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The Action Thread Part Two

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New figures show that almost 2,300 people with a learning disability and/or autism are currently in institutions. These people can be subjected to physical restraint and over-medication.

We want the Government, NHS and local authorities to work together to provide the right support for people with a learning disability in their local communities.

Sign the petition and help create real change: https://bit.ly/2urpADX 👈

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1058 EDUCATION How soccer is changing the lives of girls in Kenya February 23 2017 | By: MEGAN IACOBINI DE FAZIO GIRLS COUNT Every gi

238 WATER AND SANITATION How the Ebola outbreak spurred improved access to running water in Liberia 16 November 2018 1:35PM UTC | By: WOMEN'S ADVANCEMENT DEEPLY

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Lovely photos from our volunteer, Fiona Gannon, who was part of last week's monthly Medical Team.

These monthly teams spend one week volunteering on CCI's Programmes, specifically our De-institutionalisation and Medical Care Programmes. All of our volunteers are instrumental in the our implementation of initiatives that offer better prospects for the future and better healthcare for those residing in Vesnova Children's Mental Asylum. This includes integration and familiarisation visits into the local town and learning how to independently navigate within communities.

This team brought children on young adults on the bus, to learn about local travel, with a stop off for some pizza, of course!



La imagen puede contener: 8 personas, personas sonriendo, personas comiendo, personas sentadas, tabla, comida e interiorLa imagen puede contener: 5 personas, personas sonriendo, personas sentadas, tabla e interiorLa imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, personas sentadas e interior

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas y personas de pie

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, sentado e interior

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We are going to be streaming live for Leitrim's Health is Wealth 2019

Leitrim Observer Reporter

Leitrim Observer Reporter

25 Mar 2019

Get set for Leitrim's Health Is Wealth free seminar

Live stream available.


The Leitrim Observer will be providing a live streaming link for coverage of Leitrim's Health Is Wealth 2019.

This will allow those unable to make The Bush Hotel this Wednesday evening, March 27, to view the speakers online.

We will be providing a live link on the night from 6pm so don't forget to tune in to see what's happening.

The line-up on the night includes: 

MC, Paul Williams.

Speakers contributing on the night include Adi Roche from Chernobyl-Ireland who will be speaking about her years of volunteer work. Alan Quinlan, former rugby international and journalist. Alan will be talking about his own experience of depression and also his recovery from this. Kristen O’Reilly, a local girl, who was bereaved of both her parents as a teenager. She will be talking about resilience and how to cope with adversity. Mikey Drennan, former Aston Villa, Sligo Rovers and presently St Patricks Athletic soccer player, discusses his experience of depression, gambling and isolation. Professor Geraldine McCarthy – Consultant Psychiatrist with Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services will be discussing healthy ageing and local initiatives. John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy Prison will be discussing his observations of human nature and of Irish society and finally, Angela Hayes, founder of the Thomas Hayes Trust whose family has been bereaved by suicide.

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In exactly one month, the world will come together to commemorate the third annual CCI initiated Naciones Unidas Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day.

Today we're taking a moment to remember Sasha's heartfelt message ahead of the first commemoration in 2017. This video, which Sasha filmed in our Independent Living Unit, touched the heart of the nation and went on to feature on RTÉ News.

Thank you, Sasha, for this incredible video and for using your voice to advocate for others affected by Chernobyl.



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Is ‘sexist’ data holding women back?



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“Sexist” data is making it harder to improve women and girls’ lives, the world’s leading philanthropic couple Bill and Melinda Gates said on Tuesday in an open letter.

The couple warned that a lack of focus by researchers on gender and a disdain for what were perceived as “women’s issues” were resulting in “missing data” that could lead to better decisions and policies, enable advocacy and measure progress.

“The data we do have – data that policymakers depend on – is bad. You might even call it sexist,” Melinda Gates wrote in their annual letter discussing the work of their foundation, one of the largest private charities in the world.

Gender inequality is one of the greatest barriers to human progress, the United Nations said last year, with studies showing that when girls stay in education, they have more opportunities and healthier children, which boosts development.

But data often does not take gender into account and is flawed by biased questions, said the husband and wife team behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Because women in developing countries are primarily seen as wives and mothers, most of the data about them focuses on their reproductive health, not their earnings and assets, they said.

“You can’t improve things if you don’t know what’s going on with half the population,” wrote Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp.

The couple said mobile phones offered a powerful tool to allow women to build new connections, gain economic freedom and challenge restrictive social norms, for example by buying contraceptives online.

“If you’re a woman who has never stepped into a bank, mobile banking offers you a foothold in the formal economy and a chance at financial independence,” said Melissa Gates.

