India: Voices of High School Students: Altruism from Youth #YouthDay #OmegaIntlSchool

India: Voices of High School Students: Altruism from Youth #YouthDay #OmegaIntlSchool

On the International Day of Youth, World Moms Network – Senior Editor, Purnima from India, met with a few young high school students. Read on to find their take on the state of affairs of the world, their life ahead in times of this pandemic, their passion, their ways of achieving their dreams and goals, and generally trying to have a positive perspective towards the world and their life.

Purnima asked 3 questions!

  1. What is your passion? What makes you most excited about? What does your heart live for? Take some time and think about the questions mentioned below. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. This is about your beliefs, hopes, and dreams.
  2. What is that one thing you would like to see changed in this world? (Examples: Climate Change, Education policy, Global unity, etc…)
  3. Tell me about that one step you would like to take to achieve question #2?

Harini Ramanan says:

My passion is writing. I am excited about creating a whole new world that can fit into a reader’s head. I am passionate about global unity. I want to promote diversity among religion, race, and more. 

Ritesh says:

I love data science, especially the field of artificial intelligence. I would love to implement this into business, as I’m also interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Despite the challenges that may come, I am determined and will work my way through.

Ritesh

One thing I would definitely like to see changed in this world is parents no longer making their children’s major decisions. Especially in India, many parents put a lot of pressure on their children to, (for example), take up a certain subject to study in the future, impeding the child from doing what he/she is really passionate about, just because the parent thinks it’s ‘not going to work out’. 

I totally agree, that parents know what is right and what is wrong and that their children should respect that, however, sometimes there is no ‘right or wrong’ decision when it comes to a child’s major decisions, after all, it’s impossible to see what the future will bring. Nevertheless, I believe that it’s not up to a parent to decide where their child’s success lies, but for the child to prove that their success is where they want it to be.

What I am about to say might sound ridiculous, but just like we children go to school, I believe that parents also need some form of education to become better parents and respect their children’s opinions and passions. Parenting is already a hard task in itself, especially when the child grows up and starts to become rebellious and doesn’t want to do what the parent wants them to do. But through education, parents could, maybe, be able to understand what their child is really interested in, and rather than pulling them away from it, help them to achieve their goals.

Selvambiga says:

I love art. When I come up with new ideas and implement it, I feel satisfied after looking at my output on how creative, hard-working, and concentrated I was toward my artwork. Sometimes when my artwork looks very similar to the one I had in my mind, I’m on cloud 9. I would say that my heart lives to achieve my goals, ambition, and also my cravings toward my likings like chocolates, desserts, and also ice creams.

I also want to change the healthcare policy to a better one providing adequate and necessary treatment to all who arrive at any hospital, be it rich or poor. I want to do this because not everyone in this world is getting proper medical treatment because it is expensive.

Mabel David says:

My passion is to share love by indirectly helping others in need especially. Spending time with people I love and who love me back gives me joy and peace. My heart lives for the new experiences I experience every day.

Nishit Joseph says:

I want to be a lead guitarist. I love playing and feeling guitar against my body. I am very excited about changing the string in my guitar. My heart lives to bring music to every corner of the world.

Adil Sukumar says:

Everyone should have a voice. I want to see everyone happy smiling. My heart lives for doing what I love.

Poojasri

Poojasri M says:

I want to see all people treated equally, no matter whether they are rich or poor, all people in the world must be treated equally.

Tania Mascarenhas says:

I want to eliminate discrimination and hate from this world. It’s very taxing to even think about this.

I’m currently working on collecting suggestions on an app called Tumblr which is a microblogging platform. Once I have collected enough ideas, I hope to start a Kindness Challenge; where each day we can represent ideas or do something as simple as baking a cake, giving a compliment or speaking to an old friend.

Vanaja Karthik says:

I would like for abusing to stop. I am going to strive for the Heartfulness movement to spread throughout the world and prioritize spirituality, love, kindness and togetherness.

These kids have started with a thought, put words into their ideas, are leading engagement in their community. They encourage action among adults, and lead transformation.

Special shoutout and gratitude to Mrs. Ushma Sriraman, who leads the Value-Based Education department of the Lalaji Memorial Omega International School, for her cooperation, coordination, and for her virtual hugs!

