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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Extra Credit Post: KONY 2012 by Kristina Bruno

As we all have seen in the past few weeks, Invisible Children’s Documentary “KONY 2012” has gone viral. This social media documentary highlights the horrible acts that Kony, the LRA leader, has committed in Uganda, kidnapping children and forcing them to become soldiers  and causing of an extremely large amount of deaths throughout Uganda and beyond. This documentary is extremely powerful and calls for all viewers to “make Kony famous” so that the US will continue investing in seeing that Kony is stopped and by sending money to the Ugandan army.

Though the video has sparked much emotion and much action amongst its viewers, it has also sparked many criticisms. Attached is a critique of the documentary: Joseph Kony is Not in Uganda (and other complicated things). Some arguments include the lack of accuracy of facts and oversimplifying the Ugandan conflict, as well as criticism of the NGO’s use of money-spending large amounts of money making high quality documentaries as well as sending the money to the Ugandan s military, which is only slightly less corrupt than the rebel group that they are fighting against.  This is a rather complex issue and though I agree that Kony needs to be stopped, this may not be the most effective way to make that happen.

Here is the documentary, Kony 2012:

*Extra Credit Post* “All I Eat is ARV’s”

http://allafrica.com/stories/201203061201.html

The article describes the suffering that people in Mozambique are enduring due to societal issues that the government is failing to address. Many of the people are affected with HIV AIDS. In order to combat this disease, the people are given ARV’s to help treat it. While this treatment method has proven to be very effective and is saving lives, there is still a greater issue that needs to be addressed. The people in mozambique are living in extreme poverty and do not even have food to eat. They are suffering from starvation and the only aid that they are receiving are the ARV drugs. The body need nourishment in order to heal. WIthout proper food and nutrition, they cannot benefit from the ARV treatment. The government is doing a lot of good in providing this HIV treatment as a free service to the public but they are still failing to address this main issue. A person cannot survive long without food. Without food they will die far more quickly whether they HIV or not. In order to truly make a difference in the lives of these people, both issues need to be addressed with equal importance. “ARV’s alone are an insufficient intervention in the face of hunger and inequalities. AIDS treatment interventions must go beyond a vision of saving bare lives and be implemented with a broad view of social and economic citizenship”.

The people suffering from starvation and HIV/AIDS may also be suffering from depression. Everything is interconnected and one problem cannot be solved without addressing the other.

*Extra Credit Post* Epigenetics and the Embodiment of Race

http://www.seleneriverpress.com/mah-features/611-epigenetics-processes-foods-and-the-fate-of-the-human-race

I am not someone that easily understands science or wants anything to do with biology but I found this topic to be completely fascinating. Of course everyone knows that you are what you eat. What your mother ate and even what your grandmother ate contributes to your health because of the genes that you inherited from them. Their lifestyle choices affected their health but also will affect yours. This article begs the question about why it is that some races are more prone to certain diseases. For instance, it is widely publicized that African Americans suffer greatly from heart disease. Why is this? There are many social, economic, and contextual factors that come into play. Everyone is familiar with the nature vs nurture argument. Yes, you are born with certain genes that in some ways render you incapable from changing your genetic structure but that is not the only thing that affects your health. Your environment plays a huge role in your overall well-being. In the case of African Americans, their ancestors had “cultural and structural challenges which imposed barriers to a healthy lifestyle”. In the days when segregation was the norm, African Americans had limited access to quality medical care and were under constant strain and stress. Stress contributes greatly to many different health problems as it takes a significant toll on the body. As we learned from epigenetics, what affected your ancestors affects you. Therefore, because African Americans lacked proper health care and were put under constant strain decades ago, African Americans today are still suffering from their ancestors environmental factors. This explains the racial disparities in races.

Depression, which is similar to stress takes a toll on the body and takes away from a person’s health and well being. Depression affects the individual as well as those that surround the individual. And as we learned from epigenetics, if your ancestors suffered from depression, you are more likely to suffer from it too.

