Good Deeds In Bad Places


Written by Olivia Patt
02 Sunday 02nd October 2011

In September of this year, the women of two villages in Dado, Manguindanao in the Philippines made headlines when they managed to stop armed fighting between the villages – using a sex strike. Unsurprisingly effective, sex striking is not a phenomenon specific to the Phillipines. In 2006, Kenyan women, including prostitutes, went on sex strike to protest against the infighting within the Kenyan government. In countries where domestic abuse is rife and widespread, it takes a brave woman to make this kind of stand. Our favourite, however, has to be the one that took place in the Colombian city of Pereira in 2009, just for the name. After 480 killings in one year, the WAGS of the drug cartels went on sex strike to punish their other halves. What did they call it? “La huelga de las piernas cruzadas” or “The crossed leg strike”. Genius.

Mexico is a country plagued by an ever worsening drug war and more and more death by the day. Amidst this climate of genuine fear, a website named Cronicas de Heroe has been created, to report on the everyday acts of bravery and kindness carried out by ordinary people in Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey, two of the cities most affected by the drugs violence. Featuring stories of simple acts, such as a women paying for her neighbour’s water for twelve years, or a man stepping in to help a stranger in the street who was being robbed, Cronicas de Heroe (Chronicles of Heroes) is described as a “campaign of positivism”.

One act of bravery that garnered international fame recently was by a primary school teacher named Martha Rivera Alanis in Monterrey. During a drug related shoot out just outside of her classroom, Martha managed to stay collected and had her kindergarten class lie face down on the floor and sing songs to keep them calm. Martha filmed the experience, wanting to show the world the reality of living in Monterrey and after the video went viral, she made headlines and was awarded a medal for “civic courage”.

Perhaps one of the most famous incidents of the First World War was the Christmas Truce of 1914 (top image). Despite the fact that they had been waging one of the most bloody wars in history for months, around Christmas time soldiers from both sides left their trenches to meet in no-man’s land, sing carols, swap small gifts and play about as friendly a football match as could take place between England and Germany, all along the front line. The incident went down in history as an example of how basic human kindness and understanding can shine through even in the worst of situations.

A student at the Hagar School, Negev Desert. In the background you can see posters in both Arabic and Hebrew

A more modern example is the Hagar School in Be’er Sheva in the Negev desert, in southern Israel. Established by a group of parents, activists and academics, the Hagar School refuses to accept segregation and inequality between Jewish and Palestinian children within Israeli education – typically, Arab schools receive half the funding of Jewish schools leading to a lack of education and high drop-out rates.The Hagar School has a mixed classroom with both a Jewish and Arab teacher present at all times, and teaches the children bilingually. Although the school has only been running for one year, Hagar aims to eventually have all the years up to the age of 18, and teach children about equality in the midst of segregation. And we think that might be a little more noble than mixing all the drinks in the world to see what colour your vomit comes out.

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