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The Action Thread Part Two

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SEPT. 27, 2017

EasyJet Just Announced Electric Planes Could Be Flying Within 10 Years

The airline industry is notorious for greenhouse gas emissions.

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

 

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screen_shot_2017-09-27_at_111523_am.pngEasyJet
 

British airline EasyJet is aiming to bring an electric, battery-propelled plane to market within the decade to handle short term flights.

That means trips from New York to Boston, for instance, or London to Paris, could be completed without fossil fuels. The batteries for the planes will be built by Wright Electric, a team of aerospace engineers, powertrain experts, and battery chemists, who have worked in companies such as Nasa, Boeing, and Cessna.

The design could make the planes 50% quieter and 10% cheaper for airlines to buy, according to Wright Electric.

Ultimately, EasyJet wants all short flights to be electric within 20 years, the company said in a press release, an accomplishment that could transform what is one of the most pollution-heavy industries in the world.

“For the first time in my career I can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it,” Carolyn McCall, EasyJet’s chief executive, told The Guardian. “It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly.”

 

 

Read More: These Hybrid-Electric Planes Are Revolutionizing the Future of Air Travel

Global Citizen campaigns on the Paris climate agreement, which calls for widespread emissions reductions. You can take action on this issue here .

Globally, the airline industry accounts for 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is roughly as much as Germany’s aggregate emissions. As demand for aerial travel increases over the next decade, this number could triple, making it the fastest growing source of emissions in the world.

In fact, flying is likely the largest source of carbon emissions for most people, according to The New York Times. The carbon output for one person taking a cross-country flight in the US is greater than if that person drove her car for a year.

Yet despite the industry’s staggering environmental impact, little has been done in the way of sustainability over the years.

As other industries throughout the world — from power plants to automobile manufacturers — began to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in sustainability, the airline industry stood out as a stark outlier going in the opposite direction.

Read More: Solar-Powered Plane Completes Historic Round-the-World Trip

This changed in 2016 when the United Nations addressed air travel after recognizing that it had the potential to undermine the Paris climate agreement.

The Obama administration had previously issued a legal finding arguing that air travel posed a risk to human health because of its contributions to global warming.  

The UN developed binding rules for the industry that mandates a 4% reduction in fuel consumption for new aircrafts beginning in 2028 compared with 2015 levels. Additionally, there are greater limits for larger commercial airplanes and planes delivered after 2023 will be subject to higher standards.

Read More: 4 Dutch Airports to Become 100% Renewable By Next Year, in Big Win for the Planet

From experimenting with alternatives fuels to building planes with lighter materials, airline companies are now trying to cut emissions in creative ways

But none of these efforts have significantly reduced the amount of fossil fuel needed for the thousands of flights per day around the world. 

The electric plane being devised by EasyJet is trying, instead, is trying to abandon fossil fuel altogether. It's a step in a truly sustainable direction and it could lead to innovation that eventually eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from the industry.  

“As technology moves on, attitudes shift, ambitions change and you see opportunities you didn’t see,” Peter Duffy, EasyJet’s chief commercial officer, told The Guardian. “This is genuinely exciting.”

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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SEPT. 27, 2017

6 Euphoric Reactions to The Historic Women's Right to Drive in Saudi Arabia

The decree will take effect in June 2018, for the issuance of driver's licenses to women.

By Carlotta Mohamed

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

saudi_women_2_drive.pngWikimedia Commons
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After Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree that grants women the right to obtain driver’s licenses in the ultra-conservative country, euphoria spread across social media with the hashtag #Women2Drive -- an addendum to the campaign started by Saudi women activists in 2011 to abolish the driving ban.  

READ MORE: Women in Saudi Arabia Can Now Legally Drive -- a Huge Win for Equality

For years, women’s activists have fought to win freedoms like the right to drive in a country where women still have few rights compared to men.

The historic announcement on Tuesday was seen as a major victory and Saudi women took to Twitter to express their jubilation at being able to take the wheel.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia Just Approved 4 New Policies That Give Women and Girls Greater Rights


Saudi women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif, founder of the #Women2Drive campaign, took to Twitter to celebrate the victory. In 2011, al-Sharif spent nine days in prison for driving a car in the streets of Saudi Arabia. After her protest, she lost her job and received several death threats, forcing her to leave her two young sons behind and the only country she’d ever known as home.


