This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

What thoughts come to mind when you’re thinking of Valentine’s Day? Your partner’s affection? Chocolate and champagne? The heartwarming feeling of knowing that your child is secretly crafting you a card?

Perhaps you choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and that is all right. It is our human right – freedom of thought and expression.

Imagine yourself forced into marrying a stranger, brutally removed from your home with no right to further your studies or earn money, forced into home labour, having children and being beaten up for the smallest mistakes – even forced into prostitution. Unable to voice your pain, having no one to listen to you.

Millions of children around the world are forced into such a marriage, against their will and without the slightest knowledge of how it will shape their future – how their lives, their physical and emotional wellbeing will be affected.

Child marriage is a human rights violation. Although the law is against it, this practice – often seen as a tradition – is widespread in rural and impoverished communities, where gender inequality is prevalent. In developing countries, one in nine girls is married under the age of 15. Unfortunate families and their children become locked in a vicious cycle of poverty that will engulf future generations.

By ending child marriage, these girls will be able to finish school, delay motherhood, find decent jobs, be able to provide for their families, live fulfilled lives and be removed from the cycle of generational poverty – as well as improve the economy.

Ukuthwala is a traditional practice that takes place in South Africa the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents. It occurs mainly in rural parts of South Africa – in particular, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The girls who are involved in this practice are frequently underaged, including some as young as eight.

“If a family has six children and there is a daughter the family cannot support, it is a way of getting rid of her,” said professor Deidre Byrne, chairperson of the Unisa-Africa Development Programme set up to promote girls’ rights.

Although originally this practice was not intended to be an abuse of human rights, throughout the years and perhaps due to poverty, the practice has changed, and girls are no longer given a choice. Financial reasons can force the girl’s parents to accept the marriage; on the other side, the girl is often rejected by her own family if she tries to escape.

More than 91,000 South African girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are reportedly married, divorced, separated, widowed or living with a partner as husband and wife, with the latter forming the majority of the group.(Statistics SA)

Courtesy Buzz SA

A social worker with the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown said that the price for a child bride can be R4,000, which “is a lot of money (if you have nothing)”.

Five little known facts about child marriage

1. Child marriage happens all over the world.

More than 700-million women and girls alive today were married before they turned 18. Although child marriage happens in the U.S. and the U.K. as well, it is most prevalent in developing countries, as one of the main driving forces is poverty.

2. Both boys and girls are married off by their parents, but girls are in much higher demand.

Marrying at such an early age forces both boys and girls into adult responsibilities. They have to drop out of school or are interdicted to attend school. Reaching adulthood, these people will lack the education required to campaign for themselves, being vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The vicious circle of poverty stretches over yet another generation.

Girls forced into child marriage are at high risk of violence from their spouses, in-laws and even their own family, should they try to run away from an abusive relationship and return home.

3. Child marriage is almost universally banned.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women prohibit child marriage. These treaties have been signed or ratified by most countries, yet there are national and local laws that permit child marriage to take place with only parental consent.

4. Child marriage and teen pregnancy are dangerously linked.

Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Child brides are at very high risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, as their bodies are not mature enough. They often have limited access to medical help. An early pregnancy, often the result of a rape, puts girls at risk of being married off to the father of their baby, whoever he may be.

5. There is a critical need for laws prohibiting child marriage and marital rape, for laws on birth and marriage registration.

Mandatory schooling and gender equality can definitely empower girls. By considering girls equal to boys there will be less motivation to engage in child marriage. Both girls and boys must be educated with regards to their sexual and reproductive health and their human rights. When girls are empowered and can stand up for themselves, they even become advocates in their community.

Perhaps the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the very first steps towards ending child marriages.

Since 2015, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has worked to improve global awareness of child marriage, as well as taking action to end child marriage through the #IDONT international campaign on Valentine’s Day.

Join in and say #IDONT to show your support towards the estimated 70-million girls who will be married as children over the next five years, forced to say “I do” and having their human rights violated.

Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions or contact UNFPA South Africa.

This article was published on Huffington Post SA on 14 February 2018

 

 

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Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, #Christmas #Tree #Nicholas #gift #shoe #Haiku via @PatFurstenberg

Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, two Christmas Haiku

So tall for small child,

Only Dad reaches its top.

Christmas tree promise.

~

6 December holds a special place and my heart, it brings the first thrills of Christmas joy and of small miracles.

You might not know, but in Christian Orthodox tradition 6 December is the day we celebrate Saint Nicholas (Saint Nicholas of Myra, Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas the Wonderworker), who was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (now Demre inTurkey). It is said that he was legendary for his secret gift-giving. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, and students.

Saint Nicholas resurrecting the three pickled children. Source wikipedia.
Saint Nicholas resurrecting the three pickled children. Source wikipedia.

How Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of children is quite an astonishing tale. Now remember that all the written records of his life were made on papyrus or parchment, less durable than present day paper, thus had to be re-copied by hand in order to be preserved for future generations. One story speaks of a wicked butcher who, during a dreadful famine, lured three little children into his house, killed them and placed their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them later as ham. Nicholas, who was visiting that region to care for the poor and the hungry, saw right through the butcher’s white fabrications and resurrected the pickled children by making the Sign of the Cross.

Saint Nicholas Haiku

Clean shoes and bright hopes-

Children go to bed smiling.

Mom’s a child at heart.

~

Welcome to Christmas Haiku! This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website or in my brand new haiku book: Christmas Haiku:

An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”

Find it on Amazon worldwide: Amazon US, Amazon UK.

Here’s a sneak peek:

 

 

You can also read haiku and poems in my book As Good AS Gold:

I‘ve really enjoyed reading this collection of poems. Pat has found just the right voice for the puppy and his adventures. Has been a great comfort to me” (5* Amazon Review)

This is a fine selection of puppy poems” (5* Amazon Review)

As Good As Gold is also available in e-book, paperback and Large Print, colorful pictures, a dyslexia friendly edition:

get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Espana, Amazon Deutschland.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

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Movie Music Monday, Flying Over Africa – Out of Africa #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, “Flying Over Africa”, music by John Barry, from “Out of Africa” via @PatFurstenberg #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday

“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”(Karen Blixen, “Out of Africa”)

out of africa - courtesy hippo wall papers -Out of Africa flyingIt has been many years since I first watched “Out of Africa”, yet what made a big impression on me then stayed with, helping me outline an era, sketch what it takes to be a resilient woman in an unfamiliar land and remember that nature’s beauty as well as people’s surprising humanity are everlasting treasures within reach.

“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”

Memorable aspects: John Barry’s music, Meryl Streep’s flawless Danish accent (she practiced her accent by listening to recordings of Isak Dinesen reading her own stories), Karen telling the story based on Denys’ first line:

“There was a wondering Chinese named Cheng Huan living in Limehouse and a girl named Shirley…”

the breathtaking views of the African game, the greatness of Ngong Hills, the coffee plantation with its noble Kikuyu people.

“Where did you get it?”
“Mombasa. Get in!”
“When did you learn to fly?”
“Yesterday.”

Out of Africa -Flying over Africa movie clip.

Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) lived for seventeen years in British East Africa (now Kenya). Her autobiographical book “Out of Africa” together with additional material from one of her subsequent books, “Shadows on the Grass” adapted into a screenplay and directed by  into what we know as the magnificent movie we all know.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes from “Out of Africa”.

Karen’s precious memories of Denys shining a light on how deep their relationship was :

“He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world through God’s eye. And I thought: ‘Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.’ I’ve written about all the others, not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer, easier. He was waiting for me there. But I’ve gone ahead of my story. He’d have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well.”

Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in 'Out of Africa' = Out of Africa flying
Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in ‘Out of Africa’

Perhaps one of the most widely known movie quotes of all times:

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”

A concept I try, how I try every day, to live by:

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”

I may not dream that much, but I acquire the same joy through writing:
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom.”
Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'
Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in ‘Out of Africa’ –

Is this quote below unveiling an optimistic side of Karen Blixen, or a life-long, concealed, low self-esteem?

“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom you have shared with us.
He brought us joy, and we loved him well.
He was not ours.
He was not mine.”
The movie ends with this heartbreaking quote by Karen Blixen:
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plains quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
I like to believe yes. Did you know that the Nairobi suburb that emerged on the land where Blixen farmed coffee is now named Karen?
~

“Out of Africa” quotes are property and copyright of their owners. “Flying over Africa” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Have you ever dreamed of flying out of your daily routine and over Africa?

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Music Monday 🌍 Toto – Africa, soft-rock, jazz-fusion via @PatFurstenberg, #musicmonday #rock #fusion #jazz #marimba #Africa

Music Monday 🌍 Toto – Africa, soft-rock, jazz-fusion via @PatFurstenberg, #musicmonday #rock #fusion #jazz #marimba #Africa

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Toto’s Africa is a wonderful song describing the African’s love for their continent.  The use of local instruments such a marimbas and drums with their constant rhythm adds to the feeling of belonging. You have to witness the long, dry months of African winter and its effect on people’s and animal’s lives to grasp the true meaning of

“I bless the rains down in Africa.”

Enjoy!

“I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in twelve-thirty flight
Her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me toward salvation

I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say,
“Hurry, boy, it’s waiting there for you.”

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti

I seek to cure what’s deep inside
Frightened of this thing that I’ve become

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

“Hurry, boy, she’s waiting there for you.”

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had”

“Africa” lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. “Dancing In The Moonlight” lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

Artist, Producer: Toto

Single: Toto IV

Recorded: October 18, 1981

Genre: Soft rock, Jazz fusion

Label: Columbia

Songwriters: David Paich, Jeff Porcaro

Do you have a song that conjures to you a country or an area?
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How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa

the key factors to achieve a high literacy level in a country – Patricia Furstenberg

How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa

Some of my most cherished memories involve books. Being read to, excited to hear my father mimicking different characters in the story; later on, thrilled to read on my own. Books, the touch and feel of them. Cradling the book you thoroughly enjoy and that sunken feeling when it’s over.

