I am an Atlas Corps fellow who is currently serving at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a non –profit organization with a mission “to empower a diverse population of youth to achieve a successful transition to adulthood through multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs”. Within the LAYC, I am serving in the Social Services Department, where I support the Healthy Relationships Program. It is one of my favorites programs and I am so glad for the work that we do with the women and the youth in general.
5.15pm WAT, March 31, 2015 will go down in history as one of the most historic moments of Nigeria’s democracy. At this moment, the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan is reputed to have placed a call to the president-elect Muhammad Buhari congratulating him on his success at the poll. That call, concedes victory to the All Peoples Party (APC), thereby marking a watershed in Nigeria’s political history. APC has not only won the presidential elections, but majority seats in the Nigerian Senate. The incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has become the opposition party in Nigeria. This is a first for the Nigerian populace, no other generation of Nigerians have witnessed history as it is being made today.
Besides experiencing three destructive wars in less than ten years – Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge – the Gaza Strip has suffered since 2007 from two unprecedented major political events that affect both the lives and future aspirations of the Palestinians: the Israeli blockade and internal division.
The Gaza Strip, now in its seventh year under Israeli blockade, remains isolated from the outside world. The blockade affects many fields including education, business, the environment, technology, and culture. What is more, there is the internal Palestinian division which has further exacerbated the situation. The political and social division among the two largest Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, has led to declines in many areas.
The month of March is a month set aside to celebrate and highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Coupled with the celebration of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, the month significantly salutes women for their courage, leadership and strength.
It is a time to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements. It seems unthinkable that historically women were not allowed to vote in electoral processes, as their place was defined and reserved for them – being the kitchen, domestic chores and reproduction. But that had to be addressed and over the last decades there has been a steady movement towards attaining equal rights. Although the notion of equal rights has been pegged against the values of culture and tradition, more and more women have been breaking out of the patriarchal cocoon and succeeding in various aspects of their lives.
From this American perspective, my country appears to be one of the most beautiful on this planet. Maybe because I am living in a place where, like my Sudanese friend says, “the sun doesn’t work”, or maybe it’s because almost every day someone comes to me saying how much he loves Roman food or Tuscan hills.
It’s when I read newspapers that I suddenly remember why, at times, living in Italy makes me so angry:
(Titles from one of the main Italian newspaper: La Repubblica)
Did you know that over the past 20 years, natural disasters have affected 4.3 billion people and claimed 1.4 million lives? Furthermore during the past 20 years floods have been the most common natural disaster. In fact, 55% of the people affected by disasters, were affected by floods. In addition, earthquakes and tsunamis are accountable for 55% of the deaths caused by a natural disaster. The most disaster-affected countries are China, The U.S., Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam and Japan. (See image)
I always think that the world needs more photographers. We need more life witnesses to share realities. As humans, we ignore many truths and lies from around the world. We tend to forget history but at the same time we are deeply addicted to treasure moments. I love the very classic and old school way to define photography: “The visual capture of an instant that will never happen again”, but I have to confess that photography got me at the process. The road to catch it, the steps to provoke it, the tiny details, the choices to build the final footprint of that exact second.
Mexico is a land of contrast. A wide mosaic where it is possible, even likely, to go from one extreme to the other in a matter of seconds or even contemplate them in the same landscape, casually living side by side with normalcy, or I would dare say, indifference; a deep indifference born from the social resentment passed down, historically and culturally, for generations. It is not by chance that this nation is home to both, the richest man in the world, Mr. Carlos Slim, and Doña Peti – an elderly grandmother that lives in the threshold of urban poverty surviving with less than a dollar a day.
At the beginning of the year I gave myself a new challenge – to read at least 20 books through the year. I know Sam Potollichio advised us to read three books a week, or did he say three a day… well, maybe in the next challenge after I get the hang of always reading. With no particular types or genre of books in mind, I resolved to read, any book, as long as at any given opportunity I’d be glued to a text of some sort.
Twelve months ago when I was getting ready to move to DC I started doing some research about think tanks and other organizations based in the city. I was very interested in Foreign Policy discussions and also to get more involved in the progressive agenda of the city – which I was sure wasn’t going to be very active since it was the capital of “yankeeland”, home of hard core capitalists and supporters or war. What a mistake! DC still surprises me for hosting amazing progressive events, movements, marches and discussions, with amazing organizers, activists and grassroots organizations. I will share what I wished I knew when I first arrived here: where to go to find people and events committed to social justice, peace, democracy and REAL social change.