Vicky Collins Online

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The Joy of Giving

What a beautiful message during this Christmas season! Narayanan Krishnan is a bright light in the impoverished streets of Bangalore, India. His spirit of giving can inspire all of us. He is one of CNN’s Heroes.  When I was in India I often saw desperately poor people squatting down and begging for food. Giving food was a way people would get good karma in their next life but I’m certain they received many more blessings in this one, just from the act of giving.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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“A Homeless, Homeless Advocate”

Thanks to my friend, Randle Loeb, for sharing this inspiring story with me.  Randle is a tireless voice for the homeless and wanted me to see this Washington Post article about Eric Sheptock, a homeless man in Washington, D.C.,  who is advocating for those like him using social media, Facebook and Twitter. People can make a difference anywhere.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/12/AR2010121203509.html?hpid=topnews

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Gratitude

For Thanksgiving Day and every day:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beattie.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Uganda’s Child Soldiers on PBS

As a journalist I’m used to working long days.  Adrenaline keeps you in the game for 16 to 20 hours during breaking news and disaster coverage.  You sleep for three hours then you’re back at it.  But nothing prepared me for how exhausted I would be after just a couple of hours of listening to the painful testimonies of young Ugandan men and women who had been abducted as children and forced to fight in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.  We produced the story for the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer when we traveled to Uganda this past June.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/july-dec10/uganda_11-16.html

During our journey we met up with the young men at World Vision’s Children of War Rehabilitation Center in Gulu, Uganda.  We also spoke with Sarah at her home in Orum in the Otuke District of Northern Uganda.  For 20 years kids as young as 9 were taken from their villages, marched to Sudan where they were trained to be soldiers, and sent out in the battlefield whether they were ready or not.  Michael told us how he was forced to kill his own brother.  Justin showed us his body riddled with bullet wounds.  Sarah gave us a tour of the village, pointing out graves including her sister’s.  It was a senseless civil war and the children didn’t even know why they were fighting.  Estimates are that 30,000 children were kidnapped but those are considered conservative.  More than likely the number is over 50,000.  Many spent their entire childhood in captivity and if they were not killed in battle or shot by ruthless commanders, if they survived their wounds and the traumas they witnessed, they might have been lucky enough to escape or be captured by the Ugandan government and sent into the arms of NGO’s like World Vision who work to rehabilitate them so they can be returned to their villages.  It is tough work.  Many of these children come home as young adults after spending the majority of their lives in the bush.  They have been robbed of their education and have little hope for the future.  They need to trust again.  They suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and depression.  One half of them were forced to kill someone.  Communities have mixed feelings about taking them back.  After all, these rebels killed tens of thousands of people and forced almost two million from their homes.  It’s understandable that there are some hard feelings.  Northern Uganda is at peace again and people have returned to their villages.  It’s hard to imagine this terror just a few years ago. But the physical and emotional scars endure for these children.  For their families.  For the people of the region.  And the LRA has not gone away.  Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has just moved next door where they are traumatizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For a longer version of the story watch the link below to see what we produced for HDNet’s World Report.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/15209575?portrait=0&color=ffffff

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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War and Remembrance 4

Part 4 in the dialogue between me and Ben Coker, Jr. of South Carolina following my Veterans Day post.

Hi Mr. Coker,

I’m enjoying our dialogue.  I am not the student of history that you are but as a television news producer and international traveler I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on current events.  I would like to address your question on whether we should turn our heads from those who are being oppressed, maimed and killed throughout the world.  Absolutely not!  I personally know the cost of the Holocaust.  My family died in it.  But should we send in armies every time we perceive a threat or injustice?  I don’t think so.  Clearly after 9-11 we had to get tough and go after those who violated us and killed so many of our citizens.  I remember watching NBC’s Today Show on the morning of the attack and telling my then 7 year old son (the subject of the Veterans Day post) that we were going to war.  It was our generation’s Pearl Harbor.  We had to strike back.  But have we really done anything to beat down radical Islam?  We may have disorganized the extremists and driven them into caves, but they’re not going away and in the process we have alienated many moderate, peace loving Muslims throughout the world.

I’m thinking Greg Mortenson who is building schools in the remote reaches of Pakistan and Afghanistan is doing as much if not more good than our armies. Instead of battling with guns, Mortenson is fighting so children will grow up educated and be able to look the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the eye and say this is not for me.  So many of the people in the world who become radicalized do so because they have no opportunities or hope for a future.  Our armies may be holding the line but I think we need systemic changes in those countries to beat down oppression.  That is when women and children will be better off.  Our armies, and George Bush, may have kept another attack from American soil, but we shouldn’t forget the work of Laura Bush who went to Afghanistan to champion women’s rights and education there.  This may be very Pollyanna of me and I’m not saying we don’t need war, but I think we need diplomacy and peace more.  Eagerly awaiting your thoughts.  Best, Vicky

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

 


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Young, Jewish, Proud

An amazing statement of intention and possibly, hopefully, finally, the generation that will lead us to a lasting peace in the Middle East alongside young Palestinians just like them.

http://www.youngjewishproud.org/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Varanasi: Karma and Contradiction

My friend, Duncan, and I had wrapped up dinner at a restaurant in Varanasi, India and more than half the food was uneaten. We asked for a carry out bag, knowing in the back of our mind that we would probably never eat the food. While walking down towards the Ganges, we started to pass beggars, beaten down to the ground by years of poverty, and one by one we handed them little foil packages of leftover food. A man saw me place a bag in the hands of a blind man squatting on the street. “Good Karma,” he said. “Did you know this man is 100 years old?” At the waterfront we encountered another beggar. I handed him another small bag of food. A smile lit up his face. When I looked back at him he was fondling the gift of food as though it was Diwali. The reaction filled me much more than the dinner. We did not walk by and ignore him.

