In countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras only 27 % of the youth are enrolled in schools. The average youth in Guatemala attends school now for 4.1 years, Nicaragua is little better with 5.7 years. What kinds of future could this hold for the large youth population in these central american countries?
With the drug trade becoming more violent and the trade route staying constant from South America to North, Central America is deadlocked in the middle. The youth in gangs have even begun to shrug of their governments currency, with most gang members accepting cocaine for payment. In fact, 40 % of all murders within this region right now are currently drug related. And with less and less opportunity for the youth of these countries to create a life for themselves (and with the government not helping much), it's no surprise to understand why so many are turning towards the jobs that are at least consistent.
The answer needs to come from the governments, but with so much fighting and disparities between parties in countries where the ruling party has never ruled for consecutive sessions, its hard for them to come to cohesive decisions on what needs to be done. And yet, during this time of argument, young people are killing each other dying in cold blood on the streets. Youth are even beginning to kill at younger ages. Articles have been written about young people as young as 12 killing multiple individuals brutally without blinking an eye. They've become indoctrinated to the killings and have appeared to lose disregard for their fellow human being, as long as they can put food on the table for the ones they love.
At this point, immediate reactions needs to come from some of the richest countries in the world to find a new solution to the drug trade, as obviously too many are having their lives ruined along the way. What will it take for something like this to happen? A dramatic and united call to arms must come from world leaders to stop this madness. If not, death in this part of the americas will be as common for youth as blinking their eyes.
Sources and photo taken from the Economist, http://www.economist.com/node/18558254
Today the world lost one of it's most beautiful voices. Gonzalo Rojas passed away today at the age of 93. Mr. Rojas spent his entire life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, spreading his beautiful works of poetry to everyone open and ready to listen (he was translated into more than 10 languages).
Mr. Rojas was a significant and prominent figure of the intellectual world in Chile, publishing such famous bodies of work as "The Misery of Man" in 1948, "Against Death" (1964), "Dark" (1977), "Transtierro" (1979), "On Lightning" (1981) and "From the Water" (2007).
Few others within Chile fought against injustices towards human rights in the same way that Mr. Rojas did, especially during his years of exile from 1973-1990. Read more at Wikipedia.
He spoke out against the atrocities happening in Chile when few others would, forcing a global audience to take notice. His courage and dedication to the rights of mankind will not be forgotten. And although the world has lost one of its finest authors, his words will live on, spreading empowerment to all those who read his works in whatever language that might be.
The Montreal Gazette last week came out with an article showing statistics which demonstrate that less and less people are staking a claim to a particular religion. This might not come as a shock to most of you who understand that the more information opens up and the more channels of communication become available, the more outlets people have to feel connected to a group and may not have to rely on religious institutions to fill that societal void it may have in the past.
Even more interesting, according to the article, around 50 percent of young people do not associate themselves with any religious group, and this was back in 2004! It's safe to say that the number, within the past 7 years of rapid communication expansion, may have even grown to somewhere around 60 or so percent. In the Netherlands the number is supposed to reach 70 percent by mid century, and that's for the entire population!
The question many have on their minds right now is what will happen when the developing world gets their hands on these new formats of communication, instantly connecting them to new worlds and new perspectives which will include thoughts they've never considered entertaining. It's an exciting time period in which we live to know that by 2013, Liberia will become connected to the internet in a way that will exponentially increase the people's understanding and knowledge capabilities ten fold. Will these citizens still cling so closely to their religious affiliations once they learn more about the alternatives to religious piety or devotion? Or, will the religious institutions and councilmen within the political infrastructures (that are tied to the churches, mosques, synagogues, etc) try to integrate their already dominant ways into a new medium, thus attempting to overshadow other social platforms (like Facebook and Twitter) that incorporate a global approach to understanding what's happening with everyone at anytime around the world.
As the world becomes more connected day by day thanks to development in internet technologies and communication systems, can a religious institution remain prevalent and on the constant minds of its once devoted members. That is to be seen over the next 50 years, and it will surely be interesting!
As I sit at my computer I am now able to see, pinpointed, exactly where violence is happening within Syria. In fact, I'm able to watch videos recorded clandestinely and uploaded to a website thats available to the world. Because of Ushahidi, we're now able to map events happening in real time, giving others the chance to stay away from danger zones, but more importantly, to know whats happening. How will this transparency change the face of crippling regimes and their previous mentality that any action they wanted to implement was tolerated?
As technological limitations dissolve, the world must be prepared to react even quicker to situations that are affecting the lives of people, rapidly.
What do you think of this new development in technology and how can you see young people throughout the world using this service in the near future?
*Image taken from ushahidi website.
The research is clear that consumers and users throughout the world pay attention to celebrities http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/online-celebrity-fans-more-likely-to-follow-brands/. Companies are well aware of this information as well, and as such, 4 of the 10 most popular ads throughout the Super Bowl (US's National Football League Championship) were endorsed by "major" celebrities.
Now its obvious that these celebrities had an impact on the individuals who watched the game through television or internet, and brands like Venus and Best Buy reaped the benefits from such "greats" as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and Ozzy Osbourne. But my larger question, what if these celebs spent more time advocating for the non profit world or disaster relief efforts, like say assisting with raising awareness and funds for relief efforts in Japan, http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/4349779-421/celebrities-not-fund-raising-for-japan-like-they-did-other-disasters.html.
I find it bewildering that such stars like aforementioned Justin Bieber, who made god knows how much money starring in a commercial for Best Buy can only suggest to his followers to donate money through a few tweets. Doesn't the young gentlemen realize yet that you must lead by example?
How much better of a world would it be, I wonder, if these celebrities cast aside their "careers" and spent all of their focusing on relief work in the world, at least for a week (gasp). No doubt if Justin tweeted extensively on the Japan crisis and discussed the efforts he was constantly engaged in (or even providing incentives to his fans for actions such as free concert tickets or benefit shows), the middle ranks of this world would be a more concerned and engaged in the global affairs of the world (immersion into dire issues one way or another is better than no way).
So if you were a celebrity how would you feel if such a disaster were to happen? Would you consider the impact your presence in the world has in terms of effecting others, or would you donate a paltry $7,500 like Mr. Charlie Sheen did from the $300,000 he is earning from live performances in Chicago and Detroit.
We live in strange times, and it's beyond me while people all over the world cannot understand what it means to suffer. And whose responsibility is it to change the moral compass of the mass populations if not the ones who they hope to emulate in every way? I pray that Los Angeles never has to deal with tsunamis, earthquake, and nuclear radiation all at once, but if they do, I can only wonder what kind of immediate support Justin and Charlie would desire.
Photo courtesy of
Most people in the world have by this time used or heard of the company, Groupon. Sure there are similar services throughout the world, but it's my opinion that Groupon will corner most markets and make the biggest impact of them all.
So I'm wondering to myself, in this ever shifting global landscape of technology and commerce, how will Groupon integrate itself in directly affecting the social good of the world. Yes I know the service does help in some ways with economic propulsion in some ways, but what if they expanded the services to hospitals (medicine, treatments, etc) schools (cheaper books, uniforms, discounted courses for secondary schools), or internet centers for young people (discounted usage for internet or phone credits, cheaper downloads, etc).
As Groupon is changing the landscape of how business provide incentives to their customers within the richer markets of the world, so too can they generate more market drive within the poorer communities of the world (albeit these users will need some sort of 2G phone to access the deals). Essentially, by cutting costs to the lowest possible, companies will push harder to reach their targeted consumer and push more transparency on the subject of putting the consumer first.
As the economies of the world rely closer on each other for imports and exports, so too is the transfer of strategies within particular economies that generating the most buzz and high income revenues. And the companies I am discussing, up till now, have been agile enough to transform their organizations within particular regions to address societal norms and respect the identities of new residencies. And as aid and development work is an important aspect to many countries throughout the world, so too are the funding these projects have. Once more options are available and cheaper services possible, the scope and possibilities for reducing costs from the likes of a Groupon don't seem that far fetched.
