What They Took With Them

Cate Blanchett performs the rhythmic poem ‘What They Took With Them’ alongside fellow actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman.

The poem was written by Jenifer Toksvig and was inspired by stories and first-hand testimonies from refugees forced to flee their homes and items they took with them.

One of the sources for the poem was Brian Sokol’s photography project, ‘The Most Important Thing,’ made in collaboration with UNHCR. Many of Brian’s photos, along with firsthand accounts from the refugees he photographed, are featured in the film.

Released exclusively on Facebook, the film urges people to sign the #WithRefugees petition to help ensure refugees have the basics to build back their lives – an education, somewhere safe to live and the opportunity to work.

To see the full version of the film and to sign the petition go to www.withrefugees.org

Some barefeet inspiration…

Continuing with my posts about the wonderful treasuries of Africa… I want to share a little inspiration from Zambia today.

In my two years working with UNICEF in that country, I had the incredible pleasure of coming across a series of special people, and learn a bit more about their work and passion, constantly feeling re-charged with inspiration to continue my own work.

Some of those people I’ve been luck to come across and meet were Adam McGuigan, Tobias TemboTaonga Tembo, Ndala Bukola, Felix Chali, Michael and John Chanda and others that are part of an amazing group called Barefeet Theater Company..

Barefeet started as a few workshops with children living on the streets of Zambia but along the years has grown into one of the most exciting and inspiring projects I’ve personally came across!

They use Arts (theater, music, dance, etc) to inspire, empower and transform lives in Zambia, working with street kids from across the country, trying to build their confidence, and enable them to express themselves and to engage in building a better community.

But as an image speaks for thousand words… I would like to invite you to loose your shoes, and enjoy a bit of barefeet inspiration!

I guess there is no doubts that Africa has many treasures to be discovered still, but more than anything, we definitely have lots and lots to learn from incredible people like the Zambian Barefeet team!

If you want to learn more about the project, check http://www.barefeettheatre.org/

Time to pay back! Support Radi-Aid for Norway!!!


Brilliant campaign!!!

Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway” video and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?

If we say Africa, what do you think about? Hunger, poverty, crime or AIDS? No wonder, because in fundraising campaigns and media that’s mainly what you hear about.

The pictures we usually see in fundraisers are of poor African children. Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. But while these images can engage people in the short term, we are concerned that many people simply give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on.

The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.

For more information check http://www.africafornorway.no

Youth 21: Increasing youth participation in the UN system!

Are you a youth activist or advocate?! Do you think young people should play a greater role in the UN system?! Do you have views on what should be the mandate of the UN SG Special Advisor on Youth issues?! So you got to stay tuned on the Youth 21 Initiative!!!

The UN-HABITAT Urban Youth Fund facebook page will be hosting all the information on the Youth 21 Initiative and will be filled with updates in the lead up to and during the Global Youth 21 – March Meeting in Nairobi (March 15 – 18).

Make sure you are connected with us to find out how you can be involved in this initiative to increase youth engagement in the UN and in democratic governance.

How can we grow food in the cities of the 21st century!?

Urban agriculture is nothing new! It has been a reality for decades, starting with the industrialization of Western Europe in the 20th century. Urban agriculture has been also well practiced in poorer economies such as Cuba, where it serves as an important way of self-reliance.

With our global population with over 7billion people, and growing towards 9billion people by 2050. And recognizing that the conventional agriculture methods are currently also generating a big ecological impact on the environment, urban agriculture may very well be one of the key solutions for the 21st century.

Following a video from Roman Gaus, at TEDxZurich sharing the experience with the www.UrbanFarmers.ch

As Roman explains, urban agriculture offers the solution to grow potentially enough food in the city to feed its entire population. What’s more, it also creates healthier, wealthier and happier cities, offering consumers with fresh & quality food choices and access to better quality of life.

And since we are kissing 2011 goodbye..

I guess it’s important to recognize 2011 was also a roller-coaster of events.. good and bad ones.. that left no doubt we are living in a world of contradiction and change… boiling in hot water that will push for transformation.. and that is already shaping our future!

We reached 7 billion residents in our lovely planet earth!!

And yes, we do have the knowledge, and technology to ensure we produce more and better food… and although there is already enough for all… we still have a billion people that go to bed hungry..

We saw inspiring movements of people from around and in all corners the world uniting to claim their freedom and fight for more and better opportunities.. but we also watch the appalling violent responses from “our leaders”.. that decided to quiet people’s voices with violence and fear.

We witness the pain of millions of people, from the conflict in Libya, to the nuclear disaster in Japan and famine at the Horn of Africa.. but we saw an incredible movement of solidarity among people who found innovative ways to help, and worked really hard to alleviate their suffering.

The United Nations was there too.. and well, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has being quite active and vocal on many of those issues… and yes, the UN is changing.. (still needs to change more, of course) but with little steps, such as the recognition of the State of Palestine in UNESCO, you can be sure that change is on its way…

The UN made a little summery of their year.. which I guess is very worth watching:

2011 was definitely a year of changes.. and transformation… and I’m sure 2012 will ever more of a game-change!