Varanasi, India is the epicenter of karma, the do unto others, reap what you sow force that leads people to a better life, or at least, presumably, a better afterlife. When we arrived in Varanasi, the holy Hindu city where people come to die, our guide, Deep, told us that people arrive in Varanasi with their hands closed around their worldly possessions and leave with their hands open. The only thing they take on their journey to the afterlife is their karma. The rituals of life and death are out in the open here. People come at sunrise to the River Ganges to wash away their sins in her holy waters, and they come again when their time is over, to be cremated on her banks. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week fires burn. Shrouded bodies are dipped in the Ganges and then the son or male relative of the deceased lights the fire that takes a loved one on their final way.

The idea of karma is omnipresent in this central Indian city of five million. But karma only gets you so far in the here and now and to have a worthwhile existence people need money. With that in mind those in the old city of Varanasi have perfected the art of the hustle. It starts when you are just a child. Pretty little girls between 8 and 12 implore you to buy their marigold flowered candles to put in the River Ganges, so your prayers will be carried down the river. They are relentless salesgirls with their pitch honed and refined from mothers and older sisters. Young male guides around 15 years old follow you through the teeming alleyways offering to take you to temples, reminding you not to trust anyone else but them.  They are charming and sincere. They don’t want money, they want friendship. All this as you empty your pockets.

Warsa and her flowers

It is a little easy to become uncertain or even cynical when the man at the burning ghat asks you to make a donation to the hospice, and a woman he says is a nurse comes out of the shadows to bless you and take your money. But as a traveler to Varanasi I wanted to believe in the purity of intention and the notion that the people here practice what they preach. I want to believe that little Warsa and Shivani, young Panka and Rahul, and of course Deep, will be smiled on by the gods Shiva and Ganesha and that they will find a righteous balance in their lives, and if they don’t, that the River Ganges will wash their sins away. And from this place I want to carry home with me a reminder to live my life in a more generous way. Even the farewell at the airport from Deep, evoked karma. We do not say goodbye in Varanasi. We say “welcome again.”

For more on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Waste Not, Want Not

The other night my colleagues and I ordered pizza to be delivered to our workplace at the International Broadcast Centre during our shift at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. There have been tons of issues with the catering here so we had food brought in. At the end of the evening there were still four untouched boxes of pizza that were cold and had been sitting around. We threw them out. On our way back to our hotels we walked past all the security personnel who would be on alert all night and regretted our decision to waste the food. With that in mind I was very gratified today to see what my colleague, Anu, did at a local shopping area. We were eating street food and she ordered something she could not finish. Instead of throwing it away, like we would do in the states, she handed her unfinished dish of lentils to a young boy who gobbled it up. In a country with so much poverty I found it inspiring to pass the food to a stranger rather than throw it in the bin. It was much more dignified for the lad to accept the kindness of Anu than to be hungry or beg or fish the food out of the trash. Anu said if she puts something on her plate she must finish it or she feels bad. If she can’t finish then she shares. It was a win-win for both Anu and the boy and food for thought for this visitor.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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BeadforLife on 9News

Thanks Bazi Kanani of Denver’s 9News for doing this wonderful story about the income generating project, BeadforLife.  If you would like to host a bead party visit http://beadforlife.org.  The organization is on its way to booking 100 parties in 100 days.  It’s time and money very well spent and the women of Uganda will rain blessings down on you for helping their families rise up from poverty.

http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=157154&catid=188

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

 

 


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Uganda’s Child Soldiers: In Their Own Words

As a journalist I’m used to working long days.  Adrenaline keeps you in the game for 16 to 20 hours during breaking news and disaster coverage.  You sleep for three hours then you’re back at it.  But nothing prepared me for how exhausted I would be after just a couple of hours of listening to the painful testimonies of young Ugandan men and women who had been abducted as children and forced to fight in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.  We produced the story you see below for HDNet’s World Report when we traveled to Uganda this past June. During our journey we met up with the young men at World Vision’s Children of War Rehabilitation Center in Gulu, Uganda.  We also spoke with Sarah at her home in Orum in the Otuke District of Northern Uganda.  For 20 years kids as young as 9 were taken from their villages, marched to Sudan where they were trained to be soldiers, and sent out in the battlefield whether they were ready or not.  Michael told us how he was forced to kill his own brother.  Justin showed us his body riddled with bullet wounds.  Sarah gave us a tour of the village, pointing out graves including her sister’s.  It was a senseless civil war and the children didn’t even know why they were fighting.  Estimates are that 30,000 children were kidnapped but those are considered conservative.  More than likely the number is over 50,000.  Many spent their entire childhood in captivity and if they were not killed in battle or shot by ruthless commanders, if they survived their wounds and the traumas they witnessed, they might have been lucky enough to escape or be captured by the Ugandan government and sent into the arms of NGO’s like World Vision who work to rehabilitate them so they can be returned to their villages.  It is tough work.  Many of these children come home as young adults after spending the majority of their lives in the bush.  They have been robbed of their education and have little hope for the future.  They need to trust again.  They suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and depression.  One half of them were forced to kill someone.  Communities have mixed feelings about taking them back.  After all, these rebels killed tens of thousands of people and forced almost two million from their homes.  It’s understandable that there are some hard feelings.  Northern Uganda is at peace again and people have returned to their villages.  It’s hard to imagine this terror just a few years ago. But the physical and emotional scars endure for these children.  For their families.  For the people of the region.  And the LRA has not gone away.  Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has just moved next door where they are traumatizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/15209575?portrait=0&color=ffffff

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.