Save the Children’s 2019 Global Childhood Report

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats it’s children. – Nelson Mandela

Photo Credit Save the Children


In the past couple of years there have been moments, after hearing yet another horrific news story, that I have wondered out loud to my husband if there might be a safer country where we could move for the sake of our children. According to a new report released yesterday by Save the Children, there are 35 countries that do a better job for their children overall than the USA. All parents wish for a safe place in which their kids can grow up, and the good news is that globally, the lives of children have improved greatly over the past 18 years. Save the Children’s 3rd annual Global Childhood Report, entitled Changing Lives in Our Lifetime, has come out just in time for International Children’s Day on June 1st. The 2019 report also commemorates Save the Children’s 100th anniversary.

Photo credit: Save the Children Mexico

Changing Lives in Our Life time ranks 175 countries on how children fare against what are referred to as “childhood enders”. These include displacement by conflict and extreme violence, the mortality rate of children under 5, adolescent birth rates, child marriage, child labor, school dropout rates, and malnutrition. The report also maps out what countries can do better to protect their children. The children of the world are the future of our planet, and as adults, it is our responsibility to put their welfare at the very forefront of our concerns.

Photo credit: Victoria Zegler, Hpa An, Myanmar

Save the Children CEO, Carolyn Miles, noted during a debriefing call about the Global Childhood Report, that the data making up the heart of these findings spans 18 years, perfectly correlating with the length of what we consider the span of childhood. For still too many children in the world, childhood ends early, but the new report highlights a success story of progress. Since the year 2000 deaths of children under the age of 5 have dropped by nearly half. More children are growing up healthy and in school, and fewer are forced in to child labor or marriages.

Carolyn Miles points out that the numbers prove that progress is possible. The lives of children around the world have improved in almost every metric but one. She says, “We have to do more about kids stuck in conflict.”

More children are displaced by violence or conflict, and over half of the world’s refugees are children. The Global Childhood Report puts a spotlight on the impact on children living in conflict zones. It is evident that those are the places where progress is stalled or halted. Education for Syrian children has dropped by 60%, and malnutrition has risen by 42% due to the conflict in Venezuela. There has been an 80% rise in families needing to flee due to violence since the year 2000, and the children are the ones who suffer most.

In the case of the USA, John Farden, Associate VP of Save the Children US Programs, says, “Poor and rural children are the ones we see being left behind the most. Public investment and the voting demographic have lowered senior poverty, while child poverty has stayed the same. It is worst for the rural poor.” The USA has seen dramatic improvement in certain areas, such as a significant drop in teen births, the number of malnourished children has nearly halved and many more kids are in school. Though the USA has improved it has done so at half the pace of both Russia and China.

Childhood in the USA vs. Singapore, which is ranked the safest country in the world for children.

There are 10 driving factors of change that have worked to improve the lives of children around the world detailed in this year’s report. They are, the Millennium Development Goals, governmental commitment, social investment and economic growth, improved planning and implementation, reducing inequities, development assistance, empowering women and girls, women’s leadership, new technologies, and yes, even social media. Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, said, the improvements made in the lives of children since the year 2000 prove that progress is possible. Instead of moving our families to Singapore, not that we would all fit, as mothers and citizens we need to keep our governments accountable for the highest possible standards of living for our children.

Save the Children, 2019 Global Childhood Report

To read the full report and to see where your country ranks in the 2019 Global Childhood Report Changing Lives in Our Lifetime

This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

Travel: The Amazon Spheres

Travel: The Amazon Spheres


Seattle, Washington, USA

We know that nature has a positive impact on our mental and physical well being, and I felt the effect immediately upon entering The Amazon Spheres. Surrounded by nearly 800 species of plants, the bustle of the urban, outside world, dropped away. I had to remind myself that we were in central downtown Seattle. The topography of Seattle, Washington, has been transformed throughout the growth of Amazon. Office buildings and towers that have popped up over the years are laced with public green spaces. But the addition of The Spheres to this urban landscape might be the most dramatic alteration yet. Ever the industry disruptor, Amazon has re-written the rules of commercial architecture by adding The Spheres to the corporate urban landscape.

The structures bubble below the Amazon Day 1 Headquarters tower, where we met up with our guide, Mackenzie, for our tour. The humidity of the verdant interior cloud forest environment took me back decades to when I visited the real Amazon jungle in South America. I recalled how it felt to be immersed in nature so deeply as to lose oneself, yet here I stood feeling that similar sensation in the heart of downtown Seattle. The geodesic biodomes of The Amazon Spheres opened in late January of 2018 as a “nature immersion” work, meeting, and lounge space for Amazonians (as Amazon employees are affectionately referred to).

“Originality is returning to the origin”

-Gaudi

The whole concept made me think of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi who lived over a hundred years ago and said: ” Originality is returning to the origin.” By “origin”, Gaudi was referring to the natural world which he explored widely and elements of which he incorporated throughout his designs.

