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Abigail was a boisterous girl growing up. She was always full of life and her absence even for a few hours could be felt in the entire house. As she grew into her teenage years, she became withdrawn, unkempt and preferred her company every time of the day. She will lock herself up in her room and cry for days for justifiable reason. Her parents noticed there was a real issue, when she started posting suicidal notes on her social media handles.

Alarmed, they sought professional help and like they suspected, Abigail was diagnosed with chronic depression.

WHEN I have a bout of depression,” says Abigail, “I lack motivation for everything, not even the things I usually love to do. The only thing of interest to me is sleep. I often feel very worthless and unlovable. I nursed the feeling that everyone will be happier without me and that gave rise to suicidal thoughts’’.

“I thought about suicide every time,” recalls James, a 17 year old boy diagnosed with depression. “I didn’t really want to die, but I wanted to stop feeling the way I was feeling.  I’m normally a very caring person, but cannot see past myself during bouts of depression. I become selfish, irritable and just want to be left alone, all the time.

Abigail and James were in their early teens when they first experienced depression. While other young people might occasionally feel down, Abigail and James had periods of depression that persisted for weeks or months at a time. “It’s like being stuck in a deep, dark hole with no way out,” Abigail says. “You feel like you are losing control of yourself and cannot do anything about it.

Abigail and James’s situation is not uncommon.  The diagnosis of depression among the young appears to be increasing at an alarming rate, and according to the World Health Organisation(WHO) depression is “the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years.

“When there is life there is hope” these are words from an old cliché but no matter how true it might be; these words can never make sense to a young teen who is trapped in the arms of depression. Do you ever wonder whether your irritable or unhappy teenager might actually be experiencing teen depression? As the rate of depression rises, so does the teen suicide rate. In a recent data collated in 2013, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it indicated that, among students in grades 9-12 in the United States, 17 percent seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months, 13.6 percent made a plan about how they would commit suicide, 8 percent attempted suicide one or more times, and 2.7 percent made an attempt that resulted in poisoning, overdose, or an injury that required medical attention. Most times depression may come with suicide warning or signs so in order to save the life of your teenager, you must also take note of these suicide warning signs that accompany depression. They include:

  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Writing poems or stories about suicide
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Engaging in reckless behavior
  • Romanticizing death
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family members (in person, in notes, or on social media)
  • Cryptic social media updates that reference death or the end

These signs should propel you to raise or signal for help and intervention for your depressed teen because if ignored they can lead to fatal circumstances.

Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional and physical problems. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults.

The symptoms of depression can appear during adolescence and may include changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and weight. Feelings of despair, hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness may also appear. Other signs include social withdrawal, trouble concentrating or remembering, suicidal thoughts or actions, and medically unexplained symptoms. When mental-health professionals suspect depression, they usually look for groups of symptoms that persist for weeks and that disrupt a person’s everyday life.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of teen depression include a change from the teenager’s previous attitude and behavior that can cause significant distress and problems at school or home, in social activities, or in other areas of life. Depression symptoms can vary in severity, but changes in teen’s emotions and behavior may include the examples below.

Emotional changes, such as: Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason

   Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters.
   Feeling hopeless or empty.
   Irritable or annoyed mood.
   Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities.
   Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends.
   Low self-esteem.
   Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
   Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism.
   Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance.
   Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
   Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak.
   Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide.

Behavioral changes, such as: Tiredness and loss of energy;
Insomnia or sleeping too much;
Changes in appetite — decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain;
Use of alcohol or drugs;
Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still;
Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements;
Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse;
Social isolation;
Poor school performance or frequent absences from school;
Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance;
Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors;
Self-harm — for example, cutting, burning, or excessive piercing or tattooing;
Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt;

Depression and Teenage Girls

The incidence of depression in teenage girls appears to be higher than that of boys. One factor may be the stress resulting from emotional, physical, or sexual harassment or abuse, which girls often have to cope with. “When a scary external world and a chaotic internal world collide,” wrote professional counselor Sharon Hersh, “the result is often overwhelming and confusing.” Girls may also be unduly influenced by media portrayals of the “ideal” body. A girl who sees herself as physically undesirable or who is overly concerned about peer approval may be more vulnerable to depression.

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF TEEN DEPRESSION

According to WHO, “depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors.” These may include the following.

Physical Factors.

