Page 1

Monthly for school and families

Introduction 1

Inspiring News

Happy School 2


Introduction of people 6


Our planet Dafur- black stain on humanity Social work in Birmingham, England

8 11

Movies 13

Faithful gardener

Healthy food Barley Peeled salad

14 15

Letters of the readers


E-monthly is published by Association for a better world. More information:

May 2006


Monthly for school and families

Inspiring News Even though we have so many problems on Earth, we also find inspiring examples of people who care. And even in such places and conditions where we wouldn’t expect them. Let’s see the news that was found by this newspaper’s reporter. 10 thousand prisoners in Kenya have turned down their Sunday meal. It was not a strike or political pressure but “only” to help threatened Kenyan people with no food. The prisoners signed to say that they would not eat right after they saw on TV videos of underfed children. Around 2.4 million Kenyan people have been caught by a terrible drought. The prisoners have described their action as “a small gesture”. “The prisons have changed and now we can afford to give away some food to our brothers without it affecting us,” said life sentenced prisoner Ole Sakrop. John Isaac Odongo, the chief of the Kenyan centre of the prison staff’s bureau has said that the meals will be collected in 93 Kenyan prisons and given to humanitarian organizations. What do you say? Morally wayward members of society still have much human warmth and care for others. Perhaps that’s a sign for all of us more fortunate members of society to look around us and find a place in our hearts for someone else as well who needs love. Do you agree? Goran

May 2006 1

Happy school

Monthly for school and families

Effort I believe that we need to show our children many times the way a person must walk to get somewhere and to show them the road they have to take to achieve success if they wish to accomplish anything important. We always see the results the success of someone else, but we don’t even dream about how much hard work, time and devotion and the failures, mistakes and tears they encountered on their journey. There are no short cuts, only hard work. Here are stories and work you can do and talk to students about in the classroom. The material is from the book of Classroom Hours and The Pearl Seekers. What do these three anecdotes have in common? Anecdote from the world of inventions: Thomas Edison probably the greatest inventor of all time once said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% sweat” From the world of music: After a fantastic performance of the well known violinist Fritz Kreisler, one lady came to him and said: “Mr Kreisler I would give my life to be able to play like you.” He just smiled and said: “That’s exactly what I’ve done.” And another one from the world of medicine: The first antibacterial medicine was called by a number – 693. And that’s exactly how many tests it was necessary to do before they could confirm it’s use... For every thing you must do your best. For knowledge, for healthy body, for strength, for friendship, for good grades in school, for good income, good relations with people, and more... Nothing just happens.

May 2006 2

Monthly for school and families About the life of Thomas Edison The biography of Thomas Edison (1847-1931) is close to the ideal of hard work, concentration, talent, fearless, creativity and research into the unknown. In Junior school his teacher said he was stupid. His mother took the young Edison out of school and taught him at home. Already when he was 9 years old he was reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. In the basement of their house he made a chemical laboratory. Because he needed the money, he sold sandwiches on trains. He loved his laboratory so much that he put it in the luggage compartment. He started to print a newspaperthe first newspaper that was made on the train. But his chemical liquid caused a fire and the young Thomas lost his job. And the slap around the ears he got at that time has forever damaged his hearing. When he was 12 years old, he came to New York totally determined to survive with his ideas and inventions. He didn’t have even a dollar in his pocket. Later just one of his inventions would earn him 40.000 dollars! In the same year (1869), he started his long and successful inventing career. He worked non-stop and sometimes he didn’t step out of his laboratory even after a 30 hour session and in some years he had more that a thousand inventions. His normal work day was 8 hours. He slept 4 hours. His inventions and discoveries have changed the world even in his own lifetime. His son Charles described his father as a weirdo, who knew how to awaken in people the spirit of creativity and discovery. He was so devoted to his work, that he felt bad for those 4 hours of sleep when he couldn’t work. “Sleeping is like a drug”, he said. “The more you sleep, the more tired you become, so you are loosing the time and energy and the opportunity for work.” When he was 30 years old, he invented the gramophone. He also invented the microphone, light bulb, alkaline battery and film. Some other inventions that became available on the market thanks to him are the telephone and the telegraph. The money he gained from these inventions, he used to finance further research. So all his earned money, he spent on new inventions. He found himself on the edge of financial bankruptcy a few times. This is a story that his son Charles told that illustrates his father’s attitude to money.