“You gain opportunities to connect with customers, trainings, and professional organisations – all from your home.”

Toilets also emerged as a feminist issue, with the couple hailing a next generation of facilities which can kill pathogens and produce useable by-products such as fertiliser.

Safe toilets worldwide would especially benefit women and girls, they said, who risk assault while using public facilities or may be forced to skip school when on their periods.

International aid groups agreed more of a focus on women and girls was needed.

“We can’t improve what we fail to measure,” Richard Morgan, international advocacy director at the child rights charity Plan International, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Bringing visibility to girls and women is the first critical step in improving their lives.”

This story was originally reported by Sonia Elks and edited by Katy Migiro for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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

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Ebola Responders Face 2 Problems. The Solution To One Could Make The Other Worse

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March 19, 20194:19 PM ET

A police officer stands guard by a window riddled with bullet holes in an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, a city in Democratic Republic of the Congo. The center has been attacked twice in the last month.

John Wessels/Getty Images

Editor's note: This post has been republished with updates to reflect the latest count of new cases of Ebola in Congo.

This week the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo took a worrisome turn: The number of people reported sick each week has started to rise precipitously.

Compared to mid-February, when the tally of new cases had been brought down to as low as 24 per week, the figures for this most recent week are on track to double — bringing the total number of infected over the last eight months to nearly 1,000.

World Health Officials say the shift is largely the result of an upsurge in recent weeks of direct, and often deadly, attacks against the health workers trying to respond to the outbreak.

But the pileup of incidents can obscure a crucial feature of the trend that makes it hard to address: The attacks actually fall into two very different categories which call for very different solutions.

The first category consists of coordinated assaults by organized groups such as criminal gangs or the dozens of rebel militia that have long clashed with the government.


The second category of attacks are spontaneous eruptions of rage by members of the community who mistrust responders when, for example, they show up to take suspected Ebola patients in for testing and treatment.

To counter the attacks by organized groups, the government has been bringing in military, police and U.N. peacekeepers to provide protection for health workers. But there's growing concern that that very approach is sowing further mistrust and fueling additional resistance among ordinary people.


Soldiers from the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of the Congo outside an Ebola Treatment Center in Butembo.

John Wessels/Getty Images

The widespread mistrust isn't just an issue because of the violence it sets off. It's the reason significant portions of the population still refuse to get vaccinated against Ebola. It's also why anywhere from a third to half of deaths from Ebola are taking place in the community. That's a sign that people aren't willing to bring a sick family member forward for treatment – and also a potential source of spiraling transmission, since Ebola patients are at their most infectious around death.

Indeed all parties involved in the response – including WHO and the government – now say that convincing the population to overcome its mistrust is the key to ending the nearly eight-month long outbreak — which has already infected nearly 1,000 people.

"We have to win over the hearts and minds and trust of the community," says Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said that was his main takeaway from a fact-finding trip he made to the outbreak zone this month.

But how do you win hearts and minds while also countering assaults by armed groups?

Redfield got a taste of the complexity when he stopped at an Ebola treatment center in the outbreak zone that had been attacked by gunmen in February. According to the government the attackers had come from a local militia. Congo's government had quickly re-opened the center. But hours before Redfield was due to arrive, the center, in a city called Butembo, was attacked again.

"It was a foggy morning," says Redfield. "And this group came in through the fog."

Redfield says the government told him these particular attackers were members of a city gang that wanted to extort money from the center. They shot a policeman dead and hacked at two nurses with machetes before Congolese military chased them off.

When Redfield met with the staff, he says, they were visibly shaken. "They were courageous. They're committed to doing their work," he says. But they also made a point of telling the Minister of Health Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga – who was accompanying Redfield – that "the thing they were concerned about was their safety."

The incident suggests a slippery slope by which Ebola treatment centers can become effectively militarized. This particular center was originally run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders and did not use armed guards — in keeping with the group's longstanding policy. But after the first attack, Doctors Without Borders suspended its work there, citing the security risk to its staff.

According to Redfield, once the government took over, it deployed both a police guard around the front of the center and a military guard near the back. And that was before this latest attack that has had staff clamoring for even more security.

A similar dynamic has been affecting burials of suspected Ebola victims. Normally they are handled by the Congolese Red Cross. But Dr. Jacques Katshitshi, who oversees the teams, says after the recent attacks it's become too dangerous to work in a lot of communities without an armed escort. Like Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross insists on maintaining strict neutrality. "Never! Never! For the Red Cross we can't use an escort," says Katshitshi.

So he says the result is that, at least for now, about 70 percent of burials in the epicenter are being done by government teams with armed guards.

Katshitshi says he's sympathetic to their logic. Still he notes, "militarizing the response is not a good way to operate. Using armed forces is the last option."

