Table of Contents
Exploring Nearby Nature!
(c) 2002 by Skipping Stones. Opinions expressed in these pages reflect views of the contributors, and not necessarily those of Skipping Stones, Inc. In the spirit of ecological sensitivity, we choose to print with soy ink on recycled & recyclable paper.
FROM THE EDITOR
During my recent visit to India, I spent a week at Anandwan, a community in central India. Its founder, Baba Amte, 89, is one of my role models because he has given new life to more than 10,000 leprosy patients and disabled children.
Baba started as a lawyer but soon became involved in local government. He was challenged by someone to do the job of a street and sewer cleaner for a month to understand why their demand for a pay raise was justified. He accepted the challenge. It required him to start work at 4 a.m. every day. One such morning, Baba came across a deformed leprosy patient fallen helplessly in a gutter. Baba was fear-stricken and ran away from the site, but he later decided to confront his fears. He returned and took it upon himself to care for the man.
Over the next 20 years, Baba established many projects and communities for leprosy patients that provided home, work, wages, medical care and social networks for the outcasts. At the time, leprosy was feared by many the way AIDS is feared today.
Anandwan, home to some 2,000 people, uses sustainable agriculture; drylands irrigation; decentralization; and cottage industries like weaving, printing, shoe making and metal works that produce essentials and an income for the residents. It gives them a feeling of self-respect.
Baba's organization also serves blind and disabled children, indigenous people and unemployed rural youth. It offers them homes, education, training, employment opportunities and health care. The front and back covers and pages 18-19 show selected creations of Anandwan's students.
Baba involves people from outside and welcomes international cooperation. He has been honored with many national and international awards. As I joined Baba and his wife, Taee, on one of their daily walks along the many dirt roads of Anandwan, he remarked, "A smile from a blind or disabled child gives me more pleasure than any of the prizes that I have received. Their smiles take away all my tiredness... I am rich in gratitude." As we walked past one of the irrigation tanks built to capture the rainwater, Baba's son, Vikas, explained their purpose-to slow the flow of rainwater in order to recharge groundwater, reduce soil erosion and provide irrigation during the dry season.
Among the many nature-friendly techniques they use are planting trees, creating wetlands and habitats, composting, reusing plastic, and employing biogas. Biogas plants use organic and human waste created in the community to produce methane gas for cooking, thus reducing the need for scarce fuelwood.
Anandwan and its sister communities have built scores of new buildings and homes with easy-to-use, low-cost construction techniques that reduce the use of iron, cement, lumber and traditional bricks (which use a lot of soil and fuel in their manufacture and transportation). These homes are affordable, comfortable, ecological and energy-efficient.
Baba has no regrets in life. He has worked tirelessly for over 60 years. He lives with chronic back pain and a heart condition, yet he has led nationwide political, social and environmental campaigns. For example, Baba's "Knit India" project took him and his followers on bicycles throughout India. He wanted to engage the people in a national dialogue to bring unity to a diverse and fragmented Indian society which was marred by social and political unrest.
In the 1990s, Baba and Medha Patkar led a struggle to save hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and small farmers of the Narmada River Valley from being displaced by the large dams being built. They brought the issues of ethics and environmental damage caused by big dam construction to the forefront. Baba and Medha were honored with the Right Livelihood Award for their leadership.
Baba wants to see us work together to improve life for all, regardless of religion, with no discrimination or prejudice toward anyone. His message is to look at the whole picture: to use an integrated approach to problem solving, to know the true value of things not just their market price. Happiness is a continuous, creative activity!
-- Arun Toke'
Easter is the feast of Christ's resurrection. It is celebrated according to the lunar calendar on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon.
The Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches use the Julian calendar, so Easter in Ukraine does not coincide with Easter in the countries with other Christian churches. It is on a Sunday between the 4th of April and the 28th of May.
In Ukraine, Easter has been celebrated over a long period of history and has many rich traditions. The week before Easter is called the White or Pure Week.
During this time, an effort is made to finish all field work before Thursday. On the evening of Pure Thursday, the Passion Service is performed. The people then return home with lighted candles.
The last Sunday before Easter is called Willow Sunday. On this day, willow branches are blessed in the church. The people tap each other with these branches, in hopes they will be as tall as the willow, as heathy as the water and as rich as the earth.
