Guest Post by Reyna Grande
|Iguala, Birthplace of the Mexican Flag|
|A little girl who will benefit from Reyna's efforts.|
|The Grande Familia in Iguala, December 12, 1979.|
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Guest Post by Reyna Grande
|Iguala, Birthplace of the Mexican Flag|
|A little girl who will benefit from Reyna's efforts.|
|The Grande Familia in Iguala, December 12, 1979.|
This week, I’m especially thankful – thankful I have a solid roof over my head and a home with windows and doors, and readily available food hand-picked from a market, proper medicine and supplies, running water and yes, definitely yes, flushing toilet facilities and a roll of paper always at an arm’s reach to me.
I’m equally thankful I’ve seen with my own eyes, through experiential and cultural travel, a part of the world along the Caribbean Coast, in developing Nicaragua – so now I know what it means to call myself truly fortunate.
I’m thankful for the opportunities, present and past, I’ve had bestowed upon me simply because I’m a red, white and blue, flag-waving American, and thankful to know I could, if I had to, live without surplus and modern conveniences, electricity and things that don’t really matter if it came down to instinctual survival. I am heartened and enlightened to know there are nations of people everywhere, especially in developing countries, that know far more about survival than many of us ever could. And, it is they that have much to show us on what that really means, and globally, we can each benefit from showcasing our cultural differences in a non-exploitative, educational way.
I’m thankful to know I can survive under dire circumstances because I’ve seen people, with my own eyes, who have literally nothing and yet maybe, in some ways, they have everything they could ever want and need, because they know how to live and thrive in some of the poorest conditions on the planet and still know what it means to be a part of a community and to love and support their families.
I’m thankful that I can now put my personal judgements and biases aside, because I’ve seen impoverished children, far more impoverished than I ever was growing up – living below the poverty line in Midwestern America. While many of the people I met may be lacking in opportunity, Nicaraguan children still smile and are happy, because they are each cared for by an entire village of people, and causes, who invest their hearts and souls into their wellbeing and care, despite economic conditions.
Mostly, I am thankful that I have stumbled upon the Finding Corte Magore project which has put me on a personal path to growth and the opportunity to work and mindshare with some of the smartest and caring people I can ever hope to know. I am thankful that we have “found” Corte Magore and that I have had the great pleasure of coming to know the Campbell family, and their beautiful, private island of Hog Cay, Nicaragua, and that I have personally earned their family’s trust and support in the Finding Corte Magore project. It’s a huge undertaking and I’m comforted to know, it will take our own village of incredible people, to raise this project to be everything it promises to be.
See you on Corte Magore!
The Finding Corte Magore Project
Coming Soon on Hog Cay, Nicaragua
Tonia Allen Gould
Someone asked me at a recent book talk why I chose to write about hope and children in poverty. They asked whether it was frivolous to write about such a topic at a time when children are experiencing the challenges associated with poverty and economic disadvantage at high rates. As I thought about that question, I began to reflect on the stories of people I know and families I’ve worked with who, despite the challenges they experienced, were managing their lives successfully. I also reflected on popular figures who shared stories in the media about the ways in which they overcame early adversity in their lives.
As I reflected on these stories, it occurred to me that a common theme among these individuals was hope. I began to see the various ways in which hope is a highly influential and motivating force in their lives. This kind of hope is not passive—it is not merely wishing for a better life, but it is active. It involves thinking, planning, and acting on those thoughts and plans to achieve desired outcomes. It is the driving force that keeps us moving despite the adversity and allows us to adapt and to be resilient in the midst of these circumstances. In reflecting on these themes, I decided that I wanted to tell these stories and to link the stories with theoretical frameworks that help illuminate why I believe hope is so important. Most of the theories and ideas I discuss are well known to those of us who study children and families. However, it occurred to me that practitioners and policymakers may not be so familiar with these ideas and may find them useful in planning their work with children and families. My goal is to foster understandings of hope and resilience in practical terms so that together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike can help more children and families manage their circumstances and chart pathways toward well-being.
