ThinkBrigade http://thinkbrigade.com united reporters -- global issues Fri, 29 Mar 2013 10:30:36 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Video: ThinkBrigade’s Multimedia Journalists http://thinkbrigade.com/media/video-thinkbrigade/ http://thinkbrigade.com/media/video-thinkbrigade/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2013 10:30:36 +0000 Rajneesh Bhandari http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7913 These are some of the people who have been reporting for ThinkBrigade from around the globe in the last year. Watch this video message from ThinkBrigade’s multimedia journalists:


 

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/media/video-thinkbrigade/feed/ 1
Resurgence: A Photo Essay http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/resurgence-a-photo-essay/ http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/resurgence-a-photo-essay/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 10:00:53 +0000 Rajneesh Bhandari http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7893 Hunted by my past memories I went to my village of Kafalghari near the Nepalese city of Pokhara after nearly 16 months of absence.

The place where I was born, where I spent my childhood days. The place where I was showered with the unconditional love of my parents and relatives.

Like any other child born in the outskirts of the valley, I left my village very young in order to study and then find work in the city. I left the warmth and care of my beloved mother. I always long for those lovely moments with her, the touch of her warm hands and the beautiful smile on her face which takes all my worries away.

Manikunj, or “a garden of jewel”, as dad calls our home, had become more beautiful, more peaceful and more lovely than ever before. Situated in the lap of mount Annapurna and Macchapuchre, the sound of the gushing Bijayapur River adds magic to the area.

Counting stars was my favourite free time activity in my childhood days. I used to submerge myself in counting the stars and am still unsuccessful in this task.

My maternal grandpa, Bhuwaneshwore Koirala. He was a popular mystic in Pokhara who dared to leave his home in search of “The Truth”.

Feeling at home is lovely, simple and beautiful.

My mother: a symbol of unconditional love to all the members in the family.

Her every step is full of grace and rhythm. That's how life should be.

She loves her pet so much. Every time she comes to Kathmandu, she keeps thinking of her pet.

Religiousness, prayer and devotion are all important. The way to practise them may differ.

The ultimate joy. I know my mother is talking to my dad here.

She listens to others and gives them advice. After all, she is a teacher and has been teaching for more than 20 years.

Silence, undisturbed silence which I always long for.

Known for her name and work, we relate her to tell our identities. She is a famous teacher. Her students have become engineers, journalists, bankers and others.

there.”]

The trees and the forest make the village more beautiful. Though the village is called Kafalghari, I hardly see Kafal [wild fruit

Just like in any other place in Nepal, power cut has hit my village too.

This story was the outcome of the Photographing the Everyday workshop with Frédéric Lecloux in Pokhara, Nepal, January 2013. 

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/resurgence-a-photo-essay/feed/ 0
The (Past, Present and) Future of (Danish) Journalism http://thinkbrigade.com/media/denmark-journalism/ http://thinkbrigade.com/media/denmark-journalism/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 10:00:30 +0000 Benno Hansen http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7802

People who have seen the Oscar-nominated film A Royal Affair will be familiar with Denmark’s first attempt at freedom of speech. On 4 September 1770 Johann Friedrich Struensee, the royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, lover to Queen Caroline Matilda and de facto regent of the country, abolished censorship. Danish citizens immediately seized the opportunity to publish torrents of smear leaflets, and Struensee himself soon had to restrict this freedom or risk anarchy.

Shortly after the very brutal execution of the Enlightened doctor, censorship was firmly reinstated.

Denmark regained freedom of the press on 5 June 1849 and a number of newspapers established themselves across the country. They were each ideologically attached to a political party; they published the opinions of their party and only people who already agreed with the party line would buy and read a particular paper.

As Modernism and Capitalism reshaped the western world, the form of journalism they teach us about in school and which we praise as a hallmark of civilization took its form. Government was parted in three as suggested by political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu – also of the Enlightenment – and the press gained its reputation as the fourth power.

