An easy way to empower girls.
A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!
Where many NGOs go wrong is by trying to fix everything. This scattershot approach means no target gets hit in any significant way. The most successful NGOs seem to identify one problem and work toward solving that problem. That’s what ZanaAfrica Foundation seems to have done.
According to their website, 4 out of 5 girls in East Africa lack access to health education and sanitary pads. In many cultures, there is a certain taboo that goes along with menstruating. That must get magnified 1000 times when you don’t know what is happening to you or why.
ZanaAfrica provides health education, sanitary pads, underwear and mentors to girls so they won’t be too ashamed to attend school. They teach them that their lives don’t have to come to a grinding halt one week a month. Research has shown that pads and healthcare information win back 75% of learning days for girls. That gives them a lot more opportunities to reach their potential.
Simple. Elegant. I hope you will join me in supporting ZanaAfrica in their efforts to empower girls.
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Stupidity is the root cause.
I’m having a really, really, really bad day. (Well, technically I’m not. I probably wrote this two weeks ago. Today I’m more likely to be back to my cheery self. But you get the picture.)
Today (the day I wrote this, once upon a time, whatever works), I had to deal with someone who is morally and ethically repugnant, two-faced, slimy, self-serving, and deluded. Naturally, that put me into a foul mood.
And then, already feeling foul, I had to deal with someone so steeped in ignorance that she was attacking me on Facebook because I believe the science about COVID-19 rather than her Fox news talking points. And then she went on to say that a vaccine is not going to help. Give me strength.
She probably also thinks that the sun revolves around the earth, as a horrifying 26 percent of Americans do. Heaven help us. I am so sick to death of stupidity. (And if you’re one of those believers, get thee away from this blog! I am in no mood to deal with you. There’s only so much I can take today.)
There’s a reason that “sick” and “tired” go hand in hand. I’m exhausted and in despair over the idiocy of some people. And they’re the very people who will never be enlightened.
And that makes it really hard for me to blog without sounding whiny and frustrated. Does anybody really want to hear me complain as they eat their Post Toasties? Highly freakin’ doubtful.
And so there you have it. Stupid people are the root cause of Irritable Blog Syndrome. I hate that stupidity has such a strangle hold on my writing.
So now I need to find a cure for stupidity. No pressure there. Better people than I have tried.
You’d think that education would be the solution. But stupidity seems to be the most education-resistant disease that has ever plagued mankind. I have nothing left within me to fight it.
I am just so tired.
Your ability to travel goes hand in hand with your freedom.
There is an excellent yardstick for measuring liberty and quality of life. Simply consider how much freedom of movement you have. From that basic indicator, you can determine if you live in a police state and/or a cult, you will know how much information and education you have access to, and you will have a good sense of the level of prejudice you are being exposed to.
Your ability to travel goes hand in hand with your freedom. If you live in a country where the women cannot travel without the permission of their husbands or fathers, you live in a misogynistic police state. If you are in a religion that does not allow you to interact with outsiders or learn about opposing points of view, or worse yet, cuts you off from family, then you are in a cult. If you can’t go anywhere without having your papers constantly checked by authority figures, then you are a slave.
Inhibiting your ability to go where you wish is an effective way of controlling the information that you have access to. If you can’t even move about the internet, then someone else is controlling your narrative, and they have an agenda that is not in your best interest. If someone wants to leave and you don’t let them, then you have just reduced them to a mere object.
Also, preventing women or minorities from having access to education is a self-defeating power play. One should be able to travel in mind as well as body. If your opportunity to learn is hindered, you should wonder what the powers that be don’t want you to discover.
People who put up walls to restrict movement are the worst kind of racists. They are either attempting to keep a group out or keep a group in. Either way, they are restricting the flow of information, and preventing the masses from becoming unified. Divide and conquer.
The only things that should prevent you from being able to travel are your own priorities and your own budgetary constraints. And even that is a can of worms, because income inequality is another great way to keep us all ignorant and close to home.
The more you travel, the more you learn. The more you travel, the less you hate. The more you travel in mind, body, and spirit, the more you know what it is to be free.
I see so many positives coming out of this organization.
Once again, by listening to NPR on my commute to work, I’ve learned something that has broadened my horizons. This time it’s about an organization with a unique way of helping at-risk youth. It’s called Wolf Connection. (You can hear the inspiring 4 1/2 minute story here.)
This organization serves a variety of amazing purposes. First, it is a wolfdog sanctuary. Many people think having a wolf/dog mix will make for an exotic pet, but soon learn that they can’t really handle the responsibilities thereof. Often these animals get abused or neglected or put to sleep, as most shelters will not put them up for adoption. Fortunately, in cases like this, Wolf Connection can sometimes step in and give them a forever home where they work with handlers who understand their unique qualities and special needs.
This group also does presentations for schools and organizations. Using wolves as a focal point is an exciting way to teach students about the environment, human history and evolution, teamwork and ethics. Wolves are, after all, the first creatures that we humans made a long-term connection with.
But for me, their most exciting mission is their Wolf Therapy program. This eight week program for troubled teens who have been abused, or have been in and out of foster care, or were in gangs, is a really impactful way to reach kids who have rendered themselves unreachable out of pure survival.
First of all, they can relate to these animals, because they, too have been abused. And wolves don’t judge. Wolves can teach us much about teamwork and cooperation. They show us the value of being okay with who we are, just as we are. They teach us how and when to trust. Working with these animals can increase confidence and self-esteem and teach valuable vocational and life skills. The program also teaches you to be more introspective.
I love it when I see so many positives coming out of an organization. You can sponsor one of their wolves, too. By doing so, you’re also investing in the future of our youths. Win/win.