So when I think about a response to the question “Why focus on hope?” — I respond “Why not?” Why not focus on strengths rather than deficits? Why not focus our interventions, legislative activities, and funding priorities on processes that will motivate individuals to strive for the best outcomes for themselves and their children? In so doing, we can formulate an action agenda on behalf of children and families that first assumes they can and will succeed in rising above their circumstances.
As I learned from the families I interviewed, success means different things to different families. For some, success is being able to keep their family together—have dinner together, talk with each other, and support each other. For other families, success means being able to be a good parent– to go to bed at night realizing that you’ve provided for your child emotionally, spiritually as well as materially, and that by doing so, your child might have an even better opportunity than you did to achieve success. These individuals are truly courageous. They have overcome many obstacles and are striving to continue along that path. There are countless other courageous individuals who may never have the opportunity to tell their stories or to have their experiences validated with concepts and theories I discuss from the psychological literature. I hope this volume will represent their lives too. I challenge those of us who work with children and families and who advocate for or legislate on their behalf, to have the courage to “ hope” and to allow that hope to be a motivating and unrelenting force in our efforts to foster resilience and well-being in these families.
Dr. Valerie Maholmes has devoted her career to studying factors that affect child developmental outcomes. Low-income minority children have been a particular focus of her research, practical, and civic work. She has been a faculty member at the Yale Child Study Center in the Yale School of Medicine where she held the Irving B. Harris Assistant Professorship of Child Psychiatry, an endowed professorial chair. She is the author of Fostering Resilience and Well-Being in Children and Families in Poverty.
I was actually searching for a fantasy book, but stumbled upon a good old-fashioned ghost story instead.
Little, Kimberly Griffiths. 2014. The Time of the Fireflies. New York: Scholastic.
Larissa Renaud doesn't live in a regular house. As she tells it,
"My parents moved us into the Bayou Bridge Antique Store—a fact I do not brag about. It's embarrassing to admit I share the same space as musty, mothball-smelly furniture, dusty books, and teacups that dead people once drank from."Sometimes she wishes they had never come back here from Baton Rouge, but her family has a long history in the bayou town, much of it is tragic.
"Trust the fireflies,"the ghostly girl tells her, setting Larissa on a strange and eerie path of discovery. Can Larissa right the wrongs of the past to save her family's future?
Paula Yoo is a children’s book writer, television writer, and freelance violinist living in Los Angeles. Her latest book, Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank, was released last month. Twenty-two Cents is about Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank. He founded Grameen Bank so people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without exorbitant interest charges. Over the next few years, Muhammad’s compassion and determination changed the lives of millions of people by loaning the equivalent of more than ten billion US dollars in micro-credit. This has also served to advocate and empower the poor, especially women, who often have limited options. In this post, we asked her to share advice on what’s she’s learned about banking, loans, and managing finances while writing Twenty-two Cents.
What are some reasons why someone might want to take out a loan? Why wouldn’t banks loan money to poor people in Bangladesh?
PAULA: People will take out a loan when they do not have enough money in their bank account to pay for a major purchase, like a car or a house. Sometimes, they will take out a loan because they need the money to help set up a business they are starting. Other times, loans are also used to help pay for major expenses, like unexpected hospital bills for a family member who is sick or big repairs on a house or car. But asking for a loan is a very complicated process because a person has to prove they can pay the loan back in a reasonable amount of time. A person’s financial history can affect whether or not they are approved for a loan. For many people who live below the poverty line, they are at a disadvantage because their financial history is very spotty. Banks may not trust them to pay the loan back on time.
In addition, most loans are given to people who are requesting a lot of money for a very expensive purchase like a house or a car. But sometimes a person only needs a small amount of money – for example, a few hundred dollars. This type of loan does not really exist because most people can afford to pay a few hundred dollars. But if you live below the poverty line, a hundred dollars can seem like a million dollars. Professor Yunus realized this when he met Sufiya Begum, a poor woman who only needed 22 cents to keep her business of making stools and mats profitable in her rural village. No bank would loan a few hundred dollars, or even 22 cents, to a woman living in a mud hut. This is what inspired Professor Yunus to come up with the concept of “microcredit” (also known as microfinancing and micro banking).