The crisis

Sometime in the 1990s a small crack appeared in the foundation of this apparently rock solid mastodon of media business. No-one noticed at first but the internet built a formidable structure against which the dinosaurs of information had no defence. Printed newspapers went from being the de facto standard in news communication to being a niche product.

“Blogs and wikis [...] was what the Web was supposed to be all along.”
“What’s very important from my point of view is that there is one web [...] Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring.”
- Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web.

Money was lost. Money is still being lost. Power is shifting. Some news traders attempt variations of pay-walls to secure a source of income. Most have failed. More will fail. To succeed with a closed garden approach a combination of quality products, a dedicated audience and a few secret ingredients are needed.

But there is something much worse than the  financial challenges: Democracy itself changes as its keen and alert watcher – the media – is being stripped of its powers. Now politicians communicate directly with their voters via blogs. Representatives no longer depend on news media to get their messages out. Only the fast-paced short TV news retain their grip on the agenda.

So, what do media outlets do? They use their websites to leak teasers for their main stories the following day in the hope that the story gets on the agenda. Only then will a few readers pick up a copy of their printed newspaper. Experiments with citizen journalism are still in their beta prototype phases.

While citizens – news consumers – feel more free and informed than ever, actually they are burying their outlook with the debris of confirmation biases. While Facebook denies it has any adverse effects in this regard, they do filter and sort in the updates their users get. Many Facebook users share news stories – but only people who the Facebook algorithm believes are likely to agree with the sentiments of the posting user are actually likely to see that update.

Wait a second… Isn’t that almost the same thing as the 19th century newspapers affiliated with political groups?

“Yes, it’s exactly the same,” says Natasha Friis Saxberg, Danish social media researcher, “we are not very objective and don’t have a lot of perspective in this regard. Neither physically or online, it never changed”.

If Facebook is an enhancer of subjectivity it’s certainly something media professionals should stay away from when just looking for an update on the state of the world. Except search engines do almost the same nowadays. Competition for delivering useful results has made search engines personalise search result algorithms quite a bit. We are getting our outlooks trapped in filter bubbles, warned Eli Pariser in a TED Talk.

For a professional journalist who isn’t working in a propaganda organisation it might be a very good idea to log out of Google before googling, out of Hotmail before using Bing and out of Yahoo! before using Yahoo! Search. Or just use DuckDuckGo.com instead.

“We have all experienced the filter bubble,” says Saxberg. “Common users have no idea, they just clicked to accept terms. The problem is, we don’t know how information is found and selected for us when we search”.

The future

Software has already begun writing baseball match reports. At the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab at Tokyo University, Japan researchers are building an actual robot that photographs, interviews and publishes stories online. The absence of truth in US politics has inspired The Washington Post to start developing a real time fact checking algorithm. The future journalist will be working with and competing with robots.

And as for skills, as any member of an endangered species in a changing environment journalists will need a variety of skills, the ability to learn new skills and the willingness to adapt. There are no pluses nor minuses of multi-skilling – it is a prerequisite. Survival will also require the courage to stand up to the dogma of the dinosaurs and risk failure when going against traditional wisdom. Question marks have a new future in headlines, the journalism itself isn’t the product, anyone with a smartphone and a hidden talent can be tomorrow’s Pulitzer candidate.

***

These were just the ramblings of one veteran blogger who’s gone studying journalism. Might be less than prophetic. The future will not be what it used to be.

Photo by European Parliament via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/media/denmark-journalism/feed/ 3
Liudas Alseika, the Tragic Tourer on Two Wheels http://thinkbrigade.com/environment-2/liudas-alseika/ http://thinkbrigade.com/environment-2/liudas-alseika/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 10:00:20 +0000 Raul Cazan http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7846

In the late 1950s he was preparing for the first trans-Siberian bicycle ride. The world already knew a bunch of cycle-tourers, but this endeavor was quite special. Liudas Alseika, an agro-engineer, traveller, teacher and veteran of sustainable tourism had already organised his crowning activity – a bike ride from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Alseika was going to cycle from Lithuania’s port city of Klaipeda to Vladivostok in far-east Russia.

