Progress at Ashirvad

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Our chicken project in India is continuing to make progress. Some of the chickens are now almost three months old and should be laying eggs soon. This project works to improve the nutritional and educational needs of the 79 children living at Ashirvad Home. How does it work? These chickens are sold in the market and the profits pay for fresh fruit and also fund computers and a teacher for the children. 

Inspiration from MLK

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“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
During Black History Month, we remember and honor the many amazing, courageous leaders who have dedicated their lives to equality and social justice. Among them is the great Martin Luther King who inspires us to make a positive impact in the world. So, ask yourself this important question: What are you doing for others?

Helping Children Accused of Witchcraft

Photo Credit: Anja Ringgren Lovén

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Anja Ringgren Lovén went to Nigeria three years ago as a humanitarian volunteer, but nothing could have prepared her for what was in store for her. Lovén is the founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation and is dedicating to bettering the lives of vulnerable children. While being in Nigeria, she has seen firsthand some of the thousands of children who are accused of witchcraft and the terrible consequences that children endure on account of these strong superstitions. One of those children that Lovén is helping has been starved and shunned from the community. The child is now going by the name “Hope,” which he has given to people all over the world through his story of resilience. Read more @HuffPost: goo.gl/yHWsKm

The Heart of the Matter: The Plight of Child Marriages

Valentine’s Day just passed, but few of us ever take the time to be grateful that we’re in a relationship of our choosing, or are single- even if we wish that was different. Why? Because in many parts of the world, your spouse and life is determined for you.

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Sinclair for National Geographic. A 14 year old mother in Yemen bathes her infant child alongside her two-year old daughter. The mother was still experiencing physical complications for giving birth, but is without access to education or health services.

Being married before the age of 18 is the fate for 1 in 3 girls in low- and middle-income countries. Every day, around 39,000 girls are forced into child marriages. If the state of these affairs continue, by 2050 another 1.2 billion girls will be the victims of these forced marriages. There are serious economic, emotional and health consequences from this normalized cultural institution. These young girl’s  lives and the lives of their children are at risk due to the pregnancies that occur far too early in life. These early marriages are a violation of human rights, which undermines the development of the countries in which they occur. Education is the key to advancement, on the individual level, as well as on the global stage. Girls lacking education are 3 times more likely to be married than their peers with a secondary or higher education, according to the NGO Girls, Not Brides.

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Photo Credit: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images. Schoolgirls in Kilifi, Kenya.

There are major  health risks involved for these children, given the sexual nature of these marriages and their underdeveloped bodies. Among the perils facing these girls are obstetric fistulas, which can leave them incontinent and thus often they become social pariahs, as well as the hazards involved with teen pregnancy and sexual abuse, which are especially threatening in countries with little health and psychological resources available. In fact, globally, the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 is attributed to the complications associated with childbirth and pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization. And it’s important to note that 9 out of these 10 births occur within the confines of marriage.

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Photo Credit: Graham Crouch | Girls Not Brides

Compounding the emotional and health issues of early motherhood is the very serious problem of financial inequality. Girls born into poverty are twice as likely to be married before 18 than their wealthier counterparts. One driving force behind this epidemic is that poor families can alleviate the financial burden of caring for a daughter by having her married off. In addition, the dowry of marriages can help these families with immediate financial needs. Besides being more likely to be married as a child, these girls are more likely to stay in poverty due to their early marital vows. Since these girls are not allowed to continue their education, the cycle of poverty continues for them and their families.

The organization KAFA Violence and Exploitation released a video over Valentine’s Day, which has subsequently gone viral. It depicts a disturbing, and yet all too common image, of a 12 year old child being married off to a much older man. Fortunately, the video is staged for the purpose of drawing attention to this frequent scenario. The organization is trying to draw attention to this issue, especially in the country of Lebanon, as part of its UN supported initiative to stop child marriages. The video has already been viewed close to 2 million times and exposure like this helps bring this issue into the mainstream conversation.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Lea/U.K. Department for International Development/Flickr.

So take heart, because hope is not lost. As more people stand up for themselves and as the world gets more educated on this issue, things are changing for the better. Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, two teenagers from Zimbabwe just recently won a landmark court case against their own country on account of their own child marriages. On January 20, 2016, the courts ruled in favor of the girls and made it illegal for anyone in Zimbabwe to enter into marriage before the age of 18. As inspiring people like Murzuru and Tsopodzi take a stand for themselves, their children and their future, they lift up the world and remind us that things can, and should be, different.