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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World Voice: From PranaPrathishta to Pranahuti – The Transformative Possibilities

World Voice: From PranaPrathishta to Pranahuti – The Transformative Possibilities

Gangai Konda Chola Puram, UNESCO World Heritage site in India

Gangai Konda Chola Puram, UNESCO World Heritage site in India

There was an air of pious anticipation, that one could almost hear the elephants trumpeting while carrying huge granite stones to build the temple, one could almost hear the hum of the 400 odd dancing damsels’ and their anklets tinkling, while dancing for Lord Shiva (as the lore tells), and one could almost envision the talented artisans carving out the beautifully sculpted figures. Gangai Konda Chola Puram is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, and called as the “Great Living Chola Temples”. It is called “living” because it is still very much an alive place of worship. Perhaps it is also called “great” because of the rich heritage of the Chola Dynasty still palpable in the atmosphere. But wait, I was in for a surprise as I was just yet entering the temple’s premises.

History

The temple was built in the 11th century AD in a record time of nine years by Rajendra Chola-1, son of Raja Raja Chola. He was a mighty warrior, who won over major kingdoms in India up to the Gangetic plains in the North, and South East Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and so on. He had come back to Tamil Nadu State in India, and built a city as his ruling capital, and named it Gangai-Konda-Chola-Puram, meaning the capital of the King who won over the rulers of the Ganges.

The Welcoming Nandi Sculpture

The Welcoming Nandi Statue

The Welcoming Nandi Statue

The first thing anyone would notice in this compound is the huge 11 feet tall kneeling Nandi (bull) statue, Lord Shiva’s stoic vehicle. This is so similar to the Sphinx in front of the pyramid in Egypt. It is resplendent and majestic in itself, and one can gaze for more than a few minutes and walk all around it admiringly. The strength, virility, and controlled power in Nandi was tangible in the statue. This is one of the 12 monoliths of Nandis in India, carved out from a single granite stone.

The World Famous Dancing Nataraja

The World Famous Dancing Nataraja Statue

The World Famous Dancing Nataraja Statue

As I walked beyond the Nandi, there was a flight of stone steps leading up to the sanctum where Lord Shiva’s idol rested. The entrance was flanked by the dancing Nataraja sculptures, which was a trademark of the Chola architecture. The Chola dynasty was known for encouraging art, culture, dancing, creativity in the form of sculpting, painting, poetry, literature, scholarly debate as a way of expression and so on.

The dancing Nataraja sculpture which is world famous, with a presence even at CERN, Switzerland, originated during the Chola period.

Walking past this ancient relic, I wondered if the foot of the statue held any geomagnetic effects as the lore claimed.

Entry into Lord Shiva’s Abode

Entry into Lord Shiva’s Abode

The Long Walk – Entry into Lord Shiva’s Abode

The weather was very pleasant, not too sunny, just the right dose of sun for a summery South Indian morning. The entry into the doors of the temple gave me a tiny shiver. There was a man sitting just near the entrance giving out oil lamps for those who wanted it. There were some who walked in without taking his lamps. My attention drifted, searching for the idol. All I could see was a very long corridor, with the hope that there was the idol at the end of it. It was slightly darker inside. I wondered, why the King, Rajendra Chola, who built the temple, had to make the corridor so long? Slowly my son and I started walking onward. There was an opening in the left and right side somewhere ahead of us. But we could already feel a cool breeze from a draft somewhere nearby. We continued to walk. The gentle breeze was soothing. It was perhaps whispering secrets about the beauty of the art and richness of the culture of the Chola Dynasty. I looked around to observe the walls, trying to grasp all that I could from this one long walk. I also realized my mind was numbing me to stop my wandering focus.

We had made this trip to the temple, because we happened to be in the vicinity, and did not want to miss out checking a UNESCO World Heritage site. That was all. But here I was trying to squint my eyes trying to figure out what the idol of Lord Shiva looked like. Slowly I felt my eyes drifting close. I opened them, immediately alerted. I was walking after all. I could not close my eyes.

This was not like the regular temples. There was a special uniqueness here. We both could sense that.I wondered if Lord Shiva knew all the devotees entering this temple.

During all this train of thoughts, I felt the gentle chide of the breeze, nudging me to focus on the life essence of the Universe.

The idol was consecrated, I realized. The breeze was telling me that.

