Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Philippines’

I Carried Them With Me

geigerExcerpt featuring Nicola Geiger. From Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

Born and raised in Germany, Nicola Geiger lived in a young girl’s dream world; a luxurious home, close friends, material goods and parties galore. By the end of World War II she was homeless, without possessions and absent her loving family. Her father, mother and one-year-old son died shortly after the war began. When she was eight months pregnant with her second child she was raped. The child died at birth as a result of the trauma. She was interrogated and tortured in Poland, lost many close friends, and her dear husband Rudolf disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Since her losses during the war, Nicola persisted in reaching out to others. Immediately after the war she worked with the International Red Cross and assisted refugees. After studying in England she moved to the U.S., met her second husband, fought against McCarthyism and became involved in the civil rights movement. When they moved on to Japan, she became active in visiting the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, waged campaigns for world peace, and fought for the rights of Koreans who had been enslaved and abused by the Japanese. When her husband died she decided to move to the Philippines. There she fought for democracy and the overthrow of the Marcos regime.

Ms. Geiger:

First of all, my two children died. One was a baby and the other was when I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and was raped by twelve Russians. The child didn’t survive. It died right after birth. Fortunately, they found me in these ruins in Berlin. A lady heard me when I cried out for help and she took me to a Red Cross hospital. Then my husband disappeared and I never knew what happened to him. My father died a horrible death at the beginning of the war, which was said to be an accident, but it wasn’t – his legs were cut off while he was visiting a factory. Friends died and the absolute, total destruction of everything from the bombing. It was an enormous amount of simply taking in the losses.

Such losses can never be replaced. You’re totally wiped out . . . your associations and surroundings . . . furnishings that were two hundred years old, furniture, everything . . . so then you realize you are totally alone.

I was very active in helping refugees after the war. I moved to England where I studied theater. I came to America at the time of McCarthyism, where you were better dead than red. I was not going to stay in America one day longer with such attitudes and wouldn’t have if I hadn’t met my second husband. He was a scientist who’d worked on the Manhattan Project. He was really an extraordinary person.

I was very involved with anti-McCarthyism and the civil rights movement. I had never been told, “This is a Jew and this is a German.” I grew up in a socialist family and my father was extremely enlightened, as was my mother. My father was a Buddhist. He sat in the room where I was born and had prepared a meditation mat next to him so I could be put beside him upon birth.

I was very involved in the civil rights movement during the fifties and sixties and I worked a great deal with children in theater in order to empower them. I find theater to be a tool that is very useful. During the Vietnam War I continued in the civil rights movement. We lived in Philadelphia. There were sit ins from Baltimore up to Washington, women strike for peace and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. I was really involved with my whole heart then. When my husband went on sabbatical we went to Hiroshima Japan where he did research on atomic bomb victims, whom I worked with as well.

The Japanese had resettled two provinces in Korea and brought Koreans to Japan as slave laborers. In 1905 America and Japan made a treaty in which America took over the Philippines and Japan took over Korea. The Koreans were very badly treated, so I worked a great deal with Koreans in the Hiroshima area and in Kyoto after my husband died. I worked extensively with the Japanese peace movement and with the liberation people in Korea. For a couple years I moved to the Philippines because of my health. I lived with European journalists there and entered into the movement to oust the Marcos regime.

There was never a time when I wasn’t involved. It hasn’t been from an intellectual place. It really came from my own deep understanding of what life is about. The work I did was because I wanted to be in this world. I wanted to live in that light which takes away the occasion of all wars cruelty and control. I really understood, through my Buddhism, that I am the one that must work on myself . . . my ego. This is what I successfully did, in great part because of my experience with suffering.

Two of the major exercises which were brought to me when I was young, were to go over my day at night and decide what was harmonious and what was not. My parents did not speak of bad and good; they spoke of harmony and disharmony. They presented it in a way, because I was very small, that I was very much empowered. If I had done something, thrown a stone or fought with someone, I could go to that person and make it right or more accurately, harmonious.

