Archive for June, 2010

Small steps effect big changes for children in Nepal

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010 at 12:16 am

By Cecial Adhikari, Water and Sanitation Program Manager, Nepal.

Completed School Toilet (with seperated facillity for boys and girls)

Completed School Toilet (with seperated facillity for boys and girls)

“I enjoy staying in the classroom where I can concentrate on studying,” fifth-grader Lalit Khatri told me when I spoke to him at the Pashupati Primary School in Dashera village located in the Jajarkot District of Nepal.
Through its local partner, Nepal Water for Health, Concern recently implemented a program to improve water and sanitation facilities at Lalit’s school in efforts to promote basic health for the students of this rural region. I was back to visit with the children and teachers and see how the project was impacting their lives.
Nepal has the poorest drinking water and sanitation coverage for its population in South Asia and a correspondingly high rate of waterborne diseases. In the area in which Concern works, the most prevalent diseases are: dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera. The cholera outbreak in 2009 claimed over 200 lives in Jajarkot District.
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A visit to Haiti finds chaos and normalcy side by side

Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Mothers enter one of Concern's newly set up baby tents. Photo: Ed Kenney, Concern Worldwide.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – I was scheduled to travel to Haiti early in the year to visit Concern’s USAID funded Child Survival Program, but the January 12 earthquake changed all that. I finally arrived in Port-au-Prince May 24 after my flight the day before had been cancelled. I began to wonder if I would never get there.

My first impression is that Haiti seems, on the surface at least, similar to West Africa. There is such vibrancy here and resilience among the people—but, just under the surface, there must also be a lot of pain and loss. That was evident as I visited the neighborhoods where the Child Survival Program is still functioning to some extent.

I visited the community center near the rubble in St Martin, hidden among many of the buildings still standing, where new mothers meet to discuss their health concerns, as well as encourage and support each other during this challenging time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ordinary Heroes: Surviving Critical Strikes in Kenya

Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Anne Warimu in the heart of Korogocho Slums, Nairobi. Photo: Bessie Nikhozi, Kenya , Concern Worldwide

How would you define the word “resilience”? In my role as Advocacy Officer for Concern Kenya, in which I am exposed daily to the life and death struggles of people living in absolute poverty, I realize that for me and the people for whom I am trying to give a voice, this word has a significance that it might not have for others.

An engineer would probably define resilience as “the quality of buoyancy or elasticity.” A psychologist might describe it as “the capacity to cope with stress and catastrophe.” I began considering the different ways people understand this word after seeing it defined on a video game website as “an attribute that reduces a character’s chances of receiving a ‘critical strike’ or ‘spells of critical strikes’.”

In the game, the “characters” must face life-and-death duels with dragons and trolls trying to reach a treasure trove, and the threat of “critical strikes” lies around every corner. To survive, the “heroes” in this game must acquire “resilience” by finding and consuming elixirs and other enchantments secretly hidden along their path. These give them power to recover from “critical strikes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo IDs & Mobile Phones: Secret Weapons in Niger

Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 9:53 am

Most of the women Concern is targeting are illiterate and have no numeracy skills. Concern has trained the women in basic mobile phone skills to help them claim their cash payments. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

I arrived in Niger three months ago to help the Concern Worldwide country team scale up and roll out an emergency program to respond to the emerging food crisis.

It’s hard to say when exactly this shifted from an “impending crisis” to a real humanitarian emergency, but we are there now. And we are putting every bit of the planning this team has done since December to the test.

The official Food Security survey of April 2010 states that there are 7.1 million people facing hunger:  3.3 million of those are considered to be facing extremely food shortages and unable to feed their families’ without help.  Concern’s program is in Tahoua, the second worst affected part of the country.

Every day, we are working at maximum capacity on initiatives to prevent rates of malnutrition from reaching emergency thresholds.  We are distributing seed packs and fertilizer to help families plant crops in time for the next harvest; providing nutrition support to children under five, pregnant women and mothers; and launching an innovative use of mobile phone technology (and manual transfers) to distribute emergency cash to the most vulnerable women. Read the rest of this entry »

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