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7-year-old takes global stage with TED talk on how Peek-A-Boo can change the world

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(Last Updated On: July 22, 2021)

A ground-breaking TED Talk by a 7-year-old girl is set to change the way parents and caregivers around the world view early childhood brain development and how adults interact with the globe’s newest citizens.

Molly Wright, a Grade 2 student from Queensland, Australia, today became one of the youngest TED speakers in history after delivering the important message to parents and caregivers the world over.

Overseen by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Michael Gracey (Director of The Greatest Showman and Producer of Rocketman), Molly’s TED Talk demonstrates the simple yet life-changing things we can all do to help children thrive.

Molly’s TED Talk was brought to life by Minderoo Foundation, one of Australasia’s largest philanthropic organisations, and aligns with Minderoo’s Thrive by Five initiative.

In the lead up to today’s global launch, Molly’s TED Talk has been shown to new parents in maternity wards in Australia (through Ramsay Health Care) and Afghanistan (via Bayat Foundation) as part of a pilot – with further plans to roll it out in hospitals around the world.

Leading philanthropist and Minderoo Foundation Co-chair Nicola Forrest AO said it was Thrive by Five’s mission to ensure every child, no matter where they grow up or who their parents are, has an equal chance to reach their full potential.

“We believe every child can, and should, thrive by the age of five,” Mrs Forrest said. “Science tells us that the volume of a child’s brain has reached 90 per cent by the age of five so we want to help set parents up for success and increase awareness of the importance of having positive interactions with children – early and often.

“Molly beautifully delivers this universal truth – that the early years are the most critical period for shaping a child’s life now, and in their future.”

Head of TED Chris Anderson said Molly’s message would resonate around the globe.

“I absolutely love this talk,” Mr Anderson said. “Ideas can come from anywhere. To hear a powerful idea like this spoken so eloquently by a child … Wow! This deserves a huge audience.”

During the pilot a survey of parents, nurses, maternal health experts, GPs and practitioners revealed positive feedback, including Professor Desiree Silva, Head of Paediatrics, Joondalup Health Campus (Perth, Australia); Ms Mariam Bayat, Director, The Bayat Foundation; and Mr Justin Graham, Group CEO, M&C Saatchi AUNZ

“Molly’s TED Talk draws on the five top tips of connect, play, talk, healthy home and community, focusing on the simple and fun things we can do in a child’s first five years that will have a profound impact on their brain development and wellbeing,” Mrs Forrest said.

“Not only is this important information to share amongst parents and carers, but policymakers and world leaders.”

Professor Desiree Silva, Head of Paediatrics, Joondalup Health Campus (Perth, Australia) meanwhile said: “The opportunity for us to share the film with patients in our Joondalup and Glengarry maternity wards and early parenting centre has been a real joy.

“The message to connect and play, early and often with children from birth to age five is vital in their development and overall wellbeing.

“New parents at our hospitals found the video educational, entertaining and inspiring.

“Molly’s TED Talk has the potential to improve the health outcomes for children on a global scale.”

Ms Mariam Bayat, Director, The Bayat Foundation also stated: “Maternal and early childhood health has been a priority for the Bayat Foundation since our inception, and the opportunity to work in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation to launch the Thrive By Five TED talk highlighting the importance of early childhood education in Afghanistan is a unique privilege for us and serves a compelling need in our country.

Sharing Molly’s TED Talk and the important lessons about positive engagement between parents and children in the critical early years of life will inspire Afghan mothers, fathers, and families to further instil critical thinking, emotional intelligence, inclusive communication, and collaborative problem-solving skills with their young children.”

“We believe that this presentation will help give rise to thousands of Afghan ‘Mollys’ in the years ahead — talented, confident, compassionate, positive, and emotionally secure Afghan children who will grow into the nation’s future doctors, educators, lawyers, and leaders, a tremendous resource for Afghanistan and a lasting tribute to the impact that passionate philanthropic organisations – Afghan and Australian – can achieve in the near and medium-term despite the daily challenges in our nation today.”

Mr Justin Graham, Group CEO, M&C Saatchi AUNZ, another partner, said: “The M&C Saatchi Group is incredibly proud to be a part of this initiative with Minderoo, Australia’s largest philanthropic agency, and the talented team at Finch Sydney.