My parents always used the bell. (She rings bell) The bell was used for settling down. My mother was not a Buddhist, but she saw how its values worked and she and father’s parenting was always together. There was also an enormous group of friends with whom we’d celebrate the change of the year. People would come together. Every weekend there would be music and poetry. It was an extremely interesting and wonderful life I grew up in.

I don’t really know how I managed to survive (the war), but I can tell you what happened. When I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, I thought, “I can change the world!” Don’t we all think that? I was nineteen when my father died on September 6, 1939, just six days after the war began. Then there was the attack on Poland and a few of my friends were killed. Then began the registration of food and nobody could travel on trains. Everything was regulated. My father was against Hitler and had voted against him in the election. Did you know he came into power with only thirty-three percent of the vote? A year after Hitler became chancellor he assassinated five thousand people, many who were homosexuals, gypsies (and political opponents). Five thousand people in two days! They were all rounded up.

When these things happened I really understood that I had no power; that I had been living in a fantasy; thinking my life could make a difference. I really understood that I was quite powerless, even though I knew many important people. I could go to them but they could not help me. I couldn’t say, “Let’s stop the war.” Then from my own view of the world, because of Buddhism, I really grasped, not so much understood, it really was a grasping, that I was responsible for myself and how I would live and what I would do in the midst of all that was going on. From 1943 on, when the totally destructive air raids came, I really lived day to day.

Why didn’t I have any feeling of revenge? I think this is fascinating. I thought it was futile to do so. I felt that to have these emotions were only hurting me. They didn’t give me any peace. I had feelings, not so much of revenge, but of anger and more anger. I wanted to lash back. But I began to understand very quickly, to grasp, that that would only hurt myself. I had to fight to really center down and my bell helped me with that. I centered down and did my Metta practice every day. Metta is a Buddhist meditation for loving-kindness. That was the thing to do. In many ways it’s a great mystery that I could do it. I think it had something to do with all the wonderful people I’d encountered through the years. The German people were not bad people. The people I’d been born in to were fine people. In human kindness and helpfulness I encountered many wonderful people.

So, I did my Metta practice. I didn’t deny my grief. Indeed, I felt it! I tried to commit suicide on my birthday on August 3rd, 1945. I took pills and my friends with whom I was staying came back home after I’d taken them. Luckily they’d forgotten something. I don’t speak of it very often. I was tired. I was so tired of knowing about evil. I was so tired that I wanted to rest forever. It’s really amazing all the things that went on around the world.

When I recovered, woke up and was back in the present, I was really grateful that I had lived! My time was not yet up. Indeed, I realized that I had a task. And each time someone died that was close to me; I carried them with me in their spirit. It’s like they’re marching with me. I’ve demonstrated and manifested in my life what most of the people who died would have done.

Post Script: Nicola Geiger died peacefully, after a long illness, on July 31, 2006.

More inspiring stories at Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan

I’m writing you from the Philippines where I’m managing CARE’s ongoing response to Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Relief Efforts Continue After Typhoon Haiyan's DestructionThe situation we’re dealing with on the ground is unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my 20 plus years as an emergency response specialist.

My team of seasoned veterans and I delivered life-saving aid after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and the drought-stricken Horn of Africa in 2011.

haiyan-e4-debrisBut none of those disastrous events were as challenging as this one. The remoteness, flooding and debris everywhere in the affected areas means that simple journeys can take days. The widespread magnitude of the damage means limited to no access by land or air and no lines of communication or electricity up and running.

There are pictures below, but they don’t truly capture the experience on the ground: the smell, the complete destruction in every direction you look, the heavy rain, the continuous exhaustion because there is nowhere for anyone to sleep, debris everywhere. And – worst of all – the desperate look in the eyes of survivors.

They’re hungry and they’ve been hungry for days. The food is just gone, picked clean.

It’s truly awful. We need your help. You can help us put food, shelter, and necessities in the hands of Filipinos and others in need.

