Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Choosing Khartoum over Disneyworld


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I’m ashamed that our government ignored the Rwandans in 1994. Over one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 6 months.

I said I wished I'd helped them - somehow.

Gruesome stories now of tortured Sudanese are impossible to ignore. Another African genocide. Horrible.

"The origins of the conflict in Sudan are extremely complex and have resulted in an unacceptably high level of loss of life and extreme suffering," said Ana Rodriguez, United Nations Volunteer Program Manager in Sudan.

Com' ooon Ana… I’ve learned a lot watching CSI on TV. I can guess who supported the government sponsored military action by looking at the crime scene and gleaning principles of TV forensic science.

First clue – Sudan is south of Egypt and west of Saudi Arabia.

Second clue – Arabic is Sudan’s official language. Sunni Muslims predominate northern Sudan.

Third clue – The criminals’ MO: Twofers - where a mother carrying her baby swaddled around her waist are killed with one bullet. People’s eyes gouged out and their ears ripped off. Huts set afire with the family still inside. Women gang-raped. Men castrated alive resulting in slow death by bleeding. Severed penises stuffed in the mouths of men killed by alternative method. Children’s faces smashed with blunt objects.

These crime scene clues tell us Arab militants, known as the Janjaweed, are responsible for the attempted annihilation of African tribes in Northeast Africa. Millions have been killed in Sudan, the largest country in Africa.

Women and children have suffered greatly during this war. At least the Iraqi civilians have protection under the Geneva Convention Rules of War.

Thank goodness for the January peace agreement that officially ends 20 years of civil war in Sudan. Given recent history on the Balkan Peninsula, peacekeepers will be there for the long term. And thousands of humanitarian workers will be needed to rebuild roads, schools, health clinics, and attend to other infrastructure needs. There are an estimated half million refugees and another four million uprooted by the conflict. Cholera, meningitis, and polio are rampant.

Help is on the way.

Following the UN Security Council’s decision last week to form the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) – (drum role) - It was announced today that some 160 United Nations Volunteers will be deployed over the coming months to Sudan to support the peace process in the region. They will join 10 volunteers who have been in Sudan since early March as port of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan. Yaaawn.

Well, it’s a start.

Ana Rodriguez may not want to admit who caused the suffering in Sudan, but today she announced an initiative to help the Sudanese survivors - (drum role) - help themselves. A large number of Sudanese nationals will also be recruited as UN Volunteers, which, she says, will go a long way in building trust and gaining support from the people affected. Yaaawn.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on 24 March to deploy 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police in southern Sudan for an initial 6 months. No one's packed their bags yet.

Ironically, another UN press release today announced that the independent committee probing alleged misconduct and mismanagement in the United Nations Oil-for-Food program for Iraq, presented to Secretary General Kofi Annan a second interim report dealing with the employment of his son by a Swiss company awarded a contract in the multibillion dollars for relief efforts.

I’d planned a vacation in Disneyworld. I'm feeling a little guilty. I may email Ana and tell her I’m available that week. Jerry knows I have an experiential learning and helping style. The bad guys in Sudan are real terrorist Arab militarists. The bad guys in Disneyworld are only plastic Pirates of the Caribbean.

Or maybe I’ll go to New York City to see who’s real or plastic of the 4,000 Secretariat staff in the 40 story UN building. That’s the beautiful building near the site of the World Trade Center.


United Nations volunteer program

feeding program for displaced people in Sudan.

Episcopal Relief provides food and supplies to people in Sudan.

What web sites on international volunteerism and relief have you found?

Please share a personal empowering experience when you volunteered abroad.

There is a small articulate minority in this country which advocates changing our national symbol which is the eagle to that of the ostrich and withdrawing from the United Nations.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Speech, Democratic National Convention, July 1952.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A National reality TV series: The Terri Schiavo Show


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The gut wrenching reality show this week had all the elements of compelling TV – life in the balance, dueling family members, a forged Senate memo, tearful demonstrators, activist judges, and pandering politicians.

What a weird dark carnival it unleashed. The President flying back to sign a bill certain to be meaningless. Congress meeting after midnight to pass a law that split Democrat legislators almost evenly. Terri’s governor saying he’d sure like to send in the state police to rescue her, but it would be unconstitutional. Americans saying the hell with the Constitution and the judiciary. Conservatives wanting U.S. District Judge James Whittemore’s ruling in Florida to remove Terri’s feeding tube to be overturned by federal law. But aren’t conservatives for states rights? Opposing special interest groups retaining gangs of attorneys. Christians panicking that she might be released to heaven immediately. As my Mexican friend says, "Why you so crazy."

This is high drama.

"Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love," said President Bush in his inaugural address in January. But the questions appears to be - Who are lost? And what is love? Once again, we are a nation polarized by a cultural issue.

Nobody wants to end up that way, like Terri. Trapped in a non-functioning body but conscious. Only able to follow moving objects and react with a smile. And maybe to hear that folks want to pull the plug. Yikes.