May 2006 3

Monthly for school and families Edison was an owner of the mill for processing ore. One day he thought that the machine was grinding too slowly. He told the supervisor to speed it up. The supervisor said that this would break down the machine. Edison asked him “How much is that mill?” “25 thousand dollars” said the supervisor. “Do we have that much in the bank? Good. So speed it up. ” When they did this, they heard some noise as the mill was working at a speed that was not thought to be right for it. The machine continued to work for some time at this speed but Edison wanted it to go even faster. The supervisor said that this would blow the mill up and their heads. “To hell with our heads” said Edison, “speed it up”. When they did it, they had to run away and hide themselves and the mill blew up in pieces! “What have you learned form this?”, the supervisor asked Edison. “That I can speed it up and the power of this machine will enable it to run at 40% faster than its inventor is saying. That means I will make the next mill myself and it will be a lot better than this one.” Charles remembers a cold January night in 1914 when Thomas was working on improvements of his alkaline battery that he had been working on for ten years. This was possible for him because of the money he earned from his invention of film and gramophone records. That night there was a fire in laboratory. Within a few minutes, everything caught on fire, films, chemicals, and all his valuable apparatus. From near cities The fire men came from the nearby cities but they couldn’t put the fire out. Edison was then 67 years old. This is certainly the time of life when a man would find it very hard to start a new project. The fire destroyed his work of many long years. Worried Charles was looking for his father in the crowd. He couldn’t find him and got scared in case he was still in the fire? That he didn’t want to leave his laboratory because of all the hard work he had put into it. And then he saw him on the back yard. Edison ran towards his son screaming: “Where’s your mother? Bring her quickly and all the friends! She will never see a fire like this again!” Around half five in the morning, the fire stopped. Edison called his co- workers and said:, “ We will build a new laboratory. Even from such an accident something good can happen, we have got rid of a lot of old junk. We will build a better and bigger laboratory. “ As he said this he lay on a bench and fell asleep. Of course, exactly as he said is what happened. He built a new laboratory. The people called him a wizard and a genius and the thought he had supernatural powers. “Wizard? Genius? Nonsense! It’s just hard work and sweat. Genius comes from 1% of inspiration and all the rest is sweat.” His deafness, he saw as positive. Due to this condition, ever since his was 12 when he became deaf, he read more carefully. This helped him to concentrate better on his work and empty conversations around him didn’t bother him. When he was asked why he didn’t invent something for better hearing he said: “How much did you hear in last 24 hours that you couldn’t be without? “

May 2006 4

Monthly for school and families When Thomas Edison died it was said of him that “ The light has faded out”. In honour of this great inventor, at the time of the funeral, all the light bulbs were dimmed.. From the biography of Thomas Alve Edison by Charles Edison. Questions for conversation: • What have we learnt about Edison? What have you heard about him before? • What did little Edison experience in Junior School? What does it mean? (Those teachers can be wrong as well.) • How was he schooled after that? What did he read? • What did he build in his basement? How did he have the money for his inventions? • What was he doing on the train? What happened there one day? • He didn’t lose only his job but also… What did he say about his deafness? • When he was 12 years of age, he arrived in New York and said he would…? • How much time did he spend in the Lab? What did he say about sleeping? • What was his way attitude to money? This was very nicely shown in one story. Which one? • When he was 67 years old, an accident happened. Did he give up? What did he say? • People called him a genius. What did he say about that? • What do you think that was compelling Edison to go on and on (and people like him, such as Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla...)? Money? Fame? It was the spirit of discovery, the wish to find out the secrets of nature and to make a better life for people.) Homework: When you work at home and study, give it your best. Don’t do less that is necessary but more. Do more than is expected from you. Do it and then look how it’s going to affect you and other people around you. Darja

