Monday, 26 September 2016

Moral Education to Help and Not Shame

By Debalina Roy via UN Online Volunteers

I want to share a sense of overwhelming pain that had a debilitating effect in my life. I have been a quiet person and an introvert since childhood. I could never imagine that life could be unduly depressive or even sad.
Upon growing up a little at the age of ten I had observed significant changes in my body and emotions. I was becoming taller and heavier than my peers and started liking people older to me. I wished to mingle with both the sexes in the pursuit of studies, sports and recreational culture. Usually many girls and boys took notice of me but, to my surprise they befriended all others and never me.
I was growing up as a loner finding little to do throughout the day. Gradually, I was seeing days of deep depression and a form of inferiority complex took birth in me.
I kept silent all day long struggling hard to keep up a normal routine and academics seemed to be an encumbrance in life. I didn’t feel emotionally united with family members too. I had led a one sided life and had been reprimanded often for little or no reasons. I was walking amidst thorns at that time.
As years rolled by I was diagnosed with a rare type of disease of the pituitary gland affecting only five percent of the population of the world. The treatment was a long timed one and it had affected me awfully. I had in no time gained an enormous amount of body weight that made me look unappealing and less modern. My functional skills had become slower and I was more prone to pondering than active living.
I needed love and sympathy that I never received from people around me.
The fact that my suffering was genuine and not a pretension was incomprehensible to others and the society that I belonged to. I nevertheless tried hard to overcome many symptomatic illnesses by means of work therapy.
I began working as a registered volunteer in a social organization. I managed two groups of underprivileged children observing and facilitating an English language expert.
By witnessing their difficulties and issues pertaining to every aspect of child life I somehow realized that I could be stronger than the obstacles I encountered. Thus being more adamant than depression. With time I had built up my confidence level and desired employment. Unfortunately a dark shadow of bad luck loomed behind me which I wasn’t really aware of.
Each time I got an employment, I was ousted from the office without being given any reason. It still remains a mystery to me. Yes, it’s true that I have suffered from an ailment that had affected my work-life-balance for a long time, especially during my student days.
Today I have normalized completely and restored my speed in every sense. I have compensated a lot for what I had lost. I strongly feel and believe that every individual living in society must be given moral education accompanied with a serious dose of awareness of health issues and hazards prevailing in each type of society. Each one in society must be made compassionate, helpful, trustworthy and completely reliable as citizens.
Humanitarian laws and ideals are not just subjects of high leveled verbal dictates; in reality they send the message of indispensable values that connect us to each other especially in times of high stress and essential needs.
One mustn’t be opinionated and judgmental about those who seem to have a handicap or are facing a crisis of some kind in life. One must make a helpful intervention for the persons in distress, assisting him or her to overcome difficulties and surpass limitations to lead a life of true normality.
Therefore, by being transparent in sharing and supporting others one learns to be in one another’s shoes.  It abstains us from pursuing the vile ways of shamelessly shaming others also. Henceforth, the future of our world can be a container of spiritual values armed with truth, knowledge, and hope.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sex-Ploitation can Happen to Both Genders

By Duncan Aliero Muhani via UN Online Volunteers

I grew up as a responsible young man, with good moral and sound Christian values. My mother always dedicated her time in educating me about every aspect of development including sex education and personal responsibility. 

She believed that sex education would always help me make safe and right decision during my involvement in sexual activities and relationships, hence protecting me from any sexual abuse, exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancies.

I joined one of the local universities to undertake a degree. At the university the values my mum had taught me guided me through out in my day to day endeavors. I observed high level of discipline and moral responsibility. 

During my second year of study, I proceeded to do my internship which was part of the university requirement. I was posted in a cargo handling port in The Information and Communication Department at the IT support desk, with responsibilities that included but not limited to supporting the organization employees on challenges they faced during use of computers and related items.

One early morning, a lady made a call to the IT support desk; she urgently needed help due to a problem on her computer. Because I was still a learner, we left the office with one of the employees in order to provide support to the lady. We solved her problem and went back to the office. At around 3pm the same day, the lady made a call again. 

