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Sporting Spirit in Brazil, World Cup 2014

Brazilian fans beat the drums in Rio - photo copyright Hannah Smithson

Brazilian fans beat the drums in Rio – photo copyright Hannah Smithson

The excitement and buzz in the air on the streets of Rio when Brazil beat Cameroon 4-1 was immense. Now, after being pulled apart in the semi-finals against Germany, with an unbelievable score of 7-1, what would the atmosphere in the host country be like?

Initially, the football and 2014 World Cup hadn’t been the reason I’d booked my holiday to Brazil, but it soon became a big part of why I’d visit this amazing country again. The spirit of the people and the culture is infectious. But just as they are elated and joyful on a win, so too can they be ‘humiliated, humbled and torn apart’, as one BBC commentator put it after Germany scored their fifth goal before half time!

During the tournament in Brazil, when they were still very much in the game, that South American passion for the sport shone through; boys were playing with their fathers in their back yards, girls were giving football a go and tourists were joining in spontaneous games with locals, striking up conversation and camaraderie. That might be why there were so many tears in Belo Horizonte last night. Victory meant more to them than just winning –  football had become an escape from poverty and a means of bringing a mammoth nation together, despite adversity and dissent.

And, perhaps the best thing Brazil can take away from such a big blow, is that, the game has attracted the world to a country which has yes, learnt humility on their home turf, but their football team has also represented a nation which was so alive with hope and excitement only days ago, and which now must reflect on the lessons to be learnt from such a defeat. Brazil should not be punished now, but should find resolve in its spirit. Don’t we all suffer massive defeats in life? And often there is always a lesson to be learnt?

There would be little victory in picking apart the mistakes of the players and coaches or reasoning a shocking scoreline down to missing men. True, Brazilian striker Neymar is received as a God-like figure in Brazil; the youthful footballer will probably remain a national boy wonder and Thiago Silva will still have his face graffitied all over the streets of Rio, and remain a national treasure, but my heart goes out to the other 11 men who had to battle through an overwhelming 90 minutes of shear pain and frustration – most of whom looked shell-shocked as they walked off the pitch deflated and desolated.

Despite disappointment that the hosts are now out, there remains something about the beauty of the game, the competition, the uniting of nations that was utterly attractive and soulful during the tournament, and I got the feeling that Brazil was just as spirited and colourful World Cup or no World Cup. I’ll probably remember the devastating score and loss for Brazil whenever anyone mentions the 2014 World Cup in years to come, but I’ll never forget the mental pictures stored away in my mind of their victorious celebrations after their match against Cameroon.

A sea of green, blue and yellow t-shirts displayed the Brazilian flag colours, as patriotic fans flocked to Copacabana beach to watch the epic game on the big screen. Strolling along, I couldn’t get Barry Manilow’s ‘Copacabana’ tune out of my head, as we zigzagged through the throng of party-goers attempting to find a free spot amongst the crowd. The sport had attracted thousands of fans to the waters edge to watch the teams battle it out. And, after a fighting fit Neymar, scored his first goal, the ocean of spectators went wild! Usually concerned with more feminine practices of yoga and meditation, my mind turned to the simple yet fascinating play of football and the thrilling match that was unfolding before my eyes. Fireworks lit the sky in the distance, the beating of drums sounded a base through the streets and the smell of the warm sweet sea air infused the senses. It dawned on me then, that Brazil, victorious or not, had heart and that would continue long after the game ended.

Beaten by the World Cup champions but not defeated in spirit!

Check out Rio in Rio documentary on Monday 10:35pm www.bbc.co.uk/

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Falkland Islands Defence Force new recruits start training

On our second day in the Falklands we jumped straight in and did what I was hoping to do at some point – film the military. Fellow colleague Caroline decided that it could be a great documentary project to follow the new Falkland Island Defence Force (FIDF) recruits through their 12 week training program, so we set off with them on their journey with our cameras close by.

Falkland Islands Defence Force new recruits in their first week of training

Falkland Islands Defence Force new recruits in their first week of training

Journalists tend to work out of hours a lot of the time because you have to go where the story is and that can be anywhere at any time. So on our second evening here, after a gorgeous meal from the Malvina House Hotel (the nicest restaurant in town) we made our way to the FIDF hall where we caught up with two new recruits Jacob and Marcus.

