''Four years, 19 countries, and 24 experts in anthropology, medicine, ecology, and health have exposed the roots of our DNA and how to prevent the modern world from making you sick.''
Reflecting.... It's been 4 years since I wrote my thesis on the 'Pornography of Poverty: An Anthropological perspective into fundraising campagins'. I had focused on images and messages of these campaigns and asked for the responsiblity of representation. Why use that title? - it was striking for me when I saw the expression describing how images of poverty were being used similarly to images of pornography. I agreed;
Placing poverty outside of context and constantly showing images of poverty but not the REASONS and the social and economical systems in place that perpetuate poverty lead people to either:
1. Turn a blind eye to those images we are unfortuantely now so used to seeing eveywhere (que: child with flies around eyes) that we become numb and desensitised OR
2. Give money and not think about anything else: 'I've done my duty'
(Note: I am NOT saying giving money is wrong).
I had focused on the LIVE AID concerts (I had grown up watching the Live Aid tapes because of my parents - and it was indeed one of the most epic events in history- unmatched) that were set up by Bob Geldof to aid the famine in Ethiopa in 1983-4, looked at how and if things had changed for LIVE 8 in 2005 concerts that took place during the 31st G8 summit and through my research had essentially pleed for a more responsible form of representation for humanitarian fundraising campaigns.
Now that BAND AID 30 has come out (Live Aid was born out of a song 'Do they Know It's Christmas?' sung by various artists (known as Band Aid) I have had to reflect once more on my opinions. Where are we now with these campaigns?
Last year I was lucky enough to meet Bob Geldof at a conference in which he was giving a talk about his experiences. I was touched by his passion and knowledge. I told him about my dissertation. In my dissertation I had actually criticised the song and celebrities for 'wanting to do good' but being patronising and also furthering the negative perceptions of Africa.
Speaking to him changed my viewpoint. I still thought (and think) the song is patronising but I was also now able to see his experience, his reasons, his idea behind this all. He himself said - he didn't realise how BIG the song was going to be - Live Aid 'just happenned', it grew it became uncontrallable. He was a normal & charming guy, spoke of his own life (quite tough too growing up in Ireland) and his emotions behind starting such a campaign. I can understand this.
And I believe that this representation HAD changed to a certain extent for Live 8. Twenty years later G8 WAS indeed more political - aimed at politicians. It made a lot of noise. Caught politicans attention and G8 countries as a result HAD to make certain concessions. It DID have small effect. By focusing on political and social processes Live 8 was in my opinion closer to truth in terms of representing the issues at hand.
It feel that all of this comes back to the famous quote: ''with great power comes great responsibility''.
So 2 days ago I watched the new Band Aid 30 video to help fight Ebola. What are my opinions? Mixed: dissapointed somewhat at the same song, similar message, the injustices that continue; but also understanding (The single raised 1 million pounds within X Factor debut) - this amount of money DOES have power to bring about significant change IF it goes to the right places. The truth is some celebrities and some people aren't doing anything.
There is one quote I found by Damon Albarn which I do agree with however:
“There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost and it starts to feel like it’s a process where if you give money you solve the problem, and really sometimes giving money creates another problem.”
I guess my point to all of this is it's easy to crticise but it's also easy to create something without necessarily thinking of the consequences because 'IT'S GOOD'.
I think in some ways campaigns have started to lead in this direction, in others there is a long way to go. Why couldn't they create another song for helping with Ebola ? (Because Band Aid is now such a well known song and it'll sell more (thank God they've changed some of the lyrics - others don't agree with me, see links below.) Is this right or wrong? Does creating a song and donating money help? Which organisations should we donate to there are many? Is doing something better than doing nothing? Where does the money go?
These are all questions we should all be asking constantly because it's not a matter of 2+2 = 4 and we ALL have our part to play to break unfair, out of context and untruthful representation. Perhaps one may not agree with the new song or perhaps they will. One thing THAT IS important though is that we KEEP on asking these questions and strive for real change.
This IS our world, it is OUR responsiblity too.
To read my dissertatiıon written in 2010 and see some of the images / campaigns used during Live Aid-Live 8-BandAid click the download link below. Looking back there is a lot to improve upon, to develop and change which I aim to do in the future but for a little more information it may be useful. For any other questions you may contact me via email in the CONTACT section of my website.
Video Discussion (Updated 20 Nov 2014):
Sunday Morning Live on BBC 16.11.2014 Ms Robtel Neajai Pailey (PHD Student at my old university - School of Oriental and African Studies) discussing Band Aid with Esther Rantzen.
Other articles on this topic (Some I agree some I disagree but interesting to look at varying opinions.) (Updated 20 Nov 2014)
Why I had to turn down Band Aid
'We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off'
Why Adele was right to ignore Bob Geldof and Band Aid
Damon Albarn suggests Sir Bob Geldof's Band Aid 30 patronises Africa: 'There are problems with our idea of charity'
Sir Bob lets loose again to brand criticism of new Band Aid song ‘complete b******s’ during live TV interview as single goes to NO.1 in iTunes chart
Band Aid 30: Fuse ODG turned down Bob Geldof's song over 'negative' image of Africa
Bob Geldof Denies Adele Band Aid Song Snub
Band Aid 30 ditched the only half-decent line it had
So, before diving straight back into my day to day life post -
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Gold Event (IGE) South Korea: Leadership for a Transformed Award, I thought it was incredibly important that I sat down with my own thoughts and emotions to truly see what my role as an individual was going to be from here. How was I going to take all that I had learnt, the experiences I had gained and transform them into a feasible action plan for myself as an individual but also as National Director for the Award Programme in Turkey?
