Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
By Niall Murphy, Concern Worldwide
Juna Dely, one of the first participants in Concern's Path to a Better Life program, with her one-year-old son.
Juna Dely lives on the island of La Gonave, Haiti, with her partner Jean Wodline, his mother, and five of her six children. Between 2007 and 2009, Juna participated in Concern Worldwide‘s Chemen Lavi Miyo program, which translates to “Path to a Better Life.” The program sought to do exactly that—give Haiti’s poorest people a path to a better life through income-generating activities as well as access to health, education, and credit services based on their needs.
I met Juna because I am currently researching to see how effective the program was in breaking the cycle of poverty over the long-term. She is one of 500 female-headed households that have participated in Path to a Better Life across four of Haiti’s districts. As to be expected, I am finding that the program had many successes, but it was not without challenges. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
By Mustafa Kamal, Overseas Account Manager, Concern Worldwide
Bangladesh recently celebrated two significant 40th anniversaries. As a Bangladeshi and a member of Concern Worldwide for the past 20 years, the events have a dual-significance. In addition to marking the independence of my country, it also was the anniversary of Concern’s first mission to support vulnerable and under-served Bangladeshi refugees in Calcutta, India following the liberation war. The response in Calcutta was Concern’s second mission as an organization and led to what is now four decades of high-impact quality programming inside Bangladesh.
This month, Concern is recognizing its 40th year in Bangladesh with events in Dhaka and our headquarters in Dublin. While much work remains to be done in Bangladesh, what we have accomplished since that first mission to support Bangladeshi refugees in 1971 is remarkable. In many ways, our work in Bangladesh has shaped Concern’s programming and how we bridge emergency response and development, and I am honored and very proud to have been a part of it, both on-the-ground in Dhaka and now in Dublin, Ireland.
My first interaction with Concern was in 1989. I was a chartered accountant student in Dhaka and had the opportunity to be a part of consultancy project to review Concern’s financial systems. As part of this assignment, I traveled to Saidpur to review the financial systems of Concern’s programs. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 9:56 am
By Nicki Sugrue
Jean Kwizerimana, 15, is a sixth-year student at Rugendo Primary School in Burundi who received a school uniform and supplies from Concern Worldwide.
September is the beginning of the school year in Burundi, but for many children it is just like any other month. Twelve years of civil conflict, which ended in 2005, left the country scarred. Reconstruction has been slow, significantly impacting the quality of education and the standard of schools available. Many families do not have the means to send their children to school and, even when they do attend, there is a high drop-out rate due to large class sizes and a lack of school materials and infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011 at 8:12 am
Girls in Phombe Primary School, Nsanje District in Malawi, where Concern is supporting the community to encourage the education of girls. Photo: Malawi, Concern Worldwide
By Joseph Scott, former Communications Officer with Concern Worldwide in Malawi
For some years, daily life in the community of Mtumba village in Nsanje district was dictated by the darker side of local culture. Years of upholding traditional practices, such as girls leaving school to get married, produced a vicious cycle of illiteracy that has severely hampered the development of Mtumba as a community. Literacy levels in Mtumba are very low. In a community of about 1,500 people, only three girls have completed their primary school education.
And, unfortunately, these are now married: “It’s disappointing to note that all girls in our village are rushing or are being forced into marriage,” says Lilian Kastomu, one of the girls who completed primary school but is now a mother of two, adding, “that’s why I decided to join the Mother Group to encourage girls in my village not to make the mistake I made.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 9:36 am
Louise Yarsiah leads the women of WANEP in song in Liberia. Photo: Jenny Hobbs, Concern Worldwide
By Jenny Hobbs, Education Co-ordinator, Liberia
Few people are aware that a group of women – calling themselves the Peace Women, dressed in colourful lappas (Liberian cloth), bright white t-shirts and white headscarves, were instrumental in bringing peace to Liberia. Their story, which begins with the simple act of sitting along the streets for months under the hot sun or torrential rains of Liberia, led to the exile of alleged warlord Charles Taylor in 2003, now awaiting his verdict in The Hague.
