Latest updates http://www.actionaid.ie/feed/all en Taking Citizens on Board in Public Service Financing http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/taking-citizens-board-public-service-financing <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/02/taking-citizens-board-public-service-financing" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/deawing_of_new_school_building-ma_ohm_mar_kyaw.png" alt="drawing of new school building by Ma Ohm Mar Kyaw in Thit Seint Pin Village" title="drawing of new school building by Ma Ohm Mar Kyaw in Thit Seint Pin Village" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <h3 class="Default"><span>Historically, the people of Myanmar have had little say over how public finances were prioritised and distributed. Former regimes made decisions top-down and most people were left with little choice but to accept what public services they received, not to mention that many basic needs were never met.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></h3><h3 class="Default"><span>The current reform process is an opportunity to change this. The Danida-funded </span><em><span>Citizens</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>for</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>accountability</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>in</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>public</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>service</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>financing</span></em><span> was a two-year project initiated in 2012, aimed at enabling the people of Myanmar to engage with the government and influence the planning and budgeting process.</span></h3><p class="Default"><span><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_medium/image/ma_ohn_mar_kyaw_with_the_budget.png" alt="File 28193" title="" class="ibimage ibimage_left" width="240" height="289" /></span></p><p class="Default"><span>Ma Ohn Mar Kyaw, 22, was motivated by an interest in development as well as a vague sense of worry when she decided to become a Fellow in Thit Seint Pin village, Mandalay Region, two years ago.</span></p><p class="Default"><span>“</span><span>It is difficult to describe in words, but I have strong feelings for my village and I was afraid it would be left behind in the reform process, both in terms of economy and education,</span><span>” </span><span>she said.</span></p><p class="Default"><span>Especially one richer village in the area ignited that fear.</span></p><blockquote><p class="Default"><span>“</span><span>Most people there have passed grade 10, but here many drop out after grade 4 to help their family in the fields. Education is important because it gives you more job opportunities, better living standards, greater chances of a leading role in society and generally higher esteem and trust from other people,</span><span>” </span><span>said Ma Ohn Mar Kyaw.</span></p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"><span>But to get an education, you need money. According to government policy attending primary and middle school is free </span><span>– </span><span>but in practice parents are required to pay donations of about 50,000 Kyat (approximately 50 USD) per year to the school. After middle school, tuition fees get progressively more expensive. Grade 9 and 10 will set a family back at least 250,000 Kyat per year.</span></p><p class="Default"><span>As a Fellow she facilitated a </span><em><span>Village</span></em><em><span> </span></em><em><span>Book</span></em><span> process in her community, which established that the top priority was to improve education, followed by transportation and agriculture.</span></p><p class="Default"><span>When the project took place in early 2013 in Thit Seint Pin, soon she was invited to attend a training on how villages can influence public service financing, which she attended along with the school Headmistress, Daw Than Htay.</span></p><blockquote><p class="Default"><span>“</span><span>In the past the budget was prepared by government officials </span><span>– </span><span>this was the first time we were involved. Before the training I did not even know that we had the right to ask for funds for public services from the government. But now I know which budget lines are available, how and when to prepare and submit a budget and which government officials to communicate with,</span><span>” </span><span>said Ma Ohn Mar Kyaw.</span><span></span></p></blockquote><p class="Default"><span>At a village meeting after the training it was decided to submit a budget for constructing a new school building. The village already had two school buildings but both were old and dilapidated.</span></p><blockquote><p class="Default"><span>“</span><span>With the increased focus on education in our village more children are attending school now than when the old school houses were built. There was very little space </span><span>– </span><span>it was neither comfortable nor safe,</span><span>” </span><span>Ma Ohn Mar Kyaw said.</span></p></blockquote><p class="Default"><span>The Fellow, the Village Leader and the school Headmistress took lead in developing the budget and regularly consulted with other members of the Parent Teacher Association and School Management Committee. It took two months to complete the budget.</span></p><p class="Default"><span>At the next training, in June 2013, Ma Ohn Mar had the chance to present her village</span><span>’</span><span>s budget and submit it to a number of relevant government officials and politicians who were also attending.</span></p><blockquote><p class="Default"><span>“</span><span>It made me quite anxious but people encouraged me and said it was an important opportunity so I had to do it. Once I was speaking my anxiety disappeared. Later during the same event I met the local planning officer, U Myint Aung, and he encouraged me to continue to prepare and submit budgets,</span><span>” </span><span>she said.</span></p></blockquote><p class="Default"><span><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_left" style="width:240px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_medium/image/old_school_and_new_school.png" alt="File 28194" title="" class="ibimage" width="240" height="296" /><span class="ibimage-caption">the old school(top) and the newly constructed one with the budget funded from government(bottom)</span></div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; </span></p><p class="Default"><span>&nbsp;Six months later, in December 2013, they received news that they would receive 48 of the 61 Lakh (approximately 6,100 USD) they had requested from the constituency budget of local Member of Parliament U Kyaw Aye. The remaining funds were raised through volunteer labour and donations of materials and cash. The most dilapidated of the old school houses was demolished and a new concrete building constructed by March 2014.