Posts Tagged homeless

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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Where the Snow Piles up Six Stories High

Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 11:21 am

By Tom Dobbin, Emergency Program Coordinator, Takhar Province, Afghanistan

A flood defense system in Rustaq

Takhar Province in the far northeast corner of Afghanistan is a remote and unforgiving place. High in the mountains, it has more major earthquakes, landslides, and flash floods than any other part of the country. The landscape is stark and barren and poverty is crippling.

As winter settles in, children scour the hillsides for animal dung and withered thistles to use as fuel to keep warm. In the dead of winter, temperatures can plummet to a mere five degrees Fahrenheit. Heavy snowfall makes it completely impossible to travel in or out of. Last year, which was the worst winter in decades, snow drifts were as high as 50 feet—the height of a six-story building.

When the snow melted in April, it triggered violent flash floods that washed away homes, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. One village, Rustaq, saw nearly 100 feet of river bank engulfed by water, taking with it 60 homes. In Chall District, the floods washed out a bridge that was the only connection to the nearest village for 770 villagers and 150 students who crossed the bridge every day to go to school. Some villages, like Khailan, were told they had to relocate altogether. As part of Concern Worldwide’s emergency response team, I was deployed to Afghanistan as Emergency Program Manager in Takhar to oversee a program to repair the damage that was done because of last year’s floods and brace communities for the upcoming winter and future disasters.

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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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Camp residents in Haiti adapt to a new normal

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Magdala Teracine (center) and family in their home in Boliman Brandt camp, Port-au-Prince. Photo: Ed Kenney, Concern Worldwide

In her black skirt and prim white top, Magdala Teracine, 31, looks as though she is dressed for a day at the office.  A few weeks ago, in a different reality, that’s exactly where this school secretary would have been.

This morning however, she sits in a home built out of metal and wood scraps, sheets, plastic bags and discarded plastic shipping panels. Read the rest of this entry »

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Concern intent on preserving the development gains of 16 years in Haiti

Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010 at 10:22 am

Patients at Wesleyan Hospital on the island of La Gonâve lie on outdoor beds, both by choice and because of overcrowding. Photo: Ed Kenney, Concern Worldwide.

There are thousands of families who have fled the mainland to the small island La Gonâve, just 20 kilometers off Haiti’s northwestern coast, and their numbers are growing.  In a place where the supply of food and clean water for the normal population is uncertain at the best of times, and where the hurricane season is four short months away, the challenge for organizations like Concern is immediate and massive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Haiti: One family’s story of survival

Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Jeaninie Mascelin and son Valner Valbuen at Wesleyan Hospital, La Gonave.

We visited Wesleyan Hospital, largest on the island, and La Gonâve’s dilemma was brought home in one family’s story.  We saw a very thin older woman lying motionless, expressionless on a bed in the middle of the hospital courtyard.

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Haiti declares an end to its rescue operation

Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 11:09 am

Concern nutrition officer Imacula Pierre performs a MUAC measurement on 2-year-old Richard as 28-year-old mother Josephine looks on. They will be among the first patients at Concern's newly reopened nutrition unit.

It is now 11 days after the earthquake, and the Haitian government have declared an end to the rescue operation. It is a sad day for many people as the awful realization sinks in – whoever has not been found alive by now, never will be.

What strikes me, is the acceptance of this tragedy by so many people, ‘this is gods will’ they say, but is it? Over the last 11 days the only chance I have had to really think about this atrocity is when I sit down to write this blog. My head starts swimming and I think of all I have seen during the day, conversations I have had, comments I have heard and it is difficult to digest it all. Read the rest of this entry »

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