Rethinking Health and Human Rights

http://www.hrw.org/news/2008/02/18/business-rights-risk-global-economy

In Paul Famer’s book “Pathologies of Power”, he discusses the shift in the global market economy and the its influence on human rights. He points out the outlined rights given in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. Despite the fact that this universal creed is in existence, many people are not given those basic necessities which are supposed to be allotted to them. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Companies consider themselves to be separate entities which do not have to abide by the same rules as an individual. They often times get away with not providing safe work environments for their employees and giving them unjust wages. They feel that it is not within their responsibilities as a company to be concerned with human rights. The government is also at fault when it comes to human rights issues. Farmer uses the example of the poor government health care services in Mexico. The government health care services were described as being discriminatory, exacerbating political divisions, and failing utterly to address the real health needs of the population”.

Depression is an issue because people are not being given the proper medical care and do not have the means with which to address their mental health problems. This can lead to all kinds of societal problems as a result.

Rethinking Human Rights by Kristina Bruno

In the last chapter of Paul Farmer’s “Pathologies of Power,” Rethinking Health and Human Rights, Paul Farmer suggests a new agenda for addressing human rights and its relationship to health. His suggestions include making health and healing a symbolic core of the agenda, making provision of services central to the agenda, establishing new research agendas, assuming a broader educational mandate, achieving independence from powerful governments and Bureaucrats, and securing more resources for health and human rights. Farmer ends his book with a powerful quote: “it is time to take health rights as seriously as other rights. Intellectual recognition is only a necessary first step towards pragmatic solidarity, that is, taking a stand towards taking a stand by the side of those who suffer most  from an increasingly harsh “new world order” (Farmer 246).

This book calls not only for education and recognition of the violations of human rights, especially in regards to one’s health, but also for us all to use that knowledge and act upon it to help those in need. There are people all over the world with both physical and mental health problems and deserve to be addressed. The structural violence that is hiding the causes behind these terrible conditions needs to be made visible. We all have the power to be a part of this revelation.

The website below is of a global health and human rights organization that works to build lasting access to health for excluded communities.

http://www.healthright.org/?gclid=CN_i8tqy564CFQ6EhwodDGzLfg

Narrating Life

http://www.fallsapart.com/the_absolutely_true_diary_of_a_part_time_indian

Sherman Alexie’s novel tells the story of a cartoon artist named Junior who leaves his Indian reservation to attend an all-white school in order to gain a better education. His family and friends shun him for leaving his heritage behind but in the end he gains a whole new side of himself that he never knew existed. The story is inspired by the author’s personal experiences growing up and having to deal with the expectations put upon him by his Indian heritage and the white world he lives in.

The book was an easy read as it is targeted at pre-teens and it sends a really good message. It discusses serious issues such as dealing with racism but does so with a bit of humor, which is important. Personally, I can also relate to the story as I’m sure many people whose parents immigrated to the U.S. can attest to it also. It is difficult to maintain the cultural values that are placed on young people by their grandparents and parents when they are living in a white-washed, modern world. The main character in the novel had to deal with being different. That is the underlying issue. As soon as he went to the all-white school, things changed. He was no longer the stereotypical “Indian” because he was learning about the cultural norms at the new school. And he could never be “white” because he was from and Indian Reservation. This left him with conflicting ideas and made him feel like he didn’t truly belong in either place. Luckily in the end, he realizes that it is a good thing to be different. It is good to open yourself up to experience other cultures. The transition may be difficult at first, but you will come out a stronger and better person because of it.

 

This relates to our group’s topic of depression in that the protagonist dealt with a form of depression when he was made fun of by his peers at both the reservation and the all-white school. He suffered greatly but was able to pull himself up out of the depression and persevere. 

Indian Reservations and the struggle to Survive by Kristina Bruno

In the young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie writes in the viewpoint of a Native American Indian teenager torn between his life on the reservation and the white world that surrounds it. The novel deals with issues such as racism poverty bullying and following tradition. Arnold, the main character has many physical problems and for that, he is made fun of by both peers on the reservation and in the white well-off school he transfers to later on in the novel.
His family, like many others on the reservation suffers from poverty. Arnold is angered and saddened by the fact that the Spokane Reservation is so poor when he realizes that he is using the same school textbooks that his mom used thirty years ago. This brings up the question of whether tribal groups having their own government and being exempt from the United States government laws is a case of cultural Relativism of Structural violence. This is a very controversial issue that still does not have a perfect answer of how to address this controversy.

This story very much relates to depression in a sense that all the issues and hardships that the author describes can lead to both chronic and recurrent depression.  Here is an article that further looks into the struggle to survive on Native American Reservations: Living and Surviving on Indian Reservations.

