Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 7th, 2016

Female chief, Theresa Kachindamoto,  breaks up 850 child marriages and sends girls back to school in Malawi

Theresa Kachindamoto, the senior chief in the Dedza District of Central Malawi, wields power over close to 900,000 people… and she’s not afraid to use her authority to help the women and girls in her district.

In the past three years, she has annulled more than 850 child marriages, sent hundreds of young women back to school to continue their education, and made strides to abolish cleansing rituals that require girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps.

With more than half of Malawi’s girls married before the age of 18, according to a 2012 United Nations survey — and a consistently low ranking on the human development index, Kachindamoto’s no-nonsense attitude and effective measures have made her a vital ally in the fight for women’s and children’s rights

Kachindamoto, born in Dedza District, had been working as a secretary for twenty-seven years in another district when she was called to come home and serve as a chief.

Upon her return, she was dismayed at the sight of 12 year-old girls with babies and young husbands and quickly began to take action.

Last year, Malawi raised the legal age to marry to 18, yet parental consent continues to serve as a loophole to allow younger girls to marry. Kachindamoto ordered 50 of her sub-chiefs to sign an agreement ending child marriage in Dedza District.

When a few male chiefs continued to approve the marriages, Kachindamoto suspended them until they annulled the unions. In addition to annulling the marriages (330 in June of 2015 alone!), this fierce chief sent the children back to school, often paying their school fees with her own money.

She has also asked parliament to raise the minimum age of marriage again to 21.

RELATED | An Ambulance is Transformed into a Playground for a Children’s Hospital in Malawi

In an area where girls are often married early to ease a family’s financial burden and where one in five girls in Malawi are victims of sexual abuse, Kachindamoto is also taking a stand against the cleansing camps where girls are routinely sent before marriage.

The sexual initiation rites that take place there are extremely disturbing, particularly in a country where one in ten people has HIV. (Any examples of these rituals?)

Kachindamoto is threatening to dismiss any chiefs that continue to allow these controversial practices. Kachindamoto has faced plenty of opposition to her efforts from parents and community members, even receiving death threats, yet she remains determined to continue changing minds and laws for the benefits of Malawi’s females and their futures.

In Kachindamoto’s own words, “If they are educated, they can be and have anything they want.”

Via The Huffington Post and Al Jazeera

A Commodified Myth?  The American Dream

According to the findings of a Marist Poll commissioned by Boston PBS station WGBH earlier this year, “The American Dream [is] still alive, but … a majority of U.S. residents believe the American middle class is just a vestige of the past.” That WGBH summary of the poll notes:

While 58% [of parents] think their children will be better off than they are now, about one-third, 33%, say their children will be in a worse position.

The picture becomes bleaker when the focus shifts to the future of America’s youth, in general.

Nearly half of residents, 48%, believe most children in the United States will grow up to be worse off than their parents while 43% say children, overall, will be better off….

“The American Dream” is nothing more than an advertising slogan to sustain the oligarchy and elect opportunistic politicians, says Mark Karlin.

We must work to transform “the American Dream” into a deepening of real values — to instill equity, respect and justice into the moral fabric of our nation.|By Mark Karlin

A news release that I received on April 5 from a publicist for WGBH put it more bluntly:

A majority of U.S. residents believe the American middle class is just a vestige of the past, according to an Exclusive Point Taken-Marist Poll, commissioned by WGBH Boston for its new late-night, multi-platform PBS debate series Point Taken.

But, despite a pessimistic view about the viability of the American middle class, most adults nationally 69% think the American Dream is attainable for themselves. Although fewer, many think it is in reach for other Americans, 58%, as well.

Given the nation’s radical and growing income inequality, the perceptions of those surveyed in the poll [as shown in charts]  appear rosier than the reality of the economic chasm in the US.

The poll raises the question about how the hope of achieving an economic dream can defy economic data, given that most of those polled thought the middle class was dying.

Where will the 69 percent of those who believe that “the American Dream” is attainable end up? That’s 69 percent too many people to squeeze into the 1 percent.

This gap may be in large part due to the fact that “the American Dream” is never defined in the poll, as reported by WGBH.

That lack of definition is not unusual: The political, media and cultural concept of an “American Dream” is a loaded, yet amorphous, phrase. It exists as a manipulable perception, and does not carry concrete details that make it tangible.

Politicians love to promise to restore “the American Dream,” but what exactly are they committing themselves to?

For the most part, “the American Dream” has come to be associated with children rising to a higher economic level and standard of living than their parents.

This is a concept reinforced by the media and during every round of elections. “The American Dream” as a cultural cliché is embedded into the assumption of an economy that continues to grow without end.

In short, it’s a fantasy, particularly in an economy that has created a Grand Canyon between the Trumps and Kochs of the world and the rest of us — an economy in which unrestrained consumption consumes the world through global warming.