Within the next 48 hours, we’ll be distributing food to thousands of families outside of Ormac City. Frankly, it’s frustrating that we can’t get supplies to more survivors more quickly. We plan to help an initial 150,000 storm survivors with the support of donors like you. Food and shelter are our current priorities.

Coordinating the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan has been so much more challenging than Haiti. It’s not even that the weather is horrible or that today’s office/sleeping space lost its roof and flooded out.

Communication during emergency response is critical, but here the electricity is down, the phone lines aren’t working, there is no internet. Thank goodness for our satellite phones.

In Haiti, communication was back up very quickly. And the earthquake was in a small area, so once the rubble was cleared, it was easy to drive and deliver aid. We could get everywhere affected in two or three hours. The airport was up and functioning quickly, so supplies could be brought by air, or road from the Dominican Republic.

Here in the Philippines, the disaster is spread over several islands. It takes days to get to places – not only for relief items, but for staff. You have to take a boat, and then a car, and the road hasn’t been cleared. The government and international community are working to clear the roads and open the airport, but it is taking time.

Once it does, we know what we need to do to help. I only hope you’ll be there during this critical time to support our response. Donate to CARE right away to help with disaster relief efforts in the Philippines and other places impacted by crisis and poverty.

Sincerely,

David Gazashvili
CARE Emergency Team Leader

One of Largest Typhoons Ever

One of Largest Typhoons Ever

Residents rush to safety past a fallen tree during strong winds brought by Typhoon Haiyan that hit Cebu cityLess than 3 days ago, one of the largest typhoons ever recorded ripped through the Philippines.

Sustained winds measured 195 mph, gusts as high as 235 mph. Initial images show trees uprooted like toothpicks. Buildings demolished. Homes washed away by a torrential storm surge.

A child stands little chance against this kind of storm. There are reports of 1,000 deaths in a single coastal town. Up to 1.7 million children are believed to be living in the areas that were hit.

UNICEF is rushing staff, relief and resources to the region. “…We know how vital it is to reach children quickly,” says UNICEF’s Philippines representative Tomoo Hozumi.

You can help this effort by donating to UNICEF’s EMERGENCY response. Every donation will go directly to relief efforts there.

Just three weeks ago, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the islands in the very same region. Tens of thousands of children were left homeless and living out in the open in make-shift tents.

Super Typhoon Haiyan couldn’t have come at a worse moment.

For children who have survived, clean water is a matter of life and death. Safe drinking water can be impossible to find after such a massive natural disaster. And without it, a child will drink whatever water she can find, no matter how dirty or diseased. That drink can quickly lead to diarrhea, disease and death.

UNICEF’s first priorities are to make sure every child has access to clean drinking water, essential medicines and emergency nutritional supplements. Even without a full assessment, we know tens of thousands of children are in grave danger.

Every moment matters for these children.

Please donate to UNICEF’s EMERGENCY response in the Philippines. Any donation will make a huge difference. Right now, UNICEF’s resources are stretched thin by three major crises in the country in just two months.

The last few months have been heartbreaking for children in Syria and now the Philippines. You’ve done so much already, but this is urgent and children’s lives are on the line, so I’m asking for your support again.

Thank you for your compassion, your selflessness, your generosity in the face of such a heartbreaking crisis.

With gratitude,

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

World’s Waste Potential

Beyond Recycling: On the Road to Zero Waste
by Beverly Bell
From Nation of Change
3 November 2012

Zero waste is both a goal and a plan of action. The goal is to protect and recover scarce natural resources by ending waste disposal in incinerators, dumps, and landfills. The plan encompasses waste reduction, composting, recycling and reuse, changes in consumption habits, and industrial redesign. The premise is that if a product cannot be reused, composted, or recycled, it just should not be produced in the first place.

Just as importantly, zero waste is a revolution in the relationship between waste and people. It is a new way of thinking about safeguarding the health and improving the lives of everyone who produces, handles, works with, or is affected by waste — in other words, all of us.

