Celebrating May Day: Images Of Workers Around The World

May Day, Bolivia
Today is May Day, when the world celebrates the struggles and sacrifices of the common worker. Like this cheese seller in Tupiza, Bolivia, photographed by Gadling’s resident cheese expert Laurel Miller. After some hard hours making her product, this woman comes to the market hoping to sell it all before the day is through. She uses a plastic bag on a stick to keep the flies away.

A range of unions and workers’ parties declared May Day a workers’ holiday in 1898. The date commemorated a three-day general strike in the U.S. that started on May 1, 1886, during which workers demanded an eight-hour day. Police fired into a protest by employees at the McCormick-International Harvester Company and killed three. On May 4, workers staged a protest against the killings at Haymarket Square, Chicago. A bomb went off and the police charged into the demonstrators. At least a dozen people died that day, including seven officers. Eight activists were sentenced to hang for the bombing, although there was widespread criticism about the lack of evidence.

American workers eventually got an eight-hour day, but it took several more major demonstrations and lots more people getting hurt. Many countries still don’t offer the benefits we now take for granted. Traveling around the world we come across people in lots of different lines of work. Some jobs are good, some are bad, and some are downright grueling. I’ll never forget a man I saw on a construction site in Damascus, Syria, back in 1994.

A crew was digging a deep trench into the sidewalk near our hotel, and every day my travel companions and I would pass by. Most of the men were down in the trench digging, but one guy had the job of sitting on an upturned bucket at street level manning a pump to take away water from the trench. He pulled on a rope attached to a pulley overhead, which yanked a crude pump at the bottom of the excavation. He’d set up a rhythm and sat there pulling all day. We saw him, every morning, noon, and evening, for days on end. We dubbed him, “The Man With the Most Boring Job in the World.”

I regret I never talked to him. While I’ve had my share of soul-destroying jobs, I bet he could have taught me a thing or two about what it means to work for a living. So Happy May Day, Man With the Most Boring Job in the World, and Happy May Day to all the other workers photographed in this gallery of shots by Gadling bloggers and members of the Gadling Flickr pool!

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Heifer International: Working To End World Hunger, One Llama At A Time

bolivian farmerGot an extra $20 burning a hole in your pocket and want to make a difference in the lives of others? Buy a flock of ducks. Eighty-five dollars will get you a camel share, while a mere $48 purchases a share in a “Knitter’s Gift Basket (a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit).”

Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock, and animal husbandry, agricultural and community development training to over 125 countries, including the U.S. The goal: to help end world hunger and poverty by improving breeding stock, providing valuable dietary supplements such as milk and eggs, and creating viable business enterprises for commodity products such as cheese, wool, honey, or crops cultivated by draft animals like horses and water buffalo.

The livestock species used to support disenfranchised communities are diverse, but traditional to their respective regions. They include goats, sheep, honeybees, beef and dairy cattle, water buffalo, yaks, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, camels, rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry.

When I was a kid growing up on a small ranch in Southern California, we used to donate our male dairy goat kids (which, if sold here, would most likely be relegated to dinner) to Heifer. Although the program no longer ships live animals overseas (it’s easier and safer/more humane to ship frozen semen), the concept remains the same: using top bloodlines to improve the quality and enhance the genetic diversity of herds or flocks in impoverished regions.

Heifer teaches the concept of the “Seven M’s: Milk, Manure, Meat, Material, Money, Motivation and Muscle.” These are the benefits livestock animals provide to people in developing nations. With the training provided by Heifer employees and volunteers, the cycle of poverty can be broken, and families and villages can thrive. During the holidays or for birthdays, I like to make animal gift donations in the name of the recipient, an especially valuable lesson for children (who, let’s face it, really don’t need another electronic piece of crap to foster their ADD and lack of global awareness).

Never doubt the power of a furry friend to change the world. To make a donation, click here.

Check out this Heifer International gallery of animals and their proud owners from around the world:

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Africa’s new middle class benefits travel

Africa, EthiopiaAfrica’s middle class is growing.

