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The Action Thread Part Two


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Klaudya and Adam Voranyets stand in a field near their home in Yut village near Dobrush, Belarus. Thirty years ago the couple were working as teachers in a village 20km north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. When reactor number four exploded on 26 April 1986 the couple say they were told nothing about it. They remember that the rainwater they had collected for washing their children had an unusual yellow colour. At an outdoor sports event children began collapsing, many with nosebleeds. In the months afterwards Adam and Klaudya participated in efforts to decontaminate buildings in their village and assist in the evacuation, which finally occurred four months after the accident. Authorities moved the residents to Yut, 150km from Chernobyl, though in the following years it became clear that Yut and the surrounding region were contaminated with radioactive fallout as well.



Both of their children suffer from weak immune systems and their daughter also has high blood pressure, poor memory and underwent surgery for ovarian cancer. Their granddaughter has high blood pressure and arthritis in one leg.


30 years on from the world’s worst nuclear disaster we ask you to take a moment to remember those who continue to be affected by its deadly legacy.


Photo/ Sean Gallup. Getty Images


 


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Via Chernobyl Children International


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Via ONE

1961
HIV/AIDS Empowering women AND improving HIV/AIDS care: How Vuyiseka is getting it done

 

25 November 2016 1:44PM UTC  | By: GUEST BLOGGER
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty
 
  

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By Koketso Moeti

Vuyiseka Dubula is an avid runner and is currently completing her PhD. She’s also become synonymous with courage, passion, and fierce determination in the South African civil society landscape.

It hasn’t been an easy journey, particularly as a woman born into poverty in the small town of Dutywa in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Vuyiseka grew up living apart from her biological parents and had to take care of her younger sibling. She wanted to change how she and her sister were living and dreamed of a better life.

At 22, she was diagnosed with HIV. It felt like a shattering of her dreams, especially as treatment would be difficult for her to obtain. But shortly after her diagnosis, she was introduced to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which campaigns for access to HIV treatment.

After a long bout of depression following her diagnosis, she volunteered with TAC for months and eventually opened an office in her home.

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“The HIV struggle chose me; I didn’t choose it,” she says. “TAC was the only movement that I felt was radical in its approaches to challenge the status quo on issues of access to HIV treatment.”

What started off as a group of about ten members has grown to 8,000 people in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Each member gets information on the science of HIV, TB, and other conditions, as well as their rights in the public health system.

Vuyiseka’s highlights during her time with TAC are the court victories, including the 2002 ruling in which the South African government was ordered to provide anti-retroviral drugs to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies during birth.

During those early years, “we worked non-stop for 14 years with no time to relax,” she says. Vuyiseka was forced to leave her child with her mother-in-law when her workload got particularly heavy after she became the Secretary General of TAC—a position she held for six years after being elected twice. Her visionary leadership helped one of the largest HIV programs in the world come into its own.

But it was difficult to watch hundred of her comrades succumb to AIDS in the early years of the organisation. With support from family and other TAC members, she was always able to pick up her spear and soldier on.

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“I don’t usually get despondent because I know that I can do something about it,” she says. “With our gains in HIV, we can only draw wisdom and strength to know that no matter how long it will take for us to win, it will happen.”

She also attributes her determination to her children, a 9-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. “They are more than a motivation,” she says. “They are a firm reminder of my duty to hand over a better country to the future generation.”

TAC still works to expose health-related corruption and health governance issues, and even challenge the private healthcare sector. The organisation, where Vuyiseka remains a board member, continues to be at the forefront of exposing poor management of HIV/AIDS services at local levels through intense monitoring.

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Before stepping down from her position as the Secretary General, Vuyiseka founded an Activist Education and Development Centre that facilitates and supports unemployed HIV+ activists’ access to higher education. The organisation also provides a space in which activists can reflect, write, and relax, because there is very little self-care support for activists in South Africa.

To date, the centre along with their partners, TAC and the Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management at Stellenbosch University, have ensured that more than 30 HIV-positive activists have completed some form of higher education.