In the article, “All I eat is ARVS” The Paradox of AIDS Treatment Interventions in Central Mozambique, Ippolytos Andreas Kalofonos explains how the rising count of “lives saved” in Mozambique from antiretroviral treatment seems to portray a success story of high-tech treatment being provided on one of the poorest contexts of the world. However, this treatment has had many significant social effects due to a complicated history and problems with poverty. This type of intervention with scarce resources leads to major competition among people living with HIV/AIDS, when they should instead be focusing on solidarity and community action. According to the author, discourses of hunger serve as a critique of these shortcomings and the wider political economy underlying the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Below is a critique of this study: https://wiki.geneseo.edu/display/food/Kalofonos+(2010)+All+I+Eat+is+ARVs+The+Paradox+of+AIDS+Treatment+Interventions+in+Central+Mozambique

 

Due to the interdependence of human rights, it is clear that this scarcity and its effects on all, and especially those affected by HIV/AIDS in Mozambique also puts strains on one’s mental health. Additionally, lacking that community solidarity due to competition over food, I can only imagine that it makes it even harder on a person’s mental health.

Here is an interesting video that attempts to address the vicious cycle of how HIV/AIDS breeds food crisis, food crisis breeds HIV/AIDS.


Sterilizing Vaccines or the Politics of the Womb

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2004/mar/04031101

When I first read this article I felt like the girls who were interviewed and feared for myself because like the majority of the people in the U.S. I have been vaccinated for several things throughout my life. Although the article focused on the fact that the vaccines were not actually sterilizing the girls and that a miscommunication occurred which transformed into a rumor, I began to panic and researched the topic further. What I found was that the government does intend to reduce the world population and may or may not be doing this through the use of vaccines.   In the government’s attempt to solve some of the world’s biggest problems such as sustainability in regard to the environment, the economy, and more, the solution in their minds is to control the world’s population. It is no secret that the more people that there are in the world, the greater the burden. More people requires more resources and those resources are running out quickly with the world economy in decline and the environment’s natural resources quickly running out. Some of the world’s richest elite have developed a plan to to control the population through covert vaccinations. Vaccines are advertised for one thing such as aiding in combating the flu, but secretly have a completely different agenda. It has been rumored that these vaccines serve the dual purpose of sterilizing the individual being vaccinated so that they will stop reproducing; thus helping to stop overpopulation. Suddenly I found myself feeling victimized like the girl in the article. I fear that the vaccines that I was given as a child will do more harm than good. The article’s conclusion had the best solution.

“Broadening the concept of reproductive health and ma- ternal-child health care to incorporate local beliefs and concerns, including the practical and symbolic importance of fertility in interethnic relations, will make public health policy more responsive to a local politics of the womb”.

The girls that felt like victims after being vaccinated may have suffered from depression from feelings of helplessness. The girls who had abortions also may have suffered bouts of depression due to the emotional and physical toll they endured.

Children’s Rights in Incarcerated Youth Facilities By Kristina Bruno (EXTRA CREDIT POST)

 

 

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This last fall I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in a program with a focus on Human Rights and Social Movements. For the last month of the program, I had the opportunity to work closely with el Instituto de Regimen Cerrado Manuel Rocca, in the neighborhood of Floresta. This is a closed all-boys youth facility for 16 and 17 year old boys who have a penal cause and are sent there while their trial is in process. 

Manuel Rocca is a socio-educative institution and focuses on children’s rights with the objective of forming the boys into subjects of rights. They reach this objective though providing school and various workshops. The idea of the workshops is that they can form and strengthen their identities and when the boys leave, they can connect with positive things that they learned during their stay at the institution.

On of the psychologists there told me that before the boys arrived at Manuel Rocca, many did not have education, dignified living situation or structure, and that at Manuel Rocca, they gain those things. I always saw this as very interesting because when I think of an incarcerated youth facility, I don’t think of it as being a more positive situation then the one they are in outside of the facility, but for many of the boys, it was. Facilities like this one that stress the importance of children’s rights within and outside of the facility, are something that should be striven for all around the globe. Below is a link to a study on the lack of education in Juvelile delincuent Facilities: The Right to Education in the Juvenile and Criminal Justice  Systems in the United States.

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