 

Resources

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/14/love-conquers-all-child-brides-sweetheart-spouse-ashley-judd

http://news.yahoo.com/disturbing-viral-video-shedding-light-212400779.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/644675/Man-Lebanon-child-bride

http://www.upworthy.com/2-former-child-brides-just-took-their-country-to-court-and-won

http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/ending-child-marriage-will-help-us-achieve-the-global-goals-heres-how/

http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/14/documenting-child-marriage-for-over-a-decade-and-still-going/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/photo-series-reveals-how-child-marriage-devastates-girls-health-education-and-economic-opportunities_us_56005e5ce4b0fde8b0cf4c90

http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/themes/poverty/

Birth Defects from the Zika Virus

Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images. 3 month old with microcephaly in Brazil.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus has rapidly spread to 25 countries since April, when it was first discovered in Brazil. The virus can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly, which often leads to brain damage. Since Ebola, the virus has been the first to be called an international public-health emergency by the World Health Organization. These women and children are especially vulnerable because in places like Brazil, the public health system is underfunded. Read more at Time Magazine: http://goo.gl/4ubLIx

The Kids of Ashirvad Home

79 children living in Tuni, India call Ashirvad “home”. There are many reasons why these children have come to live here, but often it is because their families cannot support them with the resources available to them. We have implemented a social worker at the home to help integrate children back into the community and encourage the reunification with families whenever possible. This process can be long and complex, though, so we feel it is also our mission to help these kids while they are living at Ashirvad Home. That’s why we setup our sustainable chicken farm project, which generates profits that go towards the nutrition and education of these children. 

Migrant Children Should Get Their Fair Day in Court

by Jacqueline Monet, Kitechild Social Media Manager

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Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images. A Honduran child at a United States Border Patrol detention center in McAllen, Texas. 

Yesterday a bill was introduced that would ensure that unaccompanied and vulnerable immigrant children would be given lawyers. These children are often fleeing violence, poverty and trafficking, after risking their lives on arduous journeys to arrive in America, alone. Once they finally arrive in the United States, they are all too often met with continued uncertainty of their futures. They are not granted the same basic rights as other Americans and even when facing deportation, they are not guaranteed a lawyer. Thousands of vulnerable children are being forced to go through immigrant proceedings without representation, which means they don’t have a chance at a fair deportation hearing.

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Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan. Three of the sponsors of the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act 2016: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), and Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Durbin (D-IL).

This new legislation, called the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016, was brought before Congress by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and other Democratic politicians, along with the group Human Rights First. This is a very important piece of legislation to pass, as currently less than half of unaccompanied immigrant children have legal representation. This situation has serious ramifications for these vulnerable children: 90% of unaccompanied children without a lawyer are deported and those with representation are 5 times more likely to be granted relief. “We know firsthand that having a lawyer is one of the single most important indicators of whether a vulnerable asylum seeker receives protection,” said Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First. Providing legal representation to these children may not cost as much as you may think, when you consider that it will increase the efficiency of the current court proceedings and by reducing dentition costs. This is especially true considering how thousands of unaccompanied children have been flooding the border, and will continue to risk their lives for the promise of a better future in America.

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Photo Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times. Honduran child in Tapachula on his way into the United States.

All of these issues are coming to a head in the midst of the recent Obama Administration’s policy to deport arriving migrant children. That means that the 52,000 children that have been detained at the border this past year will be facing deportation… but, if the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act passes, there is hope for these children to standing a fighting chance to not be forced back to their conflict-ridden countries.

 

Resources

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/new-legislation-would-provide-lawyers-children-vulnerable-individuals

http://www.northjersey.com/news/lawmakers-introduce-bill-calling-for-children-who-immigrated-to-u-s-alone-to-be-provided-lawyers-1.1510623

http://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/young-scared-alone-and-in-court?cmpid=action-share-influence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/failures-in-handling-unaccompanied-migrant-minors-have-led-to-trafficking/2016/01/26/c47de164-c138-11e5-9443-7074c3645405_story.html

http://time.com/4218850/democratic-debate-bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-central-america-unaccompanied-minors/

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-crackdown-migrant-children-20150428-story.html

10,000 Refugee Children are Missing

Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP. A migrant child at the Macedonian border.

10,000 refugee children are missing as a result of gang activity across Europe, according to Europol. This story from The Guardian brings to our attention how these children are being targeted by pan-European criminals to be sold into slavery and sex trafficking. Italy may have the worst of the problem, with 5,000 children unaccounted for, but other European countries are also facing this appalling epidemic, such as 1,000 children having gone missing in Sweden. There have been an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children who have entered into Europe during this refugee crisis. The children who are traveling alone are especially vulnerable and in need of protection. Read more: goo.gl/pJH7nF

Making A Difference One Veggie At A Time

Take a look at some of the fresh, healthy veggies produce being grown at Fiwagoh Home in Kenya through our greenhouse project. We installed 6 greenhouses, which grow various vegetables, including the ones we’re harvesting this month: lettuce, tomatoes, kale, spinach and cabbage. These veggies are used to supplement the diets of the children, while the surplus produce is sold for profit. Those profits keep the project going and also will hire additional caretakers for the home, making it a sustainable and necessary project that provides nutritious food and emotional support to the children of Fiwagoh.