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					                     -Article2 Youth for a Change-
 We wish you a wonderful year with all the luck, light and joy your efforts
            for changing the world can bring in youth` lives!

                                               One year after…

                       The tsunami: what has the world been doing?

Nearly one year after the deadly tsunami which hit South East Asia in December 2004, Article2 observes the relief that
has been put into effect over the year of 2005 and the changes and progresses made in the countries which were hit.
India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Somalia, Malaysia and Myanmar have received intense support
from all over the world, which has enabled them today to rebuild and find independence again. As they are far from
their original status before the tsunami, they have nonetheless put together immense efforts to achieve a peaceful and
efficient reconstruction.

In the tsunami-affected regions of South India, close to 11,000 people are confirmed dead. India's
government quickly responded to the disaster, providing emergency shelter and relief provisions for affected
communities. Through the Rajeev Gandhi Rehabilitation Plan, the government provided 39,171 temporary shelters,
which housed some 400,000 people. In addition, the government called for the construction of 151,000 permanent
houses. Unfortunately, it now appears that the displaced population will have to stay in temporary shelters longer than
originally envisioned, a situation which has heightened the concerns about their living conditions. People live in
shelters of very different quality. Some live in decent and well-maintained facilities, in communities where awareness
on hygiene and sanitation is relatively high. Others require joint efforts to raise both facilities and awareness to higher

UNICEF plan for recovery:

HEALTH: In Tamil Nadu, UNICEF planned to promote maternal and child health and nutrition and strengthen
primary and secondary health systems by providing equipment to the Nagapattinam Hospital, 14 Primary Health
Centers, and 46 other health centers.
WATER AND SANITATION: Improve conditions in temporary shelter by constructing latrines and rainwater
harvesting systems and implementing the School, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE) program in all elementary
EDUCATION: Providing a ―Quality Package Education‖ (QPE) for children in at least 53 schools. The QPE provides
a secure and stimulating environment for schoolchildren and promotes child-friendly initiatives in four key areas: the
learning process, teachers training, school and classroom environment and community participation
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Record any incidences of violence, abuse or
exploitation and support the Government of India to strengthen systems and services for the prevention of trafficking
and training of volunteers on interventions aimed at preventing abuse and exploitation of children in temporary

Celebrities involved: SOS Children’s Villages and Princess Salimah Aga Khan helped families from the affected
areas by providing them with start-up help, emergency shelter as well as social and financial assistance to reconstruct
their homes and buy fishing equipment and boats. Princess Salimah Aga Khan is a fully dedicated and committed
                                         advocate of the organization’s worldwide humanitarian work for orphaned,
                                         abandoned and destitute children.
Organizations at work: The European Commission: €10 million has funded the reconstruction of small boats,
provision of fishing gear, safe water, tools and construction of material for shelter support in fishing

Remarkable initiatives: The Chinmaya Mission, Nagapattinam, has started "Chinmaya Jothi", a three-month free
computer training course for the students of the tsunami-affected areas. The students were given training to learn the
basics in computer operating for about two-and-a-half hours every day. SIFY Ltd established Internet centers at the
tsunami-affected areas of Cuddalore, Kanyakumari, who offered free Internet access facilities to the public, NGOs,
officials and anyone who wished to use the Internet to communicate with their loved ones.

Following the tsunami, Indonesia's toll was raised to more than 94,000 and the internally displaced population (IDP)
number was about 500,000. Current trends suggest that it will be an additional 12 to 18 months before every IDP in
Aceh will have adequate transitional shelter, an unacceptable situation that needs to be urgently addressed. Although
tents remain a last resort, there has been a request to replace existing tents with new ones for the upcoming monsoon
season, which typically begins in October and lasts for three months.

UNICEF plan for recovery:

HEALTH: Support disease control and prevention, immunization, maternal and child health, nutrition, and early
childhood centers in the tsunami-affected areas of Aceh and North Sumatra.
WATER AND SANITATION: Improve access to safe water and sanitation for at least 80 percent of the population in
selected districts of Aceh and North Sumatra, and undertake hygiene promotion among communities
EDUCATION: Construct 300 permanent schools in Aceh and Nias, and rehabilitate 200 more.
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Support awareness-raising activities on abuse,
exploitation and trafficking at the community level through a youth empowerment and communication campaign as
well as the implementation of community-based reporting and referral mechanisms for child victims of abuse,
exploitation and trafficking.

