Category Archives: poverty

on playing and giving, winter spring summer and fall

service

 

These past couple of months I often heard people refer to “the season of giving.”  The holidays seem to bring this out in people more than at other times.  It made me wonder, why is there only one season for giving?  Why limit ourselves?  There are opportunities to give every single day, 365 days a year.  Sometimes I think people equate giving with money only.  Sure money helps a lot but money won’t keep an elementary school kid from being teased or a middle school kid from feeling lonely or a high school kid from feeling overwhelmed or a college student from feeling lost or a new mom from feeling exhausted or a father from feeling pressure or a teacher from feeling unvalued or a grandparent from feeling forgotten. Perhaps the most important thing we each can give is, simply, kindness.

Still, thinking kind thoughts, wonderful as they are, is not enough.  Your smile, your compliment, your acknowledgment of another is action, real action that you can take that will impact another.  Similarly, thinking about poverty, homelessness, gender violence, global warming, etc. isn’t enough.  It’s a place to start.  The issues sound so big and we’re left feeling that there is nothing we can do that will really make an impact.  There is this pervasive belief that we’re all too busy.  We’re already pulled in a thousand directions– who has time to take on world hunger?  Sometimes I hear from other parents that kids need to be kids and have more time to play and shouldn’t be burdened with the harsh realities of the world around them just yet.  So they play a lot of sports and a lot of electronic games.  I love play! Love, love, love sports! And I still think we have time to care about others and give.  Recently I was watching my son and his friend laugh together while sitting side by side on the couch playing games on their devices.  I so love hearing the laughter but after an hour of this they seemed caught in a zone. I asked them if they wanted to take on a challenge.  Knowing me and my ways, they were instantly suspicious!  They took a chance and said, sure– bring it on.  I placed 5 food items in front of them and asked them to create a winning appetizer. My son’s friend hasn’t cooked much and began to get agitated.  He had no idea what to make. He stared at the ingredients for a long time.  5 random things.  We started to talk about food choices and how many we have and how we take it for granted that meals come easily to us.  Most of us. I asked the boys if they had any idea how much money the 5 ingredients before them might cost.  They were shocked when we figured it out.  We started to talk about the poverty line and how people can possibly manage to live on $1.25 a day in this country. They asked how kids living below the poverty line get lunch at school.  Fact is, more than half of American kids who attend public school rely on a meal at school for the only one they’ll get.  As my son and his friend talked and had fun while creating their culinary masterpieces they were thinking about hunger and poverty.  Then we talked about action, what could they do, how could they give of themselves to someone who is cold, hungry, homeless in our own community.  And so it begins…

There ARE things we can do.  Kids can volunteer at local shelters for certain needs.  You know that laughter coming from the couch of two boys playing electronic games?  What if those boys went to the shelter with some hot chocolate and sat with someone there and  played with them for an hour?  It’s a simple act, requiring no real money.  What if that smile shared felt so good that they went back again another evening?  I can honestly tell you that giving from your heart is just as addictive as video games or the adrenaline rush from a perfect shot on the court.  We can play and learn.  We can play and think about others.  We can play with others who don’t have much of a chance for play.  We can play and give.

It’s the little bits of good that each of us can do that truly can overwhelm the world.  Every day, every season…

P.S. the boys made the most delicious crostini with toasted marshmallow, basalmic-infused sun dried tomatoes!

Imagine.

#orangeURhood

#orangeurhood

It’s TakeActionTuesday– and the beginning of #16days of Activism against Gender Violence. During this time we ask you to join with us, UNwomen.org and SayNoToViolence.org as we raise awareness and call for the elimination of violence against women and girls around the world.  Last year, the UNiTE campaign launched a global call for action to “Orange the World in 16 Days.”  The initiative aimed to create the symbolic image of a world free from violence against women and girls. The color orange is a uniting theme for all the events surrounding the UNiTE campaign, and is a bright and optimistic color, representative of a world free from violence against women and girls. At thinkpeace workshop for girls, orange represents many things, especially during this month of World Kindness, Tolerance and the campaign to stop gender-based violence.  Please put your orange on for the next #16days and make your statement!

