Culture Equality

Bus-Turned-Classroom Helping Migrant Children

Just a few miles from the US border in the Mexican city of Tijuana, an innovative education program is making sure migrant children don’t miss out on learning.

Over the past three weeks, the Yes We Can World Foundation has enrolled 30 children — ages 5 to 12 — in its new initiative that runs out of a bus-turned-classroom.

Most of the children are from families fleeing violence and poverty, who have been staying in shelters for weeks or months while waiting to apply for asylum in the US. In the meantime, Yes We Can’s free program offers specialized bilingual education for the children who tend to have low literacy and struggle with social skills. The bus seats 80 children and in a few weeks, the program will accept another 20 students.

Yes We Can accepts all children, regardless of their citizenship status, according to its director and founder, Estefania Rebellon. The program provides each student with a backpack, school supplies, t-shirts, and later this month, shoes, Rebellon told Global Citizen.

The school’s staff has experience working with displaced children in Latin America. For many children, the program is their first introduction to English, and Rebellon is looking to add more teachers who speak Indigenous languages.

Many of Yes We Can’s students come from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan. Their families are seeking safety and security for various reasons, from escaping high levels of crime caused by drug cartels to domestic violence.

For one family, their child hadn’t been in school for more than five months while waiting for asylum status. A lot of children have to stop their education and start working to provide for their families, and Yes We Can is the first time they’ve attended school full-time, Rebellon explained.

Children seeking asylum face many challenges, she said.

“There’s definitely a turmoil in their emotional well-being of missing home and not really being aware or prepared for what they’re going through,” Rebellon added. “A lot of the children are in a state of confusion.”

During one recent exercise, Rebellon said some students started drawing their dogs and family members that they miss.

Without support, conflict-affected children lose out on the chance to reach their full potential and rebuild their communities. Children in conflict-affected countries are more than twice as likely to be out of school compared to those in countries not affected by conflict, according to UNESCO.

But parents reported that they’re already seeing positive changes in their children since they started at Yes We Can. Before enrolling in the program, parents reported to Rebellon that their children had trouble sleeping and controlling their anger. Now they have something else to focus on: education.

One mother told Rebellon this is the first time she felt safe sending her children to a school where she didn’t have to worry about kidnappings or a shooting happening. Another said her child is motivated to go to class now, whereas back home, she had to force them to go.

“We’re trying to do our best to make this accessible for them and not have any obstacles that prevent them from going to school and having an education,” Rebellon said.

She has seen students’ emotional well-being improve, along with their attention, sense of trust, and writing skills. The program also aims to help children feel they are building a community through different activities, such as having them help paint the bus’ walls.

Also an actress, Rebellon started Yes We Can because she was a migrant child herself. She came to the US from Colombia when she was 10 years old to escape death threats made against her father, and school helped her overcome a lot of challenges. Ultimately the “tiny home movement” inspired her to convert the bus into a school, according to Reuters.

Rebellon hopes to provide this program on the US side of the border, too, and eventually launch an education program for teenagers that operates out of tents outside of shelters.

Original article by Erica Sanchez and Leah Rodriguez – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash 


Australia Is Cracking Down on Modern Slavery

Australia has this week made major strides to tackle human trafficking, modern slavery, and forced labor in the region.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne revealed on Tuesday that Australia had joined the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign, a global initiative working to raise awareness and curb the “heinous crime” that is human trafficking on a national, regional, and global level.

Two days later, Payne announced a new $80 million joint campaign between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to enhance law enforcement and defend the rights of trafficking and slavery survivors.

“[The joint initiative] builds on Australia’s 15-year partnership with ASEAN to eliminate human trafficking and is a practical contribution to our shared goal of achieving an open, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” Payne said in a statement. “The launch of the initiative, which helps implement commitments under the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, is fitting just days after World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July.”

The ASEAN-Australia Counter-Trafficking Initiative will conduct skill development sessions for judges and police.