</span></p><blockquote><p class="Default"><span><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_medium/image/children_in_thit_seint_pin_village_in_the_new_school.png" alt="File 28195" title="" class="ibimage ibimage_right" width="240" height="276" />“</span><span>When the budget was prepared top-down the government officials did not know what was needed in each village, so not all budgets reflected the reality on the ground. Only the people from a given village know what that village needs </span><span>– </span><span>so we should prepare our own budgets to ensure that our needs are met…</span><span>” </span><span>said Ma Ohn Mar Kyaw.</span></p></blockquote><p class="Default"><span>&nbsp;Note: this story is extracted from the booklet titled "it's all about the money..." published by ActionAid Myanmar in November 2014.</span></p><p class="Default">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="Default"><span></span></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/taking-citizens-board-public-service-financing#comments News Myanmar Asia bottom-up education village book Education Governance International Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:53:42 +0000 Yilan 586264 at http://www.actionaid.ie The challenges faced by the visually impaired fighting ebola in Sierra Leone http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/challenges-faced-visually-impaired-fighting-ebola-sierra-leone <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/02/challenges-faced-visually-impaired-fighting-ebola-sierra-leone" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_144811" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Even after spending more than 4 weeks in Sierra Leone, I could not fathom what difficulties people with disabilities must be experiencing in fighting Ebola. Here, even ‘’people without disabilities’’ are overwhelmed. The focus is so centred on curbing the disease and ‘’getting to zero’’ cases, that even the organisations working on Ebola response have failed to pay enough attention to the needs of people with disabilities. It is only when I met Mr Thomas Alieu, Executive Director of the Educational Centre for the Blind and Visually Impaired, I could begin to understand what untold sufferings persons with disabilities, especially visually impaired people, must be facing in this crisis.</p><p>Alieu told me that as a visually impaired person himself, it was clear that the Government’s National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) and other organisations responding are neglecting the visually impaired section of the society. By December, 10 visually impaired people had died from Ebola (the number has since risen to more than 30), so he decided that he should do something to help.</p><blockquote><p><strong><em>The visually impaired people were feeling very vulnerable in the fight against Ebola, and there was a real sense of loneliness. This was primarily because in the Ebola outbreak, people are encouraged not to touch each other, but for the visually impaired, this makes it very difficult to go about in daily life</em></strong>.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Alieu felt an acute need for materials in braille to inform visually impaired people about Ebola. He then approached ActionAid support this work as he knew that we would definitely stand up for visually impaired people in this crisis.</strong></p><p>ActionAid supported Alieu’s organisation to develop materials on Ebola prevention in braille by taking the key health messages from NERC. They then started visiting the schools for blind across 6 districts (Western Area, Bomabali, Koinadagu, Kono, Bo and Kenema) to share the IEC materials in Braille so that over 600 visually impaired children could read them. Alieu described how he could sense the jubilation and excitement among the students to be able to&nbsp;<em>read</em>&nbsp;about Ebola. Until now, they had been either told about the disease or heard about it on the radio or TV. Now, students could read the key messages of Ebola and its symptoms and ways to avoid the disease. Copies of the materials were also given to the school libraries to ensure that future generations could also learn how to protect themselves.</p><p>&nbsp;<div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_144812" alt="File 28158" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="399" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Braille ebola education materials</span></div></p><p><strong>ActionAid was the only organisation in Sierra Leone to provide Ebola related materials in braille to support people with visually impairments.</strong></p><p>Alieu told me how after the Ebola crisis is over, he thought the Government and aid agencies should focus on restoring children’s education, prioritising visually impaired children, and make them self-reliant. Students across the country have lost nearly a year of studies due to Ebola, and for the visually impaired students it has been a particularly challenging period. The blind schools across Sierra Leone are usually boarding schools but since Ebola outbreak although children are staying in the schools, the teaching has been discontinued and children have nothing to do. He also explained that there is a general shortage of educational materials in braille, especially in secondary schools. So for Alieu, there is a long way to go to provide adequate support, but making sure that visually impaired people have as much information as fully sighted people to protect themselves is a significant step towards ending Ebola.</p><p>ActionAid has already supported over 250,000 people affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, through public education on Ebola prevention, providing sanitation supplies to health facilities, food and sanitary items to quarantined households and orphans, education packs to children and IEC materials for the visually impaired. But we will also be here for years to come, with our local partners helping communities, the survivors particularly women, persons with disability to regain their jobs and go back into education, but also campaign for better health services in Sierra Leone.&nbsp; We will also work closely with communities make sure that they are better prepared for any future health crises.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.actionaid.org/ebola">Support our work in Sierra Leone by donating here</a></strong></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/challenges-faced-visually-impaired-fighting-ebola-sierra-leone#comments Africa Sierra Leone braille ebola visually impaired Emergencies & Conflict International Fri, 20 Feb 2015 17:02:22 +0000 debabrata.patra 585836 at http://www.actionaid.ie Typhoons and the Mangyans: Resilient Indigenous People of Mindoro, the Philippines http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/typhoons-and-mangyans-resilient-indigenous-people-mindoro-philippines <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/02/typhoons-and-mangyans-resilient-indigenous-people-mindoro-philippines" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/_mg_5693.