Recruit Marcus Morrison spoke to us for the first time as one of our main characters for our documentary

Recruit Marcus Morrison spoke to us for the first time as one of our main characters for our documentary

Upon arrival it was hard to know how these recruits would react to the cameras but they went about their training whilst we eagerly filmed them rifle training and warming up. Having never filmed the military before, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly they were afterwards when we interviewed Jacob and Marcus. Marcus being a Falkland Islander with family here and more senior recruit, with Jacob being a younger contractor over from the UK. We chose these two contrasting recruits to be the main characters of our documentary, who we would later follow through the training process. We left with plenty of shots for our stock footage – to save up for our edit at a later date and were told about the FIDF recruits first exercise the next weekend.IMG_0236 First recruit training weekend I really didn’t want to get up this morning. But in the spirit of FIDF we trekked out to Mount William in the early hours of Saturday morning and headed up the cold mountain with the  troops. Josh and I had drawn straws with Caroline, who ended up in the beautiful Sea Lion Island lodge, filming all kinds of wildlife, whilst Josh and I roughed it in the wild. But what an experience. We had been briefed by Colour Sergeant Trev Law, who had told us that the highlight of this first training weekend with the new recruits was to conduct a surprise attack on the group in the middle of the night. Slightly concerned, we cautiously continued to film the new recruits learn about camouflage and field exercises.

FIDF new recruits out on their first exercise in the field atop of Mt. William

FIDF new recruits out on their first exercise in the field atop of Mt. William

As the sun set we were tasked to put up our tent in the dark, to which we set about enthusiastically. Quickly, Colour Sergeant Law realised we had missed out on training of our own and decided to do us the honour. A few minutes later and we were cosying up in our nice North Face tent and toasty FIDF sleeping bags. Under the stars, alongside the military, I fell into a deep sleep, until I was woken up by the sound of gunfire.

Under the stars, alongside the military, I fell into a deep sleep, until I was woken up by the sound of gunfire.

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Suddenly, Josh and I realised this was the chance we had been waiting for – to get out there and film the men in action. Using all blank rounds, to our relief – we stepped into the line of fire into what was effectively no mans land with our camera to catch the fire fight on tape. Both sides were doing surprisingly well in the dark as the new recruits defended their side of the mountain, the older FIDF members played the enemy, who were carefully closing in on their position. IMG_0616 Soon one of the men approached us and “updated” us on their situation. Two of the enemy had been captured and one was shot dead but the allies were regaining ground and taking back the mountain. Although a simulated exercise, I couldn’t help think how real this all felt and how similar things might have been just thirty years ago out here on Mt. William during the Falklands conflict. I suddenly had a new appreciation for the conditions those men had to fight through – the bitter cold and wind relentlessly wearing down morale. IMG_0646 But here we were, and morale was high as the new recruits acted out their first proper exercise in the field.  After more machine gun fire and as the last flares were set off to light up the night sky, we realised that we weren’t going to get much more on camera in the pitch black of midnight, so with one last breathtaking gaze at the stars, the gunfire died down and we headed back to our tent. IMG_0656 The next morning, we caught up with Marcus and Jacob who had endured a sleepless night and were looking a little worse for wear, but didn’t want to show it. Marcus talked us through their tactics in response to the surprise attack and we bagged our last interview of the day as a tired and weary Joshua Saunders attempted a final piece to camera to sum up our piece. During a rather proud stroll down the mountain, we reflected on our first FIDF experience filming out in the field. It was, to say the least, quite thrilling. Check out our piece online that went out on Falklands In Focus

Jet escorts, bitter winds and puffing pig dolphins

After only a week and five days of being on these islands they call British overseas territory, it really does feel like a home from home. The Falkland islands are still hotly contested isles in a historical foreign affairs dispute that goes back decades and culminated in the 1982 Falklands war between Britain and Argentina, but I couldn’t have felt more welcomed by the islanders here that have an identity all of their own.

Mid way to the Falklands, we had to make an all-important stop on Ascension Island for re-fueling, which was a bizarre experience. We stepped off the plane after an 8-hour flight full of inflight meals and movies to an almost deserted island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. It felt like some kind of scene out of Lost as we were herded like sheep in to what can only be described as a sort of outdoor cage just off of the runway. We proceeded to make the most of duty free as the warm humid air blew in just south of the equator.

