Saturday, September 24, 2016

$48 Million Grants to Expand Marine Protected Areas

C. Coimbra photo

The Waitt Foundation along with the  Wildlife Conservation Society, the Blue Moon Fund, and the Global Environment Facility, recently announced a combined $48-million investment to expand the world’s marine protected areas.

From the Waitt Foundation website:

The Waitt Foundation, a grant making organization, has invested over $60 million in various ocean conservation initiatives. Primarily focused on the creation of the national parks of the sea, WF is currently engaged in projects to create over 15 million square kilometers of marine protected areas around the world.

Our Mission
Restoring our oceans to full productivity.

Our Vision
Given the rapid decline of marine resources, the mission of the Waitt Foundation is to protect and restore ocean health.  The Foundation funds initiatives globally with a focus on marine protected areas and sustainable fishing policy and practice.  We provide grants, technical assistance, strategic advice, and support innovative ocean science.  For maximum impact, we partner with unique coalitions of governments, funders, NGO, academics, and businesses.

3,000 Volunteers Clean Kenya's Coastline

C. Coimbra photo
Excerpted from Coastweek-- Kenyan volunteers numbering 3,000 took part in this years annual International Coastal Clean up exercise which covered long stretches of the white sandy beaches  in Mombasa, Diani, Likoni, Malindi, Kiunga Lamu, Kiwayu  Watamu and Jumba Ruins in Mtwapa, Kilifi county respectively.

... Coastal Cleanup Day encourages us to get out to our beaches and help to limit this problem by cleaning up the garbage that has washed up on shore, and that left by visitors every day

... Volunteers at the Kenyan coast were drawn from  educational institutions, private firms, environmental NGos, tourist hotels and government agencies.

In Mombasa, the exercise took place along the scenic  Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach  frontage with hundreds of volunteers including staff from the US Embassy (Nairobi) travelling down to Mombasa to take part in the event.

General Manager of Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel & Spa Tuva Mwahunga led hotel staff, guests and local beach operators in cleaning and collecting litter along its white pristine sandy beaches.

“We are glad to honour this call of environmental clean up as we join the rest of the world in this very noble exercise,” Mwahunga said.

Mwahunga said that they have managed as a unit to empower staff  and guests alike to take an active role in the preservation and cleaning up of the ocean.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1,200 Volunteers Join Thousands More for Beach Clean-Up

Coastal Clean-Up photo
... 1,200 San Luis Obispo County volunteers  participated  in the 32nd annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday.

The volunteers picked up 5,445 pounds of trash and 1,067 pounds of recyclables along the county coastline and lakes, according to the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, which organized the local effort in the statewide cleanup.

Volunteers scoured beaches from San Simeon Cove to Oceano Dunes, as well as Oso Flaco, Lopez, and Santa Margarita lakes, collecting about 1,000 pounds more than last year, ECOSLO reported.

Read more here:

Buddhist Nuns Break Tradition for Equality

Public domain photo by Karen Arnold

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Clad in black sweatpants, red jackets and white helmets, the hundreds of cyclists pedaling the treacherously steep, narrow mountain passes to India from Nepal could be mistaken for a Himalayan version of the Tour de France.

The similarity, however, ends there. This journey is longer and tougher, the prize has no financial value or global recognition and the participants are not professional cyclists but Buddhist nuns from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Five hundred nuns from the Buddhist sect known as the Drukpa Order,  on Saturday complete a 4,000-km (2,485 mile) bicycle trek from Nepal's Kathmandu to the northern city of Leh in India to raise awareness about human trafficking in the remote region.

"When we were doing relief work in Nepal after the earthquakes last year, we heard how girls from poor families were being sold because their parents could not afford to keep them anymore," 22-year-old nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We wanted to do something to change this attitude that girls are less than boys and that it's okay to sell them," she said, adding that the bicycle trek shows "women have power and strength like men."

South Asia may boast women leaders and be home to cultures that revere motherhood and worship female deities, but many girls and women live with the threat of violence and without many basic rights.

From honor killings in Pakistan to foeticide in India and child marriage in Nepal, women face a barrage of threats, although growing awareness, better laws and economic empowerment are bringing a slow change in attitudes.


The bicycle trek, from Nepal into India, is nothing new for the Drukpa nuns.

This is the fourth such journey they have made, meeting local people, government officials and religious leaders to spread messages of gender equality, peaceful co-existence and respect for the environment.

They also deliver food to the poor, help villagers get medical care and are dubbed the "Kung Fu nuns" due to their training in martial arts.

Led by the Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Order, the nuns raise eyebrows, especially among Buddhists for their unorthodox activities.

"Traditionally Buddhist nuns are treated very differently from monks. They cook and clean and are not allowed to exercise. But his Holiness thought this was nonsense and decided to buck the trend," said Carrie Lee, president of Live to Love International, a charity which works with the Drukpa nuns to support marginalised Himalayan communities.

"Among other things, he gave them leadership roles and even introduced Kung Fu classes for the nuns after they faced harassment and violence from the general public who were disturbed by the growing shift of power dynamics," she said.

Over the last 12 years, the number of Drukpa nuns has grown to 500 from 30, said Lee, largely due to the progressive attitudes of the 53-year-old Gyalwang Drukpa, who was inspired by his mother to become an advocate for gender equality.