Liudas Alseika.

Vladivostok was to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1960, and this was the spark that led to the Eurasian bicycle ride. Alseika was just a little younger than the Russian city: before the ride, in 1960, he turned 73. The senior was to revolutionise bike touring by leading a cycling group over two continents.

Alseika leaving Klaipeda in May 1960.

The route almost concurred with the Great Siberian Way, through the Urals and Sayan Mountains, Western Siberial Lowlands, the taiga by the Baykal Lake, Chabarovsk and Primorsky Kray. On Mayday 1960 the cyclists started their half-year long ride. The senior was to pay dearly for his two-wheeled adventure across the USSR. On the 20th day of their travel, near Gorochovets in the Vladimir oblast, on the highway between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, Alseika was fatally hit by a truck.

The Baltic group of riders overcame their grief and decided to pursue eastwards without their leader. They reached Vladivostok on 9 October 1960. The ride took 162 days and the surmounted distance was 11,800 km.The tragic ride encouraged bike travelling and arose a keen interest in the Baltic peoples and their past all over the Soviet Union. Despite the terrible tragedy, many youngsters embraced cycling and started wandering long distances across the USSR and all over.

Alseika's bike touring group.

The Siauliai Bicycle Museum in Lithuania has a wing dedicated to Alseika’s exploit. Regardless of their size, the Baltic States have a long tradition of bicycle riding. Lithuania has one of the largest plants in Europe: a huge plant, Baltik Vairas is the Siauliai based factory – former pride of the Soviet Union, currently controlled by the German giant Panther International GmbH.

Siauliai, Lithuania. Bicycle Museum

Images: We hereby express our gratitude to the Siauliai Bicycle Museum for allowing us to use the photos.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/environment-2/liudas-alseika/feed/ 1
Voices of Advocates Part 2: Caesarean Births (Chile) http://thinkbrigade.com/development/caesarean-birth-chile/ http://thinkbrigade.com/development/caesarean-birth-chile/#comments Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:59:05 +0000 ThinkBrigade http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7906

Primal scream.

In the new millennium (2000-2011), there have been nearly 3 million births in Chile (2,751,540 to be exact), 75% of them in the public sector, and the remaining 25% in private institutions. Trends showing the increase in caesareans are clear: while in the year 2000 the total number (that includes both public and private medical institutions) of caesareans represented 36% of all births, in 2011 this figure reached 48%.

For medical anthropologist Michelle Sadler, this is “a sign of a highly medicalised birth model”, in which people are delivered to a “health system without questioning its indications”. Sadler also emphasises that there are several cultural factors related to this phenomenon: “A very hierarchical health system where users have no higher incidence, the idea that using more intervention is synonymous of better health care, the idea that birth is dangerous and must be controlled by specialists, and a great fear of childbirth in general (hazardous event) and pain during treatment, among others.”

When we compare global figures with ours in Chile, the results are not very encouraging. According to world sanitary statistics (World Health Organisation – WHO, 2011) that shows caesarean rates in more than 180 countries in the decade from 2000 to 2010, Chile ranked 4th globally with 40.6 % of caesarean births. Only Cyprus (50.9%), Brazil (43%) and the Dominican Republic (41%) had more caesareans than Chile.

Ricardo Gomez, director of the Center for Perinatal Diagnosis and Research (DPSC), is categorical: “Regardless of the causes that have led to these rates, we must be clear in stating that our current caesarean rate is indefensible.”

It is important to note that in 1985 WHO recommended that countries do not exceed caesarean rates by more than 15% of total births. Some doctors have pointed out that today, the recommended maximum rate should be 20-25%. Nevertheless, both public and private sectors have much higher percentages. The private sector moved in the last 12 years from figures of 60% of caesarean to 70%, which means that  two out of three children born in Chile in a private institution do so through a caesarean, which is so far away from the recommendation 2 out of 10 proposed for these times. Meanwhile the public sector also increased its rates from 30.4% in 2000 to 38% in 2011.