 

Two other activists, Loujain Hathloul and Maysaa Alamoudi, were congratulated and praised online for their involvement in the #Women2Drive campaign. In 2014, both women were arrested and spent two months in jail after driving over the Saudi Arabia border from neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE).


 

Even Global Citizen Rihanna posted a picture in support of Saudi women on her Instagram account: “Love to see progression. Women will now be able to drive in Saudi Arabia.”  


 

 


 

 


Journalist Natasha Fatah said on Twitter, “I’ve been living in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. There are miles to go for women’s equality, but the king’s decision to let women drive is a huge step.”

 

 

The original “We Can Do It!” poster, which encouraged US women to take jobs in the service industry during World War II, and became a celebrated symbol of female patriotism, circulated on social media of an Arab woman wearing a niqab, fist clenched.

Global Citizen campaigns on gender equality around the world, including in the Level the Law campaign launched in conjunction with CHIME FOR CHANGE that works to get countries to treat women fairly under the law. You can take action here.

Carlotta Mohamed is an editorial intern at Global Citizen.

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About Our Partner

CHIME FOR CHANGE is a global campaign founded by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world. The campaign uses innovative approaches to promote gender equality. Co-founded by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Salma Hayek Pinault, CHIME FOR CHANGE works with a coalition of partner organizations, including the Kering Foundation, Facebook, and Hearst Magazines.

 
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SEPT. 27, 2017

Prominent Aussies, Including Actress Rose Byrne Attend Marriage Equality Rally in New York

Proud aussies ashamed of marriage inequalities in their country

the_people_speak.jpgFlickr - The People Speak!
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Earlier this week New York based-Australians and their friends showed their support for marriage equality in Australia at a rally. The event took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York, what is said to be the birthplace of gay rights in America.

According to news.com.au among the crowd of proud Aussies were actress Rose Byrne, who was reportedly “about to give birth any minute,” as well as Grand Slam doubles tennis champion Rennae Stubs and Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch.

Despite being eight months pregnant, Byrne attended the event and spoke about why it was such an important issue for her.

“I’m just so proud to be an Australian and I’m so ashamed of the fact that we still have this incredibly old-fashioned outlook on this issue,” Byrne told News Corp Australia.

“It doesn’t make sense; we have great health care and we have great education, so I don’t understand why we don’t have equal rights — it’s human rights. I have many gay friends in Australia and abroad and the fact that we don’t have equality in our country is baffling to me.”

One of the event organisers, Queenslander Tim O’Brien, said, “Being abroad, I think we passionately identify as being Australian, but it’s quite shameful to have to explain to people that a country as liberal as Australia still doesn’t have marriage equality.”

Read more: Mental Health Concerns Spike Among Young LGBT Australians as the Nation Votes on Same-Sex Marriage

Stubbs, a six-time Grand Slam doubles champ, gave an emotional speech about her own coming out story at age 25. She also referenced other Australian Olympians including Daniel Kowalski, Ian Thorpe, Casey Dellacqua, Lauren Jackson, and Natalie Cook, as proud Australians who “are being treated like second-class citizens.”

“We’ve represented our country with pride and our country does not represent us and that’s not fair. It’s equality; that’s all we ask for,” Stubbs told News Corp Australia.

Entsch has been a long time marriage equality supporter and told News Corp Australia that legalising same sex marriage in Australia, “could only strengthen the institute of marriage.”

“At the end of the day, it beggars belief that two people who have been in a committed, monogamous relationship over an extended period of time can’t express their commitment and love for each other in the way they deem appropriate,” he said. “I can’t understand it.”

If you’re an Australian living overseas you can still participate in the same sex marriage survey. Simply visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics for details on how to make your vote count.

According to Byrne, voting yes will put the country on the right side of history.

“Really, it’s just embarrassing,” she said. “It’s an emotional issue, and I’m positive that it’s going to be a yes and the start of getting it legislated. It’s the beginning of being on the right side of history.”

 

Marnie Cunningham is a content creator for Global Citizen. With a background in media, photography and international development she has worked in Tanzania, Vanuatu and her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Marnie is passionate about the environment and runs a sustainable business of her own - seasonal floral and botanical design for weddings and events.

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SEPT. 24, 2017

Johnson & Johnson Announces 'Large-Scale Efficacy Testing of the HIV Vaccine in Humans' at Global Citizen Festival

“You have my promise that all of us at Johnson & Johnson will not rest until we defeat HIV.”

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

Brought to you by: Johnson & Johnson

20150812_fanayehailu_4430.png"My daughter, Betty, was born HIV-free. She is now eight years old. Every mother, every pregnant woman must get tested for HIV. It can save the lives of the mother and her baby".—Fanaye Hailu, Ethiopia
UNAIDS
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HIV/AIDS has terrorized the world for decades — now it may finally be defeated.

Global Citizen partner Johnson & Johnson announced on stage at the Global Citizen Festival tonight that they will soon be bringing an HIV vaccine to large scale efficacy testing in humans.

It will be the first global vaccine, able to treat all strains of HIV, to reach this stage of testing.

“Today we are thrilled to announce for the first time, that we are going into large scale efficacy testing of the HIV vaccine in humans. As a scientist and a physician,” Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “I can tell you that these results make me more optimistic than ever before that we get to an HIV vaccine in our lifetime.”

When HIV/AIDS was first identified in 1981, scientists were largely stumped by the disease, which went on to ravage nearly every person it infected, ultimately killing 36 million people and counting.

In recent years, after countless medical breakthroughs, the disease and its effects have largely been mapped and those infected can effectively manage it.

But millions of people still lack access to sufficient treatment and even those who do have access still live in a precarious state of containing the disease.  

This latest breakthrough by Johnson & Johnson could end up eclipsing all others.

The vaccine has proven to be 100% effective at achieving immunity against every strain of HIV after a small trial of 350 volunteers.  

The company has spent millions on the vaccine and it’s the latest step in a decades-long engagement with the disease.

“As a scientist and a physician,” Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer, said on Global Citizen’s stage. “I am excited and motivated by this progress.”

“We are hoping to take this vaccine to the next phase,” he said. “We all know that science is unpredictable. But these results make me more optimistic than ever that we will get to a vaccine in our lifetime and prevent people from HIV forever.”

The next phase will be conducted with help from The Gates Foundation and the National Institute of Health. The vaccine will be tested on 2,600 young women between the ages of 18-35 (the most at-risk population) in five African countries.

The team hopes to ultimately reach an efficacy rate of 90%, but recognizes that even a rate of 50% will be effective, because it would be able to reduce the HIV rate by 35%.

Ultimately, they hope to get the vaccine to the market within five years. Since nearly two million get infected with HIV annually, this vaccine will have an immediate impact as soon as its hits the market.

Having been involved in this fight for so long, Johnson & Johnson understands the urgency.

“Global Citizens, you have my promise that all of us at Johnson & Johnson will not rest until we defeat HIV,” said Stoffels.

Learn more about how you can join Johnson & Johnson and Global Citizen in moving the world forward.

jnj_logo_rgb.jpg

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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About Our Partner

At J&J, we believe that good health changes everything. That’s why we’re applying science, ingenuity & bright minds, in the service of humanity. To combatting infectious disease, advancing maternal & child health, providing access to essential surgery, supporting health workforce training & a healthy environment. To protecting the most vulnerable. To building partnerships that help ensure healthier lives. Transforming health care into world care has been our life’s work for over 100 years.

 
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SEPT. 27, 2017

Here Are Some Inspirational TED Talks To Remind You That Our Goals Are Achievable

The world's brightest minds take on the world’s toughest problems.

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Sometimes we could all use a little inspiration.

Every day, Global Citizens around the world work tirelessly to organize social action into tangible progress. Even when the hurdles we face seem massive, there is always reason to keep pushing for what we believe in.

We won’t stop battling for a better world, and neither should you.

These inspiring TED Talks will remind you that, despite the challenges the world still faces, progress is being made in the issue areas Global Citizen campaigns on: women’s empowerment, poverty, climate action, increasing access to education and basic healthcare services.

Watch, learn, and be inspired to continue working towards the Global Goals.

 

Women and Girls:

"When Women Are At The Table" | Fawzia Koofi

 

Fawiza Koofi is an elected member of the Afghan parliament and a women’s rights advocate. When she was born, she was an unwanted child. Through the story of her life and work in advocacy, Koofi inspires audiences to join her in the fight to extend more rights to women and girls in Afghanistan.