Zero waste strategies help societies to produce and consume goods while respecting ecological limits and the rights of communities. The strategies ensure that all discarded materials are safely and sustainably returned to nature or to manufacturing in place of raw materials. In a zero waste approach, waste management is not left only to politicians and technical experts; rather, everyone impacted — from residents of wealthy neighborhoods to the public, private, and informal sector workers who handle waste — has a voice.

Practicing zero waste means moving toward a world in which all materials are used to their utmost potential, in a system that simultaneously prioritizes the needs of workers, communities, and the environment. It is much like establishing zero defect goals for manufacturing, or zero injury goals in the workplace.

Zero waste is ambitious, but it is not impossible. Nor is it part of some far-off future. Today, in small towns and big cities, in areas rich and poor, in the global North and South, innovative communities are making real progress toward the goal of zero waste. Every community is different, so no two zero waste programs are identical, but the various approaches are together creating something bigger than the sum of their parts: protection of the earth and the natural riches which lie under, on, and over it. Here are a few examples of what is working:

* Through incentives and extensive public outreach, San Francisco has reduced its waste to landfill by 77 percent — the highest diversion rate in the United States — and is on track to reach 90 percent by 2020;

* A door-to-door collection service operated by a cooperative of almost 2,000 grassroots recyclers in Pune, India — now part of the city’s waste management system — diverts enough waste to avoid 640,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually;

* Aggressive standards and incentives for both individuals and businesses in the Flanders region of Belgium have achieved 73 percent diversion of residential waste, the highest regional rate in Europe;

* In Taiwan, community opposition to incineration pushed the government to adopt goals and programs for waste prevention and recycling. The programs were so successful that the quantity of waste decreased significantly, even as the population increased and the economy grew;

* An anti-incinerator movement in the Spanish province of Gipuzkoa led to the adoption of door-to-door waste collection services in several small cities, which have since reduced the amount of waste going to landfills by 80 percent;

* In the Philippines, a participatory, bottom-up approach has proven that communities have the ability to solve their own waste management problems;

* A focus on organics in Mumbai, India and La Pintana, Chile has produced real value from the cities’ largest and most problematic portion of municipal waste;

* In Buenos Aires, Argentina, grassroots recyclers focused on cooperatives and took collective political action. As a result, the city began separating waste at the source, an essential step toward its goal of 75 percent diversion by 2017.

While few locations are bringing together all the elements of a comprehensive zero waste plan, many have in common a philosophy driven by four core strategies:

1. Moving away from waste disposal: Zero waste moves societies away from waste disposal by setting goals and target dates to reduce waste going to landfills, abolishing waste incineration, establishing or raising landfill fees, shifting subsidies away from waste disposal, banning disposable products, and other actions. Government policies that promote these interventions are strongest when they incentivize community participation and incorporate the interests of waste workers.

2. Supporting comprehensive reuse, recycling, and organics treatment programs: Zero waste is about creating a closed cycle for all the materials we use — paper, glass, metals, plastic, and food among them. Such a system operates through separating waste at its source in order to reuse, repair, and recycle inorganic materials, and compost or digest organic materials. Separate organics collection ensures a stream of clean, high-quality material which in turn enables the creation of useful products (compost and biogas) from the largest portion of municipal waste.

3. Engaging communities: Zero waste relies on democracy and strong community action in shaping waste management. A lengthy initial consultation process can pay off with better design and higher participation rates. Residents must actively participate in the programs by consuming sustainably, minimizing waste, separating discards, and composting at home.

A successful zero waste program must also be an inclusive one. Inclusive zero waste systems make sure that resource recovery programs include and respect all those involved in resource conservation, especially informal recyclers whose livelihoods depend on discarded materials. The workers who handle waste should be fully integrated into the design, implementation, and monitoring processes, as they ultimately make the system function. In some communities, where waste workers come from historically excluded populations, this may require ending long-standing discriminatory practices.