Vuyiseka says her next step is expanding the centre’s activities to reach more provinces of the country. “It is women who make social movements,” she says. “But with limited educational support, they are often discarded by movements, left unemployable and with no means to support themselves.”

Vuyiseka’s vision is one in which female activists can move beyond their often unrecognised roles within movements to actually leading civil society organisations, which remain male-dominated, even in 2016. An ambitious goal, but not unreachable for a woman who has already pushed so many boundaries.

Young women are disproportionately impacted by the AIDS epidemic. Read more about this and other issues in the fight to end AIDS in our 2016 AIDS Report.
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**A reminder about the Music Generation Phase 2 General Information Sessions!**

 

 

Tuesday 24 January 2017, 12 noon – 2pm

National Concert Hall, Dublin

 

Thursday 26 January 2017, 12 noon – 2pm

Athlone Springs Hotel, Athlone

 

 

These sessions are free to attend and open to all who have an interest in Phase 2 of Music Generation.

Registration for the sessions is open now. Please note that capacity is limited and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

For further information about Phase 2 of Music Generation please visit: www.musicgeneration.ie/apply

 

Via Music Generation

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GIRLS & WOMEN A cafe run by acid attack survivors attracts visitors from around the world

 

Dec. 11, 2015

Brought to you by: TakePart

 

acid-attack-cafe-main.jpg__700x468_q85_cRitu Saini, Chanchal Kumari, Neetu Mahor, Gita Mahor, and Rupa at the café.
Image: Sheroes’ Hangout

 

The Taj Mahal may be one of the world’s top architectural wonders, but just a half mile away, a new destination is gaining attention: Sheroes’ Hangout.

“I was exhilarated the first time a group of Indian tourists who visited the café told me how much they appreciate my courage,” says Rupa (who goes by one name), a 22-year-old survivor of acid violence who, along with four other women, runs the café Sheroes’ Hangout. “Since then, we have had regular customers who come here not only to enjoy a cup of joe but also to talk to us.” 

Visitors to Sheroes’ Hangout always leave with a sense of fulfillment. It’s not only because of the cutting-edge coffee and delicious snacks the café serves.

Opened in December 2014 in Agra, a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Sheroes’ Hangout started as a crowdfunding project by Stop Acid Attacks, a group committed to ending acts of violence against women. Its “pay as you wish” contributions go toward the rehabilitation of survivors of acid violence in India.

“Our visitors are mostly people from around the world who hear about us in the news,” says 20-year-old Chanchal Kumari, another survivor who helps operate the café. A man whose marriage proposal she refused attacked Kumari in 2012. “They come here to see how acid attack survivors like us are coping with our lives.”

 

acid-attack-cafe-inline1.jpg__700x538_q8Image: Sheroes’ Hangout

 

Kumari, who is recovering from her fifth reconstructive surgery, works alongside Rupa, Ritu Saini, Gita Mahor, and Neetu Mahor, all of whom lived a secluded life in their homes for several years, dealing with the pain of a charred face and a scarred soul. Then they discovered "Stop Acid Attacks," a Facebook campaign that was started on International Women’s Day in 2013. Based in New Delhi, SAA works with acid attack survivors in India, assisting them with legal and medical issues and helping them deal with the trauma of the attack. Sheroes’ Hangout is one of its several initiatives.

Acid attacks are a gruesome reality in India. The National Crime Records Bureau, a government organization that recently began recording acid violence, estimates that more than 1,000 such crimes are committed around the country every year, though the majority of attacks go unreported because of the shame the girl and her family feel and the fear of being attacked again.

SAA has been collecting data through its volunteers across the country and has information on 430 survivors, 350 of whom were attacked in the last two years. It is in touch with, and has assisted, more than 70 of them. According to the data collected, about 70 percent of victims are women, more than 50 percent of whom are attacked by spurned lovers. One of the biggest reasons behind the high rate of acid attacks is the lack of laws against the free sale of acid in India—a liter can be purchased for just 50 cents.