The 10-year initiative will also assist international investigations in helping rescue those subjected to forced labor or coerced into the sexual exploitation trade — and help see traffickers and complicit government officials suitably charged.

A new report by modern slavery research organization, Walk Free Initiative, revealed 40.3 million people around the world lived in conditions of slavery in 2018. Around 70% of that figure are women and children.

Rates of slavery in the Asia Pacific region are the second highest in the world, after Africa, the report shows.

“It is a confronting reality that even in the present day, men, women, and children all over the world remain victims of modern slavery,” the report states. “They are bought and sold in public markets, forced to marry against their will and provide labor under the guise of ‘marriage,’ forced to work inside clandestine factories on the promise of a salary that is often withheld, or on fishing boats where men and boys toil under threats of violence.”

Australia has long worked to support trafficking and slavery eradication efforts in the Asia Pacific.

Over the past 15 years, Payne said Australia had helped train over 13,000 “justice officials” to fight trafficking across the 10 ASEAN member states, including Thailand, Myanmar, and the Philippines. Australia also passed the Modern Slavery Act in December 2018, which requires Australian companies that have a turnover of over $100 million AUD annually to publicly report on the risks of modern slavery within their supply chains.

In September, Australia is also set to co-launch a Blueprint release from the Liechtenstein Initiative, which seeks to harness and mobilize the efforts of global financial institutions against slavery and human trafficking.


Original article by Madeleine Keck – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash


Thousands of kids get backpacks filled with food and love

ATLANTA, Ga. — School lunch on Friday afternoon can sometimes be the last thing a child eats until they return to school on Monday.

Who will feed the kids this weekend?

That’s the tagline for Blessings in a Backpack; a nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Kentucky that right now feeds 87,000 kids in 45 states.

More than 12 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes, according to ‘No Kid Hungry.’

Families sometimes have to choose between paying rent or feeding their children.

Volunteers and organizers of Blessings in Backpack hear those statistics and quickly mobilize to change that.

“We started to fundraise in February of 2013. Actually, it was Valentine’s Day. We gave our first bags to 42 kids in three schools. That’s how we got started and it’s just grown from there,” says Melissa Archer, a spokesperson for Blessings in a Backpack.

Archer lives in Atlanta and formed a team of volunteers in her local church and schools.

She says the bags of food they create for kids to take home carry an emotional weight.

“From what we’ve heard from the kids, they say that when they get something like this, that it comes from people that don’t even know them, that it shows them that the community out there cares about them, even though they don’t know who we are,” says Archer.

Now, as volunteers across the country pack bags of food, they also add handwritten notes.

Archer says, it’s a personal message of hope.

“You know, you might think this is nothing. It’s just words on a piece of paper,” says Archer. “But to these children, it means a huge amount because they’re getting inspired by someone who doesn’t know them. And typically, it’s someone that’s their peer.”

Schools are seeing numbers-based results of their efforts.

Archer says a local school in Atlanta reported a 100% attendance rate for children who received backpacks after one year of involvement in the program.

She hopes to inspires others to get involved in their communities because every child deserves a bag full of love.


Original article by Alyssa Marino – Source USA Today

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash


Professors Place Seesaws Across US-Mexico Border

Professors Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello traveled to Sunland Park, New Mexico this week in order to build a “Teeter-Toller Wall” into the slatted border fence separating the city from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The set of seesaws allow children and adults from both sides of the fence to play together—all while still being on their own respective sides of the border.

Rael and Fratello first got the idea for their international play structure back in 2009. After they succeeded in conceptualizing the idea into a book, the Teeter-Toller Wall finally came to fruition this week—and “with no advance planning for participants on the Mexico side of the fence, this unifying act took place,” wrote the University of California where Rael teaches.

“One of the most incredible experiences of my and Virginia San Fratello’s career [is] bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teeter-Totter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall,” said Rael in an Instagram post.

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for US-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” he added.

