Friday 29 March 2013

Pope Washes Feet of Young Muslim Woman Prisoner

“We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica. “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”

While popes have for centuries washed the feet of the faithful on the day before Good Friday, never before had a pontiff washed the feet of a woman. That one of the female inmates at the prison in Rome was also a Serbian Muslim. Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates aged 14 to 21, among them the two women, the second of whom was an Italian Catholic.

“There is no better way to show his service for the smallest, for the least fortunate,” said Gaetano Greco, a local chaplain.

The pontiff, who has largely disregarded protocol since his election earlier this month, urged his fellow clerics before the ceremony to prioritise the poor.

“We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica. “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”

Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from Latin America, led a mass with a mixed group of young offenders at the Casal del Marmo prison outside of Rome.

The 76-year-old, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires until chosen as pope, has already made a name for himself as a champion of the disadvantaged. In his homeland of Argentina he was known for his strong social advocacy, working in slums and shunning the lavish lifestyle adopted by some senior clerics. He lived in a small flat near the cathedral, flew to the Rome conclave in economy class, and chose to travel with his fellow cardinals by minibus rather than in the papal limousine.

Building Bridges between Faiths

MyJihad is a public education campaign that started in Chicago, US, that seeks to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims. Jihad means "struggling in the way of God". The way of God, being goodness, justice, passion, compassion, etc. It is putting up the good fight against whatever odds or barriers you face in your life. It is a central tenet of the Islamic creed that has unfortunately been widely misrepresented due to a) first and foremost, the actions of Muslim extremists, b) attempts at public indoctrination by Islamophobes who claim that the extremists are right and the rest of Muslims are wrong, and c) a selective media that understandably focuses on the sensational. This campaign is about reclaiming most Muslims' faith and its concepts from extremists, both Muslim and anti-Muslim. MyJihad includes displaying public ads on buses & trains, the use of #MyJihad hashtag on twitter, outreach on Facebook and Youtube, as well as speaking events and other initiatives.

Read Imam Mazhar Shaheen's Speech in Spanish - Lee el discurso de Imam Mazhar Shaheen en español

Thursday 28 March 2013

16 April: International Day against Child Slavery. No to a World of Unemployed and Enslaved People

16 April: International Day against Child Slavery 
400 million child slaves: 
a Political and Trade Union Crime
Christian Cultural Movement's 
2013 Communiqué

18th  Anniversary of IQBAL MASIH’s murder, Christian non-violent militant for Justice in the fight against Child Slavery in the world. Murdered on 16th April 1995, in Pakistan, when he was 12. [1983-1995] Testimony of true activist and solidarity trade- unionism.

Every day we can find products made by enslaved children in our homes, in our streets, in shopping malls, in our consumption. At present, millions of children breath the smoke of rubbish landfills, they risk their lives as pearl divers, they work in the mines to get the minerals for our cosmetics, for new technologies, they are kidnapped to become child soldiers, they live amidst bullets and rapes in the streets, they are used for the trade in human organs, in brothels, in sweatshop,... Children who have been deprived of their childhood and education. Children who are subjugated, enslaved, humiliated.

There are more slaves at present than at any other time in history. Children are forced to participate in the international planning of work, resulting from a perverse economic system. This world crime, far from disappearing, is on the rise in number and cruelty. Let us not be carried away by a manipulated language: they are child slaves, they are not child workers!

When we talk about an economic crisis in international forums and in the media, no one says that this crisis will be paid by the poor, and especially by the children who will be aborted or subjected to more bondage.

The causes of this crime have a clear economic dimension: a radically unfair international economic system, tailored to the requirements of large multinational companies (including the Spanish ZARA and El Corte Ingles, which have been reported recently) and of a global financial system seeking to maximize profits at all costs and having no qualms about using child slave labor.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Short Story: Lullaby and Parallelism with Impoverished Immigrants


Leslie Marmon Silko was raised on the Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, a place she came to know through stories that were told to her by her father, her aunt, and her grandmother. The storytelling tradition, much of it oral rather than written, is often a powerful element in Native American tribes, preserving certain ways of knowing and helping members recognize their connection to the tribe. But these stories are often living things, adapting and changing to reflect tribal members’ struggles to adapt to an often hostile world. They can even be a source of healing, as in the short story “Lullaby” you’re about to read here.