In 2000, Susan Murray, a British researcher, analysed this phenomenon that occurs in ISAPRE, Chile’s private medical sector. She concluded that the model of health insurance in Chile may condition maternity health management. ISAPRE continue to enjoy their juicy profits without ever having referred to this issue. Murray’s study also showed that economic and time factors are crucial when physicians explains the high rate of caesareans.

To some, it does not matter if a child is born the natural way or via a caesarean; they only worry about the risks associated with each of these two models. I think that such arguments are extremely reductionist. Fortunately though, authors who have reviewed the risks, even after we had explained that the difference between the two paths is very low, are emphatic in stating that nothing justifies increasing the caesarean rate. Taking into account only the risks of a certain procedure neglects first of all the preferences of patients, it takes away the spotlight in their own reproductive process, and also it leaves aside the impact of early separation in the bond development and brain development.

All the above occur frequently in our caesareans: after birth the newborn child is almost immediately taken outside the pavilion.

Why is there no change in such behaviour to “humanise” the birth in these ways? I think the answer is clear: those who work with biomedical births in Chile do not consider this as an “outcome” desired by the patient, even as a benefit or a visible impact, ignoring all the evidence that neurosciences have presented in recent years.

Others have pointed out that the high rate of caesareans in Chile is the explanation of our low mortality rates. It is good to remind that our current rates are comparable to those of industrialised countries. However, countries with such  indicators as ours have caesarean rates well below our 41% of the last decade. Just to mention some: Canada 26%, Uruguay 15.8%, Netherlands 15.4%. In addition, Chile has had stable death rates for years, while the number of caesareans keeps rising.

Current childbirth practices in Chile do not cater to the needs and preferences of would-be mothers, as evidenced in a study published in 2006 in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology by US and Chilean researchers. It indicates that 70% of women in the public and private sectors prefer vaginal birth to caesareans. The study’s authors thus concluded that mothers in Chile do not regard the caesarean as necessary.

It is important to put these arguments on the table as I’m concerned that the discussion on the obstetric violence that mothers in Chile suffer has not been considered to be pertinent or necessary to approach by any of the sectors involved. There exists a persistent and conscious violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Chilean women on the part of the system of health, which translates in an unjust and avoidable reproduction of the sanitary inequities from our country.

This opinion piece is published in collaboration with Women Deliver: 100 Young Leaders . Gonzalo Infante Grandón is one of the 100 Young leaders selected for 2012-2013. 

Gonzalo Infante Grandón is from Temuco, Chile. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Midwifery and is pursuing his Master degree in Public Health Community and Local Development. Currently, he serves on the primary care center “General Rural Clinic of Curarrehue”, where he has done clinical trials, administrative work, and taught health. He is teaching at the Department of Public Health and is the coordinator of PIRI of Curarrehue, and tutor of GIS II.

Gonzalo Leiva is a co-author. 

Photo by Rowan Simpson via Flickr under Creative Commons license. 

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/development/caesarean-birth-chile/feed/ 0
Voices of Advocates Part 1: Domestic Violence (Trinidad &Tobago) http://thinkbrigade.com/human-rights/domestic-violence-trinidad-tobago/ http://thinkbrigade.com/human-rights/domestic-violence-trinidad-tobago/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 10:00:14 +0000 ThinkBrigade http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7902

Walk against domestic violence and commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 29, 2008, Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago.

The story of a young woman who endured both domestic violence and a court system that is unfriendly to the poor.

A hard-working, law-abiding young woman who made the wrong decision of entering into a relationship with someone she thought she knew. During this relationship she endured physical, mental and emotional abuse. Not only did she had to literally run for her life, but the life she now has she can barely call her own because of  her country’s inhumane, unfriendly and insufferable legal system which she had to turn to for help.

She even lost her mother as a result of the said system. She recalled how one day her mother left the court with her feeling so helpless that the next day, after enduring a night of torturous worry for fear of her daughter’s life, she suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her brain. Her mother passed away two days later, leaving her children orphans. Her older brother dropped out of university; the younger brother, who is currently pursuing his post-graduate studies at the main University in Trinidad, now has a hard time paying his school fees.

