My City of Ruins

Buy this Eddie Vedder performance of Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful My City Of Ruins through iTunes for only $0.99. Proceeds from the sale of the track benefit Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Relief.

Artists for Peace and Justice support the work of Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti. Rick Frechette is a Passionist priest and doctor who has worked in the slums of Haiti for over 20 years. He founded two hospitals, an orphanage, and numerous street schools and clinics.

Get My City of Ruins at:




The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.

This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship “Comfort” stationed outside Haiti. “Comfort” is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to the “Comfort.” Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board the “Comfort” to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.

At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.

Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at the HMBANA website at

Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.

For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or . Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (, ILCA/USLCA at 1-800-452-2478 ( or ), or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 ( .

Teaching Peace – PeaceJam

Today’s briefing for NGOs at the United Nations was part of the Department of Public Information’s (DPI) Faith Series, “Islam and its Message of Peace and Understanding among Civilizations.

I was particularly impressed with one of the speakers: Dr. Shirin Ebadi.  She is a human rights lawyer and activist from Iran,  and was the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

These days, her passion is the PeaceJam Foundation.

Dr. Ebadi explained to the audience how PeaceJam got started. In 1993 Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff noticed that more and more kids in their working class neighborhood in Denver seemed to be quitting school and joining gangs. One day, as Ivan was leaving for work he saw four young boys, he knew, carrying guns and he called them over to talk.

He asked, “Why aren’t you in school?

The boys answered, “They don’t teach anything there, that we are interested in learning.

He asked them, “Who is the President of the United States?

They answered, “Who cares? What did he ever do for us?”

He asked, What country is our neighbor to the north?

They said, “We don’t know and we don’t care.”

Ivan asked, “Did you ever learn anything useful from any teacher you ever had?”

The boys said, “The teachers don’t understand poverty. They don’t understand where poverty takes you.”

Then Ivan asked, “Who would you like to be your teacher?”

One of the boys answered, “Desmond Tutu.” The boys went on to add that they would also like to be taught by Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

This conversation was the inspiration for PeaceJam. Ivan thought, maybe what Denver needed was to put young people together with Nobel Peace Laureates like Tutu, to inspire young people to use their energy to work for positive change. Maybe this was what the world needed.

Before long, the PeaceJam program was launched, and to date over 600,000 young people have participated in the USA and around the world.

“The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.”

The Core Components of PeaceJam Programs are: Education, Inspiration and Action.

Education – PeaceJam’s curricula are standards-based and designed to stimulate youths’ critical thinking skills, strengthen their research skills, increase their conflict resolution and leadership skills, and promote reflection and action.

Inspiration – Each curriculum teaches about the lives and work of the Nobel Peace Laureates through age-appropriate activities and content. Youth get to know the personal and harrowing stories of the 12 PeaceJam Nobel Peace Laureates and how these role models work to solve problems through non-violence.

Action – On September 16, 2006 10 Nobel Peace Laureates gathered in Denver, Colorado. It was the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners in U.S. history. The laureates issued a challenge to the youth of the world, the Global Call to Action. This is what they said:

“Today we ask the young leaders of PeaceJam, and the youth of the entire world, to join us in a Global Call to Action. For the next ten years, we invite them to work side by side with us as we address ten fundamental issues. These ten core problems are at the root of much of the suffering in our world, and we believe that young people can mobilize to make a difference in these ten key areas. Over the coming decade, we will continue to lead this effort, which is being launched today at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the PeaceJam Foundation.

It is our hope that by launching this ten-year campaign, we can inspire people of all ages, worldwide, to work for change. Over the next ten years, we hope to inspire over a billion acts of service and peace”

PeaceJam also brings Nobel Peace Prize winners together with high-school aged youth for two-day PeaceJam Youth Conferences.

At today’s briefing Dr. Ebadi announced the launch of the PeaceJam Foundation’s Middle East Program. PeaceJam has already, as Bishop Tutu recently commented, “made a huge, huge difference in the lives of many young people by giving them hope and direction.” Hopefully it will make a big difference in the future of the Middle East by empowering the youth there to become the agents of change that region so desperately needs.

Underage Girls Dance in Rhode Island Strip Clubs

Prostitution is not illegal in Rhode Island, nor is it regulated. Only street prostitution is prohibited.

This has created a favorable climate for sex related businesses. Massage parlors, strip clubs, and “spas” have proliferated as well as sex trafficking and sex slavery.

Recently, girls under the age of eighteen were discovered dancing in strip clubs in the State and right now according to Rhode Island law, that’s not illegal.

State Rep. Joanne Giannini is currently working on a bill to prohibit minors from working in strip clubs. She blames legalized prostitution for creating the atmosphere where such a thing could happen in the first place.

If Ms. Giannini really wants to change the climate; reduce the number of sex clubs, fight human trafficking and protect girls and boys, I would suggest that she go for the jugular and sponsor a bill that makes paying for sex illegal. Stop the demand! It has worked well elsewhere and I the think Rhode Islanders will appreciate the change in climate.

More info:

New Approach to Newborn Child Survival in Argentina

A new family centered approach to maternal and newborn child care piloted in the Hospital Ramón Sarda in Buenos Aries is decreasing neo-natal mortality and will be replicated on a massive scale by UNICEF around the world.

Dr. Miguel Larguia, who has been with the hospital for 40 years, is the person responsible for the new approach.

“The concept of family-centred hospitals is a real change of paradigm because we now recognize as the owners of the house, not the medical doctors or the health agents, but the pregnant mothers and their babies,” he said.

Key features of the program include:

  • Involvement of fathers in every stage of the process
  • Encouragement of mothers to breastfeed
  • Parents have 24 hour access to their newborn
  • Special days for other family members to visit and special briefings for them on what to expect, (Especially in the a case of premature births or severe health challenges)
  • Free on-site residence for mothers whose babies must stay in hospital for an extended period. (There’s room for 38 mothers at the residence, and they stay an average of two months.)

“This model includes practices that have been shown to be effective in preventing neo-natal mortality,” said UNICEF Health Specialist Zulma Ortiz. “And all of them are based specifically in the relationship between the mother and the son or the daughter – and also the whole family – so the idea is to promote the implementation of this strategy all over the world.”

Two thirds of neonatal and young child deaths – over 6 million deaths each year – are preventable. Supporting programmes like this one is an efficient, cost-effective way to help children survive.

UNICEF Executive Board Meets this Week

The UNICEF Executive Board meets this week at UN Headquarters in New York. The Executive Board is the governing body of UNICEF.  It consists of 36 members representing the five regional groups of Member States at the UN. This year the members are from

Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Sudan, Zimbabwe

Eastern Europe
Croatia, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia

Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Republic of Korea

Latin America and the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Uruguay

Western Europe and Others
Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America

UNICEF reports through its Executive Board to the United Nations General Assembly and to the Economic and Social Council. The role of the board is to oversee the work of UNICEF, to recommend new initiatives and to consult with the Secretary General on the appointment of the UNICEF Executive Director.

Highlighting this annual meeting will be a special focus on global health, with a particular focus on polio eradication.

Read more at:

United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development

Clip Art0020Early in May several NGOs urged their members to write to their government leaders and and urge them to personally attend the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, originally scheduled for June 1-3, here in New York.  Only occasionally do we get to see results from the letters and emails we send to government officials but it is clear that our our action in May is having an impact. The US Mission to the UN indicated that more that 700 letters were received on this topic!

The impact of the global financial and economic crisis continues to cut deeper into the economies of the world, especially in the so-called developing world. Since the beginning of May government representatives at the UN have been meeting regularly to negotiate the text of an outcome document for the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development now scheduled for the 24th-26th June 2009.


One of our  NGO colleagues, who has been monitoring the current negotiations, reports the following:

  • Areas of considerable agreement among the governments: need follow up reform process beyond conference itself; UN is legitimate forum as all countries represented; need improve current system and address needs of the poorer countries; keep focus on people-centered development
  • Areas needing further clarification before any agreement: naming the root causes of the crisis; has economic growth brought benefits to those living in poverty?
  • Areas of marked differences: G77 (developing countries) want to address role of specific developed countries and the international financial institutions (IFIs) in current crisis and see as essential reform of the IFIs; EU and US (developed economies) hesitant to affirm these

For more information and references:;

The sessions of the Conference will be webcast, cf.

The upcoming summit from the perspective of the General Assembly.

The summit from the perspective of the NGOs working on Financing for Development.

Center of Concern response to G-20 meeting:

OXFAM analysis of G-20 meeting:

Take Action!

Even if you acted in May, please send another letter to your government leader: Below is a sample letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

We are writing to urge you to attend the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development that will be held from the 24th to 26th of June 2009 in New York.

Your message of hope and change has inspired people across the globe, but this current crisis has shattered many people’s hope for a better future, replacing it with despair.  Developing countries are suffering disproportionately from this crisis for which they bear the least responsibility, and we believe, as you do, that peace, stability and prosperity are inextricably linked.

The responses currently proposed by the G20 are not sufficient to address the root causes of this complex crisis. And we know that real recovery for the global economy must include input from the developing world.  This crisis may be the impetus for transformational change, but such change requires strong leadership.  Your presence and input could make a tremendous difference and move us closer to a more equitable and sustainable global economic structure.


Email the White House:

You can also call or fax:
Phone Numbers
Comments: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461
Comments: 202-456-6213