Stories For Change 56


Sharifa Begum from Kaligram in Mohanpur Upazilla got married when she was in class ten at school. In 1997 she became a member of Smrity Forum of The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB). At that time literacy rate in that area was very poor and there was no one suitable to be a pre school teacher, except Sharifa. She was very sincere and devoted to teaching and was popular with the students as well as the Forum members. In 2007 CCDB had to withdraw it support for the pre school but the Forum members felt the need to continue was great as there was no other pre-school around in that area. Since that time Sharifa has carried on this program in cooperation with the Forum. She uses the Forum centre for teaching with their consent and only takes TK20 from each student as monthly tuition fees. After the completion of pre- primary education, she also assists the students in getting admission to the local government primary school. A few years ago the children were facing problems regarding their admission to the local school as the head teacher refused because they had no places or resources. So she went to the Upazilla education officer to find a way but this failed. Discussing the matter with the other Forum members Sharifa decided to met the the Upzilla Nirbahi Officer to try to solve the problem. The UNO felt her case was important and took the necessary steps to make sure the children were admitted. Sharifa won because of her willingness to continue advocating for the children. She proved herself a good leader. Because people respected her she is now the president of Mohanpur Upazilla network and looks after fifteen Forums supported by CCDB.

From CCDB’s annual report 2008-9


Many may remember Chris Masenyama who visited the UK with Janet  a few years ago. We have sad news from Father David Harrold Barry at Silveira House

‘Chris Masenyama died last night. We are all trying to believe it. He had another of his high blood pressure attacks and went to the clinic and then to Pary hospital but he just got worse and worse and died at around 8.00pm. For some time he had been preparing with Fidelis Mpofu to go to Coady in Canada but while Fidelis was granted a visa he was not. No reasons given. He was due to travel next week. I suspect this contributed to his BP. Also the hospital did not seem to be able to help. It took close to seven hours to admit him with queues of people and confused bureaucracy. We were on our way to transfer him to another hospital or the Trauma Clinic when we got the news. It is all a terrible shock.     And later…….

They are just back from the burial of Chris Masenyama in his home area near Mutoko. Our bus left full of people at around 9 pm on Monday and when they got there around 11 they sang and prayed all night. The burial took place around 2pm as they had a job to dig the grave it being stony there. The bus returned here about 6 pm yesterday. So the funeral took two days and I guess not much work will be done today: they must be exhausted. David


“Eighty-three percent of the infections of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica are among young people 15 to 49 years old.”

In Jamaica, stigma and discrimination remain a reality for people living with HIV/AIDS. This stigma and discrimination can be found in workplaces with little or no recourse for the infected individual. Similarly little or no accommodation is made for employees whose health is failing and are unable to meet their principle terms of employment. Unfortunately this has left many people living with HIV/AIDS unemployed and unable to meet basic needs. “Life’s Work” is a work therapy programme run by Jamaica AIDS Support for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Each of Jamaica AIDS Support’s three chapters run Life’s Work Programs, making hand-made specialty cards, scented candles and handmade soaps. The labels of the products promote them as made by persons living with HIV and have served to promote an anti-stigma and discrimination message. The production centres have also served to provide psychosocial and economic support for HIV-positive persons in a setting which promotes self-esteem and pride in one’s craft. These products have become highly sought after in the local Jamaican market, but are also now expanding to the US and UK markets through specialty dealers. As workers in the program, the staff also benefit from other support services and network alliances for persons living with HIV offered by the host NGO and its partners, such as assistance with school expenses for children; medical support; one-on-one, couples, family and community counseling and support.

Trade and the G20

Commentators seem to agree that not much was achieved at the G20 summit in Toronto on the 26th and 27th June. Little was done to address any of the structural problems that caused the financial and economic crises of the past three years and serious concerns have been raised that the austerity policies being espoused stand to inflict the most pain on the poorest, who bear the least responsibility, whilst allowing the rich to get back to business as usual. The final communiqué contains no agreement on a tax on banks or financial transactions yet instructs governments to cut deficits in half by 2013.

On trade, there has been no change in the free-market rhetoric. Market opening is said to have been at the heart of the ‘recovery’ and there is yet further commitment to concluding the WTO Doha round (which the G20 persist in calling a ‘development round’). They therefore commit to continue pursuing policies to keep barriers to trade low, avoid restrictions on exports and comply with WTO measures – an empty commitment, given the continued lack of US action on its anti-WTO cotton subsidies.

With little evidence of a change in the ideology, domestic policies – for example to protect jobs, must play second fiddle to strengthening global trade and investment. We can assume that the commitment to “a green recovery and to sustainable global growth” will also only be fulfilled so long as trade-as-usual is not affected. The G20 have asked for a “report on the benefits of trade liberalisation for employment and growth” at their next summit – the statement itself implies they have already written the conclusions.

The G20 holds its next summit in Seoul on the 11th and 12th November this year. The full text of the final declaration can be read here:

Christian Aid Supporter Day  20.10.2010

Iconic US civil rights leader, the Rev Jesse Jackson,      will give his public backing to Christian Aid this autumn. Jackson, who was famously with Martin Luther King when he was assassinated and has been an outspoken campaigner for social justice, will be the keynote speaker at Christian Aid’s Supporter Day on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 in London. To find out more and to register your attendance

Greenbelt Festival 2010, 27th – 30th August, Cheltenham Racecourse

Over the August Bank Holiday Weekend artists, musicians, speakers and performers join 21,000 festival goers to take a sideways look at God, art, life and everything. With talks and debates featuring Clare Short, actor and director David Morrissey, civil rights activist Peter Tatchell, theologian Stanley Hauerwas, Radio 4 favourite Canon Lucy Winkett, and poetry and comedy from Roger McGough, Milton Jones, Robin Ince and Jude Simpson, Greenbelt 2010 is sure to fire up your brain with new perspectives and possibilities. Book before July 31 and save 10%. Find out more at

Every little helps…

Some 1,690 of you downloaded and printed out Christian Aid’s postcard, asking Tesco to keep stocking Divine Fairtrade chocolate and you helped make them take notice.

Latest figures from Divine now show that Tesco is again stocking the choc – including a brand new 85% cocoa bar for those who like their chocolate extra dark!
So now there are three Divine reasons for checking out the sweet aisle in Tesco. And here are the vital statistics:

Dark Divine is in 771 stores
Milk Divine is in 628 stores
Dark Divine 85% is in 480 stores.

Divine has been in contact with Christian Aid to thank their wonderful network of supporters for their continued help and support. Having their chocolate available at Tesco means millions of people have the opportunity to choose Divine, which in turn means more Fairtrade income and more profits for the Kuapa Kokoo farmers in Ghana.

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches and LEPs work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us.

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