"My Daughter, Malala" | Ziauddin Yousafzai

 

Pakistani educator Ziauddin Yousafzai is best known for being the father of teenage activist, Taliban attack survivor, and Nobel-Peace Prize winner Malala. In this talk, he explains the importance of equality of opportunity for women and girls by telling his family’s astonishing story.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

Water and Sanitation:

"A Young Scientist's Quest for Clean Water" | Deepika Kurup

 

Teenage scientist Deepika Kurup discusses how her 8th grade science project ballooned into a breakthrough technology for water purification. Her talk will leave you optimistic about the younger generation's ability to take the world’s problems on in stride.


"The Amazing Power of Toilet Innovation" | Brian Arbogast

 

“My goal is to get you to be more likely to talk about sh*t,” says Brian Arbogast, a social innovator working in sanitation. His informative and funny talk details some of important ways increasing access to sanitation can change the globe, and how toilets can help us get there.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

 

Environment:

"How Health is the Key to Climate Action" | Ilona Riipinen

 

Stockholm University environmental science professor Ilona Riipinen delivers this important talk about the intimate link between the environment and global health. Using the metaphor of earth as a home, she makes a powerful case for action issues of climate change.


"The Case for Optimism on Climate Change" | Al Gore

 

The king of climate Al Gore provides a stirring call to action with his optimistic view on how we can solve the earth’s biggest environmental issues. This video should give all those interested in taking action on climate change the hope they need to continue fighting the good fight.

 

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

Citizenship:

"Don't Feel Sorry for Refugees" — Believe in Them | Luma Mufleh

 

Luma Mufleh is a Jordanian immigrant and founder of the first accredited school for refugees in the United States. Her talk presents a series of stirring stories about the trials and triumphs of refugees she has worked with over the years, proving that faith in humanity is first step in overcoming all of its challenges.

 

"The Refugee Crisis Is a Test of Our Character" | David Miliband

 

David Miliband is a former English politician and current CEO of the nonprofit International Rescue Committee. This talk highlights the severity of the current refugee crises occurring in so many places around the world, and presents some ideas about how to solve them.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

 

Health

"Public Health as an Urban Solution" | Leana Wen

 

What are the connections between public health, crime, and injustice? In this talk, Leana Wen makes the case that focusing on global health concerns might be the key to solving many related issues of inequality and discrimination around the globe.

"It's Time to Focus on Health Prevention and Promotion" | Derek Yach

 

Derek Yach spends this talk discussing how a shift in thinking from disease treatment to disease prevention could make a huge impact on global health outcomes. Yach believes that it’s time to “redefine the unacceptable, and act accordingly.”

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

Finance & Innovation:

"Changing the World Through Social Entrepreneurship" | Willemijn Verloop

 

“I believe we need more unreasonable people,” says Willemijn Verloop in her discussion of how social entrepreneurship can change the world. "We urgently need new solutions to fight poverty. Social entrepreneurs choose to see opportunities instead of intangible problems."

"How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries" | Adam Savage

 

Entertaining as ever, Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame provides examples of how some of the  most innovative ideas came from simple or unexpected origins. Savage delivers an inspirational message that the solutions to our biggest problems might be lurking just around the corner, appearing when we least expect them.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 


Food & Hunger:

"Hunger Isn’t a Food Issue. It’s a Logistics Issue" | Esther Ndichu

 

It turns out that a solving global hunger might be best left to… delivery companies? Esther Ndichu gives this informative talk on how hunger can be solved through technological advances in the logistics of food delivery systems.

 

"The Secret Ingredient for Ending World Hunger" | Raj Patel

 

“When you see the bodies of children racked by malnutrition, your heart breaks.” Author, activist, and professor Raj Patel talks about how issues of global hunger and patriarchal systems of social organization are related, and why the solution to both of them are intertwined.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

Education:

"How America's Public Schools Keep Kids in Poverty" | Kandice Sumner

 

Kandice Summer asks some difficult questions about the educational system in America, and suggests changes that could have profound impacts on inequalities. As a teacher in Boston, Summer herself has  worked with children that she says deserve more, and believes she knows how to provide it.

"The Heavy Burden of Hope — Girls Education in the Developing World" | Amy Benson

 

Amy Benson, a documentary filmmaker, delivers this emotional talk on how education can changes lives for women and girls in the developing world. Through stories about her first-hand experiences working with young women around the world, Benson makes a strong case that ensuring access to education is one of the most important goals we must work to achieve.

To take action on this issue, click here.

