Archive for August, 2011

A Way Forward for Children in Kenya’s Urban Slums

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Children in class in the Future Kids School in Mathare slum, Nairobi. Photo: Kenya, Concern Worldwide

By Sylvia Wong, Education Officer, Concern Worldwide US

Last month, I was in Kenya visiting Concern’s education and nutrition programs with high school students and teachers. The drought crisis in the Horn of Africa still hadn’t hit the headlines, but one week after we left the US that changed and news spread around the globe that “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” was upon us. The most severe drought in 60 years along with record highs in food and fuel costs meant that over 12 million people were facing extreme hunger and potential starvation in East Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Harambee’ on World Humanitarian Day 2011

Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 9:29 am

Anne a mother of four and guardian of seven came to Nairobi as a teenager in search of economic opportunity. Photo: Kenya, Concern Worldwide

By Kirk Prichard, Advocacy Officer, in Nairobi for Concern Worldwide US

World Humanitarian Day recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of those who give others help and hope. This year, it is a celebration of people helping people. In Nairobi, where I have been deployed on short notice to support Concern’s emergency response in the Horn of Africa, I see evidence of people helping people every day. And though international staff like myself are called on to contribute to the relief effort, it is almost entirely powered by Kenyans.

Concern’s Kenya team works in partnership with local organizations that are Kenyan-run, Kenyan-staffed, and crucially, implement Kenya-appropriate programs. It is through these partners that so-called humanitarians and aid workers—too often mistaken as solely western—are enabled to reach the poorest of the poor. Concern’s role is to monitor and assess programs, to provide technical expertise when and where it is needed, and to build the capacity of these local partners. We have been in Kenya since 2002, and we will be here for as long as that role is necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Day in the Life of a Humanitarian in DR Congo

Posted on Friday, August 19th, 2011 at 9:46 am

Feargal (left) on his last day with the team before taking up a new challenge with Concern in Kinshasa. Photo: DRC, Concern Worldwide

By Feargal O’Connell, Assistant Country Director of Programs, Democratic Republic of Congo

Today is World Humanitarian Day.  According to the United Nations, today is  ’a celebration of people helping people’ and the day ‘recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of those who risk their lives to give others help and hope.’

Today is when I started biting my fingernails again.

Today at 10.21 am local time Concern’s team was stopped at a checkpoint and refused passage until 11.27 am.  The team had decided that with rising tension in an area prone to conflict, it would be prudent to temporarily relocate to the nearest city.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakistan’s Secret Weapon: Lady Health Visitors

Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide US

3-year-old Zahida with son Sanam at the Concern-run Oral Therapeutic Care center in Rahuja Village, Sindh Province. Photo: Pakistan, Concern Worldwide

13-year-old Zahida tells me she cried through the night when her father came back from an evening of gambling and told her he had found a suitor for her in marriage. “I was used as the payment. He insisted because he had no other money to give,” she explained, clutching her 12-month-old son Sanam at a Concern-run center established to treat malnourished children in Rahuja village, in Sindh, Pakistan’s southern province.

Zahida walked for one hour to get to the center so that Sanam could be treated. Here, staff record weight and arm circumferences to determine the severity of child malnutrition. The rates in Sindh province are 18.8 percent, well above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent. In the worst affected areas in the province, Concern nutritionists tell me that malnutrition rates are as high as 50 percent.

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Refugees Get Back on Their Feet in Southern Chad

Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 9:54 am

Refugee children at Dosseye Camp, Southern Chad where Concern is meeting the needs of refugees from Central African Republic. Photo: Francesca Reinhardt, Chad

By Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Chad

Fatou Yali dreams of the herd of cattle her family once had, and the day she can start building up her own herd in her new home in Chad.  Fatou is one of 76,000 refugees from the Central African Republic now rebuilding their lives in neighbouring Chad.

“Many people left ahead of us, when they heard the rebels were approaching,” she says, “but we wanted to stay.  Even when they took our cattle, we wanted to stay.  But when the shooting came to our door, we had to leave.”

Fatou comes from near the town of Paoua, northern CAR, which has seen heavy fighting between rebel and government forces since 2003.  She is from the Fula tribe, which stretches across west and central Africa, and who make up a large part of the Dosseye refugee camp, near the town of Goré, Southern Chad.

They have been here for four years, and as the situation in CAR remains volatile, many have little hope of returning.  The government and local communities have generously donated land to the refugees, allowing them to take the first steps towards self-sufficiency.  Read the rest of this entry »

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