Silko is widely recognized as one of the finest living Native American writers, and her novel Ceremony, published in 1977, received critical acclaim. She’s also a talented poet and essayist. Above all, Leslie Marmon Silko is a storyteller in the Laguna tradition, using a kind of narrative that in many ways will be familiar to non-native readers.

There are characters and scenes and a significant event, but also notice how landscape figures into the telling of this story, and in particular what the narrator’s relationship is with the natural world. One of the motives for telling a story like this is to deal with loss by seeking recovery through balance or harmony. This may not be at all obvious when you read this story, which on the surface is an unrelentingly sad tale.

Guide for the analysis of the story Lullaby:

1. Background: Cultural and social conditions of “native Americans” in the USA. Reflection of this situation in Lullaby.
2. Characters: Ayah, Chato (behaviour, conflicts), Jimmy, Danny and Ella (as symbols in the story), the white doctors and the policeman.
3. American Indian traditions as presented in the story.
4. Themes in the story:
Tradition and change. Racial and cultural oppression. Poverty and exploitation. Language barriers. Deaths and loss. Reconciliation.
5. Motif: The Blanket.
6. Significance of the song.
7. The environment in the story: place, time, atmosphere.
8. History of the American Indians in the USA: The Native Americans in the 1960’s.
9. Historical perspective, sociological perspective, psychological perspective and semiotic perspective.
10. Style
11. Narration – Narrator

Parallelism between Lullaby and the current situation impoverished immigrants are going through.

1. Background: Cultural and social conditions of impoverished immigrants in the USA and in Europe.
2. Families broken by immigration; impact of immigration policies on children and parents; the role of the police in the enforcement of immigration laws.
3. Themes:
Tradition and change. Racial and cultural discrimination. Poverty and exploitation. Language barriers. Deaths and loss. Reconciliation.
4. World history of capitalist Imperialism: expropriation and plundering of raw materials and labour of the Third World, which together with the European and North American demand for cheap labour have got people to emigrate.
5. Historical perspective, sociological perspective, psychological perspective and semiotic perspective.

For better understanding of the story, you can read:

Saturday 23 March 2013

Hellen Keller

Hellen Keller



Friday 22 March 2013

Novelist Chinua Achebe dies, aged 82

Nigerian author recognised for key role in developing African literature has died in Boston, where he was working as a professor.

Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist seen by millions as the father of African literature, has died at the age of 82.

In a statement, Achebe's family requested privacy, and paid tribute to "one of the great literary voices of all time. He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him."

A novelist, poet and essayist, Achebe was perhaps best known for his first novel Things Fall Apart, which was published in 1958. The story of the Igbo warrior Okonkwo and the colonial era, it has sold more than 10m copies around the world and has been published in 50 languages. Achebe depicts an Igbo village as the white men arrive at the end of the 19th century, taking its title from the WB Yeats poem, which continues: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."

The poet Jackie Kay hailed Achebe as "the grandfather of African fiction" who "lit up a path for many others", adding that she had reread Things Fall Apart "countless times". "It is a book that keeps changing with the times as he did," she said.

Achebe won the Commonwealth poetry prize for his collection Christmas in Biafra, was a finalist for the 1987 Booker prize for his novel Anthills of the Savannah, and in 2007 won the Man Booker international prize. Chair of the judges on that occasion, Elaine Showalter, said he had "inaugurated the modern African novel", while her fellow judge, the South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, said his fiction was "an original synthesis of the psychological novel, the Joycean stream of consciousness, the postmodern breaking of sequence", and that Achebe was "a joy and an illumination to read".

Thursday 21 March 2013

'The Slum Pope? He is bigger than that – he is for all the poor people'

Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the Holy Thursday celebration held 
with poor people and drug addicts in Buenos Aires in 2008 Photo: EPA

Before becoming Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio won the hearts of the slum people ministering to the poor and sick.


It’s a long walk down the teeming streets of Villa 31, one of several shanty-town slums within the bounds of Buenos Aires, to the “Home of Christ” sanctuary of Father Guillermo Torre. Flea-bitten dogs and children share the gutters and motorway flyovers replace the sky for the breeze-block homes jumbled beneath them.

