Rate This Blog
• CARE National Conference
• Maternal Health
• HIV and AIDS
• Trip to field
• Dr. Helene Gayle
• Village Savings and Loan
• Climate Change
• Natural Disaster
• Haiti Earthquake
• Haiti Hurricane
• Haiti cholera
• Current Entries
• June 2013
• May 2013
• April 2013
• March 2013
• February 2013
• January 2013
• December 2012
• November 2012
• October 2012
• September 2012
• August 2012
• July 2012
• June 2012
• May 2012
• April 2012
• March 2012
• February 2012
• January 2012
• December 2011
• November 2011
• October 2011
• September 2011
• August 2011
• July 2011
• June 2011
• May 2011
• April 2011
• March 2011
• January 2011
• November 2010
• September 2010
• August 2010
• July 2010
• June 2010
• March 2010
• February 2010
• January 2010
• November 2009
• October 2009
• August 2009
• July 2009
• June 2009
• May 2009
• March 2009
• February 2009
• January 2009
• December 2008
• November 2008
• October 2008
• September 2008
• August 2008
• July 2008
• June 2008
• May 2008
• April 2008
Notes from the Field
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 11:22AM EST on June 17, 2013
by Adel Sarkozi, CARE International Rapid Response Team
The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has left more than 10.5 million people throughout the region in need of humanitarian assistance. As of May 2013, more than 1.5 million Syrians had crossed into neighboring countries, including Jordan (465,000), Lebanon (477,000) and Egypt (69,000) where CARE is on the ground working to help meet the refugee's most urgent needs. Find out more about our work with Syrian refugees >
Meet Yasmin, an 11-year-old Syrian girl living as a refugee in Beirut, who says quietly, "My father was kidnapped about a year ago. We heard that he was tortured … then that he was killed."
It sounds so shocking that I almost don't want to hear it. I stare at her beautiful face, her bright eyes, her hands resting on her chest holding on to a necklace adorned by a plastic flower.
She lives with her three siblings, her mother, another widow called Nada and her daughter. They are all Syrian refugees. Her mother is away working and I pick up the rest of the story from Nada.
They all fled to Beirut four months ago. After three months of taking shelter in a mosque, they were evicted.
Now they are in a two-room apartment with few belongings. Nada's words echo what I've been hearing all week from refugees living in urban areas. "I earn $100 a month cleaning houses. Yasmin's mother earns about the same. How can we live on this when our rent alone is $400 a month?"
The children have to stay at home alone all day while their mothers go out and look for work. They can't go to school.
At my next destination, I arrive at a room with 10 women seated in a semi-circle, some with their children sitting at their feet and more standing in the doorway.
They are also Syrian refugees. Some have been in Lebanon as long as eight months, others only two weeks.
"When I arrived, I felt isolated, I didn't know anyone. Now there are so many Syrians here. It feels like a Syria away from home," says one of the women.
"Our home in Syria got bombed. We saw it with our eyes. That's when we decided it was time for us to leave. But, in Syria, life was much cheaper. Here we can't even afford basic things," says Amina who arrived two and a half months ago. The others nod.
A visibly distressed Hasnaa, a 25-year-old widow with two children, came two weeks ago after her husband was killed in a clash. She is staying with her sister and her family. Her 6-year-old son Ali is stretched on the floor at her feet. He is restless and rubs his red, swollen eyes every few minutes.
"The children can't sleep," she says as if reading my thoughts. "They are afraid all the time. I am too," she adds.
A man sitting in the center of the room begins to sing. Everyone stops to listen. I ask the translator what is the song about. "You're a criminal … You're a coward … You killed my father … You killed my father," comes the translation.
Silence falls over the room as a boy in the doorway area repeats, "You killed my father."
The air is filled with despair, defeat and sadness. Then the tears come – from the floor, from the chairs, from the doorway.
I keep thinking to myself, I'm surrounded by women and children who have seen their homes destroyed, their near and dear ones killed. They fled in search for safety. They might be physically safe now, but what about their souls?
They need basic things so that they can carry on living. They need healing so that in some corner of their hearts they can carry on hoping.
They are part of a shockingly large number of refugees who fled Syria – 1.5 million total and close to a half a million in Lebanon alone. They are trapped in what is the largest humanitarian crisis to date, and what seems like the dead end of history, with only the future to fully judge and find appropriate measures.
NOTE: CARE Lebanon plans to support urban refugees and host families in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, which hosts more than 90,000 refugees, to meet their most basic and pressing needs, including access to information and services; shelter; livelihood opportunities; and psycho-social support. These areas receive a flux of Syrian refugees. Though the Syrian refugees here receive some assistance, especially from local organizations and host communities, there are still many needs that yet have not been met.
Names have been changed
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:41PM EST on June 4, 2013
by Niandou Ibrahim, May 17, 2013
"My daughter returns from far away, a true miracle," repeats Adama Issaka without ceasing. She caresses and holds her daughter Firdaoussou tightly. They look each other in the eyes for a long time then both break out in laughter.
Firdaoussou is 2 years old and really has returned from far away. She has spent nearly half of her life fighting death from malnutrition. She won this fight and now gets to celebrate it every day with her mother in this touching complicity, imbued with smiles, winks and tenderness.
Firdaoussou was born in the village of Bongoukoirey, in the Tillabéry region of Niger. She was raised by her mother alone while her father was in exile somewhere in Côte d'Ivoire. The little girl grew normally during the first 10 months of her life, breastfed by her mother. It was in March 2012 when Firdaoussou started suffering from malnutrition at less than a year of age.
"A big number of children fell ill, wasted away and died. I was desperate for a moment. Toward the month of August I thought Firdaoussou was going to die. She had lost so much weight," remembers Issaka with sadness.
She was not alone: malnutrition was widespread across the region due to a food crisis. A joint press release issued by the government of Niger, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and several international aid agencies rang the alarm bell in March 2012 saying:
The situation of the people, especially of the women and children, is quickly getting worse. The combination of a totality of factors, among them the agricultural and pasture deficits of the previous season, the price explosion of staple food, the depreciation of cattle and the rising levels of indebtedness of the households have considerably weakened the revenues and the access to nutrition of many families. For these people, the lean season has already begun. They don't have any food storage left until the next harvest, which is scheduled for October.
In the village of Bongoukoirey, the women's network Mata Masu Dubara (MMD) fights to save their children from malnutrition. This group, composed of 99 women, organized several years ago to strengthen their resilience. These women work together to protect their harvests from climate related disasters and have developed a number of strategies with the support of CARE. They have created savings and loan associations which enable them to generate more individual revenue. They also set up a granary to store and protect grain in order to prevent shortages of stocks which usually occur between March and September every year. In addition, they have planted vegetable gardens in order to enrich their children's nutrition.
CARE offers training sessions to help these women gain the skills they need to be successful in their efforts and to prevent the food crisis from worsening. "Emergency response costs between 70 and 80 percent more than prevention," says Johannes Schoors, CARE Niger Country Director.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 12:02PM EST on April 9, 2013
"If we knew this would happen to us we wouldn’t have brought so many children into the world." These are the words of Rima, a Syrian refugee living in Amman.
"It was as if he just disappeared, I had no idea where he was or what had happened to him. My son was only a month old when this happened so I went to stay with my family. When he was released we couldn’t risk staying and him being arrested again. Our house had been demolished and the shop burnt down. We were afraid he would be arrested again so we had to leave. We couldn’t handle the pressure," said Rima.
The children, who are 18 months to 10 years old, are suffering in their new surroundings.
"They are frustrated. They have a lot of pent up energy," she explains. "We can’t afford to send them to school – it’s far from here and the transport costs are too expensive for us. When we let them out to play people complain about the noise so they just sit inside all day. We have nothing to do."
Ali, previously the bread winner, is finding it hard to adjust to life now that he can’t provide for his family.
"I used to own two houses and I ran my own shop. It’s all been burned down and I can’t provide anything for my children. Everything I owned is gone."
"I can’t work because of the injuries I sustained when I was in prison. I was tortured and it’s very painful for me to walk," he explains. " I feel very bad about our current situation. We don’t have enough for everyone. Things are very expensive here, the rent is very high. CARE helped us to pay some of our rent because we owed the landlord money but we still can’t even afford to get the basics."
This family is living day by day and Rima says, "We want to go home. We don’t mind living in a tent if we are in Syria and it is safe."
For now it isn’t safe. Rima’s family and thousands of others have to deal with the reality of a life as a refugee and the hardships that come with being refugees.
*names have been changed
Posted by: BARUME BISIMWA ZIBA at 3:19AM EST on March 22, 2013
Im BARUME BISIMWA ZIBA Secourist Red -Cross in Uvira south-kivu rep democratic of congo im looking for a jobs in rdcongo .contact mail firstname.lastname@example.org tel 243 971603199 243 853195164 . fanks for your helping job .
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:57AM EST on March 18, 2013
By Deborah Underdown, CARE UK
Ibtisan sits on the floor surrounded by her five children. There is no furniture, just a few cushions scattered about. One girl stands out; she is wearing a bright red woolly hat. Her name is Tasinne and she is 6 years old. Despite having 8-month-old twins to look after, Ibtisan is totally focused on Tasinne. She sits on her mother's lap and cuddles in as close as she can get. Tasinne has cancer.
It wasn't the shelling or bullets that made this mother leave Daraa (one of the areas worst affected by the conflict in Syria) but the fact that she couldn't get any medicine for Tasinne.
"We had been living in constant fear for a year and a half. We were staying in underground shelters and would only leave to get bread; we had to crawl along the streets because it was so dangerous," she explains.
"But when Tasinne got sick we took her to a doctor and they told us she had cancer of the kidney. I knew then that we would have to leave. There are no medical facilities available anymore."
Ibtisan's husband stayed in Syria to try to protect their home. She went Amman, Jordan's capital, where she's living in an apartment that she can't afford. She is already two months behind on rent. Every penny she gets goes towards Tasinne's medical care.
"The chemotherapy costs 200 JD [about $300 USD] a session and I have been told she needs one session a week until July. CARE gave me money to pay for the last two sessions but I don't know how I will pay for the next one," Ibtisan says. "She had a session yesterday and is now suffering from the side effects. I want to take her to the doctor but that will cost more money – what can I do?"
When Tasinne is asked what she would like to be when she grows up she states, "A doctor so I can give out free medicine."
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 2:50PM EST on February 4, 2013
By Amy Brenneman
In December, actress Amy Brenneman traveled to Peru with her family and CARE to visit the women and families benefitting from CARE's maternal and child health and child nutrition programs. The following are her impressions of the experience.
When I first talked to CARE about this trip and the fact that my family would be with me, they emphatically told me that these visits would not be appropriate for children. While I didn't know exactly what they meant by that, I assumed that the villages would be destitute, depressing, and too hard for first world children such as my own to comprehend. I understood, and made plans for Charlotte and Bodhi to do fun stuff with Brad and Melissa on the day I made site visits.
I was pleased and surprised when Lia and Gabby said that they could all come to my afternoon visit, the village of Guayacando. They explained that Guayacando was a village "much better off " than Violete Velasquez, an aspirational CARE site that they were all very proud of.
They had reason to be. Guayacando was similar on the surface to Violeta Velasquez – no paved roads, cars, and little electricity – but the houses were bigger, cleaner, and some even had running water. I was once again shepherded into a community room where I saw the plans for the community and the records of the growth of all the children. One chart showed the community's status from years ago, when many children were malnourished (indicated by an ominous red marker). One chart showed the community's status now, where virtually none of the children were malnourished, thanks to the Windows of Opportunity program. Brava Guayacando! Brava CARE!
Brad came in and sat with me in the community room. Bodhi, Charlotte and Melissa stayed in the van. From inside, I heard a sharp crack, much like a firecracker or a gunshot. Knowing it was probably neither, and knowing that Mel was with the kids, I stayed focused on listening to the community leaders. I then heard the sound that I'd hoped to hear, the sound that was one reason why this trip came to be in the first place. I heard my children laughing, playing and cavorting with the kids of Guayacando.
It seems that one of the boys had a whip – the source of the cracking sound –, which fascinated my kids and brought 15 other children running. Then a puppy appeared – universal fun. Then the boys were teaching parcour to Bodhi – up the walls of the adobe buildings – and the girls were wrapping their arms around Charlotte. They played for literally, hours. No common language, little common experience – except for the common impulse to play, connect and find one another across the expanse of seeming difference.
These joyful sounds were the backdrop to my afternoon, as I visited a wonderful clinic in the town where they taught gestating and nursing moms about nutrition, sanitation and health. I visited a preschool where the teachers talked about fine and gross motor development, language acquisition and social interactions – exactly the same things as any preschool teacher anywhere would discuss. I heard a woman from a nearby village eloquently describe the domino effect of having clean, running water in her home. "We have cleaner houses now, so we don't get so sick. We have separate bedrooms for our children and parents. We don't have our animals inside anymore. We have more crops and things to do so we have less children – that used to be the only thing we did!" Her eyes lit up as she saw her joke land, across two languages. "I am so proud to have visitors come to our town. Before, no one would have ever come. Now, we are proud of our town. Thank you, CARE."
Yes, thank you CARE. For all that you do,. For discerning what traditionally marginalized folks need and giving them the support to have those needs met. I learned many lessons from this trip, and none bigger than this: despite our differences it is our similarities that bind us together in the common endeavor of lifting one another up. It was truly an honor to celebrate the successes in Violeta Velasquez and Guayacando and to support CARE's work in Peru, and beyond.
Posted by: Kathleen Voss Woolrich at 6:50PM EST on January 6, 2013
I wanted care to know that I want to start fundraising for you. Is there some kind of a widget that people can donate to care directly if I promote it on facebook? I want to do it in conjunction with my daughters birthday and the presidential day of service honoring the inauguration...
Can someone email me or contact me on facebook and tell me how I can help care through promoting? Is there a widget I could add to my facebook? Are you guys ever planning on opening a satellite office here in Orlando or is there a care. org rep somewhere in Orlando?
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 11:44AM EST on December 21, 2012
Families fleeing the on-going violence in Syria are arriving in Jordan and many are heading for the capital, Amman. A recent survey carried out by CARE found that 40 percent of refugees surveyed in Amman are extremely vulnerable and in dire need of help.
Parents are fearful about being able to pay their rent, buy food and prepare for winter.
Many families had to sell belongings to get out of Syria and are left with little in the way of savings. The rental costs in Amman mean that the risk of falling into spiralling debt is high. Families are afraid they will be evicted and some are even considering a return to their war torn country.
One father CARE staff met, Hai Nazzal, told us that: "Rent is the most important thing for us, if we don't have a roof over our heads we will have to go back to Syria – I can't keep my children here on the streets."
No household we visited is in any way prepared for winter where temperatures plummet to as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed currently have no access to any heating source.
Parents like Abdul told CARE: "We have no heater, too few blankets and no warm clothes. We're very worried. It's going to get very cold, and it's so damp in these rooms."
CARE's Country Director in Jordan, Kevin Fitzcharles, said: "These families have fled their homes in fear for their lives and now find themselves living in poverty, facing a cold, hard winter. We are providing more than 20,000 refugees with help to pay for food, rent, blankets and heaters so they don't fall further into poverty and hardship."
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters.
CARE has been working in Jordan since 1948. CARE Jordan has extensive experience working with refugees, providing livelihood training and opportunities, emergency cash assistance, information sharing and psychosocial support to Iraqi refugees since 2003.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 12:15PM EST on December 3, 2012
Notes: Some names have been changed to protect those quoted. Masisi is located in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where heavy fighting has displaced more than 800,000 people so far.
November 28, 2012
"My name is Bandora, and I have two daughters, Elizabeth and Merita. One is 9 and one is 10. I had four other children but they all died before we left Masisi. Merita has gone to fetch water this morning. We take it in turns to fetch water from the lake in the mornings. It is far. Sometimes there is water in the pipes in the camp, but more often the taps are empty.
"We fled from Masisi in April, from a village called Rukopu. We got very scared in April – there was a lot of fighting and many people were being killed. One night the fighting came very close to our house – my husband fled and left me with the girls. We then ran into the night. We followed everyone to Sake and when we go there, we were told to go to Kanyaruchina camp which is what we did. But when we go to Kanyaruchina camp, there was nothing for us there. People had told us in Sake that if we went there we would be given things that we would need. But we got nothing and were cold and hungry.
"So in September, I moved my family to Mugunga where we still are. For the first time since we got here in September, yesterday we got some soap and some plastic containers to collect water with. I haven’t yet got any food. We are still very hungry. I have my own pot that I brought from Rukopu but that is all I have. We also have a piece of plastic sheeting that I found in Kanyaruchina but it is old and not that waterproof. Some friends helped me to build my house from straw but when it rains it leaks badly and we get wet.
"At home my eldest daughter went to school but the younger one didn’t – we couldn’t afford to pay for her. There are no schools in the camps for them.
"At night I get very scared. We are alone – three girls and there is no security. There are other people around but we are scared of the war. At night people come to take things from us – civilian bandits. Last week, when there was fighting in Goma at night, some people came and stole my basin. I don’t know who they were.
"I don’t know what will happen to us but I know that if the war comes close to us here, I will run again with my children. I don’t know where we will go but I will run because we have to survive. Every day is hard for us."
CARE's Response: As soon as access is secured, CARE plans to scale up our emergency response in the areas affected by the recent fighting, in particular by providing shelter to those displaced and assistance to women affected by sexual violence and help to prevent further cases of sexual violence. Our emergency response in other areas, including South Lubero, continues.
Donate Today: Your donation to CARE can help us respond to emergency situations like in DRC and carry out our lifesaving and poverty-fighting work around the world.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 11:30AM EST on November 19, 2012
By Yazdan El Amawi
Four years since the last offence in Gaza "Operation Cast Lead" during the winter of 2008/2009, where memories have been flashing back with every single explosion heard in Gaza since then.
I returned home on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at around 4 pm after a long working day, which concluded with a series of air strikes on Gaza city, declaring the launching of an Israeli Operation "Pillar of Cloud". I had already planned to spend the long weekend with my kids and wife and extended family and friends celebrating the holidays, however we ended up trapped in our homes and only able to pray for Gaza and the people of Gaza to get safe out of this violence!
With every single explosion during the last three days, we all had to rush to my youngest son, Hazem who is 9 years old, to hold and calm him down! We have noticed that Hazem is closing his ears with his fingers each time he hears the explosions or feels the house shaking as a result of the airstrikes, some of which are very close to our house. Hazem told me that he feels better when he closes his ears, but remains afraid and in shock for a while. For this we have become very attentive and tell Hazem every time we sense an airstrike, before bombardment, so he can cover his ears.
Hazem and all of us have been glued to the TV for the last three days it keeps us fully occupied, fascinated by what is going on outside! Luckily Hazem, has a brother of about the same age, Mohammed who is 10.5 years old who helps me keeping Hazem busy and distracted from the bombing outside our window. We play tennis table, chat, tell stories and play the games we all like!
Hazem is setting next to me now while I am writing this with his two hands on his cheeks in anticipation of a new airstrike and asking me when this will be over. Before I answer, another raid strikes close by, so I hold him as he inserts his fingers into his ears again! Hazem fell asleep in my lap before I put him in bed, I am hoping to have an answer for his question in the morning!
Posted by: David B at 3:41PM EST on October 30, 2012
Dear CARE Friends, I was hoping to pass along this story of a courageous woman, Razia Jan, who has built and sustains—in the face a great danger—the first (and only) all girls school in Afghanistan. Her story is compelling and we are trying to spread it far and wide. If there is a way to post her information on your personal website or share it with media contacts? We can provide extra information if needed. She is currently in the running to receive CNN’s “Hero of the Year” award, which would grant her money for her school. Moved to act by the events of September 11, 2001, Razia worked tirelessly to help victims’ families, first responders, and soldiers. When she saw how oppressed the women and girls of Afghanistan had become, Razia returned to her native country to open a school for girls in a village 30 minutes outside of Kabul. Today, the Zabuli Education Center brings education to 350 young Afghan girls and approaches its fifth anniversary. CNN has recognized Razia’s extraordinary contributions to improving the lives of young girls in Afghanistan and has made her eligible to be named “CNN Hero of the Year,” which comes with a $250,000 grant, if she prevails in online popular voting now underway. You can vote online or on your mobile phone up to ten times a day—everyday—at CNNHeroes.com ( http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/2012.heroes/razia.jan.html) . Votes can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter. The voting period is open until Wednesday, November 28. Happy to answer any questions you have – and thank you for your support. Sincerely, David Bahr email@example.com Susan Davis International 1101 K Street, Washington, D.C. 202-408-0808
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 2:38PM EST on October 10, 2012
Shumi was just 11 years old when her father tried to force her into child marriage in Bangladesh. Watch how a CARE women's group in Bangladesh took her cause to the local government to ensure that she won't be married until she's an adult.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:49AM EST on September 14, 2012
By Thomas Schwarz
We are in Za'atari, the camp for Syrian refugees, not far from the border to the war torn country. I started early morning in the capital of Jordan, in Amman, to get to Za'atari. We wanted to get our own picture about what we are reading in the international newspapers, on TV channels around the globe or in the internet. We wanted to get the "right" picture, first-hand information ourselves. Buying cheap goods in a second-hand-shop may be fun. It's a different thing to only have second-hand-information. This camp was started only six weeks ago, in the last days of July - when I first visited Jordan this year. When I came to Za'atari then, there were only between 2500 and maybe 3000 refugees. Now it is almost 40000. One must admit, that in this short period of time, the UN refugee organisation UNHCR did a really good job. Well, it's not everything working perfectly here, but given the fundings - which are still not enough -many things are working quite well.
"We would never call it home"
There is clean water for the refugees. From tent to tent we could see electricity cables along the wooden towers. Although this seems to imply that each tent has electricity, which is not the case of course.
The whole day long it looks as if we are on a huge construction site. Trucks driving around. Water tanker lorries bringing in water. From an unloading area people receive water bottles. Several hundred meters away the refugees are receiving foam mattresses. Things seem to be fully implemented here for such a camp. Even the kids are joking and playing around among the many tents and seem to be relaxed for these rare moments, somehow at least.
Ahmad and his wife are not relaxed. They have a different impression. "You know, here it is more safe, especially for my wife and our children. But this is not a home," he says. He is gesticulating heavily in a typical Arab manner - with two hands. Nevertheless he is not speaking in an aggressive way whatsoever. He pauses between his sentences, not only for the interpreter, but also to weigh his words and thoughts. In other situations this could appear somehow "theatrical", not here. He breathes deeply, when making these pauses. He smokes. Then, after a short smile, he describes. "I have nine children and my wife. One of the children is only three months old." A pause again, breathing. Then he expresses what seems to be most difficult for him: "At home I could take responsibility for all of them. I was working, I earned money to support my family. Now I can not do anything." He adds that the food they receive would not be enough for all.
There is not a single word of criticism against the United Nations. Several times he emphasises how grateful his whole family is for the hospitality of the Jordanian people, that they opened their borders for all of the refugees coming from Syria. He is praising the king of Jordan, again and again. Ahmad tries to stay neutral as well as fair when it comes to the situation he is forced to live in. But is this possible, after having fled your own country where war and terror and violence are reigning?
Sharing with others is important here
The wind is blowing constantly. This is good against the heat, but bad in a desert-like area with so much sand. Very fine grains of sand are all over the bottom of the tent. Outside they are just collecting the garbage to take it somewhere - with a truck. What they did not collect is being used by the refugees. They take the rest of the paper and use it for a little fire on which they boil water for tea. There is no wood here at all they could use. They will share THE tea with everyone in the neighbourhood, no matter who it is. Sharing, this is an important word here. While we are listening to Ahmad, his wife gives a sign to the children. While she is breastfeeding her baby, she is making some funny movements with one of her hands. Minutes later the kids come with something to drink for us, and some biscuits. We feel ashamed and agree, that we would like to accept their generous invitation in case we would visit them in Syria one day. When they are better off.
The conversation goes on and on and on. On the thin mattresses we feel quite "at home". We talk about football, about Schweinsteiger and Rooney, about Real Madrid and Barcelona, and - of course - about Messi. The boys know them all. We are laughing about this and that with the whole family. Making jokes about women and men alike. Then, out of a sudden, one sentence from Ahmad. Brutally honest from his side. He says: "If somewhere in this world a bird is threatened with extinction, the so called international community mobilises everything, the best experts and the most expensive technical equipment to save it. They do everything." Again, he is breathing deeply. He makes a pause. "But in Syria, in my home land, where i am at home... people are dying like flies. And what happens?"
They invite us to come to Syria, when peace will have come back to them. When war will finally be over. "We will show you our beautiful country," Ahmad says. He is smiling again. "And we will drink tea." His wife adds: "And we will eat something together as well." Allah may bless all of us, and our families, they say while we are putting our shoes on again. And they say "Shoukran", which means thank you. "Shoukran, and may God bless you!"
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:42AM EST on July 13, 2012
‘One Year On’
Food insecurity and conflict still a threat for the Horn of Africa
CARE International: Cash relief for drought affected families in Somalia
Despite its negative impact on the environment, the only way they have been able to earn money for food has been to cut trees and produce charcoal. Together, the brother and sister look out for suitable trees that can be cut for burning. 16 year old brother Muuse, cuts the wood into pieces, digs a hole and sets fire to the wood to produce charcoal. He also then transports the charcoal into town for selling at the local market. This was their way of life, until CARE started working in their village.
CARE worked with the local elders to identify families in need and Rahma and her brothers and sisters were enrolled as cash relief beneficiaries, enabling them to earn around USD$120 a month from two projects managed by the organization.
Because of these earnings they were able to stop cutting the trees for charcoal, they also bought two extra cows, and can now produce extra milk to sell in the market. They also decided to join a village savings and loans group. They took a loan and bought fodder for their cows, this has helped increase their milk production. From the proceeds of milk sales, they managed to repay their loan.
Rahma said " Since the death of my parents we both gave up our dream towards development, our thoughts were focused on how to find food and water, but our God sent this wonderful agency to support us, make us change our attitude, let us protect our forest. It was cutting trees as a coping mechanism during the drought that made us lose our animals. Now we have good dreams; I want to learn and become teacher, and my brother wants to be doctor. Many thanks to CARE, and its staff".
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:54AM EST on March 1, 2012
Sparrow McGowan, CARE Canada
Rina Begum's soft smile belies the strength and inspiring leadership that has made her both a community and national leader in her home country of Bangladesh. Five years ago, Rina wouldn't have been able to leave her home in Lalmonirhat, Bangladesh, unless she was accompanied by a male family member. Today, she welcomes both female and male visitors as the leader of her local women's group, known as an EKATA (Empowerment, Knowledge and Transformative Action) group.
Rina's group, originally started as part of CARE's SHOUHARDO program five years ago, is made up of 20 women. Although CARE's involvement in the program ended over a year ago, the women have continued the group, making great strides for bettering not only their lives but the community as a whole. Today, they talk about everything from children's education and local dispute resolutions, to ensuring community access to government services such as immunization and birth delivery, and ensuring people receive their national identity card so they can vote.
Rina also serves on other community groups, including three school management committees, and is an executive member of the People's Organization Convention (POC), an annual meeting that brings together more than 400 community groups. Rina, through the POC, is trying to bridge the gap between the needs of local communities and the national government service providers. She is a rare leader, who has not only managed her own development, but has created a space for the other women in her group to flourish. Because of this, they are all seen as leaders in their community, and regularly turned to for support, such as resolving family disputes or going to the hospital.
The group points out that husbands are showing increased respect for their wives throughout the community. And the group now knows what their rights are – and are fully confident in asserting and accessing them. “We were worried that our intermediaries were misrepresenting us,” says one woman in reference to men who would go to the local government with their requests. So now they communicate directly with the service providers, travelling some 60km to the local government offices. “It was only because of joining this EKATA group that this is possible,” she says.
Together, the EKATA group has stopped a number of child marriages in the community, started an early child care for development program and created a savings group. They are also all employed, earning income through activities such as raising livestock, making and selling food products, running a small shop or offering tailoring services.
The results for their families and the community have been inspiring. Five years ago, young girls would often be pulled out of school at a young age. Today, the education of young girls is valued and they push for continuous education. The families of Rina and the other women in her group would previously have lived on only one to two meals a day. Today, they all get three meals a day, and their children are fed a range of healthy foods, including eggs, meat, fish and vegetables.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:09PM EST on February 29, 2012
On this International Women's Day, what inspires me and gives me hope is our work to empower girls like Christa, a fourth-grader in Bugarama, Tanzania. In a class of 220 students, Christa was a shy girl who never asked a question even if there was something she didn't understand. She made average marks on exams.
However, when Christa was 10, she was among the first group of girls trained in leadership skills and peer mentoring through CARE's girls' leadership development projects. The projects aimed to assist girls to develop the specific leadership competencies of self-confidence, voicing ideas and opinions, making decisions, organization, and motivating others.
After the training, Christa was assigned to lead a group of 40 fellow students in developing leadership skills through sports and games. The group included boys, some of them older than her.
Christa really doubted whether she could do it. She said that before the training she was just like other girls with no confidence, and not able to make decisions for herself. However, as days passed by Christa gained more confidence and made great strides in leading her group.
Christa's new-found confidence has shown in the classroom as well. Now she is able to ask teachers about anything which is not clear to her. With a smile on her face Christa recounted "by doing so I made myself the number one pupil in the class of 220 pupils including boys and girls!"
Christa was encouraged by her peers to run for the position of chairperson to lead a discussion between the girl students and leaders from the local government council (WDC).
"We were 8 contestants but because of the leadership skills I acquired from the training and from participation in sports I won the position and led the meeting between girls and leaders from WDC," Christa beamed.
She lead the meeting with confidence, and at the end of the meeting Christa remembers that one village chairperson confessed that he has never managed meetings as successfully as Christa had.
Christa is now a confident sixth grader who has her eyes set on secondary school and has goals for her future, which include helping other girls to develop the confidence and voice that she has found.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:40PM EST on January 31, 2012
When Dije Ousmana looks down at her two-month-old baby boy, Abdulahadi, she tries not to think of her three other children, all babies like Abdulahadi, who died in earlier food crises. She has seen the signs before, and she is afraid: diarrhoea, difficulty swallowing, crying for more milk when there is none to be had.
In her arms, baby Abdulahadi stirs, opens his eyes, and begins to cry. Dije quietly puts him to her breast, but it isn't long before the cry turns into a wail.
"There is no milk," she said. "I haven't eaten yet today."
Outside, her daughter continues to pound millet for the family's only meal of the day. Dije's six-year-old son runs in and asks when the food will be ready.
Today, Dije and her extended family of 14 will eat just one bowl of millet, mixed with a bit of goat's milk and plenty of water to make it stretch farther. It's been three months that it's been like this, she said.
"The younger children ask all the time why we aren't eating," she said, telling her son to wait. "They don't understand. They think I am just not cooking."
Niger is spiralling down into a severe food crisis. A catastrophic combination of a failed harvest, returning migrant workers from troubled neighbouring countries, and soaring food prices has left more than 5.4 million people in Niger at risk of hunger; at least 1.3 million people, like Dije and her family, are in critical need of help now.
Across Niger, there are communities that have no harvest at all, and have already exhausted their food supplies and are starting to sell their animals and household belongings just to buy food to keep their families alive. In each affected community, the prognosis is the same: this crisis is already worse than the crises of 2005 and 2010.
"It's been years since we've seen a situation this bad," said Dije. "I already sold five of my goats, and we have just one goat left. We've sold everything to buy food."
Here in Yan Sara village, a poor community of 170 people in the barren semi-desert of rural Niger, children are already showing signs of malnutrition: protruding bellies and orange hair revealing the tell-tale signs of nutrient deficiency. Children with chronic malnutrition risk permanent stunting: they will never grow as tall as other children their age, and they may have developmental challenges as well. Severe malnutrition, if not treated, can lead to death.
Nearly 300,000 children will become malnourished across Niger this year, and that figure is expected to rise as the country's food crisis worsens.
But if help is provided now, we can prevent children from becoming severely malnourished, said Amadou Sayo, CARE's Regional Emergency Coordinator for West Africa. CARE has already started a cash-for-work program in partnership with the World Food Programme, which will help families buy food. But more is needed. CARE is raising funds to start an emergency food program for families like Dije's, who are already in dire need. High-energy, nutritious food for children, such as Plumpy'nut, a peanut-butter-like emergency food used to treat mild malnutrition, can help prevent children from becoming severely malnourished.
"Prevention is more effective, and less costly, than allowing children to become malnourished in the first place," said Sayo. "In a food crisis, helping the children is critical, as well as pregnant women and breastfeeding women. The adults can survive a hungry season, but young children are very vulnerable. If they don't have proper food, they start to get sick, they lose weight, and they are at risk of death."
For Dije, the situation is frighteningly clear.
"We need help," she said simply. "I don't want to lose another child."
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:32PM EST on January 4, 2012
Haiti – 2 year anniversary of earthquake
"I see her growing up and developing physically and I worry," she says. "When you become a mother at a young age, without any other asset available, you live the rest of your life in misery. No mother would like to see her child living in a similar situation."
Maude is attending a meeting at CARE's reproductive health center in the community of Santo, Léogâne. Officials estimate Haiti's devastating January 12, 2010 destroyed 80 to 90 percent of the buildings in Léogâne. This included not only homes but also the infrastructure of the normal life people rely on: markets, schools, government offices, and health clinics.
The earthquake turned Santo into a tent city of almost 10,000 people. CARE quickly moved in to help, distributing delivery kits and supplies for pregnant mothers and newborn babies, and offering counseling sessions to lower the risk of gender-based violence in this traumatized community.
More recently, CARE built the Santo health center, one of two it has constructed so far and one of 10 planned in all. CARE staff and nurses from a nearby hospital offer education on overall sexual health, contraceptive pills and injections, condoms and group informational sessions for men and women on the prevention of gender-based violence.
Maude often brings her daughter to the center because she's determined her daughter will avoid the hard life she has had. At 36, Maude is the mother of eight children.
"I have four children with a man I didn't love," Maude says. "He didn't want to use contraception and I didn't know how to protect myself." Maude eventually got married and had four more children with her husband. She and her husband attend CARE-sponsored sessions at the center because they've agreed they do not want to have more children.
"My husband participated in numerous session organized by CARE's staff," Maude says. "He is now aware of the risk I run by multiplying pregnancies and has decided to protect me by using condoms."
Maude's daughter attends sessions on teaching her about birth control, prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as classes on preventing gender-based violence. Maude says the classes have relaxed tensions between her and her daughter. Her daughter now understands her worries, she says. And she now has the right words for explaining to her daughter how and why to be cautious.
Maude expresses gratitude for the center, and she is not alone.
"Even when CARE staff is not here, women from Santo who were trained by CARE are inside sharing their knowledge with their peers," says Willio Sainvilus Latagnac, president of the Santo community association. "The community made this space their own and women have their own area where they can discuss their problems, find solutions together, and regain strength."
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:19PM EST on January 4, 2012
Haiti – 2 year anniversary of earthquake
The parents of Léogâne's Mellier community have a long history of banding together to help one another. In the chaos that enveloped Haiti following the departure of the ruling Duvalier family in 1987, a group of parents in Mellier formed the Association of Parents of Mellier (ASPAM), a PTA-like association to make sure their kids' schooling continued without interruption. Soon after, they opened a pre-school and an elementary school so their youngest children didn't have to walk for hours to facilities outside Mellier if they wanted an education.
Léogâne was one of the areas hardest hit by Haiti's devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake. Officials estimate the tremor destroyed 80 to 90 percent of Léogâne's buildings. Among the destroyed buildings there were ASPAM's elementary and pre-schools – along with the homes of most the school's children.
Even in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, when day-to-day survival was itself in doubt for many, parents began work to get their children back in school. For help, ASPAM turned to CARE, which has supported 78 schools since the earthquake, 20 in Léogâne alone.
"CARE was with us from the start," says Ginette Louis Jean, director of the ASPAM pre-school. "CARE provided us with school kits for teachers, students and educational materials for the class direction."
The parents soon re-opened the school in a temporary structure. CARE provided classroom supplies such as benches, blackboards and recreation kits. CARE built latrines, hand wash stations, water purification systems and held regular hygiene promotion sessions. The community pays an attendant to clean the latrines and ensures that the hand wash system is always filled with chlorinated water.
CARE's work with the school goes beyond standard educational curriculum. A CARE-led program in the school teaches children how to make attractive handbags from discarded items like bottle labels and cigarette packs. The kids earn money selling the items at a local market. Though the program includes boys and girls, it was designed in part to teach income-generating skills to at-risk girls; girls who might otherwise turn to prostitution.
CARE also provided members of the school's community with psycho-social counselling to help them cope with the intense trauma of the earthquake and its aftermath.
Despite the extreme challenges created by the earthquake, ASPAM believes it's a stronger organization now than it was before the earthquake. With 80 percent of its students passing Haiti's standardized tests, ASPAM acquired land to build a secondary school so its graduates have a place to continue their education as they grow.
"We hope CARE can help us expand the school," says Lesly Jean-Baptiste, chairman of ASPAM. "But even if it can't, CARE helped us become much stronger. I'm sure we will find a way."
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 4:20PM EST on November 28, 2011
In the highlands of Ethiopia, a group of 19 people sit in a circle in their communal field. In the middle of the circle are four coloured plates and a tin box with two locks.
This is the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee of Sahvina Kebel*. They formed through CARE's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project in late 2010.
Despite their name, this group does much more than improve access to clean water and sanitation in their community. With these simple tools, this committee and the woman leading them are also bringing new opportunities to their remote village.
It all began last year when the group built a new water pump with CARE's assistance. Less than one year later, this pump has given women more free hours in their day and reduced the amount of illness in the community, particularly the children.
Beletech, a 34-year-old mother of four, is the chairperson of the group. She explains 'Before the construction of the water pump, I would walk for one hour to collect water from the river. I lost time collecting water – walking and queuing because water is scarce. My children drank this unsafe water and had diseases. Now, the water is safe and my children can go to school and be healthy.'
The water pump was developed through a close partnership between CARE and the community – CARE provided skilled labour and the majority of the materials for the pump, and the community provided their own labour and sourced some local resources like sand and rocks.
The committee developed by-laws to protect the pump – if anyone breaks a law, they have to pay a fee. This money is then managed by the group to cover maintenance and other related costs.
That is just one of the funds the committee manages today. The committee also operates as a community savings group, with each member contributing 5 birr (30 cents) every month. As the total sum grows, members are able to take a loan out for income-earning activities, which is then repaid with interest.
The money is kept safely in a tin box under the security of two separate locks. Beletech holds one key, and the committee's treasurer holds the other.
'I am saving money, and starting to change my life,' says Beletech. The group has taken a loan already, to purchase salt and then on-sell it at the local market, making a profit of 55 birr ($3.20).
When the group meets, the money is divided amongst the coloured plates – with each one indicating a different "account" within the savings group. The green plate displays the groups' savings, yellow is the interest paid back from loans, red is the punishment fees that are paid if someone breaks a by-law; and blue is the social fund that all members contribute to and is available for anyone in the community to borrow from if they find themselves in urgent need of money.
Beletech's role as leader of the group is another first for this community. Before, women were not usually allowed to speak in public or be involved in decision making. Now, she is leading this group of women and men towards creating a better future for their entire community.
'I am happy to be the chairperson of the group. I manage the meetings and have the power to speak in front of others and make decisions. I received training from CARE about speaking publicly, before I only ever spoke in church. Now, I speak in meetings and community discussions.'
The gender division of labour and opportunities is breaking down in Beletech's home as well as her community. She explains, 'In my home, my husband would only spend his time on farming and I would work in the house. Now, my husband shares the household chores like cooking and making coffee and there is improvement in my home.'
Now, with the opportunity to learn leadership skills and the ability to save money, the opportunities for women in Sahvina Kebel are flowing as freely as the clean water from the village's water pump.
*A kebel is an Ethiopian village
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 4:09PM EST on November 28, 2011
In the red dusty landscape of southern Zimbabwe, a slight figure walks under the blazing afternoon sun with a tin bucket swinging by her side.
It looks like a difficult and tiring task, but 10-year old Agnes* is happy to collect clean safe water that is just 400 metres from her home.
Every afternoon, Agnes walks to a borehole that has been recently repaired by CARE to provide her and 300 other families with safe, clean water near their homes and school.
Collecting water is a task that is almost exclusively carried out by women and girls in developing countries like Zimbabwe. Without a safe borehole to collect water from, many females in Agnes' community used to walk for hours, several times a day, to collect enough water for their families to drink, bathe and cook with. Even after walking long distances to find water, what they would source may not necessarily be safe to drink.
The lack of access to clean water, and lack of toilets and information about sanitation have caused illness in Agnes' community – in 2009 the cholera outbreak that devastated parts of Zimbabwe claimed 4,000 lives and infected more than 100,000 people.
Since CARE's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project has been operating in the area, this has changed for many families.
Now, 300 toilets have been built by local communities, with assistance from CARE. Over 40 boreholes have been rehabilitated – providing access to safe water for thousands of people like Agnes.
'The borehole is closer to our house, so it's a good thing that we can get water there now. It is about 400 metres from our home and 200 metres from my school.'
Agnes has developed a new interest at school that helps her make the most of the new water and sanitation resources. She is a member of her school's health club, a group that is open to any student who would like to learn about preventing illness through sanitation and hygiene practices.
CARE encourages teachers in the community to start a health and hygiene education club at their school, and provides the teachers with support and advice on how to teach hygiene principles that will improve the health of students, and their families.
'I really like being in the health club because I get the explanation about how diseases are spread. We learn about mosquitoes, diarrhoea and houseflies. We learn through drawings and from books,' Agnes says.
'I teach my younger brother and sister what I learn as well. Now, we wash our hands after going to the toilet, we know how to store water in the house and not to play in stagnant water. '
Now, her daily routine includes sanitation principles at every opportunity – and she and her family are healthier because of the initiatives she has shared with them.
'In the morning, I make my bed, eat breakfast, sweep the house and bathe while my mother collects the first lot of water from the borehole.
In the afternoon, I bathe again, sweep, wash the dishes, collect more water with my mother and help make the fire for cooking dinner.'
With less time spent collecting water, and more activities in her home to keep her family healthy, Agnes is able to concentrate more on her studies. And what does a young girl with a passion for health and hygiene want to do when she leaves school? Help others to be healthy too, of course!
Agnes explains, 'When I finish school, I would like to be a nurse because I don't want people to get sick. I want to take care of them.'
*Names changed to protect children
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:51PM EST on November 28, 2011
Women have long been victims of gender based violence, especially in countries like Nepal. Women, particularly from poor vulnerable and excluded communities, live a life where they are made to believe that it is they are destined to suffer and nothing can be done about it.
However, there are some cases where awareness is being brought about in communities to help women feel that they were not born to suffer. CARE believes that a woman alone could feel helpless. By organizing her into a group she will find friend who will help her fight for her rights. Through group meetings, she will find a platform to share her woes and feelings and apparently will be strong enough to seek for justice for herself.
The story below is also about a woman, who with the help of her Peace Promotion Group could find justice for herself and her son. This is the story of 25 year old Amina Khatun who was a resident of Gonaha VDC of Rupandehi district in Nepal and belonged to the Muslim community. She dared to defy to her husband's atrocities and seek a peaceful life for herself and her son. Not just that, with the support from CARE Nepal's Woman and Youth Pillars of Sustainable Peace (WYPSP) program.
It was sometime around the first week of May when Amina's husband eloped with another woman from the same VDC. This broke down Amina. . "After knowing that my husband got married to someone else, I was shattered", Khatun shares .One could easily make out from her voice about the fury, pain and despair she was going through. She was disturbed. Yet she tried to"adjust" and "compromise" for the sake of her family. However, after her efforts were not appreciated by the family or the husband, she started questioning herself. She felt it was a humiliation for her and her dignity. "Love alone is not enough if it not reciprocated. I tried to compromise without thinking about myself but I could not continue any longer. She never got love or affection from her husband and his family or his family. Instead, she was looked as upon as a burden.
The firm decision Having felt that her husband and his family would not support her, Amina decided that she had to seek a divorce and start a new life. It was not as easy to take such a decision for a woman in Nepal, that too for someone belonging to the Muslim community. The divorce left Khatun penniless. She could not even send her son to school even after the age of 5. However, she accepted the challenge.
The support from Peace Ambassadors and Peace Builders : Member of Peace Pressure Group (PPG) and Peace Group (PG) formed under the WYPSP project were aware about the tension in Khatun's family. The issue was discussed in PPG meeting in the third week of May, 2011 and Peace ambassadors Ajaya Kumar Yadav communicated with Diwani Ghimire, Peace Builder at Peace Centre Rupandehi, asking if WYPSP team could do something for her. "After Diwani agreed, we first took her to mediation", Yadav said. After few days of the mediation, WYPSP team reached to Khatun's family and tried to reconcile. "However, our effort turned vain when both Sansudhin Dhuniya and Khatun, expressed their desire for separation", says Diwani.
Both of them were avoiding the reconciliation. Then the WYPSP team, along with other community people discussed on the compensation package on 7 June, 2011. "At first Khatun proposed that her husband should pay her 2 lakhs and 40 thousands rupees as compensation", Yadav shares. Also, she demanded some money for the upbringing of her 5 year old son. As Diwani Ghimire, Ajaya Yadav and community people were in Khatun's favor, her husband Samshudhin Dhuniya had no option, but to agree to compensate some money. Eventually, Samshudhin Dhuniya proposed to offer her Rs. 80,000 as compensation and Khatun agreed to it. Other agreements made that day were : a) Samsudhin Dhuniya offers Rs 2,000/ month to Khatun for their son's expense, b) Samsudhin Dhuniya initiate the process for birth registration of their son and c) Legal process for the divorce will be initiated in mutual consent . Yadav and Dhuniya followed up the case regularly.
Samsudhin Dhuniya offered her Rs 40,000 on June 8, 2011 and remaining 40,000 on August 18, 2011. Also, he is committed to offer Rs. 2,000 per months for his upbringing and education of their child. "By now, Khatun's son's name is registered in VDC office and the divorce application has been filed in District Court", Peace Ambassador Yadav Shares.
Khatun at present : At present, Khatun and her son are living a happy life in Khatun's maternal home in Badihati village of Maharajgunj district of India. "Now, I have learnt to live a happy life amid the sufferings, admits Katun. She wants her to send her to school and give him good education. Khatun is grateful to WYPSP team for taking initiation for the compensation package, which she believes, wasn't possible, if there was no effort from WYPSP.
WYPSP is a project funded by the European Union and implanted by CARE Nepal with the support from local NGOs.The overall objective of the Program is to develop capacity of civil society networks to engage poor, vulnerable and socially excluded (PVSE) groups of women and youth in the process of influencing a democratic constitution in Nepal, leading towards sustainable peace and the achievement of their aspirations.
With the intervention of WYPSP, issues of women especially from Poor, Vulnerable and Socially Excluded (PVSE) population have been advocated in positive light in the working. Numerous efforts are underway to reinstate the right of PVSE women who are in domestic violence, social stigma and are facing social discrimination. The project was started in January 2008. It intends to benefit 65000 PVSE people by 2012.
Posted by: Intel IESC at 8:22PM EST on November 10, 2011
The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Heather Levin, an applications engineer at Intel, recaps her team's first week of experiences in India working with CARE in Hardoi.
As we walked through the gates of the Sarvodaya Ashram on Tuesday morning, it was clear that we had entered a sanctuary. Four groups of 25 girls were seated on the floor, engaged with each other, their teacher, and their studies. Perhaps these girls have known suffering but you would never have known it from their faces. It was clear that the Udaan school – supported by CARE India and designed to help girls catch up from a gap in their schooling – has created a nurturing family where the girls feel safe and are able to focus on their development.
The girl’s faces were shy and curious as they began their first computer class. Within minutes, they were engaged and actively exploring what we had shown them. We had prepared more advanced lesson plans, but we had to adapt and adjust as so many of the fundamental skills that are engrained in us are new to them. In addition, we had created an Excel wedding budget lesson plan, but the girls informed us that weddings come only after their studies.
So we focused on practical skills like navigating the desktop, using a mouse, opening, saving, and formatting but always ended class with an activity that thrilled them. The girls were mesmerized by the use of the classmate PC’s camera, snapping pictures of themselves, their teachers, and us. The typing and math games we introduced not only reinforced the children’s ability but inspired a teacher, who had previously stated that she only wanted one hour of computer usage per week, to say that she would start using the software as part of her math curriculum. The girls quickly grew more confident and began navigating the computer and practicing addition, subtraction, and multiplication. We tried to plant at least one seed in their imagination, and each day they left class sparkling with delight, waving, and shouting Namaste to us.
On our last day we taught the girls basic robotics by having them build crocodiles, monkeys, and planes from a LEGO Education product called WeDo, which contains not only LEGO pieces but a USB-powered motor with various sensors and a visual programming interface that runs on the classmate PC. Yesterday, none of the girls knew what robots were, but today they built and programmed their own. The click of their minds as new neural networks were manifested, on some level, seemed to shift our future. Set in motion, inspired by the congregation of forces – locals, CARE, Intel, and us – there is no bound to what these girls can do. Each girl that we help helps another, and thus, not only the girls themselves, but our dreams of a better world, take flight.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 2:05PM EST on October 20, 2011
With each new flood, girls in Pakistan are at risk of quietly being sold for brides.
By Hadia Nusrat, Senior Gender Advisor, CARE Pakistan
Driving through parts of Sindh is impossible, as so much of the area is underwater from new floods this year, with roads either inaccessible or crowded with families who have lost their homes. Sadly, in the far flung communities and villages of Dadu, people have lived in abject poverty for generations. Young women are particularly vulnerable. The scenery is reminiscent of last year, in the wake of the floods where we found a young girl called Kanwal, who lives in a remote village in Dodo Birhamani.
Displaced by the floods, Kanwal and her family of eleven members migrated to this village as they had relatives here, seeking shelter until they were able to build their own. But with no income and many mouths to feed, Kanwal's parents decided to raise funds by arranging a marriage for Kanwal, who was just nine years old at the time. Traditionally marriages take place early in the Birhamani tribe. Girls are usually married by age 15 -- any later and they would be stigmatized as being too old to be married. In Kanwal's case her parents would receive a sum of 70,000 Rupees (USD 800) as bride price that would allow them to buy a lot of land and some goats to resettle in this village.
A Stony Rescue
Confused, scared and unwilling, Kanwal reluctantly agreed. The wedding date was set for the very next day. As the ceremony was proceeding, a police van and police officers (including a female officer) intercepted the wedding procession, took Kanwal into protective custody, and moved her to the nearby Dadu city.
It turned out to be Kanwal's special day after all. Someone from the village had called the police to report that the crime of marrying a nine year old was taking place. Normally such events go un-reported in Pakistan, but in Dadu an CARE project* funded by the European Union for protecting human rights had recently run street theatres, and shared contacts with village youth in case they wished to report crimes in the area. This small initiative had sparked an essential change in raising awareness, empowering local people with information and networks for reporting a crime in progress and intercepting it.
The rescue did not run smoothly. The police squad was stoned and their car was smashed. Kanwal's mother, who accompanied her young daughter to the police station, protested profusely. But when she learned that she, her husband and the groom's family could all be libel to fines, penalties and possible jail, she quieted, appreciating for perhaps the first time that marrying a girl so young was indeed a crime -- and seeing now how that they had been pushed in to it. At the time of the marriage agreement and exchange of bride price, Kanwal's mother explained, it was agreed that Kanwal would be wed only after puberty. But once the money was paid, the groom's family insisted she be wed quickly.
The Stigma of Shame
Kanwal is an energetic girl, who cooks the food for her family of eleven. Two of her siblings are mentally disabled, while the others are all young men and boys who leave the home to seek daily wage work. Often they return empty handed, as there is little work in the parched lands around the village. There is just one school in the village run by a local non-governmental organization and their charges make the education unaffordable for Kanwal's family. Kanwal knows there is an alternative – a young woman who is ready to teach her and other girls to read and write for much less -- and with her audience of visitors, she even dares to argue with her mother that she should be allowed to learn. Her mother is not interested in education. She needs her daughter's help in the house. Kanwal, however, remembers fondly and proudly the year she went to school in the village they used to live in before the floods. She can write the entire English and Sindhi alphabet, and can write her name in both languages. She holds up pages of her writing with the same enthusiasm she shows for her hand-stitched textile designs.
Though she has been saved from becoming a child bride, her human rights may still not be respected. Her rights to education, justice, access to information, decent living and livelihood may all still be denied, without schools, teachers, income generation opportunities, honest judiciary or law enforcement bodies that can carry the work forward. This is an unfinished story. Kanwal faces a perilous journey, as do many young girls in this region. With each new flood, they are at risk of quietly being sold for brides, as the only source of financial security for their families.
CARE has been working in Sindh since 2007, initially responding to floods, then with a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights program, and staying on to support these communities devastated by the 2010 and 2011 floods. CARE's priority is to work with marginalized women, providing primary health services and raising awareness on health and hygiene practices to help women help themselves.
*The EU funded CARE project works through a national partner organization called “Strengthening Participatory Organization” (SPO) which in turn forms Human Rights Forums comprised of civil society, police and judiciary. The forums organize advocacy events at village levels.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:39AM EST on October 14, 2011
Sardar Rohail Khan
Security Operations Assistant, CARE Pakistan
An audio version of this blog is available here.
My friends say I can appear expressionless, even cold at times. It's an occupational hazard of security training, where we learn not to show too much emotion on the job. But one glance from a small village girl, and I was lost. As her eyes pinned me, sparking fiercely with anxiety, I found myself wondering almost aloud: What are we doing here? How can any amount of humanitarian aid make a difference in this poor girl's life?
As we respond to the Pakistan floods of 2011, it's impossible not to reflect on the tireless efforts of my colleagues and our partners to aid survivors of the catastrophic flood which struck just last year. Like the mud when the waters receded, memories clog the hearts of those who are rebuilding their lives, and those who went to help. The second flood has now hit harder, like a terrible flashback.
When my boss called to say that I had to travel to south Punjab to support the field work, I had mixed feelings. I didn't want to be away from my fiancée. I had no idea that nature was about to hit me with a different kind of flood, or that I wouldn't be able to work or sleep until I responded to the emotions that came rushing in with it.
On the road, we passed lush green fields which every year produce the best mangoes in the world. After two hours of bumpy driving off the main highway, we reached a village that been devastated by the rains. It was scorching hot, 47 degrees. As I sweated outside a small one-room school building, watchful for security problems, I kept soaking myself with cold water from a tube well, to the amusement of kids playing nearby.
Inside, the makeshift classroom was crammed with children of all ages, and some adults curious about our team's arrival. As I scanned the room, my eyes caught those of a small girl. She was staring at me, reciting her lessons while looking uneasily at the guests, intruders in her world. While she clenched a small book with her mouth, biting it, her brother sitting next to her would poke and tease her, over and over again -- and she would not say a word, even though it was clearly testing her patience. With the permission of her parents standing nearby, I snapped a photo. She continued to stare, without speaking. She wore a ragged shalwar kameez, the local dress, and her hair was matted, but she would fix her veil often, with the dignity of a princess.
Her parents were Pakhtuns, but could speak some Urdu. When I commended them for educating their children, they laughed, and replied that they sent their children to "this place" to keep them out of the way When I asked why not let them stay and learn, to benefit the whole family, they said the girl would be married as soon as she turned 14. I persisted in my argument that both children needed education, as it would elevate them. They almost seemed convinced, but explained that they couldn't go against local traditions. They had already given their word on the marriage to a family in a nearby village.
The gaze of the small girl pierced me, as I struggled with the realization that what little knowledge she might acquire through this program could only raise her hopes -- for a life she would not be allowed to live. Education could give her the vision to bring her family out of poverty, but not without a whole new way of thinking in her village.
Sitting on the cement floor, clutching an English book she could not read, she seemed to plead with her eyes: "Help me find the courage and the strength that I need." And while I ruminated on what we could and could not change in her world, this little girl changed mine. She had the power to change my life, simply by letting me peer for a moment into hers. Without speaking a word, she somehow helped me understand that I needed first to stop thinking I had all the answers. Instead, I would begin to ask myself bigger questions: "With my knowledge, my happiness, what can I share? How can I make a difference?"
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:58PM EST on September 14, 2011
by Niki Clark, CARE Emergency Media Officer in Kenya
One of my "duties" as an emergency media officer here in the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, is to share my perspective of CARE's work and beneficiaries through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. And being the dutiful employee I am, I often Twitter-follow recent Dadaab visitors so that I can in turn share their perspectives of the camps.
One such recent visitor was Somalian-born, Canadian-raised singer K'naan. Although K'naan found worldwide fame only recently through his 2010 FIFA World Cup theme-song Wavin' Flag, he has been amassing fans for more than 10 years, when a spoken word performance before the United Nations High Commission on Refugees caught the ear of famed Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour (another recent Dadaab visitor). After K'naan visited Dadaab with a World Food Programme-CARE joint delegation, which included friends of CARE Cindy McCain and retired NBA superstar Dikembe Mutombo, @Knaan became my latest Twitter-follow.
For the past week or so, I have been struggling with the two very different Dadaabs I have experienced. Then, yesterday, I read a tweet that perfectly captured what I have been trying to express:
"Somalia is overflowing with beauty." @knaan reflects on his Somalia, not necessarily the one you see on the nightly news.
In midst of the strife and turmoil, hidden between the heartache and uncertainty, and tucked away behind the dire poverty and desperation of a homeless people, the people of Somalia – the refugees of Dadaabb – are an overflowing vessel of beauty. Because the unexpected truth is: there is beauty everywhere, even in the world's largest refugee camp, where I see:
When I was an art student in college, I did a photography project on raw beauty – the beauty of accomplishment, the beauty of the everyday, of the unintentional. I have seen incredible poverty in Dadaab, things that people should never see, things that should never exist. Back in my Washington, D.C., office, I have CARE's vision tacked to my cubicle walls:
We seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security. CARE International will be a global force and a partner of choice within a worldwide movement dedicated to ending poverty. We will be known everywhere for our unshakable commitment to the dignity of people.
It's a constant reminder for me of the essence of CARE's purpose: Defending Dignity. Fighting Poverty. Because dignity is beautiful. People who are able to control their own destinies and raise themselves above the situations into which they are born: this is true beauty. And it's all over Dadaab.
As a native of Somalia, K'naan is able to see something that most people in the world will never see: the beauty of Somalia and its people. Dadaab may never make Travel & Leisure's "Top 10 Most Beautiful Places' but the people of Somalia – who are the refugees of Dadaab – are some of the most beautiful people in the world.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:52AM EST on August 5, 2011
By Juliett Otieno, CARE Kenya
Aug. 4, 2011
Muna* is the envy of her friends in Dagahaley camp. She is also a newly arrived refugee, in fact just nine days in the camp, but unlike her friends who have to live in the outskirts, she has what seems like the comfort of a room within the camp. As soon as she arrived, she managed to trace some of her clan members, who let her use the room in their homestead. Muna is 40 years old, and arrived in Dadaab with her seven children.
Her story, however, is nothing to envy.
She left her husband behind because bus fare for all of them was too expensive. They had to pay Ksh 15, 000 each for the journey on a bus, so he let them go ahead, remaining behind to raise more money for his own trip. “I will join you soon,” he said as he waved them goodbye.
Muna’s journey from Somalia took her 18 long days, having to feed her children wild fruits and look out for wild animals and hyenas. Her children are all safe, and they did not come across any wild animals on the way. However, what her friends would not envy about her is that she was raped on her way to Dadaab. It was midway through their journey, bandits (shiftas) stopped their bus and ordered all the women to step out. “We were eight women on total, so they separated the older women from the younger ones, and told them to get back into the bus. The five of us stayed behind, with our children, and the bus driver was ordered to drive off and leave us behind. That is when they raped us,” she said.
They were in the middle of nowhere, with their children, and strange armed men. The children were pushed away behind some bushes and instructed to be quiet by one of the men, as the others went back to the women and raped them. Some of the other women were gang raped.
Although it was in broad daylight, no other vehicle passed by, and even though they all screamed for help and their children were crying in fear, nobody came to help them. “Afterwards they told us to take our children and keep walking,” Muna and the other women ended up walking 17 kilometres before coming to Dif, where they told some village elders what had happened to them, and they raised some money so the women could go on their journey.