In TWENTY-TWO CENTS, microcredit is described as a loan with a low interest rate. What is a low interest rate compared to a high interest rate?
PAULA: When you borrow money from a bank, you have to pay the loan back with an interest rate. The interest rate is an additional amount of money that you now owe the bank on top of the original amount of money you borrowed. There are many complex math formulas involved with calculating what a fair and appropriate interest rate could be for a loan. The interest rate is also affected by outside factors such as inflation and unemployment. Although it would seem that a lower interest rate would be preferable to the borrower, it can be risky to the general economy. A low interest rate can create a potential “economic bubble” which could burst in the future and cause an economic “depression.” Interest rates are adjusted to make sure these problems do not happen. Which means that sometimes there are times when the interest rates are higher for borrowers than other times.
What is a loan shark?
PAULA: A loan shark is someone who offers loans to poor people at extremely high interest rates. This is also known as “predatory lending.” It can be illegal in several cases, especially when the loan shark uses blackmail or threats of violence to make sure a person pays back the loan by a certain deadline. Often people in desperate financial situations will go to a loan shark to help them out of a financial problem, only to realize later that the loan shark has made the problem worse, not better.
Did your parents explain how a bank works to you when you were a child? Or did you learn about it in school?
PAULA: I remember learning about how a bank works from elementary school and through those “Schoolhouse Rocks!” educational cartoons they would show on Saturday mornings. But overall, I would say I learned about banking as a high school student when I got my first minimum wage job at age 16 as a cashier at the Marshall’s department store. I learned how banking worked through a job and real life experience.
TWENTY-TWO CENTS is a story about economic innovation. Could you explain why Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank was so innovative or revolutionary?
PAULA ANSWER: Muhammad Yunus’ theories on microcredit and microfinancing are revolutionary and innovative because they provided a practical solution on how banks can offer loans to poor people who do not have any financial security. By having women work together as a group to understand how the math behind the loan would work (along with other important concepts) and borrowing the loan as a group, Yunus’ unique idea gave banks the confidence to put their trust into these groups of women. The banks were able to loan the money with the full confidence in knowing that these women would be able to pay them back in a timely manner. The humanitarian aspect of Yunus’ economic theories were also quite revolutionary because it gave these poverty-stricken women a newfound sense of self-confidence. His theories worked to help break the cycle of poverty for these women as they were able to save money and finally become self-sufficient. The Nobel Committee praised Yunus’ microcredit theories for being one of the first steps towards eradicating poverty, stating, “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty.”
Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank is a biography of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank and revolutionized global antipoverty efforts by developing the innovative economic concept of micro-lending.
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Filed under: Guest Blogger Post, Lee & Low Likes, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: bangladesh, banking, banks, Economics, grameen bank, loan shark, loans, microcredit, money, Muhammad Yunus, nobel peace prize, Paula Yoo, poverty
Jose Nuñez lives in a homeless shelter in Queens with his wife and two children. He remembers arriving at the shelter: ‘It’s literally like you are walking into prison. The kids have to take their shoes off, you have to remove your belt, you have to go through a metal detector. Even the kids do. We are not going into a prison, I don’t need to be stripped and searched. I’m with my family. I’m just trying to find a home’.
Maryann Broxton, a lone mother of two, finds life exhausting and made worse by ‘the consensus that, as a poor person, it is perfectly acceptable to be finger printed, photographed and drug-tested to prove that I am worthy of food. Hunger is not a crime. The parental guilt is punishment enough.’
Palma McLaughlin, a victim of domestic violence, notes that ‘now she is poor, she is stigmatised’; no longer ‘judged by her skills and accomplishments but by what she doesn’t have’.