Original article by McKinley Corbley – Source Good News Network

Photo by Magaret Weir on Unsplash

Equality Wellbeing

UK Parents Raise Over £500,000 to Fund Pregnancy Support Groups in Kenya

In February, a tiny British charity launched its first public appeal hoping to raise funds to create pregnancy support groups in rural Kenya.

The Team Mum appeal set an original target of raising £150,000 — and £300,000 in total once the funds were matched by the UK government’s aid match scheme.

The idea of aid match is basically to help make sure that UK aid money is being spent where the British public want it to be spent, by matching pound-for-pound what the British public donates from the UK aid budget.

But according to Ellie Dawes, communications manager at, the charity “could scarcely have imagined the way that the UK parenting community have thrown themselves behind this appeal.”

If you’re not a parent yourself, you might not know quite how extensive the online parenting scene is. It’s a vibrant, growing industry — complete with significant high-level influencers — but, according to Adweek, it was essentially built out of a desire for community.

And over the course of three months, that community went above and beyond to help bring support, community, education, and health support to new mothers and their babies in Meru, in Kenya.

Spearheaded by grassroots efforts from the online parenting community, the appeal saw a collaboration of 120 brands, influencers, and parents teaming up with

One influencer, Mum Muddling Through, called on her audience to sell one thing and donate the money to the appeal; maternity-friendly clothes brand Clary & Peg launched a limited edition range in Kenyan prints; and comedy duo Scummy Mummies held a live podcast event at Vault Festival; while published a blog post about “Why this dad is in Team Mum”; among many other efforts from UK parents.

Meanwhile, a group of bold mums joined TV presenter Cat Cubie to cycle across Kenya in support of the appeal. They arrived on Tuesday, and announced that the whole appeal had managed to smash its target — raising a total of £502,952 from donations, Gift Aid, and matched funding from the UK government.

The funds raised by the appeal will now go to setting up the series of support groups for pregnant and new mums in Meru, which will launch in Kenya over the next year.

In Kenya, one in 26 babies will die before they reach their first birthday, according to the charity, partly due to problems with education about childbirth and newborn health, and partly because of mums being isolated and unconnected to local health services.

But by arming parents with vital health information and providing a solid support network, the experience of new mums and babies can be transformed.

As part of the programmes, each new mum will get some essentials to support her and her baby — including a weighing bag to help monitor the health of their baby.

They’ll learn about breastfeeding, safe sleeping, and what to expect during the birth and when they take the baby home, according to And they’ll learn the warning signs to look out for — so they’ll know when to get medical assistance at every stage of pregnancy and early motherhood.

The projects will also provides a support system for young new mums, and a place to ask questions and talk about problems in safe, friendly environment.

“It seems it’s something we can all agree on — all mums, wherever they are, deserve access to the necessary information to keep themselves and their babies safe,” continued Dawes. “Anyone who can imagine giving birth in a remove rural environment with no internet access, no NCT classes, and no baby books to turn to can understand why this programme is so important.”

Thomas Muirhead, CEO of, added that smashing the target for fundraising would “give our small charity’s mother and baby programming a fantastic boost, and enable us to reach more mums and babies right when they most need our support.”

Original article by Imogen Calderwood – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


18,000 Girls Rescued by Nepal’s ‘Mother Teresa’

Inspired by Mother Teresa, Anuradha Koirala always knew she was destined to serve people. So she became a teacher, educating young children in Kathmandu, Nepal. But after two decades, she decided to pursue an even greater calling : protecting women and girls from abuse, trafficking, and exploitation.

On her morning walks past the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu in the early 1990s, Koirala would regularly encounter women begging on the street. She was drawn to them and began to engage the women in conversation — they all told her that they had been victims of some type of gender-based violence, she recalled in her 2015 TEDx Talk.

Koirala was far too familiar with their pain, having suffered extreme physical abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.

“Every day, there was battering. And then I had three miscarriages that I think [were] from the beating. It was very difficult because I didn’t know in those days where to go and report [it], who to…talk to,” she told CNN in 2010.

