Cutting for Stone Book Review

Cutting for Stone

The NGC staff started the Documentary/Book Club to review resources we utilize in our programs and to find new ways to learn more about global issues. Feel free to email the reviewer (contact info below) if you have any follow-up questions!

Cutting for Stone, set in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, spans the course of a century in the lives of the denizens of Missing Hospital, centered on conjoined (and separated upon birth) twins Shiva and Marion Stone. The twins, sons of two of the hospital’s healthcare providers, grow up in the upheaval of 1960’s Ethiopia, in the midst of military coups and resistance movements. Growing up in the hospital, the boys experience the challenges that come with healthcare in the developing world.

Most importantly for New Global Citizens, one of the primary foci of the novel is the importance and paucity of maternal healthcare services in the developing world. Missing Hospital encounters women with obstructed labor, botched abortions, fetal death, and vaginal fistula. Fistula, or the abnormal connection between two organs or vessels, most often refers to the damage sustained by obstructed labor and forced delivery. When a birth is obstructed, the pressure in the birth canal often causes a tear in the vaginal wall passing through to either the anus or the urethra. This tear, if not repaired, will leak excrement almost constantly, rendering the woman unable to control her bowel or bladder activity.

The novel’s portrayal of rural health, fistula, and cultural challenges surrounding women and health in Ethiopia is accurate without causing the reader to pity the cast of characters. For a great read about one of the most complex Millenium Development Goals, I would highly recommend Cutting for Stone.

Fistula is still one of the leading challenges faced by mothers in many areas of the world. For current information on work being done to ensure safe births, check out the work of Edna Adan at Edna Adan University Hospital in Somaliland (commonly known as Somalia, bordering Ethiopia). If your team is interested in sponsoring a Global Project directly involved in treating fistula and providing high-quality maternal healthcare, check out the work of SEWA Rural.

Lisa Glenn, NGC Director of Programs, reviewed Cutting for Stone. To learn more about her, click here.

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Invest in the Future with Innovation and Sustainability Training

 

Fever, chills, headache, sweats, fatigue, nausea, vomiting. To most people, this collection of symptoms sounds like the flu. And yet for the 3.2 billion people at risk, this could also mean a much deadlier diagnosis: malaria. For this reason, among many others, malaria is one of the most difficult subjects to address in terms of public health crises. Most people in malaria affected areas expect to wind up with the disease at some point in their lives. Additionally, many of the solutions posed to rural communities for fighting the disease have been short-sighted, unsustainable, and ridden with financial challenges. As we educate the next generation of new global citizens, how do we guide our students to seek out and support sustainable, innovative solutions malaria and other public health crises?

A Brief History of Malaria Solutions

Many are not aware that malaria was once a major threat in the swamp-ridden, southeast United States. In a land that is humid and warm for over half of the year, mosquitoes carrying malaria posed a major threat to the average American. The United States was able to eradicate malaria through a comprehensive pesticide program centered around now-infamous DDT. Talk about an unsustainable solution!

Now, Malaria is found in far fewer places in the world, with its primary area of impact on the African continent. Solutions offered thus far focus on three primary methods of prevention: systematic indoor pesticide treatments, anti-malarial medications and insecticide-treated bed nets. Unfortunately, none of these solutions are without their challenges. Pesticide treatments (like DDT) often have unwanted environmental or health challenges. Anti-malarial medications can be poor in quality in unregulated countries, and in many cases, counterfeit medications are passed off as the real thing. Finally, bed nets have become more widely used as fishing nets to alleviate the more pressing challenge of hunger rather than used as intended to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Clearly, the lack of economic development in many countries can be one of the greatest factors affecting malaria eradication. Solutions must be cost-effective, require a low level of education for the average participant, last long-term, and include an innovative public health campaign element to educate through print and non-print media. Solutions developed so far have reduced the rate of infection and death, but have not eradicated malaria. This is where our students come in.

Teaching Innovation and Sustainability

In an education system that focuses more and more on standardized testing and student compliance, we have a commitment as educators and as citizens of the world to prepare our future leaders to tackle this kind of challenge.  With that being said, teaching innovation and sustainability requires a very different pedagogical style than the drill and kill approach of multiple choice testing. In order to defeat global challenges like malaria, we must invest in the future of our students’ educational experience. So, how do we teach innovation and sustainability? We recommend these 5 tips for teachers to focus on:

  1. Encourage students to question the process. In order for students to question the existing solutions to complex problems (and therefore develop better ones), they must first feel comfortable questioning processes in the classroom. Questions in the classroom should not be seen as a lack of compliance, but as a quest for understanding–encourage them!
  2. Teach and brainstorm with the end in mind. Encourage students to use systems-thinking practices such as effects chains, mind maps, and flowcharts. By mapping out all possible outcomes of a potential solution, students are more likely to find the flaws in their thinking.
  3. Think like a collaborator, not like a problem-solver. This may seem counter-intuitive, but no one should walk into a community with solutions in hand. Sustainable problem-solving requires collaboration across areas of expertise, cultural affiliations, political stances, and much more. Students must learn to think like collaborators in order to create the best possible solutions to global challenges.
  4. Always ask a local. Connected to tip #3, solutions are most often unsustainable when they don’t take into account the daily experience of those living with the challenge. Students should get in the habit of collaborating with those closest to the issues and taking their ideas, solutions, and lives into account.
  5. Research the Solutions You Support! It’s possible that you will at some point stumble upon a really great solution being carried out by an existing organization. If this is the case, you should support their work–after asking a few questions. When they support a global solution, students should always ask about the sustainability of the organization’s financial model, implementation model, and more.

For more thoughts on how to teach innovation and sustainability, join us this Thursday, April 23 at 5PST for #globaledchat. For more information on malaria, join the conversation on Twitter by following @WorldMalariaDay2015.

Magnolia High Rides for Change

Written by Team Mentor Kamrie Yeung

KAMRIE

On Saturday, November 23, 2013, six students from Magnolia High School left the comfort of their beds and stepped into their backyards – America’s backyard. Magnolia High School’s NGC team had organized a Ride for Change event to ride their bikes around their local park to pass around “goody bags” for the homeless in the park. These bags, carefully arranged by the team, contained water, granola bars, and socks. These were small offerings, but like coals in the snow, a precious gift. Team leader Ailene Ortiz recounts that in this deceptively simple act, they had learned that “a small token of care can have such impact on someone’s life”.  They became more aware that “poverty is happening in our own backyards, and we have the power to make a change”.

People in developed countries are often preoccupied (although sometimes rightly so) with what is going on in other countries and what is unjust in other societies that they overlook what is happening in their own backyard. Sometimes, in the midst of learning about and helping distant issues, we must remember that although America as a country is thriving, there are bubbles of poverty within itself. These are often overlooked, not receiving nearly as much care and attention as the “Red Cross” areas, and yet needing just as much. Magnolia High team’s event was sustainable, thoughtful, and enjoyable, which is what NGC, I believe, strives for our students.

Tolleson NGC Uses Indiegogo to raise funds

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For an entire month, from February to March, the Tolleson NGC team worked towards developing an awareness video which would educate students and staff and the community about A Ban Against Neglect.

Now, the team is working towards raising $500 via indiegogo to help the young mothers of A Ban Against Neglect in Uganda, Africa.

If you wish to donate and help the team meet its goals, please click here!

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Join NGC for Our First Global Citizen Hangout

SocialMedia
NGC will host Maya Ajmera, founder of the Global Fund for Children, to discuss Universal Education in the first Global Citizen Hangout.
To view the Hangout, visit the NGC Youtube site at 1:30 pm EST April 24th to watch live. Additionally, students and teachers can submit questions for Maya through NGC’s Facebook or Twitter by tagging #GCHangout. Questions should be submitted by April 23rd.

Maya Ajmera

Founder and Board Member, The Global Fund for Children

Visiting Scholar, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University

Maya Ajmera is the Founder of The Global Fund for Children (GFC), a philanthropic intermediary whose mission is to make small grants to innovative, community-based organizations working with some of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth. She is also the co-author of several Global Fund for Children books, including Children from Australia to Zimbabwe and Faith.

Maya serves on the boards of directors of Echoing Green, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, The Global Fund for Children, and New Global Citizens. She also serves on the advisory board to numerous philanthropic entities including the American India Foundation, Global Philanthropy Forum and the Emerging Markets Foundation.  Recently, Maya was appointed as a trustee of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She also served as a trustee of the Blue Moon Fund.

Maya received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. 

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