Monthly Archives: January 2008

one laptop per child

One project that is hoping to bring education to the developing world is the One Laptop per Child program.  It aims to give a $100 laptop (a technological feat in and of itself) that use innovative power sources (solar, hand crank, and pedal-power)to children in developing countries.  The idea is that community-access centers are not enough; each child should have their own laptop.  The organization’s rational is that once the child has ownership of the laptop, it will be something cherished more greatly and cared for, similar to how a child cares for their own pencils or doll.  I recently heard that Intel withdrew its financial and techincal help due to “philosophical differences.”  I’m sure those differences were related to Intel’s profit margin.  The laptops are designed specifically for children and have progams the children can use to learn on what the organization claims, a deeper level.  Continue reading

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Filed under Communication, development

invisible children

Invisible Children is an eye-opening and heartwrenching documentary that details the life of street children in Uganda.  Although this blog focuses on youth in South and Central Asia, much can be learned from the plight of youth in Uganda.  The film was made by a few young men who were looking for an adventure when they discovered the story of street children in Uganda who are often forced to become child soldiers.  Through their film they have raised awareness of this issue and implemented projects to help these children.  One program, called “Schools for Schools”, connects youth worldwide to help other children.  Read the excerpt below taken from the website and visit www.invisiblechildren.com to find out how you can see the film.  It will open your eyes. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, War, youth

born into brothels

The following series of videos are the documentary “Born into Brothels”, winner of the 77th Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It’s a visually amazing and heartfelt documentary about a series of young people living in the red light district in Calcutta and a photographer who introduces them to the restorative power of photography. 

(Born into Brothels 1 0f 8 )

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Filed under calcutta, India, photography, youth

chewing words

I’ve recently learned the usefulness of thoroughly “chewing” the words that we use and understanding their embedded meanings. For instance, if we just think about the word “development” as a term, it is often used within two contexts. The first is as a progressive process or force. The second is in regards to development psychology (i.e. child development). Taking these two meanings together, we can think of “development” as a process that implies movement from a childish state to one of maturity. It implies an inevitable pattern by which things move. By looking at “development” in this light, we can understand the way in which it has traditionally been viewed and implemented and the ways in which we can come up with new models of development and therefore, new ways of thinking. 

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three cups

I’m currently reading Three Cups of Tea, which is a book co-written by Greg Mortenson.  It is a compelling story about an American mountainer who became inspired to build a school in the impoverished and isolated mountains of Pakistan.  Mortenson began this journey in 1993 and since then has built 55 schools, especially for girls, in the area.  The story is inspirational, yet I wonder if it takes more than a determined humanitarian spirit to create the legacy Mortenson has created.  Undoubtedly he made many sacrifices in his life to be able to build these schools and worked hard to raise the necessary funding.  However, one of the most vital resources Mortenson was able to acquire was the trust and support of the local villagers.  He didn’t approach the project as a righteous American mountaneer trying to make a difference in their lives.  Instead, he was inspired by them and the promise of their youth.  In many nonprofit projects, we see western ideals being taken to other parts of the world and implemented in hopes of establishing the same infrastructure that has worked in the west.  Yet, perhaps what is more important is to find inspiration from the target population and then implement projects within the context of their issues and their values. 

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Filed under empowerment, Uncategorized, youth

iran and brain drain

The International Monetary Fund recently surveyed 61 countries and concluded that every year more than 150,000 educated young Iranians leave their home country to find a better life abroad.  According to IMF, Iran has the highest rate of “brain drain” in the world.  In our recent trip to Iran, I heard from one of the professors at Sharif Institute of Technology that about 60-70% of their graduates leave the country every year (Sharif being the best technical school in the country, and in some programs one of the best in the world).  As these young talents leave their home, there is less hope for a brighter future for those who remain…

brain-drain.jpg  photo courtesy of BBC

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Filed under Iran, unemployment dilemma, youth, youth voices

the power of photography

about_avijit.jpg

Image borrowed from: http://www.kids-with-cameras.org

It is amazing what images the camera lens can capture. Mundane objects that we often overlook in our daily lives take on a whole new meaning when we see them through the eyes of another. As a medium for empowering, the camera is often the most simple restorative art form. Various organizations ranging from Kids with Cameras (producers of the documentary film, Born into Brothels) to Picture Balata have utilized the art of photography to empower and build confidence in marginalized children. While photography is not a panacea for marginalization and under-development, it can help to provide a sense of purpose and hope to children who may otherwise travel down the road to despair. By looking at the world with new eyes and seeing the impact that their printed work has on others, young people can find the internal motivation they need to implement change in their lives. Isn’t this the basis of sustainable community-based development after all?

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Filed under empowerment, photography, youth