Is This Child Safe?


Is This Child Safe?

I have been thinking about holidays and children. Not just American children, but children in the UK and children in India. I have been worrying about children in Russia and in Jamaica.

I have been thinking of children who don’t have good role models or lunch money. I have been thinking about children who are afraid and ones who like to look at books and yet they can’t read. They can’t write their names. This is for all the children around the globe, every last noisy, coughing, running, laughing, crying, dirty, sassy one of them. I hope they have someone to hug them tonight when they go to bed and I hope they did not see violence today.

 

 

 

If the Child is Safe

We pray for children

who sneak popsicles before supper,

who erase holes in math workbooks,

who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,

who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers.

who never counted ” potatoes”,

who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,

who never go to the circus,

who live in an x-rated world.

We pray for children

who bring us sticky kisses and fistfulls of dandelions,

who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those

who never get dessert,

who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents die,

who can’t find any bread to steal,

who don’t have any rooms to clean up,

whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,

whose monsters are real.

We pray for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,

who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,

who like ghost stories,

who shove dirty clothes under the bed, and never rinse the tub,

who get visits from the tooth fairy,

who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool,

who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,

whose tears we sometimes laugh at and

whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for children who want to be carried

and for those who must,

for those we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

For those we smother…and for those who will grab

the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

—Marian Wright Edelman

 

 

This time of year, everyone is looking for presents. Some people just have everything or you don’t know them well enough to be certain to find the right present. A lot of time gets wasted on trying to find the perfect item. Well, I have a suggestion. You can go to Heifer.com and decide how much you want to spend. Your money will be added to others and a flock of chicks, ducks or geese will be sent to a village where there is extreme famine and poverty. You can send a part of a cow or goat. It is your choice. These gifts will help to feed their owners and the animals can breed and everyone is better off. You get a card to send to your friend or relative and the family or village gets what you pick for them. Perhaps, this year because of your kindness, there will be more children who will not go hungry and will be ever so grateful for the kind stranger who helped fill their belly.

Heifer. com is an organization which has been around for seventy years. They provide livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of people who struggle to have reliable sources of food. They are currently working in thirty countries. they now  also give honey bees and the training to raise them, llamas, rabbits, stoves, irrigation systems and other items. Not only food but clothes are bought and children are going to school who couldn’t before. Women are becoming breadwinners. Men are learning how to use modern farming techniques. This organization continues to grow and make a larger impact on the people who so desperately need our assistance so they will be able to help themselves. I invite you to go to Heifer. com and give to them in the name of someone on your list this year.

 

 

What we can do for a child of this world

 

 

Children around the world playing. We can help them to continue to do so.

 

 

Namaste

Barbara

The Health of Our Souls


We live in a difficult angry cold world. It is getting more angry and violent each day. There are times when many people wonder what is happening to their souls. Tragedy hits them and they wonder if their souls are scarred. Have they been damaged by what they have just survived or what they survived in their childhood?

 

No matter what you call God…he/she lives within the inner landscapes of our souls. No matter the trauma that we have endured, God is with us and within us. We face nothing  alone. Even when it feels like we are alone, the truth is that we are not. Divinity resides within us and is our strength. The soul is our amazing inner sanctuary. It is a holy place or a Divine Center, an inner voice we can continually return to for strength and for comfort and succor.

 

“We do not need to search for Heaven, over here or over there, in order to find our eternal Father. In fact we do not even need to speak out loud, for though speak in the smallest whisper or the most fleeting thought, he/she is close enough to hear us.”

 

—Teresa of Avila

 

Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time worn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself.   When we meditate we visit this inner sanctuary.  Sometimes people think that if they haven’t been to church, temple or mosque for awhile, or if they haven’t meditated in months, that they can not touch Divinity. This is just not true. We are never far from God/Goddess. It is within. We do not need to hesitate, just turn within and rest in the Divine presence.

 

Our souls are not fragile, but like wild animals.  It is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy and self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. Believe in this truth and you will survive also. You can take refuge in the sanctuary of your inner landscape.

 

“As for God his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.

He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.”

 

Psalms 18:30

 

No matter the tragedy you might find in your life,  the wild soul is tough enough to take it and resilient enough to get you through the event.