RELATED:  Acid Attack Survivor’s Makeup Tutorials Offer More Than Beauty Tips

SAA wanted to do something for Gita Mahor, 42, and her daughter Neetu, 26, who were attacked with acid 23 years ago by Mahor’s husband, Neetu’s father. Both were left with mutilated faces and limited vision. Neetu’s one-year-old sister was sleeping next to her during the attack and succumbed to the injuries the acid caused to her. With no one else to support them, mother and daughter were forced to continue living with their assailant. To relieve them from their everyday distress and further domestic violence, SAA found it important to provide them an avenue of earning a livelihood so they could gradually move away from their home and lead a happier life.

“Acid attack survivors’ lives become even more traumatic when they start facing rejection from society due to their disfigured faces. They need someone to hold their hand and restore their self-confidence,” says SAA founder Alok Dixit.

Today, Mahor and Neetu dress up every morning and go to the café to serve coffee and treats—and share their stories with customers.

 

One of the objectives of SAA at Sheroes’ Hangout was to provide skills training in the subject that each survivor was interested in learning. With SAA’s help, Mahor took a baking course at a hotel in Agra and will soon be serving cookies and cupcakes to customers. Neetu, who is almost blind, is taking singing lessons from an SAA volunteer. “I love to welcome the guests at the café cheerfully, so that they know we are coping well,” she says.

 

acid-attack-cafe-inline2.jpg__700x466_q8Image: Sheroes’ Hangout

 

Saini, 19, played volleyball for India before suffering an acid attack by a male cousin in 2012 over a family property dispute, resulting in the loss of her left eye. She is unable to compete in the sport anymore, and she now handles accounts at the café. “My life changed ever since I joined SAA,” she says. “With the emotional support I received, I regained the confidence to go out with my face uncovered. Now I don’t care what people think of my disfigured face.”

Rupa—whose stepmother attacked her with acid when she was just 12—is a skilled tailor and an amateur apparel designer. The outfits she designs are exhibited and sold at the café. “Sheroes’ Hangout is not only giving us a chance to move our lives forward; it is also getting our stories out,” she says.

“True that,” says customer Shikha Singh, 20, a student of fashion design who finds herself in the café at least once a week. “I would never have known about the reality behind acid attack survivors had I not met these women. It is amazing the way they are working to fulfill their dreams despite the hurdles. I now prefer to spend on Sheroes’ Hangout rather than a McDonald’s or KFC. At least I’m sure the money will be used for a good cause.”

This article was written by Priti Salian of TakePart. She is a Bangalore-based journalist whose work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Prevention, The National, and many other publications.

 
 

Conversation

 

Via Global Citizen

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NEWS: 25 Nov 2016

SASHA SENKEVICH IS NOW RECOVERING AT HOME FOLLOWING HIS LIFE-SAVING SURGERY

25 Nov 2016

 

On October 25th, CCI appealed for help on behalf of Sasha Senkevich who is on our Community Care Programme and suffers from Fahr’s disease.

Sasha, 18, lived in pain everyday due to uncontrollable spasms. Sasha urgently needed a neuro-transmitter, which would not only control his spasms but also save his life. Without this surgery, Sasha would have little chance of survival and the remainder of his life would be in uncontrollable pain.

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Thanks to the generosity of the Irish people, Sasha was recently able to undergo this life-saving surgery in Moscow. Since his surgery, Sasha has returned home and is now preparing for physiotherapy and massage therapy once he is strong enough. These therapies will aid Sasha in living a pain-free life, but also help him regain his speech and ability to walk, which his condition had stolen from him.

On her recent visit to Ukraine and Belarus, CCI’s voluntary CEO, Adi Roche, visited Sasha and his family. Speaking about Sasha, Adi said;
” I am so relieved to visit Sasha and to see how well he is recovering. He has a fighter’s spirit, which he definitely inherited from his grandmother who advocated for Sasha when he needed it most. Sasha has a long road to recovery, however he would have never had a chance of recovery if it wasn’t for this surgery”

 

Via Chernobyl Children International

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