 

TED Talks Right from Global Citizen:

What Does it Mean to be a Citizen of the World? | Hugh Evans

Hugh Evans is the co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. His TED Talk is fundamental watching for anyone that wants to know exactly what being a Global Citizen really means.

 

 

Can a Digital Movement End Global Poverty? | Michael Sheldrick

 

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Michael Sheldrick is the Global Director of Policy and Advocacy at Global Citizen, and a firm believer in the power of social movements to change the world. Sheldrick delivers this powerful talk on how Global Citizen’s digital platform channels energy into real outcomes.

 

Andrew McMaster is an editorial intern at Global Citizen. He believes that every voice is significant, and through thoughtful listening we can hear how every person is interrelated. Outside of the office he enjoys cooking, writing, and backpacking.

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SEPT. 26, 2017

Girls Will Run The World on the International Day of the Girl

Change is what happens when girls take charge for a day.

Kim Nguyen

By Kim Nguyen

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

girls-takeover-2.jpg
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On October 11, girls will take over the positions of hundreds of leaders in 60 countries to mark International Day of the Girl.

International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to celebrate young women and their achievements, and to reflect on the barriers young women face in achieving global equality.

On this day, more than 500 girls across the world will step into the shoes of presidents, mayors, head teachers, business leaders and more, in an emphatic statement of their power and potential.

This is part of the #GirlsTakeover campaign run by Plan International, a global movement calling for a social and political revolution by governments to eliminate the barriers that continue to hold girls back.

Read more: Melinda Gates and Justin Trudeau Just Had A Conversation About Feminism And It Was Great

In Australia, the #GirlsTakeover Parliament Program is being championed by two young women, Caitlin Figueiredo and Ashleigh Streeter, who have mobilised and brought together 19 parliamentarians from every major political party to deliver a bipartisan message that the Federal Parliament is “committed to defending the rights and potential of young women and girls.”

CSW-17.jpg

This initiative will enable 19 young women to enter federal parliament and  take over the offices of Australia’s elected representatives for a day. Participants will shadow their MP for the day, experience the day-to-day life of being a politician and present Plan International Australia’s national report to their parliamentarian, attached with some recommendations as to how they can best support young girls and women.

In an interview with Ashleigh, she told Global Citizen, “The #GirlsTakeover program is an initiative, which draws attention to gender disparity and empowers young women by teaching  them the realities of politics, gives them access to our elected representatives and provides them with ongoing mentoring to create change within their local communities.”

Currently in Australia, a mere 28.6% of federal politicians (43 out 150) are female, although women comprise of approximately 50% of the population.

Read more:  This Is What the Woman Driving the UK’s Fight for Gender Equality Has to Say on Girls’ Education

“By occupying spaces and places where they are rarely seen or heard, girls and young women will demand action to find solutions to ensure all girls can learn, lead, decide and thrive,” the organizers said in their co-written article on Broad Agenda Blog.

The #GirlsTakeover aims to “show the next generation of girls that not only are they our future leaders but they can be leaders now.”

#GirlsTakeover is an initial step on a long road to change but it also shows that the girls’ rights movement is gaining momentum.  

It is only by breaking down barriers of discrimination and prejudices that gender equality can be achieved.

When girls have equal opportunities, they can transform their lives and communities.

Global Citizen campaigns on providing equal opportunities and rights for women and girls around the world, knowing that they play a critical role in ending extreme poverty. You can take actionhere

Kim Nguyen is an intern at Global Citizen Australia. She is from Melbourne and currently undertaking studies in Law and Media and Communications. She aspires to create change in the world by through practising human rights law, innovating ideas and engaging in social entrepreneurship.

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About Our Partner

CHIME FOR CHANGE is a global campaign founded by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world. The campaign uses innovative approaches to promote gender equality. Co-founded by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Salma Hayek Pinault, CHIME FOR CHANGE works with a coalition of partner organizations, including the Kering Foundation, Facebook, and Hearst Magazines.

 
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When I was a little girl in my native Belgium, I was put to work as a sex slave. Read More

 
 
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24
REFUGEES

From dream to reality: Starting a music school in a Rwandan refugee camp

September 28 2017 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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By Mary Fanaro, Founder, OmniPeace

Music has the power to connect, inspire, and give hope to people around the world. In the middle of the Kiziba refugee camp in western Rwanda, my organization, OmniPeace Foundation, recently created The Rwanda Rocks Music School Kiziba.The idea behind the school is to show children that through the power of music, anything is possible — including a future for newfound dreams.