I decided to write down questions about what I thought the whole IGE experience meant for me. It felt that IGE 2014 was asking some very vital questions : How as individuals within different nations could we come together as a solid team to become the positive leaders
/ change makers in the world? How could we use the Award and the concept of non-formal education to create a constructive impact on society locally and globally? More importantly how were our Award holders going to become future leaders and changemakers? Because they needed to be...
Through learning about the theoretical aspects of team work and leadership and further working together practically within a team we were able to see first-hand the challenges that a small group of multi-cultural individuals could experience when given a single task. Our task was simple: to prepare a 10 minute presentation based on our entire IGE learning experience and linking it back to the Award.
We were separated into groups based on the 9 impact measures of the Award. I was placed in Group 6 (Group name: 길라잡이! (Gillajab-i !) Lead the Road!). We were to explore impact measure 3: Health and Wellbeing. I was thrilled when I learnt about this as I have a personal interest in issues of health and well-being. We were taken to Healience centre where we took part in various activities such as yoga and meditation and learnt about 4 habits of individuals that need to be changed for creating a healthy body and mind: eating, exercise, biorhythm and mental habits.
Throughout our 2 day field visit at the Healience centre I further realised that in this world of ever growing technology and bombardment of information (Remember the Did you Know? video ) we sometimes forget to just sit and take 10 minutes out of our day to be just with ourselves, breathe, meditate and reflect. The simple act of breathing can help release Serotonin (nicknamed the happiness hormone) and allow us to think and act more clearly.
So what did this all mean? Why was it that IGE 2014 had been a life changing experience for me as an individual?
After our visits together we came together to prepare our presentations. As a team throughout the IGE we had formed, stormed, normed and finally were ready to perform! . Everything came together as we got on stage held hands and shouted our group name: Gillajab-i ! We had made it; we had managed to overcome our differences, come together as individuals and a team to successfully carry out our task. It was incredible to watch that all the other 8 teams had done the same. The presentations were not only touching, they were living proof of the Award’s positive impact on society. I saw what we as a global family were capable of achieving; the potential of the Award on bringing about vast positive change worldwide.
After saying goodbye to my new friends (I confess: I was crying a little) and boarding the plane, it all hit me quite hard as I came across a quote in a booklet that had been handed to me at the Korean Magazine Fair in Seoul. It was a booklet discussing Buddhism. One particular sentence struck out at me. This was it I thought!
‘A great revolution of character in an individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind’
It seemed clear: if we were indeed so dedicated to changing the world to make it a better place we should also be dedicated to taking care of ourselves - as it is through a healthy body, mind and attitude that we can maintain the positive energy needed to become tomorrow’s global change makers. By leading by example, by leading through serving, by ‘talking the talk & walking the walk’ we would truly be able to ‘Lead the Road’ to a better humanity working together as a global team regardless of age, gender, religion, race etc.
Finally, one particular quote struck out for me at the IGE: ''Multiculturalism: a society at ease with the rich tapestry of human life''. I realised that we all have our part to play by ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ in order to maintain this rich tapestry of human life – by bettering ourselves as individuals and working together we are capable of much more. One presentation put this thought across so clearly by ending with the African Proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’; as one of our friends also added to this quote: ‘it takes a nation to build a generation’.…
Whilst building though please do remember to breathe! =)*
*There are many guided meditation videos but here are a few to get you started:
10 Minute Meditation music
10 Minute Guided Meditation
A big thank you to The International Award Foundation, The Korean Award family, The Korean National Youth Centre, The Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the International Council, The International Award Trustees, all the volunteers, and finally the Award in Turkey for giving me the opportunity to take part in this IGE - It was truly an unforgettable and lifechanging experience.
Onwards and upwards!
In the wake of mass privatisation of water across the globe that has been taking place over the past decade I would like to share a few resources/facts with you today.
Water, H20, is arguably the most important natural resource on the planet and the most important thing that humans need to survive and lead healthy lives. Unfortunately according to WaterAid, 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, one in three of the world's population AND 748 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2014).
The reality of this situation will never quite hit those of us have fortunately had access to clean water our whole lives. Yet there are some drastic problems that really cannot be ignored. We have just as much as a part of this and need to face the reality of the situation. The act of the privatization of water for example hit me hard when I watched a few documentaries a few years ago. Watching ‘Tapped’ for the first time really allowed questioning the bottled water industry and my own consumer habits.
I won’t go on and on about my own opinions but I would love to share few resources with you as water for thought:
1. First of all take a look at WaterAid for some more facts and figures. WaterAid's mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.
2. ‘Tapped’ documentary. Examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.