Her decision to change careers was triggered by her traumatic personal experience.

Koirala began educating the women about gender-based violence and the empowerment of women. She offered to help them support themselves if they stopped begging on the streets.

At first, just eight women took her up on her offer, and she gave them 1,000 rupees each from her meager earnings to start small street shops. Through a portion of their profit — the two rupees that Koirala would collect from each of them daily — she was then able to provide security and economic opportunity to other women in need.

Soon after, she took her mission a step further, founding the nonprofit Maiti Nepal in 1993, through which she has served exploited women and children for the last 26 years. Throughout her career as a humanitarian and activist, she has specifically focused on tackling sex trafficking, a rampant industry that forces young girls from underprivileged communities across the India-Nepal border to be sold into sex slavery.

“These are poor regions with high illiteracy rates. If a relative or friend turns up offering someone a job, it is often the girls’ parents themselves who encourage them to go, without realizing what is really happening,”she told the Guardian. “It is the perfect breeding ground for traffickers.”

Maiti Nepal, which now caters to over 1,000 children, has grown to include three prevention homes through which at-risk girls are identified and educated on the dangers of trafficking. The organization also runs 11 transit homes that operate as immediate shelters for rescued girls, two hospices that treat women and children infected with HIV/AIDS, and a formal school.

Today, Koirala is 70 years old and, touted as Nepal’s own “Mother Teresa,” continues to fight against sex trafficking through her organization, which hosts a series of initiatives, including awareness campaigns, female empowerment programs, and skills training sessions for children and women.

Maiti Nepal, in collaboration with local law enforcement, regularly conducts rescue operations and patrols 26 points on the India-Nepal border in an effort to stop trafficking. The organization has saved over 18,000 girls since the founding of Maiti Nepal, Koirala said at the Global Peace Leadership Conference in 2012.

“When I see their pain — their mental pain as well as physical pain — it is so troubling that I cannot turn myself away. This gives me strength to fight and root this crime out,” she said in a phone interview with the Borgen Project.

Maiti Nepal also assists in the apprehension of trafficking criminals and has aided in the prosecution of over 700 traffickers.

Koirala has been widely recognized for her work and has been awarded numerous local and international awards, including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award. She was also named the CNN Hero of the Year in 2010, for which she won $125,000 to further her work.

Original article by Gabrielle Deonath – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Rohan Reddy on Unsplash


Diversity Makes Countries Stronger in the Long Run, New Research Shows

Research By Miguel R Ramos, postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford; Douglas Massey, professor of sociology at Princeton University; Matthew Bennett, senior lecturer in social policy at University of Birmingham; and Miles Hewstone, emeritus professor of social psychology and public policy at the University of Oxford.

The ethnic and religious composition of many modern societies has been dramatically changed by global modernisation.

These demographic changes are having a major impact across many spheres of life, including the workplace, neighbourhood environments, schools, and nations. More than ever before, our communities are changing in terms of their ethnic and religious composition. Societies and individuals are facing new challenges as they engage with (or sometimes avoid) people from different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs.

These changes have had many positive effects – such as filling important gaps in the labour market and challenging cultural insularity. But they have also fuelled growing tensions and division, and it has contributed to major geopolitical events such as Brexit and the fractious nature of the European refugee crisis.

Academia has reacted to these changes with growing concern about the implications of social diversity. Much has been written about this topic, but one major question remains unanswered: are human beings able to adapt to this unprecedented change in social diversity?

Theory on human evolution and social diversity largely contends that the human brain has evolved a predisposition to protect “our” own groups, as survival was dependent on cooperation with members of that group. Survival, according to this view, depended on protecting the group from the potential dangers posed by unknown others – who were approached with caution. This is perhaps the reason why research has found that trust and social cohesion are lower in diverse communities and why, in experimental labs, individuals interacting with unknown members of a different social group show increased stress and anxiety.

