Today is the International Day of the Disappeared, a day to remember those who have been imprisoned without their friends and families knowing where or why.

In 2008, approximately two people were announced as ‘disappeared ‘every day.

The day originates from the efforts of the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared, a Costa-Rican NGO founded in 1981 that officially started the fight against secret imprisonment and forced disappearances. Today, larger organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross are also doing valuable work in this field. International Day of the Disappeared is not only a day to mourn those missing, but also to highlight the work of these NGOs, raise awareness, and to raise funds for future ventures and campaigns against secret imprisonment.

Today is the International Day Against Nuclear Testing, a day that aims to end nuclear testing around the world and promote peace and security.

Against Nuclear Testing

The UN hopes for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Since the first nuclear test in 1945, the world has seen over 2000 different nuclear weapons tests. Although history has shown us how devastating the impact of nuclear weapons is many world leaders still hold the belief that possessing nuclear weapons is a sign of a country’s scientific sophistication and military might. This type of ideology gives little appreciation for human life or our atmosphere and environment.

In December 2009, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a new resolution with a goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon also stated that, “A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.”

August 29th was chosen as the date for International Day Against Nuclear Testing because it marks the day in 1991 when the world’s largest nuclear test site was closed in Kazakhstan.

London 2012 is the biggest Paralympic Games yet!


This year's Paralympics are unmissable.

4280 athletes are taking part from 166 different countries. Examples of countries competing for the first time in Paralympics are Antigua, Albania, and San Marino. Over the next 11 days the Paralympic Games will be held in 19 different venues all around London.

Many have spoken, in the media, that London 2012 is Paralympic Games “coming home.” This is because it was in London, on the day of the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics, that the first organized event for disabled athletes was held. These first games, called the Wheelchair Games, were held for British World War II veteran patients with spinal injuries. Four years later, in 1952, in the same location, Dutch veterans participated as well, making 1952 the first year for an organised, international competition for disabled athletes. The Paralympic Games, as we know it today, was held for the first time in 1960 in Rome. This was the first year that the Paralympic Games were not solely open to war veterans. In Rome, that year, 400 athletes from 23 different countries took part.

The term Paralympic derives from the Greek word ‘para,’ which means ‘alongside.’ Paralympic refers to a competition that’s held alongside the Olympics…

Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition. Remembrance of Slave tradeThis date was chosen by UNESCO to mark a night in 1791 in the island of Saint Dominic (now Dominican Republic and Haiti) when a major uprising took place which significantly contributed to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

A purpose of this day is to highlight the shamefulness of colonial slave trade, to remember the millions of people who suffered from it, and to come to terms with the past injustice…

‘Eid-ul-Fitr’ celebrates the end of the Muslim period of fasting, known as Ramadan. 

Eid ul-Fitr

It's forbidden to fast on Eid ul-Fitr.

At the end of the month, once fasting has been completed, a big celebration takes place known as ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. During this celebration Muslims dress in their finest clothes, give gifts to children and spend time with their friends and family. At Eid it is obligatory to give a set amount of money to charity to be used to help poor people buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate.

World Humanitarian Day is an annual, global celebration of people helping people.

World Humanitarian Day

Beyonce performed for the UN in New York.

Every year thousands of human aid workers help other people regardless of who they are and where they are. The lives of millions of people worldwide are threatened every day by natural disasters, gender-based conflict, political conflict, hunger, and migration. The global economic crisis has created an increasing number of problems such as poverty and a decline in global health. Hence, more and more humanitarian aid workers are needed across the globe. In addition, the total number of people affected by natural disasters is rising: approximately 211 million people are directly affected each year.

Today’s date, August 19th, marks the day in 2003 when the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad was bombed and 22 members of UN staff died. World Humanitarian Day honors humanitarian causes and the lives that have been lost in the cause of duty.

This year’s theme for World Humanitarian Day is ‘I was here.’ ‘I was here’ is an awareness campaign trying to promote everyone to do something good, to someone, somewhere. Pop star and icon Beyonce performed a song “I was here” at the UN headquarters in New York last Saturday, the 11th, to honour World Humanitarian Day. A music video has been made of the event and the performance will be aired today. The goal of this year’s World Humanitarian Day is to get 1 billion people visit the online site, watch the music video, and learn more about World Humanitarian Day campaign.

Laylat al-Qadr is also known as the Night of Power or the Night of Destiny.

Night of a Thousand Months

It is a very important night in the Muslim calendar as it is said to be the night Allah revealed the first verses of the Quran to prophet Muhammad. Muhammad received the first revelations through the Archangel Gabriel. The revelations continued for two decades throughout Muhammad’s life and together they came to form the Quran. Fittingly, the word Quran, in English, means ‘recitation.’

There is some controversy over the exact date for Laylat al-Qadr but the night is usually celebrated on the 27th of Ramadan. The last ten days of Ramadan are most important and it is likely that the true night for Lailat al-Qadr falls on any of the odd nights. During the last ten days charity work is likely to increase among Muslims. People want to make sure they have given enough during the holy month.

This night marks the beginning of Muhammad’s mission, and Muslims, therefore, regard it as the most important night in history. The Quran says that this night is better than a thousand months (that’s 83.3 years in modern terms)…

Today is International Youth Day!

Youth Day

Young people are the generation of change.

The age group which the United Nations defines as youth, 15-25 –year-olds, makes up for one sixth of the world’s population, the largest youth generation the world has ever known. Young people worldwide face high rates of unemployment, vulnerable working conditions, and marginalization from decision-making processes. 85% of the world’s youth live in developing countries. The main purpose of International Youth Day is the promote the rights and abilities of young people around the world.

1985 was the first International Year of Youth. Ten years later, in 1995, the United Nations adopted an official set of policy guidelines, World Programme of Action for Youth, for nations and NGOs to improve the living, working, and social conditions of youth.

To honour the spirit of the Olympics 2012,  204 poems from around the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, have been collected from each of the 204 participating countries by the Scottish Poetry Library.


Here is the second set of ten from Asia. Enjoy!

  1. Iraq: My Apologies
  2. Israel: Returning to Tel Aviv
  3. Jordan: Dog’s Tail
  4. Japan: Two Tokyos
  5. Kazakhstan: Summer
  6. Kuwait: from My Dreams Often Humble Themselves
  7. Kyrgyzstan: from Nomad in the sunset
  8. Lebanon: ‘Our cries, she used to say…’
  9. Malaysia: Modern Secrets
  10. Maldives: Realities of Island Life

Follow the link to read the first set of ten Asian poems

The poems selected are often not by the most notable poet a country has produced. Some of them are funny or light-hearted. Often they are snapshots of lives rather than grand narratives. And some of the choices may be controversial. However, they all give a glimpse of lives in countries spanning the globe. Together these poems depict a world united not only by sport, but by emotions that are universal and need no translator other than the heart.

Janmashtami is an important day in the Hindu calendar because it marks the birth of Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu gods.


Dahi Handi

Most Hindus believe that Krishna is the avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu, one of the five primary forms of God. Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the universe. Vishnu usually appears in a human body, with blue-coloured skin and four arms. Krishna, on the other hand, has a variety of forms. Most popular forms are Krishna as a blue god-child, as a divine hero, or as a model lover.

Krishna is always the centre of Janmashatami, but the day is celebrated differently across India. Around Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, it’s common to celebrate with a sport called Dahi Handi. In Dahi Handi, a handi, a clay pot filled with buttermilk, is first hung to a high location. A group of men then forms a human pyramid beneath the handi, and the topmost person in the pyramid tries to break the claypot. As buttermilk from the broken handi drips down the human pyramid it symbolizes unity.