To promise to restore “the American Dream” is disingenuous. The phrase may be tantalizing to many in economic need; it is aimed at making “economic opportunity” appear inexhaustible.

Yet in reality, it is nothing more than an advertising slogan to sustain the oligarchy and elect opportunistic politicians.

Bernie Sanders has been an exception. He has focused on economic justice and a level playing field, not on a dream.

Politicians who want to actually have an impact on poverty should be — like Sanders, to some extent — promising a restructuring of the current economic system.

It is time to put the financial commodification of “the American Dream” to rest. It is time to transform the connotation of “the American Dream” into the reality of fulfilled lives, embracing diversity, equal justice and involved communities.

The struggle for economic fairness must continue at a robust pace.

Yet simultaneously, we must work to transform “the American Dream” into a deepening of real values — to instill equity, respect and justice into the moral fabric of our nation.

Clowns Without Borders: Intersection of performing arts and humanitarian aid

Clowns Without Borders is a non-profit organization that offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis, including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency.

CWB brings levity, contemporary clown/circus oriented performances and workshops into communities so they can celebrate together and temporarily forget about the tensions that darken their daily lives.

Sabine Choucair shared this link. May 4 at 11:23pm ·

I love all the badass women I work with smile emoticon Molly Rose u rock and all the @clowns without borders amazing badass women Tamara Palmer Naomi Shafer Kolleen Kintz Samantha Holdsworth Louise Lola Frisk Jennifer Vidmo Luz Gaxiola

They work with relief organizations to address the psycho-social needs of those who suffer from traumatic situations.

In participation with doctors, psychologists, social workers and members of the community, they create joyful experiences from which children and the communities thrive.

CWB also seeks to raise our society’s awareness of affected populations and to promote a spirit of solidarity. 

This week’s Kind Badass is Molly Rose Levine, the Executive Director of Clowns Without Borders, USA.

Molly Rose Levine: Executive Director, Clowns Without Borders USA

Molly Rose Levine speaking at TEDxBushwick

What is your passion?

Helping people connect, and communication! The Clowns Without Borders: Intersection of performing arts and humanitarian aid. Encouraging and sharing resilience through laughter.

How are you putting your passion to a purpose?

I run an amazing nonprofit called Clowns Without Borders!

We are a 21 year old NGO that shares moments of laughter and levity to children and families in crisis. We offer free performing and workshop tours for people in refugee camps, conflict zones, and natural disaster sites around the world.

Clowns Without Borders

How did you get started?

After graduating from a 3.5 year study abroad program with a degree in Global Studies, concentration in violence against marginalized ethnic groups, I spend two years developing my skills as a project manager by working on underground art events, burning man events, and interesting installations in NYC.

After a few years, I felt that my skills were strong enough that there was no good reason for me to not try to “do my good where it does the most” and reintegrate myself into a humanitarian field. Just a few days after making that decision, I came across a help wanted for a volunteer administrator for Clowns Without Borders in an underground events list-serve. The rest, as they say…

Why do you do it?

I believe in the transformational power of positivity and laughter to change energy, no matter the circumstances.

I believe that children deserve moments of levity and ease, regardless of what side of which political spectrum they fall on. I believe in the importance of sharing ease and laughter with people in crisis, who don’t have the luxury of relaxation or entertainment. It’s a humbling honor to serve the mission of Clowns Without Borders, and I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling way to spend my time at this point in my life.

Clowns Without Borders

Favorite thing about what you do?

That the message transcends circumstances. My absolute favorite moment is watching the faces of refugees, displaced people, or people in the middle of the worst days of their lives crack a smile, a giggle, a belly laugh. Seeing these moments of resilience through laughter is hugely inspiring, because it’s inside of everyone, whether we are there or not.

All we do is show up, create a container where people have permission to let go of their stress, and the incredible courage that shines through everyone in our audience, is the most inspiring thing for me.

How can others help?

People can help by donating to our cause and spreading awareness about our mission. We are a grassroots organization, and we’re funded in large part by individual donors.

  • In order to donate and become a member, please visit:
  • If you’re interested in becoming a major donor or sponsor, then please e-mail
  • Please like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and like and share our posts to help others find out about us!
  • If you’re interested in volunteering, we always have needs for almost any skill set. Send us an e-mail to start a relationship with us!


Who are your heroes?

Wavy Gravy and Jane Elliot.

If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?

The power to communicate in ANY LANGUAGE (including with plants, animals, computer code).

Clowns Without Borders

What is your favorite non-profit organization or cause?

Of course it is Clowns Without Borders, and aside from us, an organization that I LOVE is called No More Deaths. They are based in Arizona and believe that there’s no need for anyone to die while trying to cross the border into the united states. They patrol the border lands, make food and water drops, and give those picked up by Border Patrol access to support, and demand dignity for migrants.

Who else should be a kind badass of the week?

The ladies who started THINX. They created panties for people with periods! Amazing!




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