The Gyalwang Drukpa also participates in the bicycle journeys, riding with the nuns as they pedal through treacherous terrain and hostile weather and camp out in the open.


The Drukpa nuns say they believe they are helping to change attitudes.

"Most of the people, when they see us on our bikes, think we are boys," said 18-year-old nun Jigme Wangchuk Lhamo.

"Then they get shocked when we stop and tell them that not only are we girls, but we are also Buddhist nuns," she said. "I think this helps change their attitudes about women and maybe value them as equals."

South Asia, with India at its centre, is also one of the fastest growing regions for human trafficking in the world.

Gangs dupe impoverished villagers into bonded labour or rent them to work as slaves in urban homes, restaurants, shops and hotels. Many girls and women are sold into brothels.

Experts say post-disaster trafficking has become common in South Asia as an increase in extreme events caused by global warming, as well as earthquakes, leave the poor more vulnerable.

The breakdown of social institutions in devastated areas creates difficulties securing food and supplies, leaving women and children at risk of kidnapping, sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Twin earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May 2015, which killed almost 9,000 people, left hundreds of thousands of families homeless and many without any means of income, led to an increase in children and women being trafficked.

More than 40,000 children lost their parents, were injured or were placed in precarious situations following the disaster, according to Nepali officials.

The Drukpa nuns said the earthquakes were a turning point in their understanding of human trafficking and that they felt a need to do more than travel to disaster-hit mountain villages with rice on their backs.

"People think that because we are nuns, we are supposed to stay in the temples and pray all the time. But praying is not enough," said Jigme Konchok Lhamo.

"His Holiness teaches us that we have go out and act on the words that we pray. After all, actions speak louder than words," she said.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. Visit

Most Europeans Support Syrian Refugee

Public domain photo by kai Stachowiak

By Umberto Bacchi

LONDON, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than three quarters of Europeans sympathise with Syrian refugees coming to their countries, a poll found on Friday, challenging reports of growing anti-immigration sentiment across the continent.

Ireland topped the poll of European countries that are most supportive of Syrian refugees with 87 percent of people interviewed there showing sympathy for them, while Slovakia ranked bottom.

The Ipsos MORI survey also showed that less than a third of the roughly 12,000 people polled across 12 EU countries believe refugees are a risk to national security despite a number of recent attacks involving migrants.

"These findings show that Europeans have not lost their hearts," said David Miliband, CEO of International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid organisation which commissioned the poll.

The survey comes as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War Two. More than one million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere reached Europe last year.

Syrians made up 28 percent of the 2015 arrivals, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

Of the people polled, 30 percent said one of their top three concerns was that refugees posed a security threat.

The survey was published as anti-immigration parties make gains in several EU countries.

Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that her liberal migrant policy contributed to a humiliating state election rout on Sept. 4, where her Christian Democrats (CDU) finished third behind the surging anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Nationalist, anti-immigration parties are also leading opinion polls in France and the Netherlands ahead of general elections next year.

"At a time when toxic rhetoric has found its way into the political mainstream, there is a clear call here for governments to combine compassion with competence in responding to the refugee crisis," Miliband said in a statement.

"The refugee crisis is a human tragedy but it does not need to become a political disaster".

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"It’s a resistance born out of love" -- Native Peoples Rise

Dakota Access oil pipeline workers gouged a trench over two miles of Sioux burial grounds on September 3 near Cannon Ball. This video titled Protecting the Sacred was filmed at the Camp of Sacred Stones on the Standing Rock Reservation by Paiute/Shoshone filmmaker Myron Dewey and Tulalip Tribes photographer Matika Wilbur. Dallas Goldtooth, Chief Arvol Looking Horse and Kandi Mosset speak of their love for the sacred, for Mother Earth—love they wish that everyone would recognize and feel.

This fight matters, as Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Keep It In the Ground movement says, not just for those who live near the pipeline’s proposed route, but also for the bigger picture.

“It also matters because it connects to the greater struggle to protect Mother Earth—and to protect our future generations from destructive climate change,” Goldtooth says. “Our struggle, this resistance that you see here, it’s not a resistance born out of hate or negativity. It’s a resistance born out of love. Love for each other, love for this land.”


As has been well chronicled, the Prayer Camps in Cannonball in Hunkpapa Territories have been HUGELY successful in slowing down this well-funded Dakota Access Pipeline.  We always should acknowledge that it was prophetic and powerful Native women who began this campaign out of love, prayer and concern for the water and the next generations.  Thank you LaDonna.  For months, in the election-obsessed United States, the mainstream media ignored and disregarded the movement.

The media cannot any longer.  This movement is bigger than an election.  This is about life and the future of the planet.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Be the Peace. Peace Week Begins 9/17/16

World Peace Week begins Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
World Peace Day is Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

We are excited to invite you to the fifth anniversary of BeThePeace, our annual global meditation event in celebration of the International Day of Peace!

We come together every year with like-minded groups from around the world to call forth a global culture of wisdom and peace. We know that in order for that vision to become a reality, we must embody it ourselves, we must live it, we must BE it.

This year the Gaiafield Project is delighted to be partnering with many wonderful organizations for a World Peace Meditation, taking place on September 24, from 4-5pm Pacific.

Learn more about how to get involved at

You can find events on our Interactive World Peace Map.