Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for October, 2011

Cricket In Rwanda

From ROP Stories
ROP Center for Street Children

Cricket Without Boundaries visits ROP
Posted on October 14, 2011 by Sean

Last week the Rwandan Orphans Project received a surprise visit from a group of men from the UK who represent an organization called Cricket Without Boundaries. CWB uses the game of cricket to promote education on HIV/AIDS prevention and other topics to children in developing countries. In their own words:

Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) is a UK based charity dedicated to helping, educating and developing local communities around the World through the spread and growth of cricket. It is also about personal empowerment, both for adults and for children. The Charity uses the sport to help develop personal skills ranging from basic teamwork to self-discipline and leadership.

What was great about the visit is that they never actually intended on coming to the ROP. They were spending some time with a local school when someone told them about our Center and they decided to come pay us a visit. It shows the commitment and interest these men have for vulnerable children that they would squeeze us in their already tight schedule not only for one, but two days.

The first day they came we gave them a quick tour of the ROP Center and then all but three of them had to rush off to another school. All of us went to our playground with the three who stayed behind and soon we had divided the boys into three groups and each group went to learn a specific skill such as catching, batting and running.

Read entire story, with additional photos at: ROP Stories

Advertisements

Rwandan Oprhan’s Land

From ROP Stories
Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children.

We own our own land!
Posted on October 25, 2011 by Sean

The Rwandan Orphans Project has never had much to call our own. In the early days the Center was nothing more than a half-built, abandoned warehouse in Kigali’s dingy industrial district where hundreds of street kids came in search of food and a place to sleep. Fast forward to the present and the ROP Center occupies what was once a boarding school that sits on a large piece of land in a peaceful area called Nyarugunga. As wonderful as our current home is, it doesn’t belong to us. We only use it thanks to the generosity of a wealthy Rwandan couple who own the property and allow us to use it rent free.

The dream of all of us at the ROP has always been to have our own purpose built center on our own land. For years that was nothing more than a pipe dream, as our greatest priority was, and remains (we are facing tough times now more than ever) raising enough money to continue providing the care, education and other needs of our nearly 100 boys. To be frank, we put the dream of even owning our own land in the back of our minds; hopeful but not very optimistic about it happening anytime soon.

That all changed after a visit from a group of Australians back in July. Jenny and I were on holiday in Bujumbura, Burundi, but Jenny cut her vacation short, taking a six hour bus ride alone back to Kigali in order to meet this group. Jenny had been in touch with one of the group before their visit, who was keen to see the center, and particularly our quilting project. The day they came Jen gave them a tour and explained our project and what our goals were. They had kindly bought some quilt batting with them from Australia to help our project, along with some gifts for the boys. They all seemed very enthusiastic about our work and they spent a couple of hours with our boys. One of them even bought one of our quilts.

Not too long after their visit one of the members of the group, Tony, contacted Jenny and informed her that he and his wife Carol wanted to help the ROP to buy our own land. We were pleasantly shocked at the offer and told him we already had a plot in mind. In fact just a few weeks earlier we had been told about some land that was for sale in our own neighborhood. This land was being sold by a local family at a very low price considering its size and location. Tony asked us about the price and within days he had made a donation to cover the full cost of it. All of us at the ROP were thrilled. For the first time in our existence we would OWN something. As an organization we have been making great strides for some time now, but having our own land would be a giant step forward for the ROP.

Read complete story at ROP Stories.

No Arms to Bahrain

The U.S. State Department is coming under fire for considering a $53 million arms sale.

Why? Because since February of this year, the military, security and police forces of the prospective buyer — Bahrain — have used such weapons and military equipment to inflict deaths and injuries on protestors demanding greater political freedom.

Moving forward with this arms sale would provide more weapons and equipment to the very Bahraini security forces who have already shot protestors. It would also cross a clear line of U.S. responsibility to protect human rights.

That’s why right now members of Congress, led by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Jim McGovern, are drawing a sharp line with a resolution aimed at blocking this arms sale.

Urge your Senators and Representatives to join the call to stop the U.S. arms sale to Bahrain!

Bahrain’s horrible record on human rights continues to this day. At the peak of the crackdown, President Obama condemned the “mass arrests and brute force” used by the Bahraini government.