3. ''You'll be buying Evian just to take a f...bath''. Mos Def’s great hip-hop tune ‘New World Water’. You can find the lyrics here. Appeared on his 1999 album ‘Black on Both Sides’. Lyrics speak for themselves.
4. Water: The Great Mystery. A documentary about the history of Water . Great cinematography.
5. Check out this article regarding Nestle’s CEO who is pushing for the privitasion of water worldwide. This article is more about his discussion regarding GMOs (which is another topic entirely which I am hoping to write about ) however if you do your own research online regarding his opinions on water privitasion you can find many more resources. Corporate watch, an independent research group that investigate the social and environmental impacts of corporations and corporate power, discuss Nestles's unethical policies in depth here. For example, they state about Nestle's water policies:
“Nestlé production of mineral water involves the abuse of vulnerable water resources. In the Serra da Mantiqueira region of Brazil, home to the “circuit of waters” park whose groundwater has a high mineral content and medicinal properties, over-pumping has resulted in depletion and long-term damage.”
6. A video I just came across today by WorldVision called the 'Zambia Project' . Even thought I do not necessarily like the way this Project has been marketed* (I am not criticising it), it does paint a realistic picture of the situation in a lot of countries across the world.
The reason I wanted to share all of the above was it because it has indeed helped me have a wider view regarding how much we take for granted. Spreading knowledge in this age of connection is incredibly valuable, so there you have it.
*I wrote my MA thesis on the resbonsiblity of Images and messages used in humanitarian fundraising campaigns with a special focus on LiveAid and the Ethiopian Famine of 1984; I also took a look at what had changed 20 years on by the time of Live8. In a nutshell, my research lead to me to the opinion that the 'pornography of poverty' does not at all help in changing the perception of poverty, creates unnecessary guilt, a feeling of apathy and numbness towards horrific realities that exist. This does not fix the problem of poverty. It SHOWS poverty but not the REASONS for poverty, which are complex reasons that our embedded in the global economic and social system that we are a part of. By the end I ask for responsible representation, one that is indeed perhaps slightly more political, context-ridden, that allows people to realise they ARE indeed a part of the problem AND solution, that they DO have agency to take action other than for example donating money (not that this is a bad thing) and forget about what's going on in their daily lives. I say this because most people do prefer to feel they are actually making a change through their own actions. If ıinterested in my thesis please get in touch.
The other day, my friend sent me a Ted Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (leading researcher in positive psychology) about 'Flow, The Secret to Happiness'.
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.” - Kofi Annan
This morning I came across a video on Facebook called 'What are we teaching our children?'. It was a pretty heartbreaking study that looks into the preconceived ideas and prejudices children have against people with different skin colour. The study takes place in America but I feel is definitely a reflection of our 'global society'.
In the video children are asked if they prefer a black or white skin coloured doll and why. In addition children are asked what colour skin they would prefer to have as well as which children are 'dumb' or 'smart' etc. I won't say any more, you can watch that video here.
Just a quick browse on YouTube and you can find many studies on the same topic. Here is another video for e.g. (also linked to the above study) that shows also how clueless children are regarding WHY they have such prejudices. The question does really come to 'What are we teaching our children?'
It made me think of a very important experiment that I watched a few years back conducted by Jane Elliott, a former school teacher and anti-racism activist.
Commonly known as the 'blue eye / brown eye experiment' , 'The Eye of The Storm' is ''A wake up call for all ages [that] teaches about prejudices using a dramatic framework [which] provides an examination of the realities of discrimination as experienced by actual students in [her] classroom of [third graders]. Elliott [demonstrates] how quickly children can succumb to discriminatory behaviour. The video chronicles her, now famous, exercise where she divides her class based upon the colour of their eyes and bestows upon one group privileges and on the other group impediments.'' (Source: www.janeelliott.com)
What's interesting is the follow up of the experiment that came 15 years later, 'A Class Divided' that explores what the children ''in Jane Elliott's daring classroom exercise learned about discrimination and how it still affects them today. Ms. Elliott meets with some of her former students to analyse the exercise in pejudice and its impact on their lives'' (Source: www.janeelliott.com).
I strongly recommend everyone to watch the above two documentaries and read about Jane Elliott's experiments.
Prejudice is truly killing us. Enough is enough!
TED Talks (Ideas Woth Spreading is the motto) are always inspiring. I've been watching them on and off for the last 7-8 years now. Covering material from almost any topic you can think of you can tune in for 10 minute bite sized videos or watch hour long talks and interactive performances that are always interesting and sometimes just completely fascinating.
The Blog also has some interesting material. So, I recently stumbled upon a blog post '100 Websites You should Know and Use' which gives websites for business, literature, audiovisual material, experimental websites etc. It has also been recently updated as well. You should definitely check it out!
Welcome to my new website! Take a look around... =)
This photo is from a journey from Datça, south of Turkey back home to Ankara. Datça is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and since I was very young I've spent a lot of time travelling so I feel as this photo captures that feeling of belonging to more than one place at the same time.
Interested in international development, humanitarian work and activism through art, literature and music. Singer/Song-writer/Guitarist.