Depression often runs in families, suggesting that genetics can play a role, perhaps affecting chemical activity in the brain. Other physical risk factors include cardiovascular disease and changing hormone levels, as well as ongoing substance abuse, which may intensify depression, if not give rise to it.

Stress.

All teens experience some amount of stress, and some stress can even be healthy. Many teens, however, struggle with significant stress levels that interfere with learning, relationships, and other areas of functioning. Stress can manifest in different ways, and some symptoms of stress mimic normal teen behavior. To that end, stress can sneak up on teens. It’s important to know what to look for when it comes to teen stress:

  • Emotional changes: Your teen might appear agitated, anxious, and/or depressed. Pay attention to changes in behavior.
  • Physical changes: Teens under stress are likely to get sick more often and complain of headaches, stomachaches, and other aches and pains.
  • Behavioral changes: Look for changes in eating or sleeping habits, and avoidance of normal daily activities.
  • Cognitive changes: You might notice decreased concentration, forgetfulness, and/or the appearance of carelessness.

While a little stress can be healthy, chronic or excessive stress can be physically and psychologically harmful, sometimes to the point of plunging a susceptible, or biologically vulnerable, teen into depression. According to data collected by the American Psychological Association for the Stress in America Survey, teen stress rivals that of adults. Results of the survey show that not only do teens identify that their stress levels are not healthy, but they also underestimate the impact stress has on their mental and physical health.

Stress-related factors linked to depression may include parental divorce or separation, the death of a loved one, physical  or sexual abuse, a serious accident, illness, or a learning disability—especially if a child feels rejected as a result. A related factor may be unrealistically high parental expectations, perhaps in regard to scholastic achievement. Other possible causes are bullying, uncertainty about the future, emotional estrangement by a depressed parent, and parental unpredictability.

What Parents can do.

When kids are young, parents are used to swooping in and rescuing them whenever they need help. As your kids get older and their problems become more complex, you have to transition into more of a supporting role, and that can be difficult. This is especially true with teens who are struggling with depression. They need help to get better. Recognize that depressed teens may find it hard to express their feelings or may not understand what is happening to them. They may not even be aware of the symptoms of depression.

Teens tend to express their depression in ways different from those of adults, so be alert to major changes in your child’s behavior, eating habits, moods, sleep patterns, or social interactions—especially if the changes persist for weeks.

  • Cling to Psychotherapy: Depression whether in teens or adults is first a psychological problem. Talk therapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy are often good initial treatments for mild to moderate cases of depression.
  • Group therapy: Therapy groups can be effective for teens. Through group work, teens connect with other teens that share and understand their struggles and create support networks beyond their immediate families and close friends. Group therapy gives the depressed teenager an opportunity to meet peers who are in probably worst situations; thereby helping her realize she can be a source of succor to others in need.
  • Medication management: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are antidepressant medications that can be beneficial to adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder. An adolescent being treated for major depressive disorder should be carefully evaluated by a physician to determine whether or not medication is necessary. Although, antidepressant medications do come with risks. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about SSRI medications for children and adolescent due to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. As parents, you must be careful about the meditative measures you adopt for your depressed teenager.

Just in case you are not yet prepared to take the depression problem of your teen to others who you feel may be outsiders, there are other easy things you can do at home to help your teen. This includes

  • Focusing on listening: You can’t fix this for your teen by putting up a nagging pitiful attitude, and lectures won’t make depression go away, but active and empathic listening establishes rapport and provides the required emotional support.
  • Making 1:1 time a priority: The simple of act of making time to talk each day will help your teen reconnect and seek help instead of internalizing her feelings.
  • Taking a Stand Against social isolation: Lack of motivation might make it difficult for your teen to connect with peers during this time. Encourage your teen to reach out to close friends and engage in activities of interest with other teens. Avoid letting her get shut out at this period.
  • Creating for your teen, a Conducive environment for enough sleep:   Insufficient sleep exacerbates symptoms of depression. Teens need 9-10 hours of sleep every night, hence talking about sleep with your teen can help solve depression issues.
  • Prioritizing exercise: It is no news that regular exercises play a vital role in improving mental health. Aim for one hour of exercise a day with your teen. In this case it not just helpful to pose as a tutor or coach, you must also be part of the process. Offer to try new exercise classes with your teen to make it fun.
  • Improve nutrition: Food definitely has its way of interrupting and determining the mood of humans. Healthy, balanced diets help to combat fatigue and feed the brain as well as boost excitements.

Fixing your young teenager’s depression and mood issues can sometimes be exasperating, nevertheless the process of overcoming depression especially in a young teenager requires patience. It might not be an easy task but being a parent requires that you persevere and gradually follow through the process, since the joy of that young teenager also assures you of yours.

How Friends Can Help

The isolating feeling of depression can make it hard for some adolescents to ask for help. They may be willing to speak to their friends about their depression instead of their parents or caregivers. For teens who want to support their friends who have depression or other mental health conditions, the following recommendations can help;

  • Avoid saying things like “you’ll get over it,” “toughen up” or “you’re fine”
  • Tell your friend that having a mental health condition does not change the way you feel about them
  • Your friend may feel alone; check in regularly and include your friend in your plans
  • Learn more about mental health conditions
  • Encourage your friend it gets better; help and support are available
  • Reach out to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, coach, religious leaders) and share with them your concerns for your friend.

How Depressed Teens Can Help Themselves

If you suffer from depression, a practical suggestion to help you control your thoughts and feelings is to create what has been called an emotional first-aid kit. The kit, which can be adjusted as you see fit, might include;

  • Contact information of people to call when you feel down
  • Favorite songs that are positive and up-building
  • Inspirational sayings and encouraging articles
  • A list of comforting and up-building sayings from the Holy Scriptures
  • Mementos to remind you of people who love you
  • A journal containing your positive thoughts as well as positive experiences you have enjoyed.

Always remember that you are not alone and depressed feelings, as daunting as they may seem, can pass away.

 

Sources:

https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.teens.html
https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=understanding-teenage-depression-1-2220
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-teens
https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/teen-depression#1
https://www.verywellmind.com/teen-depression-3200844
https://psychcentral.com/lib/teenage-depression/
https://www.verywellmind.com/parents-guide-to-teen-depression-2609502
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/teen-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20350985

I have gone out on social occasions alone long enough to know that a woman, who goes about her life solo, is its own kind of oppression. I have always enjoyed my own company and want to be by myself the majority of the time. This of course is not to say I don’t enjoy the company of others. I have great companions from my place of worship, work, etc., but will always have picked my own company if it was presented on a scale of preference.

It was one of those hectic days at work.  I had resumed before 8.am and barely had ten minutes break the whole day. I was on my feet half of the time and my toe hurt badly from pressure from the heels.  I had to deal with a lot of finicky clients and could literally feel the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms coming down.

Swamped as I was, pleasant thoughts of my planned evening made me smile to myself from time to time. Okay, one of my resolutions for the New Year was to always give myself a treat, at least once in 2 weeks. See a movie, have a drink by self or attend a concert.  

This particular Friday was my first planned outing for the year.  My neighbor had been going on and on about the spiced snails in a particular joint in town.  “It is to die for ‘’ she had said as her face lit and then suddenly turned solemn like she was literally ready to give her life for those snails. The snail was not the only reason to visit this joint, the life band was classic, I learned my folk songs were a regular and since I was away from home, I longed for things that give me the home nostalgia.

As the clock chimed and it was 6; pm, I heaved and started to clear my desk. I was going to have a wonderful ‘’me time’’ and could not just wait to have my evening.

The traffic was not particularly heavy this evening, and in less than 30 minutes I had reached my destination joint. The car park was jam -parked and I had to wait for about ten minutes for someone to pull out so I could park. I smiled and waved at the astonished driver who could not understand what my excitement was about. It seemed as if the space was for sale and I had just been given one for free.

I securely locked my laptop and other personals in the car booth and with a leisurely stroll, went into the garden.

There was a security screening point with some huge agelastic looking security guards. Good evening, I greeted trying a quick smile out of curiosity to know if those faces could ever smile. The face position seemed sculptured, like it will never bulge.  Hi, one of them responded, while searching my bag like I had a bomb the size of a mustard grain hidden therein. Who are you with; he continued without even looking at me, still fixated on the contents of my bag, looking at every bit of make-up item like it had some bomb laced on it.

I honestly did not understand the question, I looked around and when I did not see anyone else around he could have been referring to, responded ‘’ I am by myself’’.

Sorry we do not admit unaccompanied ladies here, he retorted, stretching back my handbag to me with a look of “you just wasted my time with the search.’’

The first retort that came to heart was not a pleasant one. Always count to five in your mind before you respond my dad has always advised. 1, .2, 3,……4………5, Why? I asked instead?