                                                     Celebrities involved: Lhok Seudu is a small fishing and farming
                                                     community located along Aceh’s western coast. CHF
                                                     International’s activities in this region, funded by a generous
                                                     contribution from Alanis Morissette, were aimed at restoring the
                                                     community members’ primary sources of income: fishing, farming
                                                     and small-scale trade. Alanis Morissette expressed her gratitude
                                                     that the donation is helping the economic revitalization of Lhok
                                                     Seudu markets and that community life destroyed by the tsunami is
                                                     gradually returning to normal. In addition to the reviving the water
                                                     melon market, the donation is also supporting Lhok Seudu
                                                     fishers by providing the tools for building boats in an industry that
                                                     was destroyed nine months ago.

Remarkable initiatives: A Red Cross Red Crescent radio program was created to help the people of Banda Aceh
come to terms with the trauma of the tsunami. People can talk freely about their horrifying tsunami experience, and
often feel relieved when they have done so. Counseling and stress debriefing were also conducted at 24 camps, 17
schools, and nine barracks in eight villages in Lhokgna region, the various activities including games, reading and
writing, puzzle solving, drawing and colouring for children, cooking and handicrafts for women and sports tournaments
for men.

Organizations at work: In the Aceh province of Indonesia, CAFOD partners have already rebuilt 200 permanent
homes in the Meulaboh area and CRS has been providing emergency supplies to families affected by the tsunami,
distributing food to 60,000 people and household supplies to 20,000 people.

Compared to other countries affected by the tsunami, Malaysia sustained relatively modest physical damage. Malaysia
escaped the huge tsunami death tolls suffered by other Indian Ocean countries as only nearly 70 people were killed in
the country. Those who were displaced – approximately 8,000 people, mainly from coastal fishing areas – have been
provided temporary housing by the Government of Malaysia. However, the psychological effects of the disaster have
been profound.

UNICEF plan for recovery:

CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Build local mental health support networks where
teams are equipped to identify children and adults who are experiencing psychological problems or mental disorders
related to the tsunami; conduct initial assessment interviews to identify the severity and nature of the mental problem
and provide counseling sessions.

The tidal waves struck Thailand's six Andaman coastal provinces on 26 December last year, leaving 5,395 people dead
and 2,932 are still missing. Many of the victims were foreign holidaymakers staying at the beach resorts in Phang Nga's
Khao Lak district. Whole villages were wiped out. Roads were completely destroyed and the whole fishing industry
was seriously affected.

UNICEF plan for recovery:

HEALTH: Preventive services such as immunization, vitamin supplementation, and de-worming; treatment for
common life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia; growth monitoring; and distribution of general
health and nutritional information.
WATER AND SANITATION: Ensure adequate supplies of safe water and sanitation for around 6,000 people,
including 1,500 children living in 20 temporary camps and shelters.
EDUCATION: Support early childhood development by providing educational materials to families, equipping
preschools and child care centers as well as the costs of additional temporary teachers and school buildings as required.
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Support prevention services for young people in
temporary camps and communities through its NGO partners, including information on HIV/AIDS, life-skills,
counseling for young people, and the establishment of a network of youth volunteers in affected communities.

                                   Celebrities involved: Visiting Thailand shortly after the 26th December tsunami
                                   ravaged the Indian Ocean basin, international superstar Ricky Martin has agreed to
                                   aid children around the world affected by the tragedy by partnering with Habitat for
                                   Humanity to build and restore an initial 224 houses as part of a more extensive
                                   project in Phang Nga province, Thailand. The Ricky Martin Foundation donation
                                   will help more than 1,000 people move out of temporary shelters. These initial 224
                                   families will move into simple, safe accommodation where they can piece their lives
                                   back together. ―After looking at those images on television, it was impossible for me
                                   to stay at home with my arms crossed. I realized that I had to do everything possible
                                   in order to avoid that, those children, who had lost everything because of the
                                   tragedy, live on the streets‖ he told the reporters ( ).

                                   Organizations at work: Tearfund is working with its partner World Concern Asia
                                   on a two-and-a-half year project restoring communities in Pha Nga, Trang, Phuket
                                   and Satun Provinces, providing housing for up to 500 families and helping people
                                   start fishing again by providing and repairing boats.

                                                    Sri Lanka
The tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka on 26 December 2004, killing over 30,000 people and displacing nearly
800,000.The disaster left 932 children orphaned and another 3,477 without one of their parents – a situation which
created a huge challenge for the government and aid agencies in Sri Lanka. In addition, the tsunami affected 554
children who had lost both their parents previously, and another 1,920 who were in one parent families.
UNICEF plan for recovery:

HEALTH: Providing essential drugs and supplies; conducting education and awareness-raising, activities about
communicable diseases; providing equipment to strengthen cold chains, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 16
health canters, 9 hospitals and 9 regional medical stores.
WATER AND SANITATION: Provision of essential water and sanitation services to displaced populations in 124
camps, provision of basic water and sanitation services for 50,000 families returning to their home areas, rehabilitation
of damaged water systems and sanitation facilities to serve 200,000 people, improvement of water supply and
sanitation facilities in 1,200 schools and 300 health centers.
EDUCATION: Providing essential school supplies, textbooks, and teacher guides to all tsunami-affected schools,
assisting Government efforts to rebuild 25 schools according to ―child-friendly‖ principles, construct 114 semi-
permanent learning shelters, psychosocial recovery through schools.
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Providing support to separated and unaccompanied
children and to single headed households; addressing the psychological impact of the tsunami for children, women and
men; preventing abuse, exploitation and neglect, focusing particularly on displacement sites in the emergency phase;
repair and construction of 77 social-care centers for children.

Organizations at work: World Vision Canada has also put together a Rural Integrated water, sanitation and hygiene
project to improve health and sanitation conditions in affected areas. Despite the crucial material needs the affected
countries are facing; they also look for psychological support. The NGO, Development Gateway defined a list of useful
assistance to help the victims who suffer of trauma overcome their psychological wounds: encourage role taking and
task achievement, seek to find family connections for orphaned children, encourage socializing and sharing.

Remarkable initiatives: One example of this is the camp at Habaraduwa Junction in Galle, Sri Lanka, where children
                                   ages 6 to 12 years look forward each week to the visits of UNICEF-trained
                                   community support workers. These workers supervise play activities, sports and
                                   games, and keep a special eye out for the children who may not be coping or
                                   recovering as quickly as the others, working closely with the local health

                                        Celebrities involved: While praying for the victims and their families, the late
                                        Pope John Paul II followed news of the disaster and maintained contact with his
                                        nuncios in the affected areas. The day of the catastrophe, the Holy Father
                                        requested that "the international community make every relief effort possible to
                                        these regions." The Pope prepared to send an urgent initial aid package through
                                        the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

Ninety people have been killed in Myanmar from tidal waves and 17 villages were destroyed, therefore the destruction
being less significant in comparison to the other countries hit by the tsunami. Fishermen and their families were
particularly hard hit by the tsunami in Myanmar; many lost their boats and their livelihoods.

UNICEF plan for recovery:

HEALTH: Provided one-year stocks of essential drugs, basic health equipment and immunization supplies to 53
coastal townships; prevent the spread of malaria by providing 55,000 families with treated mosquito nets, and by
providing communities with anti-malaria drugs.
WATER AND SANITATION: 9,000 people with safe drinking water supplies, including hand pumps and
purification materials, over 2,000 families were given materials for sanitary latrines, and affected communities were
provided with water tanks and other materials for safe water systems, 100 communities are benefiting from new water
supply systems in schools and health centers, and in the future, the rehabilitation of pump systems throughout affected
areas, including 189 in Ayeyarwaddy, 229 in Rakhine, and 35 in Taninthiryi.
EDUCATION: The rehabilitation of 215 schools and textbooks, exercise books, school bags and pencils provided for
73,240 students, another 1,200 schools received supplies, including 550 schools that received tables and chairs;
supporting the repair and refurbishment of 400 damaged or dilapidated schools in coastal areas.
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Provided 272 primary schools in the most affected
areas with recreation kits, supported the development of information and educational materials in local languages to
help raise awareness among populations about trafficking, train social workers and other care providers about how to
protect children from trafficking and exploitation, and how to care for child victims of trafficking and exploitation,
establish community-level child protection mechanisms, improving protection and care services for orphans and
vulnerable children.

Organizations at work: the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement focused on the promotion of health and hygiene
education and water and sanitation projects such as the provision of safe drinking water and adequate numbers of
latrines and sanitation equipment. Other programs included psycho-social support, house and livelihood reconstruction
and disaster management programs.

Remarkable initiatives: Myanmar prime minister said his country can cope with tsunami. Speaking at an international
donor's conference in Jakarta, Soe Win said that his government's quick action meant the country was "able to mitigate
the effects of the disaster."‖ Helicopters carrying food, clothes and medical experts were rushed to the affected areas‖,
he said. Soe Win said Myanmar was grateful for aid it had received from outside countries, including China and Japan,
but added he believed other nations were in greater need of outside help. "All available funds should be channeled to
them as a priority," he said. "The situation in our country is manageable and we are doing our best to alleviate the
plight of our people."

Maldives experienced a disaster of national proportion. More than 1300 people suffered injuries; 83 people were
confirmed dead and another 25 are missing and feared dead. Thirty nine islands were significantly damaged and nearly
a third of the Maldives’ 300,000 people were severely affected. Fourteen islands were completely destroyed and had to
be evacuated. Nearly 12,000 people have been displaced from their islands, and another 8,500 people are temporarily
relocated to other places on their own island.

                                  UNICEF plan for recovery:

                                  HEALTH: Support to essential health, nutrition, water and sanitation interventions,
                                  including support in emergency situations, support critical interventions for reducing
                                  child deaths and promoting child growth and development, reduce maternal
                                  mortality, help education officials introduce school health programs that incorporate
                                  nutrition, hygiene awareness, and safe and healthy living practices.
                                  WATER AND SANITATION: Provide 2,604 water storage tanks of 1,000 to 5,000
                                  liters capacity each, train communities, health workers, teachers, and parents in
hygiene awareness and education.
EDUCATION: Rehabilitate 50 community-owned preschools and transform them into integrated early childhood
development centers, rehabilitate 35 damaged schools and 21 preschools, rehabilitate 90-100 schools based on the
―child-friendly‖ model, build new schools on at least three of the worst affected islands, and upgrade ―disadvantaged‖
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Support long term psychosocial response by training
counselors, establishing a 24-hour telephone helpline, training teachers on basic counseling skills, establishing peer
support programs for students, improve the current child protection system in order to promote the safety and
protection of children in post-tsunami Maldives, particularly in IDP communities .

Organizations at work: Potential disease threats in the Maldives were not as strong as in the other countries, however
malaria, cholera and typhoid (diseases to which the Maldives are not particularly endemic) have not been discounted
and surveillance has been further sensitized. In all the affected countries, the risk of water-borne diseases (through
contaminated drinking water or lack of sanitation and hygiene infrastructure) and respiratory diseases (due to
overcrowded living conditions in displacement camps) are strong, according to the World Health Organization, which
continues to address hygiene promotion with volunteers being trained. Contributions of $1.4 million had also been
committed by Bhutan, China, Greece, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the USA.