It is generally accepted that these predispositions play a role in the formation of groups and the societal structures we live in. But we believe that they might be incompatible with fast-changing societies, where people living in mixed neighbourhoods are having contact with new cultures, norms and values.

The flip side

Yet despite this orientation towards protection of the groups we belong to, we see that cooperation is often extended to other groups.

Indeed, biologists and anthropologists have long believed that humans fared better than other species because contact with “unknown others” brought about a variety of benefits that cannot be attained by interactions exclusively with members of our groups. Examples include increased genetic diversity owing to intergroup mating, sharing of knowledge and information, and access to new resources.

At first glance, protecting our own group seems to be at odds with approaching unknown groups, who might be friends or foes. But we believe that humans juggle these two tendencies at different points in time during exposure to social diversity. While the tendency to protect our own groups might emerge initially upon first contact, with time, individuals start to show an orientation towards mixing.

In doing so, they extract benefits from these interactions. For these reasons, we hypothesised that initial contact resulting from diversity may prove challenging, but that these challenges should be overcome with time.

To test these ideas, we conducted a large and ambitious study examining 22 years of publicly available psychological, sociological, and demographic data from multiple waves of the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey, and the Latino Barometer. Together, these three datasets included more than 338,000 respondents interviewed in 100 countries across the world.

We used this data to analyse the short- and long-term effects of religious diversity on individuals’ perceived quality of life across time.

Good things come …

As hypothesised, we found that in the short term, individuals react negatively to changes in religious diversity, experiencing a dip in their quality of life. But over time, individuals adapted to changes in society and began to reap the benefits of diversity, with quality of life returning to initial levels.

Why is this the case? To answer this, we examined the psychological mechanisms involved in these processes.

We found that the initial negative effects were being driven by a reduction in trust of others around them in countries, with increased religious diversity. But after a period of four to eight years, individuals started to report mixing with people from different backgrounds, which improves their trust in others, promoting a positive impact on their quality of life. Importantly, the initial negative effect, whereby diversity was associated with reduced trust, was fully cancelled out by the positive effect of mixing with members of different groups.

Our findings show that, despite initial resistance, humans can cope with the documented challenges of diversity. They also show that, by focusing only on the short term, we may draw an inaccurate, pessimistic conclusion about the impact of diversity. An increase in diversity offers the opportunity for members of different groups to engage in contact, get to know each other, and cooperate.

And when this occurs, this positive effect of diversity trumps the initial challenges.

Article by This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Photo by Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash


Wimbledon Ends Sexist Tradition of Announcing Female Player’s Marital Status

Audiences enjoying Wimbledon this summer might not have noticed this small but important change to how female tennis players are referred to by umpires.

Previously the umpire calling results would say “game Miss… “or game Mrs…” throughout each set, rather than just saying their last name as with men for example, “game, Federer”.

As more women are keeping their last name after marriage, preferring Ms instead, or just generally not seeing the need to have their age or marital status referred to at work, it’s clear Wimbledon needed to move with the times.

The issue was highlighted last year after Serena Williams married the entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian but kept her last name (because why would you want to stop being a Williams sister?). That meant she was slightly awkwardly referred to as “Mrs Williams” on the court, the Telegraph reported.

So for 2019’s tournament the organisers have for the most part decided to leave out making marital status a feature during the game.

The decision brings the competition in line with the French Open which also dropped “Madam and Mademoiselle” when addressing female players this year.

Prefixes will still be used when umpires are making announcements about code violations, medical issues, or player challenges – but that is the same for the men’s game. So, this step towards referring to everyone on the same terms is another helpful step forward for women’s representation in sport.


Original article by Helen Lock – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Renith R on Unsplash


Electric carts for children who can’t afford specialised wheelchairs

School is out for the summer at Central Connecticut State University, but tech engineering major Connor Spencer isn’t taking a break just yet.

Over the next couple of weeks, Spencer is gearing up to gift electric carts to a few children with disabilities, with the help of middle school and high school students.