The judicial system in Trinidad & Tobago, she said, is plagued with overcrowding, lack of privacy, bureaucracy and insufficient human resources to effectively deal with all the issues brought before it. She recalled that since her application and appearance in March 2011 for breach of a protection order, she had endured at least 10 adjournments and was forced to wait two and a half months for a verdict that came sometime in May 2012, although she was represented by a counsel.

More than that, she had to beg her employers for time off to attend court with the promise to return in a timely manner, only to break that promise over and over again, as she would spend almost the entire day at the court. The Magistrate would instruct parties to be present for 9:00am but would sometimes arrive at 10:00am, if at all.

But she can’t even make him apologise for his tardiness or absenteeism. Most times, the Magistrate would proceed to arbitrarily adjourn matters as if it was so easily done for those who had suffered. She also pointed out that even when Magistrates are absent from other courts, the Magistrate from the Domestic Violence/Family Court was expected to go and deal with those matters as though domestic violence cases were less important or urgent.

She is a professional woman with supervisory responsibilities. The judicial system that is supposed to protect her has instead left her feeling frustrated, discouraged and hopeless. She said she has come to the humble realisation that the country’s legal system is designed for people with lots of time on their hands and the very rich who can be escorted through the basement of the courts.

So my question is: what about all those law-abiding people who diligently contribute to the asset base of the country through paying taxes, as well as those contributing intellectually and spiritually? She has done nothing wrong and yet she (and by extension her family) was made to suffer unfair consequences.

She recalled further that her commitment to her job was questioned as she constantly had to be seeking time off and as a result had been by-passed with opportunities for training and acting in higher positions. But according to the law of reinforcement, shouldn’t good behaviour be rewarded and undesirable behaviour punished? This to me creates conflict, and the minds of persons and their fundamental teachings can be brought into question.

More than that: it highlights a contradiction in the system which is supposed to protect people from crimes. What it does instead though is encourage lawlessness and forces people to take the law into their own hands.

The system she painfully describes is very harsh and oppressive and benefits the unscrupulous lawyers who can charge exorbitant fees per appearance. If one does not have a lawyer, they are made to feel as though they are stripped of their dignity. Unrepresented persons who are usually poor generally feel the brunt of the system as they are made to wait for hours to have their matters called because they are usually the last ones on the docket.

As a young woman of this country, I must ask: what about their human right to be recognised a person before the law as well as their human right to security and protection? How does the world help young women who do not have the capacity or the financial resources to fight their ground?

What scares me though is that this country has committed itself to international declarations such as the UN Declaration on Elimination of Violence Against Women, which means it must enact, strictly enforce, repeal legislation and take preventive measures to protect women, youth and children from all forms of violence and abuse as well as to enact and enforce legislation against the perpetrators of practices and acts of violence against women.

Additionally, governments agreed to provide mechanisms to victims of violence to report violations and access to justice with effective remedies which also includes the provision of low-cost or free legal assistance for those living in poverty. But for this woman, from making reports to the police all the way to the court has been a nightmare: she says no-one seemed to be trained, sensitised, informed or educated in dealing with cases of domestic violence.

I believe the time has come for reforms in how Trinidad & Tobago deals with domestic violence. Women continue to be beaten, raped and killed, even set on fire. In 2011 two children, aged five and eight, were brutally stabbed to death along with their mother. It has also now crept onto the doorsteps of a prominent law practitioner as he too has lost his daughter to domestic violence. Based on crime against women statistics, over 18,000 protection orders were sought in 2011 in this country; it is well on its way in becoming the domestic violence hub of the world.

Society owes its citizens security, health care, water, education and love, just to name a few. Protection from violence is also a need that must be fulfilled and society and the government must play their part.

This opinion piece is published in collaboration with Women Deliver: 100 Young Leaders. Ife Smith is one of the 100 Young Leaders for 2012-2103. 

