06 April, 2010

What Caught My Eye:

Here are a couple articles I have been reading and thought you might enjoy:

While being able to be called a major failure by most measures, One Laptop Per Child, is still around. While it failed to reach children around the world, it might be coming to Rwanda. 

According to an article in The Guardian, the Rwandan government is ordering laptops for children 9-12

"These laptops, the first of 100,000 that the government intends should be given to every Rwandan child between the ages of nine and 12, represent a kind of revolution. One that envisages not only the transformation of an impoverished agrarian society into one of the most advanced in Africa, but also sees technology as a tool that will help exorcise the country's lingering ghosts."

The hope is to prevent genocide by giving Rwandan children access to information and the world outside of Rwanda. 

I hate always being the pessimistic one. I hate thinking nothing is going to work like people think it will. But I have serious doubts that this is going to change much. There are programs out the wazoo to bring about reconciliation and prevent another genocide. There are other motives for wanting the laptops - helping children become comfortable with the technology, graduating students from college who are savvy in code and how systems work. If Kagame wants to create the IT capital of Africa in Rwanda, getting laptops into the hands of kids is one way to do that. I know that most of the students studying IT at the college where I lived had never worked on a computer and were learning a lot of things theoretically.  Now, Rwanda has done incredible things for education - there is free education in the country, it's not very good, but it's there. And I have to wonder if these laptops will make it into the hands of the kids in Nyagatare where I were, in the rural area far from Kigali, or only if a student is lucky enough to be in a major city will they have access to the laptops. 

While The Guardian article is a bit more promising, I think Alanna at the UN provides a much more accurate view of what might actually happen with the program. 

Oh Lindsay. I have to admit I think LL gets a bad rap some of the times. I don't envy her life or the pressure put on her. But seriously, is she the best person to do a trafficking documentary? Once again a celebrity starts speaking out on something and it becomes all about them and not the cause they are trying to bring "awareness" to. Take a lesson from Demi Moore and make it not about you & let what you're talking about actually change your life... Not to tangent, but words have power and as long as our culture accepts and perpetuates a culter of acceptance for "pimping," trafficking and prostitution we will never end it. 

In the words of Demi Moore: "No disrespect. I love a girls night out but a pimp and pimping [refers to] nothing more than a slave owner! If we want to end slavery we need to stop glorifying the 'pimp' culture." (never thought I would be using DM in a non-mocking way, but people surprise you when you least expect it!) 

Boing Boing, The Guardian, Change.org also have stories on the LL train wreck. 

And so I am not the pessimistic one - here are some quotes from Change.org's article:

"After she (LL) falsely claimed to have saved the lives of 40 children in a daring raid and a teaser accurately portraying Lohan's naïveté and minimal understanding of the issue was released, the Indian government is taking an aggressive stance against the child star. ... Cohen does makes a valid point. He argues that celebrities are needed to bring attention and publicity to modern day human rights issues, and well, he's right. ... Lohan has brought the wrong kind of publicity to an issue that struggles to get enough attention as is. And for a documentary with the goal of highlighting the importance of human trafficking and the desperation of its victims, choosing such a controversial celebrity will only serve to mask the human rights concerns at hand as we sit here laughing at her conceit."

The number of people living in slums up by 55 million since 2000 according to The UN

Change.org released the numbers and what it can mean. 55 million people - most countries in the world do not have a population that size! 

According to The UN a slum is: a group of individuals living under the same roof that lack one or more of the following conditions: access to safe water; access to sanitation; secure tenure; durability of housing; and sufficient living area. 

Somehow to me this seems like a more noteworthy event than most of what gets reported on the news. This breaks my heart and yet, I don't have much to offer in the way of what to do. It saddens me that a large majority of the world lives in subhuman conditions and most of those in the "first world" have more room than they could ever use. I saw the way people in The Congo lived - I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, it's not human and it's not right. It's kills any hope of a life outside of where they are and does nothing short but feed the lie that the person there is worthless. 

I really don't know what to say in response to these stats. I can't articulate why this breaks my heart, but it does. Poverty is a bitch and we need to be doing more to stop it. No child should go to bed hungry, no little girl should be sold into prostitution (or slavery of any kind) because it's the only way for a family to eek by for a time, no father should feel defeated after working all day and still be unable to provide for his family... No one should live like this.... 

The Bible says the poor will always be with us and that is a charge to respond. For too long some in the church have taken that as an excuse to ignore the poor around them - but it is a CALL to DO SOMETHING!! So get behind an organization that is - a creditable (more than a soup kitchen) organization working with the homeless in your area, or WHI or FHI internationally and DO SOMETHING...