People in poverty feel ashamed because they cannot afford to live up to social expectations. Being a good parent means feeding your children; being a good relative means exchanging gifts at celebrations. Friendships need to be sustained by buying a round of drinks or returning money that has been borrowed. When you cannot afford to do these things, your sense of shame is magnified by others. Friends, even close relatives, avoid you. Your children despise you, asking, for example: ‘why was I born into this family?’. Society similarly accuses you of being lazy, abusing drugs or promiscuity, assumed guilty until proved innocent. You can even be blamed for the ills of your country, the high levels of crime or its relative economic decline. The middle class in Uganda ask: ‘how can Uganda be poor when the soils are rich and the climate is good if it’s not the fault of subsistence farmers’?’
In the US, as in Britain, it may be welfare expenditure that is blamed for stifling productive investment.
Shame is debilitating as well as painful. People avoid it by attempting to keep up appearances, pretending everything is fine. In so doing, they often live in fear of being found out and risk overextending finances and incurring bad debts. People in poverty typically avoid social situations where they risk being exposed to shame; in so doing lose the contacts that might help them out when times get particularly harsh. Sometimes shame drives people into clinical depression, to substance abuse and even to suicide. Shame saps self-esteem, erodes social capital and diminishes personal efficacy raising the possibility that it serves also to perpetuate poverty by reducing individuals’ ability to help themselves.
Shame also divides society. While the stigma attaching to policies can be unintentional, sometimes the result of underfunding and staff working under pressure, the public rhetoric of deserving and undeserving exacerbates misunderstanding between rich and poor, nurturing the presumption that the latter are invariably inadequate or dishonest. Often around the world, stigmatising welfare recipients is deliberate and frequently supported by popular opinion. Blaming and shaming are commonly thought to be effective ways of policing access to welfare benefits and regulating anti-social and self-destructive behaviour. However, such beliefs are based on two assumptions that are untenable. The first is that poverty is overwhelmingly of people’s own making, the result of individual inadequacy. This can hardly be the case in Uganda, Pakistan or India. Nor is so elsewhere. Poverty is for the most part structural, caused by factors beyond individual control relating to the workings of the economy, the mix of factors of production and the outcome of primary and secondary resource allocation. The second assumption is that shaming people changes their behaviour enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty. However, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that shaming does not facilitate behavioural change but merely imposes further pain.
Jose, Maryann and Palma were not participants in a research project. Rather they are members of ATD Fourth World, an organisation devoted to giving people in poverty voice, and their testimonials are available to read online. Echoing Martin Luther King, Palma dreams that one day her four children will be judged not by the money in their bank accounts but by the quality of their character.
Headline image credit: ‘Someone Special to Someone, Sometime’ by John W. Iwanski. CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.
National Poetry Month, and I realize that I've almost let the month slip away without any poetry book reviews. Just in time, I came across my Advance Reader Copy of Looking for Me, which went on sale April 17.
The struggle for food, water, and shelter are problems commonly associated with the poor. Not as widely addressed is the violence that surrounds poor communities. Corrupt law enforcement, rape, and slavery (to name a few), separate families, destroys homes, ruins lives, and imprisons the poor in their current situations. Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros, authors of The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence, have experience in the slums, back alleys, and streets where violence is a living, breathing being — and the work to turn those situations around. Delve into the infographic below and learn how solutions like media coverage and business intervention have begun to positively change countries like the Congo, Cambodia, Peru, and Brazil.
Download a copy of the infographic.
Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros are co-authors of The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence. Gary Haugen is the founder and president of International Justice Mission, a global human rights agency that protects the poor from violence. The largest organization of its kind, IJM has partnered with law enforcement to rescue thousands of victims of violence. Victor Boutros is a federal prosecutor who investigates and tries nationally significant cases of police misconduct, hate crimes, and international human trafficking around the country on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Angleberger, Tom. 2014. The QwikPick Papers: Poop Fountain! New York: Abrams.
(Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher)
A bi-racial, Jehovah's Witness girl; a poor boy from the trailer park; a nerdy Jewish boy—all victims of school bullying.
Sounds like a perfect trio of protagonists for a serious book of realistic fiction, doesn't it? But it's not—not really. These are the founding members of Tom Angleberger's hilarious new creation, the QwikPick Adventure Society, which makes its debut in a new series, The QwikPick Papers.
