From Memorial Day to Veterans Day, Dog Bless You, a non-profit community created by explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, will celebrate dogs and soldiers in America through a new campaign called Dog Bless USA. Funds raised by a challenge grant on the Dog Bless You Facebook page will be used to give service dogs to war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). explore.org will donate one service dog to a veteran suffering from PTSD for every 5,000 "Likes" on the community page, up to 100 dogs or $500,000. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects as many as 20 percent of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This crippling anxiety disorder causes anger, depression, major stress, fear, agitation, and numbness. Hidden from sight, PTSD isn't as obvious as physical injuries but can be just as serious. And sometimes the best therapy is the companionship of a service dog.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and an assortment of dog and veteran related organizations have come together to raise awareness of PTSD and the healing role that dogs can play in people's lives. This unique campaign offers people a chance to participate in spreading the word and raising money simply by clicking "Like" on the Dog Bless You Facebook page. The community page is comprised of over 260,000 people already, and features photos, videos, and discussions aimed and educating and inspiring. Join today.
The gruesome images that made their way out of Rwanda during the summer months of 1994 are indelibly etched into all of our minds. Over a million people were killed while the world looked on and ultimately did nothing. In a media atmosphere where the world's attention shifts rapidly away from tragedy almost as soon as it ends, Rwanda in 1994 has stuck with us.
But what has happened in this small, landlocked country since then? Exactly seventeen years have now passed since the genocide occurred, and Rwanda has managed to maintain a semblance of stability, avoiding the crises that its neighbors have endured. What is the reason for this? How has this country reconciled its past, and how do victims and perpetrators alike live together in the present?
Charles Annenberg Weingarten and the explore.org Team traveled to Rwanda to answer that very question. The film that resulted from the trip, Raindrops Over Rwanda, focuses on the Kigali Memorial Centre and a young man who survived the genocide and now serves as the Centre's head guide. Link TV is bringing you the world broadcast premiere of Raindrops Over Rwanda on Monday, 5pm PT/8pm ET and Wednesday at 8pm PT/11pm ET.
Kigali Memorial Centre is more than just a museum. It is a focal point for honoring the anonymous dead, a communal cemetery for a country where there were too many bodies for most to be identified. It is a space for the community to come together for reconciliation and healing. It is a way to remember the past in the hopes that it will never be repeated.
For most foreigners experiencing the memorial for the first time, Honoré Gatera is the guide, teacher, storyteller, and historian all in one. Honoré is our guide in this film as well, providing a first person perspective on genocide that few people in the world are able to give.
After explore.org's trip to Rwanda, Honoré came to the United States for the very first time and sat down with Charlie at Link TV headquarters for a memorable interview. Stay tuned after the film as we bring you this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made, as well as Honoré's experiences and unique worldview. Survivors like Honoré, and the Rwandan people in general, have the ability to teach the world not only about how to avoid genocide, but also how to heal and forgive in order to live together in the future.
The immediate threat of violence permeates throughout the documentary No Child is Born A Terrorist, as explore.org filmmaker Charlie Annenberg confronts an ever-present feeling of potential danger. Yet one calming influence exists in the form of a man who seems to stand above it all, everyone's friend and guide into an unknown world. That man, the great Juliano Mer-Khamis, was killed on Monday, April 4th, shot to death outside the very theater he hoped would provide alternative outlets besides aggression.
Juliano Mer-Khamis, right, with Charlie Annenberg and Zakariya Zubeidi
Mer-Khamis was a living bridge between Palestine and Israel. Half Palestinian, half Israeli, he was an actor who devoted his life to increasing cross-cultural understanding and artistic expression in one of the most oppressive areas of West Bank, a refugee camp in the city of Jenin. It was there where he opened The Freedom Theater in 2006 along with Zakariya Zubeidi, former military head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Mer-Khamis was the son of Arna Mer, a prominent Jewish Israeli political activist, and Saliba Khamis, a Palestinian Christian. Arna Mer opened the original theater in 1987 as The Stone Theater, and Juliano was devoted to carrying on his mother's legacy. Mer-Khamis documented his mother's work in the 2004 film "Arna's Children," which won first prize a the Canadian International Documentary Festival. His best-known roles were in the 1985 film "Rage and Glory" and 2000's "Kippur."
Charlie Annenberg and the explore Team traced the steps that Mer-Khamis walked everyday, getting a firsthand view of this unique man's influence and dedication. The camp is home to more than 16,000 Palestinian refugees, half of whom are under 18. Mer-Khamis' work gained extra significance in this atmosphere, instilling an understanding of tradition and culture in Palestinian youth. In the film, Charlie conveys that, "The theater gave the kids in the camp a stage to express their joy, their frustration, anger and hope."
Palestinian security forces have made an arrest in the killing, although the suspect has yet to confess. With Mer-Khamis' death, No Child is Born a Terrorist becomes a living tribute to a person that described himself as "100 percent Palestinian, 100 percent Jewish" and sought to create a foundation for peace beginning with the youth. In the film, Mer-Khamis states his belief in Palestinian youth, saying, "As human beings, if you give them meaning, if you give them something to live for, they are not going to become terrorists, they will not be violent." His work will live on through The Freedom Theater.
Watch the explore film, No Child is Born a Terrorist, online now: