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.

Combating Extreme Poverty: A Poor Inconvenience

Post contributed by Team Mentor Ashely Suarez 

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Why it’s an issue:

issue-poverty-hunger

NGC’s logo for Extreme Hunger & Poverty

As part of the United Nation’s first Millennium Development Goals, extreme poverty is one of the world’s greatest problems, generating a multiplicity of other issues that further complicate the daily lives of individuals and families. According to the United Nations, it robs them of their basic human needs such as food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education, and information. It is characterized by living on less than $2 a day and, for many people, this may sound farfetched and uncommon, but the sad truth is that half the planet lives with these conditions. Extreme poverty does not solely refer to income but to access to services as well. While it is extremely important to help ease some of the stemming issues of poverty such as hunger, we must come up with a way to combat the deep-rooted problem. It may seem almost impossible to eradicate extreme poverty, but with the help of optimistic NGC teams around the country and global organizations such as The Shelter of Friendship and A Ban Against Neglect, we can help make those basic human needs more accessible.

Fundraising:

NGC teams can come up with various creative ideas on how to fundraise for their global projects. By hosting events such as Poetry Nights where students pay a small fee for entrance and spend the evening listening to great poetry and music, teams can easily raise more than $200. Rather than simply asking for donations, although that can also work, it would be more effective to communicate where the funds are going by having an event and spending some time explaining the project or hosting activities such as Awareness Weeks where they dedicate the week to community education and fundraising. It can often be difficult to come up with different ways to fundraise, but with a little inspiration and a lot of motivation, teams can virtually do anything to help raise money for their projects. When in doubt, hold a bake sale: no one can deny a delicious cookie to help those in need of shelter.

Advocacy:

Our generation is one of the most passionate and reformist groups; we use our voices to bring light to issues that are important to each of us. Extreme poverty is one of those issues, and with their voices and actions, NGC teams can advocate for it by choosing a global project that helps to combat it. Advocacy can be done on a local and global scale, reaching out to community partners and businesses for support as well as senators and even the president. Partnering with local businesses or reaching out to state senators can make a huge difference on the impact that the team has on the community. This in turn will allow the team’s efforts to be seen by people across the country. Even if teams choose to keep things local, it still helps to reach out to others to help advocate for extreme poverty.

Community Education:

One of the biggest problems that is hindering progression in combating issues such as extreme poverty is a lack of knowledge. When people are unaware about what is going on around the globe, these issues are buried and continue to impede the lives of many people. NGC teams can use their voices and creative minds to help educate their schools and local communities about extreme poverty and its prevalence in society. By hosting documentary nights featuring films relevant to their global project or issue, teams can educate others on the importance of helping to end extreme poverty. Also, explaining the different problems that arise from poverty such as a lack of access to healthcare or education can further bring awareness to the topic. Once that is done, NGC teams can use their resources and ideas to work together with others to help end poverty through their global partner.

Impact:

Extreme poverty is a widespread issue that has received attention but has yet to be eradicated. Through the F.A.C.E. goals, NGC teams can make ending it that much easier. Although it may seem that a group of high school students can only do so much, their efforts will go a long way.

The global partnership that the team supports will work to help make their efforts worthwhile and noticed. We are helping real people with real lives; we are making a difference. And while extreme poverty will not disappear in a day, our teams will be the drop in the water that causes a wave of progression.

What cause will you champion?

NGC’s Program Coordinator Maggie Broderick shares her evolved definition of global citizenship.

Center for Regional Development is an NGC Global Project located in Ecuador.

Center for Regional Development is an NGC Global Project located in Ecuador providing services to the disabled.

Global citizens have the ability and desire to champion causes that are universal, problems that every community faces and handles in their own way. Global citizens fight for equality and compassionate treatment of the most vulnerable populations. Global citizens are motivated to prove that change can, in fact, be created by one person.

Every person has the capacity to be a global citizen. We all have at least one cause that drives us to develop sustainable, positive solutions for our world. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all dedicated time to improving the conditions of our peers in our local and global communities?

For me, I am continuously driven to ensure access to people with disabilities. These individuals deserve equal access to a rich education and fulfilling, life-long employment. As I have traveled around the world, I have been amazed at the similar challenges facing people with disabilities.

In some countries, simple tasks such as traveling on public sidewalks are near impossible for people with physical disabilities; thus, many of those individuals end up homebound. In others, people with disabilities are not given the opportunity to receive an education with their peers or even one at all.

Disabilities are even seen as an illness that can be “caught” if others spend time with the “inflicted.”

Therefore, people with disabilities frequently are unable to socialize with others outside of their home, and as a result, a large part of our global population does not have the opportunity to form personal relationships with people with disabilities. These individuals deserve better.

I will not solely be able to alter the societal structures that thwart the advancement of people with disabilities, but I can do my part to advocate on behalf of and with this population. I can champion and volunteer at incredible organizations like Best Buddies, Special Olympics, SAARC, and Foundation for People with Disabilities (an NGC Global Project). I can also educate others on the injustices that people with disabilities still face abroad and in the United States.

I will be a global citizen as I work to provide access for all people with disabilities. What cause will drive you to be a global citizen? How will you provide solutions to our ever changing global society?