She brought up the same issue. This time around, I was asked to go and solve the problem. The lady was warmer and welcoming than she was in the morning, we talked for a while; she was very interested in knowing me; where I schooled and where I came from. 

I also got the opportunity to know more about her. We quickly created a rapport; she said the response at the help desk is sometimes slow. And this she said slowed down delivery of her work. She thus requested my number so that she could directly call me just in case a problem, that requires urgent attention, arose again. I gave her my number and left.

She would call me whenever she had an issue and I was always happy to offer my services. One day she called me just before 4.30 pm and asked if she could drop me in town, I quickly accepted. I knew it was an appreciation for the good service I had been rendering to her. The fare to town was also high and considering I was still a student, I could not reject the offer. I felt lucky for meeting a true friend. She would drop me in town every day and occasionally give me money.

One day she asked me out for coffee over the weekend in a resort restaurant, I accepted as we were now close friends. We had some good time together in a desolate place. In the middle of our conversation she confessed to be in love with me. I was shocked as she appeared much older than me; probably in her fifties.  I knew outright that this was sexual harassment. 

I remembered the sexual morals my mother had taught me. The challenges my mother anticipated I would one day face, had finally arrived; I had to make the right decision. I politely told her she was much older than me and that it would not work. We talked for a while as she tried to convince me. I later left having disappointed her. I just never thought that would happen.

A week later, I still ended up in her car again. I did mention amidst small talk that I had never watched 50 Shades of Grey the movie, she insisted I come over to her place over the weekend so that we could watch the movie together. I already had plans to check the movie out with some friends in a local movie theater, but the cost was high so I thought it was a better deal.

I came to her residence over the weekend for the movie date; she warmly welcomed me and took me around the house. She stayed in the leafy suburbs of the town in a four bedrooms storied house with a balcony overlooking the lawns, a garden, and flower beds. A spacious kitchen with fully fitted units, with full size microwave oven, electric cooker and refrigerator, a lounge with knole style, sheesham hardwood sofa set padded with cream cushion, color television with free view. Bathroom fitted with thermostatic electric shower over the bath, wash hand basin, and toilet, and electric heated towel rail. The bedroom had twin beds with matching chest of drawers. She was truly affluent and living large.

But she was all alone in this large bungalow; I asked her why she stayed alone. She said she had separated from her husband few years ago and that she had one child who was in a boarding school.

She served me with an alcoholic cocktail, as we watched the movie. It was the first time I was taking alcohol in my life. At first I felt a little guilty but thought it was okay. It was a gorgeous film with a little humor, lots of luscious scenery, drama and sexy scenes. I got drunk in the process and we ended up having sex.

This continued for a while. We would meet over the weekend and sometime during the weekday just to drink alcohol and we would end up having sex. The issue began taking toll on me. 

I felt I had really let myself down for not taking up what my mother had taught me. I thought this lady was taking advantage of me. This issue really depressed me and I become withdrawn even to my family back home. My parents noticed my weird behavior and wanted to know if there was any issue.  I told them I was okay.

I recognized the pattern of deceit and denial I was living in. I endured the shock of revelation to my own conscience about my mistake and decided to stop it completely. I realized that the lady was sexually exploiting me. And that’s when I noted that sexual exploitation can happen to either of the sexes. So I changed for a better me.

As we struggle to empower the girl child, girls must also be educated about the values of love and respect for the opposite sex. This understanding of equality of women and men will prepare both to work together as equal partners in all field, thus ensuring greater appreciation of each other. Therefore, ensuring success in the struggle and push for girl child’s rights.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Every Complexion is Normal

By William Dekker via UN Online Volunteers

In a family of five siblings; two older and two younger, I emerge in between resembling no one - dark and black. This is my story:
In those childhood days, majority of us were naïve or rather too innocent to think of what set us apart. We mingled with little or no regard to colour, shape or size, not until maturity set in.
On my first Saturday in college, I auditioned for a play that was premiering a month from then. At the end of the day, seven contestants auditioning for the same role had been eliminated. Two of us were left in what seemed like a tie. We had gone through it up to late in the evening and the judges had to make a decision. In a very outrageous tone, one judge whispered; “since the play will be performed during the nights, we are better off with a lighter guy than the dark one”. Immediately the role was awarded to my competitor (who was way more light-skinned than I was).
 That evening I returned to my hostel room, rejected and dejected. For the first time, my skin colour had worked against me. My complexion had denied me the chance to showcase my talent and whatever skills I got. The chance was taken away from me, not because I was incapable, but simply because I was darker than a fellow contestant. It haunted me for days and months.
At that very time, I had joined college to pursue a degree in Information Science. With Information Science, I would easily major on information studies and specialize on Media science so as to get to broadcast journalism (which was my passion and aspiration from long ago). The incident at the theatre audition played in the back my mind severally and haunted me for long. I imagined that the same would be the case when I get to the corporate realm. I imagined that I would be denied broadcast jobs just because I was too dark for the camera, maybe. It is at that point that I made one of my biggest decisions ever. I immediately quit the course and sought an admission into a different degree line; this time round IT.
But that was not the end of the pain. Through the four years in campus, I continued suffering in silence. I became overly cautious of my complexion. I turn out to be photophobic – as already I knew I wasn’t good for the camera. I resisted group photos like the plague. In case of unavoidable situations, I would stand behind people in a bid to shelve myself from visibility. Few friends invited me for photos too. While some would pretentiously ask me to join them, they would later delete the photos as “I always made them look bad.” Others would instead keep the photos and mock me whenever it gave them joy to do so. At some point, a colleague wrote a 450 word article to mock my dark complexion. But by then, I had slowly grown resilient.
As much as I had quit the Information Sciences course, I still remained a good communicator. I just changed the tact. I couldn’t be seen though. Instead I was heard and read. I broadcasted in the University radio while at the same time published articles in the campus student press. I rose to become the Chairperson of the press club. I engaged in other clubs and societies, majority of which I chaired, became the President or an executive committee member. Due to the consistent exhibition of diligence, I was later appointed into the student council and made in-charge of University communications on Student Affairs. It became one of my last responsibility before leaving campus.
Just before exiting campus, through a recommendation, I got the privilege to sit among the country’s great entrepreneurs, captains of the industry and corporate bigwigs as an honorable judge for the regional “Hult Prize Competition”. Hult Prize is a global student challenge, in which the winner takes home $1,000,000 for presenting the best business idea in line with the year’s theme. But you see at that time I was still black J
After the event, which I considered my greatest achievement then, I posted a photo of myself on Facebook with the event’s caption. The first comment to the Facebook photo post was meant to be an ironical mockery but instead, it has remained my biggest motivation to date: “YOU ARE DARK BUT YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT.”
Of course I was dark in the photo. And still I maybe dark today but my future is bright. Since then I have gained sufficient confidence. Today, my colour is my pride. I no longer scorn myself for the melanin I have. In my repertoires, my blackness will never stop me from achieving whatever in life that I desire. Neither will it prevent me from mingling.
And now, so you think you’re too dark to mingle? Who told you dark is the obnoxious? Why not the reverse? Remember Malcom X’s questions? “Who taught you to hate yourself? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the colour of your skin?”
Conventionally, it is of greater advantage to be contented with your appearance. The happier you are with yourself, the happier other people feel around you. This is my experience; when you learn to love and accept yourself, you’ll feel more peaceful, more confident and people will find it a pleasure to be around you. You become calmer because you feel more connected within. It even becomes easier to connect with others too. That is biggest secret to keep you attractive. 
Today I have more friends who, at no point show any dissent for my complexion. In fact, it the question of colour doesn’t even ring on their minds.
You see, in the end neither dark nor light skinned is abnormal. In fact every complexion is normal. Every physical appearance is normal. There’s a wide range of normal and that is where you fall. That is where we all fall. You maybe dark, I maybe dark but guess what…the future is bright!!!