‘I cleaned up the emergency room, the nursing room, watched the family close the baby’s mouth with gauze. I saw some outpatients. I took a seed out of a little girl’s nose. I walked back to the compound alone. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water. Andrea, the nurse, came in to see me.



“Is everything ok at the hospital? Is the baby ok?”

“Ummm… no… she’s dead.”

“Are you ok?”

“Yep, I’m good.”

“You know, you don’t have to keep everything right here,” she said, and pointed to her sternum.

“I know,” I said.

So writes Dr James Maskalyk, a young Canadian doctor working for Medecins Sans Frontieres, in his blog from a war-torn village in Sudan.

Read more...

For many years Martin Murrillo earned a living selling water on the streets of Cartegena, a city on the northern coast of Colombia. Born into poverty, he started work very young and missed out on much of his schooling.


Gifted with a lively and curious mind, the young Martin began a process of self-education. This involved reading absolutely everything he could lay his hands on. Every moment he wasn't serving customers was a chance to bury his head in a book, writes Vida Adamoli

Read more...

In April 2009, literary giant JG Ballard died after a long battle with cancer



Among the obituaries and accolades was a moving memoir by his daughter, Bea Ballard, about her idyllic childhood with the man who, she says, filled their lives with love.

Read more...

‘Individual and apolitical’ is how the young generation of female artists animating the Iranian art scene describe themselves. And yet much of their work is a provocative challenge to the way their culture treats women. Vida Adamoli reports

Over the past five years things have become more liberal in Iran. As a result the lines of conflict between artists and the conservative, religious clergy are less clear-cut than they used to be. In a country where everything from schoolrooms to ski slopes to public buses is segregated, women artists are taking more risks than ever.  The photographer, Shadi Ghadiria, is one of them. 

Read more...

An inspirational figure in the gardening world, Beth Chatto is renowned for her diverting, instructive books as well as her famous, informal garden in Essex, The Beth Chatto Gardens.

Chatto started the nursery and garden in 1960, on a patch of wasteland that had been part of her husband’s fruit farm.

Undaunted by the poor  soil conditions, which ranged from ‘starved gravel to soggy bog’, Beth took her lead from nature and worked with what she had rather than trying to create a garden blueprint. Her ecological approach, which was deeply unfashionable at the time, encouraged a generation of gardeners to work with the prevailing conditions and to explore naturalistic planting.

Read more...

Growing old doesn't have to mean the decline in one's mental powers, as the remarkable Rita Levi Montalcini proves

By Vida Adamoli 



 On April 22, 2009, Rita Levi Montalcini, her white hair elegantly coifed and wearing a smart navy blue suit, raised a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate her 100th birthday. An Italian neurologist, in 1986 she shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with American Stanley Cohen for discovering mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells and organs.

Addressing those gathered to honour her centenary, she declared, ’At the age of one hundred, I have a mind that is superior — thanks to experience — than when I was twenty.’ 

Read more...

'I live in a country of 30 million impoverished people, people who can't read or write, people who live in cardboard shacks in the shantytowns, under bridges, on the streets. I know their stories because I have lived it myself.'

Benedita di Silva, the first Afro-Brazilian woman to be elected to Brazil's senate, is an extraordinary woman whose life reflects the struggles and the hopes of the people she represents. Bené, as she is affectionately known, was born in 1943 in one of Rio de Janeiro's notorious favelas. One of fourteen children, she led a life of excruciating poverty and hardship. Two of her four children died of curable diseases, she herself risked death after a back-street abortion went wrong, and she endured years of exploitationas a live-in maid.  writes Vida Adamoli

Read more...

About SGI