On Haiti, and No Name Calling Week Jan 25-29

January 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm Leave a comment

First and foremost, our hearts and prayers are going out to the people of Haiti, and to their loved ones all around the globe.  The devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, the loss of life, injuries, and displacement of millions of families is such an enormous crisis! Where and how do we make a difference? You are no doubt receiving requests for contributions from many relief organizations.  The Tides Foundation partners with established relief groups and you can donate any amount by clicking this link: http://www.tidesfoundation.org/haiti-earthquake/index.html

This tragedy has inspired an enormous outpouring of compassion, giving, and outreach from people all over the world. It has revealed the dire poverty in Haiti.The inadequate collapsed buildings reflect decades of inadequate global and corporate economic policies that have stripped the country of its resources and crippled Haitians’ capacities for a sustainable economy.  And poverty always affects women and children most of all.

Three of Haiti’s women leaders were killed in the earthquake.  These women, Myriam Merlet  and Anne Marie Coriolan of the Ministry on Gender the Rights of Women,  and Magalie Marcelin who established an organization to address domestic violence, were loved and respected by many, and used their voices and education in the service of women’s rights. In a country where three out of four girls are sexually abused, Ms. Merlet worked with Eve Ensler and V-Day to open  Haiti’s first V-Day Safe House among other major steps toward racial and gender justice. We honor these leaders and send our respects to their families and friends. For more info, see: http://tinyurl.com/ykkoauo

But one scene I may never forget is the teen girl pulled out alive from beneath a structure many days after the earthquake.  Her brother and others dug her out with hands and basic objects.  As she was pulled free, she was asked, “Were you afraid?”  and she replied, “No, I was never afraid. Don’t be afraid to die! Don’t be afraid!” This teen girl who had just suffered an incomprehensible trauma inspired others with a message of fearlessness and hope.  I love that girl!

This week while we hold Haiti’s needs and strengths in our hearts and minds, we will also be observing No Name Calling Week!  This campaign, developed by GLSEN – the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network – refers to the consequences of name calling,  that names actually do hurt and that with education and understanding, kids and adults can end that hurt for their friends, classmates, group members, and family members. A fully developed high school lesson plan and other resources can be accessed and you can get more info at: http://www.nonamecallingweek.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home.html

In Girls Circle and in The Council for Boys and Young Men, we address stereotyping and name calling and promote group members’ awareness, empathy, and alliance building. It’s actually both a proactive skill that facilitators can engender in the groups and a natural outcome of caring relationships.  When people listen to each other, and get past barriers to express themselves with greater authenticity, dissing becomes unnecessary.

Take care of yourselves this week!  Your light, your heart, your smile and your caring is what makes everything better in this world.

~Beth

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