The Poop Guy – Sanitation in India

For good reason, India is often called the open defecation capital of the world.  The fact that toilets are intensely stigmatized has a huge, deleterious impact on public health.  On an personal level, the burden and cost of this preference for public urination and defecation falls disproportionately on women and girls. For all intents and purposes, public spaces in much of India belong to men. Women are not welcome, whether or not they are overtly banned.  They may be stared at, groped, verbally hassled, or worse, but they also have no place to relieve themselves.  In India a woman cannot…

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Field Trip – Holy Family Asha Niwas

An outing: six of the girls from Holy Family, a visiting colleague from the US, and yours truly went to the Nehru Museum and Planetarium last Saturday.  I take as many girls as my car can hold (six if they're older, eight if they're little) on different outings when they are not in school. On other days we've been to factories, parks, the Purana Quila, restaurants, offices, historical sights, a hotel and a very cool indoor climbing wall. But this time we chose the Nehru Museum, had a picnic, and visited the Planetarium for a sky show.  It was a…

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NGO Connect

The first "NGO Connect" gathering of Delhi-based NGOs was held today at the Eros Hotel, Nehru Place.  I have been working with colleagues on this initiative for nearly a year and we are thrilled at the results.  I presented my findings and recommendations on NGOs in the Marketplace. The purpose of the workshop was networking and learning from each other. Thirty NGOs (see list below) participated in four sessions: - Using Volunteers - NGOs in the Marketplace: Income Generation or No Income Generation? - Best Practices - Challenges: Panel Discussion This event was organized by a consortium of the American…

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Apne Aap

Yes, that's Gloria Steinem and yes, this is a link to Apne Aap. But the connection is apt. Steinem is 'mother' to many a feminist organization, and Apne Aap is a fitting daughter.  This book of Steinem's writings was edited and annotated by Ruchira Gupta, head of Apne Apt, with the goal of spreading Steinem's works to an Indian audience. Apne Aap was founded by twenty-two women from Mumbai's red light district, with a vision of "a world where no woman could be bought or sold."  Those twenty-two women had been part of an award winning documentary (The Selling of Innocents,…

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New Facts

New facts: - The Nehru Museum is free, but the Planetarium Star Show (Hindi or English) is not. I discovered this today with six girls from Holy Family Asha Niwas. - The first Indian in space was in a Soyuz capsule. - You can picnic on the lawn in FRONT of the museum, but not in back.  There is no apparent reason. - Elements (i.e. helium, hydrogen, carbon - think early universe formation) seem to have no Hindi translation. - Flowers appear in parks that seemed nothing but trash merely weeks ago. Tiny vest-pocket pieces of greenery have exploded in…

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President Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center have a long history of diving into unpopular causes.  His diplomatic efforts stretch from the Sudan to the Middle East, Haiti, Bosnia, and North Korea.  He has taken on, and stuck with, programs to eradicate Guinea Worm and schistosomiasis in West Africa, two diseases which are incredibly debilitating and can be prevented but do not make it to the priority list of governments and foundations looking for sexy, technology-oriented new initiatives. He has supported legalized abortion in the US and demonstrated that a deeply religious person can support that position. He has promoted…

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NGO Connect Workshop: April 3rd

Forty NGOs from all over Delhi will be getting together at the Eros Hotel, Nehru Place, to share experiences and learn from each other on Thursday, April 3rd. I have been working with the organizing group on this initiative for nearly a year and I'm happy to say it's finally coming to fruition. International support groups representing a diverse community - France, Australia and New Zealand, America, Britain, Japan, Spain, Delhi Network, and more - have invited NGOs they work with to come together and discuss income generating ideas, using volunteers, surmounting leadership challenges, and other topics. Just some of…

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Roger Angell

Born September 19, 1920, steeped in the family business and sports, he is a national treasure.  The family business is The New Yorker, and the sport is, of course, baseball. His parents were Katherine Angell White, the accomplished longtime fiction editor of The New Yorker and Earnest Angell, a lawyer and one-time head of the American Civil Liberties Union.  So he comes by accomplishment naturally.  But step-father E.B. White is the name that is famous, so Angell's close connection to E.B. White is how many people know him. Roger Angell is 93 and still writing.  This Old Man appears in…

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Jagori: Awaken Women!

I had read many of Jagori's studies in the past but I was thrilled to know that a Jagori representative would be at the ORF Conference on Women and Safe Cities yesterday.  It is a delight to have organizations such as this is in Delhi - they are right on top of key issues facing women in India today, providing material and advocacy in a thorough, well-researched manner that pulls no punches.  Among other things, they have conducted detailed safety audits looking at the exact impediments to women's safety. JAGORI means "awaken, women!" and their mission is to inform, inspire…

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Women Migrants

Discrimination against women seems to occur even on the move: more and more women are engaged in 'desperation migration,' according to William Lacy Swing, Director of the International Organization for Migration, where they are far more likely than men to encounter physical risk and violence. Though women migrate for many reasons, poverty and pervasive gender bias chief among them, women often find themselves victims of even further discrimination later in the migration cycle.  Unskilled and undocumented women are supremely vulnerable to physical violence, sex trafficking, and the predations of a single employer who can threaten deportation. The ranks of women…

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