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Mindoro is home to the Philippines’ indigenous people, the Mangyans. The Mangyans are made up of 12 tribes each with its own language, culture, and way of life – these tribes are Iraya, Batangan, Buid, Hanuno’o, Alangan, Ratangon, Tagaydan, Bangon, Pula, Buhid, Nauhan, and Furuan.</p><p>When Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) struck the Philippines on 8th November 2013, Mindoro was badly hit and the Mangyans were one of the most vulnerable groups and were significantly affected. The typhoon totally damaged their traditional homes and their ‘Kaingin’ or vegetable gardens - their only source of food. Despite the huge devastation, the Government seems to have forgotten the Mangyan people, as they didn’t receive any assistance, other than that from ActionAid’s local partner Lilak.</p><p>More than a year after typhoon Yolanda, the fear of disaster was awoken once again when Typhoon Ruby made landfall on 7th December taking a similar path to Yolanda. When I learned that I would visit Mindoro to conduct a rapid assessment, I was really excited as I wanted to meet the Mangyans and hear their stories. When I arrived in the community I was overwhelmed by their kindness and hospitality. I had a chat to a group of women in Bulalacao and they were so enthusiastic to share their stories and experiences during both Yolanda and Ruby. One of the women, Ailyn Antonio, is 35 years old and has 3 children. Whilst helping her husband in their vegetable garden, she told me how they never thought that Typhoon Yolanda would be so strong or disastrous.</p><p>“We did not leave our house and we all got wet because our roofs were blown off by the strong winds. I wrapped my children up in plastic bags to protect them from rain and cold winds.”</p><p>However, in December, when they heard that Typhoon Ruby was set to pass through Mindoro, they were very scared. They evacuated to schools nearby, but the infrastructure was not safe because it is located close to a landslide area.</p><p>“We tied our roofs so they wouldn’t be easily blown away and then we went to the evacuation center.”</p><p><strong>The Mangyans are very dependent on their vegetable gardens, which were first destroyed by typhoon Yolanda, and while the crops were still recovering, Typhoon Ruby hit in December and damaged them once again.</strong> <strong>Day to day life is like living in a battlefield with a daily struggle to raise money to buy food. </strong>The average Filipino family eats 1.2kg of rice per day, but the women here cannot afford to buy rice, so have had to adapt eat cassava, ube (purple yams) and banana harvested from their gardens.</p><p>I met a woman named Antonitte who is 21 years old and has a child. Two months ago, her 24 year old labourer husband, Rommick, was electrocuted, leaving him unable to walk properly. Antonitte now has to take on her husband’s role to earn enough money to feed her family. Sometimes she washes other people’s clothes for 70 pesos ($1.5) or joins the other women and re-harvests the leftover rice grains threshed from nearby farms. But once the harvest season is over, if there’s no laundry work, Antonitte has no choice but to feed her family with cassava and banana or sometimes even salt.&nbsp;</p><p>Hearing these stories really saddens me, and shows how vulnerable and marginalized the Mangyan people are. They are not able to live with dignity. The Mangyans were the first inhabitants of Mindoro and for centuries lived peacefully along the coastal areas where they fished for a living, until migrants arrived and invaded the island. The peace-loving Mangyan people soon fled to the mountains to avoid religious conversion by the Spaniards; raid by Moro pirates; and the influx of the local migrants. Around 10% of the entire population in Mindoro are Mangyans.</p><p><strong>The Mangyans are now treated as second class citizens- like many other indigenous groups across the world. They are exploited, neglected and discriminated by lowlanders. Since most of them can’t read and write, they are misjudged as uneducated and uncivilized people. </strong></p><p>While the government is busy investing in development initiatives to measure achieve their ambition to lead in the ASEAN development milestone, it seems that they have forgotten that indigenous people living in the mountains urgently need help. These people are still suffering from poverty and injustice. These issues threaten the bio-cultural diversity and traditional knowledge within indigenous people, social problems and gender issues, and above all – poverty.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>ActionAid through its local partner Lilak is supporting women in indigenous communities in Mindoro and Antique to raise their specific concerns and lobby various stakeholders including the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP); Commission on Human Rights, and national and local government departments to address the various issues affecting indigenous women.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/typhoons-and-mangyans-resilient-indigenous-people-mindoro-philippines#comments Philippines Asia Climate Change Donate to Mangyan communities emergency response indigenous people Mangyan Philippines Typhoon Hagupit typhoon Haiyan Emergencies & Conflict International Fri, 20 Feb 2015 10:24:08 +0000 Sheila.Cabusao 585702 at http://www.actionaid.ie Ebola survivors speak: Adiatu Pujeh http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-adiatu-pujeh <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-adiatu-pujeh" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_144719" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Recently, I was fortunate to meet another feisty ebola survivor in the Newton Community Care Centre run by ActionAid in Western Area. She deserves admiration not just for her courage to defeat the disease but also for her dedication to serve the Ebola affected community in Newton after her recovery. Instead of resting and recuperating at her home, she chose to work at the ActionAid managed Community Care Centre at Newton and work with the Ebola affected community. Below is her story of remarkable courage and dedication...</p><p><em>I am Adiatu, aged 40 from Hill station in Freetown. I worked as a nurse in a hospital in Freetown. I was quite happy with my life and job. My family includes my husband who works in the military; my son aged 9, two sisters, brother and mother. Little did I realise that life will take such a turn while doing my duties in the hospitals. It was in October 2014, when me and two of my colleagues contracted Ebola while attending to the patients at the hospital. We were immediately admitted to the nearest Ebola treatment centre. By the time I recovered on 10th November, two of my colleagues had already died. This was a great shock to me and I was deeply traumatised. The hospital in which I worked gave me sick leave with salary to rest and recover. I went back to my house and burnt my belongings to avoid any spread of infection to my family members. Fortunately since the house belonged to us, neighbours could not drive us away from there unlike other survivors. But like other survivors, the stigma of being a survivor affected me as well. My son was afraid to come near me and he was teased by his friends that his mother was an Ebola patient. </em></p><p><em>After recovering from the deadly disease, I wanted to set an example and work for Ebola affected community. Since January, I have been working as a manager of Newton Community care centre managed by ActionAid and supported by UNICEF. These centres are established for ensuring prevention by involving community people. These centres are meant for early detection and early isolation thus breaking the transmission.