An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part I

An Interview with Victor Kannan. Part I

2017. My, how time flies!  In 2010 in the office of an amazing human being, I read a sign that said: ‘Time flies like arrows; fruit flies like bananas’. I didn’t get it when I read it, but when I did it stuck with me. I was reminded of this when thinking over my interview with Victor Kannan; Director of the Heartfulness Institute. Firstly, I will mention that it was an absolute pleasure listening to Mr. Kannan. His sincerity, love, and humble self-confidence was refreshing and I don’t think any listener could have listened without a smile in his/her heart and face. Secondly, as I re-read his transcript I saw that there were concepts I hadn’t quite looked at in the way I could see them in this new moment. I believe it was important for me, personally, to hear certain things explained in a certain way, and they have stuck with me since!

This is Part I of the interview. I thought of truncating it to make it fit one post, but I do not want to deprive anyone of hearing Mr. Kannan’s voice in the way in which he spoke. I wish for you to hear, even if it is in text, and feel what Victor was speaking about.

PART I:

S: How long have you practiced heartfulness meditation?

V: I started in ’82. So how many years ago was it?

S: Let’s see: 34

V: Yes, 34 years and 8 months.

S: Were there times during the 30 years when you were more or less consistent, and why do you think that was the case?

V: I have been pretty consistent with it for the most part; of course, I have missed a lot of it. Still, I have tried to be consistent with my practice.

When I started, I was a bachelor and working at a bank. I was more consistent then. Between the ages of 22 and 25, I was consistent. Then I came to the US, got married and started a family. I wanted to build stability for my family, so I began to focus more on my career. Even though I understood that this practice of meditation would help me even materially, I found it difficult to be disciplined. I would try to incorporate it as much as possible. I was a heartfulness trainer and wanted to make sure I was available to people. But my personal practice suffered a bit. Now my daughter is on her own, and we are in good health, physically and materially, and even though I spend enormous amounts of time volunteering, I am able to spend sufficient time with personal meditation. Now I am very consistent.

S: I don’t want to assume… is the majority of your volunteering involved with heartfulness meditation?

V: All of it.

S: Okay. So have you, or do you practice any other type of meditation? And if not, why have you chosen heartfulness meditation as opposed to any other type?

V: I think I stumbled into it, and so far, it makes me feel that I am continuing to grow. So far I haven’t felt the need to look for anything else. It’s not that I don’t read books or that I am not open to others, but in a nice way, this practice has continued to enrich me and I am satisfied with it.

It’s a very important question, actually. How do you know we are on the best route for us? Somewhere along the line, if you make a habit of searching, you may not appreciate what you have found. So it is a thing of the heart. If you trust your heart, you will know. You will have ‘come home.’ Now make the best of what that offers.

I feel lucky and content. After many years of practice, I know that I am on the fastest and best route for me.

S: I see. Okay, thank you! Switching gears just a little bit, what is your career?

V: I work as a CFO, and have been since the early 90s. I am currently working for a gaming company, which is basically a technology application company.

S: In connection to that, I’d like to ask you: what is your take on the place of material things and spiritual things, and is it okay to have both?

V: I think so. I don’t think you can have one without the other. I think it is the material plane that gives you the possibility of spiritual progress, spiritual growth, spiritual engagement, and also spiritual adventure. If you ask a hungry man which he would prefer, bread or God, he is going to ask for bread. Bread represents the material life that we live; the basic needs of life, including financial needs, have to be taken care of first. One of our teachers of the Heartfulness system, Babuji, used to say: “Don’t let the dogs bark when you meditate”. So what does it mean? When you are consistent with your spiritual endeavor at the core of your existence, that consistency expands the consciousness to feel unconditional love. And at the end of the day, that expanded consciousness is going to give you the freedom to enjoy life the way in which it should be enjoyed. It also gives you access to knowledge, as it is more intuitive, and all of your faculties that are externally oriented will act as a filter. When the consciousness is expanded, the right filters will kick in and so you will obtain the right knowledge, which Babuji calls “Real Knowledge” versus just plain knowledge. Real knowledge is defined as the knowledge of one’s soul, spirit or the universe, whereas knowledge as we commonly understand it is about how to live well.