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The first music Rwanda Rocks Music School was established at Gisimba Memorial Centre, which was originally an orphanage founded by Damas Gisimba. It is now a learning center and after-school program for children.

The second music school was more challenging to get off the ground, as it was the first one in a refugee camp. Kiziba refugee camp is one of the oldest of Rwanda’s six camps — 2016 marked its 20th year in existence. Its current population is approximately 17,000 people, half of whom are under 18. Many of the refugees are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to ongoing conflicts and one of the largest displaced populations in the world.

OmniPeace had just a five-day permit granted by the Minister of Refugees to paint the school, set up the space, bring in the instruments, and do a three-day workshop with the children. Our partners on this initiative, ITEAMS Rwanda, provided us with the space for the school and helped make everything happen. We all agreed: There was no time to waste getting a music school set up for the children of Kiziba!

When we arrived at the camp, we discovered that one of the ITEAMS team members had been a refugee in Kiziba for 17 years. It was incredible to watch this man get out of the van and be greeted like a king. So, though many of our team entered Kiziba as strangers, we were treated like family.

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Once we were ready to get to work, the kids in the camp followed us down the path to the space — and got right to work alongside with us! A few others lingered back, which made sense: We had to prove we were here to stay, not just making a mark and then abandoning ship, a pattern they’d definitely seen before in their time in the camp.

On the first day of lessons, Alexis Stein — who’d sponsored the school in honor of her mother, Sharon Haugh, who had passed away from cancer — warmed up the students with some vocal exercises. Then our guitar and drum teacher, Jeymo, connected with the children effortlessly.

As soon as the kids got instruments in their hands, they began playing music as if a missing puzzle piece had snapped into place. They played with such care, anticipation, and playfulness that you couldn’t help but be mesmerized by them.

And so, our music school within a refugee camp was finally a reality. The students were there to stay and so were we! The school will operate as long as the refugee camp is there.

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Here in Kiziba, we’ll serve 27 students and can offer guitar and drum lessons — there’s no electricity for keyboards. At our other Rwanda Rocks school in Gisimba, we offer all three classes and serve 30 students.

“When I play the guitar, I feel calm and joyful,” says Destiny, a Rwanda Rocks Gisimba student. “I am so lucky to be supported by our teachers so I can continue to improve my talent and help others do the same.”

“When I play the drums, I feel happy,” says another Gisimba student, Sam. “I feel relaxed and then I can focus on being a good student. I like meeting other kids and how our teachers support us.”

 

To learn more about OmniPeace and Rwanda Rocks and how you can help, go here.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.

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These tablets bring information and empowerment to women in rural Kenya
2251
TECHNOLOGY

These tablets bring information and empowerment to women in rural Kenya

7 November 2016 6:12PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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By Katie G. Nelson

Wearing brightly coloured clothes wrapped around their waists and rings of yellow and red necklaces around their necks, the semi-nomadic women of Samburu, Kenya, live much the same way their ancestors did: raising children, caring for livestock, and tending to the home.
elimu-2But in Samburu, one of the poorest and most isolated regions in Kenya, life is changing for the better, thanks in part to a few yellow tablets, some determination, and a little African-grown ingenuity.

The extreme heat, whipping dust storms, and parched land makes Samburu one of the most inhospitable regions in Kenya. The region known for game reserves and traditional Maasai culture is also known for lagging far behind the rest of Kenya’s education and literacy rates.

elimu-5Only 28.9 percent of Samburu’s residents can read and write, compared to the national average of 66.4 percent. The county also faces high dropout rates for female students due to early marriages and pregnancies.

Those geographically and educational obstacles might seem too big a challenge for many, but for the team at BRCK Education, Samburu was the ideal environment to catalyse change using technology.

elimu-3Piggybacking off the mission of their parent technology company BRCK, which makes rugged Wi-Fi hotspot and router systems, BRCK Educationaims to expand connectivity to students in remote areas using Kio Kits, a go-anywhere, do-anything digital classroom in a box.

Contained in watertight black suitcases, each Kio Kit contains a powerful Wi-Fi router, headphones, a charging system, and 40 yellow tablets. Each tablet is pre-loaded with digital content tailored to both local and international curriculum and can be used with or without internet. The kits are currently being used in 12 countries around the world.