Groupon has already purchased similar services in South Africa and India for fantastic bargains. Where will they head to next...
Whats it like as a young person to live in a village that has no electricity, no school, no job, and frequent crime. Well, its hard to ask anyone on this platform as these young people certainly won't be able to respond, but what do you think the answer would be? The Economist recently ran an article which spoke of just this http://www.economist.com/node/18390094?story_id=18390094, a small town in Haiti named Dieu Moun, which in english means Goodbye World.
The young people within this community are not getting the education they deserve (5 hour walks per day, round-trip), their mother's get molested and sometimes raped on their walks to nearby village (3 to 4 hours in some cases), and the economy in this region is limited/non existant. Many often give up, emotionally exhausted, and head to Haiti's capital, where the life in some respects is even tougher.
As so many NGOs are still controlling camps in and near Port-Au-Prince, you have to wonder what their strategies are for the long term and if the government has their own ideas of what needs to next, not only for the capital but also for towns such as Dieu-Moun (in terms of educations and hospitals). What kinds of plans can or should the government implement to protect the rural way of life that so many Haitians have spent generations enduring. Is it time for them to pack their bags and head to cities, where in an ideal world, development would soon begin to rebuild valuable infrastructures that could lead to a stronger (or any kind of) economy? These individuals need direction, and there doesn't seem like anyone available to give it.
How will Haitians mobilize and will the future leaders of the country be ready to push for initiatives in these rural areas where all the citizens have are beautiful beaches and no source of a continued life.
As we've all seen through an assortment of media outlets, the catastrophes occurring in Japan are terrific. However, its hard to gauge how young people are directly affected by the events, in terms of there thoughts, worries, or messages to other young people throughout the rest of the world.
I decided to interview a close friend of mine (through Facebook) who is currently living near Tokyo, to give this audience a glimpse into the current feelings of a young person who is being impacted in every way possible because of the current (and potentially impending) disasters.
My friend has asked to remain anonymous, out of respect for the other countrymen who might voice different opinions regarding the recent tragedies. I have given her the title of K.
N: So where are you right now, what are you doing?
K: I am in Musashino-city, Tokyo. At home with my husband. I am chatting with you, nothing else. My husband is watching "young superman" online. It is 0:17 AM now. So kinda ready to go to bed.
N: What makes you the most nervous right now?
K: People are leaving Tokyo. This is what makes me nervous the most. I am worried about the aftershock, too. We just had a big one.
N: I heard, 6.4...
K: The epicenter is near the Mt. Fuji. What if the Mt. Fuji would explode? So scary. Mt. Fuji is an active volcano that has been inactive since its last eruption in 1707.
N: Wow...I couldn't imagine, volcano would be only other disaster that i guess could happen!
K: It is scary just to think about. I am very tired of worrying. Anything could happen. Things can get worse. Also, I am nervous about the radiation, too.
N: If you could share a message with young people throughout your country that might be scared, what would it be?
K: I am one of the young people who is scared. Oh, am I not young any more? (For the record, she is approximately 25).
N: You are young, but i meant maybe for the 12 year olds who are trying to be brave and must have no concept of what’s happening.
K: Oh i see. Well, Tokyo is in a chaos right now. Transportation is so chaotic that I cannot go to work. There have been scheduled blackout, which is not actually "scheduled." They cancelled it last 2 days in my area. They say it is better to stay at home because of the aftershocks of the quakes and the radiation risks. So I have been staying at home since march 11th. I miss my friends, my co-workers, my everyday life.
N: Life is at a standstill...
K: Yes. Many people are still working though, commuting to their company. Taking risks of the chaotic trains and radiation things. But on the other hand, many people have already left or are leaving Tokyo. Evacuated somewhere safe. I think I should stay calm. Do what I can do to reboot our country, our economy and bring some good or blight news to people who suffered from this horrible disasters.
N: I think you are right.
K: Staying at home does not help anything. I think it is the time to use my money to circulate economy here. Please also keep it anonymous. People are really sensitive about opinions right now. I think they are just being respectful for the people who have different opinions.