4. Designing for the future: Zero waste emphasizes efficient use of resources; safe manufacturing and recycling processes to protect workers; product durability; and design for disassembly, repair, and recycling. Once communities begin to put zero waste practices in place, the residual fraction — that which is left over because it is either too toxic to be safely recycled or is made out of non-recyclable materials — becomes evident, and industrial design mistakes and inefficiencies can be studied and corrected.

Read entire Op-Ed at Nation of Change.

Domestic Slavery

Dear Activist,

Did you know that in the Philippines, more women leave their homes to work as maids or nannies than in any other country? But on their first day of “work”, many learn they’ve been deceived. Locked inside strangers’ homes, their passports taken away, many suffer beatings and sexual abuse. Filipino women are the face of domestic work around the world – and sadly, the face of domestic slavery.

But this summer, we can help change that. The Philippines Senate is voting on a law to protect domestic workers from falling into slavery.

43,000 people have already signed our petition asking the Senate to pass the law. Our partners in the Philippines tell us this wave of international attention is having a tremendous impact! We want to reach 50,000 signatures by the time the Senate comes back in session in three weeks. Please sign and tell your friends today:

Stop Millions of Women and Girls from Being Deceived and Sold Into Slavery

Recently, our partners in the Philippines organized a Walk for Freedom to demand government action. Thousands of people marched in the streets of Manila asking their government to protect millions of women and girls from falling into domestic slavery. Survivors shared their horror stories of leaving their homes to find a job as a maid – only to end up as a slave.

And Walk Free members were there with them in spirit! 43,000 people from 156 countries have already signed our petition calling on the Philippines to sign the law. The world is watching – if the Philippines becomes the 2nd country to ratify the law, under the International Labour Organization’s provisions, it comes into effect.

We need to keep the momentum going – help us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures by signing and telling your friends today! Walk Free will deliver the petition to the Philippines Senate to send a strong message to senators to pass this law as soon as they come back in session.

Stop Millions of Women and Girls from Being Deceived and Sold Into Slavery

Thank you for your support,
Tim, Debra, Lauren, Galit, Martine, David, Josh and the rest of the Walk Free team

Do I Have The Guts?

I know it works. Millions of people around the world have risked life and limb to make it happen. But I don’t know, when it comes down to it, if I have the courage or moral strength to do it myself. In country after country, against the world’s worst governments, tyrants, military invaders and dictators, people have put their lives on the line by confronting the violent use of repression, intimidation, torture and imprisonment with nonviolent weapons of non-cooperation, civil-disobedience, strikes, sit-ins, rallies, vigils, politics and boycotts.

The question is not whether nonviolence works, but why it hasn’t been acknowledged, advocated, taught and put into practice more often? No other form of conflict has created such long-lasting and peaceful results as that of nonviolence.

Nonviolence is far from a passive activity. It requires deep introspection, continual self-awareness, strategizing, commitment, patience and direct and in-direct action. People actually have less chance of getting killed by using nonviolent tactics than they do by using violence.

As seen throughout history, it is imperative that the means match the ends. If you want a peaceful society you can’t use violence to create it. If you desire less hatred, bigotry and vengeance in the world, you have to see it in yourself and practice removing it from your own life.

A Jewish man, known as Jesus of Nazareth, repeatedly and adamantly advocated love and nonviolence and was willing to suffer torture and death by the Romans for his beliefs. His actions and words have since influenced the lives of millions.

About five hundred years before Jesus, the Buddha of Gotama preached an end to the caste system in India and contrary to all rules, laws and expectations of his time, accepted students from all castes.

In 1905, an Eastern Orthodox priest led over 150,000 Russians to the capital to protest the government. That march led to the first popularly elected parliament in that nation’s history.

In the early 1930’s, Mahatmas Gandhi first called for mass civil disobedience against the British. His call for active Satyagraha (truth force) resulted in India’s democratic independence in 1947.