Ife Smith, 28, is from Trinidad and Tobago. She is pursuing her Master’s in Labour and Employment Relations at the University of the West Indies – Barbados. She has 11+ years’ of experience in advocacy, peer education, and sexual and reproductive health rights. She is also a volunteer at the Family Planning Association’s youth branch, Youth Advocacy Movement.

Photo by CWGL via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/human-rights/domestic-violence-trinidad-tobago/feed/ 1
The Future of Journalism: the Youth? http://thinkbrigade.com/media/journalism-future-youth/ http://thinkbrigade.com/media/journalism-future-youth/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 10:00:10 +0000 Anna Zhou http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7809

Young journalist looks at how to report on the economic crisis.

A group of students in a class at Hong Kong International School feverishly work away on brand new iMacs and hi-tech cameras. Others walk around carrying video cameras, stands and microphones interviewing students and gathering information for their news stories. This broadcast class creates weekly news segments about the school as well as local and global issues. It gives students an exclusive look into broadcast journalism.

In a different room in the afternoon, a bunch of students are sitting around a conference table planning the next issue of the school paper, Junto. Here, they assign amateur reporters their stories to follow-up on and write about whilst also creating new layout for the newspaper.

All of these students, whether in broadcast journalism or print, try to imitate the work of professionals. With the work they are doing at the school, they hope to create a future for themselves in journalism.

However, given the current market trends, will there be a future in journalism itself?

The rise of the internet has long been seen as a tentative enemy of journalism. Many newspapers around the world have ceased to print, or even have chosen to close down. Even major players such as The New York Times have not been left unscathed. Current job market trends are unfavourable to journalists, with layoffs and cuts being the words on the mouths of those in the industry today. The severity of this moment for journalism has garnered so much attention that it has become a novelty in itself. For example, the website NewspaperDeathWatch has been documenting the slow demise of US metropolitan newspapers since 2007.

Although the discussion about the future of journalism has long focused on print, the future of broadcast news is also in doubt. The internet is revolutionising television as we know it today. People are moving online en masse to watch TV shows and news. News updates in real time are far more convenient than waiting all day for 6 o’clock news on TV. However, despite the convenience of real time updates, the quality of journalism can easily be lost in the clamour of blogs, tweets, and videos.

The plethora of information found online is just a component of what the future of journalism must fight against to survive. As people are bombarded with information, how do news outlets (broadcast or print) differentiate themselves and rise above the nonsense? Other components of the issue that journalism is facing are to do with freedom of speech. Journalism could not survive without it: it wouldn’t be able to achieve its goal of informing people. Censorship is a dangerous act where news blackouts have seen the silence of many atrocities, including those committed in Iraq, Darfur, and Pakistan. As news and print outlets try to carve a future for themselves online, how they will maintain freedom of speech to ensure quality will become a highly contested issue that has not yet seen enough coverage or debate.

Many professionals in the industry continue to speculate what will become of journalism, both broadcast and print. Perhaps some true insight into what journalism was, is and has the potential to be can be found in the minds of today’s students who will become the future of journalism.

Photo by European Parliament via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/media/journalism-future-youth/feed/ 0
Acid Attacks in Bangladesh: “19 Cents Changed My Face” http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/acid-bangladesh/ http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/acid-bangladesh/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 10:00:31 +0000 Bijoyeta Das http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7934

 

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/asia/acid-bangladesh/feed/ 0
Pictures of the Month: February http://thinkbrigade.com/pictures-of-the-month/pictures-of-the-month-february/ http://thinkbrigade.com/pictures-of-the-month/pictures-of-the-month-february/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2013 10:00:17 +0000 ThinkBrigade http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7842

Småland, February 2013. Photo by Benno Hansen/ThinkBrigade.com.

The Square of Health in Rogaska Slatina, Slovenia. Photo by Larisa Rankovic/ThinkBrigade.com.

