She is a mother, she is a teacher, that is her child, and this - this is a shot capturing the beauty of it all by photographer Dimitrina Vasileva
This is Africa, our Africa
No Longer Silent: A video about gender based violence in Northern Uganda
Lunch Time in Kibowa (by *NinaMalina*)
“We found 5 boys that had just escaped from the rebel armies in a filthy cell at a military encampment. Imprisoned. The boys had been forced to spend the entire night standing up straight. None of them were over 15 years old. None had ever chosen to fight. Still, they were being treated as Enemies of the State. Yesterday, each of them were giving praise to God for their rescue from the rebels. Now, they’re wondering if the National Army is any different. It’s a common problem here in Congo. There is more sexual violence here than anywhere in the world, but no signs that any one of the armies are any better or worse than another. All the soldiers rape. All the soldiers pillage. All the people suffer. As we dug further, we discovered that the boys hadn’t eaten in 48 hours and had been beaten all night long. The soldiers forced them to blow up their cheeks and then punch them in. These boys, who have already been through a deep kind of hell, were trembling with fear. The bananas that we gave were the first non-rotten food they had eaten since they had last seen their families. The bones of their ribs showed through their rags as they ate. Each had been abducted. Plucked from their homes, schools or farms. Each had been tied up and beaten. Each had been forced to kill. Many have been captured by the Nukunda’s rebel army and some who are not big enough to hold a gun were given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle. Their sole duty was to make enough noise to scare the enemy and then to receive the first round of bullets with their bodies. The soldiers called it encouragement to be brave. Lines of boys feel as nothing more than a temporary barricade. Those who tried to flee were shot at from behind. With falling whistles, their only chance is to feign death, or face it. As with us all, the boys gained freedom from sharing their stories. Tears turned to smiles and smiles to laughter. Little in our respective lines was similar, but storytelling is strange and powerful. And I haven’t the damnedest idea what to do about it. I have to share their story. But haven’t a clue how to pull it off. I know simply that this cannot, cannot go on. And I know we’re gonna need a lot of help. From a lot of you. We are the land of free and the brave and seem not to notice that the brave here have never been free. But today was a start. It’s the beginning. The whistle is a symbol of protest. Hanging just over our hearts, this tiny tool kept the Falling Whistles story alive. Everywhere we went, people asked what it was. That’s when we saw, their weapon could be our voice. The world can be changed by those who speak out. Whistblowers, rarely understood in their time, history looks back and calls them courageous. Responding to such a story is never easy. We have struggled ourselves. But take a tip from these boys. Share and tell their story. Be a whistblower for peace! ” - A summary of Sean’s story
For more information, visit Falling Whistles. Have a voice in this. We are the humans inhabiting this world.
We’ve posted about Falling Whistles before, but if you haven’t before, check out their story. It will break your heart and propel you into action all at once.
Many of the world’s diamonds are harvested using practices that exploit and degrade children, communities, the labor force, and the local environment. Workers are subject to brutality, degrading working conditions, low pay, and sometimes death. Labor abuses are built into the industry in many parts of the world, community development remains stagnant, and environmental degradation continues apace.
Small-scale mining is usually an illegal activity carried out under dangerous, often unhealthy conditions, and without safety equipment, proper tools, or recognition from the state. Gender imbalances and child labor also plague the sector, which is composed of some of the poorest people in the world. Without formal training or education in their trade, small-scale miners often rely on harmful practices that can leave the earth ruined for future agricultural development.
Lack of regulation, harsh labor conditions, and poor wages make child labor a regular practice in the diamond trade. Children are commonly considered an easy source of cheap labor and are often sent into small areas of mines that adults aren’t able to enter. They are often given dangerous and physically challenging tasks, such as moving earth from pits, or descending from ropes into small holes or pits where landslides may claim their lives.
In Angola, a recent study found 46% of miners are under the age of 16, with many of the children working because of war, poverty, and the absence of education. And in India, where more than half of the world’s diamonds are processed, child labor is commonly used for cutting and polishing diamonds. Taken on as “apprentices,” these children suffer for years in dangerous conditions for little to no pay until they are replaced, often by younger siblings.
While over half of the Congo’s foreign exchange earnings are derived from the export of diamonds, and an estimated 700,000 people dig for them, most are unregistered, and their efforts are largely unrecognized. In fact, more than 90% of the country’s $700 million in diamond exports is produced by small-scale entrepreneurs earning wages of a dollar a day - the international standard for extreme poverty.
In Sierra Leone, diamond-rich regions remain poor in absolute terms. Partnership Africa Canada found that Kono District, which has produced billions of dollars worth of diamonds and is home to the largest concentration of artisanal miners, has a far higher level of poverty than Pujehun District, a largely agricultural area.
Cindy: The Promise of Africa’s Future
Africa (by Serena Passerotti)