Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Know someone over 60 who is changing the world?

I’ve just received this request and it sounds interesting and it's great to see older people being celebrated, so I am passing it around:

Know someone tapping their experience to improve the lives of others? Nominate yourself or someone you know for the 2010 Purpose Prize. Nominations are open until March 5, 2010.

The Purpose Prize provides ten awards of up to $100,000 to social innovators in encore careers, 60 years and older, who are solving some of our most pressing social issues – from health care to the environment, poverty to education.

The Purpose Prize is accepting nominations, including self-nominations until March 5th.

See who has won the Prize:

Judith Broder, a psychiatrist who combined her experience and passion to recruit mental health professionals to provide free, confidential counseling to veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families through The Soldiers Project.
Don Coyhis, a former computer executive who built a nationwide substance abuse recovery program based on Native American beliefs and traditions.
Connie Siskowski, a former nurse who founded the Youth Caregiving Project to support a hidden population of pre-teens who shoulder adult-sized responsibilities caring for chronically ill relatives.

Please nominate, get inspired by watching a brief video, and help us spread the word by posting information about The Purpose Prize on list serves, blogs, or by emailing your friends and colleagues.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Haiti Earthquake

What is it with Haiti? Things were starting to get a bit better there: the country was slowly recovering from devastating floods in 2004 and 2009, gang violence was subsiding and there was more political stability – a few foreign investors were even coming back, and now this! The worst earthquake in 200 years struck the country yesterday, devastating the capital city, killing thousands and threatening over 3 million people in this desperately poor country.

I went to Haiti a few times, the last one in 2007 to report with photographer Caroline Irby on a group of poor, uneducated, HIV-positive mothers who care for and support some 250 HIV positive families in the slums of Port-au-Prince. (Our article was published in the Telegraph Magazine in June 2007). These mothers suffered every possible hardship, but remained feisty, fighting and surviving – just like their country.

Such a devastating earthquake would be a disaster anywhere, but in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas and one with no infrastructure, it is a tragedy. Bill Clinton, the UN special envoy for Haiti, said the quake was "one of the great humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas".

While in Haiti, Caroline and I worked with Plan, an international children’s organization, which has been in Haiti since 1973, and were very impressed with their work and approach.

Plan Haiti Director Rezene Tesfamariam said the devastation in the capital Port-au-Prince was on an “unimaginable” scale. “I’ve seen villages destroyed by floods but this is something else. I’ve worked for Plan for 27 years and have seen all kinds of tragedies. I’ve seen refugees fighting for their lives and floods destroy communities, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Plan is working closely with government, emergency services and other organizations to respond to the immediate to the immediate needs of children in the region and assess the situation. To make a donation to Plan's emergency work in the country, call their freephone 0800 1300230 or make an online donation.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Iran – Release Mourning Mothers!

Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to release a group of women who were beaten and arrested during a peaceful vigil in Tehran at the weekend.

The 33 women, members of a group known as the 'Mourning Mothers', were seized during their weekly Saturday meeting in Laleh Park, Tehran, according to media reports. All 33 women are now being held in Tehran’s Vozara Detention Centre. Several of the women were beaten and 10 were taken to hospital. Nine of the women are believed to suffer from illnesses, increasing concern for their well-being.

The 'Mourning Mothers' are women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in post-election violence in Iran since last June, and their supporters. The group meets in silence for an hour each Saturday near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was shown in footage circulated around the world in July.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said:

"Women who are grieving for children killed by security personnel should be able to count on support from the state to uncover the truth about what happened and to ensure redress for them, not face arbitrary detention and beatings.

"These women should be released immediately and unconditionally and an investigation launched into their treatment."