Back on towards the Falklands and my excitement started to swell. It all seemed very surreal at this point but my nerves had vanished and all I had left was a curious eagerness inside me, the kind you get when you anticipate your arrival into a foreign lands.

Our air bridge into the Falklands from RAF Brize Norton took a whopping 17 hours but was worth the journey as we were escorted in by the MOD’s typhoon jets to landing. I have to say it was an impressive welcome and only got friendlier as the days went on.

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An MOD jet escorts our flight into the Falklands

We met our neighbours and housemate Rosie pretty much straight away who explained the local culture and customs to us, of which were all too familiar to our British traditions. We were later taken to our house which will be our home here on the islands for the next nine months.

On the drive, the rugged countryside reminded me of the description from journalist Max Hastings book, Battle for the Falklands. I am slowly making my through it but as I gazed out the window to the baron rolling hills of dried sandy grass and jagged grey rocks, showered with sheep, I tried to imagine what life was like over 30 years ago. The wind was tempestuous and it had an Antarctic bite to it that made me realise just how cold it must have been for the soldiers of the 1982 war. They say some died of frostbite and hyperthermia. I took a moment to think about those lost.

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Josh and I at one of the memorial sites next to Surf Bay

 

Modern, spacious and warm were my first impressions of our cosy house as we opened the front door- warm respite from the bitter cold winds outside. I wondered if the weather would get any better during our stay and was reassured that we’d arrived just as the Falklands is blooming into Spring and Summer. I now had a base. Clean sheets, soft towels, a comfy bed and a cup of tea inside me- I now felt at home.

Once unpacked our fellow housemate and colleague Caroline who’s already been here for two months, decided after lunch it was time to take us to the beach. A counterintuitive move I thought as it began to rain outside and I slowly got the impression the attitude was – if you can’t escape the weather here then why not embrace it. Everyone has a pair of walking boots and everyone is ‘outdoorsy’. Surf Bay is closest and most popular stretch of sand here. I was stunned by the white glow off of the beach when we arrived. Had it not been sunny I could have mistaken it for snow. A local islander and tour guide, Stacey McKay, later told me that the sand here in the Falklands is one of the whitest in the world. As we stood staring out into the Ocean we joked about wanting to see penguins, native to the Falklands. I stood taking pictures to send back home, documenting my surroundings when I suddenly saw something flutter in the waves.

Puffing pig or Commerson dolphins in the waves at Surf Bay

Puffing pig or Commerson dolphins in the waves at Surf Bay

At first glance I thought it to be seabirds and then noticed whatever it was was surfing the waves- and retracted the thought of sea birds. I pointed and yelled “Look, there’s something in the waves”. I could make out it was small, barrel shaped and black and white. I thought we’d hit the jackpot and seen penguins on our first day here and both Josh and Caroline suddenly started focusing on the rolling barrels to get a glimpse. There they were again but this time I zoomed in and could tell they had fins and tails. “They’re dolphins not penguins”, I exclaimed and they were indeed surfing the waves in closer and closer to shore. Whether they could see us I don’t know, but they were very friendly. Later on that night at the local watering hole, The Vic, a local surfer, Jay Moffett, told me that “the black and white ones are Commerson dolphins, otherwise known as puffing pigs”, I laughed and thought that was very cute as he continued to tell me that they were a very curious species and would often surf alongside him when he was in the water, in which I replied that he was mad for going in at this time of year.

It doesn’t take me long to adapt and two days in, after a little orientation of the islands I felt like I knew my way around and that small town girl in me was fitting in very well. It was now time to start work…

“You’re going to the Falklands?!”

“You’re going to the Falklands!? But isn’t that really dangerous?” This was my mothers reaction when I told her that I had landed a nine month internship working for Falkland Islands TV when I finished my degree. My reply went something like- “no mum, that was in the 80’s, it’s perfectly safe now and in fact there are more military personal on the island than sheep, and there are a lot of sheep!”

The Falkland Islands - the beware of mines sign acts as a timely reminder of the military history the island holds- now to discover some of its secrets

The Falkland Islands – the beware of mines sign acts as a timely reminder of the military history the island holds- now to discover some of its secrets Photo by Caroline Scott

And that was it. Discussion over. It was decided, I would be jetting off to the other side of the world for the best part of a year to work with the local TV station on the island to report the local news and produce TV packages to send back home. The best part is there are three of us going from our University course and we all get experience presenting, producing, editing and directing! I don’t think you’d ever get to do that straight away anywhere else so that’s really exciting to start with.