Molly’s TED Talk will be launched via social media, in hospitals around the world, and will be supported by a global launch strategy to connect the content to the right people at the right moments.

“Minderoo is an organisation that is creating change on a global level, and we are delighted that we are able to partner with them to realise their ambitions through creative thinking.”

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Guarded by ex-inmates, Kabul’s Pul-e-Charkhi Prison lies deserted

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s infamous Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, which once housed thousands of Islamic Emirate forces and Daesh fighters in its sprawling compound on the outskirts of Kabul, today stands virtually empty, except for the remnants of prisoners’ belongings and discarded documents.

On August 15, as the Islamic Emirate drove into Kabul following the fall of the previous government, the gates to the prison were flung open – ending in some cases years of incarceration for many detainees.

The once heavily fortified facility is now guarded by former inmates – Islamic Emirate members – and only a small section is used for new inmates, alleged criminals and drug addicts arrested in the past month.

A walk through the deserted cell blocks is a stark reminder of the recent changes in the country.

In some cells, personal items that once belonged to prisoners lie forgotten about, and discarded documents are testimony to the unexpected collapse of the former Ashraf Ghani government.

In parts of the prison, signs of the Islamic Emirate flag remain, as does the black flag of Daesh.

One former prison guard, Safiullah, told Ariana News: “There is no one, you can see, they have generally destroyed many places and left.”

While the majority of political prisoners were Islamic Emirate members, no differentiation was made when the gates opened. As a result hundreds of Daesh fighters also fled, as did some hardened criminals.

During the walk through of the facility, Safiullah also pointed out areas that were used for specific purposes.

“This was a Madrasa where the Islamic Emirate’s Qaris [teachers] were teaching students to memorize the Holy Quran. We set up this Madrasa for them,” Safiullah said.

One former inmate, an Islamic Emirate member Mohammad Salim, in turn pointed out the section used by prison guards to mete out punishment.

“They punished us here; they tied our hands here and punished us and beat us here,” said Salim.

Islamic Emirate authorities have however said that they are working to recapture and return some former inmates – especially hardened criminals – to the facility.

Pul-e-Charkhi has a long, disturbing history of violence, mass executions and torture.

Mass graves and torture cells were uncovered dating from the Soviet-backed governments of the late 1970s and 1980s and under the former government it was known for poor conditions and overcrowding.

The prison’s 11 cell blocks were built to house 5,000 inmates, but were often packed with more than 10,000, including political prisoners and hardened criminals.

Some of the Taliban now guarding the site were former inmates while the former guards have fled.

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UN envoy, Haqqani discuss urgent need for humanitarian aid

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Deborah Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, has met with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister, to discuss much needed humanitarian relief for Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen, an Islamic Emirate spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday: “(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people.”

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated in the last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers, the freezing of foreign reserves and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing “perhaps their most perilous hour”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the “absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for the Afghan people.”

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Baradar says reports he was hurt in internal clashes are false

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s acting deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar appeared in a video interview posted on Wednesday and denied reports that he was hurt in a clash with a rival faction of the Islamic Emirate.

“No this is not true, I am OK and healthy,” Baradar said in an interview with state TV which was posted on Twitter by the Islamic Emirate’s political office in Doha.

“The media says that there is internal disputes. There is nothing between us, it is not true.”

The brief clip showed him seated on a sofa next to an interviewer with an RTA state television microphone in front of him, apparently reading from a sheet of paper.

Earlier, an official from the cultural commission said on Twitter that the interview would be shown on RTA TV to disprove “enemy propaganda.” Islamic Emirate officials have issued repeated denials in recent days that Baradar had been hurt.

The denials follow days of rumors that supporters of Baradar had clashed with members of the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Islamic Emirate based near the border with Pakistan and blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

Baradar, one of the founding members of the Islamic Emirate and once seen as the likely head of government, had not been seen in public for some time. He was not part of the ministerial delegation which met Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.

In the clip, he said he had been on a trip when the visit took place and had not been able to get back in time.

On Wednesday, Anas Haqqani, younger brother of the newly appointed Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, also issued a statement on Twitter denying reports of internal rifts in the movement.

The rumors follow speculation over rivalries between military commanders like Haqqani and leaders from the political office in Doha like Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.

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