PranaPrathishta

The holy process of PranaPrathishta or consecrating a stone idol, which is an image of god, is done to infuse the divinity into the idol, the temple and the neighborhood too if the energies can be strong enough. So how is it done? In recent history, rituals, hymns, and mantras are used for the process thereby signaling the completion of consecration. However, in ancient times, the sages Agastya and Patanjali were known to perform PranaPrathishta by infusing life force or life energy into the idol. It was a very active and transformative process. They wanted to make sure that all of living habitation across the world should have an environment of holy life energy. Thus this also accounts for numerous temples across India.

Is there a modern day scientific explanation validating the process of PranaPrathishta, you may ask.

Fellow to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, Professor Emeritus William A. Tiller, of Stanford University’s Department of Materials Science, spent more than three decades to validate this.

William A. Tiller says, “For the past 35 to 40 years, in parallel with my traditional science research and teaching at Stanford University, I have been seriously investigating the effects of human intention on both the properties of materials (inorganic and organic; non-living and living) and on what we call physical reality. From this research, I and my colleagues have discovered that it is possible to make a significant change in the properties of a material substance by consciously holding a clear intention to do so.”

More info here.

Our walk in the corridor, from the door leading to Lord Shiva’s abode, was almost ending. We were standing in front of the idol now. I looked at my son. He was silent for a change. His mind was not jumping into all sorts of science and math and mythology talk, which was a relief for me. I was enjoying these few moments of silence too. He had already commented about the similarities and differences between the trident of Shiva and Poseidon, as we were entering the temple.

After what seemed like a long lapse in time, in front of the idol, we looked at each other and then silently walked out.

#WorldMom Purnima from India with her son

#WorldMom Purnima from India with her son

The lawn around the temple grounds was well maintained, and we sat down and relaxed for a bit. There were a lot of sculptures all around, and some smaller temples for minor deities. We were in no hurry to check them all out.

“What just happened in there?” asked my son.

“It is a holy place. You felt the effects.” I replied.

“But what really is that, which we felt?” he asked again.

“You tell me,” I said.

“It was peaceful,” he said.

“So it was,” I replied.

“And something more, which cannot be explained,” he continued.

Transformation of man

I felt obliged to explain to him the holy process of pranaprathishta of an idol by pure intent and will, by the holy seers of the ancient.

“If they could transform a mere stone to god, they could do it to living things too, who are alive and receptive, and holy in thought and action,” he concluded.

“Yes, perhaps they could,” I smiled.

Bidding Goodbye to Gangai Konda Chola Puram

Bidding Goodbye to Gangai Konda Chola Puram

As our visit was coming to an end, I couldn’t help thinking that in today’s times, we are gifted with Pranahuti, or Yogic transmission in the Heartfulness Meditation system. The Heartfulness trainers are trained to impart this energy to the seeker.

In the words of the modern-day saint, Ram Chandra, “Transmission is the utilization of Divine Force for the transformation of man.” By such a transformation man is divinized, he says.

Kamlesh Patel, the global guide of Heartfulness says, “The best way to understand transmission remains to experience it practically… For many people, the experience of receiving transmission is so convincing that no further proof or understanding is necessary. I invite you to experiment and experience it for yourself.”

Extending the possibilities of the consecration of an idol through pranaprathishta to the transformation of man to make him divinized through pranahuti, is a giant leap of evolution in the history of mankind.

The beautiful thing about our planet’s rich past is that it has led us to the evolution of the present.

Tell me a little bit of spiritual revelations you have had, from your culture.

Photo Credit: The Author

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here .

She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award .

She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page .

She also contributes to Huffington Post .

Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!
 
This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.  

She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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World Moms Network: We’re Back!!

 

Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay, Senior and World Voice Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan, and Founder, Jennifer Burden on a video call to kick off the new season!

 

Welcome back, everyone!

This summer we all took a well needed “Blogcation” from the site. It was nice to take a break. The summer was busy for me and my family. We were in Europe and splashing along New Jersey’s coast in the USA, as well as, day tripping into New York City. Our adventures left very little time for sitting in front of a computer! But now that the kids are back to school, I am excited to be a part of picking up where we left off…

Getting back into the swing of things last week all started with Purnima in India posting to our editors’ group on Facebook: “Are we starting our posting schedule today?”, and then we all started scrambling into position from around the globe!