</em><em> Since we started our operation, we have dealt with a total of 39 cases. We have four new cases this week. Apart from dealing with the cases, we also do social mobilisation where we encourage the community not to hide anyone with symptoms, and in case of any death, they should go for safe and dignified burials by calling 117 (Ebola hotline number in Sierra Leone). </em><em>We also engage with Neighbourhood watch members to deal with traditional leaders regarding burials.</em></p><p>&nbsp;<div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/ebolaunicefoffice.jpg" alt="File 28032" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="346" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Adiatu H. Pujeh now working in AA run ebola community care centre</span></div></p><blockquote><p><strong><em>We need to work with the survivors and care for them. We need to give them continued medication to increase their immunity. Some of the survivors cannot afford it because they do not have jobs.</em></strong><em> </em></p></blockquote><p><em>So the government and other organisations should try to get jobs for the survivors. Regarding the stigma, ActionAid’s social mobilisation teams should continue to educate communities on ebola and bring confidence back to the survivors. Let us all come together to fight the disease and empower the survivors and affected communities!</em></p><p>In Western area in Sierra Leone, ActionAid manages two ebola community care centres (CCC) supported by UNICEF (one at Newton and one at Hamilton). Each CCC has 24 beds and 31 health and support staff deployed by the District Health Management Team. As well as recruiting staff, ActionAid has also selected and trained 20 community volunteers to serve as Neighbourhood Watch Members (10 in each CCC) in the host and 10 catchment communities to inform the people about the relevance of the CCCs and the importance of taking the sick to the care centres rather than keeping them at home. Management Committees comprising of community stakeholders like the Councilors, Members of Parliament, Community Head Man, CCC centre managers, youth groups and other community based organisations involved in the Ebola response in the communities have been established in each CCC community and they meet weekly. We have reached out to 5,000 families through our social mobilization efforts in Western Area.</p><p><span><span><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_left" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_144720" alt="File 28033" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Adiatu H. Pujeh attends neighbourhood watch committee meeting, Newton</span></div></span></span></p><p>ActionAid has already supported over 265,000 people affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, through public education on Ebola prevention, providing sanitation supplies to health facilities, food and sanitary items to quarantined households and orphans, and education packs to children. But we will also be here for years to come, with our local partners helping communities, the survivors particularly women, to regain their jobs and go back into education, but also campaign for better health services in Sierra Leone.&nbsp; We will also work closely with communities make sure that they are better prepared for any future health crises.</p><p><span><span></span></span></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-adiatu-pujeh#comments Africa Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:31:49 +0000 debabrata.patra 584231 at http://www.actionaid.ie Ebola survivors speak: Alieu Kamara http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-alieu-kamara <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-alieu-kamara" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/alieu_kamara_-_ebola_survivor_from_freetown.jpg" alt="Ebola survivor" title="Alieu Kamara, Ebola survivor" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>I met Alieu over a quiet afternoon at ActionAid office in Freetown. We were stunned to hear his story of loss, courage and hope. He is one of over 2204 Ebola Survivors (this figure is increasing day by day) in Sierra Leone who now face the uphill task of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. Here is Alieu's story:</p><p><em>"I am Alieu Kamara, aged 33. I did not believe few months back that my life would change so dramatically. I was hoping to be a father soon. My wife was 6 months pregnant in December 2014. Ours was a happy family. I worked as a driver in private food processing company and my wife was a petty trader. She used to go to districts outside Freetown to buy goods and sell it to the traders in Freetown. As a young couple, we had dreams to set up family and settle down in Freetown.</em></p><p><em>Unfortunately during one of her visits to up country, my wife contracted EVD. I also contracted the virus unknowingly when I was attending to my wife. Few of my wife’s family members also contracted the virus when she went on to live with them. I do not remember what exactly happened during this time, I was not in my full senses at that time because the virus had also started affecting me. But by the time I recovered on 24th December, I found my family devastated. Eight family members and friends had died before I recovered. My wife had died with my unborn child. Not only that I lost my father – in – law, adopted daughter of 11 years, two brothers of my late wife, uncle and aunt and one of my friends to who helped me during the disease. Darkness enveloped me after my release from the treatment centre.</em></p><p><em>I was supposed to burn down my belongings of my house where I stayed for 19 years. But where was I supposed to go? My neighbours did not allow me to stay in the rented house that I was staying earlier. I was driven out from there. I came and took refuge in my brother’s place. I was offered no compensation for my huge loss. When I went back to work, the employers did not take me in saying that they have employed another person in my place since mine was a temporary appointment (although I had worked there for more than one year, the employers do this to avoid taxes here). I am still running post to pillar to get the discharge pack. But I am not so much worried to get the discharge pack (consists of some non-food items and food items), as I am interested to regain my livelihood that would revive me and my life. I hope government and other organisations do a little more to restore the livelihoods of Ebola survivors and affected families. Government should also give skills training to the Ebola survivors so that they stand on their feet. Organisations like ActionAid should work as monitors of the programmes and schemes for the Ebola survivors and should campaign for jobs for us. I really hope that we learn lessons from this epidemic and strengthen our health systems and health surveillance.