Sunday, November 30, 2008

Women and Children Caught in the Middle, and Charitable Innovation: Relevant World News

Meanwhile in news around the globe:

  • With the headlines fraught with stories of power struggles and violence in Mumbai, Nigeria, Iraq, and elsewhere, it is refreshing to read about a peaceful and mindful shift to Democracy for the nation of Bhutan. An island of sanity that I sincerely hope survives and gives rise to others.

  • Adoption can be a very fragile process, with no guarantees, and especially so when different countries and cultures are involved. A story of heartbreak and heroism recently shed light on the sometimes dark underbelly of international adoption, when a California couple in the process of adopting a Guatemalan baby discovered that the child came to them under questionable circumstances. They could have been quiet, as it is suspected that many have been, and the adoption would have proceeded as normal, but they felt that the right thing to do would be to expose the fraud, thereby having to give her up, in order to save her.

  • Also, there was a heartbreaking story about a young Chinese-American girl, who was born in the U.S., and through a convoluted series of events, was in the process of being adopted by the American couple that had fostered her, but was returned to her birth parents by court decision, who subsequently relocated her to China. The young girl is struggling to acclimate to her new culture, and an unfamiliar language, while coping with her birth parents recent estrangement. The foster parents, careful not to criticize the birth parents so as not to jeopardize their ability to keep contact with the girl, call her weekly and send her care packages and she copes with the fallout of an adult power struggle. In both cases it is wrenching to realize these helpless children are at the mercy of systems and adults that dubiously act in the best interest of the child. A complicated issue with no easy solutions.

  • Equal parts appalling and inspiring, a story about fifteen girls and teachers who were attacked with acid by ten Taliban militants in Afghanistan, reports that although the girls attending the school stayed away for three days, they have since returned.

  • And, speaking of courageous women in this part of the world, get to know the stories of women in Pakistan who are standing up against reprehensible treatment of women despite the jeopardy such actions bring with it. Also a "well done" to columnist, Nicholas Kristoff, who sheds light on their struggle and stands ready to defend them.

  • Planning on buying a laptop this holiday season. Why not help a third world child also receive a laptop through Amazon's "XO Give-One-Get-One" campaign? Amazon is partnering with the One Laptop Per Child project to provide children in developing countries laptops when people purchase a sponsored laptop.

  • The rates of Downs Syndromes births is rising in Britain it is thought in part because with increased support and life expectancies, parents are opting to not test for the defect, or terminate the pregnancies with a positive test result, although many still do terminate.

  • Access to medical care is a real problem for much of the world's population, and even more so for those who live in remote or dangerous areas. An innovative program spearheaded by Swinfen Charitable Trust links these patients who need care with volunteer physicians through email! A simple and effective solution engineered by a couple in their retirement.

  • Another fall-out from the global financial crisis puts yet more stress on parents. In Australia a childcare company which services fully 25% of the market has shuttered leaving thousands of parents in the lurch. A particularly cogent piece of the discussion in the article asks the question that with increasing numbers of "essential" services being outsourced to private entities, putting these services at the risk of market forces, is it ethical to continue to privatize these services, thereby making the vulnerable populations they service at increased risk? The experience in Australia is unique in that no where else in the world are childcare services controlled in such a high percentage; other places average around 2-3%, therefore providing adequate alternate choices should one particular provider cease operations. The underlying question about the ethics of privatizing essential services is a compelling one in my opinion.

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