Posts Tagged africa

Somber and Hopeful: Commemorating 20 Years since the Genocide

Posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

 

Walk to Remember is an event organized by the youth as a way for Rwandans to recall lives lost during the 1994 genocide as well as to make a commitment: “Step-by-step, never again in Rwanda.”

Walk to Remember is an event organized by the youth as a way for Rwandans to recall lives lost during the 1994 genocide as well as to make a commitment: “Step-by-step, never again in Rwanda.”

By Karen Power, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide

On April 7, 2014 at noon, following a minute of silence, the official commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide began in Amahoro Stadium with a survivor telling his story to 30,000 listeners, including dignitaries from around the world.

Screams and wails rang out in Rwanda’s largest stadium during the ceremony which included a powerful performance featuring khaki-clad soldiers saving slain Rwandans, as well as remarks from President Kagame and Ban Ki-Moon.

The genocide began after an airplane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana of the majority Hutus was shot down on April 6, 1994. The killing of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus by soldiers and Hutu extremists followed over the next 100 days, during which some 800,000 people were killed. The country was devastated.

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I’m Grateful to Fundraise for Concern Worldwide

Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 2014 at 10:53 am

by Jordan Rickard, Senior Major Gifts Officer, Concern Worldwide U.S.

Concern Worldwide works in partnership with people in their own communities to develop lasting solutions to extreme poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries. Or in other words, Concern is working towards a world where a person’s hopes can be fulfilled.

Concern Worldwide works in partnership with people in their own communities to develop lasting solutions to extreme poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Years ago I lived in southeastern Africa for six months. I spent time in countries such as Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. Like many Americans who travel abroad, I confronted firsthand both the devastating impacts of poverty and the resiliency of the people working their way out of it. I learned quickly there are no easy answers to these problems and yet the need for solutions is urgent as poverty is a life and death struggle for so many people in our world.

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In a Nairobi slum, conversation as a catalyst for tackling poverty

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

By Aoife Ruth, Program Support Officer and Assistant to the Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide

Community Conversations Groups in Mukuru Slum

Participants from various Community Conversations groups in Mukuru Slum, Nairobi during a training session.

In these times of financial turmoil, it is natural to question government spending and examine how our limited resources can be best put to use. Overseas aid budgets have come under intense scrutiny from citizens of countries the world over, with some people preferring that we cease all aid in favor of spending on domestic projects during this cash-strapped and difficult period–the ‘charity begins at home’ outlook.

Many others recognize the importance of aid to the world’s poorest, whether for reasons of social justice, compassion, or diplomacy. Amidst all the voices and opinions, I have noted the growing unease and at times, cynicism, people have about aid and its efficacy. “We give and give, but nothing ever changes” is a phrase I have often heard.

Implicit in this unease is the notion that the world’s poor are simply recipients, simply needy, waiting to be led out of poverty. What we do not see represented as often is the tireless commitment and dogged determination of communities and of average community members to improve their lives, to increase their opportunities, their access to jobs, health care, and education.
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Back to the basics: Fighting hunger with conservation agriculture in western Zambia

Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 at 10:40 am

By Carl Wahl, Concern Worldwide Conservation Agriculture Coordinator, Zambia

Matumbo Yembe, 44, like so many Zambians, lives off the radar.

Handicapped from polio as a child, Matumbo Yembe lived alone without any support from aid programs until she was introduced to conservation agriculture. Today, she is growing her own food and slowly inching her way out of poverty.

Handicapped from polio as a child, Matumbo Yembe lived alone without any support from aid programs until she was introduced to conservation agriculture. Today, she is growing her own food and slowly inching her way out of poverty.

Her right leg withered and weak, Matumbo was tragically crippled as a child from polio and moves around with the help of a stick. She has scratched out a living doing whatever piecemeal work she could to get by. Because she lives alone and has little or no social connections, Matumbo, never benefited from any aid programs—that is until she was introduced to conservation agriculture.

Over the past few years, I have witnessed a transformation. With support from Concern Worldwide, Matumbo is now growing her own food and slowly inching her way out of poverty. What impresses me about her is that so many people in her position—alone, disabled, and poor—would lose all hope and fade away. But Matumbo, as my old football coach used to say, has “no quit in her.” Every time I visit her, there is not a single weed to be seen and the crops are perfect. She is nothing short of remarkable, and I continue to be amazed by how the techniques that we call “conservation agriculture” can be such a catalyst for people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

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How a Flowery Plant is Fighting Malaria in Tanzania

Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 11:12 am

By Crystal Wells, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide U.S.

Hapines is Lovenes’ first daughter and at just three months old, she is already fighting malaria.

Lovenes Joas, 22, sits on the edge of a metal-frame hospital bed, cradling her three-month-old daughter, Hapines Joas, in her arms. As she he tries to comfort her squirming daughter, Lovenes crushes up a soft yellow pill and mixes it with water. She tilts her daughter’s head back to force the syrupy liquid down her throat. Hapines wails, tears streaming down her cheeks, and slowly settles back down to a whimper against her mother’s chest.

Hapines is Lovenes’ first daughter and at just three months old, she is already fighting malaria. Lovenes and Hapines share a bed with another mother and child, Stella Peter, 30, and Nizelesos Peter, 10 months, who is also being treated for malaria. “Malaria is a big problem in my family,” says Stella, raising her voice so that we can hear her above the cries of a dozen or so children. “I am a farmer. Right now I could be farming, but I am here losing time because of malaria. It hurts the health of my kids…Even now [while I am here], my three-year-old at home has malaria, but no one is available to take him to the hospital.”

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With Kenya’s Elections Less than a Week Away, Concern Prepares for Potential Crisis

Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 8:43 am

By Ivy Ndiewo, Communication and Documentation Officer

Voters queue to cast their ballots in Kajiado, Kenya during the 2007 general elections. Photo by Manaya Kinoti.

With less than 10 days before the first election under Kenya’s new constitution, fear and speculation are at an all-time high that what happened in 2008 could be repeated, even escalated. The results of the last general election in late 2007 were immediately disputed, and soon the nation exploded into weeks of political and ethnic violence, leaving with over 500,000 people displaced and more than 1,500 killed. I remember those grim days like they were yesterday.

The violence that erupted in 2008 caught the whole world off-guard, including the humanitarian community that then had to launch into an emergency response from scratch. Today, humanitarian organizations, including Concern Worldwide, are working with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Kenya’s National Disaster Operations Center to set up contingency plans if civil unrest sweeps across the country as it did in 2008.

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Why Didn’t All the Aid Reach the Poorest? Here’s Why…

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

By Julia Lewis, Area Manager, Democratic Republic of Congo, Concern Worldwide

Concern staff prepare kits for distribution

When academics or the media criticize aid organizations for inefficiencies or promises unfulfilled, I can’t help but think about the vast and endlessly tangled complexities of this work.  Crisis follows crisis, harsh realities are compounded by harsh realities, and every day there are situations where we are forced to take decisions when no option offers the perfect solution.

That’s often the case here in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the epicenter of what was called ‘Africa’s World War’ (1998-2003), the deadliest conflict since World War II, and especially in the eastern reaches of the country where violence and terror have continued since the supposed end of that war.  Conflict and preventable disease continue to take the lives of tens of thousands each month—five years ago a fellow international organization here put the toll at over five million.  The situation has little changed since then.

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A Field Diary from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

By Julia Lewis, North Kivu Area Manager, Concern Worldwide

People gather to listen to the first address by the M23 rebels spokesperson Vianney Kazarama at a stadium in Goma. Photo: REUTERS/James Akena

Information in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often like a game of telephone. It’s hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint where a rumor begins, let alone how much it changed from the original source and if it had any credibility to begin with.

As the Area Manager for the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide in the war-torn province of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, distinguishing fact from fiction is a big part of my job. And in a country where security can change in an instant, acting on lies and failing to act on truth can have very real—even fatal—consequences.

Reports of a potential advance towards the provincial capital, Goma, by the M23 rebel movement started to circulate on Wednesday, November 14th.  I got a call from one of our national staff who had heard that they were planning to ‘enter Goma soon,’ but was initially quite skeptical as no other source could confirm this.  When I woke up that next morning, I learned that the M23 were fighting the Congolese national army, FARDC, in Kibumba, just 19 miles north of Goma. By Saturday, M23 had taken control of Kibumba. Suddenly, what seemed unlikely had become a tangible threat.

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Protecting Life Where Death is Everyday Conversation

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 9:11 am

By Megan Christensen, Health Officer, Concern Worldwide US

 

I have been lucky to visit many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works. In my travels, I met many people and witnessed many things, some inspiring and some heartbreaking.

My most recent trip to Sierra Leone was no different.

Concern Health Officer, Megan Christensen holding a newborn child, whose mother took the initiative to seek immediate-care at the health facility after being encouraged to do so by her husband, the community and Concern.

Sierra Leone is a country emerging from ten years of civil war and armed conflict. I saw commitment to work from the ground-up to rebuild. The people are positive and hopeful. The government is active and forward-thinking. I was there last February, and in a year and a half, I have seen progress.

This is partly because of an initiative that the government took in 2010 to provide free health care to women and children. Today, more women and children are accessing health care, and more of them are aware of when and how to access it.

However, there are still major challenges. Some clinics still struggle with having a steady stream of supplies, like antibiotics. We still don’t have all the information we need to understand why people are dying and what they are getting sick from. For example, we know that 60 percent of births are happening in birth facilities, in the presence of a trained birth attendant, but that’s only half the picture. Where is the other 40 percent giving birth?  Who is with them?  Why did they not go to a health facility?

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HIV/AIDS: The tide is turning, but not fast enough

Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 at 9:49 am

By Breda Gahan, Global HIV & AIDS Program Advisor

 

46 percent of people living with and AIDS in the world’s poorest countries are still without access to life-saving anti-retroviral treatment

Recently the U.S. government, through the Health and Human Services Department, announced $68 million in new grants to support comprehensive HIV and AIDS care for women, infants, and youth. The investment came on the heels of the 19th International AIDS Conference which drew thousands of people from across the globe into Washington, DC under the theme, “Turning the Tide Together.”

With 46 percent of people living with HIV and AIDS in the world’s poorest countries without access to life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, it begs the question: have we really begun to turn the tide?

While the new investment from the U.S. government in HIV and AIDS will undoubtedly make treatment available to more people who need it, we will never reverse the crippling effects of this 100 percent preventable—and increasingly treatable—disease if the international community does not come together and make it a priority.

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