We’re a nation of people concerned with looking right. No-carb diets, personal coaches, cosmetic surgery, and makeover TV shows. Terri is on a liquid diet, attendants make her up, keep her smiling. It could be worse. But I don’t want to think about it.

There are a lot of things we don’t want to think about. For instance not just the survival of this woman, but of the human race. Fanatical terrorists. It’s scary. They could be anywhere and seem to be anxious to die if they can take a lot of people with them. Rather not think about it.

People in our own country so fired up with political hatred after the November election that sister does not speak to brother. Rather not think about it.

Corporate billionaire criminals build their many-acred estates in Florida free by the state’s homestead laws from fear of confiscation. Don’t want to think about it.

The North Pole thawing, beaches disappearing, the air changing its chemical make-up, gasoline at $2.25 a gallon. Don’t want to think about it.

Kids killing kids in schools. The president finally responded Saturday to the second deadliest school shooting in six years in contrast to his swift intervention last week to prolong Terri’s life. Don’t want to think about it.

Easier to get worked up about Terri. We feel for her, and our leaders know it. But shouldn’t they be responsible leaders? Shouldn’t we?

A National law may result impacting premature babies, downs syndrome children, stroke patients, auto accident victims and thousands of others who die each year by purposeful starvation. There are an estimated 10,000 citizens in a permanent vegetative state who are living without artificial life support, but require a feeding tube or assisted hand feeding. Christopher Reeve couldn’t feed himself. Neither can Terri.

It's dizzying to keep the political parties’ ideology straight - who wants expanded jurisdiction of the federal courts, and who opposes federal intervention of states rights? Dred Scott. Roe vs. Wade. Bakke. Outcome based education. Terri’s law. No wonder voters are dysfunctionally polarized.

I remember the start of my school year in September 1963. Television scenes of students being escorted by police in Alabama the first day of school illustrated racial hatred I never observed at my school in Pennsylvania.

Eleven Southern and border states desegregated 144 school districts that September, but Alabama’s Gov. Wallace refused to respect the law of local authorities to integrate public schools. The cities of Birmingham, Mobile, Tuskegee, and Huntsville asked the Federal government to intervene.

So do we want states rights or federal intervention? The polarized political parties seem inconsistent. Maybe this is just politics as usual when it comes to cultural issues. Ask those on both sides of the street outside Terri’s Hospice House Woodside.

Why aren’t legislators and citizen activists working to solve our five survival issues: polarization, terror, deficits, wealth inequalities, and environment/energy? These are serious challenges that determine our collective global future.

My heart aches for the family and supporters of Terri Schiavo. My heart also aches for millions of women in this country and abroad who are facing ill treatment. Why are politicians giving disproportionate time and resources to the Schiavo case and not the five issues that Lead Our Leaders feels are critical to our existence?

Who’s minding the global store? We gotta think about it.


Info on living wills and advanced directives:

Have you found helpful web sites regarding end of life issues?

Please share an inspirational personal experience regarding your care of an incapacitated person.

For myself I have only to bow with humble submission to the will of that God who giveth and who taketh away. Martha Washington, 15 January 1800.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

International Women's Day: Women at the table


Afghani women register to vote

The newly liberated women in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve to be the frontispieces of today’s International Women’s Day celebration. Their heroism and effort is extraordinary. Their hope is inspiring.

Women in war zones suffer in multiple ways. They take over work when the men go to war. They defend their homes. Their children’s lives are disrupted if schools are closed. Vulnerable women may experience sexual exploitation. They are killed.

Taliban era women are hopeful that their sacrifices will yield opportunities for a better life for their daughters.

The United Nations passed Resolution 1325 on 30 October 2000 to address the unique problems faced by women in conflict zones.

Sen. Hillary Clinton gave the keynote speech today in New York City at the Vital Voices Conference on International Women's Day, sponsored by Global Leadership Summit. She said women politicians are less corrupt than men are. It seems UN Resolution 1325 is spot-on. It recommends women be government leaders.

Central to UN Resolution 1325 is the call for newly formed governments to include women in peace negotiations and country rebuilding. This seems fair since they may have suffered disproportionately.

A recent validation of this initiative for women is the governance model of East Timor, following its 25-year-old civil war. East Timor established an independent state and held free elections. Women were elected to 27 percent of the offices.

Vital Voices said today’s conference would focus on forming strategies to achieve increased economic opportunity, political participation, and human rights for women. Great – Lead Our Leaders has the same agenda.

Fidel Castro today honored the women of Cuba to recognize International Women's Day by promising to give them each an electric rice cooker. But reports say there is little electricity and scant supplies of rice. Premiere Castro reportedly got a cut of the appliance sales deal. Sen. Clinton must have had Fidel Castro in mind during her speech today. He fits the bill.

The women in Afghanistan and Iraq have more to celebrate today than the Cuban women. The newly liberated Middle Eastern women have been invited to the table of government. The Cuban women are apparently stuck at an empty kitchen table.