#TheCall

Over the next 16 days we will be posting on facebook actions that you can take in your community. Today’s actions are:

Organize a walk with local government officials to mark the 16 Days of Activism. Wear orange t-shirts and carry orange banners, posters and balloons. Use the opportunity to engage members of your local community and raise awareness of violence against women and girls.
Share information about violence against women and girls with your local community and invite them to pledge to support the UNiTE campaign.
 ☮ Turn your profile picture orange for the duration of the 16 Days! Whether you’re on Twitter or on Facebook, it’s easy for you to turn your current profile picture orange.  Check out the overlay design on Twibbon. Go to http://twibbon.com/search and type in “#Orangeurhood in #16days”.
 ☮ Turn your emails orange! Write your emails in orange text, and put the following line on the bottom:  Wonder why this email is orange? Because it’s the International Day to End Violence against Women. Find out more at http://unwomen.org.
 As we orange our hood in New York, #orangeurhood by photoshopping landmarks from your neighborhood orange, and share them on social media via the hashtags #orangeurhood and #16days.

At thinkpeace workshop for girls we believe that violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and a serious global issue that is preventable.  It is NOT okay that 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.  The UN has stated that “Violence against women and girls impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combatting HIV and AIDS, and peace and security.  Violence against women and girls has enormous social and economic costs for individuals, families, communities and societies and has a significant impact on development and the realization of sustainable development goals.”  Together we can Say No to Violence. Start today.

Imagine.

 

 

 

give me the facts sista’: water

Director’s note: Second in her series about the issues facing girls (and the world) today, GARMIN talks water. Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation  kill more people each year than all forms of violence combined, including war. thinkpeace workshop has just contributed 10,000 paper beads made for the Students Rebuild water challenge, in partnership with charity:water. That translates into a contribution from the Bezos Family Foundation of water for 500 people in Tanzania.  Water truly effects everything– education, health, poverty and opportunity. Imagine.

 

charity: water

When my doctor tells me I need to drink more water in order to get healthier faster, I groan. Hearing that I need to drink more water is last on my list of priorities, however for many girls, women, and children in developing countries water is the first on their list. Access to clean and drinkable water is one of top global health crises today, in fact so much that it effects 1 billion people. Yes, you read that right. 1 billion people. The facts are clear.

Check out this video by one of the organizations helping to bring clean drinking water to those without it, charity:water

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve watched this video a number of times and what gets me every time is the fact that water affects every aspect of life. In most cases girls and women are the ones who are collecting the water for their families. Having to collect water puts their education on the back burner and often times forces them to drop out of school. Last week we talked about the importance of education and how it changes the quality of life for girls and women. That change can’t happen if girls are focused on obtaining water. When the strain of collecting water is diminished, two HUGE things happen for those communities: food supply increases and gender equality is now an option. Fresh water is needed to grow crops and for many families having enough water to grow their own small garden increases their food supply. Secondly, when girls are no longer burdened with collecting water they can either go to school or have the option of pursuing work. Either of those two options helps their own families and then their communities. Engaging women in work increases the GDP of a country and helps an area become more economically stable. While obtaining the funds to build systems to provide clean drinking water is not cheap there is a solution.

Later this summer at camp we will talk about ways to engage you in being part of the solution!

46 days until camp!!!

give me the facts sista’: education

At thinkpeace workshop we believe it is our duty as global citizens to be informed and educated on the challenges facing girls around the world. The next couple of weeks here on the blog will focus on some hard core facts of some of these challenging global problems with the intention of encouraging you to develop a critical lens aimed toward finding a solution. Naturally, these posts will not be fully comprehensive because many of these issues are large, complicated, and without simple straight forward solutions. Understanding the basic core of each challenge is the first step in finding a solution. 

This week we will take up the intersection of gender and education.

In this past Sunday’s New York Times, journalist Nick Kristof takes up this issue, “Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books.” I think he’s spot on with this.  It’s why Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Afghan Taliban, it’s why Boko Haram took nearly 300 girls from school, and it’s one of the core contributors towards girl-specific violence. Quite simply the equation is this: girls + education = change

If you haven’t yet seen the video The Girl Effect, it’s time.