So why is the State Department even considering selling Bahrain more weapons?

Fortunately, the U.S. State Department is showing some signs of responsiveness. Just last week, it agreed to delay the weapons sale until a commission in Bahrain finishes investigating the government’s human rights abuses.

This temporary delay gives us the space we need to break through with a larger message of protecting human rights in Bahrain.

Add your voice — help stop the U.S. arms sale to Bahrain!

In Solidarity,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Call President Obama

From CREDO Action

Dear Gabriel,

A corrupt process. Improper relationships. A stunningly dangerous and ill-conceived project.

Still — the Keystone XL Pipeline is moving forward and a decision is coming before the end of the year.

We need to show significant pressure, every single day, to make sure the President understands just how big our opposition is.

Every weekday until the decision, we’re asking thousands of people concerned about Keystone XL to call the White House. Today is your day — can you make a quick call?

Call President Obama: Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Click here for an easy script and number to call.

This should be an easy “No” for the President. But so far, he’s allowed a sham process to be moved forward by the State Department, and hasn’t spoken out against the project, despite over 1,200 people being arrested outside his window.

But steadily, opposition is building, and we need to make sure that opposition is getting heard by the President and his advisers.

In the wake of huge story in the New York Times,1 three Senators and twenty Representative sent letters to President Obama, raising serious concerns about the major conflict of interest presented by the State Department’s selection of Cardno Entrix — a company with major business ties to TransCanada — to draft the environmental impact report and run local Keystone XL hearings.

Adding to the improprieties surrounding this pipeline, we also now know that the Koch brothers, despite previous denials, have a “substantial” financial interest in the construction of Keystone XL.

President Obama should be making a decision about our national interest — not the interest of TransCanada, Cardno Entrix and the Koch brothers.

Let’s make sure President Obama hears our opposition loud and clear — every single day. Click here for an easy script and number to call.

Thank you for fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Democracy in Tunisia

Excerpt from The New York Times

Moderate Islamist Party Heads Toward Victory in Tunisia

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: October 24, 2011

TUNIS — Tunisia’s moderate Islamist political party emerged Monday as the acknowledged leader in elections for a constitutional assembly and began talks to form a unity government with a coalition of liberals in a rare alliance that party leaders hailed as an inclusive model for countries emerging from the tumult of the Arab Spring.

By Monday afternoon, Tunisian liberal parties said they were entering discussions to form a government led by their Islamist rival, Ennahda, after it swept to a plurality of about 40 percent in preliminary vote tallies. The acceptance of the results by rivals signaled the beginning of a partnership seldom seen in the Arab world, where Islamists’ few opportunities for victories at the voting booth have sometimes led to harsh crackdown or civil war.

In neighboring Algeria, an electoral victory by Islamists 20 years ago set off a military coup and a decade of bloodshed, and in the Palestinian territories, the sweep to victory of Hamas in 2006 elections led to a showdown with the West, a split in the government and armed conflict in Gaza.

Tunisia’s was the first election of the Arab Spring, held to form an assembly that will govern while it writes a constitution, 10 months after the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Islamists cheered the results as a harbinger of their ascent after revolts across the region. Islamists in Egypt are poised for big victories in parliamentary elections next month and their counterparts in Libya are playing dominant roles in its post-Qaddafi transition.

“This proves that there is no Islamist exception, no Arab exception about democracy,” said Essam el-Erian, a leader of the new political party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. “We are as democratic as any country.”

In Tunisia and elsewhere some are wary of the Islamists’ surge, arguing that party leaders sound moderate now but harbor a conservative religious agenda. Tunisia, arguably closer to Europe than the other states swept up in the political upheaval of the past year, is widely viewed as having the best chance of establishing a genuinely pluralistic model of government.

Leaders of Ennahda noted that their party championed a greater commitment to the principles of Western-style liberal democracy than any other Islamist party in the region, and they said they hoped their example would help lead other Islamists in a similar liberal direction.

“We are the most progressive Islamic party in the region,” said Soumaya Ghannoushi, a British newspaper columnist and a scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She is the daughter of Ennahda’s founder and acts as a party spokeswoman.

“Accepting each other, accepting pluralism, accepting diversity and trying to work together — this is the lesson Ennahda can give to other Islamic political movements,” she said.

