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‘Films for Action’ Website Shares List of Top 100 Documentaries ‘We Can Use to Change the World’

After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.

The list includes documentaries like The Economics of Happiness (2011), which will be available for free in August, and The Crisis of Civilization (2011), based on the Book by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.

Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels […] All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don't have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we'll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!

Human Rights Activist Begins Hunger Strike for Migrants in Front of Macedonian Parliament

The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.

I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.

I demand urgently and immediately:

  1. Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
  2. Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
  3. Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.

The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.

Suad Missini

Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.

The Government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the  Asylum Law on June 16.

After Citizen Uprising in Burkina Faso and Burundi, Are Niger and Togo Next?

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

20,000 Nigeriens took to the streets in Niamey, Niger on June, 6. There are multiple causes for the protests: endemic poverty, mediocre governance and restricted free speech are among the main grievances from Nigerien civil society.   These protests come on the hill of similar uprisings in Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo. The government resigned in Burkina Faso while elections are postponed in Burundi. In May, citizens in Lome protested presidential election results  that saw Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe won a third term.

Amaal Said’s Portraits of Belonging: An Interview

Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:

AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?

Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.

I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.

I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.

Before the Border: The Immigrant Odyseey Across Mexico

The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.

To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?

This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.

Animated Press takes some of the most complex topics in the news and distills them into short and fun animations, like the Syrian Conflict, the Greek Crisis and the Net Neutrality, among others.

Trinidad & Tobago: Am Gay; Will Travel

What is it like to be gay in the Caribbean? The Travelling Trini occasionally gets emails from young gay Trinidadians who “have the burning desire to go abroad, travel, and see the world”. She deduces that this wanderlust stems from the fact that “the Caribbean is a incredibly homophobic place with a raging macho-man culture, and coming out is an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous, thing to do.”

The post goes on to list several songs that promoted homophobia and gay violence back in the nineties: Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye was unsurprisingly at the top of the heap, but the blogger describes them all as “dark, violent and downright disgusting.” She asks:

Why is it not considered hate speech? Why are radio stations allowed to play it? […] The question is, why is it okay to still be so violently anti-gay in 2015?

She connects this constricted reality with the desire many gay Caribbean people have to migrate and testifies that the Far East, where she currently resides, “is a very gay friendly place, indeed”:

There are thriving gay scenes in every country, from the liberal far east to the conservative Middle East and everywhere in between.

The whole world is not straight. It never has been, and it never will be. […]

Unfortunately these liberal lifestyles are not tolerated in the Caribbean, and are in fact still criminalised under law. There is no legal protection for LGBT citizens […] just as people fought for equal rights based on race, and equal rights based on gender, the next step in our human evolution is equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

A March in Solidarity with Migrants Who Perished Trying to Reach Europe

Human Chain in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

Signs at the March in defense of migrants in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.   

Here are a few photos of the event :

chaîne humaine migrants

The Human chain in front of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Les participants attendent leur tour de parole avant de se diriger vers le Parlement européen (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Protesters are taking turn speaking up as they move toward the parliament (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Dans le fond, la Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme (photo Suzanne Lehn)

In the background, the European Court of Human Rights (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Eerie Similarities in Deaths Provoked by Police Brutality in Staten Island and Paris

Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]

A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.

An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children

MigrantesCentroamericanos

Balloon animals lift the spirits of Central American children on the long journey. Photo on Flickr by user Peter Haden. CC BY 2.0.

From El Salvador, Pablo Lüers writes an open letter to migrant children who have traveled on their own to the United States and who will be deported back to their countries:

Ustedes aquí en El Salvador y en su pueblo o barrio, se van a encontrar de vuelta con cada una de las razones que los hicieron emprender el viaje, a pesar de todos los riesgos. Quienes de ustedes tienen hermanos mayores pandilleros, los van a encontrar todavía sin perspectiva de salida de la cárcel o de la vida criminal, porque aun no existe una política pública para abrirles puertas a una vida dentro de la sociedad.

[…] Todos, hayan sido victimas de pandillas o de policías o simplemente de la violencia generalizada, van a regresar a lo mismo. Porque es ilusorio pensar que las grandes noticias sobre su odisea en los desiertos y los territorios de narcos en México, sobre su captura y su sobre su deportación hayan despertado en los gobernantes de su patria El Salvador conciencia de lo que deben a esta generación perdida que llaman “jóvenes en riesgo”.

Así que, bichos, prepárense bien: En el aeropuerto los va a recibir con discursos conmovedores, pero al rato les va a tocar ver cómo sobreviven, cómo terminen la escuela, cómo encuentran un trabajo, y cómo hacen para no volverse pandilleros o víctimas de pandilleros, presos o muertos.