After years of civil war many people view the government with suspicion. It doesn't help that the epicenter of the outbreak is a stronghold for the government's opposition. And that last winter the government used the Ebola outbreak as a justification for barring people there from voting in national elections.

As a result, many people have concluded that Ebola is a scam cooked up by the government and aid groups to raise money and control the population. And that impression is likely to be strengthened when a bunch of strangers in hazmat suits escorted by armed guards from the government show up to bury their relatives.

To get a sense of how deep-seated that mistrust can be consider the latest attack on Ebola responders – just last Thursday. According to the government, a resident of a community called Biena had just died of an illness that health workers suspected was Ebola. When they tried to take a blood sample from the body, the relatives and others in the community became enraged. They then ransacked a "transit" facility where people suspected of having Ebola are housed temporarily while they wait for test results. In the ensuing melee, police shot and killed a bystander.

Several aid groups are hoping to surmount the mistrust by enlisting more people in the community to take a direct role in the Ebola response.

For instance, a Senegal-based medical aid group called ALIMA is rethinking how it runs the transit centers for suspected Ebola patients.

Nicolas Mouly is an emergency coordinator for the group. He says the current setup has been for ALIMA to operate one large transit center serving a wide area. It's not surprising that people resist coming in.

"It's far from them. They don't really know what happens inside," says Mouly.

So now ALIMA wants to open smaller transit centers in many communities – "where the population knows the staff, knows the area and would be more willing to go for treatments."

ALIMA is currently setting up a pilot version, with more to follow if it works well.

This hyper-local approach is also now being emphasized by the Red Cross's Katshitshi. He has scaled up an effort to train teams within as many neighborhoods as possible to do the burials themselves. That way it will no longer be strangers burying a loved one, he points out. It will be people the family knows and trusts. So far he says he's got about ten teams up and running, though it will take many more to cover the vast area of the outbreak zone.

The challenge with this approach says Katshitshi: "Going slowly. It needs many, many dialogues with the community before they accept the approach. We cannot, just because we are in an emergency situation, go quickly."

In fact, the experience in a city called Beni, suggests "it takes around three to four months to build community trust," says Jean-Philippe Marcoux, DRC country director for the aid group Mercy Corps. Last fall Beni was the epicenter of the outbreak – with both the highest number of cases and repeated instances of violent resistance to responders. But a concerted campaign to reach out to both local chiefs and youth leaders ultimately turned around public opinion. Today the caseload has been brought down to practically zero – even as a new flare-up started in the current epicenter around Butembo.

The time-consuming nature of community engagement is why Mercy Corps has begun a massive community education campaign around Ebola in the major city of Goma, which is about 200 miles from the outbreak epicenter and has not yet seen infections.

If the current situation has taught the world anything, says Marcoux, it's that "we must put much more emphasis on community engagement – and especially in areas that are not yet affected. So when and if they become affected we don't face the same challenges."

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Brunei Set to Stone LGBTQ People to Death Through New Law

The country backed down in the face of international pressure once before.

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Violence against LGBTQ people around the world is extremely common and often receives the approval of the state governments. The United Nations’ Global Goals call for an end to all xenophobia and strong protections for LGBTQ people. You can join us in taking action on equality and more here.

Brunei is expected to enact a series of violent new punishments for a range of actions on April 3, including stoning people to death for engaging in same-sex relations, according to Amnesty International.

The development was recently spotted by human rights groups in a document from December by the country’s attorney general, in which he described how new punishments would be implemented as part of the country’s adoption of Sharia law.

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Same-sex relations are already outlawed in the country, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and the government has long sought to more harshly criminalize the act.

In 2014, Brunei introduced an initial form of Sharia law that outlawed pregnancy outside of marriage and failing to pray on Fridays, according to ABC Australia. International outrage over the government’s actions delayed its full implementation, but now the government appears to be quietly going forward with its plan.

Brunei has a population of around 400,000, 67% of whom are Muslim, and it’s ruled by a Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, according to the New York Times.

The new measures expand the range of offenses considered illegal and dramatically increase the type of punishments available for them. In addition to same-sex relations, the new law also punishes adultery and robbery with stonings, whippings, and amputations.

Read More: LGBTQ Refugees Face Unimaginable Trauma, But They’re Rising Up

“To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “Some of the potential ‘offenses’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.

“These abusive provisions received widespread condemnation when plans were first discussed five years ago,” she added.

Globally, more than 73 countries outlaw homosexuality. LGBTQ people in eight countries can face death for engaging in same-sex relations, and multiple other countries with Sharia law on the books could in theory implement similar punishments, according to the World Economic Forum.

