Aid for Aidan

I received an email, sending me to a blog of a beautiful little boy and his gorgeous family.

The family is selling his artwork to help with his medical treatments.

Kindly take a moment and go visit their courage and love and send around to as many people as you can, each moment we think of someone else may have bigger effects than we are currently aware of….Big Shout out to Aidan and his family.

Aid for Aidan

Children

When I think of the word, children, I feel a warmth of hope and love. My mind’s eye visualizes sunshine, light, meadows of flowers, playgrounds, health and wellness. Sadly, as we all know in so many different ways, the greatest treasure of this Earth, children, do not always get to enjoy what I have described.

There are many, many organizations that help children. Many people silently helping children, whether it is a kind smile, a laugh, anonymous donations. The source of helping children is endless, and in so doing, we help ourselves.

Today, I want to feature one Organization, Hagar

Take some time and look at what they have achieved and the stories there are to be shared, through the misery came hope, courage and amazing, amazing heartfelt action.

Peace.

S.E.

It’s the law: For Afghanistan’s “women”, the word NO is NEVER an option.

Without much of a fuss made by the media, if even reported at all, last month Afghanistan’s new Shiite Personal Status Law was put into effect. The law grants Shiite men the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met. These sexual demands are not defined or limited by the law. The law also requires Shiite women to obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their home. Parental custody is solely the father’s or, in his absence, the paternal grandfather. Incredibly, the law also allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her. That payment, of course, is offered to the father, paternal grandfather or the brothers of the raped girl.

It is worth noting that a Shiite “woman” is any girl old enough for marriage. Therefor if you are a 9 year old girl (a 3rd or 4th grader in the US) and live in Afghanistan this law, including the rape provision, applies to you. Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters[Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters]

A great deal of progress in respect to the rights of women in Afghanistan was widely reported after the US lead invasion that resulted in response to the Taliban’s attacks on September 11, 2001. The sacrifices made, and continued to be made, by our service men/women are difficult for anyone to even see, let alone physically endure. However, the media softens this horror for many by filling their broadcasts with heart warming images of little girls being allowed to attend school for the first time.

Today you will not find one little girl in any of the dozens of schools built by our forces and contractors. The monthly combat deaths and injuries resulting from the expanding war are the highest since the start, yet the scant media coverage and reporting is no comparison to the media coverage even 6 months ago … and for the little girls all across Afghanistan, the word NO is (again) NEVER an option.

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

sponsor a child

$1200 a year.

It’s a lot for some of us.

Suppose some of us could come together and sponsor a child?

We owe it to each other and to the future, to help the young ones. $1200 a year is much too much for many of us, suppose we had a network where 12 of us could come together and give $100 a year? Is it possible?

Sponsor a child

Imagine how you, I, we, could feel waking up each day knowing we have helped a child that maybe believed they were beyond hope?

Please, leave your comments and thoughts to help the innocent.

Our blessings to you.

Real World Principle of Relativity

In physics, the principle of relativity is the requirement that the laws of physics in the observable world have the same form in all admissible frames of reference.

Now observe this photo of two little girls standing on the balcony of their home in Rafah, Gaza Strip – their observable world.
MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-GAZA-CONFLICT

From one admissible frame of reference, this is an example of unbridled retaliation on a long suppressed population unable to defend itself.

From another admissible frame of reference, the view will state that Qassam rockets were launched from this area into their defenseless civilian populations killing innocent women and children.

In the real world, both sides of “relativity”, it seems, have their reality.

Even “relativity” itself, for a lack of a better term, is relative. For example, if even one these “holes” found its way into a wall of my home, I can be forgiven for, saying kindly, being beyond anger and acting accordingly. Taken a step further, suppose one of these holes did not just lodge in the wall of my home, but found its way instead into the chest of one of our daughters or our son, or their many friends that often frequent our home, what then must I and my neighbors be forgiven for? For loving our own, for avenging innocence?

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

It is a slippery slope my friends, we must decide where we stand. To not stand, is to not live. Namaste.

Shelley helping the kids, the innocents, in India

Many of you may have read Shelley Seale’s article, posted a few days ago here, The Weight of Silence….

Now maybe you may take a moment and watch her video on these utterly beautiful innocent souls, and if you do, maybe you will pass it on and on, and stop at her site and buy her book.

It starts now.

Shelly & her kids

The Weight of Silence:Invisible Children of India

Ms. Shelley Seale, a humanitarian and now guest blogger, shares with us a moving piece on the price and plight of innocence. It is a piece born from the heart. As you approach the end of Ms. Seale’s narrative, she also graciously shares with us general statistics on the day to day societal warfare waged knowingly against children. May peace be with you as you share your moments with Ms. Seale and pass on her moving piece, information and website to all that you know.

With no further introduction…

“The plane started its final descent, and my heart began to race. It was March of 2005, and I had been traveling halfway around the world for nearly two days to volunteer in an orphanage in northeast India, with the Austin-based nonprofit The Miracle Foundation. I had been sponsoring a child who lived there but had never visited the country before, and my stomach tightened as the plane touched down and I waited impatiently for the exit doors to open.