I also got this revelation that at times knowledge is nothing more than a layer of ignorance. Right? That is one of the reasons why in science sometimes, they keep on disproving what someone thought was the truth before. That is how we advance. But to hang on to something, even if it is scientific, is equally dogmatic.

This material life is necessary because we are made of matter. Matter interacts with energy to produce something else, and in the field of manifestation of life, it produces the base of consciousness. Consciousness is like a big canvas, with your faculties, such as ego, intellect and mind, acting as paint and brush on this big canvas. Your mind and soul, which are the seeds of life, make you creative, and then you paint with those tools on that canvas, creating the life you desire.

In some way, then, that life becomes beautiful, not because others say so, but because you feel it to be real inside yourself.

That’s the tricky part about spirituality. It has to be self-realized. That’s why it’s called self-realization. So material life is necessary, but if we live for the sake of material life, then we are becoming slaves of our lower desires and lower tendencies. For a lack of a better term, I use ‘lower’ because anything that shackles you, to my mind is lower. Anything that frees you is higher.

Again, we have to be careful in terms of temporary fixes people have, to feel free. So, material life is necessary, but what I think we should do somewhere along the line, is spiritualize the material life. How do we do that? Make sure that our material circumstances, occupation, and relationships become more conducive to this overarching purpose of the spiritual pursuit or the spiritual life.

The saying is that ‘you are judged by the company you keep.’ Now forget the judgment part. You are going to be helped by the company you keep. So we should carefully choose the people and circumstances around us (as best as possible, knowing we cannot control everything). Simultaneously we should accept responsibility for the past. When I say the past, I mean that we cannot change the minute that just passed. But we can embrace it, spiritualize it, not fight it, and accept it and ‘make lemonade’ out of it. And not all these moments are lemons, as so many of these past events are good and we are grateful for them.

Today, we are more composed. Today, we have tools that will help us realize the core of our own existence. When our center is disturbed, when we lose our equilibrium, we have tools to achieve that equilibrium. These are spiritual tools like meditation. Meditate with a teacher, or with a trainer, or read a book that is conducive to reestablishing the equilibrium. Call a friend that will help you reestablish the equilibrium. And strengthen yourself. Go within yourself. Self-help is the best help. Or, when we are not able to help ourselves, we seek outside ourselves.

So we accept the past with gratitude, for the past brought us to the present, to where and what we are. And we use everything we have in the present to propel ourselves to a beautiful future. We don’t have to continue the same trajectory from the past to go to the future. We can choose things that are conducive and complimentary to our spiritual endeavor. And we can change the trajectory of our past.

Life, unfortunately, is what it is. We find ourselves in the middle of our lives when we are awake in awareness. And the responsible thing to do is to say: ‘Okay if I have taken 20, 30, 40 years to come here, I can easily change it in the next 5 years to go where I want to go’. Sometimes we want things instantaneously. But if we change that perspective, it will be helpful.

S: Okay, thank you. Now, what is your view on detachment? Is it more your thought as Victor, or has heartfulness meditation helped you form your idea of what detachment means?

V: I don’t know. I try to understand these words in a manner that make sense to me. So as far as detachment, as a word, goes, it has to be understood properly. What do you want to be detached from? You want to be detached from everything that is not conducive to your goal. So suppose you set a goal of having a spiritually expanding consciousness, and to me that means that I want to have unconditional love for myself and others, I want to accept my weaknesses in a manner that I can let go instead of fighting them, and I want to have real knowledge of what is important in life and what the goals in life should be. Also, I recognize that I am on a planet, in an environment, in a situation, which I want to embrace and make the best out of. So where is detachment coming in? The detachment comes in to reinforce the attachment. You cannot say that I am attached to everything, or that I am detached from everything. We are attached to life because we are living. When we become detached from life, we do stupid things. We do irresponsible things. Right?

