Co host for my book launch: Madeleine Black

Four amazing women will join me at the launch of Chant of a Million Women. I’ll post something about each of them so you too will get to know them.

Madeleine Black

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup After many years of keeping quiet, Madeleine Black decided in September 2014, to share her story on The Forgiveness Project’s website and she completely underestimated what the response would be.
Many women and men got in contact and explained how reading her story gave them strength, hope, and a different perspective of what’s possible in their lives. The founder of The Forgiveness Project, Marina, often refers to the various people on her website as “story healers” rather than “storytellers” and now she completely understood why.
In March 2015, Jessica Kingsley Publishers released a book called The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, by Marina Cantacuzino. It’s a collection of 40 stories from the TFP website, including hers and has forewords by Desmond Tutu and Alexander McCall Smith.
The sharing of her story also opened many doors for her in ways she never imagined and after that the invitations started to pour in.
She has taken part in a film interview for a documentary about rape and the anonymity laws, which will be shown on Dispatches, Channel 4 and has been interviewed for STV News.
In December 2015 she gave her first public talk at a Festival of Light at the University of Keele. The theme was “Making Peace with the Enemy”. From that night she was asked to give three more talks on the same theme and has spoken at many other events too.
She has been interviewed by Dan Walker on BBC Radio 5 Live and talked about Forgiveness and Health, which led to interviews with Stephen Jardine on BBC Radio Scotland sharing her story and most recently with Sir Trevor McDonald on BBC Radio 4 talking about Redemption.
Her voice has been weaved into a performance called Foreign Body Play by Imogen Butler-Cole and has taken part in questions and answers after the show which will be taken to Edinburgh Festival next year.
She has been invited to share her stories with younger audiences too and recently spoke with 150 5th year pupils at a High school in Cork and hopes to do more of this work.
She recognises that she was a victim of a crime that left her silent for many years, but has now found her voice and intends to use it. Not just for her, but for so many who can’t find theirs yet. Sexual violence is so deeply entrenched in our culture and she hopes that by simply speaking out and writing about it, she can help to combat it by reducing the stigma while promoting a cultural change.
She has certainly felt the power and healing effects in sharing her story and hopes that her book will help other victims of sexual violence, crime, PTSD, and anyone who has struggled with forgiveness. She wants to spread her message: It’s not what happens to us that is important, but what we do with what happens to us and if we choose to, we can get past anything that happens to us in life.
She is 51 years old, married, work as a psychotherapist, and live in Glasgow with her husband, three daughters, her cat, Suki, and dog, Alfie.

It’s the Season for Begging: as Promoted by Radio

Christmas is the season for begging; at least it appears to be so in Sri Lanka if what one hears on radio stations is to be believed. It has already started with one radio station putting outs advertisements of children asking for this or that this Christmas.

“I am (name of child) I am three years old. I want a Teddy Bear,” is one plaintive call by a child. They can barely speak. It seems as though some are reading off a paper as there are many stops as if the children are unfamiliar with the language and are therefore reading it off a paper, probably for the first time. None of the begging by the children appears natural or spontaneous. Clearly, the radio station has done much to coach the children to beg.

Why the authorities don’t step in to stop this violation of children’s rights is most surprising. And it is a violation of a child’s rights in its most disgusting aspect. Begging has been banned on the streets. A recent law was enacted to prevent begging. But it seems that begging on the airwaves has been overlooked.

If I recall, this trend of asking children to beg for gifts started several years ago with radio stations getting children from Children’s Homes to beg for gifts at Christmas. Children were put on air. Listeners heard about this or that plight faced by kids of various ages; how they didn’t have school books, clothes, shoes, toys, books etc. The list went on and then the kids began asking listeners for the items they didn’t have. “I want, I want, I want,” went the cry by many children from November through December.

It has started again with one of the radio stations. At least I know it’s started with one because I’ve been hearing it for the past few days now. There are probably more children begging on behalf of their respective Children’s Homes on other radio stations as well.

What I can’t understand is why are children used to beg? Why can’t the radio stations that want to collect gifts to give children at Christmas, just ask the listeners to provide the gifts without dragging the children in? Isn’t it an insult to the children to force them to beg? These children, most of them orphans, need love and care from us all. They need to be treated as individuals with rights to live in dignity. What dignity is there in begging? Be it a teddy bear or a pair of shoes, who should these children beg for them? If the spirit of Christmas is in giving to others then shouldn’t people just give without forcing children, some of whom are too young to know the difference between right and wrong, to beg for things? What kinds of ideas are passed on to these children as a result?

Will they grow up thinking that it is alright to beg from others since that’s what they’ve been taught as young children by radio stations? Will they grow up to be a burden to society? Would the legislation passed to prevent begging be of no use after all? Importantly are the radio stations that promote begging willing to take responsibility for the children when they grow up and continue to beg?