Remarkable initiatives: The Maldivian tourist industry hopes to see a complete rebound by 2006. Several sources
have chimed in to help the Maldives rebuild and renovate damaged areas of the country. The nation's famous coral
reefs suffered little damage from the tsunami, and that bodes well for resorts and the diving industry. The Maldives has
some of the world most fabulous undersea life and scuba fanatics come from around the world to sample it. Today over
70 of the tourist resorts are open again, and most of the ones still closed are slated to reopen within a few months.
                                      Nearly 300 people on the coastline of north-eastern Somalia were killed by the
                                      tsunami and 44,000 people were affected. Hafun, a fishing village on the
                                      easternmost tip of the coastline, was the worst-affected location, with over
                                      5,000 people displaced. Most homes were destroyed, water and sanitation
                                      facilities were damaged and food shortages ensued.

                                      UNICEF plan for recovery:

                                        HEALTH: Develop 25 new health facilities in the affected communities.
WATER AND SANITATION: The installation of three water bladders (each of 15,000 liters capacity), the
development of a sanitary landfill site, the initiation of a waste disposal system, the implementation of a community
hygiene awareness program, creating a new water source for Hafun, the worst affected area.
EDUCATION: Constructing six schools in the affected communities, train 300 primary school teachers and 240
Community Education Committee members in the affected areas, distribution of teaching and learning materials.
CHILD PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT: Providing information, education and communication
materials for children and youths affected by the tsunami to increase coping mechanisms and provide psychosocial
support, working with communities on improving awareness about child rights and mobilizing communities around
child protection issues.

Organizations at work: The NCA (Norwegian Church Aid), together with partners from the global network of
churches, has distributed emergency aid items such as blankets, soap and cooking pots and setting up water tanks in
many places. These water tanks alone helped 30,000 people.

Remarkable initiatives: Mozambique - one of the world's poorest countries, which suffered from catastrophic floods
four years ago - has also donated $100,000 to the aid appeal.

                    End of year Celebrations around the world
         The end of every year is a time of celebration all around the world: religious or
international celebrations take place in a festive atmosphere, as we welcome the New Year. Other
celebrations take place at the end of the year in many religions: Article2 wishes to recommend
these different cultures that celebrate the same thing in very different ways.

                                       Christmas, a time of glee and merriment, a time for gathering

                                     ―It’s about love, health, wealth, Jesus, religion and friendship‖
                                     says Doc from Serbia and Montenegro. Even though Christmas is
                                     today an immensely popular holiday, it is first and foremost a
                                     religious celebration of the birth of Christ. Christians from all over
                                     the world gather to celebrate the coming of the Messiah. Lucy
                                     emphasizes the importance of singing carols in Romania:
                                     ―Singing Christmas carols are a very important part of the
                                     Romanian Christmas festivities. The tradition in Romania is for
                                     children to travel from house to house singing carols and reciting
                                     poetry and legends throughout the Christmas season‖. In Ukraine,
                                     carolling is also very popular, according to Shabanu, who lives in
                                     the United States but celebrates Christmas with her family from
                                     Ukraine. ―Many children and teens go carolling from house to
house, and they get money for it. However, with family, we just carol together after we finish
eating our dinner‖.
Christmas time is a season for traditional meals. ―Three days before Christmas, one may detect a
heavy aroma of freshly baked walnut and raisin cakes‖, explains Lucy. Cakes, dried fruit, turkey
and potatoes can usually be found in traditional Christmas meals. Camille from France speaks
about what the French like to cook for Christmas: ―Around Christmas time, you can usually find
in supermarkets huge displays of typical French food like snails, sea food and foie gras which are
common in French Christmas meals. In my family, we like to cook truffle omelettes, shrimps
with spices, stuffed turkey, sweet potatoes and gingerbread cookies‖.
Christmas is also a celebration for children: the myth of Santa Clause that delivers toys to
children all around the world, riding a sleigh tugged by reindeers and climbing down each home’s
chimney fascinates every child. ―Christmas carols are sung and Santa Clause is expected to leave
presents under the tree; families with small children are likely to receive a visit from Santa Clause
in person. Christmas Day is celebrated among friends and family. Remind your children to clean
their boots or shoes and leave them out so Santa Clause can fill them with small presents‖, says
But what would Christmas be like if it were celebrated without the surrounding and gathering of
friends and family in an atmosphere of merriment and joy? Lucy says that a tree and good food is
not enough to have a merry Christmas: ―Invite family and friends to come back to your home
after the special Christmas mass and tell stories about Jesus' birth in front of the Christmas tree.
Sing, laugh and tell stories together with all your dear ones.‖ Indeed, Christmas is a time for
communities to come together explains Doc: ―We usually pay fifteen minute visits around the
neighbourhood and almost everyone goes to church for midnight worship‖.

