Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shoeglue for the Shoeless

We will gather on Thanksgiving and feast on food that will overflow on our plates. Our bellies will be full for the rest of the day after only one meal! While we sit around and enjoy this abundance of food and time with family, please take time to remember that there are many around the world who are without both food and family. There are also children living on the streets and because they cannot find food, they are turning to sniffing glue in order to escape from their hunger pains and the reality of their hardships. We could easily sit back and criticize their abuse of this drug but I wonder how many of us realize that we may be the cause of this devastating addiction.

David and I just finished watching a movie entitled Glue Boys. I was quickly taken back to my memories of being on the streets of Nairobi and seeing this addiction first hand. My heart has been so saddened at this reminder. We would love for anyone to borrow this movie from us and learn more about this tragedy.

"In Kitale, Kenya, among countless other towns in the developing world, many street children have found an escape from their emotional and physical pains by becoming accidental consumers. Orphaned, barefoot, and malnourished, they habitually spend the scarce money they earn from odd jobs and charity not on food or water, but on a more immediate fix – glue – incidentally the same solvent-based kind that the wider world uses to cement shoes together. With plastic bottles perched at their mouths, the children breathe in the glue’s neurotoxic fumes until they pass out or fall asleep forever.
Equally naturalistic and investigative, “Glue Boys” contemplates the future of the world’s estimated 150 million street children and documents the day-to-day plight of a handful in Kitale. It also unveils the distribution chain of their addiction to sniffing glue, from the small-time street dealers who facilitate it, to the authorities who enable it, to the massive multinational corporations that profit from it. Not overlooking the deeply entrenched reality of the developing world, the film presents the illicit adhesives market with a sense of urgency and intricacy, bringing awareness to a growing global giant but also providing a framework for change." (Source:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

It's easy for all of us to get caught up in the "spirit" of Christmas and want to buy that perfect gift for each person on our list. It's also hard not to turn from the "best" sale this year and the "cheapest" price this season. I am challenging all of us to join others this year in the "Buy Nothing Day" that for the USA falls on this Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). The UK is also participating in this day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I realize that we may still go out and buy our presents on other days but wouldn't it be a great message to NOT participate in the most consumeristic day of the year?
"While critics of the day charge that Buy Nothing Day simply causes participants to buy the next day[5], Adbusters states that it "isn't just about changing your habits for one day" but "about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste." (source: Wikipedia)
To read more about this cause, see the links below:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gift Bag Reuse

Do you have gift bags that are just collecting dust? I'm taking all my saved bags to the gym next week for free pickup to someone who will use them. If you, like me, have a big old closet full of gift bags you'll never use, please let me know! It's a good feeling to pass these along, without sending them to the dump. Anyway, If you live in the area, please let me know if you would like to pass your bags along. Thanks! >carrie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ending Poverty by 2015

The Millennium Development Goals set a framework for how the world could see the end of extreme poverty. In September, 2000, The United States joined with 188 nations to affirm a set of international development goals in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reflect an understanding of the devastation caused by global hunger and poverty and aim for a world that is free of such suffering. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest by 2015. Our leaders committed to these goals and it is up to us, as Americans and ONE supporters, to make sure that America keeps its promises to the world’s most vulnerable people.

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Click links below for more info.
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality among children under 5 by two thirds
5. Improve maternal health - Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development


Monday, November 12, 2007

A Death Penalty-Free World?

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) 62nd session in October 2007, a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions was introduced as a step towards the abolition of the death penalty. Endorsement by the UNGA of a global moratorium on executions would be a significant milestone towards achieving the goal of a death penalty-free world.

A total of 133 UN member states, from all regions in the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006, 91percent of them in just six countries -- China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA (note that the U.S. is listed along with other countries having very poor human rights records). Europe is a death penalty-free zone, with the exception of Belarus.

Executions have been carried out by the following methods since 2000:
- Beheading (in Saudi Arabia)
- Electrocution (in USA)
- Hanging (in Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and other countries)
- Lethal injection (in China, Guatemala, Thailand, USA)
- Shooting (in Belarus, China, Somalia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam and other countries)
- Stoning (in Afghanistan, Iran)

One of the primary reasons for support of the death penalty is that it purportedly deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment. Recent crime figures from countries that have abolished the death penalty, however, fail to show that abolition has harmful effects. In Canada, for example, the homicide rate per 100,000 population fell from a peak of 3.09 in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41 in 1980, and since then it has declined further. In 2006, 30 years after abolition, the homicide rate was 1.85 per 100,000 population, 40 per cent lower than in 1975 and the second lowest rate in three decades.