Young men at a bloodletting ceremony in Nabatieh, Lebanon to commemorate Ashura. Ashura marks the climax of a mourning period observed by Shia Muslims for the 'martyrdom' of Husayn Ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, during the Battle of Karbala. Photo by Preethi Nallu/ThinkBrigade.com.

Migration of the Monarch Butterfly from Canada and USA to Mexico, February 20th, 2013. Photo by Andrea Arzaba/ThinkBrigade.com.

Nepal's Tamang community celebrated Sonam Lhosar, marking 2849th New Year, by organizing various cultural programs throughout on February 11, 2013. Photo by Rajneesh Bhandari/ThinkBrigade.com.

Photo taken on Feb. 20 shows Bhagwati, who only told her first name, posing for a picture at an old age home in Pokhara just near the Phewa lake. Photo by Rajneesh Bhandari/ThinkBrigade.com.

A farmer cuts leaves of a tree to feed buffalo in Pokhara on Feb 22, 2013. Photo by Rajneesh Bhandari/ThinkBrigade.com.

If you meet Roshan Subedi these days he is busy in his field. This 25-year old farmer told me that farmers don't get enough support from the government. Photo by Rajneesh Bhandari/ThinkBrigade.com.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/pictures-of-the-month/pictures-of-the-month-february/feed/ 0
The Fate of Children With Special Needs in Northern Ghana http://thinkbrigade.com/africa/special-needs-children-killed-in-northern-ghana/ http://thinkbrigade.com/africa/special-needs-children-killed-in-northern-ghana/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 10:00:24 +0000 Npong Francis http://thinkbrigade.com/?p=7607

These children in Northern Ghana do not attend school. Photo: Npong Francis/Thinkbrigade.com

“Why leave such a child to grow into the world of suffering and pain since the society has no supporting facilities to cater for their special needs,” says 42-year-old Njognam Adisa. “It is better to kill it when it is born with pronounced deformity.”

Adisa lives in Nayilifong, a surburb of Yendi Municipality in the northern region of Ghana. She says her second child was killed minutes after being born when it was detected that the child was limbless. “I supported the killing of the child because it will bring me more pain in trying to nurse such a child,” she says. “Taking care of such children often stigmatizes the parents. It’s emotionally stressful to give birth to a deformed child, let alone to keep it.”

Adisa says her friend gave birth to a baby with cleft lip who was also poisoned to death by a traditional priest. The child was labelled “spirit child” and killed to free the parents from emotional stress and abuses. “We cannot take care of children with special needs or disabilities so the best option is to do away with such a child at birth,” Brekum Kosie says.

In northern Ghana, many children born with pronounced deformities are labelled “spirit children” and killed at birth. There are no records of such killings in the criminal department of the Yendi Municipal Police Station because the killings are often done in secrecy.

“Nobody will report such cases to the police. That’s why we do not have the records of children killed in such manner,” says a police officer who wants to remain anonymous.

“The logic of not keeping deformed children is simple: there is no friendly environment to support their upbringing so the best way to deal with such conditions is to do away with the child at birth,” says Banyitobe Lambiliba. He says most communities use this as a means to reducing the burden of keeping children with special needs, and to avoid causing children more pain.

According to Lambiliba, the government is incapable of providing infrastructure such as schools and hospitals to children, with or without disabilities. In his view, these conditions explain why the parents don’t want their children with disabilities to be going to the streets to beg.

Abubakari Yakubu, a social worker, says that although the government has social welfare in place, the funds to run activities to supporting such disadvantaged children are not available.

Community children playing on the ground. Photo: Npong Francis/Thinkbrigade.com

“It is not only deformed children that are killed. Healthy children born unwanted can sometimes be killed or thrown away by their mothers if the person has no job to support the upbringing of a child,” he said. He said most of the children in orphanages in Ghana have been abandoned on the streets; only in very few cases both parents of a child are dead.

According to Yakubu, the current government re-named the ministry of women and children’s affairs to Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with the focus on vulnerable groups such as children with special needs.

]]>
http://thinkbrigade.com/africa/special-needs-children-killed-in-northern-ghana/feed/ 7