                                        The Chinese New Year: a worldwide known

                                        The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself centuries old
                                        - in fact, too old to actually be traced. It is popularly
                                        recognised as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15
                                        days. Preparations tend to begin a month from the date of
                                        the Chinese New Year (similar to a Western Christmas),
                                        when people start buying presents, decoration materials,
                                        food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days
                                        before the New Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned
from top to bottom, to sweep away any traces of bad luck, and doors and windowpanes are given
a new coat of paint, usually red. The doors and windows are then decorated with paper cuts and
couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them. The eve of the
New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the event, as anticipation creeps in. Here, traditions
and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a
feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for
liveliness and happiness, dried oysters, for all things good, raw fish salad to bring good luck and
prosperity, Fai-hai (Angel Hair), edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings
boiled in water signifying a long-lost good wish for a family. It's usual to wear something red as
this colour is meant to ward off evil spirits - but black and white are out, as these are associated
with mourning. After dinner, the family sit up for the night playing cards, board games or
watching TV programmes dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, the sky is lit up by fireworks.
The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns, which is a celebration with
singing, dancing and lantern shows.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that
the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only
twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they
arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound
influence on personality, saying: "This is the animal that hides in your heart‖. These animals are
the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the
rooster, the dog and the boar.

                                  Rosh Hashanah in a nutshell

The festival of Rosh Hashanah– the name means "Head of the Year" – is observed for two days
beginning on Tishrei 1, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of
Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of
mankind's role in the world.
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn, which
represents the trumpet blast of a people's coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a
call to repentance; for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man's first sin and his repentance,
and serves as the first of the "Ten Days of Repentance" which culminates in Yom Kippur, the
Day of Atonement. Another significance of the shofar is to recall the Binding of Isaac which also
occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac's place as an offering to God; we evoke
Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son and plead that the merit of his deed should stand by us as
we pray for a year of life, health and prosperity. Altogether, the shofar is sounded 100 times in
the course of the Rosh Hashanah service. Additional Rosh Hashanah observances include: Eating
a piece of apple dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods
symbolic of the new year's blessings; blessing one another with the words ―Leshanah tovah
tikateiv veteichateim” ("May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."); Tashlich, a special
prayer said near a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.) in evocation of the verse, "And You
shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea".

              Diwali and other Hindi Celebrations

The ancient story of how Diwali evolved into such a widely
celebrated festival is different in various regions and states of
India. In the north, Diwali is the day when King Rama's
coronation was celebrated in Ayodhya after his epic war with
Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. By order of the royal families
of Ayodhya and Mithila, the cities and far-flung boundaries of
these kingdoms were lit up with rows of lamps, glittering on dark nights to welcome home the
divine king Rama and his queen Sita after 14 years of exile, ending with an across-the-seas war in
which the whole of the kingdom of Lanka was destroyed. Ashok Murthy, from Bangalore India,
explains and describes how this festival is celebrated today in India: ―Diwali is the biggest
celebrated Hindu festival. Each sect in Hinduism celebrates it differently. For us south Indian
Brahmins, it consists of three days. During these three days, the entire family gets together and
we sit down around the idol of Lord Rama and worship him, we offer flowers, light incense sticks
and chant mantras praising Lord Rama. This procedure is called a Puja. The children usually are
busy bursting crackers during these three days. During the second day we offer our Puja to
goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth for prosperity and end of poverty in the world. There is the
usual exchange of gifts, buying of new clothes and sharing of sweets. Bursting crackers is an
integral part of this festival and the tradition is over 2000 years old. Other than Diwali some of
the other big festivals are Ganesh Chaturthi, Upakarma (where the men change their sacred
thread), Sankranthi (the New Year according to us), etc. But Diwali is the biggest festival for us.‖
                                      Muslim Celebrations