His efforts are part of Go Baby Go, a national community-based outreach program to help children with disabilities receive access to independent mobility. Spencer, 21, has been president of Connecticut’s Go Baby Go chapter for nearly two years and has built roughly 20 carts.

The program works with volunteers from different schools or other groups to build the electric cars over the course of two days for children who can’t afford adaptive wheelchairs. Children get to take the free carts home and usually use them for an hour a day. Currently, the Connecticut chapter has around 30 members of students who want to learn how to make robotics with a purpose.

Specialised wheelchairs to fit children’s specific needs are unaffordable for some families across socioeconomic backgrounds. Commercial wheelchairs for children under the age of three can cost $30,000 and are often not covered by health insurance policies. The carts Go Baby Go are much cheaper (about $200 each to make) and are funded completely by donations. Local physical and occupational therapists usually pick the children who get to receive the carts.

Last week, Spencer led a build with volunteers from New Britain High School for two children, Kelicia, 7, and Mosiah, 8, according to CBS. Kelicia was born with Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, which causes severe developmental delays due to an extra chromosome 18. Doctors told Kelicia’s family she wouldn’t live past a few months. Mosiah is unable to walk on his own.

Original article by Leah Rodriguez – Source Global Citizen


People power

Adam Bates was a successful sports commentator, travelling the globe for major sporting events like the Olympic Games and Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

Then he took a trip to Lesbos in Greece to volunteer with a refugee project, and it changed his life.

“Before I went, I had been exploring ideas around how I could help people get closer to personal fulfilment,” he says. “I came back from Lesbos with my mind completely blown by the refugee situation, and I decided I also wanted to do something that would bring communities together.”

So towards the end of 2016, Adam quit his career and set up Ambigo, a social enterprise that delivers fun, community networking events based around people sharing their personal goals and ambitions. He discovered that his two objectives dovetailed perfectly.

“I realised that people supporting each other towards fulfilling their own goals was the perfect vehicle for strengthening community cohesion,” he explains. “Because as soon as someone starts talking about their personal aims, then others identify with that person on that basis, as opposed to their race, religion, disability or whatever else.”

So what happens at an Ambigo event? Working with a variety of charities, organisations and community groups, the company brings together a diverse mix of people, and facilitates group sessions where everyone gets to share their own ideas and ambitions, however big or small. People then write down their goals on an ‘ambition sheet,’ which is hung up on a washing line. Everyone present is then encouraged to walk around the room reading the ambition sheets, and if they have any information, advice or contacts that might help, they jot it down on a post-it note and stick it on to the sheet.

From the woman who has developed a project around mental health and creativity, to the homeless man who is starting up his own catering business, Adam has seen how the events help to build confidence, create connections and develop ideas.

“At every event we do, everyone leaves having been supported with their goal in some way,” Adam says. “People often come along with a personal objective in mind, but they’re soon crowding around the ambition sheets to see how they can help others.”

Based in Brighton, the Ambigo team has hosted nearly 40 events across the region over the last two years, with the help of a regular crew of volunteers. The community events – sometimes hosted in a café or a pub – are offered free to participants, but with a ‘pay what you can’ scheme also in place. Most of the company’s budget is derived from grants, but a growing source of funding is their business-orientated events, which have been producing some very positive feedback.

“We’ve hosted several business to business functions, including an event for the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce. On that occasion, 60 people came along, and after two hours some were saying it was the best networking event they had ever been to.”

Ambigo hopes to expand its operations beyond East Sussex in the not-too-distant future, always keeping diversity at the heart of what they do.

“After returning from Lesbos, I really sensed how divided our country was becoming around race identity,” says Adam. “So we always try to make sure we have a nice mix of people from different cultural backgrounds. It helps people see that we all have a lot more in common than we perhaps realise.”

Ambigo are co-hosting a Refugee Week event with Smiley Movement in Brighton on June 21, 2019. The free, interactive event includes a panel discussion, featuring Caroline Lucas MP and others. For more information, go to

By Theo Hooper