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The Government of Nigeria has a duty to relocate IDPs into safe residences

Last week Tuesday, a Nigerian Air Force jet erroneously bombed an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in Rann, Borno state. It is being estimated that around 200 people lost their life, due to the bombing. That was painful news to receive. It still hurts, as I write this. IDP camps in Nigeria are where people displaced by the Boko Haram crisis have found shelter. This particular bombing by the Nigerian Air Force, brings back a thought that has once come to my mind: Why is the government of Nigeria not relocating internally displaced persons from camps, into safe residences?

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We continue to hear about government leaders donating to IDPs but that is not enough. Will they forever remain in camps? If the government of Nigeria really cares about the safety and wellbeing of the IDPs, the answer to that question will be “No”. The response to the erroneous bombing that happened last week, was that the region was thought to be a Boko Haram nest. How could an IDP be allowed to exist in an area that may be surrounded by terrorists? It is like a person that intentionally builds his or her house on weak foundation, just to rush the building process and have a home. So, certainly, somebody must be held to account as to why an IDP camp existed in a zone with danger possibility.

This occurrence should spark a light bulb in the minds of the leaders of Nigeria. If the government of Nigeria has a care for human life, then as swiftly as possible, an initiative should be started to enable the integration of IDPs to safe spaces. They are human beings too. They are just human beings who have been through much more than those who fail to look through their wealth and protection privilege, can understand. Their lives and their rights matter. When I deem something to be unjust, I have a problem with staying silent. The Nigerian government should ACT now.

A government with a  vision on fostering human rights, as well as the safety and protection of its people, should have a solid plan to end the existence of IDP camps. I have had the honour of responding to a disaster before, and what I know for sure is that, when a disaster happens, you just don’t leave the ruins to be as the disaster left them. You try to re-create new life out of the damages of the disaster. So, IDP camps must be eradicated in Nigeria. It is only just to do this. Please.

Love & Peace,

Chiamaka

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Community

Life is the greatest gift.

2017!!! I feel like I can hear it calling, so I am calling back at it with excitement! Transitions like, a year change or an age change (birthday) are not always exciting for me. This is because such times force one to reflect on the year that he or she has had and sometimes in the past, in my reflecting, I have dealt on the bad stuff mainly but this year, I am choosing different.

Yes, honestly, 2016 was a great year for me. I sometimes feel shocked at how much of a good year it was for me – and for the blessings, I thank God. But, also, I think maturity  has also affected how I look at transitions. There were a few sad events which I experienced this year, which often pop up in my mind but the gift of life is the greatest gift and like the saying goes, “where there’s life, there’s hope”. So, sometimes, I still allow myself to feel the sadness – but to be honest, since the later part of this year, when the sadness comes, I start to remember the good things which in truth overcome the bad. Life is the greatest gift, my friends. Don’t let the sadness stay. Today is an opportunity to do something that makes you happy. Today is an opportunity to reach out to blessings that the new day has to offer.

Before I digress too much, I wish to remind anyone reading this and even I myself writing, that change can be a good thing. It is a new opportunity. Accept it. If 2016 was good for you, don’t be sad that the year is ending. If 2016 was bad for you, don’t be scared that 2017 may be worse. We release the burden in our chest, when we flow with time and not when we try to let it stop, because time never stops.

My friends, I hope you will make this last day of 2016 wonderful for you! Celebrate the passing of the year in your own happy and safe way, and be ready to embrace 2017. Make a wish for the kind of year you want 2017 to be. Don’t forget to pray for people who are lonely in this season and pray for nations that are experiencing war and injustice.

Happy New Year in advance!!!

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Community

Human Rights Day, 2016: Let’s recommit to act in love and fairness

December 10 is the international Human Rights Day. I believe that it should be a day for societies and individuals all around the world, to resolve to uphold justice, freedom and equality. Acknowledging human rights and acting in respect of human rights is not a task meant for governments, only. It is, very importantly, a task for members of the public, also.

Remember that as a human being, you are born of dignity and no individual and/or government should have the free will to do as they like with your inherent right to be treated with fairness.

It is becoming more common to see violence take priority over having dialogue. Governments enforcing institutional imperialism over protesters. Religious extremists using arms to kill innocent people in the name of God (blasphemy).