This place is not a brothel, we don’t want young ladies like you coming here unaccompanied to attract men, you have to come with your husband or boyfriend to gain entrance here.

Patience is a virtue, I agreed that day.  Count again, I said to myself. 1..2…,3….4……,5…….but I am single, I responded calmly. I neither have a husband nor boyfriend to escort me, but seriously need to unwind and calm my nerves, I’ve had a long day, I said, almost pleading.

Young lady, leave this place, another guard shouted from behind. Do not make us throw you out.

I was getting angry, my voice was not so calm again, throw me out? What will be my offence? I asked with sincere surprise?

I did not see his response coming, your offense is being ‘’Mrs Nobody’’.

There are days when I could have had my way or disrupt business activities there for the rest of the evening. That particular Friday was not one of such days. I was sapped of all energy. I collected my bag and walked back to my car with a thousand thoughts flowing through my mind.

I will be back, I told myself, I will still come back here alone and will gain entrance, have my drink and peppered snail, watch entertainers perform my folk songs, and unwind before going home.

Not just today.

As I got home and discussed this incident with my friends, I realized it wasn’t new and not just the place in question was guilty of this harassment to unaccompanied ladies. I was rudely surprised and decided to look up ‘my rights’’ pertaining to this issue. Guess what I found? Nothing.

But in the course of my reading, I discovered I was not alone.

A lot of young women have faced this kind of harassment and have suffered discrimination based on their relationship status.

According to an article found on Arab News; the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) has officially prevented women from visiting medical clinics without male guardians.  Haia members recently issued orders to employees working at a nutrition center not to admit women patients unless a guardian accompanies them during their weekly visits. This decision caused huge losses to the nutrition center in a single week, according to the source.

In defense of  their stance, the proponents of the law stated that male guardians  or company must not only be husbands, but could also be any male relative like , sons, brothers, fathers or even uncles. Hmmm,  how thoughtful.

What this means is that, I have to wait for my elderly father or my brothers who all live 10 hours away from me to get checked medically or like was the case with me, hire a male or call an unwanted male friend to accompany me before I could relax, unwind and spend my own money.

I tried a different venue the following day and was admitted (Thankfully), but I had to wait for about 10 minutes and when I did not see any waiter coming my way, I beckoned on one and placed my order. Just one?  He asked with a sincerely curious voice. How do you mean I asked back, curious to see where the drama was leading? Ermmm, I thought you will want to order for ‘’Oga” (Male partner) at once so I do not have to go back and forth when he comes. Hmmmm, there is no “Oga’’ I responded, please can you get my order? Sorry ma he murmured as he jolted away.

I could see people looking at me with condescending pity because I was unaccompanied. Paradoxically, I look at them and feel pity too that they needed to have company in order to enjoy themselves.  Why would I want to pay for my much hyped “Spiced Snail’’ or get to pay for a movie ticket if I have to try to hold up a forced conversation that distracts me from savoring the reason I’m there?

I have been alone in public places long enough to note the different treatment I am given when I am with “someone and when I’m not.

These are the small matters.

How about the bigger stuff  like strange men trying to have forced conversations with you and getting really rude when you show no interest or strange men following you when you depart ? It gets harder.

Being a woman who goes about her life ‘’ solo’’ is its own kind of oppression.

Why are women expected to be accompanied in spaces where social activity occurs?

This has so become the norm that, when you are not accompanied, even kind , well-meaning people find it hard to address you respectfully.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Who else have had bad treatment in a social event for being a “Mrs Nobody”?

What should be done about this? Are there legal rights or bodies for complaints in cases of such harassment?

Thoughts and opinions are welcomed.

Kimmy Tom

Amazons Watch magazine wishes women across the world, a wonderful celebration, on the annual International Women’s Day. 

As a magazine with a media philosophy rooted in the preservation of the pride and dignity of women, we acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements and contributions of Women across nations, and as we join in this 2018 International Women’s Day celebration, we encourage all women and girl’s across the globe to be reminded, that the annual March 8th date is set aside to celebrate not only the achievements of Women in their fight for equality, but the willingness to ‘PressForProgress’; and to be encouraged that while they fight many social battles, the change we seek always just starts with you.

To our Amazons, we salute your doggedness and the fact that your daily breakthroughs is an inspiration to all women.

To women who still face one violence or the other, we salute your resilience and audacity of hope…..remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
We celebrate you all today. 
Remember to show love to the underprivileged as we celebrate Women today.