The Islamic calendar began in the year CE 622, marking the Prophet Muhammad’s emigration
from Makkah to Madinah. This event is known as the Hijra, and dates in the Muslim calendar are
marked by the Latin notation ―AH,‖ for anno hegirae (the year of emigration). The calendar has
twelve lunar months, which means that each month is equal to the number of days it takes the
moon to orbit the earth. Because a lunar month varies in length from 29 to 30 days, the Muslim
year is about eleven days shorter than the 365-day Gregorian year, which is based on a solar
calendar. Because the Islamic year is shorter, however, seasons will begin and end at different
times from year to year, and Muslim holidays occur in different seasons over the years.
Eid al-Adha (―festival of the sacrifice‖) commemorates Abraham’s submission to God’s will,
represented by his willingness to sacrifice his son Isma`il (Ishmael) at God’s request. According
to the Qur’an, as well as the Bible and the Torah, just as Abraham was about to lower his knife,
God mercifully replaced the boy (Isma`il in the Qur’an, Isaac in the Bible and Torah) with a
sheep to be sacrificed in his place. Abraham had stood the ultimate test of faith, and this holiday
celebrates his piety. `Eid al-Adha begins on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is the twelfth
month in the Islamic calendar. It marks the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Makkah. It is the
custom on `Eid al-Adha to sacrifice a sheep, as Abraham did in place of Isma`il. Many Muslim
families divide the meat into thirds, keeping one-third for themselves, giving one-third to their
relatives and friends, and donating one-third to the poor. Eid festivities include giving gifts—
usually money—to children. Muslim families spend the holiday visiting neighbours and friends,
exchanging greetings and salutations of peace.
The Islamic New Year is celebrated on the first day of Muharram, the beginning of the Muslim
year. Schools and businesses close in observance of the year, and the celebration—which is not as
extravagant as the secular New Year – consists of gathering for dinner with family and friends.

Celebrations occur all around the world to celebrate the New Year. They don’t all occur at the
same period as we don’t all follow the same calendar. However, no matter what our religion or
nationality is, we know that the world celebrates the New Year, each of us wishing for prosperity,
luck and good things to come for the next year.

Make the children smile, let them appreciate Christmas

Christmas is indeed a time of joy and merriment for families all around the world, a time of
warmth and laughter. But do we take the time to think about those who can’t take part at these
holidays? Do we think about the sick children who spend Christmas Eve in a hospital, or the
orphans who don’t have any sense of what spending Christmas with family is?
Lucy says: ―As at this moment of the year, our thoughts go to those who have no reason to smile,
I would like to propose an international program in order to help poor and orphan children enjoy
the holidays. Schools should get involved and contact an NGO from another country (every year
each country should choose another country-partner) and ask for the mail address of a few
children from foster care/homes. The role of the organizations should only be limited to choosing
addresses, making the child profiles and translating the letters, if needed. Every student should
receive a short profile of the child, photos and even a few drawings or words written by the child
himself. Then, the student should write a letter and send a present to the child, a personalized
present that could make the child feel he/she is special by someone. The costs for transporting
these presents should be lower than normal, in order to make it easy for all the children to send
letters abroad.‖
Charity Organizations and Foundations exist to help children who suffer from diseases such as
cancer to have a decent Christmas or fulfill their wishes. The Children’s Hopes and Dreams Wish
Fulfillment Foundation is an org that enables you to bring joy to children who endure serious
childhood illnesses and disabilities. It fulfils children’s dreams including meetings with
celebrities such as Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams, Neil Diamond, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Reba McIntyre, and many others; computers, visiting favorite relatives, puppies, Disney World
trips, shopping sprees, etc.
It is important for these children to truly experience the magic of the holidays and receive light
and joy in their lives around the time of Christmas. It is important that when we think about them
try to
pass on some of our joy and luck to them.
Here are some links you can visit of organizations that try to provide sick children with their
biggest wish in life, in order to bring them some joy.

                          All our best wishes for the year to come!
                                Article2 Youth for a Change

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