So detachment or attachment, they go back to the same idea: What is the goal in life, what are my responsibilities, and how do I fulfill my responsibilities that help me achieve my goal? So you know, I think that it requires a proper understanding of the word ‘detachment’. Attaching ourselves to things that are unnecessary is a process, right? Detachment is also a process. Giving freedom to the things you are attached to, for the purposes of those things to flourish, can also be called a detachment. Giving freedom to your children to grow, while giving them love, is detachment, but when we expect them to be a doctor or a musician, or a billionaire, that is attachment. So how can you be detached from the duties that you’re in the middle of, and how can you do your duty without love?

So these concepts of attachment and detachment, renunciation, and annihilation, negation, I think all of them have to be understood in the proper context. They have a purpose, of course. They are going to define a situation. But the wrong understanding of any of it will not be productive. Especially in the heartfulness system of meditation: it says that detachment is basically the sense of discernment. In Sanskrit, it is called viveka. It is a sense of discernment, progressive knowledge of what is right and wrong, what should be done, and what should be ignored, how much to do, and how much not. 

….

End of Part I

If you would like to know view more of Victor Kannan’s virtual written works, please Click Here

Please stay tuned for Part II, in which Mr. Kannan speaks of the state of children in this age of readily accessible technology, among other topics.

This is a post for World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo used with the permission of Victor Kannan.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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World Voice: My Guide to 2016’s Gifts that Give Back

World Voice: My Guide to 2016’s Gifts that Give Back

What better gift is there than teaching your child the spirit of giving this holiday season! Why not create a family tradition that gives back by supporting one of these amazing organizations with holiday gifts that help people around the world?

A few years ago, I began highlighting different organizations that offer wonderful gifts that also give back to a cause. I began to curate these lists of Gifts that Give Back because I realized that we too as a consumer have a responsibility to make the world a better place, and there is no easier way than purchasing a gift that gives to your loved one and also gives back to someone in need. From purchasing a scarf that sends girls to school in India or a bar of homemade all natural soap that provides economic resources to communities in Africa, there is so much you can do. With the holidays right around the corner and millions of dollars being spent on gifts, imagine the difference we can make as consumers if we use our money to do good while giving. It is fabulous that so many amazing organizations exist today to help improve the world.

Here is a list of some of my favorite gifts that give back for this holiday season. Enjoy!

For Her

 

Bloom & Give

Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls to improve the lives of girls in Rajasthan.

Bloom & Give just released a new fall line with lots of beautiful products. Here are some of my favorites for the holidays. www.bloomandgive.com

Bird + Stone

A made-in-NYC jewelry start-up that invests in female entrepreneurs in the developing world. Bird + Stone uses jewelry as a funding vehicle for micro-loans and financial training and invests in single mothers in Kenya to start farming businesses, lift their families out of poverty, and follow their dreams. www.birdandstone.com

b.a.r.e soaps

b.a.r.e. soaps is an all natural, socially conscious soap & candle company. b.a.r.e stands for “bringing antiseptic resources to everyone”. Proceeds from the sales are reinvested into social causes such as a soap rebatching initiative in India and a program to help children with essentials in Uganda. www.bare-soaps.com

Heart of Haiti

Designed to improve and enrich lives, Macy’s offers an extraordinary collection of art and gifts to promote change and hope in Haiti. Each purchase supports that artisans on the ground so they can have a sustainable income. http://www1.macys.com/shop/featured/heart-of-haiti

Obakki Foundation

The Obakki Foundation is a small Vancouver-based foundation, created and run by local fashion designer (Obakki), mother and wife, Treana Peake, contributes 100 per cent of all public donations to their humanitarian projects. The foundation has drilled or rehabilitated more than 850 wells in the war-torn country of South Sudan, bringing clean water to an estimated more than one million people. And they have just promised six remote villages in the country that the foundation will help them to build a better future by providing each village with a much needed fresh water well. All that Obakki Foundation needs to do this is to sell 500 of each of the new, stylish colours of scarves – as a part of their Scarves for Water program. www.obakki.com

Preemptive Love Coalition

Preemptive Love Coalition brings emergency relief and medical care to families on the front lines of the world’s most polarizing conflicts—in places like Syria and Iraq. But we don’t leave once the fighting is done. We stay and empower refugees to reclaim their future from the ashes of war. www.preemptivelove.org