So, what do this Jehovah's Witness, Jew, and very poor kid have in common? At first, only that each has nothing to do on Christmas Day. Marilla and Dave don't celebrate Christmas and don't enjoy spending time at home. Lyle's parents have to work at the QwikPick convenience store all day. But don't feel sorry for them. It's the perfect day for a secret mission to visit the Poop Fountain, an antiquated aeration device at the town's waste water treatment plant.
Written as an illustrated "report" by the QwikPick Adventure Society, this novel of only 135 pages, Poop Fountain! is stomach-churning disgusting at times, and hilariously funny at others. That's why kids will love it, but it's not why you should.
You should love it because Angleberger has proved again (as in the Origami Yoda series) that he can tackle sensitive subjects with charm and a good deal of humor.
Everybody else was talking about the Super Bowl coming up that weekend, but we all agreed that it was stupid and football was stupid and the Redskins' mascot was stupid.
Unfortunately, Jeremy heard me saying something and hollered down the table, "Hey, if we wanted any of your crap, I'd beat it out of you."
"Shove it, Jeremy," said Dave, which was the nicest thing anyone had ever said in my honor.
When it was time to go, Marilla said, "Hey, if you want, I'll save this seat for you tomorrow."
That was when, without them even knowing it, Marilla and Dave became my best friends.
Technology is changing. The climate is changing. Economic inequality is growing. These issues dominate much public debate and shape policy discussions from local city council meetings to the United Nations. Can we tackle them, or are the issues divisive enough that they’ll eventually get the better of us? In terms of global poverty, economist Marcelo Giugale believes that human beings have the resources and will to overcome the dire state of circumstances under which many people live. In this excerpt from his latest book, Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know, Giugale asserts that humans have the means to quash abject poverty on a global scale and make it a thing of the past.
Define poverty as living with two dollars a day or less. Now imagine that governments could put those two dollars and one cent in every poor person’s pocket with little effort and minimal waste. Poverty is finished. Of course, things are more complicated than that. But you get a sense of where modern social policy is going—and what will soon be possible.To start with, there is a budding consensus—amply corroborated by the 2008–9 global crisis—on what reduces poverty: it is the combination of fast and sustained economic growth (more jobs), stable consumer prices (no inflation), and targeted redistribution (subsidies only to the poor). On those three fronts, developing countries are beginning to make real progress.
So, where will poverty fighters focus next? First, on better jobs. What matters to reduce poverty is not just jobs, but how productive that employment is. This highlights the need for a broad agenda of reforms to make an economy more competitive. It also points toward something much closer to the individual: skills, both cognitive (e.g., critical thinking or communication ability) and non-cognitive (e.g., attitude toward newness or sense of responsibility).
Second, poverty fighters will target projects that augment human opportunity. As will be explained next, it is now possible to measure how important personal circumstances—like skin color, birthplace, or gender—are in a child’s probability of accessing the services—like education, clean water, or the Internet—necessary to succeed in life. That measure, called the Human Opportunity Index, has opened the door for policymakers to focus not just on giving everybody the same rewards but also the same chances, not just on equality but on equity. A few countries, mostly in Latin America, now evaluate existing social programs, and design new ones, with equality of opportunity in mind. Others will follow.
And third, greater focus will be put on lowering social risk and enhancing social protection. A few quarters of recession, a sudden inflationary spike, or a natural disaster, and poverty counts skyrocket—and stay sky-high for years. The technology to protect the middle class from slipping into poverty, and the poor from sinking even deeper, is still rudimentary in the developing world. Just think of the scant coverage of unemployment insurance.
But the real breakthrough is that, to raise productivity, expand opportunity, or reduce risk, you now have a power tool: direct cash transfers. Most developing countries (thirty-five of them in Africa) have, over the last ten years, set up logistical mechanisms to send money directly to the poor—mainly through debit cards and cell phones. Initially, the emphasis was on the conditions attached to the transfer, such as keeping your child in school or visiting a clinic if you were pregnant. It soon became clear that the value of these programs was to be found less in their conditions than in the fact that they forced government agencies to know the poor by name. Now we know where they live, how much they earn, and how many kids they have.