My friend Caroline has already been out there for two weeks and seems to be loving it. She’s been on screen presenting the news already and looks perfect for the part. She said she’s already had all four seasons in one day so advised me to pack for all weathers. With a only a month to go now before I head out with my partner in crime Joshua Saunders, I have already started to tick things off my packing list. Packing for nine months is no mean feat! So I thought it best to be well prepared and start early.

Quite honestly, I really don’t know what to expect out there. I know that I will be living and working on a tiny island in the Atlantic which is closer to the Antarctic than other inhabited countries! In other words I’ll be making friends with lots of penguins rather than people. Now I’m sure I’m just being dramatic and I have been informed there are a few social watering holes to hang out at and that work takes up most of our time anyway. And I guess that is kind of the point behind the TV station- for people to get to know the Falkland Islands better from behind the lense. I am really excited to be part of a small island community as well and think I will fit right as a “small town” (ok tiny village) girl!

I am keen to dig a little deeper into the history of the Falklands as well and plan to visit all the memorial sites based there. I am fascinated with its military history as small signs and landmarks remind us of the lives lost there during the war. And there is still tension there. Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner still vows she wants the Malvinas back despite the referendum earlier in the year that showed the majority of the islanders wanted to stay British. This foreign affair dispute is something I’d like to understand better for sure. Who knows this could be the beginning of my career as a war correspondent or foreign affairs journalist. Watch this space…

Crepes and Waffles work to empower women

Where do you turn as a struggling single mum in country that has no welfare state? Crepes and Waffles, is a unique restaurant chain that was opened in 1980 and only employs women and often single mothers. The unique company was set up by a couple who had the idea straight out of University to help empower women by providing them with reliable employment and a substantial pay cheque at the end of the month whilst they can still find time to study and look after their families. With a Crepes and Waffles on every corner, it is clear to anyone who visits Colombia, that this chain is successful with it’s ethics, employees and it’s ice cream. Listen to this podcast where I find out from Norma, manager at Crepes and Waffles, how she sees herself as a role model for the women here striving to be independent.

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Crepes and Waffles chain restaurant in Colombia Photo by Hannah Smithson

Women’s Link Worldwide help protect human rights

In the developed world we sometimes take our right to choice rather than chance for granted. In a country where sex education is minimal and the Catholic church have considerable control over educational establishments and traditional attitudes among society, the fight to bring awareness to controversial issues such as women’s reproductive rights and abortion in Colombia is a tough one.

Women’s Link Worldwide  is an international human rights non-profit organization working to ensure that gender equality is a reality around the world and at home in Colombia.

They strive to advance the acknowledgement of women’s rights as a human right through the implementation of international standards and strategic work with the law to close the gap between rights on paper and rights in reality.

Katherine Barnes is a representative of Women’s Link in Colombia and explains how they are working to promote women’s rights and family planning.

Music  by  Kevin MacLeod  is licensed under a  CC Attribution 3.0.

Conjugal visit

Girls at a local prison in Cartagena queue up for the conjugal visit Photo by Hannah Smithson

 

UN praises Colombia for tackling teenage pregnancy

For the majority of people in developing countries, basic resources and access to family planning services are inadequate. The most recent United Nations (UN) State of the World Population report 2012 estimates that 222 million women around the world still lack access to reliable services, information and supplies. This especially puts adolescents, the poor and ethnic minorities at risk of unintended pregnancy.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) warns that much more financial support and political commitment is needed to meet their international Millennium Development Goals for improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality by 2015.

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In September 2012, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of United Nations visited Colombia and highlighted the high figures of teenage pregnancy in the country: one in five women between 15 to 19 years old has been pregnant.

“Colombia has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America. This is an obstacle for the development of the country”, he said. More alarmingly, 64% of those pregnancies are not intended.

Since 2006 UNFPA has been supporting the Colombian government in designing a model for ‘youth friendly health services’, including counselling, contraceptive methods, HIV testing, right up to prenatal care. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection has been implementing this model, with continued technical and financial support from the UN.