Here in El Salvador and in your town or neighborhood, you will face again the same reasons that made you set out on your journey, in spite of all possible risks. Those of you who have older brothers in gangs will find they still don't see a way out of jail or a life of crime, as there are no public policies to open doors for them in society.

[…] All of you, whether victim of gangs or police agents or just the general violence, will be back to the same situation. It is illusory to think that the big news about your ordeal in the deserts and the drug dealer territories in Mexico, about your detention and deportation have awakened awareness in the rulers of your country, El Salvador, about what they owe this lost generation they know as “youth at risk”.

So, lads, be prepared. At the airport, you'll be welcomed with heartbreaking speeches, but in no time you will have to figure out how to survive, how to graduate from school, how to find a job and how not to become part of a gang or a victim of a gang, how not to end up in jail or dead.

The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone

From Mexico, Katia D'Artigues, author of the blog Campos Elíseos (Champs Elysées), writes about the children who see themselves forced to emigrate on their own [es], and calls this a “humanitarian tragedy”:

Son niños que son orillados a cruzar la frontera solos. No lo hacen por aventura, sino porque muchas veces no les queda de otra, por pobreza; porque buscan reunirse con un familiar quizá su padre o su madre que ya está en Estados Unidos. Su número crece día con día. Ya se cuentan en miles y al menos un centenar son detenidos todos los días de acuerdo a cifras no oficiales.

They are children who are pulled to cross the border by themselves. They don't do it for the sake of adventure, but because most of the times they don't have any more choices, out of poverty; because they are looking to reunite with a relative, maybe their father or mother who is already in the United States. Figures grow day by day. They are already counted by the thousands and at least a hundred are put into custody every day, according to unofficial numbers.

She then adds:

Cómo están estos niños? Independiente de su estatus y nacionalidad son niños y tienen derechos. […] Lo cierto es que ya se estipuló que se les asignará un abogado gratis para ver su proceso que, como es obvio, es único en cada caso. Ahora, son solo 100 abogados que comenzarán a trabajar en diciembre de este año o enero de 2015.
No van a alcanzar.

How are those children? No matter their status and citizenship, they are children and have rights. […] It's established already that they will be provided an attorney for free to assess their process, which obviously is one per child. For now, there are only 100 attorneys who will start working by December this year or January 2015.
They won't be enough.

Hungarian PM: Immigration Crisis Should be Solved by Building Wall along the Border with Serbia

While the European immigration crisis is not showing any signs of dying down, the EU has been taking some much needed measures related to saving the lives of the people who are trying to enter Europe trough the Mediterranean. Aside from the Mediterranean Sea, migrants have also been fleeing their home countries by way of the now familiar ‘Balkan Route’, traveling from Kosovo and war-torn Middle Eastern countries. One of the key entrance points to European grounds is the route from non-EU Serbia into neighboring EU member Hungary. Hence, to keep immigrants out of the European Union, the Hungarian PM is planning on erecting a 4-meter-high, 175-kilometer-long fence along the border with Serbia.

Victor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, said during the Globsec Bratislava Security Conference:

Mađarska ne vjeruje u europsko rješenje pitanja ilegalnih imigranata, a zid prema susjedima gradi jer je to “obaveza države”.

Hungary does not believe in the European solution of the illegal immigrant problem and the wall towards our neighbors is this country's obligation

There were more than 50,000 illegal entrances to Hungary since the beginning of January 2015. At the same time, 47,000 migrants have entered Italy. Austria and Germany will return 15,000 illegal immigrants to Hungary and, by the end of the year, there could be some 150,000 immigrants in that country by the end of the year, Al-Jazeera reports.

A podcast by photojournalist Mauro Prandelli describes first-hand what is it like to be an undocumented person and to stay at the immigrant camp in Hungary, an immigrant calling the country “a dead zone for immigrants”. The interview was recorded in Bogovajda bush, 70 kilometers from Belgrade, Serbia.

In global terms, illegal immigration is a growing issue and governments are searching for a permanent solution. According to UNHCR's report ‘Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2014′, displaced persons now roughly equate to the population of Italy or the United Kingdom. The top three countries of origin of the immigrants are the Syrian Arab Republic (3.88 million), Afghanistan (2.59 million), and Somalia (1.11 million). However, many do not see building a wall between countries in the 21st century as a proper solution.

 

 

Photoblog Documents Eviction of Migrants’ Makeshift Camp in Paris

“Humanely…”  That is the sarcastic headline of a photoblog that narrates how the French police dismantled and evicted a large makeshift camp of migrants in Paris starting June 2. The camp occupied an open space underneath a railway viaduct near the Porte de la Chapelle in the northern part of the city. By June 6, several dozens of migrants still lacked accommodation.