YouTube Preview Image

So why would extremist groups and people in general be threatened by educated girls? Some facts followed by an explanation:

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Fewer children means less people in the workforce which means less hands to be able to work the fields and help around the home. It means that girls gain control of their reproduction which gives them more power to create change. 

  • An extra year of primary school education boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10-20%.  An extra year of secondary school adds 15-25%.

More money for women means that the global poverty rate will go down. A woman will work to address problems in her community, and her children will be given a greater chance of survival. 

  • Women in 32 countries who remained in school after primary school were five times more likely to know basic facts about HIV than illiterate women.

Education decreases a girl’s or woman’s risk for contracting HIV or transmitting HIV to her baby. Knowing how to prevent contraction or transmission means that the global HIV/AIDS rate will go down. 

While we know educated girls are the key to global change, the rate in which girls are attending school has not caught up. Day of the Girl and Girl Rising, both organizations devoted to raising awareness on girls issues gives us the facts:

66 million girls are out of school globally.

 Only 30% of all girls worldwide are enrolled in secondary school. 

The average sub-Saharan African girl from a low income, rural household gets less than two years of school and never learns to read and write, to add and subtract, as opposed to the average sub- Saharan African boy who fully completes primary education.  

There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school. 

If India enrolled 1 % more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5 billion. 

So if all of these facts are true, why don’t we just cut to the chase and enroll girls in school? You see, it’s not that easy. School in other countries is not always free, it isn’t always available, and families don’t always want educated girls for a variety of reasons. Educated girls will create change, plain and simple. Change is not always easy.

Knowing the facts is the first step in creating change. Girls + education = change. How are you going to change the course of this global challenge?

Send me your thoughts, questions, concerns. garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org

shake, rattle and roll into Spring by GARMIN

I am constantly surprised how a small thing, comment, or act can change something or someone for the better.

On Wednesdays, there is a ceramics class in the studio during the time that I have my thesis class. In the class is a boy who is, from what I understand, high-functioning autistic. He reminds me a lot of my brother- he paces, flaps his hands, talks to himself, yet unlike my brother, he is an incredibly fine artist. He rarely speaks in general, and when he does it is absolutely mind blowing. In the throes of my thesis he came up to me while I was throwing my cups and stood next to me and waited until I took out my noise-canceling headphones. He simply said two words, “wheel sculpture” and walked away. My mind was absolutely blown– you see, as an artist who has struggled to find the middle ground between my sculptural work and my wheel thrown functional work, it hadn’t occurred to me that wheel throwing could in fact be sculpture. The boy, as I later came to find out, didn’t see things in terms of functionality, he saw them in terms of their physical shape; as they were.

Dasani, 12

Likewise, this past December a HUGE New York Times multi-part article came out exposing (and that’s putting it lightly) the decrepit New York City homeless shelter system for families. It featured a little girl, Dasani- a girl just trying to put one foot in front of another and trying her hardest to keep her family together and functioning. I can count on one hand the number of times the quality and content of news reporting has brought me to tears and this is certainly one of them. Andrea Elliot, the NYT writer, was troubled by the lack of regular reporting emerging about this topic and the fact that thousands of New Yorkers live in squalor and with such regular anguish of cockroaches, the threat of sexual assault, and overall insecurity. (If you haven’t read the article it is seriously worth the read. http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child/#/?chapt=1)