That kind of state–citizen relationship is transforming social policy. Think of the massive amount of information it is generating in real time—how much things actually cost, what people really prefer, what impact government is having, what remains to be done. This is helping improve the quality of expenditures, that is, better targeting, design, efficiency, fairness, and, ultimately, results. It also helps deal with shocks like the global crisis (have you ever wondered why there was no social explosion in Mexico when the US economy nose-dived in early 2009?). Sure, giving away taxpayers’ money was bound to cause debate (how do you know you are not financing bums?). But so far, direct transfers have survived political transitions, from left to right (Chile) and from right to left (El Salvador). The debate has been about doing transfers well, not about abandoning them.
A final point. For all the promise of new poverty-reduction techniques, just getting everybody in the developing world over the two-dollar-a-day threshold would be no moral success. To understand why, try to picture your own life on a two-dollar-a-day budget (really, do it). But it would be a very good beginning.
Marcelo M. Giugale is the Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa at the World Bank and the author of Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know. A development expert and writer, his twenty-five years of experience span Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin-America and the Middle-East. He received decorations from the governments of Bolivia and Peru, and taught at American University in Cairo, the London School of Economics, and Universidad Católica Argentina.
There seems to be an international day for almost every issue these days, and today, 20 June, is the turn of refugees.
When the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) releases its annual statistics on refugees today, these are likely to make for gloomy reading. They will show that there are more refugees today than any previous year during the 21st century, well over 16 million. They will demonstrate how in three years Syria has become the single largest origin for refugees worldwide – around one in seven Syrians has now fled their country, including one million children.
The statistics will also show that solutions for refugees are becoming harder to achieve. Fewer refugees are able to return home. Palestinian refugees still do not have a home; there are still almost three million Afghan refugees, many of whom have been outside their country for generations. The number of refugees who are resettled to richer countries remains stable but small, while the number offered the chance to integrate permanently in host countries is dwindling.
The risk of World Refugee Day, like other international days, is that it will raise awareness of these and other challenges for a few days, before the media cycle and public attention moves on. But there are at least three ways that even passing interest can make a lasting difference.
First, a global overview provides the opportunity to place national concerns in a wider context. Many people and countries fear that they are under siege; that there are more asylum seekers, fewer of whom are recognised as refugees, who pose challenges to the welfare system, education and housing, and even national security. What the statistics invariably show, however, is that the large majority of refugees worldwide are hosted by poorer countries. Iran and Pakistan have hosted over one million Afghan refugees for over 30 years; there are millions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. It is in these countries that refugees may have a real impact, on the environment or labour market or health services, for example, yet by and large these poorer countries and their citizens continue to extend hospitality to refugees.
Second, World Refugee Day should be the day not just to take stock of refugee numbers, but also to ask why their numbers are rising. Refugees are a symptom of failures in the international system. There is no end in sight for the current conflict in Syria. The withdrawal of most international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 is likely to make the country more insecure and generate a further exodus. Persistent and recurrent conflicts in Somalia, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to generate refugees. In all these countries poverty and inequality intersect with insecurity to drive people from their homes. Climate change is likely to exacerbate these effects.
Third, World Refugee Day brings research to the fore. The statistics needs to be analysed and trends explained. The stories behind the statistics need to be explored. Why are so many asylum seekers risking their lives to travel long distances? What are the actual impacts – positive and negative – of asylum seekers and refugees? Researchers can also leverage passing media interest by providing evidence to correct misperceptions where they exist.
This is what I see as the purpose of the Journal of Refugee Studies: to publish cutting edge research on refugees; to correct public debate; to inform policy; and to maintain attention on one of the most pressing global issues of our time. Refugees deserve more than one day in the spotlight.
Dr. Khalid Koser is Deputy Director and Academic Dean at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies. He was also recently appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
Journal of Refugee Studies aims to publish cutting edge research on refugees; to correct public debate; to inform policy; and to maintain attention on one of the most pressing global issues of our time. The Journal covers all categories of forcibly displaced people. Contributions that develop theoretical understandings of forced migration, or advance knowledge of concepts, policies and practice are welcomed from both academics and practitioners. Journal of Refugee Studies is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal, and is published in association with the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.