Dr. Osotimehin visited the capital Bogota, touring two hospitals with ‘youth friendly services’ to see how the country is progressing towards achieving some of the international development goals and said:

“I am pleasantly surprised by the government’s commitment to the prevention of teen pregnancy. This program of youth-friendly services is an example for many countries in Latin America.”

Speaking at the launch of the most recent state of the world population report, Dr. Osotimehin makes the case that access to family planning is a human right and points out that for just one dollar for every person on earth, everyone could realise this right. He highlights that UNFPA’s participation in the Youth Friendly Services Program helps train professionals from health teams and provides technical expertise in the delivery of mass communication strategies to make sure everyone is aware of their rights to services.

Unchallenged though, Dr. Osotimehin says the lack of family planning and increasing teenage pregnancy rates especially amongst adolescents perpetuates poverty, gender inequality and can lead to population pressures in developing countries that are already struggling to meet basic human needs.

Are the UN on track?

Sylvia Wong, Sexual and Reproductive Health Specialist at UNFPA in New York, explains why teenage pregnancy prevention and improving maternal health continue to be important goals for the UN:

“We know that complications for pregnancy and childbirth is the number one killer of girls who are between 15-19 years old in developing countries worldwide and if you’re able to prevent the pregnancy in the first place, that would reduce her risk of maternal death.”

The UN has been criticised for their slow progress for meeting their goals by 2015. Sylvia tells me that the UN is on track but that it could be better.

“There has been some progress, but I don’t think the progress is good enough because there are still too many women who are dying from a preventable death”, says Sylvia.

Colombia’s case study

Sylvia highlights Colombia as one of the countries where there is good practice in place when it comes to sexual education and sees it as very ‘progressive and innovative’.

“Colombia is doing quite a lot in recognising the issue of adolescent pregnancy and getting at the root causes of some of the issues; so they are buttressing work on education, especially comprehensive sexuality education and ensuring access to services for young people,” says Sylvia.

Girls at the Juan Felipe foundation regularly receive sex education and self-esteem lessons Photo by Hannah Smithson

Girls at the Juan Felipe foundation regularly receive sex education and self-esteem lessons Photo by Hannah Smithson

Profamilia assess adolescent pregnancy rates in new study

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Psychologist Darly Naiyive at sexual health clinic Profamilia works to promote contraception and to provide family planning services Images by Hannah Smithson

An independent study from private sexual health clinic Profamilia, assessed the rates of Colombian teenage pregnancy in the first study of its kind in the capital. Results showed that adolescent birth rates had decreased by 1% in 2012.

Psychologist at Profamilia, Darly Naiyive, says that teenagers get pregnant in Colombia for many reasons, but boils it down to a lack of sex education, strong anti-abortion laws in a very Catholic country, and a traditionally macho culture embedded within society. She explains how Profamilia’s best practice in promoting contraception and providing family planning services can help women struggling with these obstacles:

“Profamilia has been highlighted because we protect women’s sexual and reproductive rights. We see family planning as a right for the women but also the patient needs to work together with the law.”

Human rights lawyers jump in to help fight for women’s rights

Katherine Romero is a Senior Attorney for Women´s Link Worldwide, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Colombia working to enforce women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to an abortion, and explains the work she does in Latin America and all over the world.

“Here at Women’s Link we understand that the legality of abortion has consequences among the vulnerable population and adolescent populations because they don’t have any information about how to get an abortion in a safe manner,” says Katherine.

She explains she was part of the legal team that part de-criminalised abortion law in Colombia in 2005. The Constitutional Court in Colombia then ruled in 2006 that abortion is legal in three cases; when a woman is raped, when there is a danger to the mother’s health or when there is a malformation of the foetus. Katherine and her team are now working hard to apply these rights among the women of Colombia, to spread awareness and access to treatment.

“The legality of abortion has a complete correlation with maternal mortality rates in adolescents because they don’t know how to do it in a safe manner.”

Consequently, it can be very dangerous for young women to get pregnant in these countries, Katherine explains. An underlying attitude in all these similar cases she tells me is that women´s bodies are seen as objects that in most cases don´t belong to them.

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Photo by Hannah Smithson

“We have a specific exception for adolescents –all sexual relations with girls under 12 years old constitutes a rape. This is the interpretation of the penal code. So if a girl of 12 years or under gets pregnant she has the right to an abortion. But if a girl is over this age and isn’t in one of those three circumstances she doesn’t have the right to an abortion in the eyes of the law”, says Katherine.

