Every spring, thousands of government officials, journalists, civil society representatives and other interested observers gather in Washington D.C., for the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
As part of those meetings, the Civil Society Forum conducts a series of events hosted or co-hosted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups to foster creative dialogue among civil society participants, government delegates and senior World Bank and IMF officials.
Timothy Opobo, a child protection coordinator with ChildFund Uganda, served as a panelist at the session focused on gender issues. He used the opportunity to profile ChildFund’s work in this arena, and, specifically, to discuss the on-the-ground impact of World Bank projects on gender issues, including gender-based violence and education.
These are important conversations to have. Right now, ChildFund and other NGOs and civil society organizations are joining for the “50 Days of Action for Women and Girls” campaign. From prevention of violence against women to improving the health of women and girls worldwide, it’s important that we advance progress in U.S. foreign policy efforts on these issues and make them visible on the world stage.
Pack your crash helmet and may the best rocket win!
To the villagers of Yasothon firing ginormous rockets into the sky is apparently the best way to lure the rain gods, and things can get very noisy and rather hectic at Phaya Thaen Park when the Yasothon Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival takes place.
More on the Yasothon Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival by Somewhere in the world today…
Picture: Rocket Untangling by simonparisphotography, on Flickr
I love these colorful celebrations and their cultural ties.
This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away a few months ago. She died just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday, having lived a long, happy and productive life. She was the matriarch of a large family of eight children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
No one is ever prepared or ready to lose their mother – even if she is in her 90s. But I feel so blessed that she was such a big part of my life for so long. She taught me many things – from the everyday (how to fold a queen-size sheet by myself) to the useful (how to make a good apple pie) to the very important (how to manage family finances and live within your means). But most of all she taught me what it means to be a mother – how to care for a baby, instill confidence in children and give youth the wings to fly when they are ready – all the time watching over them and helping out whenever they need it.
My first child was born when I was living and working in Somalia. My mother, 65 years old at the time, came to Africa to be with me for the birth. Although she had flown many times before, it didn’t mean she wasn’t nervous about going to a place she knew little about. She was. She described getting to JFK airport, checking in her over-packed bags filled with baby gifts and then going to the ladies room and throwing up. She said she felt better afterwards. Years later she told me she came to Somalia because if something unexpected happened during the birth, she didn’t want me to be so far away from family. That’s what mothers do. Regardless of their own fears, they love and care for their child in whatever ways they can.
What about children who grow up without a mother?
Because of my work at ChildFund, I think about this issue all the time. Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. The new baby and any older children at home are deprived of the mother they need to nurture them.
In the last 20 years, great strides have been made as maternal mortality rates worldwide dropped by almost 50 percent, reports WHO. But we still have a long way to go to help the remaining half of mothers whose lives are at risk simply because of their economic position.
If motherless children are lucky, they are raised by a loving grandmother. Certainly that happens in countries where AIDS has claimed many parents. Grandmothers often step in to fill that vital role. Other times, widowed fathers marry again, as it is not common, in my experience in developing countries, for men to raise children alone. In the worst-case scenario, we encounter “child-headed households” – children raising children. These children live in poverty that is hard for many to imagine.
Although we cannot ever replace the role of a mother, ChildFund’s programs can be a great help in ensuring children have good health, go to school and have the skills they need to face adulthood. But a unique part of ChildFund’s approach – matching an individual sponsor with an individual child – can bring an added benefit to a motherless child. Sponsorship reassures children that someone is watching over them from afar and is concerned for their well-being.
Isn’t that’s what their mothers would have wanted? I know my mother would have.
How can innovation improve access to quality learning? | Back on Track -
Last week, the government of Denmark and UNICEF hosted the interactive discussion “Breaking Barriers: Innovative Partnerships Creating Exponential Change in Access to Quality Learning.”
Moderated by journalist Femi Oke, the discussion brought together government representatives, leaders from the private sector, civil society and others to explore how innovations can surmount barriers for children in fulfilling their right to access to a quality education and, more importantly, quality learning.
Check out the full story and video in the link above.
A Child’s Vision for Africa: “I am in grade 6 at Felecia Mission School. I want to be a medical doctor. I want Africa to be a united country with good roads, hospitals, schools and enough food for everyone.”
—Edwin, age 10, enrolled in ChildFund’s programs in Liberia
Indonesia is near the top of countries at risk for natural disasters. It’s important for families to be prepared at all times. To improve emergency preparedness, ChildFund held a Disaster Risk Reduction Youth Facilitator Workshop in Jakarta earlier this week. Our Indonesia office reports that more than 80 youth from across the country attended the workshop, which was also attended by the director of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency.
As a result, one of the youth, Angelus, has been selected to join the Indonesian government delegation at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction conference, being held later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Learning about disaster risk reduction (DRR) is really something new to me,” Angelus says. “I found it very interesting and a positive activity. We learn best practices from others that we also could apply in our programs back home. I obtained this knowledge from ChildFund at no cost. I want to pay it off by sharing it with others,” he said.
We can’t wait to hear about his learning experiences in Geneva!