This is a problem we should be talking about

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 1.16.35 pmArticle on Mamamia, July 2014.

Silence is not something you come across often in India. But there we were, in the middle of a rural area in the country’s north, where it was dark, silent and still. The workers had come in from the fields, the cows had been brought in and milked, and there was a lull while families stopped and took a deep breath.

I was at a small village in the state of Bihar, one of the poorest states of northern India, working with Opportunity International Australia. As the fog set in, we huddled into a van to take the potholed roads back to the town of Buxar for the night. We weren’t even two minutes down the road when a woman’s silhouette appeared from nowhere.

The driver slowed right down, and we stared back into the face of a lone woman, standing motionless by the edge of the road with a small tin bowl in her hands. Another hundred metres down the road, another woman appeared. And another. And another.

We were interrupting the silent, private moment that nearly one billion people around the world experience every day: open defecation.

Read more here.

What you missed in the news this week

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 12.02.06 PM Weekly column published on women’s website Flamingo Pink, summarising highlights from the week’s news for busy 20-somethings, with a focus on uncovering neglected topics and explaining the hard issues.

Writing on everything from domestic politics (Who to vote for in tomorrow’s election), stories about poverty and development (Typhoon Haiyan Update: what you can do), environmental issues (The dredging decision and what it means for our Great Barrier Reef), financial backgrounders (What you need to know about the latest budget cuts), international politics (China’s change of leadership) and controversial social commentary (#Slanegirlsolidarity).

Read my latest posts here or click the hyperlinks above to look at some past samples.

Amanda Ryan is a designer making a difference

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.01.38 pmArticle in Dumbo Feather magazine, in March 2014.

It’s a rainy Sydney Sunday, and Bangladesh feels very far from here. Over there, the thick smell of dust and the bells of rickshaws. The red sunsets and rainbow colours of sarees and salwars. In the markets, rows and rows of bright fabrics can be bought for a few dollars and stitched into a dress or shirt for a few more.

Perhaps Bangladesh is not so far away after all. Many of the threads that hold our own dresses and t-shirts together were stitched there, the world’s second biggest exporter of readymade clothes after China. When an eight-storey building that housed some of these clothing factories collapsed in April last year, hundreds died and thousands were injured. The Rana Plaza collapse exposed the high human cost behind cheap fashion.

Amanda Ryan is a designer dedicated to changing that.

Read more here.

Four ways to travel toward stillness

Balloons and Sky_Jessica CarterArticle on Elephant Journal, a website dedicated to mindful living.

For those of us who live in the world’s wealthiest countries, we are nearly always on the move.

We heave our tired selves into cars, planes, boats, trains and we traverse cities, countrysides, continents. Our airports are full, our roads are full, our bags are full and our tummies are fuller.

For thousands of years, we humans moved no faster than our feet could take us. When we travelled by sea, our speed was at the whim of the wind. When we travelled by land, it was often with the help of a four-legged creature—camel, horse, sled-dog and the like.

In the last two centuries, we’ve galloped forward with breath-taking pace—we can reach the other side of the world in a day; we can be with one side of the family in the morning and the other in the evening; we can chart our maps with google, without any need for the stars to guide us.

Even when we are still, we are on the move. Our atoms balance on an earth that spins endlessly while the planets, stars and moons of our universe swivel on their own orbits. Our sleeping bodies rest against the sighs and shudders of breath.

But movement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, after a few months of constant travel, I’ve come to realise that when I travel, I move to find the stillness.

Read more here.

No Justice For Evicted Slum-Dwellers

Article published on New Matilda, November 2012.

In April the Bangladeshi Government ordered the destruction of one of the largest slums in Dhaka, leaving thousands homeless. Three court hearings haven’t resolved anything.

It’s nearly winter in Bangladesh and the capital, Dhaka, is already sinking under the combined weight of grey skies, sticky air, and 12 million inhabitants. The population here is growing fast, with nearly half a million new migrants arriving in the city each year hoping to escape rural poverty.

Read more here.

Planting the seeds of hope

Article published in Exchange magazine’s October 2012 edition.

We were standing on the rooftop when the first rains of the Bangladeshi Summer came gushing down. Surrounded by piles of leaves, seeds and dirt which were fast becoming mud, we watched as months of careful planning washed away before our eyes.

It was not quite the start we’d hoped for. But after committing to turn Dhaka’s grey skyline green with gardens planted by Youth Against Hunger, we needed to find some silver lining in the black clouds hovering above us. Luckily for me, Bangladeshis have a knack for bringing hope to even the most difficult of situations.

Read more here.

2RRR News Read

This news bulletin is a recorded presentation from community radio station 2RRR.

Teaching children journalism to strengthen democracy and development

Article published in global development practitioners’ website WhyDev.

On my first day helping out with Angikaar, I was greeted by the news that a fire had swept through a large portion of homes in Rayer Bazar. Surrounded by a bunch of over-excited children, I was struck by the significance of their story and the fact that this was the first I’d heard of it, despite living in a neighbouring suburb. The next day, a hundred words in Bangladesh’s English newspaper, The Daily Star, announced the fire with unsettling objectivity and little detail. For me, this moment captured the reason behind Angikaar and the potential behind sharing those children’s stories. It was an idea that resonated with the newspaper’s tagline that we would later go on to create: “Rising voices, building a better Bangladesh.”

Read more here.

Learning English in China still has a long way to go

Article published on Australian online publication Megaphone.

China is host to the world’s largest number of English learners, but the opportunities for speaking and learning remain inadequate, leaving many Chinese English users relying on a diet of Western pop culture to get by.

Read more here.

About Hunger Free World Bangladesh

A video I produced and edited for Hunger Free World Bangladesh (whose linked website demonstrates my online writing and CMS skills).