Elizabeth Atalay in the USA began organizing the schedule and surveying what had been written in the queue. She called me on the phone later in the week, and we agreed to organize our first Senior Editors meeting of the year. Kirsten was on jury duty in Canada, so we’d have to wait another week for her input. We agreed to meet on Wednesday morning. It was like getting all the Super Heros together!

Here’s how it all went down:

I chose 9:15am because it’s early enough in Purnima’s evening in India for her to attend, and it would give me enough time to get the kids on the bus, and then be back in time to fire up my computer with my cup of tea. However, one of my daughters slept in this morning, and I had to give her the full on mom physical — feel her head, take her temp, ask her questions — to see if she was ok to go to school. She was. So, after getting one kid on the bus, I had enough time to pack the other kid up, and drive her to school. So, not the calm stroll from the bus stop onto the video call that I envisioned! I messaged Purnima to let her know I’d be running late.

Once on the call, Purnima’s internet in India kept cutting out on us. It also took us both awhile to tinker and find the right mic and volume settings on each side. We FINALLY got it all going, and then out of the blue my husband comes running down the stairs and says in a panic, “I need a ride to the bus stop! I’m not going to make it, if I have to park! Sorry, I received a call I had to take a few minutes ago! Can you take me?” He had been working in the office upstairs, but needed to head to NYC for a meeting. So, I then had to end the video call. Yep. And I had to tell Purnima I’d call her when I got back from driving my husband to the bus.

It’s now after 10am. On the way back, I got a text from Elizabeth, “Did I miss the call?” She had other business this morning, and couldn’t get on earlier, but was now free. I say, “Perfect timing.”

I head back into the house, and before you know it, I’ve got both, Purnima and Elizabeth on the video call. Success!

Later, we share what we discussed in our editors’ group, and Senior Editor, Kirsten Doyle in Canada, got to add on to what we were building.

This about explains what it’s like behind the scenes, here, at World Moms Network. Did you expect something else?

We pull it all together. We always do. We’re the #WorldMoms. So, this is a note to let you know how grateful we are that you stop by here to read. We’re not in a big office building churning out editorials. We’re out and about around the globe, on the ground, and enthusiastic about making this work into our day. It really means a lot to us that you’re reading!

What can you look out for? #WorldMoms will be hitting New York City next week for events around the United National General Assembly. Elizabeth Atalay, Nicole Melancon and myself will be attending the Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. The Summit is a continuation from the White House Travel Blogger Summit that I attended in 2014. They have a great lineup of speakers and sponsors, whom we can’t wait to meet! The hashtag is #studyabroadbecause

Margie Webb in Arkansas and Tes Solomon in New York will be covering this year’s Social Good Summit in New York City hosted by the UN Foundation, Mashable, UNDP, and the 92nd St. Y! World Moms Network has been covering this event since 2011, and it’s always an interesting event to hear about the progress towards the world’s goals to end extreme poverty and more! The hashtag is #2030Now

Tes Solomon will also be attending a high level United Nations Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals, too! We are covering a lot of bases, and can’t wait to keep you posted on what we learn. Make sure you keep up with our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds September 21st-24th!

Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you’d like to hear more about from us in the year to come! We’d love to hear from you. And…Welcome Back! 

Jennifer Burden

Founder of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.

She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.

Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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#GLOW: #Heartfulness Webinar – Conquering Fear by Ms. Vani Kola #BeBoldForChange

#GLOW: #Heartfulness Webinar – Conquering Fear by Ms. Vani Kola #BeBoldForChange

World Moms Network and the Heartfulness Institute have partnered to bring forth a series of online monthly webinar workshops  for women called GLOW which stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’. This helps women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation from the comfort of their homes or workplace. The aim is to help women integrate meditation into their daily lives to achieve a more peaceful and balanced life, and a better environment. Each webinar will also feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, and are influencers and change makers.

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

Conquering Fear:

This webinar comes at a time, celebrating the International Day of Women, whose theme declared by the UN Foundation is #BeBoldForChange.

Each one of us – women and men joining forces can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to be agents of change. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential of heir hearts.

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

So, please encourage the wonderful women in your communities, work places, families, and among your friends to tune in without fail, and be benefitted.

We have urgent work to do. Are you ready to #BeBoldForChange this IWD 2017 and beyond?