The African Development Bank says one in three Africans are now middle class. While the bank’s definition isn’t comparable to the Western definition–the African middle class makes $2-$20 a day–the lifestyle is similar. Middle-class Africans tend to be professionals or small business owners and instead of worrying about basics such as food and shelter, their main concerns are getting better health care and getting their kids into university.

The bank says the countries with the biggest middle class are Botswana, Gabon, and Tunisia, while Liberia, Mozambique, and Rwanda have the smallest. The BBC has an interesting photo gallery profiling members of this rapidly growing class.

So how does this affect travel? With an growing middle class you get more domestic tourism, good news for non-Africans traveling in Africa. More regional airlines are cropping up, and comfortable buses provide an appealing alternative to the bone-shaking rattletraps familiar to travelers in Africa.

It also makes consumer goods easier to find. This generally means cheap Chinese exports of even worse quality than what we’re accustomed to in the West, but in bigger cities quality goods are readily available. There’s also an increasing number of nice restaurants and cafes geared towards locals. Internet access is also improving.

During my Ethiopian road trip and my two months living in Harar I benefited from Ethiopia’s middle class. Mobile phone coverage is available everywhere except remote villages and the wilderness, and although the Internet is slow, there are Internet cafes in every town. Improved education meant there many people who could speak English and who could help me learn some Amharic and Harari. Often I could take a more comfortable “luxury” bus rather than be stuffed in a local bus with an entire village of passengers. Self-styled budget travelers may turn their nose up at spending an extra two dollars to be comfortable, but the middle class buses are quicker and you’re more likely to meet someone you can talk to.

In fact, I made some good friends on the luxury bus to Harar. A group of Ethiopian pharmacy students showed me the town and gave me insights into their lives. University education is free in Ethiopia if you pass a rigorous entrance exam. The government even pays for your room and board, and you pay them back by working a government job for some time after you get out. The students I met will be setting off to villages to provide basic health care.

Nearly all these students, and in fact nearly all middle-class Africans I’ve met, yearn to go to the West. One even called her country “a prison”. While heading to the West may be a good career move, it hurts the continent. As one African pointed out in the BBC photo gallery, the money it takes to get to Europe can start up a nice business in Africa.

Gadling buys a cow!

We did it. We bought a cow.

Well, sort of. Technically we loaned Mirov Zarobiddin the money so that he could buy the cow himself. We did this through an organization called Kiva, a nonprofit that organizes micro loans in developing countries to aspiring entrepreneurs.

We posted about this last week (for more information, click here) and asked our readers for some advice on who we should give a loan to. The idea was that this was an opportunity for travelers to give back to the world at large–a “thank you” if you will, for all the kindness and goodwill encountered in third world nations while traveling abroad.
The only problem is that Kiva has recently received some great press for the fantastic service they provide and all of the candidates we spotlighted last week received their loans within a day or two.

So, we improvised.

I went back to the site and decided to focus upon Tajikistan, a wonderful, but challenging country I visited a few years ago that was peopled with a tough, hard working populace who were handed the short end of the straw when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Amongst the local candidates seeking loans, was Mirov, a 45-year old father of three who is looking to purchase two heads of cattle. Mirov plans to fatten the cattle over the course of 40-45 days and then sell them for a profit. But that’s not all. Mirov has worked out the math and will repeat the process for the next 12 months–the duration of the loan. At the end of the year, he hopes to have made a profit of 3 heads of cattle and to have fully paid off his loan.

One of the great benefits of Kiva is that they provide semi-regular updates about those who have received loans. In this manner, lenders can see the immediate impact of their loans and how they are making life just a little bit better on the other side of our planet.

And so, as we receive these updates regarding Mirov, we will share them with you. In return, if you plan on traveling to Tajikistan in the near future, perhaps you can stop by and visit our cows.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Help Gadling buy this woman a cow

If you’ve ever traveled to a third world country and fell in love with its people, you know that feeling of guilt that inevitably arises when you realize just how difficult life can be for those less privileged than you.

Most travelers caught up in this epiphany often wonder what they can do to help, how can they give something back to the wonderful locals who made their trip so memorable? Unfortunately, so many of us return from our travels with good intentions, but poor follow-through.

If this happens to be you, than today is your lucky day; Gadling is here to help and it’s not going to cost you a thing.

Just in time for the Holidays, Gadling is teaming up with Kiva, a unique non-profit that provides micro loans to “help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence.”

The concept is simple. Local entrepreneurs contact Kiva’s field partners around the globe requesting small loans to help out their businesses–which are often not much more than a single cow or perhaps a roadside stand selling melons. The field partners determine risk, and if acceptable, will then post a description of the loan on the Kiva website. In addition, the field partners will also post information about the borrower, thus adding a human face to the transaction.

Anyone interested in providing a micro loan can then sign on to the Kiva website and lend money ($25 minimum) to the entrepreneur(s) of their choice.

So this is where you come in. Gadling is looking for your guidance to help direct our loan to a deserving individual whose business we will then spotlight over the next 8-12 months while the loan is being repaid.

We’ve included six choices below (with descriptions provided by Kiva) but feel free to visit the website and expand the selection. Loans surprisingly move quickly on this popular site–Fatima Huseynova featured in the photo above just received money for her cow last week–so let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below as quickly as possible and we’ll announce our choice next week.

Tajikistan
Alisher Musoev has been in the bakery business for 7 years. So that he could provide for his family, he started working as a trainee in one of the local bakeries at the age of 16. For one work shift that usually lasted 17 hours he was only paid 6 to 7 loafs of bread, which was not enough for his family. He started looking for a space so he could open his own business. Once he found one, he started his own bakery. In the beginning, he was only baking for special orders for weddings because he was short of cash. After a period of time, when he accumulated more funds, he started producing bread for the sales on the market. Currently, his father and two hired employees, who are paid 450 somoni, are helping him in the business. Alisher is asking for additional funding so that he could increase his production.

Cambodia
Mrs. Sout Sro Em, age 25, is a traditional musician, earning around $5 each day. Her husband works driving a trailer attached to a motor-bike to transport passengers, making about $4 per day. They have one child who is too young to attend school. She would like to request a loan of $1000 in order seek an additional income source by purchasing pigs to breed and sell. She also plans to fix her husband’s broken trailer so he can better operate his business.

Lebanon
Fatima is a 47 year old mother of four children. Fatima is a very serious and committed microentrepreneur. She lives in South Lebanon, in the region of Saida. Fatima works with her husband cooking falafel, chickpeas and beans. She needs a loan of $1200 to buy a new chickpea processor and provisions for the business. This is the sixth time Fatima is asking for a loan from Al Majmoua.

Peru
Farming and the production of fruits are the main activity of most of the settlers of the Peruvian forest. Don Rolando is one of these men, who learned from his parents the skills and secrets of this beautiful activity. This education has now allowed him to be a man with multiple skills for agriculture and most of all it has allowed him to support his dear family in these days of multiple economic problems. He has a partner and his desire is to get married and build a small house and condition it to open a small grocery store to help with the expenses of the house. He is asking for a loan that will allow Rolando to have a bigger income this year and achieve all these goals.

Pakistan
I am Amna Bibi. I am a mother of six: four boys and two girls. Currently, only the elder two attend school while the others are too small. My husband works for skimpy pay and I own a few cows and sell their milk. Last year, I took a loan for my business, which resulted in increased profits, and I was able to save $250. Now I wish to further expand my business and require a loan of $350 for this purpose.

Azerbaijan
Djeyhun (his sister is pictured) has his own business. He was born in 1984 and lives in the Salyan region in the village of Yenikand. This man is single. He has been in this business for 8 years. Now he needs a loan of $1,200 to buy foodstuffs for improving his business.