I had never expected to be in India. It wasn’t the exotic beauty that had drawn me. It wasn’t the storied, ancient history of the country or its rich and varied culture. It was not the colors or the spices or the sounds or the spirituality of the place. India is all of these things, to be sure; but they were not what pulled me close, made the place somehow a part of my soul before I had even arrived.
It was the children.

They are everywhere. They fill the streets, the railway stations, the shanty villages. Some scrounge through trash for newspapers, rags or anything they can sell at traffic intersections. Others, often as young as two or three years old, beg. Many of them are homeless, overflowing the orphanages and other institutional homes to live on the streets. Amidst the growing prosperity of India, there is an entire generation of parentless children growing up, often forced into child labor and prostitution – more than twenty-five million in all. They are invisible children, their plight virtually unnoticed by the world, their voices silenced.

And in the small town outside Cuttack, a hundred miles south of Calcutta, one man named Damodar Sahoo had dedicated his life to providing some sort of family for one hundred of these children, assisted by donations and volunteers from the United States. I had no way of knowing just how much they would change my life.
Eleven dazed Americans emerged into piercing sunlight and walked across the tarmac to the small terminal. As we entered Caroline Boudreaux, founder of The Miracle Foundation, was immediately spotted by Damodar – known to all simply as “Papa.” He pulled Caroline into a hug across the metal bars separating the passengers from those waiting for them. He lifted his large, thick 1980s style glasses from the bridge of his nose and dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief, overcome with joy at seeing his American “daughter” again and the group she had brought along to visit the children he cared for. Alongside him were his wife, two women who worked at the orphanage, and three of the children. As we showed our passports and entered the gate, one by one, the little girls handed us each a bouquet of flowers, kissing their fingers and bending down to touch our feet in a blessing.

The visitors and our luggage were crammed into vehicles and we zoomed down the main road, which was dirt peppered with potholes, narrowly missing bicycles, pedestrians, cows and rickshaws. India was everything I had imagined it would be – only more so. More colors, more noises, more smells, more people, more everything. It was an assault on all the senses at once: The throngs of people, the muddy dirt roads, the constant beep-beep of the horns. The deteriorating buildings, the ragged street vendors, the ramshackle homes for which hut was too grandiose a term. The wonderful and the abject co-existed side by side, for the most part peacefully. There was what everyone, myself included, expected – poverty, ugliness, despair, filth.

But there was also much beauty, in the midst of it all. The warmth and shyness of the people, the colorful saris, the upscale shops next to the vendors, the swaying trees surrounding it all. I was enchanted by a brief glimpse into an ornate Hindu temple, candles glowing and people bowing their heads to the ground in prayer. Beauty was not its own thing to be separated out, sanitized, and kept apart for its own sake. The true measure of beauty lay in its imperfections; to see it, one must embrace it all. India immediately wrapped itself around me and refused to let go.

And in the children beauty seemed to come alive, almost making me believe it was a living entity I could capture in my hands.
Without warning, we lurched around a village corner and turned into the orphanage entrance. In a second the cars had stopped and a hundred children lined around in a semi-circle, waving and chanting "welcome" over and over. I opened the car door and they were all around me, touching my feet in blessing. The children were shy at first, obviously excited but reticent. One little girl, about seven years old, summoned her courage and touched my arm, then grasped my hand. "Hello," she said softly, looking up at me and just as quickly dropping her eyes, giggling. As soon as she did this, the crowd of surrounding children shed their reserve and instantly moved in closer, putting their hands out for me to shake. There was a never-ending supply of hands raised in front of me and I shook them over and over.
I was overwhelmed and unsure what to do, blindly following behind Papa and Caroline as they moved into the ashram. It was almost surreal, and happening so quickly. I didn’t have time to look around or get any sense of where I was in the darkness. There were just the children, all around, and my feet moving forward until we arrived in a courtyard. The children, as one, left our sides and began climbing a staircase in an orderly fashion. We followed with the dozen staff members, removing our shoes at the top of the stairs and entering the prayer room.

The children were already lined up and sitting on rugs on the floor, boys on one side and girls on the other, ages progressively going up toward the back with older kids sitting behind younger. I was handed a small bouquet of red roses and marigolds, and led to a spot on the mats. At the front of the room was an altar holding flowers, small trinkets of devotion, a picture of the guru Sai Baba and a statue of Vishnu, an ancient Hindu god. Tacked to the walls on all sides were pictures of other Hindu gods – Ganesh and Krishna – as well as Jesus, Mary, Mother Theresa and Mohammed. Ceiling fans whirred overhead to stir up the warm air. A staff member lit incense at the altar while another blew a horn softly. The children sat up straighter and ceased any fidgeting or whispering.