Keynote Speaker: Ms. Vani Kola

Ms. Vani Kola

Ms. Vani Kola

Ms. Vani Kola is a Managing Director at Kalaari Capital, based in Bangalore, India. Her leadership at Kalaari centers around her commitment to the development of entrepreneurs and her conviction that Indian companies are poised to become global players. Vani brings 22 years of Silicon Valley experience as a founder of successful companies to her role as a mentor and enabler of startup companies in India. She serves on several company boards and speaks widely on entrepreneurship and leadership.

 

Overview & Takeaway:

Ms. Vani Kola would speak about her journey of “discovering self”. Heartfulness meditation has helped her to confront her fears. One clings to fears because one is not ready to face them. However anyone can learn to free themselves of fear and move to freedom. In this talk, Ms. Kola would explore practical ways to understand fear and its root cause. She would also offer simple ways to confront and conquer fears, thus creating a change for a bold you.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

All women across the globe who would love a hot cup of inspiration and who seek guidance to listen to the true calling of their heart! Please share the attached Social Media Promotional images in your circles, encouraging women to join.

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

http://goo.gl/3YMB4F

Please like and share the Social Media – Facebook Page – Heartfulness for Women for periodic updates and resources for women.

If you would like to speak on the next GLOW webinar, or seek further information about the webinar series, or would like to partner with Heartfulness Institute/World Moms Network, write to GLOW@heartfulness.org

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.

Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms

Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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World Voice: Praying and Advocating for Education

World Voice: Praying and Advocating for Education

On a summer trip with our American martial arts school, my daughter and I were able to visit a very special place in South Korea. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a beautiful seaside Buddhist temple on the coast of the northeastern portion of the city of Busan.

Most Korean temples are located in the mountains, but this place was striking because of the way it was placed with its dragon and lion statues turned toward a seemingly infinite sea. Imagine meditating in the open air, facing into the sunrise with the vastness of the ocean before you, and the calming sound of waves surrounding you!

As we wound our way up and down stone steps, I was curious to see many small figurines of children crowding the ledges in the surrounding rocks. At first they looked like toys, but there were too many to be random. Our instructor explained that parents left them as tokens of prayer for their children to do well in school. There were even some stuck up on a statue of a dragon leaving me to think, “How in the world did a mom or dad climb way up there?” We also found more permanent statues labeled, “Statue of Buddha for Academic Achievement.”

It was touching to see obvious evidence of parental care in a place dating back to 1376 AD during the Goryeo dynasty. Seeing something so near to my heart as a desire for good education displayed prominently affirmed my belief that – no matter where we live – we want to give our children every chance to live the best lives they can.

As a RESULTS volunteer who advocates against global poverty, I’ve learned the statistics behind what every parent already knows: more school means more opportunity. For each year of school completed, an child’s future wages increase an average of 10 percent. The is even greater for girls. On average, for a girl in a poor country, each additional year of education beyond fourth grade will lead to 20 percent higher wages. On a country level, education is a prerequisite for short- and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40 percent of adults being able to read and write.

Sadly, 59 million children worldwide don’t have access to school today and even among those children who do make it into a classroom, a staggering global total of 250 million kids – nearly 40 percent of the world’s children of primary school age – can’t read a single sentence. Quality primary education isn’t the only challenge. Sixty-five million adolescents are currently out of secondary school, and over 80 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to preschool.

I’m proud that the U.S. has long been a leader in supporting developing countries as they work to educate their children. But more must be done to increase the effectiveness and impact of this work. For my part, I am asking my U.S. senators to support the Education for All Act (S. 3256). A well-resourced strategy coupled with increased transparency and accountability is needed now to ensure the U.S. government effectively contributes to realizing quality education for children around the world.

I encourage every World Moms Blog reader who lives in the U.S. to also reach out to his or her own senators in support of the Education for All Act. For readers in other countries, find out what your government is doing to promote global education. After all, the United Nation’s Global Goal #4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

This is an original post written for World moms Blog by Cindy Levin.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin took her first advocacy action in 2001 with a hunger event at her church. Years later, after resigning from her position as an automotive engineer to raise her newborn daughter, she searched for a way she could better the world from home while caring for infants. She returned to advocacy and is now a dedicated volunteer activist with RESULTS, Shot@Life, ONE, and Bread for the World.

Levin involves her young children in her advocacy activities, including face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, letter-writing, and classroom advocacy projects. She shares what she has learned about advocacy through her Anti-Poverty Mom blog and training other activists with RESULTS. Her op-eds and letters-to-the-editor have appeared in Chicago area newspapers as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, the New York Times and the international Financial Times.