The girl child has just as much value as the male child. Give her good education not early marriage, and she will set the world ablaze with greatness, kindness and positive change. A woman’s voice matters. When she says “No”, do not take her voice for granted – her consent is needed. The woman’s body is her property – do not take her voice for granted.

A person’s sexuality is theirs to realize and keep. People should not fear for their life for being who they are – as is the case in many countries. All human beings are born with dignity, no matter our sexuality, and that dignity must be upheld.

Indigenous people’s lands in  the United States and Canada must be respected. When Indigenous groups protest against something that could potentially contaminate their lands and waters, they should not be ignored. They matter. Their voices should be heard, they should be consulted and there should be no man-made hinderance to access to clean water for Indigenous populations in the United States and Canada. All human beings have a right to clean water.

Black lives matter – this should be understood and acknowledged universally. A person should not be treated with disrespect, denied opportunity or killed because he or she is non-white. Black Lives Matter. No human being was created to be more superior than the other. All races are beautiful and if we come together in love, without prejudice and hate, this world will be a much much better place.

Happy Human Rights Day … in advance!!! Show love. Give respect. Don’t be quick to judge.

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Human rights and economic growth, go hand in hand

Before I started writing the body of this post, I started writing up a possible title for it, in the ‘Title’ column, then stopped. I had to halt because I started writing something that if completed, would probably have been – “Human Rights Vs Economic Growth”. But, those two terms do not contradict each other, so there cannot be a “Vs” (versus), between them.

Based on my observations and my immersion in the reality of different societies and the world, I know that actually, human rights and economic growth go hand in hand. When we  have to analyze both things, to see if we can at least choose one over the other – then, that means there is an issue at hand.

A nation that makes people feel comfortable regardless of race, religion or where a person is born, does not only achieve a significant level of peace but also yields financial growth. People in such a society will put in the best of their skills, creativity and their diversity of ideas – into that nation, thus yielding for themselves and that society – economic growth, whilst also exposing each other to the true reality that not everyone is the same but we all deserve to be treated equally and with dignity.

So, human rights and economic growth should not be carved out, as if they have no correlation. There is a correlation between both terms and that correlation is great.

Recently, the US elections were finalized. However, before the elections and now, in its aftermath – I have heard different ideas of people, with regards to the elections. One of the major ones that I have heard of, sums up to me like this: perceived promise of economic growth is greater than reasonable fear of the balance of human rights, in America.

I believe that the reasons why people vote are important. It is important to listen and understand why people voted for whoever they voted for, whether they voted for someone who you agree with, or not. However, behind our reasons for voting should not be – economic growth serves more purpose than respect for human rights (including diversity). Those two terms (economic growth and human rights) should go hand in hand – for the betterment of our societies.

Love & Peace,

Chiamaka

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Dear Society, stop focusing on telling women what to do

In Canada, October marks Women’s History Month and each year, in the month of October, the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child. I love what October has to offer in terms of celebrating girls and women. We deserve to be celebrated, our rights should be honoured – and not just in October.

There is still a long way to go in getting the message of women’s rights (as people), solidly rooted in the minds of many, in a world where woman are constantly belittled. Women have been pioneers of social progress in many societies. In this present time, women are still pioneering, still leading in different fields. I am 19 years old and I remember that a few years ago when I was in senior secondary school, it was women that led in terms of grades-ranking. However, women are still looked down on as a weaker gender, who are to be told what to do, especially by men or even by other women who are accustomed to the rules of patriarchy.

Society loves to dictate to the woman, how to speak, how to act and what kind of profession to choose – so that she can be ‘feminine enough’, so that she can be a good wife material or simply so that she can survive in a male-dominated world.

If we are observant, if we read the news often, we will notice that women are winning. It is not a competition but women are really shining out there. So, Dear Society, stop focusing on telling women what to do. Women are not lesser human beings than men. We are not made to be controlled or disciplined by a men, either. In many societies, the girl child is looked down on. There are communities where, a girl who is the first child of her parents cannot inherit her father’s wealth. In some homes, it is okay for  a woman to be beat by her husband – as a form of disciplining her.

Societies must treat their women better. Surely there is a long way to go. In the meantime, women, keep shining, keep breaking through glass ceilings, never believe that you were made to be controlled. And to those men (including my dad) who believe in the equality and power of women, never let go of such wisdom.

Ladies, you rock!!