In countries like Egypt, where Islamists are more ideologically divided, Ennahda’s victory was sure to embolden those who favor a more liberal approach, including some within Egypt’s mainstream Muslim Brotherhood as well as breakaway groups like the New Center Party or a new party founded by former leaders of the Brotherhood Youth — groups already drawn toward the thought of Ennahda’s founder. But in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood also faces competition from new parties formed by ultraconservatives, known as Salafis, who seek an explicitly Islamic state.

Those already inclined to follow the Ennahda example “are not the most important players right now in the Islamist movement in Egypt,” argued Prof. Samer Shehata, a scholar of the region at Georgetown University. As a result, he said, Egypt’s secular liberals are likely to view the strong showing of Tunisia’s Islamists with “great concern.”

The final margin of victory for Ennahda remained to be seen Monday as Tunisian authorities continued to tabulate results. In the interest of transparency, officials counted the votes in the presence of observers in each polling place after closing Sunday night and posted the tally on the door, enabling political parties to compile their own rough estimates by Monday afternoon. Though reliable statistics were unavailable, observers said turnout had exceeded expectations. Some voters waited in line for as many as six hours.

In a news conference to announce its success, an Ennahda spokesman said the party had confirmed winning a plurality of more than 30 percent of the vote and the largest share in every district. A top party official, Ali Larayedh, said in an interview that Ennahda expected that the final result would be closer to 50 percent.

Read Complete Article at: NEW YORK TIMES

Help Stop Keystone

Dear Gabriel,

Lisa Jackson and the EPA are our best hope of strong opposition to Keystone XL from within the administration.It’s clear by now that there’s simply no hope of the State Department issuing a legitimate evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sometime in the next week, the EPA will issue its review of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Report.

Strong opposition from his own EPA will be essential if we’re going to convince President Obama to reject this horrible pipeline.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: Reject the State Department’s sham review of Keystone XL. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The EPA has already roundly criticized the first two drafts of the State Department’s environmental impact report, in April, and again in June.

But of course, it’s not really even the State Department’s review. A major New York Times article last week exposed the massive conflict of interest that we’ve been telling you about for weeks: that the environmental review, and local hearing process, were actually conducted by Cardno Entrix, a contracting company with major business ties to pipeline developer TransCanada.

The corrupt, biased process has glossed over the significant threats from this pipeline to American lands and waters, and the broader threat of major escalation of global warming pollution by rapidly developing and burning tar sands oil.

We’re depending on the EPA to make those threats clear.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: Reject the State Department’s sham review of Keystone XL. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

As evidence of conflict of interest and improper relationships has grown, everyone is trying to avoid taking responsibility for this decision. President Obama has said he delegated it to the State Department. Secretary of State Clinton is sending signals she may delegate the decision to a deputy to avoid taking responsibility for it herself.

Any way you slice it, the decision is really in the President’s hands. However, if the State Department does approve the project, the EPA literally has the power to force a final decision by President Obama, by formally opposing the approval.

The EPA is our best chance to be the voice of sanity in the administration, and urge the president to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Send a message to Lisa Jackson now, before she issues her environmental review of the State Department sham in the coming week.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: We’re depending on you to strongly oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline! Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Thank you for fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Adoption Testify

Adopting Isn’t Always Easy

Went with some friends today, who had to go to court to have the children that have lived with them for over 2 years permanently placed in their home. They’d asked me to come testify to help their case. I was one of the many they had for support.

As it turns out, they were such good witnesses that nobody else who came needed to testify in favor of them being the adoptive home for the children who have now called them Mama and Papa for a number of years. Everyone can see what a difference these parents have made for the children and it seemed like an easy decision, but the road to get to this point hasn’t always been a walk in the park.

Through no fault of their own, these parents have had to jump through what seems like a hundred hoops and “prove” themselves worthy ten times more than any biological parent ever dreams of having to do. They’ve weathered the storm and stood their ground, all for the benefit of the children. Some people would have given up by now, but they are attached and in love with the young people they’ve taken in.

Our experience was very different, when we adopted and fostered some of our children many years ago, there seemed to be much less hassle and more support. I hope it can get back to that type of system soon, so that more parents will want to take in children that need the loving, safe kind of home that our friends provide.

Tag Cloud