Father Guillermo, a stocky man with a dog collar undone and askew, escorts his visitors around his domain – a church under corrugated iron, a day centre for runaways and drug addicts and, finally, the burial site of Father Carlos Mugica, a priest killed by right-wing assassins in 1974 because of his work for the poor. It isn’t Mugica we are here to celebrate today, but rather the man who until last week was merely Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

“He built of all of this,” Father Guillermo says of his friend who is now Pope Francis. While the leader of the church in this city, he helped find the money and provided the encouragement to build this and similar centres in the other slums – or Villas Miserias – in Buenos Aires. All are called “Home of Christ” and Bergoglio visited them as often as he could as part of his very public commitment to ministering to the poor.

Nowhere, not even in the other slums, is the reverence for Bergoglio more strong than here, however.

It was back in 1999 – soon after he became Archbishop of the city – that he arranged for the remains of the still iconic Father Mugica to be exhumed from the cemetery in the nearby middle class neighbourhood of Recoleta, where Evita is entombed, to this place for reburial, amongst the people he had cared and died for.

Omar Salah Omran (12 years old): One Of The More Than 400 Million Victims Of Child Slavery

An Egyptian army conscript walks up to 12 year old Omar Salah Omran, a sweet potato seller - outside the front gates of Cairo’s US Embassy close to Tahrir Square - and requests two potatoes from the young street vendor. Omar answers, “I’ll do so after I go to the bathroom”. The allegedly untrained soldier retorts with a mix of cockiness and jest that he will shoot Omar if he doesn’t comply immediately. On Omar’s reply, “you can’t shoot me” - the conscript, on the alleged presumption that his weapon was not loaded, aimed two bullets piercing through Omar’s heart. He died instantly. (Based on Omar’s father’s television interview with host Mahmoud Saad. While not present at the scene, he later spoke to eyewitnesses) 

The entire incident was over in ten seconds. The fallout continues.

Many Egyptians were humbled and awoken to another Egypt with the release of a gripping video of Omar speaking to a Life Makers charity member in which he says “I am tired of this job”: he says he wants to learn to read and write.

There is an inherently troubling dimension in Omar’s demise that goes beyond the “accidental” nature of it. It is the callous disregard by the state that instigated and attempted to cover up the crime, and a society that no longer gives a second look to the plight of child slavery.

2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons

Increase in global child trafficking gives cause for concern, says new UNODC report.

Vienna, 12 December 2012 (UNODC) - The 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has revealed that 27 per cent of all victims of human trafficking officially detected globally between 2007 and 2010 are children, up 7 per cent from the period 2003 to 2006.

"Human trafficking requires a forceful response founded on the assistance and protection for victims, rigorous enforcement by the criminal justice system, a sound migration policy and firm regulation of the labour markets," said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC of the findings.

Also worrying is the increase in the number of girl victims, who make up two thirds of all trafficked children. Girls now constitute 15 to 20 per cent of the total number of all detected victims, including adults, whereas boys comprise about 10 per cent, says the Report, which is based on official data supplied by 132 countries.

Within this picture, there are significant regional variations. While the share of detected child victims is 68 per cent in Africa and the Middle East, and 39 per cent in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, that proportion diminishes to 27 per cent in the Americas and 16 per cent in Europe and Central Asia.

The vast majority of trafficked persons are women, accounting for 55 to 60 per cent of victims detected globally. However, the total proportion of women and girls together soars to about 75 per cent, with men constituting about 14 per cent of the total of detected victims. Nonetheless, this is not a uniform picture as one in four detected victims is a male.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Sunitha Krishnan against Sex Slavery

Each year, some two million women and children, many younger than 10 years old, are bought and sold around the globe. Impassioned by the silence surrounding the sex-trafficking epidemic, Sunitha Krishnan co-founded Prajwala, or "eternal flame," a group in Hyderabad that rescues women from brothels and educates their children to prevent second-generation prostitution. Prajwala runs 17 schools throughout Hyderabad for 5,000 children and has rescued more than 2,500 women from prostitution, 1,500 of whom Krishnan personally liberated. At its Asha Niketan center, Prajwala helps young victims prepare for a self-sufficient future.