Today one of the largest and most innovative tech companies in the world is echoing this sentiment by bringing nature to its urban campus as a way to inspire further innovation and creativity. What is old is new again, or as Gaudi suggested, nature is our greatest source of inspiration. The Spheres are comprised of 3 connected spherical glass domes made up of pentagonal hexecontahedron Catalan solids. Each dome is four stories tall, and together they span an entire city block.

The Understory is a public information space located under the domes where one station explains that The Spheres “..were the result of innovative thinking about what is missing from urban offices – a direct link to nature.” More than 40,000 plants and nearly 800 species populate the interior of the connected geodesic domes where the temperature is set to an average of 72 degrees Fahrenheit to mimic the plant’s middle-elevation cloud forest environment.

The humidity of a cloud forest environment in the natural world would usually come from direct contact with clouds rather than rain. For The Spheres in downtown Seattle, a series of mist sprinklers powered by reclaimed “waste heat” and energy derived from the adjacent Westin building maintain the cloud forest atmosphere. District energy is a highly efficient system that also provides a sustainable way to power the specialized environment within The Spheres.

The Architect Antoni Gaudi was also influenced by the shape of the Catalan solid and its recurrence in nature. A Belgian mathematician named Eugene Catalan gave his name to geometric Catalan solids in 1865, which would have been a few years before, but just in time, to influence the young Gaudi in his studies of geometry and engeneering. The shapes are also known as Archemedean solids, first described by Archimedes. The design of The Spheres was meant to reflect patterns found in nature. So Seattles’ new and innovative modern architectural wonder, built for one of the most cutting edge, high tech companies, did so by looking to the geometric building blocks of the natural world.

Our Amazonian tour guide, Mackenzie, explained that The Amazon Spheres were built to provide an inspiring environment for Amazon employees based on the same concept, that nature inspires creativity. ” You think differently when you are surrounded by nature, it sparks creativity in different ways.” said Mackenzie “At Amazon, you are working among very smart people, we build the future together.”


“The Nest” Meeting Space

The creative meeting spaces found throughout the interior, like the nest pictured above, provide prime opportunities to spark collaborative genius. Innovation is moving at a rapid pace these days and it seems some of the most inspiring methods to tap into cutting edge enterprise are going back to the origins. To unplug and immerse in nature.

The Spheres are open to the public 10am to 6pm the first and third Saturdays each month through reservations. Be sure to book in advance as the dates fill up quickly! The Understory is an interactive information center about the Spheres that is free and open to the public seven days a week.

This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Elizabeth Atalay.

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

ASIA: Colorful Roses From South India Spread Fragrance Around the Globe

ASIA: Colorful Roses From South India Spread Fragrance Around the Globe

Next time you present a bouquet to your loved one or while welcoming a guest, thank the people of few villages in Krishnagiri district in south Tamil Nadu in India. Millions of these petite and fresh flowers spread fragrance in UK, Germany, Australia, Singapore  and Middle East. They bloom in plenty in Krishnagiri district in towns like Thally, Kelamangalam, Denkanikottai, Shoolagiri and Hosur. Though these places are just an obscure speck on the map of India they are some of the important floriculture address of the country. How do these colorful flowers bloom here? Does the hot and humid climatic condition of the country suit them? The response is a little dicey.  The way the flowers are grown in the gardens, situated at an altitude of 1000 feet above mean sea level is the answer to the questions.

Untouched by pollution and tourists these rose gardens are tucked away in small villages spread all over the Western Ghats on the border of the two states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.     

All along the well-laid roads that meander on these not too tall hills dot rose gardens where men, women and children, with a covering on their head, tend to rose saplings. A few feet away, in what seems like a plastic house and net structures, stand long rows of flowering plants. Inquiries reveal that these ubiquitous plastic shields are polyhouses.

Flowers in full bloom inside a polyhouse

Though they look like simple gardens, they are large farms where the flowers were grown using modern technology. The polyhouse is a structure made of translucent material like glass or polyethylene which help the plants grow and develop under controlled climatic conditions.    

Narrow paths from these polyhouses lead you to hi-tech floriculture companies. It is here these flowers are plucked at the right time, cut to size with the right machines and preserved in huge cold storage rooms before being packed off to the local market and local airport, to be flown abroad.

Those who manage them are not local farmers but engineers, IT and management professionals.

Bright roses, rich marigolds and huge carnations is the capital that drives them to invest more and more in this industry. One such businessmen who turns over crores annually is Jitendra Kumar Bajoria, who hails from Bagalpur in Bihar State.

Author’s daughter in a polyhouse growing marigolds

Attracted by the nip in the air and the lush green landscape, this entrepreneur developed a rose garden on an acre two decades ago. Enthused by the results he decided to go commercial and took a big business plunge. He set up huge flower farms on 65 acres, – Maa Floritech _  at Agalkottai in Denkanikottai taluk in Krishnagiri district in 2006. 