Easter begins with the matins and high mass during which the pasky, rysanky and krashanky are blessed in the church. Butter, cheese, roast suckling, and little napkins containing poppy seeds and other provisions are also blessed. After the matins the people exchange Easter greetings. People offer each other krashanky and then hurry home with their baskets of blessed food. Easter is a feast of joy and gladness for the people. Many people celebrate this holiday, and it has been proclaimed a national holiday in Ukraine.
---Melnik Aleksay, grade 8,
WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?
I believe education comes in three parts: the intellectual, the social and the emotional. The intellectual comes with classrooms, books and lectures. But the social and emotional belong not only in the classroom, but also the hallways, the lunchrooms, and after-school activities. Why aren't educators, parents and legislators scrambling to nurture all three components?
When I attend school, I know something is wrong. I constantly hear what is many people's identity used as a derogatory term. There isn't a hallway I pass through, a classroom I learn in, a club I participate in that I don't hear somebody saying, "That's so gay," or "He's such a fag." I don't hear, "Man, that's so black!" or white, or Hispanic, or Asian American in my classroom. Why do I have to hear that something is gay? The fact that a group of people is reduced to negative slang terms enrages me. I don't want my friends to be in the closet because of what other people are saying.
Beyond the injustices I feel for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community and their supporters, I am angry with my teachers and administration. I am angry that they tolerate the behavior students display and, in many cases, perpetuate it by cursing with derogatory terms and not addressing the issue at hand.
Last year, my friends and I began the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at our school. We started with a lot of incredible goals for our organization to serve as an informational, support and fund-raising group. We ran into a lot of obstacles. Our administration had many concerns. Would the club be promoting sex? Would students care? It became a case of having to justify ourselves. At one point, we were approached by a substantiated rumor that a parent was going to pull his child out of our school if we established the GSA. I wasn't comfortable with it, but we had to move forward because our vision was too important to abandon.
Now we are supporting GLBT students through social functions. We fight prejudice and stereotypes through awareness programs throughout the school year. This year, we plan on speaking to our administration and legislators about fighting apathy, prejudice and tolerance of behaviors that should not be tolerated.
If there is something wrong at your school, be motivated to cause the change and see change. Even if nothing seems to be wrong, question everything and then improve it. Don't think that anything is too petty, that students won't respond, that you won't be successful. In the end, words hurt, and it will affect somebody's life. No person that has ever lived on this earth deserves that.
-- Jinny Jang, 11th grade,
How Nature Speaks
-- Chandra Smith, 17, Saskatchewan, Canada.
-- Miguel Salazar, 19,
A Sea of New People
-- Mia Nardi-Huffman, Italian American, 10, Norwalk, Connecticut.
No one is helpless! A 15-year-old boy in my neighborhood, Estaban Camacho, made a drawing of a dove of peace in order to make a lawn sign to give to his grandmother. The dove is safely holding up and carrying planet Earth. The words "NO WAR" help convey the message. As soon as the lawn sign appeared, neighbors eagerly requested duplicates for their yards. There are now 1,000 in print, and they are selling like hot cakes for $5.00 or less, however much people can afford. The money received is being used to promote peace. The signs are silk-screened onto firm poster board. Many of the signs have been attractively colored with permanent markers by the purchasers. Estaban welcomes your use of his design. Yard signs for peace are mushrooming in yards all over town. Many of the most effective ones were made by children of all ages.
No one is too young to be a spokesperson for justice. Whenever you notice a discriminating, self-serving, unfair act, you can ask those present to see to it that justice is done. The aim is to develop in each individual a deep inner sense of caring for every person. Doing the work of peace grows in you and me at every moment when we choose justice rather than victory by might. It is a lifelong path. One great way to understand the path of peace is to read biographies of peacemakers. We are fortunate to be able to choose from among many people of all different cultures. Helen Caldicott, Abraham Lincoln, Chief Dan George, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, César Chávez, Dorothy Day... the list is endless. And from each one we experience new inspiration into peace possibilities we had not imagined.
Everybody loves listening to stories. Learning some peace stories to tell at home, at school, for a birthday present, wherever-is always a gift. I have told stories from each of the following books: Peace Tales by Margaret Read Macdonald (Linnet); Spinning Tales, Weaving Hope: Stories of Peace, Justice and the Environment (New Society Publishers) and Stories for Telling by William R. White (Augsburg).
Skipping Stones Magazine