N: What’s your message to young people?
K: My message to young people is "think and find your answer on your own."
N: So what do you think about nuclear power now that your country has faced recent problems?
K: Nuclear power! I am angry at myself as I have never thought about it so seriously. I should have known or realized more about the risks. Even though we were bombed in Hiroshima and so much suffered, we are using it. This explosion of nuclear power plant had proved that there is no such a safe thing for human beings. We are really taking risks to maintain our modern life. I think we all should be aware of it.
N: Well thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the VOY community.
K: We can never live without destroying nature. That’s our modern life…
As I live in New York City, I rely almost entirely on the public transit system. I love the system, especially because I'm able to zone out with my head phones, listening to music and reading something interesting (magazine, book, etc).
What also normally comes with public transportation however, are the individuals who need to ride but might not have the means to do so. This brings me to my topic: when is it appropriate for me to swipe my card for other people who ask me to do so when I'm leaving the station.
For those who don't know, swiping a metro card is the act of paying (essentially) for one ride throughout the city. I always get an unlimited pass, which costs approximately $100.00 per month. Now, when I see people who are less fortunate than myself, I always think I should do something, anything, to make their day just a little more comforting. And hey, swiping a card doesn't seem like a big deal, right? I am SURE that if you are reading this and living in a big city, you've dealt with the same problem, maybe just on a different level. Do you give that homeless woman or child enough change to pay for her ride? Do you make a conscious effort to throw a bill into the hat of the desperate looking man who walks through the subway asking for food?
I always swipe my card for these people, but I wonder if it's solving anything. I wonder if I'm doing a disservice in the long term, by facilitating their tendencies, instead of using my intellect and connections to consider a better method, a method that could empower them to discover another way, one that doesn't require begging.
New York is just like any other city in the world, expensive and tough to live in amongst so many others crowding around. So my question is simple, how do you all react when someone asks you for a swipe, change for the bus, etc?
For the time being, I suppose I'll keep swiping for them, but is it the answer?
In Bangladesh the BBC World Service Trust sponsors a service called BBC Janala that allows people on a few dollars a day to improve their English. After dialling “3000”, they can listen to hundreds of English lessons and quizzes, updated weekly. Mobile operators charge about two cents for each three-minute lesson. Since BBC Janala was launched in November 2009, 3.1m people have used it.
This excerpt was taken from an Economist article last month (Jan 27, 2011), entitled "Not just talk" .
Now I'm no fortune teller, but I've got to believe that education based SMS platforms are the future for so many disadvantaged young people throughout the world who don't have the means (or time) of attending school (in particular, secondary school). This new system, working very well in many parts of Bangladesh, will in no time make its presence felt throughout the world, I'm sure. Personally, I could see this software being useful in so many circumstances: in the evenings after a part time job in India, when your parents have already gone off to sleep, in the early mornings before work in the mines of Bolivia, or maybe on a Sunday night after dinner with your family and the electricity is gone. Giving direct lessons to a young person, and potentially incentivizing the system for that child (through free minutes or text messages given once lessons are completed to a certain degree), will not only inspire the child to push even further, but to push those around him also. Seeing your best friend learn a new language and the smile on his face day by day is enough reason to try and get moving on the same system yourself.
Teaching English is one thing, but imagine the capabilities when you start creating lesson plans on other topics as well, specialized topics to help develop particular skills, in say, wiring electricity or engineering small products. Through SMS, this of course is still down the road, but how far? Soon enough, the world over will have access to wireless internet and smart phones will be ubiquitous. What does this mean for the future of what education will look like in the developing world?
What will we recycle all of these keyboards into? I encourage everyone to share their thoughts.
Image taken from http://www.economist.com
On Saturday of this week, Nicholas Kristoff (NY Times Columnist) asked a question that has been on the minds of many people throughout the world, is the religious devotion to Islam a reason for the issues currently plaguing many of its countries, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/opinion/06kristof.html.
This is obviously a tricky question, and one that can't be measured definitely, however, some of his points are interesting to explore.
