Thursday November 23, 2017

300 Million Children around the world don’t have Shoes: Idaho Inventor Kenton Lee Fights soil-transmitted Diseases With Shoe That Grows

Lee worked as a volunteer in an orphanage in Kenya after graduating from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, where he lives now

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Shoe that grows, VOA

Children outgrow their shoes quickly. That often leaves kids who live in abject poverty no option but to walk around barefoot. An estimated 300 million children around the world don’t have shoes and are prone to suffer from soil-transmitted diseases and parasites.

Kenton Lee has a practical solution — a shoe that grows as the child does.

The shoes can expand up to five sizes and last up to five years. They can be adjusted at three places: the front with a hook and holes like a waist belt, the sides with Velcro, and the back with a buckle. The bottom is made of compressed rubber-like tire rubber, and the top is high-quality leather.

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Lee worked as a volunteer in an orphanage in Kenya after graduating from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, where he lives now.

He told VOA about a little girl in a white dress who was walking next to him one day.

“I remember looking down and seeing how small her shoes were,” he said. “They were way too small for her feet. They were so small she had to cut open the front of her shoes to let her toes stick out. I just remember thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a pair of shoes that could grow with her feet.”

Creating a shoe that grows

Turning his idea into reality was not easy.

“I kept writing down I should do this because of this, because of that,” Lee said. “All these reasons why it really was important for me to try to make the shoes that could grow and try to help kids.”

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Finally in 2009, the nonprofit organisation Because International was born. Lee keeps a pair of rugged shoes on a shelf in his office as a reminder of his commitment.

“I told myself I would not get new shoes until the idea was done,” Lee said. “So those are the shoes I wore for a little over five years. They got holes in them. They got really beat up, but once we finally made The Shoe That Grows happen, then I finally got some new shoes.”

So far, working with partner organisations, Because International has sent more than 50,000 pairs of the shoes to 70 countries on six continents. The shoe comes in two sizes, a small that fits children ages 4 to 9, and a large for youngsters ages 9 to 14.

Not just shoes, but jobs

Lee says the majority of the shoes are going to East Africa.

“So Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia. And also a lot of our shoes go to Haiti, Nicaragua, some of the Central American countries as well — anywhere where there are needs for footwear.”

Lee points out that many children live in areas without adequate sanitation. Many soil-transmitted diseases and parasites get into the body through the soles of their feet.

“It is really heartbreaking,” Lee said. “They stay sick for a long time. They are not able to afford medical care. So a lot of them just really fall behind. They don’t go to school. They don’t learn and grow as a child should.”

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Because International recently began to manufacture the shoes in some of the countries where the footwear is needed to help bring jobs to people there, too.

Lee believes a pair of shoes offers more than protection; it provides dignity. He says his goal is to help get the Shoe That Grows to as many children as he can around the world.

“Because it is a small thing that really does make a big difference to keep them healthy and happy and having more chances to succeed,” he said. (VOA)

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Understanding Phenomenon of Mind: Here’s why Children Today lack Thinking Abilities!

Creativity is the phenomenon of mind, where thinking and imagination work together to produce reality

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Children today lack the thinking skills
Children must be given full freedom to develop their thinking skills. Pixabay
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we create the world.”  — The Buddha, The Dammapada

New Delhi, July 25th, 2017: The ability to create has always been the most underestimated yet the most practically advantageous quality in a person. Ours is the world that is constantly changing, can we, then, rely just on fixed ideas to get through? Creativity is not an option but an indispensable quality for success, adaptation or plain survival. The question that comes to mind is “Where are the origins of this ‘creativity’?” The answer is pretty simple, It is the phenomenon of mind, where thinking and imagination work together to produce reality.

NewGram got in touch with teachers from Delhi and Punjab to discuss child psychology, how flawed education system is affecting child’s intellectual growth.

Children today are lacking the much-needed thinking skills!
It has been noticed that the majority of children today do not possess the ability to think. Even the most ‘socially considered intelligent’ among the bunch, fail to respond appropriately when faced with a situation where only thinking or creativity could come to their rescue. The possible reasons for this are not exactly a mystery, for a lot of research and studies have been performed by the curious minds, to decode the answer to this mare’s nest, leaving us with certain assumptions and probabilities.

Could it be, by any chance, that the education system itself is flawed? In most countries of the world, marks remain the ultimate target and the criteria on which the intelligence of a child is judged. Marks, as we know, are attained by real hard work, but making marks the priority seems to be diminishing a child’s keenness to think. If they can read the facts, write the same on a piece of paper, get great marks and be called intelligent, why would they take the initiative to think and innovate? The system should aim to develop a child’s curiosity, their interest needs to be ignited, and consequently, their ability to think.

Children today are lacking the much-needed thinking skills. Click To Tweet

While speaking to NewsGram, Sunita Rani, a teacher at Shaheed Ganj Public School, Faridkot, Punjab says, “everybody is after marks, children, their parents, and even most of the teachers are compelled to think this way. I personally believe brains were meant to think, to analyze, but today’s children have given up on thinking over anything, even what I just said for that matter. This is disappointing, but system doesn’t work according to our wishes,”

Internet seems to be another monster in disguise, for children who rely on it, for almost anything and everything. They don’t feel the need to click their brains, when they can get to know most of everything, by clicking on their mouse instead.

“The availability of everything on the internet has made children lazy, no need to remember things, no need to attempt to understand the complicated in it’s original form, when you can easily understand it by finding some simpler alternatives on the internet. Impact of technology has not been very positive when it comes to children’s thinking skills,” says Renu Singla, a science teacher in Swami Sivananda Memorial School, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi.

ALSO READ: Memory and thinking tests can help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease: New Study

Freedom is also something, the lack of which can directly or indirectly restrain children’s thinking skills. Constant monitoring and adult evaluation stifles creativity. On the contrary, allowing children to learn, explore, get bored, and overcome boredom, all by their own, not only nurtures creativity but also makes them confident and willing to take decisions, preparing future leaders in the process.

Creative culture that we have, demands creative people. Real situations need real people with the real/practical abilities to think, understand and find solutions. Even career wise, Most people have a decent academic profile, but what the employers seek now, are these abilities in the prospective employee, that can make their establishment reach real goals in real time.

And remind me again of the time, when you were deciding what to drink, where to invest, or how to deal with a difficult client, and what you crammed in the last history exam (for which you got an A), helped?

– reported by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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India’s Textile and Fashion Heritage now part of Google project

Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

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we wear culture
Google's new art project 'We wear Culture' digitizes fashion, Wikimedia
  • Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
  • It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
  • Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.

Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree,  from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.

According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

Culture is defined by what is worn by its people. Click To Tweet

The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.

ALSO READ: New Google Project Digitizes World’s Top Fashion Archives.

According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.

As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.

The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.

The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang