Worth Your Time
It’s been awhile since I posted one of these round-ups, mostly because I’ve been sharing a lot on my Google Reader instead recently. Everything I share is added to my sidebar under the “Today I’m reading:” header. My comments are only available if you follow me through a reader though. If you want to add me to your reader, here is the feed. To learn more about how to use a reader, check out this primer from Owen Abroad.
From the moment Milly Businge delivered her keynote speech, to the last speaker on entrepreneurship and farming in the village, the conference was a celebration of life in Kikuube, as well as an opportunity for the village to come together. This wasn’t “the poor” talking about their problems and begging for help. These were men, women and children talking about everyday life, their accomplishments and their failures. Businge’s speech highlighted progress on community-driven health initiatives, like clean latrines in every homestead, and celebrated individual efforts to eradicate hunger in the village.
Beginnings by Linda Rafatree
Niña Lita arrived around midnight with her daughter A., a registered nurse (with a mafioso for a husband – I learned last time I was in El Salvador that A. and her husband are in prison.) She made me some cinnamon tea to help speed up the labor, and I promptly threw it up. It was freezing in the house and the power was being funky so we relied on the flickering lightbulb and kept the candles handy. My mother-in-law was next door, I later found out, awake and vigilant, lighting candles to la Virgen and on her knees praying for a safe birth. She later said she’d had a bad feeling. My husband and Daniel were in the next room, dozing off and waiting.
Labor came hard and fast, but then the pains stopped despite the fact that the baby hadn’t arrived yet. She had crowned but she was stuck. I looked at Niña Lita, in pain and wondering what was happening. What was I supposed to do now? I wanted her to fix something, to make it better. She worked her calm magic, carefully reaching inside and untangling the baby’s umbilical cord from around her eyes and her neck. Random and harried thoughts marched through my head as I waited. Wondered. Time stopped and everything was silent. Then she gave me a penetrating look. ‘Tenés que empujar mamita. You have to push, mama.’ ‘No puedo, I can’t.’ ‘You must.’
5 Lessons from Haiti’s Disaster by Paul Farmer
The international community doesn’t know best. Local people do. NGOs like the one that I am lucky to work with cannot replace the state — nor can the United Nations or anyone else. We don’t have the expertise, and we won’t stay forever. We don’t have the same stake in building a community that the locals themselves have. And if aid is to work, it can’t fall apart when the expats leave.
My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman, Ted talk by Tony Porter at Shakesville:
I can remember speaking to a 12-year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you, you were playing like a girl?” Now, I expected him to say something like, “I’d be sad; I’d be mad; I’d be angry,” something like that. No, the boy said to me, the boy said to me, “It would destroy me.”
And I said to myself, “God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?”
Every summer Ijeoma’s mother-in-law asked her to come to Nigeria to seek a solution to her childlessness. The previous year she had sent Ijeoma a video recording of Nigeria’s latest miracle pastor. The pastor’s name was Jehoshaphat. He had a long, well-groomed beard. He was shown in the video sending women into brief trances by gently blowing air onto their faces. He was said to visit barren women in their dreams and hand them babies wrapped in a white shawl. After the dream visitation, the women usually became pregnant and came to his church with their newborn babies wrapped in white shawls. The videocassette was filled with images of women singing and dancing their way to the microphone and telling stories of how Pastor Jehoshaphat had visited them in their dreams, and a few days later they had become pregnant. Some of the women told stories of how they had gone to a witch doctor, ababalawo, in search of a solution to their childlessness and had been made to do all kinds of weird things. A woman in the tape said that she had been made to drink cow urine for nine months, “No water, only cow urine from a white cow, for nine months.” She emphasized each word. And yet she could not become pregnant. Another woman gleefully confessed that a babalawo had told her that the only way she could get pregnant was if she let him have his way with her. The babalawo was a wrinkled, toothless ninety-year-old. She confessed that she was so desperate she had slept with the man, and yet she had remained barren. Now she was the proud mother of twins after being visited by Pastor Jehoshaphat in her dream.