The Human Rights Warrior

"There is some good in this world…and it's worth fighting for."


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Dar es Salaam

dust bin

 Trash container in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“Tupa taka hapa” is Swahili for “Dispose of waste here.”

This post is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Hydra

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A post box near the harbor on the Greek island of Hydra.

This post box post is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers


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A Brave and Startling Truth

There are few voices that embed themselves in your heart and brain and deep-down soul like the voice of Maya Angelou. Of all her poems, the one that has embedded itself most deeply in my soul is the one that this grand dame of literature wrote for the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.  The first stanza incorporates language from the United Nations Charter.  The rest is pure Maya Angelou – the gorgeous description, the unwillingness to shy away from the ugliness that was part of her life and remains part of all human existence.

She was so brilliant! She will be missed, but we are better for her time – and her words - on this small and lonely planet.

A Brave and Startling Truth

by Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet.

Traveling through casual space

Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns

To a destination where all signs tell us

It is possible and imperative that we learn

A brave and startling truth.

 

And when we come to it

To the day of peacemaking

When we release our fingers

From fists of hostility

And allow the pure air to cool our palms.

 

When we come to it

When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate

And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean

When battlefields and coliseum

No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters

Up with the bruised and bloody grass

To lie in identical plots in foreign soil.

 

When the rapacious storming of the churches

The screaming racket in the temples have ceased

When the pennants are waving gaily

When the banners of the world tremble

Stoutly in the good, clean breeze.

 

When we come to it

When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders

And children dress their dolls in flags of truce

When land mines of death have been removed

And the aged can walk into evenings of peace

When religious ritual is not perfumed

By the incense of burning flesh

And childhood dreams are not kicked awake

By nightmares of abuse.

 

When we come to it

Then we will confess that not the Pyramids

With their stones set in mysterious perfection

Nor the Gardens of Babylon

Hanging as eternal beauty

In our collective memory

Not the Grand Canyon

Kindled into delicious color

By Western sunsets.

 

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe

Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji

Stretching to the Rising Sun

Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,

Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores

These are not the only wonders of the world.

 

When we come to it

We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe

Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger

Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace

We, this people on this mote of matter

In whose mouths abide cankerous words

Which challenge our very existence

Yet out of those same mouths

Come songs of such exquisite sweetness

That the heart falters in its labor

And the body is quieted into awe.

 

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is happy to bow

And the proud back is glad to bend

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines.

 

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety

Without crippling fear.

 

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.

 

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Ambo Protests: A Personal Account

humanrightswarrior:

Please read and share this eyewitness account! The government has control over media and telecommunications in Ethiopia and has been largely successful so far in keeping the story of the student protests quiet. Two brave Peace Corps volunteers who were stationed for 1 1/2 years in Ambo but left this week because of the violence have asked for our help in spreading the truth about what is happening.

Originally posted on The Advocates Post:

Large truck overturned during protest

Large truck overturned during the protests

This account of events in the Oromia town of Ambo–events which began exactly one month ago, on April 25–was originally posted on the blog Jen & Josh in Ethiopia: A Chronicle of Our Peace Corps Experience.

Barricade on main road in Ambo

Barricade on main road in Ambo

Disclaimer:  We are no longer Peace Corps Volunteers, and the following is a personal story, not a news report, and does not reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, the Ethiopian Government, or the people of Ambo.

Friday, April 25th, the protests began in Ambo. We heard the sounds of a big crowd gathering at the university, walking east, yelling and chanting. The single paved road in town was barricaded, and traffic was diverted around the outskirts of town.

“What is going on?” we asked a group of high school boys.

“Oh, the students are angry…

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Art Therapy in Cameroon

 

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In Cameroon, an NGO called RENATA (Reseau National des Associations des Tantines)

encourages women and girls who have experienced violence to use art therapy in their healing process.

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These are just a few of the works of art that I had the privilege of seeing when I visited the RENATA office in Yaounde.

While I found these works of art profoundly sad,

I also saw them as bold statements of empowerment by the survivors who painted them.

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And so, while these works of art may never hang in a gallery, to me they are inspirational.

 

This post is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Work of Art.  Click on the link to see more responses.

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