Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reflection: a Prisoner of Hope

"I am not an optimist; I'm a prisoner of hope."
—Bishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ETHIOPIA: Parliament adopts repressive new NGO law

Source: CRIN
Articles: *See footnote

The Ethiopian parliament has adopted a potentially repressive new law which could criminalise the child rights activities of both foreign and domestic non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Charities and Societies Proclamation law (CSO law), adopted on Tuesday, is designed to strictly control and monitor civil society in an atmosphere of intolerance of the work of human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

...the implications for civil society organisations under this new law which would allow the government, among other things, to:

--Decide which NGOs can be registered and which ones should be disbanded
--Subject all civil society groups to intrusive government control and surveillance.
--Bar foreign NGOs from doing any work related to human rights, governance, protection of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities, conflict resolution and a range of other issues.
--Strip Ethiopian NGOs that work on human rights issues of access to foreign funding.
Impose criminal penalties on anyone participating in activities deemed 'unlawful'
--Fine or jail, for up to 15 years, anyone participating in meetings organised by such 'unlawful' organisations
--Prohibit all activities carried out by non-Ethiopian NGOs that relate to human rights and other identified fields

*Click on the articles below to read the entire posts:
ETHIOPIA: Parliament adopts repressive new NGO law
ETHIOPIA: Human Rights Council side event on recent NGO law

Yemen: Girls, poor and black children most discriminated against

Source: IRINews & AlertNet

Children of poor families, girls and children of the Akhdaam (servants) are the most discriminated against in Yemen, a new study has found. The unpublished study, titled 'Discrimination against Children and its Relation to the Cultural and Social Status in Yemen', was conducted by Dal Centre for Cultural and Social Studies, a local NGO, in cooperation with Save the Children Sweden.

... poverty had become a major source of discrimination and contempt. The study identified 13 categories of children that faced discrimination and 45 kinds of discrimination, ranging from sexism to sexual exploitation. Some 90 percent of respondents said the children most vulnerable to discrimination were Akhdaam (children of servants, who are mostly black), girls and poor children.

According to the study, 12 factors were responsible for discrimination against children, most notable of which were economic disparities, unwillingness of parents to educate children about discriminatory practices and illiteracy.

Click here to read the entire article!

CONGO: Free lunch tempts children into school

Source: IRINews

The promise of a free meal at lunchtime has over the past few years seen up to 39,000children going to school in the Republic of Congo, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). "Between 2002 and 2009 we've been feeding up to 39,000 children at 1,072 primary schools in the Congo, which has helped them to keep studying," Central Africa regional WFP assistant director Sory Ouane said.
Click here to read the entire article!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Peace in the world begins in the heart...

"If you want to bring about peace in the world, first bring about peace within yourself. Don't worry about reforming the world; reform yourself! The peace that you would have others find must first be found in your own heart. How can you say to another, 'Let me take a speck out of your eye!' when you have a bigger one in your own? First remove the speck from your own eye, and then you will be able to remove that of your brother.

Does this mean that one must be a fully realized spiritual master before one can teach or offer service? No, not at all. If we waited for everyone to be perfect before anyone could teach, we would have a long wait indeed. It is sufficient to teach what we know and have directly experienced. In this case, teaching is really a sharing, a comparing of notes. It is as if we are all working together on a huge jigsaw puzzle. As you find the place for your piece, you make it easier for me to see the pattern and the place for mine. You might even find a piece that I can use. Teaching is sharing. We have nothing to teach each other, but much to share." 
[Cohen, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Social Reform, World Change & Our Real Purpose in Life

"While we have lofty ideals for social reform and world change, our real purpose in life is to work on ourselves. This at first may seem selfish or uncharitable, but it is honest, and in the long run we will make more of a contribution to society when we are clear than when we are in any way confused. The greatest service we can offer to others is to purify, sanctify, and know our own self. Then, and only then, are we in the proper position to give. Until then, we are taking."

"This does not mean that we are to run off to a cave and meditate until we are realized. Our work on ourselves may involve a great deal of social service. We can be nurses, teachers, and therapists, but we must always bear in mind that we are really using these avenues to expand our own consciousness. Serving others with all our heart does not contradict working on ourselves; to the contrary, it supports it. Until the end, we must remember to use everything we do as a vehicle for our own awakening."

[Cohen, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore]