Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Zambia Conference Addresses ‘Resource Curse’

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

By Kim Pozniak,

It’s been called the “Resource Curse,” the fact that many countries rich in natural resources also have high and growing levels of poverty, extreme income inequalities, greater risk of conflict, and high levels of corruption.

Too often, government revenues from resource extraction—oil, gas, mining and logging—are not used to support basic social services such as health, nutrition and education. They certainly don’t find their way into investments that benefit the poor as often as they should. Worse yet, profits from extractives too often fuel terrible violence in some countries. At the same time, people living near extractive operations often suffer from degradation of the environment and their own health, conflict, unjust labor practices, displacement from their land and interrupted livelihoods.

To address such issues, CRS and the U.K.-based Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) sponsored an extractive industries conference in the southern African country of Zambia this month. More than 130 people representing faith-based, legal and human rights and environmental organizations from 15 countries came together in Lusaka for the conference entitled “Connecting Resources, Connecting People.”

AIDSRelief Rwanda Transitions to Local Government

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

By Kim Pozniak,

After six years of working in partnership with the Rwandan government, the AIDSRelief consortium led by Catholic Relief Services is transitioning its HIV care and treatment program to the Rwanda Ministry of Health in a move that marks the first such transition to a local government partner.

AIDSRelief—an international consortium funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—and the government of Rwanda have worked together to scale up quality HIV care for Rwandans since 2005; planning for the transition has been in the works for the past two years.

“In the short time that we’ve worked with the Ministry of Health, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of personal commitment to learn how to run the HIV treatment program.” says Leia Isanhart Balima, chief of party for AIDSRelief Rwanda. The government has really been committed to seeing the process through and to work through the challenges. It’s neat to be able to let go and say that we’ve put in place the basic building blocks.”

Baton Passed: Rwanda Takes Up HIV Care System

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

By Helen Blakesley,

Rwanda HIV

Epiphanie Uwiduhaye and her one year-old son Benoit, right, wait with Josiane Nyiranizeyimana and 3 month-old Fabrice for a consultation at Bungwe Health Centre in Northern Rwanda. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” my godmother used to remind me, as a rather impish child. Well if that’s indeed the case, Kigali, the capital of Rwanda is but a few steps from Heaven.

The main city of the land of “mille collines” – a thousand hills – so the French claimed, looks the picture of cleanliness, efficiency and order.

As I arrived here for my latest reporting trip with CRS, I drank in my surroundings. Pretty red brick homes with blue or terracotta roofs dot the hillsides. Grasses and flowers and trees are abundant thanks to regular rains (a spectacular growling of thunder presaged the next refreshing downpour as I gazed). People and vehicles carried on by, minding their own business.

AIDSRelief: Giving Patients Life and Hope

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

The ONE Blog recently ran the following story about CRS with with AIDSRelief in Rwanda:

Last week, I visited the Bungwe Health Center, a small clinic nestled in the hills about two hours outside Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. The center is part of AIDSRelief, a program that has been providing HIV care and treatment in Rwanda since 2005 with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). My employer, Catholic Relief Services, is the lead agency for AIDSRelief in nine countries.

During my visit I met a nurse named Cecile and her 12-year-old patient, Jean Claude. His mother is an AIDSRelief patient and Jean Claude had come to the health center to find out his own status. He’s been sick for quite some time.

Cecile counseled and tested Jean Claude, then talked with him about his results. To my surprise, he smiled. When asked what he will do now that he knows his HIV status, he said he will go to school to become a doctor. Jean Claude knows that with antiretroviral therapy and good medical treatment, he can live a long, productive life.

Read the full story here.

Nutrition, The First 1,000 Days: Life and Death

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

On October 6-17, Stephen M. Colecchi, director of USCCB’s Office of International Justice and Peace, traveled to Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania as part of an ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders sponsored by Bread for the World. This is the first of a four-part series in which Dr. Colecchi shares his experiences of Africa, where he witnessed firsthand the plight of poverty and malnutrition faced by many people, especially children.

The contrast could not have been starker: tiny listless children, two in each hospital bed, attended by their concerned mothers; jubilant women chanting and dancing as smiling children angled to get their pictures taken.

I encountered both poignant scenes during a recent visit to Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania with an ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders sponsored by Bread for the World. In a way the two images capture both the problem and the solution to mother and child nutrition. Our delegation visited these African countries to learn more about the 1,000 days movement, which aims to improve maternal and child nutrition during the critical first 1,000 days of life from conception to age two.

Read the full post here.

South Sudan Town Cut Off, Crops Theatened by Rain

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Sudan flood

People travel by boat to the flood-affected community of Agok in South Sudan. Photo by CRS staff

George Okoth,

The mid-September rains completely washed out road access to the town of Agok, South Sudan. This is the same area that only a few months ago received a wave of mass displacement after conflict sent thousands fleeing from the contested area of Abyei. Just as things began to settle, the rains once again forced people from their makeshift homes.

We arrived by car, by boat and by foot. The muddy roads only allowed our 4x4s to venture so far before we had to rely on the boats that would take us from one side of a vastly swollen river to another. The end of our trek consisted of a 3-mile walk to the town of Agok. Our walk was slow, hindered by the mud that stuck to our gumboots and made each step a heavy one.

Liberia: Ties of Love and Peace

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Liberia greeting

A welcoming committee greets a CRS team in New Yourpea, Nimba County, north central Liberia. Tens of thousands of refugees from Ivory Coast have crossed the border into Liberia, fleeing post election violence. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

by Helen Blakesley

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. It’s raining cats and dogs, but that can’t drown out the sound of thousands of supporters, singing, dancing and shouting their political allegiance in the rallies going on outside.

I’m under strict instructions to “hibernate”—just in case. It’s the first round of the presidential elections this week, and, although Liberia has technically found peace, memories of the merciless 14-year civil war serve to remind that the situation here could well change in the blinking of an eye. The people I’ve spoken to are confident there won’t be trouble…but in reality, no one really knows.

From One Beginning to Another

Monday, September 26th, 2011
Dakar sunset

Sunset off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

By Helen Blakesley

Being ill is rarely what I’d call fun. But feeling under the weather in a developing country … now that’s a whole new board game. Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am, having (by sheer fluke) been born into a loving, solvent family in the developed world. But this week, while I was lying under my mosquito net, drenched in sweat, the water supply cut off and no electricity to turn the blades of my long-suffering fan … I must admit, I did throw myself what in the U.S. you might call quite a sizeable “pity party”.

Speaking to friends close at hand and loved ones far away helped pull me from the clutches of self-pity and frustration. As did turning to the meditations of Brother Roger of Taizé (yes, I’m a big fan!) The thought for that day was this:

Ethiopia: Missionaries of Charity Foster Dignity Amid Destitution

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

By Michael Hill
By all rights, the Missionaries of Charity Home for the Destitute and Dying in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia should be a depressing place. After all, the 1,000 people in here are almost all sick. And they are poor. Their sleeping quarters are crowded, beds nearly wall-to-wall. Some have physical ailments that might make you want to avert your gaze. Others are mentally challenged and behave erratically.

It is certainly not a place that makes you happy. These people have been dealt a tough hand by life. Few have smiles on their faces. On this cool afternoon, they are mostly sitting outside. Not listless, exactly, but hardly active. Some are in wheelchairs. Others remain in their beds in the wards.

The home is really two compounds, one for children, the other for teens to the aged. The occupants go from newborn infants to those near the end of long lives. Some are simply too poor to afford any sort of lodging during medical treatment in Ethiopia’s capital city. But many were abandoned by their families, too poor to care for, say, a handicapped child with mental issues; or for an elderly relative near death; or for an unwanted newborn.

Thomas Awiapo: Peace Elections for Africa

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

CRS Ghana’s Thomas Awiapo shares his thoughts on a workshop in Accra, Ghana organized by CRS and SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar) to promote peaceful elections in Africa.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
—Thomas Paine, 1777.

It is in this spirit and through a passionate desire to promote peaceful elections in Africa that Catholic Relief Services and the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar have brought together Church leaders and CRS staff from across the continent to reflect on ways to promote violence-free elections and give peace a chance.

It might interest you to know that next year—2012—many African countries will be celebrating 50 years of independence, a time of nationhood and a time of self-governance. I’d like to say congratulations in advance to these countries. Also, between now and December 2012, 22 African countries will be holding presidential and parliamentary elections. Wow! This is so reassuring and a great sign of hope. Africa is gradually moving away from coups d’état—which have cost Africa many precious lives and have retarded development.