Love,

Chiamaka

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Community, Uncategorized

Why we need a communal approach to equality and justice

A thought just clicked in my mind today, about selfishness as it correlates with injustice. Corruption is selfishness, racism is selfishness, promoting ‘gender inequality’ is selfishness etc. Injustice is very much centred around the idea of ‘the self’ which includes a person’s likes and dislikes, as well as his or her beliefs.

To really tackle injustice from the crux, we must constantly remind ourselves and society that there is usually room for more. Ever gone late to a class or a meeting that was being held in a small room, around a long but limited-capacity table? Well, what happens is that people start to make space and a space for at least one chair comes up. If there is no space at the table, the person who came late, will take a seat behind those seating at the table but still gets to hear what is being spoken. To me, that person is still considered to be at the table – and is benefiting from the same information that everyone else in the room is hearing.

There is usually room for more.

Again, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. It is often puzzling as to why someone will take the effort run to be a political leader in a nation and end up looting the treasury and/or oppressing the people through wars or dictatorship. Some organizations aim to have diversity in race and ethnicity but do not care to make a plan that will sustain the diversity and make all feel welcome.

The marginalized must also not behave like the oppressors, in their defense for the self …

As a Nigerian, I try to keep myself in the loop of things trending in Nigeria. I noticed that it is problematic to some Nigerians (not all), when they see other Nigerians rooting for the Black Lives Matter movement. To such people, their anger is essentially – How about the injustices in Nigeria? Why not focus on Nigeria instead?

I can understand where they are coming from, as there is a lot of inequality in Nigeria. There is injustice. Also, I know the anger of feeling left out because your tragedy doesn’t make world news. But, we must remember that there is room for more. Injustice against me should not blind me against oppression that others are facing. I think that as a citizen of the world, it is my duty as it is every other person’s, to care about people no matter what part of the world they are in, especially when they are facing oppression.

Remember, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. Even when the oppressed person takes on that notion of the self against others, it is wrong. It is just like acting in the manner of the oppressor.

In our collective strive for a just world, we must remember that there is room for more. A communal mindset sets the pace for just societies and hence, a just world.

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Community

Fort Mac: Hope in the aftermath of the most costly disaster in the history of Canada

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As the plane was descending into Fort McMurray on September 8, 2016, I was struck by the beauty of the city’s landscape and the vegetation, of which there are lots over here. Before travelling to Fort McMurray, I was not sure of what to expect in terms of the outward appearance. I mean, this is a city that had experienced a major wildfire outbreak for a while, in the month of May 2016. Over 80,000 people had to evacuate the city. However, on arrival, I saw that a good chunk of the vegetation here is blooming, though scanty in quantity in some areas. I am in awe.

My nickname for this city is “Hope”.

I am amazed at how much was spared of the city and at how much has bloomed so far, since the devastating fire incident. I am equally bewildered and saddened at how much was lost. People lost houses, cars and jobs because of the fire. Amidst the kindness that I have experienced here, just three days since I arrived, I have seen that there is also devastation, sadness and feelings of uncertainty. This is also why I feel like there is no better place that I would be right now, than in Fort McMurray working with the Canadian Red Cross and most especially, for the people of Fort McMurray.

Working with the Canadian Red Cross has been such an inspiring experience, so far. It is great to be working with an organization whose impact, you can directly see. Humanity is a force in every human being that propels you to do good for yourself and for others. The Canadian Red Cross is helping at a time when many in the city of Fort McMurray are in dire need of empathy, assistance and a patient ear. Empathy always inspires me and I feel grateful to the Creator for the opportunity to work with an organization like the Red Cross, which reminds me that one must continually work in love, for yourself and for others.

Members of the public are also helping and this is one of the major reasons why I see clients go into our Red Cross branch looking sad and then, they come out looking excited and a bit relieved. Donations go a long way. Volunteering also goes a long way. Any form of assistance goes a long way. A smile goes a long way. Words of kindness go a long way. Genuine empathy goes a long way.

Friends, right here in Fort McMurray, I feel hope, I see the push of that thing in us all called “humanity” working in full force, I feel empathy and I genuinely feel that there are much better days coming for this city. I feel a conviction that Fort McMurray is the right place for me at this time. Here in Fort McMurray, I am reminded that we are created for one another – and a society thrives better when there is togetherness.

Do you know someone or people currently in distress? Please reach out to him or her or them. Be available.

Love,

Chiamaka

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