Then the prayers began. It started with a simple chant: "Om….om..," the small voices resonating deeply. The chanting gave way to a song, a hundred sweet voices dancing in the air and filling the room. Beside me on the rug sat one of the smallest girls, with glossy black curls and deep dimples. She was sitting lotus-style with her middle fingers and thumbs pressed together on the knees of her yellow and green flowered dress, eyes squinted tightly shut in concentration. Her strong, clear singing distinctly carried to my ears apart from the others. The voice of this three year old rising so pure and true was one of the most powerful sounds I had ever heard.

Soon the singing faded into silence and Papa prayed. He said there were many religions represented and respected in the ashram. “Here, there are Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. We pray,” Papa said, “to God and Allah and Jesus and Mohammed. The meaning of life is to love all. The purpose of life is to serve all.”

It was a simple prayer, reminding me that life need not be complicated unless we made it so. A soothing peace palpable in the air filled me, and I breathed out deeply. The past forty hours of travel and little sleep fell away as if they were nothing. There seemed no other world outside this place. As Papa spoke my eyes traveled over the faces all around me. I wondered when each of them had stopped wanting to go home, or if they ever had. As much of a loving community as the ashram seemed, it was not the family that most of the children had once known, distant and ghostly memories for the most part.

Home is a fragile concept – far more delicate than those of us who have always had one can imagine. When a person no longer has a home, when his family is taken from him and he is deprived of everything that was home, then after a while wherever he is becomes home. Slowly, the pieces of memory fade, until this strange new place is not strange anymore; it becomes harder to recall the past life, a long ago family, until one day he realizes he is home.

Post Script: Excerpts provided by Ms. Seal

What to know:
More than 25 million Indian children currently live without homes or families – in orphanages or on the streets, where they are extremely vulnerable to abuse, disease, and being trafficked into labor or the sex trade.
Another 4 million children join their ranks each year.
India is home to the most AIDS orphans of any country in the world – approaching 2 million, and expected to double over the next five years.
By some estimates, as many as 100 million child laborers work in India.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian children go missing each year, kidnapped or trafficked – and three out of four of those are never found.
A poor child in India is three times as likely to die before his fifth birthday as a rich child.
More than two million children themselves die every year from preventable infections for which education and medicine are lacking.
One of every three of the world’s malnourished children lives in India.
Fifty percent of childhood deaths there are attributable to malnutrition or starvation.

How you can help:
The first step is awareness – thank you for reading this article and for caring. You can sponsor a child at Miracle Foundation.
You can make a donation at UNICEF, the leading champion for children worldwide. Be a conscious shopper. Is it really worth getting something a few dollars cheaper if it is made by slave labor or children? Check out The Better World Shopping Guide. You can take action by signing petitions and/or financially supporting organizations that are working worldwide to end child labor. Some of them are: globalmarch.org | endchildlabor.org | earthaction.org

Adoption: The Best Interest of the Child

Recently, many issues have come to light with the rights of our fellow human beings.

Rights, I want to say, trampled, but how can they be trampled when such rights have not yet arisen?

There is a lot of coverage as to “equal” marriage or “gay” marriage.  I’m not sure the word matters, I know as a lover of words it should, but I find the essence of the issue is one more pure, it is the right to love, so I don’t know what to call the right to love and marry, regardless of sexual orientation.

On a related note, from Vannessa’s corner of the world, she brought up the issue of the right to adopt and how it is curtailed due to sexual orientation.

Dear Ronnie, from Work Coach Cafe, just left an inspiring comment in regard to same and the illustrious words of at least one judge in Florida!  See Ronnie’s comment and prior thread.

Onward!

Moments of Ubuntu

There are times,

most times,

between the spaces,

when we have,

I believe,

moments of gratitude,

singing,

in the open spaces

of amphitheaters

designed and built

both long before and after our time.

There are times,

I think,

perhaps,

within the moments,

yes, not in the spaces in between,

when our hearts swell,

and we know,

if we could only bag up and box,

the love before us,

there would not be one more thing we need to accomplish.

Have I shared with you,

the smile,

on a child’s face,

when they turn at you,

unexpectedly?

Have I shared with you,

the millions of times,

within my home,

we say,

I love you?

not to get something back,

but because it is.

Have I shared with you,

my mortal fears?

the understanding,

that our rights to love,

as humans

are fragile.

They are…..

parceled,

not by our decree, but by,

the whims,

ambitions,

egos of others.

I do not blame them.

Because to do so,

is to blame them,

for not having been loved,

this way,

the way that is beyond denial,

for those within its circle of warmth.

I wish for you today,

a better moment,

a better today, to build,

an even better tomorrow.

I wish that we,

as humanity,

would not let,

our brothers and sisters fail,

not now,

not ever,

but lift them up,

within our arms of collective consciousness.

Every child gone wrong,

every adult,

with a finger pointed at him or her,

is still the child,

no I don’t mean,

we excuse behavior that hurts one another,

i mean,

we raise a village,

we stop it before it begins,

Ubuntu.

Peace to you today.

let us know what we can do,

if you don’t,

well,

we will wish you had.