Veerah

As a mission-driven brand, each and every detail has been thoughtfully planned to marry purpose and responsibility with practicality and, of course, beauty both inside and out. The company furthers this idea through its partnership with She’s The First, an organization that helps to provide education, mentorship, supplies and training to girls in developing countries. Every step taken in VEERAH is one stylish step closer to ensuring women everywhere can make their mark. www.veerah.com

 

 

For Him

Cotopaxi (adventure outdoor apparel and gear)

www.cotopaxi.com

Cotopaxi is an outdoor company that funds sustainable poverty alleviation, moves people to do good, and inspires adventure through innovative outdoor products and experiences. Their unique business model enables their grantmaking in developing countries and represents a commitment to sustainable product design and charitable giving. The Luzon Del Dia backpack is created with salvageable materials that would otherwise have been headed to the landfill, and no two backpacks is alike.

Mission Belt

www.missionbelt.com
Mission Belt Company makes no-hole leather belts, nylon belts and an assortment of licensed NBA, NHL and NCAA belts that give back. Giving back has been part of Mission Belt since day one and is the reason behind the company name.  A dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty. To date, over 28K Kiva (peer-to-peer micro lending) micro-loans have been funded from the sales of Mission Belts.

Health 2 Humanity

www.h2hsoap.com

Health 2 Humanity goes beyond soap. Every H2H purchase helps fund international vocational programs that create jobs, grant scholarships, develop skills, and improve the lives of people around the world by offering hygiene solutions in developing countries. Through the development of these programs, the company plans to put an end to global health inequality.

TOMS (shoes and eyeglasses and coffee)

www.toms.com

With every purchase you make of either a pair of shoes or eyeglasses, TOMS will help a person in need. One for one. It feels great to know that when I buy a pair of TOMS shoes, someone else far away who who really needs shoes is getting a pair as well! TOMS also supplies fair trade coffee. If you buy one bag of coffee, TOMS supplies one week’s worth of clean water to a family in need.

 

For the Kids

Happisnappi 

Happisnappi kid’s accessories are the perfect way for your little ones to accessorize with ease! Happisnappi accessories have interchangeable pieces, making matching different outfits as easy as can be! Simply choose an embellishment and snap it on to the hat or headband! For every hat sold, Happisnappi gives another to a children’s hospital. www.happisnappi.com

Goodbye Malaria

Goodbye Malaria, an initiative by African entrepreneurs who aim to eradicate malaria in our lifetime. Malaria is a disease that is completely preventable and treatable, although it kills more people in Africa than HIV/AIDS and is the biggest killer of children on the African continent. Goodbye Malaria enables Africans to raise funds and advocate against malaria, whilst creating employment across the continent. Their beautiful online shop which sells products that “save a life in your sleep” offers African-made pajamas, bracelets, slippers, pencil boxes and teddy bears, all which employ local women and protect families in Mozambique against malaria. www.goodbyemalaria.com

Bureo

Bureo makes skateboards and sunglasses from recycled fishing nets. Operating a recycling program in Chile, ‘Net Positiva’, Bureo’s programs provides fishing net collection points to keep plastic fishing nets out of our ocean. Preventing harmful materials from entering the ocean, these recycling programs protect wildlife and supporting local fishing communities through financial incentives. Bureo is on a mission to find innovative solutions to prevent ocean plastics, and inspire others to join them in the movement to protect our oceans.  www.bureo.co

Love your Melon

Love Your Melon began with a simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Since 2012, they’ve donated over 80,000 hats to children battling cancer and with each product purchase, they donate 50% of net proceeds to their select charity partners to help end the fight against pediatric cancer. Over $1.5 million has been raised so far! One of the biggest days of the year for Love Your Melon in terms of raising money for their nonprofit partners is Cyber Monday. This past Monday $414,095 was raised, over double that of last year. www.loveyourmelon.com

Pals Socks

Pals Socks are socks for kids that come mismatched on purpose, because it’s fun to be friends with someone different than you. They are all about inspiring kids to keep an open mind to all kinds of people and new ideas/experiences.  Pals Socks also give a percentage of their profits to an organization that also helps make our world a better place. They support anti-bullying, animal rights, the environment and more. www.palssocks.com

And of course World Moms Network’s very own mini-shop!

