My cousin Miriam Hyman died in the London bombings of 7/7/2005, just ten years ago. The bus on which she was travelling was blown up by one of four suicide bombers who attacked London’s transport network that day. The good thing for me about those terrible events in which 52 people died was that I got to know Miriam’s equally inspiring sister, Esther and the wonderful memorial she and her parents created in Miriam’s memory. It is doing good for many people with vision issues in India, as well as educating a generation of English students. “In what they hope will become a lasting legacy for the 31-year-old, her family has launched an educational programme for pupils aged 11-14, designed to counteract radicalisation and promote respect between different communities” (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/30/77-london-bombings-victims-family-extremism-schools).
The resource material examines the events of 7/7 and their consequences for police, doctors and witnesses as well as victims and their families. Students will also undertake geography, art and dance modules linked to the north-east Indian state of Odisha, where the Miriam Hyman Children’s Eyecare Clinic is based, with the aim of fostering respect and understanding between communities. Miriam and Esther’s mother, Mavis, is originally from Kolkata in India and they chose to sponsor an eye clinic because Miriam herself had an early undetected eye problem. Her joy in seeing in full colour when this was diagnosed and treated led to her art and craft interests – some of this can be seen at http://www.miriam-hyman.com/merchandise.html where this mug featuring one of Miriam’s chalk pastel designs can be ordered.
There are around 10,000 outpatients appointments (25% without charge), 1,000 surgeries (50% without charge) and fifty free pairs of spectacles distributed at the Miriam Hyman Children’s Eye Care Centre. Its outreach programme is responsible for 1,000 free school and slum children’s general screening and retina scanning of 400 premature babies.
Students doing the course will be encouraged to do something like run a fundraising event, to help them understand ‘that they, as individuals, can impact on the real world and make a difference to the lives of others. A lot of young people who are taken down the path of extremism are missing a sense of purpose and belonging, and we hope to provide a sense of high self-esteem that comes from helping others’. The modules include how we should protect human rights in an age of extremism and ideas about democratic change – how to make change in ways that are non-violent, democratic and respect the rights of others (see http://miriamsvision.org).
The project is web-based, with the intention that it can be used in any English-speaking setting globally. How about some use of it in New Zealand? It feels so right that it is getting publicity ten years on.