The death penalty is inhuman, violates the right to life, is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. Emperical evidence does not prove that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments. For these reasons, please consider signing this petition calling for a world-wide moratorium on executions (over 5 million people have already signed -- you might need to change the language in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage):

- David
(Data taken from Amnesty International)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kindness in Kenya

An excerpt from the journal of Molly Welch (an intern at Made In The Streets, Nairobi, Kenya)
Salon Day With The Mothers…

On Monday I put together a day of relaxation for the mothers in Eastleigh. I had supplies for washing and drying hair, facials, and manicures and pedicures. I took five girls from here that work in the hair salon to help me out; Nancy, Halima, Lucy M., Lucy W., and Patricia. We get there, set up, and just as we are bringing in the women the electricity goes out! T.I.A. (This Is Africa). The day was planned to be outside in the open courtyard, but it meant there would be no washing and drying hair. Oh well, you do what you can. Truthfully though, God knew what he was doing. We had more women there than ever before, almost thirty. We spent over three hours just doing nails and facials. If we had tried to wash and fix hair like we had planned we would have been there at least another four hours. For the first hour I kept praying for the electricity to come back on and then I realized that sometimes unanswered prayers are really good.

Including Ann and I we had a total of seven people working on the mothers. We had three people scrubbing hands and feet, two people cutting and filing the nails, and two painting the nails. I helped paint the nails. It was amazing to watch the girls scrubbing the women’s feet. They spent so much time with each lady, they were gentle, and they did not rush to get it over with. These girls once lived on the streets and they know how special something like this is. The feet were dirty (the American thought of dirty does not even come close to African dirty) and many of the nails were black and brittle. Each mother was made to feel special.
They have done manicures for the woman before, but most of them are new since I have been here so the majority had never had anything like this done before. The only person that had washed their feet was themselves. The only color that had ever been on their nails was black from the dirt and dead nail bone. The women were grinning from ear to ear and no one left without saying thank you. Ann was filing and cutting nails and afterward she told me that she had scrapped years of dirt and dead skin off of some of the women. Also several women thanked her because they had never had their nails cut before. Can you imagine?

Hollye Conway kept the kids in another room while we were with the mothers so it was nice and peaceful. I have never heard it that quiet at the center before. The women were quietly waiting around, smiling, and watching in amazement. Although I was painting nails non stop for three hours, it was the most peaceful day I have had in Eastleigh. The mothers were happy and carefree, at least for a little while.
This challenges me to want to something like this here for single mothers. Possibly we could do this for some of the mothers at WRCCC.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. I love the holidays and the thought of Christmas songs, putting up a tree, and drinking eggnog stir up warm feelings inside me. It's easy to get caught up in all the excitement around a holiday. I tried not to go overboard with dressing Asher up at Halloween. I used a bear outfit cover (given to us) as a costume and made homemade facepaint for his nose. Even as I tried to keep things simple, I was quickly reminded that even the little I had done was more than what the kids who came to my door that night were able to do. I was saddened each time I opened the door to a yound child who simply had on what he had probably worn that day and a simple bag to gather candy. It's easy for me to use things around my house to be creative in creating a costume but it may not be as easy for the single mom or the grandparent raising the grandchild.
I want to do things differently with the holidays approaching. I want to begin now so that when Asher is old enough to understand, he will see that the time for celebrating holidays is not all about getting presents or eating as much great homemade food as we want. However, I am not sure where to begin. I do feel challenged to finding a way to give costumes at Halloween next year to kids who do not have any.
It's easy to just give money to things around the holidays but I would rather do something more personal that our family can participate in together. Does anyone have any ideas?

Monday, November 5, 2007


Mitsuyoshi Toge was born in Hiroshima in 1917 and was in the city when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. He died twelve years later. Toge wrote this poem about what he saw on that August day; it is taken from Hiroshima-Nagasaki: A Pictorial Record of the Atomic Destruction (1978).

How could I ever forget that flash of light!
In a moment, thirty thousand people ceased to be,
The cries of fifty thousand killed
At the bottom of crushing darkness;

Through yellow smoke whirling into light,
Buildings split, bridges collapsed,
Crowded trams burnt as they rolled about
Hiroshima, all full of boundless heaps of embers.
Soon after, skin dangling like rags;
With hands on breasts;
Treading upon the broken brains;
Wearing shreds of burn cloth round their loins;
There came numberless lines of the naked, all crying.
Bodies on the parade ground, scattered like jumbled stone images of Jizo;
Crowds in piles by the river banks,
loaded upon rafts fastened to the shore,
Turned by and by into corpses under the scorching sun;
in the midst of flame tossing against the evening sky,
Round about the street where mother and brother were trapped alive under the fallen house
The fire-flood shifted on.
On beds of filth along the Armory floor,
Heaps, and God knew who they were …
Heaps of schoolgirls lying in refuse
Pot-bellied, one-eyed, with half their skin peeled off bald.
The sun shone, and nothing moved
But the buzzing flies in the metal basins
Reeking with stagnant ordure.
How can I forget that stillness
Prevailing over the city of three hundred thousands?
Amidst that calm,
How can I forget the entreaties
Of departed wife and child
Through their orbs of eyes,
Cutting through our minds and souls?