I love talking to children. They are so unaffected and they can tell you so much more about a society, and in a much more nuanced way, than famous politicians, experts, journalists, and the like. They are even better than taxi drivers who tend to provide such a deconstruction of the social and political life of their country that sometimes I want to say to them - please, take me back to the airport!
In the midst of a mini storm outside, the Dalai Lama arrived calm, composed and appearing quite physically strong for his 80 years. He chose immediately to stand up at the microphone for most of the 90 minutes of his talk, only retiring to the 'throne' installed for him centre stage for Q&A at the end.
One of my favourite places to go and visit is the local graveyard. We live on a square block, the streets conveniently named North, East, South and West, and the cemetery is on the North side of the square. I have no relatives or friends buried there, in fact, I have no connection to anyone there. But there's something about the ambience, the peace and the love that has gone into that patch of land that permeates the air and is hard to find anywhere else.
Recently, Russian socio-political discourse has been buzzing on a new topic, widely discussed in Russian society and by experts, but less so by the political elite and by international experts. The topic of discussion is rather significant and serious, and could mark the beginning of a new trend in the relationships between Chechnya and Russia, Chechnya and the Kremlin, and Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus.
When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is read the news. I scan as many sources as I can depending on the time I have available. Many years of doing this have convinced me that nothing is written without a reason. It is as the Russian poet Mayakovsky wrote, that even if the stars are lit, it means someone needs it.
Walking into the CARE supported clinic in Pariang, I see a little girl with edema - her belly is swollen because she hasn't got enough to eat. It's been a long time since I've seen a child with edema, and I certainly didn't expect to see one in this part of the country. Of all the places that CARE supports health care, Pariang, in Unity state, has traditionally been the least food insecure.