Best regards,
Furo Giami

Amazons Watch Magazine:
Amazons Watch Magazine is a premier magazine published by the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD); with a media philosophy rooted in the preservation of the pride and dignity of women through objective reportage on Gender issues, continually highlighting the giant strides of women across developing Nations.

HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi is a member of the ruling family of Sharjah and the niece to His Highness, Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammed Al-Qasimi.

She is the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, respectively holding the positions of Minister of State for International Cooperation and Development, Minister of Foreign Trade, and Minister of Economic and Planning of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). HE Sheikha Lubna currently holds the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the California State University and acquired an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah. In March 2014, HE Sheikha Lubna received an honorary doctorate of science, from California State University, Chico; she also has an honorary doctorate in law and economics from the University of Exeter and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies respectively.

While serving as the Minister of Foreign Trade, she had received commendations with her background in IT for developing a system that slashed the cargo turnaround times at the Dubai airport and also creating the first ever business-to-business online marketplace in the Middle East.

Besides from fulfilling her roles as a Minister, HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi also sits on the Board of various organizations, offering her knowledge when needed.

As a Minister of State for Tolerance, she is working towards creating and building a platform where there is a generally accepted and diversified living condition in the United Arab Emirates.

Some of her Awards and recognition include Datamatix IT Woman of the Year 2001; Commonwealth of Kentucky Honorary title — Kentucky Colonel, 2003; Business. Com Personal Contribution Award, 200,1 among others.

 

Here’s how soon you can truthfully say, “don’t worry, I’m not contagious.”               

The holiday season is all about sharing: warm embraces with family and friends, heaping spreads of food, good cheer galore, and, inevitably, cold and flu bugs. But should you skip out on all the fun just because a cold or the flu has left you feeling a little under the weather? As long as you’re not sweating bullets with a fever and come armed with a pocketful of Ricola drops in case you break out in a coughing fit, it can’t do any harm to join the party, right?   Not so fast, experts say.

“In general, cold/flu symptoms may last for about a week to ten days,” Margarita Rohr, MD, clinical instructor of internal medicine at NYU Langone Health, tells Health. “And you are most contagious one day prior to the start of symptoms until five to seven days after symptoms start. In some cases, you can still be contagious for up to two weeks after onset of symptoms.”  Translation: Even though you might feel better, it doesn’t mean you are better, and even though you mean well, you’re spreading no joy by spreading your germs around. Simply put, “you should consider yourself contagious if you still feel under the weather,” Sherif Mossad, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Health.

Though no one wants to spend the holidays on the sidelines, do your friends and co-workers a favor and take one for the team, advises Dr. Rohr: “In an ideal world, it would be best to avoid social activities for 5-7 days after the onset of symptoms. For returning to work, I usually suggest waiting until 24 hours fever-free. If you feel lousy or you’re sneezing and coughing significantly, just stay home.” And controlling your fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen doesn’t count, either: You’re still contagious even if you’re using meds to lower your temperature, says Dr. Rohr.  If you absolutely have to show your face while you’re recuperating, at least come with good cold/flu etiquette. Pack your travel-size Kleenex (from $4; amazon.com), and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. “Best in a disposable tissue, second best in your elbow,” says Dr. Mossad. “Don’t cough or sneeze into your hand.”

Remember to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and particularly before coming in for a tight hug with Aunt Jane. And steer well clear of the crudité so you don’t get cold or flu particles on the food. “When a sick person sneezes or coughs, the virus can be sent up to 6 feet away,” notes Dr. Rohr. 

And if you find yourself on the other side of the equation, warily shaking hands with a nose-runner at the office holiday fete and then realize you’re sniffling and sneezing the next morning? Rest up, but try to temper your instinct to assign blame: It actually takes 2-3 days, and sometimes up to a week, from the time of exposure to developing symptoms, Dr. Rohr explains. So you probably picked it up from someone else earlier in the week.

Source: Health

A Chinese female cyclist, Huang Shuang, who rode from Morocco to Lagos, Nigeria, within five months, says she is convinced that anybody can achieve anything he or she determines to do.

Huang, also known as CICI, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday that she was inspired to embark on “cycling around the world’’ after riding around her country.

The cyclist said that her experience in China motivated her to begin global cycling in America where she covered about 5,500 km in two months.

“I am glad that I have also been able to ride from Morocco to Lagos, Nigeria. This is an indication that irrespective of our sex, we can achieve anything we set out to do.

