Author Archive

Off the Grid: A Dispatch from Burundi

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 10:17 am

By Jennifer Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

I started my work in Burundi around a year ago. Before I visited the country, I remember my colleague describing Burundi to me. “It’s off the grid,” she said.

Jennifer Weiss forgoes the van and continues her journey cross the rickety bridge on foot.

The comment struck me as odd. I assured her that I had lived in Africa before and was more than prepared for the work that lay ahead.  I couldn’t possibly understand what she meant by “off the grid.”

I quickly learned. Burundi, despite its geographic proximity to Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, countries with growing economies and booming tourism industries, is heartbreakingly poor. In fact, Burundi is one of the world’s five poorest countries. I knew this statistic before departure. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura that I completely understood my colleague’s description. While in other capitals there are new businesses and construction, in Bujumbura there are none to be seen. When I asked a friend of mine who had been in Burundi in the ‘80s to explain how the capital had changed since then, she frankly responded: “It hasn’t.”

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Paving the Way for Behavior Change in Tahoua, Niger

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

By Jenn Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern US

Concern’s Community Animators review counseling cards that we will use to teach mothers healthy behaviors. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

This summer, I traveled from the Concern US office in New York City to Tahoua, Niger, leaving the heat of the city behind and arriving to much hotter weather (130 degrees!) on the dusty and barren edge of the Sahel.  In the Tahoua region, which is about 400 kilometers north of Niamey, Niger’s capital, Concern is in the second year of its child survival programs.

Over the last decade, these programs, funded by USAID have been recognized for their impact, improving maternal and child health in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Burundi and Haiti through low-cost, community-based solutions.

Concern Niger’s Lahiya Yara (‘Life of a Child’) program aims to reach approximately 300,000 mothers and children under five years old with proven life-saving interventions to address diarrheal disease, malaria, pneumonia, and malnutrition by strengthening the health system, and by investing in intensive community-level activities to promote sustained behavior change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Battling Africa’s Number One Killer

Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 pm
Mukarurangwa Cecile, a community health worker in Marebe, Rwanda visits the home of Valentine, 3, to examine the cause of his fever. Photo: Esther Havens, Rwanda.

By Jennifer Weiss – Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

According to estimates from the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one million children do not reach their fifth birthday because they die from malaria each year.  Ninety percent of these deaths occur in Africa, where malaria remains the number one killer of young children.  An additional 30 million pregnant women and their newborns are also at risk of malaria infection, which may lead to stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, low weight, and neonatal death.

Pregnant women and children die from malaria because they lack access to low-cost, effective solutions to both prevent and treat the disease.  Concern is working to change this through our USAID-funded Child Survival programs in Rwanda, Burundi, and Niger, which provide life-saving malaria prevention and control to a total of 1.2 million women and children. Read the rest of this entry »

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