You can also watch the video on Ted (with subtitles in Spanish) 

The Ideal, by Julián Gómez del Castillo


In Spain, most young people of 15, 18 or 25 are doomed to unemployment when they finish their studies. 60% of young people under 25 are jobless. How do educators prepare the youth for this fact, or have they chosen to be teachers and given up their job as educators? Have young people been educated to fight against this problem through a liberating moral action or to serve economic imperialism by being resigned and unresisting? Are we aware that the educational task always entails political action? Have young people and educators considered that if 60% of the youth are unemployed and do not fight, this is the result of not having had educators? It is possible that if youngsters could find militant testimonies in their family or group of friends, they would be able to lay down their lives.

We are swindling this generation by concealing from them that the Ideal is above evasion, money, exploitation in its different forms, above the good life, consumption and stupidity.

All human beings fulfill themselves by cultivating the qualities in their being. These qualities include one upon which the others converge: Love. Love is pure disinterested gratuity of self, which in our times is called solidarity, defined through actions for the poor such as "communication of what is necessary to live", that is to say, even life itself.

In the 19th century, when the poor in Europe bring this to people’s social life, they take history’s most important cultural action for the liberation of the oppressed. Since then, thousands and thousands of people have laid down their lives in solidarity with the impoverished. It is our turn to follow suit. We are not the first ones, others have laid down their lives before but we haven’t yet. We are inspired by their attitude, which encourages us to walk. The seeds of solidarity have already been sown along the paths our Solidarity Marches will walk; paths that have witnessed great efforts and sacrifices in the name of solidarity, including the toll of many human lives.

On 16th April, 1995, Iqbal Masih was murdered in Pakistan for fighting against child slavery. He was a fighter for peace and there was no room for him in an imperialist world. Christian conscious, he laid down his life at the age of 12. Let us honor his memory on 16th April. He is an example for the youth of the 21st century; a century with unemployment, hunger and slavery renewed by economic imperialism.

Outrage? Yes. But, Outrage in Every Case of Rape

Victims of sexual violence in any part of the world deserve our compassion, special assistance for their healing and justice to be done.

However, why is all this outrage about a gang-rape case in India now? Is it because the woman who was raped was an educated Swiss woman? Why can’t we see all this outrage every day on our TVs and in newspapers? Because rape and human trafficking for prostitution and pornography happens every day in India –one person is raped every 20 minutes– and in most impoverished countries of the world, and many times the victims are children, some as young as 4 years old! Don’t these women and children have as much dignity as this disgraced Swiss woman? And again the hackneyed question: is it that they don’t care because they are poor?

It is true that we need outrage in the face of such barbaric crimes, but we need outrage for every case that is or is not reported in the world. Millions of women, children and families’ lives are irreversibly destroyed by Human Trafficking; there are millions of suffering people who normalize an existence of exploitation and humiliation. Still worse, we now know this is just one of the many forms of slavery, which are far more than near. Exploitation exists in our streets, in our homes, in porno videos; there is blood in the petrol of our cars, in the clothes we have on, on our skin in the perfume we wear and even inside our bodies in the coffee we drink and in the chocolate our children eat. What kind of beast can know and benefit from this and live without taking responsibility for these crimes?

It is necessary to become Human Persons, to join hands to form a movement to transform our society and the world. The whole world is calling for a non-violent revolution in the name of Love, but not a feeble one, because the evils we have to confront are strong economic powers and corrupt politicians who support them, and only with the strength fruit of association will we be able to beat them.

"A Poor Church and a Church for the Poor"

Pope Francis offered intimate insights Saturday into the moments after his election, telling journalists that he was immediately inspired to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi because of his work for peace and the poor — and that he himself would like to see "a poor church and a church for the poor."

Sunday 10 March 2013

Children Toil in India’s Mines

The terms Child Labor and child workers were used throughout the original article but have been changed. It is important to emphasize these are expressions that can hardly be read in this blog. Language is a very important manipulative tool used by the oppressors to get people to accept the unacceptable, the unnatural, the abhorrent and, in this case, to create the impression that we are talking about working children. There are 400 million children forced into agricultural work, the textile industry, the mining industry, wars, prostitution, debt servitude, serfdom… and the list of atrocities is endless. They are not working children, they are CHILD SLAVES! 

