In developing countries, climate change is destroying our communities first

Air, water, food and resources=heath and well being. Climate is a serious determinant, among other things.

Media Diversified

Growing up without running water in Kabanana Compound, a community on the outskirts of Zambia’s capital, Beatrice Phiri discusses how she got to see first-hand the dramatic effects of climate change.  

Much of my life has revolved around the pursuit of water.  Living in my community was challenging because we all endured the difficult task of fetching water. For most families, this was the responsibility of the girls and women. So from the age of 15, it was my duty to ensure my family had enough water for the day.

I had to wake up as early as 4am and walk 20 minutes for this task. My family and I had to use as little water as possible so that we would save most of it for drinking and cooking. I was usually exhausted by the time I made it to class, which began at 7am.

Fetching water always…

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Final Project

An outstanding blog from Carolyn Scorpio!

Carolyn's Social Work Blog

Reflections on Social Work with Immigrant and Refugee Communities

According to most recent estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are approximately 65.6 million people around the world who have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations—marking a record high in the world’s forcibly displaced population. Of those, 22.5 million are categorized as refugees, 40.3 million are internally displaced, and 2.8 million are seeking asylum. Over half (51 percent) are children. More than half of all refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate are from just three countries: Syria (5.5 million), Afghanistan (2.5 million), and South Sudan (1.4 million), while 5.3 million Palestinian refugees are registered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2017).

My interest and experience in working with refugees, asylum-seekers, and other immigrant populations directly led me to the field of…

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Final Project: Photovoice exploring invisible disability

Check out this awesome post from Matoaka Kipp on invisible disabilities!

Matoaka's 697 Blog 2018

Some Background:

I am so appreciative for the opportunity to capture the meaning of invisible disability within photovoice. Engaging in a final project that allows me to highlight invisible disabilities, especially felt extremely significant.

During my project process, I made a difficult decision to re-route my final project. While I was gathering participants over a month ago, people were excited to be engaged and eager to share their stories, as well as connect with others who share similar experiences of invisible disabilities. However, as we have approached finals, many of the participants I originally connected with, shared that they could no longer participate due to the stress of finals and needing to take care of themselves. Though I am not sure about the disabilities that each of the participants had, I was so appreciative at their strength in letting me know that they were at capacity.

Therefore, using the framework…

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Black Panther Reflection

A re-blog from Joshua Strode of my SW 697 class…still got to see the film!


Social Work Practice w/ Communities and Social Systems

Last month, I was blessed with the opportunity to become a part of history. I was invited to see an advanced screening of the American phenomenon, Black Panther. The film which featured a primarily Black cast, was also diverse with respect to nationality, and origin of birth. Never has a film featuring a predominantly Black cast, been given such an enormous budget, especially considering that the director was a young Black male. But the movie was a hit, and has grossed over $400 million worldwide in less than a week from its debut. The success of this movie shatters long held stereotypes in Hollywood, the myths, that movies portraying African culture, and African people, would not fare well domestically, and internationally. The movie has left a lasting impression on its viewers, and has single-handedly, pushed the culture forward.

Since long before the movie was released, there has been much discussion…

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Kākau: The Art of Native Hawaiian Tattooing

I wanted to share with you a wonderful experience I was able to witness for the first time while here working.  I was invited to be a part of Kiha Rodrigues’ uhi or tattooing.  This was not your typical tattoo parlor though.  This was the Native Hawaiian traditional art of tattooing or kākau, performed by the only Hawaiian in 200 years who has received the honor of conducting this ceremony (uniki) as Kahuna Kā Uhi (Uhi Master), Keli’i Makua

While I had been aware of this tradition and had said many times that the only way I’d ever get a tattoo was through kākau, I had never seen it up close and in person.  I learned a lot of things from Makua, who encouraged me to ask questions.  I learned that the English word for tattoo comes from kākau or tātau as it is known in other parts of the Pacific.  The word was brought back to Europe by Captain James Cook on his voyages.

I also learned that not anyone can get a traditional tattoo as Makua has to determine if an individual is ready by getting the know the person and through a personal interview.  There has to be a reason to get the tattoo that is meaningful, such as a connection to one’s ancestors and their identity as Hawaiian.  He has tattooed non-Native individuals as well, but again, the meaning must be sincere, deep, and purposeful, not just to appropriate the culture and look good.

Makua also shared that he has seen many changes in people who have received their tattoos.  Having the tattoo is a representation of you and your family and your ancestors. Therefore, it is a visual reminder of your responsibility to your family and your community.  If a person is not representing their family or themselves well, through inappropriate behavior like drugs or excessive alcohol, delinquency, etc., he will deem them not ready.  Makua studied under another master, Keoni Nunes, for over 20 years before he retired and passed on the role to Makua.  Now, Makua works with other aprentices who observe and assist him until they are ready to begin the process of tattooing themselves.

Kākau is done with hand tools all created by Makua himself.  The piece that penetrates the skin is typically made out of bone and often that of the Hawaiian albatross as it’s bone is hard and not as porous as other bone.  He sharpens this bone to fine points and has tools of differing widths, depending on the area of coverage he wishes to apply the ink.  The ink is traditionally made from the soot of the kukui tree nut, but he mostly uses commercial ink today as it lasts longer and performs better.  His apprentices stretch the skin and he applies the bone to the skin and begins to tap with another stick to drive the bone into the skin.  The designs come from past generations and were passed down.  He selects unique designs for each individual based on their interview and their genealogy.

I found the process beautiful and mesmerizing.  While at first I focused on the pain being felt by Kiha, I later grew to appreciate the meaning and significance of his uhi to him and his identity as a Hawaiian.  I know that he will wear this uhi with pride.  As for myself, I thought about how this process might be used as part of a social intervention for Native Hawaiians.  Could we possibly take young people who have lost their way and use the promise of an uhi as an incentive for turning their lives around?  Could the process of receiving their uhi also lead to their own transformation as they become connected to their past, present and future?  I hope to do a more structured interview with Makua and perhaps recipients of his work to better understand how kākau might be a tool for promoting wellbeing.  I think it would make an excellent research project and a way to document this art for future generations!

Enjoy the brief video and pictures below!



Video and photo credit: Shelly Bennett

If you’d like to learn more:

Resurrection of Uhi

Traditional Hawaiian Tattooing

Other articles on tattooing