A new report from America’s Promise Alliance finds that students who leave high school without graduating are often overwhelmed by a cluster of negative impacts of poverty. You can read the full 72 page report (pdf) online, but here are some highlights (if that’s even the right word) to note:
So what does all this mean for libraries?
Libraries are uniquely poised to be an ideal space for young people looking to continue or re-engage with their education. We offer materials, programs and services regardless of income or whether a patron’s parent is incarcerated. Public libraries can be an island of consistency for young people who experience homelessness or move often, leaving little connection with the multiple schools in which they enroll.
Library policies, however, don’t always support young people whose educational path varies from the four year high school model. Here are three ways you can help teens at risk of dropping out or trying to re-engage with their education:
1. Reconsider “truancy.” Some public libraries immediately report or kick out teens who try to access books and services during the school day, but where does that leave a young person who may be trying to find out how to earn a GED, how to qualify for food stamps, or even how to enroll in a neighborhood school? In school libraries, students with unique medical situations or other tutoring needs may find themselves with alternative schedules and need a place to go for part of the day. Does your library support these teens?
2. Revisit your post-secondary resources. If your local school community is largely focused on getting students into four-year colleges, you may be missing students with other plans. Does your test prep collection include GED prep or materials for students interested in joining the military, like ASVAB for Dummies? Does your college section include information on local community or technical colleges? Also remember that older teens may be struggling to complete high school after their peers have already graduated; they still need your help!
3. Work with community partners. The America’s Promise Alliance report includes information on the 16 partner groups from each interview city, but there are many, many more–including groups that want to work with libraries. Some libraries now have relationships with hospitals and have social workers on staff. Which groups in your community could help address the unique needs of teens struggling to stay engaged or re-engage with their education?
Looking for help starting the conversation with a teen at your library? Check out Answering Teens’ Tough Questions, part of YALSA’s Teens at the Library series.Add a Comment
Peter Gill is a journalist specialising in developing world affairs, and first travelled to Ethiopia in the 1960s. He has made films in and reported from Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan, South Africa, Uganda, and Sudan, as well as Ethiopia. He recently led BBC World Service Trust campaigns on leprosy and HIV/AIDS in India. His new book is Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid, which is the story of what has happened in the country since the famous music and television events 25 years ago.
This third and final part of our ‘Ethiopia Since Live Aid’ blog feature is an original post by Peter Gill, in which he discusses the West’s view of aid and Africa. If you missed it, on Tuesday we read an excerpt from the book, and yesterday we ran an exclusive Q&A with Peter.
This 2010 ‘Summer of Africa’ has been promoted as a moment of transformation – an acknowledgment that the continent may at last be on the move, that it may be beginning to cast off its image as global basket case, ceasing to be a ‘scar on the conscience of humanity,’ in the phrase of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
It was 25 years ago in July that a great Ethiopian famine and the Live Aid concert which it inspired underlined the physical and moral enormity of mass death by starvation. These events defined popular outrage at the human cost of extreme poverty and began to build an extraordinary consensus around the merits of aid. A generation later, in the teeth of financial gales in the rich world, this consensus is under increasing scrutiny.
Of course aid works and it works at many levels. Charity is an essential characteristic of social relationships. It saves lives and it helps individuals, families, sometimes whole communities to improve their existence. What the big aid flows – from governments and charities – have not done is to change the face of poor societies, to overcome the disgrace of extreme poverty.
Now the western world may have missed its opportunity to fix the problem. It may no longer have the means. It is also far too preoccupied with addressing the processes of how best to deliver aid, and has failed to sort out whether it had the right strategy in the first place.
What went wrong, I believe, is that we kept seeing Africa in our own image – as we would like it to be, rather than as it was. The colonial period may have become history, but the colonial mindset of ‘we-know-best’ has surely persisted. We compounded the error by allowing our hearts to rule our heads in how we spend the aid money. We have been more troubled by the symptoms of poverty than to see where our help was most needed.
