On Service and Justice

The Office of Community Engagement at The College of William & Mary invited me to speak at the Active Citizens Conference this year, which gathered about two hundred students and faculty from a number of states. I spoke about the relationship between service work and justice work, drawing on my own experiences as a student at William & Mary and our more recent work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Here are a few minutes from the conclusion of conclusion of my talk.  

A Sierra Leonean School of Hope

Mariatu Sesay BorborIn Sierra Leone, state collapse and resource shortages mean that many students cannot attend school unless their parents can afford the user fees. In the town of Adonkia, children bare the scars of working stone mines instead. A man named Foday Mansaray started a free school to help kids out of the mines. Foday calls it the Borbor Pain Charity School of Hope. We are helping him build it. Read more.

Contribute to the Borbor Pain Charity School of Hope.

Investigative Collaboration with WikiLeaks

wl logoOur program at Public Citizen has twice worked with WikiLeaks to pierce a veil of secrecy at major international economic negotiations and reveal draft rules that would compromise access to cancer treatment and other needed medicines, empower Monsanto against small farmers, and reduce Internet freedom. Read our analysis and press coverage from 2014 (press release at bottom; includes articles in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Forbes) and 2013 (includes TV & FAIR radio interviews).

The collaborations reflect on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which we have tracked closely since 2010. The negotiations among twelve countries are closed, and we’ve been turned away or thrown out of meetings several times. But we have built relationships with most negotiators and government advisors anyway, by providing useful analysis of deeply technical issues, working hard and earning trust over time.

It’s a beautiful story in its way. A few brave negotiators from small and developing countries have stood up, consistently, to the most powerful government on earth, and several of the most powerful industries — the pharmaceutical industry, the content lobby (Hollywood, recording companies, publishers) and big tobacco. They’ve turned history on its head, and an expected easy victory for those commercial interests into a real debate about the rules that will govern the information economy in the 21st century. If the negotiations conclude — which is now far from a certainty — any agreement will be less harmful to public interests as a result. And countries will have some room to make the rules that are in their best interest.

There’s much more to do. Lobbyists have not relented for a moment. And we keep at it.

Read the WikiLeaks  page about the Trans-Pacific Partnership texts.

“A Neglectful Response to Ebola”

My father, Gary H. Maybarduk, has a letter in The Washington Post today, concerning what he considers to be the U.S. Government’s lost opportunity to respond in timely, effective fashion to Ebola in West Africa — and what we can do now to help curb exponential transmission.

My father Gary Maybarduk Web Pictureserved as Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Government in Sierra Leone from 1988-1991, which included the Liberian refugee crisis and an invasion tied to the regional war, and as political and economic officer in Cuba in 1998-1999. Soon after ebola cases started appearing this year he pitched the government of Sierra Leone on the idea of requesting U.S. Army field hospitals and Cuban medics. He enlisted some high-ups in the U.S. and Sierra Leone to help the cause. Sierra Leone took the advice, and Cuban medics are there now.

Read my father’s letter here. You can also donate to Borbor Pain Charity School of Hope, a school we support outside Freetown, which operates for the poorest, takes no user fees, and is working hard to keep ebola out, here.

Barrio Adentro

mision-barrio-adentroIn 2004 I wrote about Venezuela’s contentious community healthcare program, Barrio Adentro, for The Multinational Monitor. I believe it was the first investigative article on the subject, or at least in English. Read it here.

“It is nearly impossible to travel Venezuela without hearing reference to the government’s highly popular and controversial healthcare initiative that invites Cuban doctors to treat, train and live with working-class Venezuelans in communities across the country…”