Africa Looks Positive, Sweden Not So Much
by Shubha Bala, associate producer
Nicholas Kristof said during his interview with Krista that he worries about constantly painting Africa in a negative light and recognizes there is a lot of good work taking place too. In this video from the TEDxChange conference, Hans Rosling, professor and co-founder of GapMinder, presented numbers in a new way to demonstrate the great progress being made in Africa towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In fact, his breakdown of child mortality (minute 11:00) shows that if the MDG expectations were applied to Sweden from the 1800s, Sweden would have been considered a failure.
And another little gem: I found the humorous speech by the founder of the Population and Community Development Association (minute 46:00) to be a fascinating overview of Thailand’s progress. He describes how inclusive methods led to a decrease in the average family size from 7 children to 1.5 in under three decades, and more recently, a reduction in HIV cases by 90 percent.
In the screen shot (right), Mechai Viravaidya at the TEDxChange holding up his future Olympic logo idea promoting condoms.
On the (Flood) Ground in Pakistan
by Shubha Bala, associate producer
"…it hurt to see men in water to their chests carrying all they could on their shoulders."
A past guest on this program, Jacqueline Novogratz recently traveled through Pakistan to help in the relief efforts after the flood. Through her Twitter stream, she’s shared images of humanity: photos of the scenes that moved her and the stories that she’s witnessed. She shared this story in the Huffington Post about one visit to a camp for flood victims:
"Then I notice a little boy named Imran. He is dressed in a tan shalwar kameez. His eyes are piercing, hot and angry. He stands with fists on hips, lips pursed, a tiny pipsqueak who has seen too much sadness and felt too much fear in his young life. … I look at him again. Maybe this little man is the most honest man here. His anger is raw, and he doesn’t hide it. I bet he’d fight if he could, and imagine a rage rising from knowing how little control he has in a world that ignores him."
Just after returning to the United States, she gave a short talk on her experiences at TED headquarters in New York. She also set up On the Ground, a website where you can continue to see new images, video, and stories from Pakistan.
Photos courtesy of Jacqueline Novogratz.
"Something Is Better Than Nothing, Right?"
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
Shortly after auditioning one of our Repossessing Virtue interviews a few days ago, I was catching up on reading my RSS feeds when I happened upon a poignant post from Alanna at the Blood and Milk blog:
Bad development work is based on the idea that poor people have nothing. Something is better than nothing, right? So anything you give these poor people will be better than what they had before. Even if it’s your old clothes, technology they can’t use, or a school building with no teacher.
But poor people don’t have nothing. They have families, friends – social ties. They have responsibilities. They have possessions, however meager. They have lives, no matter what those lives look like to Westerners.
And Glenna at the Scarlett Lion puts a finer point on this as she observes Liberian girls in Monrovia passing over Nancy Drew books donated by Americans. Of course I immediately hear Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina telling Krista that foreigners should just “leave us alone.”
But, perhaps more importantly, I need to remember to apply these lessons closer to home as we encounter more suffering and job losses and homelessness during these tumultuous economic times. When I start to pity the bearded man who sits on a 5-gallon bucket at the off-ramp of Penn Ave and I-394 in sub-zero temperatures, I need to remember he has a life. To pity him is to judge him. That’s not helping him; it’s not helping me; it’s not helping teach my boys in the back seat each day we encounter him.