 

 

Namaste

Barbara

Nigeria Takes a Step Forward for Women and Girls


Just when you thought the War on Women couldn’t get any worse, and that you have heard of everything, in April of this year, there were Federal charges brought against a doctor in Detroit, Michigan, USA, who works in an emergency room.  She had been arrested and charged with performing Female Genital Mutilation on two 7-year-old little girls.

Women in the United States have been fighting to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation from the world since the early 1990’s.  It is a terrible practice, done to control women and girls.  It is what makes women marriageable in many cultures in Africa, some parts of Asia, and parts of the Middle East.

As people immigrate to America, they bring a lot of pieces of their culture with them.  America has always been enriched by the cultures of other nations, but this is not a piece of culture that is enriching.  It is a method of subjugating girls and women.  It is against Federal and State laws.

The countries of the world have begun to respond to the outcries against this horrible practice.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan fell from power in 2015.  This was due largely to the fact that he seemed to be unable to search for or find the almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls abducted and enslaved by the Boko Haram.  Jonathan did, however, sign a law banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  This law also makes it illegal for men to abandon their wives and children without financial support.

This is a huge advance for women’s rights in Nigeria.

The United Nations, in 2014, confirmed what has long been known — FGM causes psychological and physical damage, including: infertility, loss of sexual pleasure, severe infections, fistulas, endangered childbirth labor and death.  In 2017, it is estimated that nearly 25% of Nigerian women are enduring the effects of the procedure.

The British newspaper, The Guardian, joined the United Nations in an effort to fight FGM.  With the support of the UN Population Fund, the paper helped local journalists cover the after effects of the procedure.  The new law in Nigeria can partly be credited for playing a part in this fight.

There have been at least five decades of humanitarian work on this issue in regional African and Middle Eastern women’s movements.  Feminists and the global women’s movement have also worked to end the horror of FGM.

This practice has also been confronted by women’s rights activists in the global North, where it occurs in some immigrant communities.  Even in the United States, where the procedure is called clitoridectomy, it is practiced as a “cure” for masturbation, lesbianism and to make a young girl marriageable.

Activists in Nigeria warn FGM in Nigeria and other African countries is a systemic culturally ingrained practice, and that eradicating it will take time.

With such a large population, Nigerian’s voice in favor of women and girls is very important.  Mary Wandia, FGM program manager of the International NGO Equality Now, states “We hope that other African countries, that have yet to ban FGM – Liberia, Sudan, Mali, among others – do so immediately to give all girls a basic level of protection.”

Stella Mukasa, Director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, adds, in Christian Today, “It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women.  Doing so involves laws and policies, as well as community-level engagement and programs that work to empower girls directly.”

There is still much work yet to be done, but the new law is encouraging.  It gives young Nigerian women opportunities to express themselves free from fear of this traditional practice which has been so oppressive to their health and spirit.  This practice has been handed down from one generation to the next by mothers and is usually performed by a wise woman, or a wise man, in the tribes.  It is done without sterile conditions, anesthesia, or proper equipment.  Usually, a straight razor is used.  The child is unprepared emotionally for the procedure.

The actual procedure varies from place to place. Some tribes cut out the clitoris only; others remove both clitoris and labia.  Still others would have nothing left but the meatus so that the child can urinate.  This it the reason these girls were considered marriageable, because this has been performed on them, so that they didn’t enjoy sex too much.  It gave the husband a sense of security when he traveled, that he could leave the wife at home and she would not turn to another man for satisfaction.  He could therefore be sure that any children would be of his bloodline and no one else’s.

The mentality of the mothers who brought their daughters for the procedure is that it was done to them, so it should be done to their daughters.  Therefore, education is a vital part of the process of eradicating FGM, as is more sex education for both genders.  This can help lead to a freedom from the pain, humiliation, pain and degradation of FGM.

The decades of work done to stop FGM, and the work that is presently being done, which must continue into the future to save girls from this violence against them, is one of the most important humanitarian efforts being done on behalf of women and girls.

With its new law, Nigeria joined 23 African countries in banning Female Genital Mutilation.  At least 200 million women and girls, worldwide, have already suffered genital mutilation and its long term consequences.  Nigeria’s law is good next step, but we still have far to g0.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

Every one of us can make a difference in the world!