In a business sense, to end a tie or partnership with a company because of the death of the companies leader doesn't seem prudent, especially when weighing the fact that the rest of the world is already practicing such methods.
In another business (job) perspective, I think of Iran and I'm saddened at the fact that the best jobs go to those who pledge allegiance to the ruling party. If you disagree with Ahmadinejad, good luck trying to find that job which will supply yourself and your family the comfort you desire. As a huge film of cinema (and jobs within the sector), I think its sad that any film maker who wants to explore any issues regarding the happenings of their country can be thrown in jail for voicing their opinions on local soil (or face prison upon return, if sentiment was voiced outside of country). The same type of situation obviously also applies to many other corrupt countries throughout the region. This is also, in no means to say that my government is a bunch of wonderful angels, they aren't. But transparency is displayed in most aspects and fundamentalist religious beliefs are not pushed onto others, nor are political beliefs for that matter (in very strict ways). Religious leaders within the middle east and some parts of western asia can also quickly fall into authoritarianism (in some people's mind), which is always a slippery slope to control.
I think the model I look towards for success, when thinking about Islam partnering with a governing party is Turkey, where secularism prevails for the most part while they're economy only becomes stronger, thus providing more jobs and and pleasurable lives for the young people looking to get ahead.
In this day and age when, regrettably or not, the western concept of globalizing the world is becoming successful for so many others (India and China with 9 percent GDP growth rates in a single year), its hard to see this system changing in the short term. I've also recently read (in the latest Economist) about how there are 15,000 hard line madrassas in Pakistan out of 20,000, each of these slowly adding fundamentalist idealogy into the mindsets of young people throughout the country. This is not to say that any country mentioned is wrong or right, this is just to gauge your thoughts on what the future SHOULD hold for these places, and what proper steps you think should be taken. I'd love to hear your opinions on what you all think...
I live in the United States, New York to be specific. I've got countless friends who can't find jobs. These individuals are bright, talented, and hard workers. I always think about the daily struggles of other young people around the world when trying to find work.
I remember when I was jobless. Ashamed to spend time with my friends who were proud members of the working class, never wanting to hang out with people in my free time because either I didn't want to spend money, or I didn't want someone to bring up the fact that I wasn't employed (it embarassed).
I realize now that this is a subject where people can't be humiliated about. As many economies around the world struggle, I think its imperative that we as a young population come together around the issue, and learn from each other. It's also important for those with jobs to help others without find guidance and support. Feeling connected by a job is also more about the financial benefit, its about feeling like you belong to something bigger than yourself.
I think its important that countries with low unemployment rates (South Korea, Switzerland, Netherlands) share best practices and strategies with countries that posses the highest. The stronger the relationships of young people throughout all countries, working together, the better of our global young population will be. Working together builds trust, and trust creates a relationship. A relationship breeds compassion and sincerity. This sincerity is essential in a collaborative effort, as passion behind our motives is critical in young people finding their place.
I look forward to hear your comments! Thanks All!
Image from The Economist
As I read this article, I immediately tried to picture what the news was like 15 years ago revolving around AIDS in the developing world. I remember stories that scared me (I'm still in my 20s) and made me wonder if there was any hope for future generations. It is amazing how far science has already come. The work scientists have done already in advancing the cause of eradicating AIDS is tremendous and it's only becoming stronger. As long as people from around the world continue to fund the race to eliminate AIDS at birth, we as a global population stand a chance of making sure no young person ever has to be born with AIDS.
Further Research Critical to Eliminating Pediatric AIDS by Nicholas Hellmann, M.D. and Richard Marlink, M.D. at The Huffington Post.
As I was browsing the internet, I came across the story of George. A young man that shares many similarities with myself. As described in the article below, George decided to take his future into his own hands and start his own non-profit to build schools in Uganda.
To think how many young people George is helping provide an education to is unbelievable. And his idea makes so much sense. Young people at colleges in the United States have a lot of time on their hands to contribute to something greater than themselves, they sometimes just need someone to make them realize this. James was that person. Instead of sitting on his couch, watching television and eating potato chips, he decided to make a difference. Sometimes in life, I forget how much one single person can do to impact the lives of so many in a positive way. I’m inspired by this article and I hope you are also. Enjoy!