Our fortunate way of the life in the West – prosperity allied with liberal democratic forms of government – may be the envy and the aspiration of many in the poor world, but did that give us the right in the name of ‘good governance’ to insist that there are quick and easy steps to achieving it? In the decades after Europe’s helter-skelter decolonisation, was it realistic to ignore the lessons of our own tortured political evolution and demand swift democratic reform as a condition of aid?
Our rich world sensibilities have, rightly, been offended by deaths from preventable diseases and we have, again rightly, poured money into ever more ambitious health initiatives. But we have made little corresponding effort to help African women plan their families by plugging the huge gap in contraceptive needs. Aid expenditure on family planning has actually fallen in the past deAdd a Comment
Michael L. Gillette is the current executive director of Humanities Texas, the state humanities council. Before serving as the executive director, he directed the LBJ Library’s Oral History Program from 1976 to 1991, and then became the director of the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives for twelve years after. His new book, Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History, pieces together oral history interviews with former president Lyndon B. Johnson and his team of advisers as they undertook the Great Society’s greatest challenge.
This excerpt is taken from an interview with Robert J. Lampman, a staff member of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) from 1962 to 1963 who worked in the Kennedy Administration along with Walter Heller, chairman of the CEA. The Saturday Group, called so because of their Saturday “brown bag” lunches, would meet informally (at first) to discuss how they could approach the problem of poverty and solutions that could be brought about with assistance from the government. Their luncheons were the beginnings of a social movement that would become pivotal in giving assistance where it was needed. Their work is still seen today, in the forms of public assistance that we once never had an option of choosing when survival was the only thing that was of importance.
THE SATURDAY GROUP
LAMPMAN: In that period, May to June , somewhere along in there, Heller asked me to take part in writing up the possible meaning of an attack on poverty- lots of different phrases were used-and to meet with a group of people around Washington at the assistant secretary level and pick brains and get suggestions and criticisms of the idea. We dealt with people from the Bureau of the Budget; from HEW [Health, Education, and Welfare Department] (Wilbur Cohen was an assistant secretary, as I recall, at the time); from labor (Pat Moynihan [Daniel Patrick Moynihan] was the assistant secretary [of Labor]); from Agriculture; from Department of Justice.
There were just a few meetings, as I recall. We’d meet for an afternoon once every couple of weeks or something like that. It was all very tentative and very low-key, at least to start with. People were just speaking their minds. It was almost an academic sort of seminar. Indeed, it was interesting how many people there were Ph.D.s or were backed up by a scholar who was associated with the work. And we had represented people from different disciplines. There were people like Moynihan, who was a political scientists; and Cohen, who was an old hand in the income maintenance field but who was especially interested in this as an issue. There were statisticians, and then there were lawyers. People had very different approaches to the whole question.
We would get into discussion about the definition of poverty. What kind of a concept and what kind of a numbers frame would you have in mind? Some people would say poverty obviously means lack of money income. That had the great merit of being something we had some numbers on. We could say how many people there were above and below some line and where they were and so on. But other people said that’s really not what poverty means; poverty is more or sometimes even less than money. It’s a spiritual concept; or it’s a participation-in-government concept; or it’s a lack of some kind of self-esteem, sort of a psychological or imAdd a Comment
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates Wes Moore
The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.
In December 2000, there were two stories in the Baltimore Sun about two different men, both named Wes Moore. One had just won a Rhodes scholarship, one was wanted in connection with a jewelry store robbery in which an off-duty police officer was murdered. For years, the Wes Moore that won the Rhodes scholarship wondered about the other Wes Moore, who was now in prison, serving a life sentence without the chance of parole. They both grew up poor at the same time, without fathers. Why did one end up speaking at the Democratic National Convention mere hours before Obama accepted the nomination and one end up in prison?
This book doesn't answer the question, because they're not clear. But it tells a story of two boys who grow into two men and the choices they made and why. It shows two very similiar, and two very different lives. I could talk about the details of their lives, but you should read it for yourself to find out. Or, watch Moore explain his book to Stephen Colbert: embed clip:
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