Providing access to a wealth of information, no matter your location or income, is core to BRCK Education’s mission or expanding connectivity to isolated and off-the-grid communities around the globe, says Juliana Rotich, co-founder of BRCK.

“Access to information and access to education in general is a equaliser,” says Rotich. “We should be striving to more equality, and equality in those two areas.”

elimu-1For Nivi Sharma, BRCK Education President, the importance of the Kio Kit was even clearer after working in the village of Kiltamany in Samburu, Kenya.

Sharma first forged a relationship with a primary school in Kiltamany under her tech company eLimu, which cultivates and distributes an array of educational and learning content. Sharma was evaluating the impact of the Kio Kit on students and teachers at Kiltamany Primary School when she encountered a group of women from the nearby village who also wanted to learn using the Kio Kit tablets.

Despite the fact that only two of the women knew how to read or write, Sharma and her team decided to leave one tablet with the group; and the results were remarkable.

Upon returning to Samburu several months later, Sharma discovered the women had formed a school that met once a week after they finished fetching water.

“And they had learned to write their own names,” she says. 

Sharma continued following the Samburu women, many of whom learned basic math and later how to read and write, she says.

“The women were saying,  ‘I can’t believe I missed out on this. I now understand that my husband had four goats and he was selling them each at 4,000 shillings. He should’ve brought home 16,000 shillings, not 15,000 shillings.”brck

“We realised that they understood immediately the educational and empowering possibilities of technology not just for their children, but for themselves as well,” Sharma writes.

 But the impact of the Kio Kit wasn’t limited to the classroom, Sharma explains.

“The really interesting thing was we spoke to the (primary school) head teacher and he said the enrolment of girls just shot up because the women are suddenly saying, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want my daughter to miss out on this.’”

elimu-4For girls and women, the opportunity to access any information anytime and anywhere is critical to expanding career opportunities—or even the possibilities—for a life beyond Samburu.

“When you think of the four walls of a classroom, if a girl is curious about something and all her curiosity is contained within those four walls—and the teacher and the textbooks in front of her—that’s really limiting,” says Sharma.

“What digital access means is that she’s able to express and explore her curiosity. To let her voice be heard in a way that traditionally isn’t.”

Call on leaders and innovators from all countries, industries and communities to make universal internet access a reality by adding your name now.

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4284
TECHNOLOGY

Kenyan girls to fly to Google HQ after inventing app to end FGM

2 August 2017 4:43PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

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Animated chatter spills out from a corner of tech giant Google’s Nairobi offices as five Kenyan schoolgirls discuss their upcoming trip to California where they hope to win $15,000 for I-cut, an app to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

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From left: Stacy Owino, Purity Achieng, Ivy Akinyi, Synthia Otieno and Macrine Atieno outside a classroom in school. The five girls from Kenya will be representing Africa in the annual Technovation challenge in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Technovation

The five teenagers, aged 15 to 17, are the only Africans selected to take part in this year’s international Technovation competition, where girls develop mobile apps to end problems in their communities.

“FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve,” Stacy Owino told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, while snacking on chocolate on a break from boarding school before flying to the United States on Aug. 6.

“This whole experience will change our lives. Whether we win or not, our perspective of the world and the possibilities it has will change for the better.”

The five girls from Kenya’s western city of Kisumu call themselves the ‘Restorers’ because they want to “restore hope to hopeless girls”, said Synthia Otieno, one of the team.

One in four Kenyan women and girls have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, even though it is illegal in the East African nation.

Although the girls’ Luo community does not practice FGM, they have friends who have been cut.

“We were very close but after she was cut she never came back to school,” said Purity Achieng, describing a classmate who underwent FGM. “She was among the smartest girls I knew.”

I-cut connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue centres and gives legal and medical help to those who have been cut.

Its simple interface has five buttons – help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback – offering users different services.

Kenya is one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa, known for its pioneering mobile money transfer apps.

Technovation, which is sponsored by Google, Verizon and the United Nations, aims to teach girls the skills they need to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders.

“We just have to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to the next level,” said schoolgirl Ivy Akinyi who plans to become a computer programmer.

This story was originally published at Thomson Reuters Foundation News. Reporting by Daniel Wesangula; Editing by Katy Migiro and Ros Russell.

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