Archive for May, 2010

A Life-Changing Business: Rabbits Provide Lifeline

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010 at 8:00 am

Stefano and his wife pictured with one of their rabbits. Photo: Joseph Scott, Malawi, Concern Worldwide

As the rains pound mercilessly in the small village of Chikanga – Stefano and his neighbours hope that, this season, their crops will make it.

The rainfall pattern of the last two farming seasons has been unpredictable, with rains disappearing mid-season and leaving any crops to the mercy of the sun.

After two hours of thunderous downpours, Stefano, a father of five from Lilongwe, goes out to survey his rabbit kraal and chicken pen, dodging the children playing and shouting all around him.

Unlike the past years, Stefano has a sense of calm and security. Whether there are going to be floods, drought ,or normal rainfall, he is better positioned than ever before to withstand potential disaster.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Creating Safe Spaces for Children in Haiti

Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010 at 10:03 am

A soccer stadium just four months ago, this tent settlement at Place de la Paix in Port-au-Prince is now home to 8,000 people.

By Mark Jafar – Vice President of Corporate Communications at MTV Networks – for Concern Worldwide

Walk around the edges of the sunken tent settlement at Place de la Paix in Port-au-Prince, and it’s nearly impossible to tell that this was a soccer stadium just four months ago.

The grass is gone entirely, replaced by bare earth and debris.  There are no goal nets or benches, just shelters made of tarp, cardboard, and rusted scraps of sheet metal.

And where kids and adults once gathered to watch soccer matches or to kick a ball across the field, an estimated 8,000 displaced people are now living in shocking, unsanitary, overcrowded conditions, often with nothing but a few pieces of plastic sheeting to shelter them from the rains, which are heavy this time of year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Text Messages Save Lives in Niger?

Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 6:00 am

Agaycha Awikguini, a 50-year-old widow receives her first emergency cash transfer from Concern. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

Niger is on the brink of what will be a major catastrophe if the world does not act now. As part of Concern’s Emergency Response Team, I am no stranger to crises: that is why I was sent to Niger on January 10, just two days before the Haiti earthquake.

Millet is the crop that keeps most people alive here. The majority of the country’s population of 15.2 million live by farming or herding livestock—without rain, they do not earn enough income to get by or grow enough food to eat.

The rains last year were erratic, when they came at all. That caused widespread, massive crop failures and 60 percent of the country’s population is now facing hunger. Unless immediate action is taken, close to 378,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition.

A week after I arrived here, I got a call from Haiti from the Head of Concern’s Emergency Unit ,  saying they were in desperate need of extra hands. But he and I agreed that I needed to stay in Niger. I told him, “The crisis here is going to be big, too. And in just a few months, it’s likely that this team will also be in serious need of emergency reinforcements to respond.”

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