Levin has served on the Board of Directors for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund and on staff with RESULTS Educational Fund as a fundraising coach for grassroots volunteers.

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UNITED KINGDOM: Take Me As I Am

UNITED KINGDOM: Take Me As I Am

michelle_stuffIt’s now April and without really meaning to, I’ve found that in the first three months of the year I’ve not bought myself any clothes or shoes. Now this might seem like a small thing to many people, but sadly where I live in the UK it is very common place to constantly be buying new things – clothes, jewellery, items for the house, cars, gadgets and frankly any sort of status symbol.

Over the last decade I’ve become more and more concerned about the disposable world we live in, the one where we teach our children that as soon as a sock has a hole in it, you throw it away and buy new ones. Of course some of the problem is that in places like England socks can be bought very cheaply now, perhaps five pairs for just £2.00. But at what expense are we buying those socks? How much did the worker in a far off country earn whilst making those socks? A good living wage? Almost certainly not.

Every action we take when it comes to buying ‘things’ or accumulating ‘stuff’ has an impact, not only on those people who are actually involved in the production phase but also on the cost of delivering the stuff from one country to another and delivering it to the end customer. Almost everything we buy has a carbon footprint. I can’t even start to pretend that I am any kind of expert in this area, but I am slowly realising that it is not enough to just be an advocate for an end to extreme poverty. If I want to see that happen I have to also be an advocate for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

A few months ago, Amnesty International and Greenpeace issued a joint statement to the 195 countries meeting together to discuss climate change at the COP21 Sustainable Innovation Forum in Paris. The statement linked global temperature rises with human rights. They stated that an additional 600 million people could face hunger by 2080 due to climate change. What a terrifying thought and completely in opposition to where the situation should be heading.

Thankfully a few days later, the world’s governments signed an agreement to reduce net carbon emissions to 0% by 2050, thus signalling an end to the fossil fuel age. Of course change is not as easy as some officials signing a treaty: there is much hard work to be done and Joe Average, like you and I, has to play a part. So I beg you, starting now, will you please consider if you really need that new blender? Do you have to trade in your BBQ for the self-cleaning one that is just one step up? Or could your old one last you a few more years?

I’m certainly adopting the attitude of ‘take me as I am’ this year and if someone comes round my house and feels that my TV is old fashioned and perhaps a little squeaky, well so be it. We won’t be buying a new one until this one really is past its best and can’t be fixed. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the competitive rat race, the one that says you must have a big smart car, holidays abroad and a well thought-out wardrobe, to be seen as successful.

In contrast, some of the most successful people I have known over the years have been those with no great dress sense, who have had a messy house and a clapped-out old banger of a car. Success is about the person, not their belongings. It is the mother whose four adult children are all thriving and giving back to society in various ways. It is the retired man who goes out and works with street kids to ensure that they stay away from drugs. It is the passer-by in the street who smiles at everyone and takes time to talk to those she knows are lonely.

Those are the people I want to celebrate and to join. I don’t need lots of new things, I just need a heart full of love and by the grace of God I can share that with everyone I meet. Will you join me?

What role do material things play in your life? Are you concerned for the world your children are growing up in?

This is an original post written by blogger Michelle Pannell for World Moms Blog. Photo credit to the author.

Michelle Pannell

Michelle’s tales of everyday life and imperfect parenting of a 13-year-old boy and 9-year-old twin girls and her positive Christian outlook on life have made her name known in the UK parenting blogosphere. Her blog, Mummy from the Heart, has struck a chord with and is read by thousands of women across the world.

Michelle loves life and enjoys keeping it simple. Time with her family, friends and God are what make her happiest, along with a spot of blogging and tweeting, too! Michelle readily left behind the corporate arena but draws on her 25 years of career experience from the fields of hotel, recruitment and HR management in her current voluntary roles at a school, Christian conference centre, night shelter and food bank.

As a ONE ambassador, in 2012 Michelle was selected to travel on a delegation to Ethiopia with the organisation to report on global poverty and health. Then in 2014 she was invited to Washington, DC, where she attended the AYA Summit for girls and women worldwide. When asked about her ambassadorship with the ONE Campaign, she stated, "I feel humbled to be able to act as an advocate and campaigner for those living in poverty."

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