In 1998, women from all tribes and religions in Liberia united in their common goal for an end to violence, and played an essential role in the decommissioning of young rebels to install peace and democracy in a war-torn country. The movement took place under the auspices of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). Today the work of these Peace Women continues. Here in Liberia, 75 women gather on a dusty football pitch to hold a 40-day fast and prayer meeting in solidarity for the women and children in neighbouring Côte D’Ivoire, where over 77,700 refugees have fled to Liberia. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 4:32 pm
Children in Grand Bassa with school curriculum materials provided with support from Concern. Photo: Ester Havens, Liberia
By Jenny Hobbs, Education Coordinator, Liberia
When a girl starts school in Liberia, she arrives full of enthusiasm and hope. Squeezing onto a bench with children her age—under a corrugated roof, in a make-shift building—she looks to her teacher ready to learn. But, without books to read from, a desk to lean on or a pencil to hold, progress is slow. Her teacher is an untrained, unqualified, unpaid volunteer. He struggles to control the overcrowded class and yearns for a curriculum to follow, textbooks to use or a decent blackboard to write on.
Concern Liberia is working to address these issues in 30 remote schools in Grand Bassa County. Constructing classrooms, separate toilets for boys and girls and providing furniture is just the start. Textbooks and other essential learning items like blackboards, pencils and copybooks are also being distributed. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, Concern US
Abebech Tito, a mother of children attending the Concern-supported Alternative Basic Education center in Wolayita, Ethiopia. Photo: Ethiopia, Concern Worldwide
There’s a saying in southwestern Ethiopia and not surprisingly—in an area ravaged by drought for three months of the year—it relates to water. Loosely translated it goes: it’s impossible to win back the water after your bucket has fallen over.
Abebech Tito, a mother of five, told me this through the school fence near her children’s classroom as she considered how her life might have been different had she not dropped out of school at Grade 8. She delivered the proverb with a smile and a shrug. “It was my own foolishness,” she added.
Her village of Fango Bijo is located in the Rift Valley in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) region of Ethiopia, where recurrent drought and the prevalence of malaria is notoriously high. “A child died of malaria last year here,” she says, tipping her head towards the Concern-supported Alternative Basic Education (ABE) center that her children now attend. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 2:52 pm
Eager to begin classes, trained facilitators have begun classes under the shade of this tree while the ABE center is being built. Photo: Ethiopia, Concern Worldwide
By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, New York
Schools come in many forms in Ethiopia. The best ones are usually built with brick walls, lined with mud floors, furnished with desks and chairs and served by trained teachers.
In parts of rural Ethiopia however, where villagers are often cut off from roads or where searing heat in the dry season makes traversing long distances by foot impossible, there are several thousands of schools up and running against all the odds.
I visited one last month in the tiny village of Adacha Ellio, in Ethiopia’s Wolayita region. Children here have to walk barefoot for up to 8 kilometers a day through dried river beds, steep ravines and dusty, hot terrain to sit on the ground and listen to their teacher under the shade of a tree. There are no desks, no chairs, no blackboard and no books but there are students, 40 of them at a time, who come here eager to learn.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 8:16 am
Concern-supported teachers’ training session gets underway in Djinguiniss, Niger. Photo: Amayele Dia, Niger, Concern Worldwide
By Amayele Dia, Program Support Officer, Niger
Niger is the least developed country on the planet—according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Its people survive on very little, most on far less than $1 a day, and every year in Niger, the population endures what is called a “hunger gap”—a period of roughly 4 months when the food from the last harvest has run out, but the next harvest is not yet ready. In some years, like this one, failed rains lead to crop failure, and the hunger gap is much longer and much more serious.
Niger is one of the toughest countries imaginable in which to live or to work. My job is to help Concern tackle the root causes of poverty here through such programs as education—to give the poorest people in this very vulnerable nation a foothold to begin the long, hard climb out of extreme poverty.
No contribution in this country is too small to make a difference—and if education is supported by the international community here, it will be a powerful, liberating social and economic force. But it is a step-by-step battle, and the stakes are high. Read the rest of this entry »