2016-wmn-mini-shop-oh-the-colors

 

 

 

 

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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WORLD VOICE: The Power of Everyday Kindness

WORLD VOICE: The Power of Everyday Kindness

The author with her boys on Election Day in the USA.

The author with her boys on Election Day in the USA.

I have giving on the brain.

We’re heading into the season for it in America, though I’ve never understood why we tend to pack all of our giving into the last couple of months of the year. Are we trying to make ourselves feel better before the calendar changes? Are we making up for what we lacked during the firs 10 months of the year?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just be thankful every day of the year? We could even make big turkey dinners and drink peppermint-flavored coffee whenever we desire. We could actively spend time with those that mean the most to us, send cards and give gifts of love.

I try to live my life this way, but I’m guilty of getting wrapped up in the craziness of everyday life as a single working mom.

It’s been an emotional week. If you’re American – even if you are not – you’ve no doubt felt it too. I’ve personally gone through disbelief, anger, sadness, confusion and frustration. I’ve had some interesting conversations with my kids, and I’ve promised (myself and my kids) to take action if / when necessary. I always tell my boys that we have a voice, but no one will hear it if we don’t use it.

Along with our voice, we also need to pay attention, listen and ask questions.

I am reminded of a call I received at work a few weeks back. As a director of development for my local homeless prevention organization, I work with a lot of donors. The man who called me said he was on our website. He appreciated our work in the community and wanted to help. He saw our general wish list of items we typically need and called to ask what items were on the top right at that moment.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his call. I thanked him and told him we really needed diapers, size 4 specifically, for a mom our case manager was working with on an outreach basis. He came into the office within an hour to drop off 4 pick packages of diapers, which I then dropped off to our homeless shelter. He made an immediate, positive impact in someone’s life and made my job a little easier that day.

All he did was take some time to do a little research and make a phone call to ask a question.

A few weeks before that phone call, I received a message from a woman who called simply to thank me for calling her to let her know that I could not take a donation she wanted to make. She appreciated that I took the time to call her back and even try to give her some suggestions as to where she might take her donation.

When did we get to the point that these phone calls are unusual? Where asking what someone else needs or telling someone no thank you is met with surprise.

I’m a big proponent of finding simple ways to give every day. So much so that I wrote a book about it. Simple, kind gestures can make a difference in other people’s lives. And though it may not seem like it, you don’t know what kind of positive impression you may have made with your action.

In my book, I talk about how acts of kindness can be a pathway to even more giving. It feels good and makes you want to spread more positivity. It seems fitting that last Sunday was World Kindness Day. It also happened to be a day that seemed to be flooded with hilarious Joe Biden memes.

As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.

I think we could all use some positivity and kindness right about now, no matter what part of the world we are in.

I don’t know what will happen in America moving forward, but I do know that now, more than ever, we need to pay attention, listen, ask questions and make our voices heard. We need more kindness and more willingness to understand the needs and beliefs of others. Not just during the giving season or in an election year. Every day of the year.

This is an original post by Jennifer Iacovelli for World Moms Network.

Do you have any good simple giving or daily acts of kindness stories? Please share them with us!

Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and nonprofit professional. Based in Brunswick, Maine, she’s a proud single mom of two boys and one Siberian husky.  Jennifer is the author of the Another Jennifer blog and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. Jennifer is also a contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOODBlogHerUSAID ImpactFeed the Future and the PSI Impact blog. Her latest book, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day, is available everywhere. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order.

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WORLD VOICE: Exploring the (he)ART of Haiti

“Dye mon, gen mon.”

I drew in my breath with awe as the beauty of the verdant mountain range came into view. We had Emerged from the congested streets of Port-au-Prince where we watched fathers precariously navigate the heavy traffic holding the tiny hands of their little girls in school uniforms and hair-bows. Street side sellers had perched water or dried plantains atop their heads as they skillfully wove through the crowd. The street art that brightened cement walls was half covered by myriad posters for presidential candidates. Heading out of the city we’d passed glimpses of the ocean peeking through breaks in the tree line or the walls, and then the view opened up to the majestic green mountains undulating off into the distance as far as we could see. Having read that Haiti has the highest deforestation rate of any country in the world with only 2% of it’s original forests remaining, it was greener than I had expected. During my week in Haiti I came to a deeper understanding of the Haitian proverb I had heard , “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, but this was my first literal interpretation. The mountains beyond mountains of this gorgeous view.

We came to Haiti to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create products for the Heart of Haiti line of goods sold on-line and in Macy’s stores in America. Heart of Haiti began it’s partnership with the Artisan Business Network after the 2010 earthquake to aid in economic recovery by providing sustainable jobs and a market for the rich arts culture of the country. Art is everywhere you turn, from the walls of Port-au-Prince lined with steel art and hung with paintings,  graffiti decorated buildings, to the colorful TapTap buses. Each region seems to have a creative specialty and our tour took us to several areas where we were able to watch the artisans at work, and follow their process of creation from start to finish.

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Jacmel

The coastal town of Jacmel is known for it’s arts and charm. Mosaics like the stairs pictured above decorate public areas and historic French architectural influence reminded me of New Orleans. There we visited Paper Mache artists who demonstrated their craft using recycled materials such as discarded cement bags and layers of cardboard boxes which they seemed to magically transform into gorgeous works of art.

Paper Mache heart ornaments

Paper Mache heart ornaments

We met the women of the PWOFAPLAS  soapmaking collective in Mirebalais, who banded together to use their creativity to generate economic opportunities for themselves in an area without many options for women.

making soap

Making soap

In Leogane, which was the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, we visited the river where soapstone is sourced. We then watched as the Heart of Haiti soapstone carvers transformed the rough rocks by hand-carving them into smooth hearts and bowls.

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Carving soapstone

Carving soapstone

In Croix des Bouquets we were shown how a repurposed steel metal drum was cut, flattened, and worked into a delicately carved metal tray, christmas ornaments or wall art.

Every new area we visited exposed us to a new craft, but the ingenuity was pervasive throughout each art form. The goods created and sold provide economic empowerment through sustainable incomes enabling the artisans to provide for their families and send their children to school. It is inspiring to see that many of them are also teaching the next generation their craft.

Just a few weeks prior to our visit Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti in fifty years, had barreled down with 145 mile an hour winds.  An estimated 1,000 lives were lost, regions destroyed, homes, livestock, and crops all gone. The rainy season has continued to flood areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, and I realized why the mountains were looking so lush and green at the moment. In Camp Perrin we visited Artisan Business Network embroiderers who were greatly impacted by the hurricane. The damage became increasingly clear as we neared the town and artists we visited had lost roofing and a season’s worth of embroidery work in the storm. When we arrived the artisans we met were eager to get back to work and busy rebuilding their lives, and their homes.

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The Macy’s Heart of Haiti program currently employs 550 artisans, and by extension positively impacts the lives of their families. It is important to know that when you purchase their art and their work you are truly making an impact in the lives of the artisans and their families.

I feel incredibly grateful to have gotten a glimpse into the creative heartbeat of Haiti. It is tough for me to encapsulate the range of emotions upon visiting for the first time. It is such a tenuous time of political and economic uncertainty, compounded by natural disaster, yet seeing firsthand the raw beauty of this country, the richness in creativity and spirit of it’s people, and their passion for their homeland despite it’s flaws, I have to say I kind of fell in love. The proverb “Dye mon, gen mon.”, “Mountains Beyond Mountains” speaks to the peaks and valleys sure to come with life in Haiti, but really could work to some extreme for all of us, no matter where in the world we live.

Jalousie

Have you been to Haiti?

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

Photo Credits: 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.

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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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WORLD VOICE: World Moms Attend the 7th Social Good Summit in NYC

WORLD VOICE: World Moms Attend the 7th Social Good Summit in NYC

Last week, I attended my fifth Social Good Summit in New York City along with five other amazing friends from World Moms Network. The Social Good Summit is a unique convening of world leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists and voices from around the world that come together for a two-day conference coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly meeting held during UN Week. The Summit is held at the 92nd Street Y and is truly a global conversation as it streamed around the world in multiple languages.

The Crew of World Changers from World Moms Network and other social good bloggers

The Crew of World Changers from World Moms Network and other social good bloggers

The theme of the summit– #2030NOW: What kind of world do you want to see in 2030? – challenged speakers, participants and a growing worldwide community to explore how technology and new media can be leveraged to benefit people everywhere, to spark discussion and ignite change in creating a better world for all by the year 2030. The 7th Annual Summit was kicked off with a great promise to connect the world with more humanity and give everyone a voice in improving poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change through the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon last year by 193 global leaders at the UN General Assembly.

In July, the first report card was released that maps the scope of the SDGs progress, giving leaders an idea of the challenges that lie ahead in order to ensure the SDGs are achieved and no one is left behind. Much progress has been made thanks to the successes of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) yet much needs to be done in order to achieve the SDGs.

Some challenges that lie ahead include:

  • While poverty has been halved, 1 in 8 people were living in extreme poverty in 2012.
  • An estimated 5.9 million children under 5 died in 2015, mostly from preventable causes.
  • 216 women died in childbirth for every 100,000 live births.
  •  In 2013, 59 million children of primary school age were out of school and 26 per cent of women aged 20-24 reported that they were married before their eighteenth birthday.
  • In 2015, an estimated 663 million people were still using unimproved water sources or surface water.
World Moms Network contributors talking with Stephanie Sinclair, Founder of Too Young to Wed, about her quest to end child marriage around the world.

World Moms Network contributors talking with Stephanie Sinclair, Founder of Too Young to Wed, about her quest to end child marriage around the world.

As we sat at the conference and listened to all the heartbreaking and inspiring tales facing people around the world it was hard at times not to get overwhelmed or discouraged. The amount of issues and acute challenges at times seem almost impossible. Quite frankly, it can also make one feel quite powerless.

Throughout the two day summit, we learned that there is much work to be done yet there is hope. The Social Good Summit is all about making a plan for the future.  The world has a plan and 14 years to deliver it. Despite how enormous the challenges may seem, they are achievable and the Global Goals are our guidelines to make the world a better, more equitable place. It is clear that the future of our planet and our people depend upon it. And, every single human being has a role and a responsibility to make it happen.

Top Tweets of the Social Good Summit:

(Click here  to watch a powerful video on what the Global Goals mean).

I also asked my friends and fellow World Moms Network contributors what was the most meaningful quote or event of the Summit. Here is what they had to say.

For Jennifer Iacovelli

For Elizabeth Atalay

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For Tes Solomon Silverman

For me, Two things stuck: Carolyn Miles of Save the Children talking about refugees: “Refugees are people with skills great for opportunities”. And Tiq Milan, Journalist & Spokesperson for GLAAD re: LGBTQ in the Media: “My existence may complicate yours, but it doesn’t invalidate yours.”

For Jennifer Burden

“The UNICEF vigil for refugee children was the most moving for me. Standing in a crowd, holding up candles near the UN and listening to the stories of 4 children from around the world who were refugees was incredibly important and moving. The story of the boy who was kidnapped and was going to be sold if his parents didn’t pay ransom broke my heart. And when the high school choir sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the end, I lost it.”

For Nicole Morgan

Loved this … Imagine a world where children are innoculated for measles AND cancers. This is not about some day … but a moment, the days, a month … there is much we can do. #cancermoonshot is about never giving up. It is about promise. And hope. VP Joe Biden.

For all of us

Being together with such wonderful like-minded friends who we could share our hopes, our dreams and our fears together was amazing. Often during our busy lives as a mother, we don’t get much time to spend together with each other. It was amazing, inspiring and fun.

I was so moved by the Social Good Summit and the dedication, enthusiasm and commitment people have towards changing the world and making a more equitable place. Despite the immense challenges, there is hope. We can’t give up. We all must do our share.

This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Nicole Melancon.

In your mind what is the most pressing Sustainable Development Goal?

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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