As time flew by, the farms became hi-tech but shrunk to 45 acres.  “We boosted production by modernizing the farm and using Israeli farming technology, said Kush Chokhani, manager of Maa Floritech, Agalkottai village.”   Using  Israeli technology, cultivation of roses and carnations grew in leaps and bounds on these farms.  They did not just increase in numbers but in varieties too. “Today we have 82 varieties of chrysanthemums and 25 varieties of roses on our farms,” said Mr. Kush. 

Growing the saplings

How are saplings actually grown and tended?  “The specialty of Agalkottai are the following. Altitude (1000 m above mean sea level, red soil (ideal for roses), temperatures always hover around 23 – 30 degrees centigrade (good for chrysanthemums, marigold and roses),” said Mr. Kush.  

The cuttings are planted in straight rows inside the polyhouses. Apart from air, water and soil the flowers need nutrients too. “We give them at the right moment when they get depleted in the soil. Thanks to Israeli technology nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur and potassium are sent through pipes embedded in the soil. Similarly whenever there is an increase or decrease in temperatures inside the polyhouses, the technology helps to control it. For instance, there are tiny fogging machines (fully automated drip and fogger system) which sprinkle water over the plants when it becomes hot,” said Mr Kush as he turned on the fogging switch.

It is a sight to watch these tiny robots swirl around and sprinkle water on the plants. For a minute, you are transported to a rainy setting.  “Also when it is cold outside, the temperature is survival- friendly for the plants as the polyhouses stop the greenhouse gases from leaving,” explained Mr. Kush.

Though there are less pests and insects inside a polyhouse, Mr. Kush opines that there is a need for regular consultation regarding the right kind of fertilizers and fungicides for the plants. “We are always on the look out for a a breakout of pests such as thrips, mites and aphids. The plants are susceptible to Powdery mildew ( a disease) when there is less humidity.”   

Horticulture officials in the district are of the view that these enclosures also ensure disease control, fertigation and other agronomical practices.  Thus the farmers of the region are assured of harvesting flowers such as carnation, gerbera, marigold, orchid and roses throughout the year without  worrying about crop loss or damage.

Controlled cultivation

Micro irrigation system ensures right amount of water for the roots (cuts water use by 80 per cent). Mainly the poly houses boost starch production as the carbon-dioxide emitted by the plants at night is retained inside the enclosure.

These polyhouses offer other sophistication too like the photo-synthetically active radiation (PAR) lighting. Plants grow tall under these lighting. But when they reach a specified height, lights are switched off and flowering commences.  Thus the Israeli technology helps control photosynthesis, humidity, good aeration, temperature and other conditions.

Rose buds capped with synthetic mesh

Once flowering commences, care is taken to cap each and every rose bud with a synthetic mesh to control its size. Rose stems ready for harvest during sunny days have to be pre-cooled. Soil and water need to be tested regularly. According to Mr. Kush, one cannot succeed in hi-tech farming without personal attention.

Once the flowers are in full bloom, they are harvested, precooled for 12-16 hours at 8-10 degrees in a cold room. The stems are then de-leafed using machines 25 % from the bottom. The stems are then graded for length. They are then bunched based on the length. “A bunch consists of 20 roses. They are wrapped after cutting and packed in a preservative for storing in cold rooms. They are taken out based on the orders,” explained Mr. Kush.      

Profitable farming

“We keep updating ourselves with new techniques and news about market conditions,” said Mr. Kush. There is regular knowledge-transfer to workers about upkeep of plants, weeding, transplanting, cultivation methods, irrigation, nursery development de-leafing and cutting. The workforce are not only from Tamil Nadu state but also from Northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkand and West Bengal.

While men prepare the flower beds, carry buckets of water and remove weeds, women are involved in harvesting, de-shooting and other light jobs.

Roses being packaged for export

Based on their skill they earn approximately $ 4 to $ 5 every day. With a growing demand for these flowers, it will definitely attract more entrepreneurs . Indian chrysanthemums, roses and marigolds are sure to find a place in many a bouquets in every part of the globe soon.

Lalithasai

Lalithasai , a journalist par excellence, with an experience of over 25 years, has penned innumerable articles for the betterment of the society. For over two decades at The Hindu (India’s National Newspaper), she had written with sensitivity and understanding about marginalized women and children. She has also covered public education, communities, urban affairs and development in Tamil Nadu (India). She was actively involved in reporting extensively about the affected families in the fishing hamlets in India, when the tsunami struck in 2004. She has interviewed senior editors and liased with major media organisations to understand the situations and plight of women. Lalithasai who has many feathers in hat, has had her humble beginnings in a middle class South Indian family, but has risen to be an inspiration and tall leader for her own sisters and mothers in the world. she is a mother of two grown up children. Her son is an environmentalist and holds a position of repute in Henkel in Germany. Her daughter is a doctor,who is planning to pursue the subject in mental health. To know more about LalithaSai, please visit - http://www.lalithasai.com/

More Posts