not solve the core problems of joblessness. Instead, work provides vital opportunities to live more fully by helping others. Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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Is it safe to visit your mother on Mother’s Day? A doctor offers a decision checklist

Many Mother’s Day visits this year will take place by video chats, as people put safety first. Stockwars/Shutterstock.com

Claudia Finkelstein, Michigan State University

As a physician, mother, daughter and socially responsible human, I’m finding Mother’s Day to be complicated for me this year, as it is for millions. Questions of whether and how to see my adult children and my own elderly mother present medical and ethical quandaries. As an associate professor of family medicine with a focus on wellness, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like to share with you my thinking about this using some tools to aid discernment.

Wouldn’t it be great if choosing time with parents or offspring were ever an easy decision to make? However, the answer is rarely that simple. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic and the need to continue to practice social distancing, the decision is even more complex than usual. Continue reading

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Restaurant Stunned After Customer Gives Entire $1,200 Stimulus Check as Tip for Struggling Staff

The tip was large enough to distribute $100 to every single employee.

By Elias Marat  Published 4-23-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

Small family-owned businesses have struggled mightily to remain open as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the country, with many struggling to pay employees’ sick pay or even continuing operating at limited capacity.

Such has been the case for one steakhouse in Arkansas which found itself receiving a tip its owners and staff will never forget. Continue reading

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