Some challenges resonate close to home and globally

Published 5:26 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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It feels like one of those weeks when I just want to hear what else is happening around the world.

Because there’s a lot going on in our local community, in North Carolina, and in the United States, sometimes our global neighbors get overlooked.

So here are a couple of recent news stories from around the world, courtesy of the Associated Press:

Farmers in the Catalonia region of Spain have been struggling with widespread drought recently, and many are worried their crops won’t make it through the rest of the growing season if they don’t receive rain soon. I know local farmers can probably relate to those worries. No matter how well you take care of your crops, you’re still ultimately at the mercy of the weather.

To combat the drought, the residents of the local village L’Espunyola held a special mass to send up some extra prayers for rain. The Catholic villagers put together a whole procession too, including carrying around a painted statue of “Our Lady of the Torrents.” The last time they did that was in 2008, and rains did arrive shortly afterwards.

Hopefully, their prayers will be answered. Nearby reservoirs are down below a third of their capacity, and Spain is already on its third year of low rainfall and high temperatures. Now, the farmers just have to wait.

Just this week in Afghanistan, an activist who supports girls’ education was arrested by the Taliban-led government. Since the group took over the country, they have restricted access to education for both girls and women. Now, girls are barred from going to school past sixth grade, and more recently, women have been banned from attending universities.

Matiullah Wesa is the founder of a local group that travels across the country with a mobile school and library to support the right for education, and has been quite vocal about his position that girls have a right to attend schools as well. After his arrest, Taliban government officials defended the decision but did not offer many details on why Wesa was detained.

Everyone deserves a good decent education, no matter who they are. I hope others will continue Wesa’s fight for the women of Afghanistan, even though it’s at the cost of their own safety.

Even with its many flaws, we should consider ourselves lucky here in the United States that education is offered to everyone for free.

In more lighthearted news, a newly-discovered species of worm that lives on the ocean floor has been named in honor of a marine scientist from Trinidad and Tobago, an island country in the Caribbean.

The “Judiworm” (or more officially, the Lamellibrachia judigobini) was named after Judith Gobin, who teaches at the University of the West Indies in addition to her marine-life studies. The name was selected because of Gobin’s work to protect marine life over the years.

What’s interesting about the Judiworm is that it can live in both extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures. They’ve been found living near hydrothermal vents in the Gulf of Mexico around Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, down as far as almost 11,000 feet below the ocean surface.

It’s pretty neat to have contributed enough to have an animal named after you! (Although, if it were me, I’d hope it would be something other than a worm.)

We’re not the only country that has strong opinions on Daylight Saving Time. In an extremely last-minute announcement, the government of Lebanon said that they’d delay the start of Daylight Saving Time by a month. That would make the time change begin later in April instead of the usual switch on the last Sunday in March, which is what most of Europe does too.

The short-notice change, of which there was no official reason given, caused a bunch of confusion throughout the country because some organizations said they’d go ahead and switch over to Daylight Saving Time anyway. For a brief time, the small country suddenly found itself in two different time zones, but with no clean line to separate down the middle. You could drive around to different places and the time would be different depending on whether or not you decided to play along with the change.

After a lot of backlash, the government reversed their decision about waiting until April and officially switched the clocks over. Perhaps, next year they all could spend a few extra hours thinking about what to do with Daylight Saving Time.

Lastly, I read an interesting feature article about the popularity of radio in Zimbabwe (and many other African countries). Handheld radios are used quite frequently as a way to access news, weather forecasts, and entertainment because many parts of the country still lack internet connectivity.

It also helps that traditional radio is much easier to access and more inexpensive than internet. New radio sets these days are often solar powered and include cellphone charger ports and a flashlight. Broadcasts in Zimbabwe are offered in multiple local languages, and they’re still considered to be more trustworthy than the rampant misinformation often found on social media websites.

Things are slowly shifting, however, as internet access increases and cellphones with radio access get cheaper.

I think those of us with poor and lacking internet access here might find this story relatable. While social media is nice, it’s good to have alternative access to news and information too. (Good thing we have local radio as well as this very newspaper to fill those gaps!)

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.