Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Beyond THE FUTURE: World Water Day

World Water Day March 22, 2006

Consider life without clean water…no water for showers or baths or cooking or washing clothes, not even water to drink. Then consider the fact that more than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean, safe drinking water. In 1992, the U.N. General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day to draw international attention to this critical issue.

This year, WorldWaterDay2006.org has partnered with Starbucks, Ethos Water, and various non-profit organizations to initiate a comprehensive effort to raise the profile of World Water Day. Check out WorldWaterDay2006.org to see how you can get involved in a Walk for Water in one of 11 cities nationwide or on-line. (The Walk for Water event was inspired by women in “water-stressed” countries who walk miles every day just to get water for their families.) Then help spread the word that people in our world lack such a basic necessity as clean water. It’s the least we can do.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Beyond FACTS: DOES ANYBODY ELSE LOOK LIKE ME? by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

I’m not sure how I missed this book until now. Published in 2003, Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children is exactly the type of book parents of mixed-race children need. We identify with true anecdotes and quotes from people in families like ours, not statistics. We seek specific insights into what our children feel and what they need from us, not generalities and overviews of typical crises children of mixed race supposedly are doomed to endure.

My first-grade daughter recently asked, “Am I black, or am I white? I don’t know.” When we talked more she revealed a friend had asked about her skin color and she hadn’t known how to answer. I thought we’d covered this issue enough to prepare her for such questions, but apparently reading a few books and talking about her parents’ backgrounds hadn’t been enough. She wanted to know specific details regarding her, not anyone else in our family. Ultimately she decided that rather than saying she’s “in between” being black and white, she prefers to say she’s “both”—she’s black and white and (I assured her many times!) she’s wonderful. I explained that it’s fine for her to offer friends details about her family if she wants to, but she shouldn’t ever feel obligated. My daughter returned home from school the next day to report that she’d told all this to her friend and her friend had understood. I’d assumed things would work out fine, but I have to admit I was relieved to see how happy my daughter was with the current outcome. I knew we’d face many more challenges down the road, but at least this immediate challenge had been addressed and put to rest...for now.

I’ll be reading Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s book soon in hopes of learning many more strategies for approaching this tricky subject with my children. Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? features chapters that cover special issues for all age groups, recommended reading lists for children and teens, and chapter titles such as “Who Do I Match—Mom or Dad or Anyone?” Boy, do those words sound familiar…!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Beyond THE FUTURE: The ONE Campaign

You’ve seen the white wristbands, the slick photos of (very) high-profile celebrities, maybe even checked out the comprehensive ONE Campaign site. Now watch the thirty-second spot that’s making its way around the Internet, add a link to your own site, maybe even buy a few of those wristbands or a hip t-shirt or even copies of the book that complements the ad. Whatever you do, take one minute to read about the historic Campaign to Make Poverty History, then take one more to add your e-John Hancock to the ONE Declaration to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty.

Founded by an impressive array of organizations that includes Bread for the World, CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Save the Children US, World Concern, and World Vision, the ONE Campaign works closely with the National Basketball Association, Rock the Vote, and the Millennium Campaign and is supported by Bill and Melinda Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food, would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries.” This is more than a slick ad campaign, folks. Jump in and see how you can help, one step at a time. You can start by clicking here.