&nbsp; </em></p><p><em>For me life would go on. Of course now I am not able to sleep properly. What would you expect when a person loses everything in a matter of months? But I am ready to do a job and &nbsp;I am ready to start living."</em></p><p>ActionAid has already supported over 265,000 people affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, through public education on Ebola prevention, providing sanitation supplies to health facilities, food and sanitary items to quarantined households and orphans, and education packs to children. But we will also be here for years to come, with our local partners helping communities, the survivors particularly women, to regain their jobs and go back into education, but also campaign for better health services in Sierra Leone.&nbsp; We will also work closely with communities make sure that they are better prepared for any future health crises.</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/ebola-survivors-speak-alieu-kamara#comments News Africa Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Mon, 09 Feb 2015 10:59:43 +0000 debabrata.patra 583875 at http://www.actionaid.ie One step closer to tax justice http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/one-step-closer-tax-justice <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-thumbnail"> <a href="/2015/02/one-step-closer-tax-justice" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/128351_1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This weekend leaders from across Africa committed to addressing the problem of illicit financial flows highlighted in a report by the Mbeki panel which outlines just how extreme the problem of tax dodging is in Africa. I am delighted!</p><p>Africa loses $50bn USD due to illicit financial flows every year. By any standards this is a colossal sum of money but it’s a sum that would no doubt completely alter the face of the continent. In places like Zambia a small proportion of the money could change a health services in a country where three in ten women still die due to manageable pregnancy complications. The maternal mortality rate is sixty times higher than Japan.</p><p>Countries like Zambia need all the revenue they can get to provide basic services like health, education, water and sanitation. Many countries in Africa are in serious debt and have been largely dependent on aid to fund even the most basic of services. It simply doesn’t make sense that countries lose three times more revenue in financial illicit flows than the aid they receive.</p><p>The adoption of the report is definitely the brightest beacon of hope that the continent has had in a long time in the quest for development. Now African countries have a common agenda to increase revenue retention on the continent, an agenda that makes the work of governments, civic organisations and individuals campaigning on tax justice much easier!</p><p>When I joined ActionAid five years ago and started campaigning with communities in Zambia for tax justice I never thought that this was something that my country, let alone the entire African Union was prepared to deal with., especially at a time when so many countries across the continent are still try to reach out to foreign investors.</p><p>In 2011, when Zambia had its Presidential and General Elections, nearly all the candidates vying for the Presidency were campaigning on the platform of ‘bringing in more foreign investors to boost the economy and accelerate development’ and the focus was on creating more jobs and Zambians were quickly swayed by the slogans of one candidate who promised ‘more money in your pockets’ and they voted for him as President.</p><p>Four years later Zambians have just voted for a new president following the death of the Republican President in October last year. Tax justice was a ‘hot’ issue on the election campaigns. Tax justice is one of the three priorities that the wining party (the Patriotic Front Party) committed to focus on once elected to power.</p><p>I am incredibly proud that ActionAid Zambia has been a major player in putting tax justice on the agenda. Our work to expose multinational companies who have avoided paying tax has provoked public debates, peaceful demonstrations and has caught the attention of the media.</p><p>I was part ActionAid Zambia’s protest marches against Barclays Bank and Vedanta owned Konkola Copper Mines and remember feeling frustrated and unsure about the kind of impact our actions would have. I wondered if the government would listen and would take action. The support of so many Zambians gave us great strengthen, but I still had doubts. Successive governments in Zambia have been largely unresponsive in the past and the picture across Africa is pretty much the same.</p><p>When the government responded to our protest on Konkola Copper Mines by announcing they would&nbsp;conduct a forensic audit on the mine I was elated- a fantastic result for our campaign and the future of Zambia- at last the government was listening. Since then the Zambian government has proposed new tax measures for the mining sector, and although mining companies are contesting these measures, the government has stood its ground and has maintained it will not allow the country to continue losing revenue.</p><p>These are definitely clear wins for Zambia at national level. But for Zambia to close off all tax loopholes, international cooperation against tax dodging is vital. &nbsp;The adoption of the Mbeki panel report comes as icing on the cake!</p><p>Our leaders must implement agreed actions and the report’s recommendations and quickly reduce that $50bn USD figure and start spending revenue from tax on much needed public services.</p><p>As for me, I will happily wear my gold suit and continue campaigning for tax justice in my country and beyond until we retain the last dollar on our continent!</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/one-step-closer-tax-justice#comments Campaign #TaxPower tax Tax Justice International Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:24:27 +0000 pamela.chisanga 583225 at http://www.actionaid.ie One step closer to taxjustice http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/one-step-closer-taxjustice <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-thumbnail"> <a href="/2015/02/one-step-closer-taxjustice" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/128351_1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This weekend leaders from across Africa committed to addressing the problem of illicit financial flows highlighted in a report by the Mbeki panel which outlines just how extreme the problem of tax dodging is in Africa. I am delighted!