A young coal miner studied English during a break in Khliehriat, India. The few nearby schools teach in local dialects.

Published: February 25, 2013
The New York Times

KHLIEHRIAT, India — After descending 70 feet on a wobbly bamboo staircase into a dank pit, the teenage miners ducked into a black hole about two feet high and crawled 100 yards through mud before starting their day digging coal.

They wore T-shirts, pajama-like pants and short rubber boots — not a hard hat or steel-toed boot in sight. They tied rags on their heads to hold small flashlights and stuffed their ears with cloth. And they spent the whole day staring death in the face.

Just two months before full implementation of a landmark 2010 law mandating that all Indian children between the ages of 6 and 14 be in school, some 28 million are child slaves instead, according to Unicef. Child slaves can be found everywhere — in shops, in kitchens, on farms, in factories and on construction sites. In the coming days Parliament may consider yet another law to ban child slavery, but even activists say more laws, while welcome, may do little to solve one of India’s most intractable problems.

Sunday 3 March 2013

A Critical Interview with Henry Giroux

Extracted from global Education Magazine

José María Barroso Tristán: You´re considered as the father of a critical pedagogy. What is critical pedagogy for you? 
Henry Giroux: Actually, I am not the father of critical pedagogy. While I may have played a prominent role in its development, critical pedagogy emerged out of long series of educational struggles that extend from the work of Paulo Freire in Brazil to the work on critical pedagogy advanced by myself and Roger Simon, David Livingstone, and later Joe Kincheloe in the 1970s and 1980s. Critical pedagogy is a movement and an ongoing struggle taking place in a number of different social formations and places. To argue that there is such a thing as “the father of critical pedagogy” devalues those struggles and the collective efforts that have been made to develop and build upon the diverse archives that make up critical pedagogy in all of its different formations. As Roger Simon once pointed out, the attempt to define a set of “founding fathers” for critical pedagogy suggests that “an authentic version could somehow be found in a patriarchal vanishing point.”
First, I think it is best to think of critical pedagogy as an ongoing project instead of a fixed set of references or prescriptive set of practices–put bluntly, it is not a method. One way of thinking about critical pedagogy in these terms is to think of it as both a way of understanding education as well as a way of highlighting the performative nature of agency as an act of participating in shaping the world in which we live. But I think the best place to begin to answer this question is to recognize the distinction between a conservative notion of teaching and the more progressive meaning of critical pedagogy. Teaching for many conservatives is often treated simply as a set of strategies and skills to use in order to teach prespecified subject matter. In this context, teaching becomes synonymous with a method, technique, or the practice of a craft—like skill training. On the other hand, critical pedagogy must be seen as a political and moral project and not a technique. Pedagogy is always political because it is connected to the acquisition of agency. As a political project, critical pedagogy illuminates the relationshipamong knowledge, authority, and power. It draws attention to questions concerning who has control over the conditions for the production of knowledge, values, and skills, and it illuminates how knowledge, identities, and authority are constructed within particular sets of social relations. Similarly, it draws attention to the fact that pedagogy is a deliberate attempt on the part of educators to influence how and what knowledge and subjectivities are produced within particular sets of social relations. Ethically, critical pedagogy stresses the importance of understanding what actually happens in classrooms and other educational settings by raising questions regarding what knowledge is of most worth, in what direction should one desire, and what it means to know something. Most importantly, it takes seriously what it means to understand the relationship between how we learn and how we act as individual and social agents; that is, it is concerned with teaching students how not only to think but to come to grips with a sense of individual and social responsibility, and what it means to be responsible for one’s actions as part of a broader attempt to be an engaged citizen who can expand and deepen the possibilities of democratic public life. Finally, what has to be acknowledged is that critical pedagogy is not about an a priori method that simply can be applied regardless of context. It is the outcome of particular struggles and is always related to the specificity of particular contexts, students, communities, available resources, the histories that students bring with them to the classroom, and the diverse experiences and identities they inhabit.