Vital Voices global partnership to empower women in developing countries.

What compelling websites have you found that help women abroad?

Do you have an inspiring story to share about a woman who has been helped by the support of others? Please share her story with us.

Service is being committed and being a part of the community in which you live, and it means that you get as well as you give. Hillary Rodham Clinton, White House youth ceremony, 20 April 1993

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The power of pennies: At what age should you start to care?


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David wants to save the world. I feel blessed to have met some great teenagers.

Colleges and universities today offer majors in International Relations and International Business for teenagers like David who have a deep commitment to world peace and global prosperity.

When I was a kid, I barely knew there was a world outside my city and state.

My Sunday school teacher Evangeline Reed told us how we could help hungry children in China. That caught my attention. I couldn't imagine going to bed hungry. She described the basic needs of people in provinces whose names I could not pronounce. Miss Reed assured us we could help them.

All my friends collected pennies. We put them into small paper boxes that were shaped like a church. Our pennies bought food for children whose images are etched in my mind to this day. They had big bellies, no shoes, and sullen faces. Someone else in the church told me missionaries were also assisting with their more complex needs like jobs, hospitals, and schools.

Miss Reed expanded the geographic distance of what I thought was meant by "helping others." It was a Max Weber approach to global prosperity through economic development. Missionaries were helping abroad with moneys donated by the American working class.

I loved hearing Miss Reed talk about her missionary work in China. I didn’t know any women doctors, legislators, or business executives. Perhaps my youthful enthusiam engrandized Miss Reed's global influence. But I was sure that this woman was moving mountains in China. I was proud of her, and hopeful for my own life’s meaningfulness.

My grandmother and aunt told me about the work of Willis and Ann McGill, their church’s missionaries in Egypt. I looked in a bound atlas and found it was a half a world away from Miss Reed's China. The people looked different and the dry terrain in Egypt was the color of peanut shells.

The McGills served in Egypt from 1937-1977. When they came back to Pennsylvania once a year to visit their sponsoring church, the McGills took turns staying in the homes of parishioners. My relatives heard details of their work in North Africa when they stayed in my grandparents home, and from their testimony in church. Everyone was captivated and sympathetic. The McGills brought out the best in us. They blessed us with the opportunity to help strangers a half a world away.

The McGill’s described village housing and churches with dirt floors. Children walked without shoes. Mothers were taught sanitary food preparation to avoid disease. The infant mortality rate was high. Mothers were told to keep flies from congregating in their babies' eyes. Fathers were jobless.

These were powerful images to a faithful group who proclaimed that every human being on earth had rights, dignity, and value. It begged the definition of the word "dignity." How could these people function without an opportunity to work to provide basic needs for their families?

The origins of economic malaise in some countries are complex. But it always results in a loss of life and suffering. I could only hope my Sunday School class' boxes of pennies gave them hope. What were their hopeful dreams? Probably the same as everyones' - peace and prosperity.

Advancing the ideals of liberty and prosperity was the notion that founded America. All peoples want self-determination. Schooling is key to self-reliance. A caring global community has often stepped in to do the quiet work of teaching people to read and write.

Davida Finney, the daughter of a missionary in Egypt started a literacy movement. The Christian and Arabic children formed friendships through her "rules." She paired the children and imposed a "learn one – teach one" requirement. All lessons were taught in Arabic. And they all got along. Wonderful.

Missionaries and secular human rights workers are in hundreds of countries today helping to improve people’s health and to teach basic skills. We're a generous people who support them with online donations. Children still collect pennies.

Perhaps our heartfelt generosity to the Egptians helped squelch simmering resentment by parents who painfully put their hungry children to bed at night. Maybe our humanity touched the angry heart of a would be terrorist.

Missionary stories from my childhood may have shaped my jubilation at hearing that Iraqi and Afghani women can go to school and hold elective office in their newly democratized countries. Now they have the option to build a robust economy to help secure their own future and to contribute to the interdependent global economy. A hopeful path to joining the 21st century.

Americans have a rich history of helping people in developing countries. Teen volunteers, church groups, USAid, Non Government Organizations, and corporate remainder donation programs have improved millions of lives.

I regret that Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 terrorists, was not touched by Willis & Ann McGill, Davina Finney, or my young friend David. Had they touched his heart with hope, perhaps our tragic history would not have been.

Literate self-reliant people free from tyranny and poverty are less likely to be recruited by totalitarian dictators to perform terrorist acts.

We at Lead Our Leaders are going to bring freedom and prosperity to the world one person at a time. Empowered people can form an enlightened critical mass to direct our elected leaders to solve the problems critical to our survival. Raise you hands – vote now!


World Vision - An organization supporting faith based health and economic development abroad.

Americares - Provides food and basic needs abroad.

What websites do you recommend for organizations that help the needy abroad?

Have you helped people abroad? Please share a personal empowering experience that will inspire us to do the same.

I wish you could read to me as you frequently have done after I sit down to sewing. Abigail Fillmore, 19 January 1830.