News Decoder
How I fled danger in Afghanistan for refuge in Ukraine

How I fled danger in Afghanistan for refuge in Ukraine

My pregnant wife and I were lucky to escape Afghanistan after it fell to the Taliban. We have swapped danger for refuge and bewilderment in Ukraine. The author and his wife bid farewell to their families at the entrance to Mazar-e-Sharif airport in Balkh province,...

Journalist Zamir Saar delivers a first-hand account of his and his wife Kamila’s experience escaping Afghanistan after the country fell to the Taliban in August. Grateful for refuge in Kyiv, Ukraine, far from the violence and downward economic spiral that face their native land, Zamir and Kamila — five months pregnant at the time they fled — now find themselves unsettled by makeshift living arrangements and uncertainty about their future. As Zamir notes, the hardest part has been leaving the familiar spaces in their home towns and finding nothing so far to replace them in their new environment. But there’s also recognition that there’s only so much a receiving country like Ukraine can do.

Exercise: Ask students to think about what makes them feel most at home and how they might recreate those things in an unfamiliar environment.

Fast fashion? No thanks. I care about our planet Earth.

Fast fashion? No thanks. I care about our planet Earth.

Clothing, especially from fast fashion, is a major contributor to global warming and pollution. Mountains of discarded garments end up in West Africa. (Photo courtesy of Dead White Man’s Clothes, a multimedia research project exploring the secondhand clothing trade in...

Recycling is not always the environmentally friendly thing to do. In 2012, 84% of recycled clothing ended up in landfills, often traveling thousands of miles to get there. Correspondent Tara Heidger shines a light on the relentless overproduction and overconsumption of cheap clothing and the disproportionate impact on countries like Ghana in the Global South, where the majority of discarded fashions end up. Beyond government policies and programs, individual consumption patterns must change.

Exercise: Ask students to consider how their own consumption might contribute to global warming, then use the four ‘R’s’ — repair, resale, reuse and rental — to create a schoolwide awareness campaign to help divert unwanted fashions from the wastestream.

I am 21 and small matter. Beyond me, love is all there was.

I am 21 and small matter. Beyond me, love is all there was.

We are made of molecules, stardust and comets — small matter. I am 21, and I just want to love and be loved — because love is all there is. (Photo collage courtesy of Ange Theonastine Ashimwe) 1. I guess, now, I am twenty-one, and I still wonder what it means to be...

In many parts of the world, turning 21 years old is a milestone that signals a transition into adulthood. For Ange Theonastine Ashimwe, a student at Kepler in Rwanda, 21 is a “green-light number.” In her prose poem, she uses memory and metaphor to reflect on her lived experiences, contemplate our smallness in the universe and consider how much more there still is to learn.

Exercise: Ask students to reflect on a birthday that felt significant. What was happening in their lives? Why did it feel like a milestone? Then make a creative piece that explores those feelings.

COP26: Climate action has fallen short. But there’s hope.

COP26: Climate action has fallen short. But there’s hope.

Nations have not lived up to commitments made in Paris six years ago. But there has been progress in combating climate change. Let’s not lose hope. A protester participates in a demonstration calling for urgent measures to combat climate change, Brussels,...

While the UN’s Climate Change Conference COP26 left some constituents hoping for more action, correspondent Sue Landau offers a perspective on how far we’ve come in the fight against climate change. There have been major industrial developments since the Paris climate talks in 2015 that started to put real, clean alternatives to fossil fuels within our grasp. But they were not without their naysayers, who tend to forget that we are at the beginning of the story, not the end. Solar power is in its infancy but has the potential to be harnessed much more. Green hydrogen as a fuel and industrial feedstock is still mostly in the development stage. Carmakers are betting heavily on the future of electric vehicles. Change takes time.

Exercise: Ask students to compare and contrast alternative energy sources, noting costs and benefits for each.

Teenage pregnancies soar in Africa as schools shut for COVID

Teenage pregnancies soar in Africa as schools shut for COVID

In Africa as elsewhere, many schools have shut classes due to COVID-19. With more girls at home, teenage pregnancies have spiked in some nations. A new-born baby in Chiradzulu, southern Malawi, 26 May 2021 (AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi) In much of the world, COVID-19 has...

COVID-19 has dominated headlines for the last year and a half. But the public health impact stretches beyond the virus. School closures did not just interrupt learning; they removed an essential form of protection for vulnerable youth. News Decoder correspondent Stella Mapenzauswa reports on the alarming rise in teenage pregnancies across the African continent since March 2020.

Exercise: Ask your students to enumerate some of the unanticipated consequences of the pandemic in their community. How are schools or governments addressing those challenges now?

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