As an intern with the United Nations in the summer of 2004, George Srour was shocked to see primary school children in Uganda eager to learn, but attending classes under trees, or miles away from home.
Back in the U.S., and one fundraising push later, George realized that college students could raise enough money to build an entire school in just six weeks. The idea for "Building Tomorrow" emerged.
To date, Indianapolis, Ind., based nonprofit has constructed seven schools, and five more are in various stages of completion. The schools are built with the help of local communities and the Ministry of Education in the east African country.
At the UN, George was studying a World Food Program initiative that offers students meals and rations in exchange for attending school. "Well, they were called schools, but students were meeting under trees or they were meeting in very substandard places," said George.
He went back to the College of William and Mary, and started a campaign to raise $10,000 between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2004 to rebuild one of the schools he had encountered. Students at William and Mary ended up raising almost $45,000.
Pondering what to do after college, George decided to replicate the model. Building Tomorrow now works with students at 25 colleges across the country.
College students raise the money, and architecture and engineering students help design the schools. "It teaches that philanthropy is more than just having money, it's being able to apply your talents and skills," George explained.
In Uganda, the Ministry of Education helps identify the areas most in need of a new school and provides teachers. Local residents and future students volunteer a combined 20,000 hours to help construct the building, and community leaders sometimes donate the land.
"These are generally rural, agrarian communities that most of the time, have not seen permanently built school buildings," said George. When there are buildings, they're usually poor structures of mud or adobe that don't survive the rainy season.
It costs Building Tomorrow around $55,000 to build a school for 325 students, complete with classrooms, a library and offices. George said 100 percent of the money raised by college students goes to the construction projects in Uganda. Building Tomorrow raises money for its administration separately.
The school students are as young as six, and as old as 12, although some are older, especially in areas where there was no school to begin with. The students, George said, hold their new school in high regard. He described visiting one of the schools with local representative of the nonprofit, and finding a pile of shoes outside a classroom.
"I asked 'what are all these shoes doing outside of the classroom?' and the country director began laughing and said 'they don't want to get the floors dirty,'" he recounted.
"The thing is, the floors are just concrete. It's not like we have carpet or anything down that they can get dirty. That to me, speaks pretty highly of what it means for these students to be in a classroom."
Some of the students have even planted gardens, growing mangos, tomatoes and eggplant, and producing up to 40 percent of the food they eat for lunch.
George said he was inspired by how driven the Ugandan students are, and the fact that having a school nearby would change their futures dramatically. "Our honorary chairman Archbishop Tutu sums it up very well when he says 'education is the key that will unlock the door to eradicating poverty,'" George said.
"Being in Africa in general right now, it's an exciting time, there's a lot of investment, there's a build up of infrastructure," said George. "But none of that will be worth much if there's not an educated workforce and people don't have the chance to grow intellectually."
The world's first self-sufficient 'windmobile' is now en route across the Australian continent. The two developers and pilots Stefan Simmerer and Dirk Gion observe every day that the climate is changing. Severe forest fires near Perth, Western Australia, threaten whole villages and destroy roads. Two strong cyclones over Queensland suddenly change the wind conditions of a whole continent. And near Melbourne, Victoria, rivers burst their banks, causing floods, forcing the team to find alternative routes. These are the effects of man-made climate change.
The “Wind Explorer” team’s journey is a pioneering achievement. It shows how self-sufficient and environmentally sound transport can be today. We only have to use the already existing technology. Get rid of meta and gasoline in car production! And instead use light-weight construction material and Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries. The wind explorer only uses a fraction of the energy of the most efficient cars with combustion engine of today. That’s what the pioneering tour demonstrates.
The Wind Explorer is a lightweight electrically-, wind- and kite-powered vehicle all in one. It might seem futuristic, but it's here and in service right now. With extreme efficiency, the Wind Explorer combines technologies that are available today, but neither sensibly nor fully utilized.