</p><p>Africa loses $50bn USD due to illicit financial flows every year. By any standards this is a colossal sum of money but it’s a sum that would no doubt completely alter the face of the continent. In places like Zambia a small proportion of the money could change a health services in a country where three in ten women still die due to manageable pregnancy complications. The maternal mortality rate is sixty times higher than Japan.</p><p>Countries like Zambia need all the revenue they can get to provide basic services like health, education, water and sanitation. Many countries in Africa are in serious debt and have been largely dependent on aid to fund even the most basic of services. It simply doesn’t make sense that countries lose three times more revenue in financial illicit flows than the aid they receive.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The adoption of the report is definitely the brightest beacon of hope that the continent has had in a long time in the quest for development. Now African countries have a common agenda to increase revenue retention on the continent, an agenda that makes the work of governments, civic organisations and individuals campaigning on tax justice much easier!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>When I joined ActionAid five years ago and started campaigning with communities in Zambia for tax justice I never thought that this was something that my country, let alone the entire African Union was prepared to deal with., especially at a time when so many countries across the continent are still try to reach out to foreign investors.</p><p>In 2011, when Zambia had its Presidential and General Elections, nearly all the candidates vying for the Presidency were campaigning on the platform of ‘bringing in more foreign investors to boost the economy and accelerate development’ and the focus was on creating more jobs and Zambians were quickly swayed by the slogans of one candidate who promised ‘more money in your pockets’ and they voted for him as President.</p><p>Four years later Zambians have just voted for a new president following the death of the Republican President in October last year. Tax justice was a ‘hot’ issue on the election campaigns. Tax justice is one of the three priorities that the wining party (the Patriotic Front Party) committed to focus on once elected to power.</p><p>I am incredibly proud that ActionAid Zambia has been a major player in putting tax justice on the agenda. Our work to expose multinational companies who have avoided paying tax has provoked public debates, peaceful demonstrations and has caught the attention of the media.</p><p>I was part ActionAid Zambia’s protest marches against Barclays Bank and Vedanta owned Konkola Copper Mines and remember feeling frustrated and unsure about the kind of impact our actions would have. I wondered if the government would listen and would take action. The support of so many Zambians gave us great strengthen, but I still had doubts. Successive governments in Zambia have been largely unresponsive in the past and the picture across Africa is pretty much the same.</p><p>When the government responded to our protest on Konkola Copper Mines by announcing they would&nbsp;conduct a forensic audit on the mine I was elated- a fantastic result for our campaign and the future of Zambia- at last the government was listening. Since then the Zambian government has proposed new tax measures for the mining sector, and although mining companies are contesting these measures, the government has stood its ground and has maintained it will not allow the country to continue losing revenue.</p><p>These are definitely clear wins for Zambia at national level. But for Zambia to close off all tax loopholes, international cooperation against tax dodging is vital. &nbsp;The adoption of the Mbeki panel report comes as icing on the cake!</p><p>Our leaders must implement agreed actions and the report’s recommendations and quickly reduce that $50bn USD figure and start spending revenue from tax on much needed public services.</p><p>As for me, I will happily wear my gold suit and continue campaigning for tax justice in my country and beyond until we retain the last dollar on our continent!</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/02/one-step-closer-taxjustice#comments Campaign Tax #Taxpower International Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:24:18 +0000 pamela.chisanga 583224 at http://www.actionaid.ie Ebola Outbreak: Triumph of human spirit and hope for better future http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_138776" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This is one of the most challenging situations that I have ever faced in my 15 years of working in emergencies. I have never seen such fear around Ebola, even in distant countries like India.</p><p>On my flight from Brussels to Freetown, the plane was half empty, and most of the other passengers were from other international agencies responding to the Ebola outbreak. But as always happens during any disaster, when I arrived, it was clear that the human spirit is indomitable and always looks to overcome a grave situation.</p><p>At the airport, it was heartening to see the screening measures including hand washing and temperature checks. The exciting journey by boat to the Freetown showed the tourism potential the country might have had before the Ebola outbreak. Hotels are full, but the people staying there are international aid workers, rather than the tourists who are greatly needed to support the economy. <strong></strong></p><p><strong>I have never known a health emergency that has captured the world’s attention so much - not just because of the human causalities, but because of the lack of preparedness within the country to deal with it at all levels.</strong> Socially, it is difficult to control the epidemic in cities like Freetown where the Chiefs are dormant and have no influence in households, especially amongst youths. In more rural areas, the Chiefs play key roles in raising awareness of the disease and controlling the epidemic, particularly through the neighbourhood watch committees that ActionAid has set up. One of the ways we are trying to increase awareness in the urban areas is through newly formed neighbourhood watch committees with literate youths who educate communities on how to break the transmission.</p><p>Ebola affected communities that ActionAid and our local partners are working with face an uphill struggle economically, with so many people having lost their sources of income. This is particularly hard for families where the head of the household has passed away because of Ebola. When women here are left to become the head of the household, the impact is even greater on both them and their children. The increased burden is of securing an income by working in the fields, on top of doing the housework, and caring for children, the elderly and the sick. The Krio tribal community in Western Rural Area is just one of many whose main source of livelihood, petty trading, has been severely affected by the outbreak. An alternative means to earn a living used to be stone mining, but that has also been closed until the outbreak is over. Left with no choice, now their main sustenance is gardening in the backyard which can hardly sustain them.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/local_markets_hardly_getting_any_bussiness_on_the_way_to_newton_from_freetown.jpg" alt="File 27848" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Deserted market place outside Freetown (Photo: ActionAid)</span></div></p><p>Life has been on hold here in Sierra Leone for months now. People are saying that they miss the hugs and handshakes which were a common part of daily culture. Many cultural events have been cancelled, or are so severely restricted that the soul of celebration is missing.</p><p><strong>What started out as a health crisis has now devastated all other parts of life including livelihoods, education and women’s rights to name just a few. </strong></p><p>But there is hope. The new cases have already gone down from 50 per day in December to single digits – 5 per day as per the latest official reports. 11 of the 14 districts are currently showing no new cases, which is a definite sign of containment of the disease. But should we be satisfied with the mere <em>control</em> of the disease, or should we treat this disaster as an opportunity to improve the lives of Ebola affected communities? Can health standards improve the overall health situation of the country? Can the educational institutions improve their quality and also take care of health of the children? Can we find alternative and improved livelihoods for men and women in families affected by Ebola, as well as strengthening the traditional livelihoods? Can we help children whose parents have died due to Ebola have a better future?</p><p>The answer is yes to all these questions, provided that we approach the challenges with a positive attitude and spirit, and look at the <em>opportunities</em> in this emergency. This also calls for international assistance on a large scale especially over the longer term to support communities once the outbreak is over. The New Year and any new disasters should not make us forget the enormous support that the communities of Sierra Leone urgently need to rebuild their lives for a better future.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>ActionAid has already supported over 177,000 people affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone</strong>, through public education on Ebola prevention, providing sanitation supplies to health facilities, food and sanitary items to quarantined households and orphans, and education packs to children. But we will also be here for years to come, with our local partners helping communities, particularly women, to regain their jobs and go back into education, but also campaign for better health services in Sierra Leone. We will also work closely with communities making sure that they are better prepared for any future health crises.</p><p><a href="http://www.actionaid.org/ebola">You can donate to the Ebola response fund by clicking here</a></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future#comments Africa Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:46:16 +0000 DebabratPatra 582124 at http://www.actionaid.ie Safe Cities for Women and the Rise of the Mainstream Feminist http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/16_doa_collage.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p dir="ltr">2014 was undoubtedly the <a href="http://gu.com/p/44dqe/sfb">Year of the Feminist.</a> Having worked in women’s rights for a number of years, and having been passionate about them for a good deal more, I’ve felt something change over the past twelve months. Something growing. The cry for women’s equality, and for the freedom to make our own decisions about our bodies, choices and lives has never been this loud, this defiant, in my lifetime.</p><p dir="ltr">And it seems unstoppable.</p><p dir="ltr">From highlighting the problems (in case it’s not already obvious) to tens of millions through viral videos like the <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/video-showing-harassment-of-woman-in-new-york-goes-viral-1.1980719">woman in New York</a> who was persistently harassed walking through the streets of her own city, to women in Kenya claiming their right to dress as they please without being subjected to sexual abuse, (with the rather brilliant hashtag <a href="http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201411131934-0024345">#mydressmychoice</a>), the pushback against gender-based violence has become as universal as the problem itself.</p><p dir="ltr">We learned that <a href="http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/">#YesAllWomen</a> experience discrimination and harassment, and we watched as women reclaimed their public spaces in innovative (and pretty damned cool) ways. They were <a href="http://scroll.in/article/695586/Indian-women-are-loitering-to-make-their-cities-safer">loitering in India</a>, they were openly shaming offenders in <a href="http://www.closeronline.co.uk/2014/11/rapist-ched-evans-banned-after-public-outcry">Britain</a> and <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/golden-globes-cosby-joke/384426/">the US</a>, they were boldly protesting injustice <a href="http://time.com/3259455/columbia-student-pledges-to-carry-a-mattress-every-day-till-alleged-rapist-leaves-campus/">offline on the streets</a> and <a href="https://www.change.org/p/adam-crozier-cancel-dapper-laughs-on-the-pull-on-itv">online via social media</a> in unprecedented numbers.</p><p dir="ltr">And ActionAid, I’m proud to say, is part of this incredible shift, this powerful movement. Our Safe Cities for Women campaign, happening already in countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, is amplifying the voices of women who are saying openly what every woman knows to be true: Our streets and cities are not as safe for us, by virtue of the fact that we are women. And it’s beyond high time that they were.</p><p dir="ltr">This is why ActionAid countries recently joined together for 16 Days of Activism, a global annual event decrying violence against women in all its forms. For ActionAid and our supporters, it was a moment of uniting across borders - women and men, young and old - demanding a better, more equitable experience for all of us living in cities, especially women. Because, while our cities are diverse, each with their own character and culture, the problems women face in moving around them are much the same.