Southeast Asia Migration Routes and Statistics

southeast asia migrant crossingsThe International Organization for Migration has released a map showing the routes taken by boat refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar when they sought shelter in several Southeast Asian countries.

As of May 19, 2015, the IOM estimated that 4,000 refugees are still stranded in the sea while 3,200 have already landed in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Malaysia and Indonesia have initially rejected the refugees but they are now ready to rescue those who have been victimized by traffickers.

France Launchs National Campaign to Curb Racist and Anti-Semitic Acts

"The Republic United Against Racism" Infographic on the national campaign - Public Domain

“The Republic United Against Racism and Anti-Semitism”. Infographic on the national campaign. Public domain

On April 17, the French government unveiled a national campaign to combat racism and anti-Semitism in France. The objective of the campaign is to fight all prejudices, raise awareness and get citizens engaged in the conversation.

One hundred euros will be allocated over three years to educate and promote cultural diversity. The hashtag #planantiracisme (the plan against racism) was the number one trending topic on Twitter on the day of the announcement.

According to the Report on Racism and Antisemitism by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme CNCDH (National Comission on Human Rights), there was a 30% increase in racist acts in 2014 (from 1,274 in 2013 to 1,662 in 2014). Anti-Semitic acts went from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014, including the attack on the kosher store after the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

Argentina Creates Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous Languages

Enia Pilagá de la provincia de Formosa - Imagen de Laura Schneider

Pilagá Indigenous from Formosa Province in Argentina – Image: Laura Schneider

Following the case of Reina Maraz, a Bolivian Quechua who was detained in Argentina for three years without knowing why, the Court of Buenos Aires province has approved the Registry of Translators for Indigenous Languages.   

According to research from the Instituto Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas (National Institute of Indigenous Affairs), during 2004-2005 it recognized the existence of 38 native people communities based on a Complementary Poll of Indigenous Communities from Argentina:

Los pueblos con mayor población a nivel nacional en orden descendente son: el pueblo Mapuche con 113.680, el pueblo Kolla con 70.505 y el pueblo Toba con 69.452 habitantes. En cuanto a los de menor población, se encuentran los pueblos Quechua con 561, los Chulupí con 553, los Sanavirón con 528, los Tapiete con 484 y por último, el pueblo Maimará con 178 habitantes.

The most populous communities nationwide in descending order are: Mapuche with 113,680, Kolla with 70,505 and Tobas with 69,452 inhabitants. As for the smaller population, Quechua are 561, the Chulupí 553, the Sanavirón 528, the Tapiete with 484 and finally the Maimará with 178 inhabitants

Similar registers already exist in Peru, with its Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous and Native Languages, and Bolivia, whose General Law of Linguistic Rights and Policies outlines its main objectives as:

1. Reconocer, proteger, promover, difundir, desarrollar y regular los derechos lingüísticos individuales y colectivos de los habitantes del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.

2. Generar políticas públicas y obligaciones institucionales para su implementación, en el marco de la Constitución Política del Estado, convenios internacionales y disposiciones legales en vigencia.

3. Recuperar, vitalizar, revitalizar y desarrollar los idiomas oficiales en riesgo de extinción, estableciendo acciones para su uso en todas las instancias del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.

1. To recognize, protect, promote, disseminate, develop and regulate individual and collective linguistic rights of the citizens of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.2. Generate public policies and institutional requirements for implementation, under the State Constitution, international conventions and legal provisions in force.3. Recover, vitalize, revitalize and develop the official languages at risk of extinction, setting actions for use in all instances of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

U.S.A.: Migratory Reform, An Incomplete Solution

President Barack Obama's announcement regarding migratory reform, introduced via executive action, generates, on one hand, relief within the Latino community. On the other hand, however, there are voices expressing discontent. Sonia Tejada explains that, although the measure grants undocumented migrants three-year working permits, that will benefiit five million people, it doesn't guarantees legalizing status nor citizneship. According to Tejada, the measure has created two types of undocumented migrants: those with conditions to be benefited and those who are still at the mercy of the immigration agency. To be benefited by the regulation:

[…] los inmigrantes deben haber residido en el país por cinco años, tener niños, sean ciudadanos estadounidenses o residentes legales, y, por supuesto, no haber delinquido.

[…] migrants should have been living in the country for five years, having children, be American citizens or legal residents and, of course, not having a criminal record.

Sonia also expresses her criticisms to Obama's speech, that she considers penalizes migration:

Obama habló incesantemente de que los EE. UU. es una nación de leyes, y de que los inmigrantes por haber cometido “el crimen” de entrar al país sin documentos ni autorización, deben expurgar su culpa.

Obama talked incessantly that U.S. is a nation of laws, and that migrants, having committed the “crime” of entering the country without documents nor authorization, must make amends.

The measure would be just an incomplete solution, as to be benefited by it, migrants will continue being undocumented, even though with a limited working permit now. Meanwhile, for six million undocumented migrants, uncertainty about their migratory status hasn't changed at all.

You can follow Sonia Tejada on Twitter

This post was part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

Migrant Children from Central America Are Not Mere Statistics

Niños migrantes en clase. Imagen en Flickr del usuario pies cansados (CC BY-ND 2.0) .

Migrant children in a schooclass. Image on Flickr by user pies cansados (CC BY-ND 2.0).

In an opinion piece for the American newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Global Voices contributor Jamie Stark wonders, “What kind of parent would pay $10,000 for a stranger to bring a child 1,400 miles through gangland and hostile border crossings? A good parent, perhaps.”

As a concerned citizen about the crisis of migrant children, Stark reflects:

What do we do with these kids? An important decision, to be certain, but one that overlooks the humanity, the story, of each child crossing our border.
[…]
When a parent from Central America hears the rumor that children are being allowed to stay in the U.S., it's not so hard to imagine spending life savings of $10,000 to $15,000 for a stranger to guide a son or daughter north.
[…]
These kids are not mere statistics. Many never wanted to be here in the first place.

Global Voices has published stories on this issue in the past:
The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone
An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children
Trafficked Ecuadorian Children Pass Through Hell on the Way to the US

How Kenyans Can Lead a Double Life in the US

Danstan Obara shows how Kenyans can lead a double life in the US:

The American double life starts by making sure that your social security card does not have the stamp that says “Valid for work only with INS authorization”. The things that people do to get rid of this stamp are amazing. I will not go into those details here.

The next step is to walk into an organization or business and apply for a job. You will have to pretend that you are an American, born and raised in America. This can be a very dumb thing to say sometimes because in many cases when you are fresh out of Kenya, it is difficult for anybody to miss the accent. Amazingly almost everybody I know has always gotten away with it. There is a law against racial and ethnic profiling in America so, employers would rather go with the information they are provided with and stick with what they can prove.

Individuals with visiting visas, who opt to extend there stay do not even get the social security cards. What this means is that they cannot legally work anywhere. The things they do are even more hilarious. It is a psychological fact that white people cannot easily differentiate black people. So people simply share identification documents. Imagine of a guy walking into an office to apply for a job with an identification card that has someone else’s photo on it. Once again, not even one person I know has ever been caught.

The Story of Famine Refugees from Niger in Eastern Algeria

In the past few weeks, hundreds of Sub-Saharan immigrants from Mali or Niger have migrated to Algerian cities by the Eastern border. Liberté Algérie narrates the stories of those who made the choice to immigrate and why [fr] :

Les conditions de vie au hangar de la cité Bourroh sont inhumaines. A l’intérieur du hangar, les Subsahariens ont dressé des tentes, une soixantaine environ. A l’intérieur de chaque tente, trop exiguë, vivent, serrés les uns contre les autres, tous les membres d’une même famille. [..] Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Avec leur mère, elles ont fui leur pays d’origine, le Niger, à cause de la pauvreté. “Nous avons quitté notre pays, parce que nous n’avions plus quoi manger. Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Egalement originaires du Niger, Sakina, sa fille Asma et ses deux petits-enfants s’étaient réfugiés à Aïn Guezzam, dans la wilaya de Tamanrasset, à l’extrême sud du Sahara. Dans un arabe approximatif, notre interlocutrice nous apprendra qu’ils font partie d’un groupe qui a fui la faim au Niger.

The living conditions in the shed of the city of Bourroh are inhumane. Inside the shed, Sub-Saharan immigrants have pitched about sixty tents. Inside each (very small) tent, they all live together, tight against each other, all members of the same family. [..] Meriem and Aisha are two sisters aged respectively 10 and 12. With their mother, they fled their country of origin, Niger, because of poverty. “We left our country because we did not have enough to eat’ Meriem says. Also from Niger, Sakina, her daughter Asma and her two grandchildren are refugees in Ain Guezzam in the wilaya of Tamanrasset, at the extreme south of the Sahara desert. In a hesitant arabic language, Sakira tell us that they are part of a group who fled the rampant famine in Niger. 

Cuba: The Joys of Getting Older

Cuban diaspora blog My big, fat, Cuban family shares 59 “wonderful truths” about aging.

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