Watch this space!

(if you would like a link to the script of the video in pdf, click bellow: http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/yir2011.pdf)

A revolução dos baldinhos!

Uma boa idéia e alguns baldinhos podem sim inspirar uma revolução!

Há mais ou menos um ano, a comunidade Chico Mendes, na grande Florianópolis decidiu discutir o problema do lixo orgânico, que vivia espalhado pela comunidade provocando uma série de infestações de bichos e doenças.

Foi assim que surgiu a “Revolução dos Baldinhos”…

A equipe vai de casa em casa arrebanhando novos participantes para o programa. As famílias que topam participar recebem um baldinho para depositarem seus resíduos orgânicos. Outras famílias, em pontos estratégicos, recebem baldes maiores, as bombonas, e tornam-se PEV´s (Pontos de Entrega Voluntária) da vizinhança.

Duas vezes por semana, as moradoras Nice e Rose, auxiliadas por João, um bolsista do Cepagro (http://www.cepagro.org.br/ – organização que apoia a iniciativa), circulam com um carrinho coletando as cascas e sobras de alimentos de boa parte da comunidade.

Tudo que é recolhido é levado até a Escola América Dutra Machado onde os restos de alimento passam pelo processo de compostagem. Em cerca de 3 meses deixam de ser “lixo” e transformam-se em um composto orgânico bastante fértil. Que é destribuído para as familias usarem em hortas caseiras, além é claro de nutrir a horta da escola.

Cerca de 2 toneladas de resíduos são recolhidos todo mês e claro, cuidadosamente processados pela Nice, pela Rose e pelo João. Mas o propósito é ampliar ainda mais a adesão das famílias e o volume da coleta. Elas já estão de olho num terreno público que fica nos fundos da quadra esportiva, e que acaba servindo de lixão pros moradores pouco instruídos. O sonho é transformar o espaço num grande PEV e pátio de compostagem.

The F***ing Famine is the Real Obscenity

Dear (everyone I know), 

The famine in Somalia could kill 750,000 in the coming months, and tens of thousands have already died. 

The reasons for the famine in the Horn of Africa are complex and solutions are difficult, especially in Somalia, but we can’t lose sight of some simple facts: 

1. 30,000 children have died in just 3 months. Thirty thousand. With over 12 million people at risk. 

2. Famine is not a natural catastrophe – drought doesn’t have to lead to famine. It can be prevented, as we’ve seen in much of Kenya and Ethiopia. 

In the 21st century, it’s an obscenity that people are dying because they can’t get enough food to eat. Every one of those 30,000 children is part of a family – a son, a daughter, sister or brother. We can’t imagine what it must be like to starve to death, but most of us know what it’s like to lose someone we love. 

In November Global Leaders will meet at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit, and if they want, they have the opportunity to break the cycle of famine and ensure people are hungry no more. Lives are in their hands.

And we need to ensure they keep the promises they’ve made to the 2 billion poor people who depend on farming for their livelihoods.

Please make use of the voice you have — sign the petition http://act.one.org/sign/hungry_no_more/ 
It will make a difference in putting pressure on world leaders to do more to help those in need right now, and live up to promises already made to invest in the things proven to work – early warning systems…irrigation…drought resistant seeds… and of course, peace and security.

What does EQUAL mean to you?

World Bank Open Forum: Gender — Getting to Equal

It’s 2011, and inequality is still a lifelong experience for girls and women. Women make up the majority of unpaid workers worldwide. Only 15% of landowners and one in five lawmakers globally are women.  One out of every 10 babies is born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 –almost all of them in developing countries. Violence against women is still widespread.

It’s time to increase women’s economic opportunity and their voice in decision making. But how do we get to equal?

Join the conversation at the World Bank’s Open Forum: Gender – Getting to Equal. The event begins September 20 with a 24-hour global chat and concludes on September 21 with a two-hour webcast debate.

Participate in 3 ways:

1) SUBMIT IDEAS about ways “to get to equal” and overcome gender inequality in your community.  Tell your friends to agree with your idea – the most popular ones will be debated during the Open Forum.

2) PARTICIPATE IN THE CHAT FORUM beginning Tuesday, September 20 at 12 pm Washington, DC, time. The ideas will feed into discussions during a 24-hour online global chat forum hosted by gender activists, entrepreneurs, and academics. Sign up for an email reminder on the right.

3) WATCH THE LIVE DEBATE on Wednesday, September 21 at 10 am Washington, DC, time.  Hosted by CNN International’s Hala Gorani, a distinguished panel of experts including World Bank President Robert Zoellick and Nike Foundation’s Maria Eitel of the Girl Effect campaign, among others, will continue the discussion about your ideas in a live webcast debate.

More info: http://thinkequal.worldbank.org/