Sunday 29 September 2013

Donkey Mobile Libraries

The Donkey Mobile Library is the brainchild of Ato Yohannes Gebregeorgis and was designed to address the urgent need of supplying books to children in rural areas. Ato Yohannes discovered that donkeys were plentiful in these rural areas and that books were not. Similar in concept to bookmobiles in the United States, Donkey Mobile Libraries run a circuit from school to school and from village to village bringing books to eager children. The first Donkey Mobile Library was put into operation in 2005 and five more have followed with a further commitment of more in the immediate future.

The donkey cart is designed to exacting specifications. It must hold a treasure trove of books, have space to hold stools for seating, and contain a special compartment for food for the donkey. The Donkey Mobile Library is parked underneath a large tree, the thirty or so stools placed in the shade with space for as many as 200 children to sit in the grass or dirt nearby. A trained librarian or library assistant distributes the books to the children and the children take turns reading to themselves or reading to ach other under the guidance of the librarian. When the session is over, the books and stools are packed up and the Donkey Mobile Library is off to the next reading site.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Serving Christ Hidden in the Poor

It is not how much we do, 
but how much love we put in the doing. 
It is not how much we give, 
but how much love we put in the giving.
“As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in understanding Mother Teresa's service to the poor, was the basis of her faith-filled conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she was touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself, hidden under the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, that her service was directed. Mother Teresa highlights the deepest meaning of service — an act of love done to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf. Mt 25: 34-36) is done to Jesus himself.

Mother Teresa's biography

This luminous messenger of God's love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia, from Albanese parents. The youngest of three children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916.

From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father's sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter's character and vocation. Gonxha's religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland, known for their missionary work in India. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on January 6, 1929.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

The Quest to Understand Consciousness

Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness — that is a marvelous fact — but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.

This TED talk is by Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist who is most well known for his book, Descartes Error, and his research on the importance of emotions to cognition.  In the talk, Damasio describes consciousness as the combination of your mind, which is a flow of mental images, and the self, i.e. your “you.”  Consciousness occurs when “self comes to mind” (see screenshot from the talk below), which just happens to be the name of his most recent book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.