Most of this world’s amazing people were thirsty readers, drawing inspiration and strength from books. Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela, Agatha Christie. What would they have become if it wasn’t for the books they were fortunate to read? Where would you be now without the books that made you?

“Be a lifelong student, read as many books as possible.” Nelson Mandela

For us, books are within easy access; a library down the road or at school, online book retailers or the mall’s bookshop and second hand bookshops. We’re lucky, although we probably take it for granted, to have been brought up in a culture of reading. Because reading is linked to academic achievement, emotional intelligence and self-esteem.

South African learners still have limited access to libraries

And the two main reasons are: lack of infrastructure and the bad management of funds.

My previous article: “Does school attendance guarantee literacy?” concluded that access to reading material from an early age, together with school attendance and government funds for learners are key factors in attaining a high literacy level in a country.

There aren’t enough libraries

Learners in primary schools with a library fulfilling minimum standards (which can be as little as a box of books in one classroom, as decided by the South African Department of Basic Education):

Provinces ranked according to schools supplied with a library, with one being the highest extent and nine the lowest extent:

The 2009 UNICEF report stated that 53 percent of SA learners were in non-fee schools, completely dependent on funds from the government. The funds are allocated per learner, depending on the poverty of the area around the school and are amended annually.

Schools that have acquired the full set of funds, by province:

Schools that have acquired the full set of funds by province

Where do we stand, worldwide? The World’s Most Literate Nations (WMLN) ranks countries on their populace’s literate behaviours and their supporting resources. They use five categories as indicators of the literate health of nations: libraries, newspapers, education inputs and outputs, computer availability. “This multidimensional approach to literacy speaks to the social, economic, and governmental powers of nations around the globe.” On Libraries ranking South Africa scored 51.5, with position one as best and 61 last.

To paraphrase Francis Bacon, if children can’t have access to books, then let the books come to the children.

Clever Solutions

1. Mobile libraries and librarians

This is exactly what SAPESI (South African Primary Education Support Initiative) does. With the support of the SAPESI Japan offices they source and export mobile libraries (MBs) to SA. These facilities are contained in medium-sized busses and will travel around provinces providing poor communities with free access to books and a librarian. Each bus carries 2,500 books in all 11 official languages, catering for children between the ages of six and 11.

Japan, a country with an area three times smaller than South Africa, has 530 MBs. In 2016 South Africa had approximately 50 MBs visiting 885 schools across the country. SAPESI aims to have 100 MBs that will serve 2,500 schools by 2025: at least one in operation in each of the 96 education districts across South Africa. SAPESI hopes that the learners’ families will be encouraged by these efforts and support the children’s reading efforts as “reading is the basis of all learning.”

Since 2008 SAPESI is also supported by Sony companies from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. The total number of English children’s books donated so far is 170,000. Sony Corporation in Tokyo contributed funds to SAPESI in order to purchase a further 13,200 children’s books in languages indigenous to South Africa.

In addition to supplying books Sony also supports the “VAIO Bakkie”, an IT training project using Sony’s VAIO laptop computer, whereby pupils enjoy learning practical computer skills, even at schools without computer facilities.

2. Improvise and reuse refurbished containers

The South African Mobile Library Association (SAMLA) together with EDSA (Education for Democracy in South Africa) have joined forces to bring the knowledge and love of reading, story-telling and drama to townships and squatter camps of the Western Cape. A children’s library has been set up in three refurbished containers in a central location in Gugulethu Township.

3. Wooden mobile bookshelves

Mobile Library Solutions, “Masixhasane”, is another mobile library initiative doing their bit at eradicating illiteracy in SA schools. They build mobile libraries that fit through a door and are ready to use: wooden mobile bookshelves stocked up with books sponsored by worldwide organisations.

Percentage of learners with library access as presented in the 2014 report for basic education:

Provincial indicator values for library access in South Africa as presented in the 2014 report for basic education.

Mobile libraries, early results

In 2014 research done by the University of Free State on schools in the rural areas proved that primary children from schools serviced by mobile libraries showed a significant improvement in their English reading and speaking capabilities.

The use of Mobile Libraries helps on multiple levels, study proves. Patricia Furstenberg

The children were able to converse comfortably with us in English and also read from their library books with ease and comprehension. By contrast, children from some schools that have not had access to the mobile libraries had very little understanding or use of English.” says Dr. Lynette Jacobs, Head of the School of Education Studies.

Sony Group employees send books to children in South Africa.

There are many other organisations supporting the mobile library initiative with the same vital purpose: to instil a love of reading thus improving literacy and overall academic performance of the children of South Africa.

Written for and published on Huffington Post SA on 4 May 2017

You might also like to read:

Does School Attendance Guarantee Literacy?

How To Raise A Child With A High IQ

Living At The Cultural And Technological Crossroad

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