A president’s voice

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There are 6 to 7 million internally displaced population inside Syria and only 5 percent of the population is living in what you might consider decent shelter with adequate supplies of water and the necessities of life. The other 95 percent of people are living in improvised shelters in destroyed buildings and in other kinds of temporary arrangements. 

Raymond Offenheiser (Oxfam America) … listen here 

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Drawing on hope

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Rich man in his castle …

In the UK, inequality is rapidly returning to levels not seen since the time of Charles Dickens. Oxfam

An Oxfam report, published in January 2013, shows that the wealthiest 300 people in the world now control more wealth than the poorest 3 billion people. The report’s aim was not just to show the brutal extent of the inequality but to show that the gap is widening, even within the constraints of the current economic downturn.   Just taking the earnings of the richest 100 people for a single year ($240 billion) would be enough to end extreme world poverty 4 times over!

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A girl called Jack

jackMeet Jack.  She is a single mum who lives in Southend, Essex.  Child care demands resulted in quitting her job with the Fire Service and taking benefit while she applies for other jobs.

But, while you wait for a job, how do you cope with the challenges of living off a £10 a week food budget?  Well, I’ll let Jack describe this journey in her own words, for last year she decided to blog about her experiences in a post entitled ‘Hunger hurts‘.

And then something remarkable happened.  She re-discovered her interest in home economics and started sharing, through her blog, her recipes for making nutritious meals for little more than a few pounds.  Interest in her blog posts have now seen her recipes handed out by food banks and Penguin have signed her up to write a recipe book. She has spoken in Parliment on food poverty, attended the G8 Summit as part of the IF campaign and been interviewed by Oxfam for a report on food banks.

You can discover more about Jack through her blog and this article in the Guardian.

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A national scandal

sentamu1Dr John Sentamu claims that the scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal’ and yesterday he took up the chair of the Living Wage Commission, a 12 month investigation into the future of the Living Wage.

The Commission wants to hear from you if you are paid less than the Living Wage (£8.55 in London, £7.45 elsewhere). Tell the Commission how low pay affects your life by completing a simple form.

Millions of people across the country will get up today, leave their families and travel to work to carry out jobs that we all depend on. They will care for people, serve us food, clean the spaces that we all use and share. They will do more than a fair day’s work, but they won’t get a fair day’s pay!   Dr John Sentamu

INFO: A Living Wage is defined as a wage set to ensure a basic but acceptable standard of living.

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Thank you Madiba

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What price education?

Each school day Silvia spends three hours making the 14km journey to and from school; alone and in her flip flops!

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It’s a journey that involves crossing shrubland that contains hidden dangers, like snakes. Once she reaches the road there are other hazards to negotiate. The heavy traffic in the dry season throws up choking clouds of dust and in the wet season the poor drainage floods the roads in places causing Silvia to wade waist deep in muddy water.  She could avoid the road and take the rail track but this is more remote and she risks been kidnapped by people offering to give her a lift to school.

Even though I don’t enjoy the journey, and sometimes find it very scary, I am willing to do whatever it takes for me to get a good education.   Silvia

The school that she attends is run by Plan, an international aid agency, and while it’s been free to attend primary schools in Tanzania since 2001 only 32% of girls will continue into fee paying secondary education (UNESCO).

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Malala’s UN speech

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Education as a right

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Today is Malala’s 16th birthday and she is preparing to address the UN Youth Conference at which she will be presenting Ban Ki-Moon with a 330,000 petition calling on the UN General Assembly to fund new teachers, schools and books as well as recommending that every boy and girl should have a classroom place by 2015.




Across many of the world’s poorest countries, armed conflict continues to destroy not just school infrastructure, but also the hopes and ambition of a whole generation of children.  

Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General

It’s estimated that some 57 million children are not attending primary school of which 50% live in conflict-affected areas.  In Malala’s Pakistan, 50% of all children are not enrolled in primary education, of which 75% are girls!

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Work with a difference

I wonder how many of us get up in a morning and adopt Hanna’s approach to work. Her job is to vaccinate children in Accra, Ghana. Last year alone she vaccinated 10,000 children and for Hanna each one was as important as her very first vaccination.

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