“The whole idea about my cycling started when, one day, I decided to embark on a cycling trip around my country, China.

“After the trip around China, I was motivated to take my first cycling around the world to America, where I covered about 5,500km in two months.

“Now, I am in Lagos from Morocco, after I flew from America to France, where I cycled around Europe for four months, before taking a ferry from Spain to Morocco,’’ she said.

Huang said that she always travels with money, noodles, tent, sleeping bag, clothes and bicycle repair accessories.

The cyclist, who left Morocco for Lagos on September 6, 2017, said her trip was fascinating though she experienced tiredness, robbery, accidents and had had to sleep under bridges and in gas stations.

 Huang told NAN that she crossed the desert within six days and was well received by many African villages.

The cyclist said sometimes, she happily ate local meals made by the villagers.

“I have happily sung and danced with children in different African villages and communities where I passed the nights or stopped to cook.

“I have seen the most beautiful sunset, the most stunning mountain views, breath-taking lakes and virgin forests across Africa.

“My trip has also exposed me to many African children still living in poverty, hunger, without education and basic amenities,’’ she said.

The Chinese said she would be cycling to about 33 countries in the next three years, adding that she would continue her cycling from Lagos to Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, East Africa and some other countries.

Huang said her cycling was also informed by her desire to interact with children in African communities before inaugurating a free lunch for them in 2018.

Source: Punch

A NEW initiative started by three friends living in Cyprus is offering help and support to women of all nationalities facing difficult situations. Although ‘WomenSupportCyprus’ started only a month or so ago, the three women have already helped seven women coping with a range of problems, of all different nationalities, including Moroccan, Russian and Ukrainian. “Women living here, especially foreign women, can face a range of problems. The women we have spoken to have been abused, have a husband that is a drug addict, or one that threatens to take away the children, and in some cases, children are being taken and kept from the mother, seemingly without any legal recourse,” one of the trio, Ukrainian, Natacha Butenko, told the Cyprus Mail.

In many cases, the authorities don’t treat the women’s complaints with the necessary gravitas and that they are often not aware of their rights, she added. “There are some men that abuse what they believe is their ‘power’ over women, many are foreign wives. They are being told their husband will throw them out of the country and keep the children, this just isn’t so, Cyprus is an EU member and there are laws in place.” The three have gleaned knowledge of the ‘system’ in Cyprus, either through personal experience or by helping others. They want to pass this knowledge on and are able to provide information about what documents women need in certain circumstances, where to go and to ensure that they know their rights.

The three have started a Facebook page ‘WomenSupportCyprus’ with the aim of helping all women and offering support to ensure they are not facing troubles alone. Women are facing all sorts of issues including domestic and psychological violence, different types of abuse and control, or they may feel alone and isolated and need a friend, she said. The trio includes Butenko, who has lived in Cyprus for almost a decade, Alisa, originally from Belarus, living in Cyprus for 15 years and Olga from Kazakhstan, who recently arrived on the island. They are hoping to establish the initiative as an NGO in the coming months and are determined to continue their quest to help others. Although the group is only for women- to ensure that they feel safe and able to interact freely- the three are also open to helping men facing difficult issues. “We check out each case and if they really need it, we will help them,” she said.

Butenko said that in one case a foreign mother returned home to find her Cypriot husband, had left with the children, without any prior notice and she had no idea where they were. Ahead of this, the husband was often out drinking and visiting nightclubs, leaving his wife at home to look after their young children who were her life, she said. “The court case keeps being postponed by the judge; it’s dragging on for months. She is fighting to even see her children, this is excruciating for a mother. “She also said that the group ensures that the women know their rights and also have a sympathetic lawyer that will help the women for a nominal fee if they are unable to pay, she said.  According to Family Law in Cyprus, parental care denotes the right and the responsibility of parents towards minor children. The parental care is exercised by both parents, both are responsible for the welfare of their children, and they also have the right to have a contact with them.

Parental care is regulated by the Law No. 216/1990 and: “the judgment of the court should respect the equality between the parents and make no distinction based on gender, language, religion, convictions, nationality, ethnic or social background.” The trios of philanthropist are united by their desire to help people, said Butenko, and met whilst helping ‘George’ an elderly man living in terrible conditions in Larnaca. “We need to let women know that there is hope for us and when we stand together, we have power. Women have rights and we mustn’t accept terrible and unfair treatment by men,” she said.