More broadly, LGBTQ people face discrimination, harassment, violence, arbitrary imprisonment, and torture all around the world. In recent years, a war on gay men has been underway in Chechnya, LGBTQ refugees have been attacked in Kenya, and violence against LGBTQ people in countries like Egypt and Russia has surged.

“LGBTI rights remain under attack internationally,” Chhoa-Howard told Global Citizen via email. “Criminalisation of any kind of LGBTI people creates a climate that legitimizes discrimination, harassment, and violence against anyone perceived to be gay or lesbian.

“In the face of attempts to dehumanize and demonize LGBTI people, we must stand up to defend their rights, wherever we are,” she added.

Read More: As Egypt Continues Its LGBTQ Crackdown, Activists Say Media Can Help

At the same time, LGBTQ rights have improved in some countries. Twenty-four countries currently recognize same-sex marriage as legal, and 43 countries consider homophobic attacks a hate crime, according to Amnesty International.

Although Brunei is a small country, the legalization of murderous homophobia would a dangerous step backward for the world, according to Amnesty International.

The country backed down from these violent measures in the face international pressure in 2014, and activists hope another global campaign could be similarly effective.

“Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations,” Chhoa-Howard said in a statement. “The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”

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Koalas Should be Listed ‘Endangered’ in New South Wales and Queensland, Environmental Groups Announce

According to the World Wildlife Fund, koalas in New South Wales could be extinct by 2050.

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Humans are destroying animal habitats at an alarming rate and species that are vital to our ecosystem are going extinct. Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal 13: Climate Action and Goal 15: Life on Land. You can join us and take action here.


A portion of Australia’s koala population is currently at risk of extinction, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia revealed.

The environmental nonprofit has urged the Australian government to change the listing for koalas from "vulnerable" to "endangered" in both New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. The decline, WWF and other environmental groups stated, is due to loss of habitat thanks to excessive tree-clearing for urban development.

Take Action: Share How a Fresh Start for the Environment is Leading to a Fresh Start for People


"In NSW it is still perfectly legal to bulldoze millions of hectares of koala habitat under permissive state laws," said WWF Forest and Woodland Manager Stuart Blanch in a media statement. "Koalas could be extinct in NSW by 2050."


Thank you for adding your voice to help #SaveKoalas.

With NSW koalas on track to be extinct in the wild by 2050, they need our support now more than ever. Send your message here: https://wwfau.org/2RJu2qP 


Loopholes in NSW and Queensland construction limitations continue to allow “essential infrastructure” to be built on hectares of eucalypt forest. To gain permission to clear land, building developers must choose between paying a financial settlement or providing new habitats for the marsupials.

In 97% of cases, building developers are allocating to pay.

This month, WWF Australia, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and additional leading environmental organizations released Australia’s first independent plan to save koalas from extinction. Spearheaded by ecologist David Paull, the plan recommends strengthening state and federal laws, ending native forest logging on public lands, and establishing a new federal Environment Act.


Tony Burke could have, as Shadow Environment asked Ministers Hunt, Frydenberg and Price to protect the Koala over the last 6 years. Why didn't he? @GregHuntMP @Tony_Burke @JoshFrydenberg @Melissa4Durack @LeeanneEnoch @P_McCutch


While Deborah Tabart, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, agrees that koala populations desperately need protection, she told Global Citizen the new WWF campaigning is misfocused.

"Successfully listing koalas as endangered is a several-year process," Tabart told Global Citizen. "Koalas were already listed as vulnerable in 2012. Due to this listing, they should already have significant protection. This campaigning is just regurgitating what was done seven years ago."

Related StoriesOct. 4, 2016These Are the Most Endangered Animals in the World

In 2011, a Senate Committee delivered a unanimous report that called for koala populations to urgently be protected under federal laws. A Federal Recovery Plan was supposed to have been written and finalized by 2014. It was never completed.

"The bottom line is we should recall for the Recovery Plan to be written. Regardless of an endangered or vulnerable listing — the plan will be the same," Tabart added. "Better still, the Australian Koala Foundation already has a Koala Protection Act. The relevant ministers already know this act is ready to go and that it would save koala habitats. The law is already in place; it is just not being enacted."

Related StoriesFeb. 11, 2019Sea Turtle Populations Soared by 980% After Legal Protections: Report

Since European settlement, 80% of Australia’s eucalyptus forests have been cleared. Forests have a significant role in curbing climate change by absorbing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. However, when forests are bulldozed down, the carbon stored in the trees is released back into the atmosphere. Globally, deforestation accounts for around 15% of emissions, second only to fossil fuel burning.  

Beyond koalas and other animal species, 1.6 billion people rely heavily on forests for their food, shelter, and medicine.

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