In a few short months, thinkpeace will take to New York City for our annual summer camp. While we are busy getting ready for our girls to become change-makers-in-residence, the city is making its own change! I love NYC politics and culture, and I could talk about them all day. As we prepare to take to the streets of the Big Apple I think it’s important to continue to stay informed about the issues that are affecting the area in which we will be doing our work. For twelve years, former Mayor Bloomberg’s office policies about homelessness and shelters flip-flopped, going from at one point giving families priority in receiving long-term housing, to being replaced with short-term subsidy-based housing meaning that the homeless rate bounced back up to 52,000– the highest in city history. While Bloomberg excelled in many other areas in running the city, this proved not to be one of them. On January 1st, 2014 when new Mayor Bill DeBlasio stepped up to the podium to take his oath of office, next to him stood little Dasani from the NYT article. DeBlasio, much of whose election was won on Bloomberg’s short-comings, advocated for reversing the previous administration’s policy and vowed to lower the city’s homeless rate. In a follow up article on Truth-out.org (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22758-how-a-twelve-year-old-homeless-girl-helped-more-than-400-children-find-safer-shelter), it was announced that the homeless shelter that Dasani lived in would soon no longer function as a homeless shelter for families due to its unsafe physical structure. Come June, all families will be moved into safer, healthier, and overall better facilities and it’s all because of one little girl. A girl who believed in better.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Desmond Tutu

While credit should be given to Dasani for the change in the shelter situation, we cannot fail to recognize Elliot who equally believed that Dasani’s story should be told. She realized that in knowing the truth of the situation, the story must be told– for if she didn’t she would continue to be a part of the problem; knowing it and not advocating for change and therefore continuing the circle of oppression. When we choose to not take action when we see injustice we may as well sign up to be the oppressor- the one creating the wrong. It is people like both Elliot and Dasani who create change, they are at their core change-makers.

Whether you know it or not yet, PowerGirl, you are a changemaker as well. Changemakers live well in their places, expose the truth of situations, and then take action. They are action-takers, evolution-starters, protest-initiators, flash-dance-mob-organizers, conversation-starters, and active listeners. And so I urge you to start this new spring season with a sense of urgency, a sense of taking notes and observing the places you will change. Where will you step into your Dasani-ness and shake and rattle things up?

on women and poverty

live below the line

awareness

 

Can you live on less that $1.50 a day?

1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day for all their needs. Women make up half the population of the world and 70% of the world’s poor. They are discriminated against in terms of education, opportunity and health care. They work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property.  It’s vitally important that we work together and address women’s poverty and inequality.

What can we do?

Educate girls.

50 million of the 72 million children currently not enrolled in school are girls. Two thirds of the nearly 800 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women. The impact of educating girls is tremendous. It enables women to have a greater effect on reducing poverty in their communities as, within most communities, women are responsible for providing food, health care and education of their families.

The economic benefits of educating girls are:

•    educated girls have fewer children
•    educated girls are better able to care for their children
•    educated girls have better access to health care and information
•    educated girls practice safer sex
•    educated girls have better access to jobs
•    educated girls are more likely to send their children to school.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated:

“there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health – including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful  in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

When women are supported with resources and political commitment, real change will happen. We believe it all starts with a girl!

Raising awareness of the need for universal education is a step we can take simply by using our voices. Let yours be heard! Another way is by publicly making a commitment to understand what it feels like to ‘live below the line’. The World Bank has defined the poverty line as living on less than $1.50 a day. What better way to understand extreme poverty than by spending just a few days living below the line.  From April 29-May 3 join us as we take the challenge to live below the line, feeding ourselves on less than $1.50 a day.

1.4 billion people on this planet have to make that $1.50 cover a lot more than food, but the Global Poverty Project and it’s partners are asking you to take this challenge as a means of really understanding the difficulties that too many people around the world face on a daily basis.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line Challenge:

So you want to Live Below the Line, but you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into. Ok, here are the basics:

From April 29th to May 3rd, you can spend no more than $1.50 a day on food and drink.

This means you have a total of $7.50 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.

The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packages of food such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.

For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per ounce and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your pantry.

One of the easiest ways to partake in the challenge is to share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than $1.50 a day or their total $7.50 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.

You can’t grab a snack from the pantry unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.

You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production.

No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the $1.50 spending limit.

Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.

You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends!

You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.

Are you up for the challenge?  Between now and Monday check our facebook page (www.facebook.com/thinkpeaceworkshop) for recipes and support! We’re along for the ride with you. Bono said, “I can’t change the world. But I can change the world in me.” All it takes is some awareness and compassion. Imagine.

awareness + voice + action = change