May 2006 5

Introduction of people

Monthly for school and families

Michelangelo I remember the moment when I first saw Michelangelo’s sculpture, Pieta, in real life. I had admired his work before in books but when I was actually standing in front of it, this feeling was something special. I asked myself about the extent of the human spirit, the willpower needed to create such perfection. That’s why I read many books and writings of the artist’s life so that perhaps I would catch a glimpse of his thoughts and from them find inspiration for my own life. Michelangelo Buonarotti was born in the village of Caprese in Italy in the 1475. His mother was already then very sick and she couldn’t breastfeed her son. That’s why a wet nurse took him over. His mother died when he was only 6 years old. In the house there were 4 sons and their father who couldn’t replace mother’s love for them. Perhaps this is what shaped the artist’s character. His moods and being lonely, he didn’t trust people and was more shy. However, at a very early age his genius showed itself. Even though his father didn’t approve, he decided to become an artist. When he was 13 years old, he attended the art workshop of Domenic Ghirland. His path took him to the castle of the Medici. This is when he was taken under the patronage of Francesco de Medici. The first works of art had started and he was exciting his new buyers. When Medici died in Firence, political turmoil began and so Michelangelo moved to Rome. In the year 1500, he finished his statue Pieta, the work that totally amazed people with its beauty. It depicts Maria holding in her hands her dead son Jesus. Into both of them, he breathed heavenly peace and devotion. On their faces, there’s no sign of pain or sorrow but endless beauty and love. Only a human being who knows the strength of the spirit – the strength that goes beyond the body- can at such a time as death keep the freshness of peace. The marble that Michelangelo gave life to speaks in it’s own way of the continuity of life in which the artist believed. There followed works which are masterpieces in history of art. For example, David. Before Michelangelo started work on him crafted from a big piece of marble almost 4 and a half meters tall, he said: “David is already in this piece of marble, I only have to let him free!” And when he finished, we found in his

May 2006 6

Monthly for school and families writings this words: “attentive eyes …neck – strong as from a bull… the hands of a killer…the body the reservoir of energy. Stands ready for the attack.” In the year 1503 the Pope was Julius II. So they met in Rome, two men with very sober characters. The Pope said of Michelangelo: “He’s very sober you see. You can ‘t tell him anything.” But exactly because of this unusual tie of personality, the work was done that is even now after so many years so inspirational. According to the Pope’s wish, Michelangelo has started work on painting the Sistine chapel. He was a sculptor not a painter so he would rather avoid this work, but because of the Pope’s constant perseverance to do it, he had no choice. So it began. One of the most spectacular odysseys in the history of art. The technique of painting on fresh plaster demanded perfect concentration and didn’t allow any wrong move and also put the artist under great physical strain. Only a man who was a slave to beauty and art could do what Michelangelo did. He endured physical and emotional pain and transcended the limitations of normal mortals to produce a masterpiece that in one year’s time would shine as the biggest reminder of human abilities. Who doesn’t recognise the scene of two hands, God’s and Adam’s, that are so close to each other that they almost touch? Who hasn’t see that finger from which God breathed life into Adam? But still there is a distance between them, small - but not without a meaning. The personal life of Michelangelo tells us a lot about his personality. A loner. A man with weaknesses such as jealousy, envy, bitterness … “A lot of pain is in me and physical suffering. I don’t have any friends and I don’t want any. I don’t have enough time to eat as much as I need. My joy and my pain are suffering.” But still two people came close to him; a young nobleman, Tommaso de Cavelieri, and a poet and very educated woman, Vittoria Colonna. He wrote letters to her and sonnets that show that he had a great potential for love that he was carrying inside, a love that was pure and untouched, almost unworldly. What better way is there of expressing affection than with his works he left for us?


May 2006 7

Monthly for school and families

Our planet Dafur - black stain on humanity Dafur is a land in the western part of the largest African country, Sudan. It’s 493,180 square kilometres are a bit less than, for example, France. Dafur is separated into three areas: Western, Southern and Northern which are federal lands as well.

The land is mostly dry and consists of a plateau with the exception of it’s central region of volcanic mountains, Jebal Marra, where more rain falls- that’s why the conditions for farms are better there. In Dafur there are almost 8 million people. Most of the people are subsistence farmers. They make corn, fruit and tobacco. In more dry areas, pasture is also important. The people are separated into many ethnic groups. The biggest two are Fur (from which the name Dafur comes) and the Arabian group Baggara. The remaining significant non-Arabian groups are: Zaghawa and Masalit. The Furi are black African people. They are farmers and their main product is millet. Their culture is still very traditional where village elders rule. They speak Furan languages and they are Muslims. Most of them don’t speak Arabian. The traditional area of the Furs are the mountainous areas. The Zaghawe live in the northern area and in Chad. The Masaliti live in the western area of Dafur. Because of their way of life, non-Arabian groups came into conflict with the nomadic Arabian Baggara. The Baggara are nomadic Bedouins who live in a spacious area between Lake Chad and the river Nile. They are supposed to be the descendants of Arabs that came here in 13th Century. They are nomadic cattle-breeders that move in the rainy part of the year to the pasturelands and in the dry half of the year to the river areas. Conflicts between the Arabian Baggara and The Furi and other nonArabian groups have occurred throughout history. Before the colonial Fur’s kingdom, there were often fights with Baggars. Both of them fought for supremacy in the slave trade. They both also have agricultural needs because the Furi are farmers and the Baggars are nomads.

May 2006 8

Monthly for school and families

During the last century, farming conditions have worsened from the Sahara to the South. A large area that was once grass is now covered in desert sand. The struggle to access the water and grass areas has become more intense in the last century especially in the mountain areas which have the best conditions for farming. Initially armed struggle between the groups was avoided by the village elders. But with the support of the Sudanese government for the Arabian cattlebreeders who assured them grass areas and water pumps for African farmers, the conflict got stronger and grew into a Sudan war in the beginning of 2003. Because there was not a large enough presence of the national army in Dafur, the Sudan government organised air bombings and enlisted the support of other organizations, such as an army of Dzanzdavi’s enlisted from local Arabians Baggara, even though the Sudanese government denies the connection with the Dzanzdavis. The latter, being better armed, soon got the upper hand in the armed struggle. Both sides are responsible for human rights abuses but it is mostly the Dzanzdavi’s who are responsible for many atrocities- killings on a large scale, rapes and stealing. An observer from the USA wrote in 2004 that many nonArab villages had been completely destroyed (burned down...), while Arab villages had not been touched. In some cases, the Arab villages were only 500 m from the destroyed African ones. After 3 years in Dafur, humanitarian conditions are still a disaster. Refugees can’t return to their homes. Hundreds of villages have been burned down, fields destroyed, water poisoned and cattle killed. Humanitarian support for the civilians is far from adequate. Only a few humanitarian organizations are active in Dafur and they report that the needs of the crisis are beyond their capacity.

May 2006 9

Monthly for school and families The workers are sure that only a few people will return to their homes. The beginning of the rain at the end of May will only make things worse. People are still dying from malnutrition and diseases. Atrocities against civilians continue. A lot of the dzanzdavi’s have enlisted in the army and policeforce. Even in the refugee camps, there is stealing, raping and murdering. The Dzanzdavi are still attacking civilians outside the refugee camps. To survive, families are forced to collect food and water and to work in the fields. Women and children are most indanger. Rape, a crime against humanity, is rife in Dafur. One thousand woman have been raped. Women are in danger as soon as they are out of their villages. Most rapes go unreported because it is considered shameful and they can be banished from their families and punished for ‘unlawful’ pregnancy. According to official statistics from the USA’s World Food Programme, 3.5 million people are at risk of starvation in Darfur. 2.5 million people have left their homes because of terror and are living in refugee camps. 400,000 have died because of hunger and violence and diseases. The world leaders were defending themselves: “Never again!” But the continued murders, rapes, starvation and movement of refugees in Dafur is saying something else. Ales

May 2006 10

Monthly for school and families Social Work in Birmingham, England The Social Services Department in Birmingham is very large as, unfortunately, there are many social problems in the city. The Children and Families department works with thousands of youngsters in Birmingham from babies to 21 year olds. They may be involved with us because their parents have problems with alcohol or drugs or have neglected or abused them. It is a sad fact that if a little one doesn’t receive affection and care for the first three years of it’s life, the damage can be considerable. You don’t need to be a doctor or a psychologist to understand this. However, these unfortunate children are often placed with other parents who are willing to love and care for them. This is not an easy task as such children often grow up angry and lacking in self confidence. Often such parents who are called ‘foster parents’ are successful in helping the children to feel loved and to have success at school. But this is not always the case. I have heard it said that about 35% of the prison population is made up of people who were once involved with the Social Services as children. Sometimes the public think that social workers walk into families and simply take children away from their parents even when it’s not necessary. This is the way our work is sometimes criticized in the media. One thing I have learnt while working in the department for the past nearly four years is that this is not the case. The Social Services try very hard to work with parents to resolve situations while the children at still at home unless of course the parents are violent or have mental health problems. Parents are offered the opportunity to have therapy for alcohol or drug problems, to have counselling and to undergo assessments to improve their abilities to care for their children. Even when the case gets to court, the judges and magistrates are sometimes not sympathetic to the Social Services. A social worker called a guardian is appointed by the court to make an independent assessment of the family. The guardian then reports back to the court. I feel this is a good idea so that the court doesn’t have to just accept what the Social Services are saying. Fortunately, there is quite a lot of money that the Social Services have access to which can be used to help such children. There are many charities that also help such youngsters. We use one a lot which offers a week’s summer activity holidays free of charge to child involved with the Social Services. Another group offers free days out and activities like drama and sports for these children. The children also have access to counselling to help them come to terms with what has happened in their lives and many of them manage to rebuild their lives and feel loved again in their foster families. Nev

May 2006 11

Monthly for school and families From the Editors: Nev Packwood works as a social work assistant for Birmingham Social Services in England and has recently become a member of the Association for a Better World and correspondent for England. He commented that he felt very lucky to have met such dynamic and warm-hearted people and is happy to be involved.

May 2006 12


Monthly for school and families

Faithful gardener The film shows us the dark side of globalization that puts profit before people’s lives. The pharmaceutical industry is heavily involved in the globalisation process. The pharmaceutical industry sells their medication at a high profit to ensure themselves a good living. Not everyone can afford such expensive medicine. Many people can’t afford it and are of no interest to the pharmaceutical industry even though they are sick as they don’t have the money to pay. Every year around 2.6 million children die from diseases that are preventable with the appropriate vaccines. But this is just a number to the pharmaceutical industry. Every medicine must be tested for side effects before selling it. The quickest and the cheapest method of testing is on human guinea pigs. Because testing in the developed countries is expensive and slow, the pharmaceutical industry has turned it’s attention to Africa where there are many sick people who can’t afford to buy medicine. All the testing is being carried out under cover of giving away medicine. The pharmaceutical companies avoid paying tax and people are dying from the side effects of medication but the drug companies are still making a profit… Activist Tessa Quayle who was on the edge of discovering a sizeable pharmacy conspiracy was brutally murdered in Kenya. On her journey, she was accompanied by a local and honest doctor. It looked like a crime of passion. For the first time in his career, he takes things in his own hands and embarks on a very dangerous road. With a bit of diplomatic intrigue, he uncovers a sizeable conspiracy in which many are dying while a few get rich. On his journey, he discovers his wife’s courage and determination. And with every step, he becomes more like her. Ales

May 2006 13

Healthy food

Monthly for school and families

Barley Barley came from Egypt around 7000 B.C. In eastern Asia, it was the staple diet besides rice. The ancient Greeks gave barley as a gift to the Gods and crowned the winners of the Games with it. Barley was the poor man’s bread in Rome and in the army. Barley roots have a limited ability to assimilate nutrition for food and water, that’s why barley needs deep and good earth. Before processing, we can easily recognise barley from it’s ears that are in the shape of a collar. Every ear has only one flower. This is different to wheat and rye which havemore flowers per ear. To prepare barley soup we need peeled barley or pearl-barley. We can also mix it with rice or buckwheat paste. From the grains turned into paste we can make a lot of different cooked, baked meals. Barley is the toughest of all the cereals, that’s why we put it in water before cooking. From barley’s flower we can make cooked paste. Barley’s bread is hard and has a very sweet taste. Barley has several good healthy affects. Even though barley soup was once known as the food of the poor, it is now more and more seen as a modern food. When cooking it becomes thick and coagulated and this is good for people with bad stomachs. Warm compresses from cooked grains are used to help with swellings. We are all looking forward to nice warm days, that’s why in today’s recipe I’m recommending pearl-barley salad and there’s not a lot of preparation involved which will give you a lot of time to go for a walk later!

May 2006 14

Monthly for school and families Pearl-barley salad Ingredients: 300 g pearl-barley 2 dl sour cream 0.5 dl apple vinegar 2 spoons of oil 100 g cut onion 2 tomatoes 2 hard cooked eggs 100 g sour cucumbers Spices: marjoram, celery (leafs) parsley, salt. We clean the pear-barley and put in water overnight and then cook it for 25 minutes in water with spices. We watch that it doesn’t get overcooked. The grains must still be full. We pour off the cooked grains and let them cool down. We prepare the sauce like so: we mix the cream, vinegar, oil and minced spices. We mince cucumbers and put them in the sauce. We put the sauce over the cooled barley and leave it for 30 minutes so that the pearl-barley absorbs the juice. And having prepared the salad like this, we shake it into a glass salad bowl and add in the tomatoes and eggs. Bon appetit! Lidija

May 2006 15

Letters of the readers

Monthly for school and families

We look forward to your next questions, ideas and opinions. You can send us an e-mail to With reference to e-mail monthly magazine. Creators of e-monthly

May 2006 16



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