Thursday, May 22, 2008

"...You greet another son, you lose another one on some sunny day and you always stay Mary..."

Read this article from CNN. (Source)

Officer breast-feeds quake orphans

From Hugh Riminton CNN International

JIANGYOU, China (CNN) -- A Chinese policewoman is being hailed as a hero after taking it upon herself to breast-feed several infants who were separated from their mothers or orphaned by China's devastating earthquake.

Officer Jiang Xiaojuan, 29, the mother of a 6-month-old boy, responded to the call of duty and the instincts of motherhood when the magnitude 7.9 quake struck on May 12.

"I am breast-feeding, so I can feed babies. I didn't think of it much," she said. "It is a mother's reaction, and a basic duty as a police officer to help."

The death toll in the earthquake jumped Thursday to more than 51,000, and more than 29,000 are missing, according to government figures. Thousands of children have been orphaned; many others have mothers who simply can't feed them.

At one point, Jiang was feeding nine babies.

"Some of the moms were injured, their fathers were dead ... five of them were orphans. They've gone away to an orphanage now," she said.

She still feeds two babies, including Zhao Lyuyang, son of a woman who survived the quake but whose breast milk stopped flowing because of the traumatic conditions.

"We walked out of the mountains for a long time. I hadn't eaten in days when I got here and my milk was not enough," said that mother, Zhao Zong Jun. "She saved my baby. I thank her so much, I can't express how I feel."

Liu Rong, another mother whose breast milk stopped in the trauma, was awed by Jiang's kindness.

"I am so touched because she has her own baby, but she fed the disaster babies first," Liu said. "If she hadn't fed my son he wouldn't have had enough to eat."

Jiang has became a celebrity, followed by local media and proclaimed on a newspaper front page as "China's Mother No. 1."

She's embarrassed by the fuss.

"I think what I did was normal," she said. "In a quake zone, many people do things for others. This was a small thing, not worth mentioning."

There has been a huge outpouring of support from families who want to adopt babies orphaned by the quake. But that process takes time and there are mouths to feed.

Jiang misses her own son, who's being cared for through the emergency by in-laws in another town, but she is aware of the new connections she's made.

"I feel about these kids I fed just like my own. I have a special feeling for them. They are babies in a disaster."

This article has me intrigued...

But let me back up for one minute... I'm about 110% sure that if I have children, I will not breastfeed them. My mother did not breastfeed either my sister or me. And she had us at the height of the whole "You're a bad mother if you don't breastfeed" bullshit that started in the 80's and continues today. Shirl believed, and still believes today, that there is nothing wrong with bottle feeding your child. Once in a while, she'll still wax poetic about the beauty of her husband being able to get up at 3am to feed the child he helped create.

Now, Sara and I are both highly educated, productive members of society (which throws out the "if you don't breastfeed, your infant won't be smart when she/he grows up" argument.)

We weren't sickly as children (which throws that whole "you'll fuck up your infant's immune system if you don't breastfeed!" story some doctor's believe.)

We don't have attachment issues with our mother (which nullifies the "your child will feel abandoned and become codependent if she/he doesn't experience breastfeeding" crapola.) And while I am occassionally codependent, I truly believe that I alone am the one to blame for that. My mother letting my dad get up at 3am to feed me with formula from a bottle once in a while can't be to blame for any of my poor decisions lately.

All of that being said....

Holy canoli, the human body is amazing. The fact that women are able to breastfeed is really an incredible thing. Hell, birth and reproduction still amazes me. If Officer Jiang had not been breastfeeding her own child, odds are the orphans she fed would have starved. There have been anecdotal stories out of various war zones about other women doing the same thing Office Jiang did. It's more proof that humans are capable of surviving horrible things. And that in horrible circumstances, some people will rise up and be saviors.

(But I'm still not breastfeeding my own kids.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"...And the little plastic castle is a surprise every time and it's hard to say if they're happy, but they don't seem much to mind..."

What can anyone really say about what's going on in Myanmar in the aftermath of the cyclone that hasn't been said? What is amazing to me is that the citizens there have not overthrown the government. Is it because they have been repressed so long that there is simply no fight left in them? It's hard to imagine what life is like there. For all of our talking about how well international governmental organizations keep much of the world in check, all it takes is a country like Myanmar being in the news cycle for a few days to make all of us sheltered academics realized that the world we live in is very far from the world we wish we lived in.

I'll admit I don't know much about Myanmar and its past struggles. For times like this, I turn not to Wikipedia, but to the CIA WorldFact Book. I can thank my sister, Sara, for introducing this resource to me.

If you, like me, don't know why Myanmar is called Myanmar now instead of Burma or how the junta came to power, give Myanmar's entry in the World FactBook a read.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"...I see you, you see me differently..."

Anddd the conversation about torture this semester comes full circle. Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes interviewed Antonin Scalia. Here are bits of it as seen on the Daily Show yesterday.

Scalia: "Has anyone ever refered to torture as punishment?"