Danish citizens refused to aid the Nazi war effort and forced the Germans to end blockades and curfews during their occupation of Denmark.

Without picking up a single gun Salvadoran’s forced their longtime military dictator into exile in 1944.

Martin Luther King, Jr., using many of the non-violent tactics of Gandhi, helped mobilize Americans to end racial segregation in the South and fight for civil rights nation wide.

Cesar Chavez peacefully rallied farm-workers to demand better working conditions for the men and women that harvest our countries food.

Laborers went on strike, won the right to organize and with the help of the Catholic Church and Solidarity, nonviolently brought down a totalitarian form of communism in Poland.

A group of mothers marched in the capitol of Argentina demanding to know the whereabouts of their abducted sons and grandsons. After years of being intimidated, tortured and imprisoned themselves, their persistence helped oust the countries military junta.

In the Philippines, in 1986, a coalition of citizens outraged with the government supported assassination of a returning exiled politician, massed to support his widow Corazin Aquino. After defying continued brutality, censorship and threats by the Armed Forces under Ferdinand Marcos, the people, with the help of The Church, struck at the conscience of military officers who eventually refused to follow Marcos’s orders.

South Africans waged a decades long nonviolent campaign to end Apartheid. Their actions eventually led to the freeing of Nelson Mandela and a democratically elected government in which every person’s vote had equal value.

Over 100,000 students in the Czech republic sat down in the streets demanding freedom. Their example set off a wave of protest that washed away totalitarian regimes in Hungary, Bulgaria, Mongolia and East Germany.

At the turn of the century the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic was defeated and his security forces neutralized by a general strike and nonviolent uprising.

These examples are but a few of the many inspiring practical applications of nonviolence, but how does somebody become brave enough to do it? How does one get to the point where they are willing to risk losing their job, go to prison, be assaulted or killed? How do we stand up to evil without becoming like those we confront? How do we separate evil acts from the people perpetrating them and still stop their actions without demonizing them in the process?

I like to think that my life and what I am doing with it make a difference. I tell myself that working as a counselor, a writer and volunteering in prisons and overseas helps others. I believe raising healthy children, working with human rights organizations and using non-polluting energy for my car and home, all have an impact. Then again, they are all safe and convenient.

Sure, I’ve marched in protest rallies against different wars and been arrested for blocking nuclear weapons facilities, but I knew the worst thing that would happen would be a couple of hours in detention or an overnight stay in the slammer. If I faced the prospect of years in prison, large fines, torture, a criminal record or being exiled from my country and family would I have done the same thing? I doubt it. Am I willing to stop paying taxes, get fined and go to jail? No. Am I spending time organizing other citizens to insist on less military spending and greater humanitarian interventions around the world? Perhaps, a little. Am I fully putting my body and deeds where my heart and beliefs lead me? No.

The reality is that I pay others to protect me with violent means. By paying my taxes I pay for law enforcement and military personal to carry and use weapons to theoretically keep my family, community and nation out of harms way. The money I pay to our government helps research, design, produce and use weapons of mass destruction and military intimidation and violence.

If someone threatened my son, daughter or mate, I believe I have the guts to stand my ground and resolve the conflict nonviolently without striking back, but I’m not sure. And if someone threatened my neighbor or community, I doubt I would have the same brave resolve to “fight back”, as I would with my immediate family.

I like to see myself as an advocate for justice, peace and freedom, now I’m not so sure. The justice, peace and freedom I seek are made in the context of a comfortable way of life and don’t require me to go out of my way to achieve them or make any great sacrifices; yet, all of those who have preceded me have been willing to do just that. They all took a leap of faith. They saw that they were not separate from anyone else on this planet and what they and others do or don’t do, affects us all.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty and I have to practice what I preach, I hope I can make that leap. I hope my faith in non-violence and love carries me through any and all circumstances and situations. In reality, I won’t know until or if, it happens. It could be that everyone is scared, even petrified, when faced with harm, but they act anyway. Perhaps that is what courage is all
about.

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