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s simple (but our supporters around the world are spelling it out anyway):</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/action2015?src=hash">#action2015</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/safecitiesbecause?src=hash">#safecitiesbecause</a> I need to feel secure in my own way free from being violated as a woman</p>— shamim juma (@ShamimJuma) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShamimJuma/status/555663419488342016">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SafeCitiesBecause?src=hash">#SafeCitiesBecause</a> D city should b safe for women and girls at all times to enable them move freely <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/16DOANG?src=hash">#16DOANG</a></p>— Funmilayo Oyefusi (@funmititi1) <a href="https://twitter.com/funmititi1/status/540474186821812224">December 4, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/safecitiesbecause?src=hash">#safecitiesbecause</a> 1 night I went hungry cuz it wz too late at night to walk to 24hr shop alone. Men don't deal with this! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/16DOANG?src=hash">#16DOANG</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VAW?src=hash">#VAW</a></p>— McKinley (@mckinleycharles) <a href="https://twitter.com/mckinleycharles/status/540458028395679746">December 4, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p dir="ltr">16 Days of Activism provided our Safe Cities for Women campaign and its supporters around the world with our first opportunity to shout collectively, with one voice, for women’s right to the city. In a dozen countries, we sang, we marched, we danced, we shared stories, we demanded action from those with the power to improve our streets through better infrastructure and public services. Even more importantly, we demanded a broader change in society. Because while blaming survivors who are courageous enough to speak out, and the existence of a global rape culture that protects perpetrators has never been acceptable, it sure as hell isn’t now.</p><p dir="ltr">Here’s to shouting even louder and aiming even higher in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><strong></strong></strong><em>For more information about ActionAid’s Safe Cities for Women campaign, visit <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/safe">www.actionaid.org/safe</a></em></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist#comments Safe Cities Womens Rights International Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:57:08 +0000 kate.seewald 580709 at http://www.actionaid.ie Ben Phillips - our new Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy and Campaigns... http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/ben-phillips-our-new-director-policy-research-advocacy-and-campaigns <div class="field field-body"> <P>We're&nbsp;really excited that Ben has joined ActionAid International as the new Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy and Campaigns.&nbsp;We know he is&nbsp;really looking forward to&nbsp;learning more about&nbsp;and contributing to what ActionAid is achieving internationally.&nbsp;In the meantime, here's an interview we did with him recently to help&nbsp;you to get to know a little more about him.....</p> <P><STRONG>Q. Ben, what inspires you?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> The extraordinary power of ordinary people.&nbsp; The <A href="http://www.globaldashboard.org/2014/06/21/unquiet-challenging-inequality-pakistan/" target="_blank">grassroots women activists I met last year in Pakistan who are challenging inequality</a>. The young people in Europe who are challenging austerity. The human rights defenders in Palestine and the brave Israeli activists who in following their humanity are labelled traitors and worse. The friends I got to know when I went as an 18 year old I went to live in a township in South Africa just after the end of Apartheid, who told me of all they endured in their struggle for equality. Every time someone stands up for their brothers and sisters and shows <A href="http://reseteando.org/ben-phillips-power-people-can-challenge-people-power/" target="_blank">the power of the people to challenge the people with power</a>.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What did you want to be when you were at school?&nbsp;</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> A pianist in a basement jazz bar, accompanying Ella Fitzgerald. Or an astronaut.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What was your worst job ever?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> I was having a wonderful time as a teacher in a small village in Eastern India, before mobile phones when the nearest phone was an hour away, when from polluted water I started to lose my sight first in one eye and then in both eyes and people kept saying every day they were sure the travelling doctor would come tomorrow - a statement made in hope rather than expectation. By the time I was picked up by a passing vehicle and taken to the city I couldn't see at all. My time recovering was a also a time to reflect on the value of universal health care.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What would you most like to see change in the world?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Respect for all - which at a values level means that everyone will be treated as special and important, and at a policy level will mean reconnecting economics with focusing on the human and seeing the human as central, and seeing any economic or political or social policies as instruments of the human, rather than seeing the human as an instrument of an economic policy.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What is your biggest dream you want to achieve at ActionAid?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> To contribute to a rebalancing in the world to help strengthen the power of the people, and weaken the stranglehold of the people in power. And to help bury the old orthodoxies that have so demonstrably failed the majority. I think ActionAid can play a really vital role in this alongside and supporting movements for change across the world - and that our values, which we need to express in clearer, more powerful, more human ways - are shared not only be a minority of activists but by the majority of people everywhere.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What puts a smile on your face outside of work?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Travelling to new places with my children.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be.</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Whoever got to be that pianist in the basement jazz bar with Ella Fitzgerald. And the astronaut.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> In a world that's much fairer, I hope - but still determined to make it fairer still.</p> <P><STRONG>(P.S. Follow&nbsp;Ben on twitter here: <A href="https://twitter.com/benphillips76">@benphillips76</a>.)</strong></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2015/01/ben-phillips-our-new-director-policy-research-advocacy-and-campaigns#comments International Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:38:18 +0000 Ben Phillips 579477 at http://www.actionaid.ie