Colombia therefore is in a transitional state as Katherine explains: “With our work to implement the constitutional courts decision we are one step forward in relation to Uganda, Tanzania, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chile in recognising that all women’s rights are human rights and that the right to abortion in Colombia is for all women. We also make sure that the government and all their agencies have the obligation to give the service.” But she points out that there is still more to be done.

Sylvia from UNFPA praises the work of sexual health clinics such as Profamilia and NGOs like Women’s Link but concludes that improving maternal health and reducing teenage pregnancy are goals that need to stay on the development agenda after 2015.

“While we have seen the global mortality ratio decline over time which is good news, in my opinion it is still too high because even one death because of maternal causes is just one death too many.”

Osborne to announce £2.5bn spending cuts today

Chancellor George Osborne to deliver UK 2013 Budget Photo Credit: conservativeparty via Compfight cc

Chancellor George Osborne to deliver UK 2013 Budget Photo Credit: conservativeparty via Compfight cc

Chancellor, George Osborne, will today set out how he will make cuts of £2.5bn to benefit the UK economy, when he delivers his Budget at 12:30 GMT.

The chancellor has told cabinet colleagues that they will have to cut 2% of their departments’ spending over the next two years, saving billions of pounds.

The money will go to infrastructure and building projects, designed to boost growth and create jobs.

The UK economy had shown a rise after the 2012 London Olympics but then shrank in the last quarter of the year, losing it’s triple A credit rating.

The government has been under increasing pressure since over its economic strategy.

Mr Osborne will start speaking in the House of Commons straight after the half hour Prime Minister’s Questions, which starts at noon.

In a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter, Mr Osborne said the Budget would “tackle the economy’s problems head on” and help “those who want to work hard & get on”.

Health, schools and aid protected

The budgets for health, schools and overseas aid will be unaffected by the cuts while local government and police budgets will be protected for the first year. But, other government departments will be told to deliver a further 1% cut to their day-to-day budgets in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The move has been made possible by under-spending by government departments this year.

As well as additional cuts, Mr Osborne is also expected to set out the “spending envelope” – the total amount of spending available to departments – in the forthcoming Spending Review, which will take place on 26 June.

Colombia’s Big Daddy

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Women’s rights topped the agenda at the most recent  World Economic Forum of 2013.  Even former UK Prime Minister  Gordon Brown  acknowledged and blogged about women’s empowerment being  the  hot topic of day.
In light of  International Women’s Day  on the 8th March, Hannah Smithson investigates the global issue of maternal health and rising teenage pregnancy rates around the world. Speaking to the  United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),  we  find out how providing access to family planning clinics and resources to improve maternal health is one of their top priorities of the  Millenium Development Goals  for 2015.

Hannah Smithson visits a teenage mothers programme at a unique foundation in Colombia to see how developing countries are dealing with the issue. Find out why Colombia in particular is being held up by   UNFPA   as an example of best practice for the rest of the world.

 Watch “Colombia’s Big Daddy” to see how one man, Leon, is single handedly working to empower women in a traditionally macho culture.

Doctor Who drama casts Harry Potter actor

By Hannah Smithson

Harry Potter actor David Bradley will play “first Doctor” William Hartnell in a BBC drama about Doctor Who’s creation to mark its 50th anniversary.

Harry Pottor actor David Bradley is cast in new BBC Doctor Who drama
Harry Pottor actor David Bradley is cast in new BBC Doctor Who drama

The adventure story will journey the BBC‘s sci-fi drama, beginning in the early 1960s.

Bradley, known for his role as Filch in the Harry Potter series, said he was “absolutely thrilled” to be cast.

Filming will begin in February at BBC Television Centre, then move to Wimbledon Studios in south-west London.

The script has been written by Mark Gatiss, a regular Doctor Who writer who, like Bradley, has been seen in the show since its 2005 revival.

“I first heard about this role from Mark while watching the Diamond Jubilee flotilla from the roof of the National Theatre,” said Bradley, who played the character of Solomon in 2012 episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

“When he asked if I would interested, I almost bit his hand off! Mark has written such a wonderful script not only about the birth of a cultural phenomenon, but a moment in television’s history.”