Muna and the other ladies finally came to Dadaab, and she is happy to stay away from her fellow newly arrived refugees, in some private space with her children, among her larger clam. She has gone through reception, and her registration date is set for November 11th. “I am glad we arrived here, and all my children are ok. We finally got some food and water and I have a tent. There are so many people here, even those who came with us, but it is still like we are alone, because my husband is not here.”
The most dangerous period for refugees is when they are on the move. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to rape, abduction, illness and even death on the journey. Many women set out on the journey alone with their children, leaving husbands behind and they may walk for weeks in search of safety.
According to UNHCR reports, the numbers of sexual and gender-based violence cases have quadrupled in the last six months in Dadaab: 358 incidents reported from January until June 2011, in comparison with 75 during the same period in 2010.
CARE has set-up a screening tent at reception centers in Ifo and Dagahaley camps in Dadaab to help identify survivors of sexual abuse or other violence on their journey. In the first six months of this year, since the refugee influx began, 136 cases have been documented, compared to 66 in the same period in 2010. Upon identification, counseling and referred emergency medical attention is administered.
“The deep psychological affects that drought, conflict and subsequent movement can have on woman refugees is immense. We have witnessed high levels of anxiety, panic and trauma due to loss of family members along the way and women are sharing stories of rape, violence and hunger,” said Wilson Kisiero, CARE’s Gender and Community Development manager in Dadaab. “CARE is providing immediate psychological support to the newly arrived women and girl refugees and we are doing all we can to ensure follow-up visits.”
Muna was referred to the MSF clinic by the CARE staff that interviewed her, but she has not gone to the clinic yet, she is afraid she may be pregnant from the ordeal, or she may have a disease. She said she would wait a few more days and then go, but not just yet.
*Not her real named
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:13AM EST on August 5, 2011
by Juliett Otieno, CARE Kenya
Aug. 4, 2011
In Hagadera camp, Fatumo Osman Abdi, 50 has just settled into her tent. She is weary from the journey of 20 days from Somalia. She came with her three grandchildren (aged 13, 5 and 4), her son and pregnant daughter-in-law. Back in Somalia they were farmers, in a place called Kurdun where they grew food for her family. The lack of food became a bigger and bigger problem with time, until they decided to leave.
“Every night as we traveled here, we slept out in the open land, under the stars. We were very afraid, we did not know what was out there, or if there were people coming. We had heard many stories of man-eating lions so we could not even sleep,” she said.
The journey was a difficult one, but Fatumo is thankful that they did not meet any robbers. On their way to Dadaab, they were given food by Muslims on the way, just well wishers who decided to lend a helping hand.
“We arrived here so hungry, so tired. My grandchildren were so tired, I was afraid they would die on the way. Even my daughter-in-law. We slept out in the open for many days, we were under the stars again, but we were safe. After so many days I finally have my tent,” she said.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 9:43AM EST on August 5, 2011
By Juliett Otieno, CARE Kenya
Aug. 4, 2011
Seventy year old Habibi* came to Kenya as one of 72 people who traveled together from Somalia. That was almost her entire village, she says, and was made up of her family and friends. Her son had heard of Dadaab and told them about it years ago, he had said that they could run to it because of the fighting. Habibi’s husband had declined, opting to stay in Somalia longer.
Back home they were farmers and pastoralists, growing sorghum, and keeping cows, goats and sheep. They left Somalia because of drought, came here with her friends and neighbours, children and grandchildren. She describes the journey to Dadaab as the ‘worst thing she has ever experienced’.
“We were attacked by strange men, they looted all our belongings, women were raped and men were beaten, but we thank God nobody died,”. Habibi was also raped, and manages to talk about it openly, her anger and confusion still evident. “Our husbands and sons were all there to see it happen to us, it was very bad!”
She is still in the influx area of Dagahaley camp, with only 16 other friends and relatives. The others settled in another camp, Hagadera. One of her relatives gave up his tent for her so she could have shelter with her four grandchildren. All they had to eat on the way was maize, and more maize as they traveled the long journey to Dadaab.
“I do not want to go back to Somalia, all our problems are still there! I am here with nothing, but I would rather stay here. Life here is hard, the food they give us is little because now we have to wait for registration, but I would rather stay here than go back,” she said.
*Not her real name.
Posted by: DR.DHIRES KUMAR CHOWDHURY at 4:13PM EST on July 29, 2011
Reputed NGO of Kolkata- "BANCHBO" organized a cultural event in the occasion of Formal launching of "VIKASHITA- a brighter future"- Educational Project for Sundarban Children in association with SULEKHA-famous bengali corporate and "Banchbo - Indranaraynpur Mahila Samity"-for empowerment of Sundarban Women,Prize distribution ceremony of "Sharad Samman -2010"-selected by Underpriviledged & Street Children & Senior Citizen and Scholarship and felicitation to Meritorious Students of Sundarban on 13th July, Friday,2011 at 6 pm – 9 pm. at Dr. Triguna Sen Hall.
Award ceremony of "Sharad Samman-2010".
Formal launching of "VIKASHITA- a brighter future Project"
Formal launching of "Banchbo Indranaraynpur Mahila Samity"-products of
mahila samity(pickle, tomato sauce,kasundi etc) marketed by Sulekha in the brand name-"LADY MADE"
"Late Sankar Prasad Chowdhury Scholarship" to AMINUDDIN GAZI(S/O Van Rickshaw Puller in Sundarban),secured 88%marks in 2011
Power point presentation on activities of BANCHBO by Kuhu Chowdhury & Sushil Sharma.
Dance Composition-"Sundarban Garber Dhan"- based on Sundarban,performed by Children of Sundarban & Kolkata.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:57AM EST on July 26, 2011
Sandra Bulling, CI Communications Officer
In Borena in southern Ethiopia the last two rainy seasons have brought no water. The drought took one third of all livestock, leaving families without income.
Little Salad is sleeping soundly. Gamu Kamad, his mother, is very relieved. Just a few days ago, the 11-months old could do nothing but vomit. He could not crawl, he did not play; he was just too weak. In the past weeks, Gamud feed him only water – she had no money to buy milk. Most of her cattle died. In the Borena zone, in southern Ethiopia, the last two rainy seasons did not bring any water and a worrying drought has gripped the region. In the Moyale district, the land is brown and dusty. Bushes and trees have lost their last leaves, their trunks and branches reach naked into the air. A little green is left on thorny shrubberies and acacia trees, both either too dangerous or too high for cattle to reach.
Gamud and Salad have found help in a health center in the town of Moyale, run by the local government. Salad was weighed and screened. His diagnose: severe acute malnutrition. He was brought to the stabilization center, where he now receives therapeutic supplementary food, provided by CARE Ethiopia, until his condition improves and he reaches a normal weight for a boy of his age. His mother stays with him and receives food as well. “I was very worried about Salad,” she explains. “We came here four days ago, but now Salad’s condition is already much better.” She looks at the tiny bundle lying next to her, still sleeping calmly. “Before I brought him here, he could not open his eyes any more. He threw up the water I gave him. But now he gets stronger every day.”
The health centers in the Moyale district have experienced a rise in malnutrition cases for children under five years. Almost 500 severely malnourished children were admitted from January to June. In 2010, this was the rate for the entire year. In the Borena culture, children are given the most food. They eat first, followed by the father and then the mother. Parents give their children the little food they have, but now they have no groceries left and no money to buy some.
Livestock is life
Gamud has lost 36 of her 51 cattle to the drought. The residual cattle are too emaciated to give milk or to sell on the market. Her husband is trying to save the lives of the remaining ones by taking them to areas where pasture is still available. Some people migrate as far as 400 kilometers in search of water and pasture, putting pressure on the remaining grazing grounds. CARE, in close collaboration with the local government, opened 21 slaughter destocking sites to recover some value from emaciated and unproductive animals that would otherwise die and to prevent conflict that might arise from competition around scarce pasture grounds.
The smell of slaughtered meat hangs in the air. The bones of cattle are thrown into a square, deep pit. Bloods seeps away into the brown ground, leaving dark red streams on the earth. Hasalo Duba has come with two cows to the slaughter destocking site in Dima village. “Before the drought I had ten cattle. Six died already and I brought two here today. I have only two left now; only one of them gives milk,” the 25-years old mother of six children says. She will receive 800 Birr (47 USD) per cattle which allows her to buy staple foods on the market. She will also get some hay and supplementary animal feed to save the life of her remaining two cattle. “Eight vulnerable families will receive the meat of the slaughtered cattle,” Mandefro Mekete explains. “The slaughtering takes place with technical assistance from official meat inspectors, who ensure that the meat is safe for consumption.” However, there is not much meat left on the bones of the barren cattle waiting in front of the slaughtering pit.
No rains expected to come soon
The next rainy season is supposed to arrive in September or October. Until then, many pastoralists predict most if not all of their remaining cattle will starve. Some elderly already fear that the Hagaya rains, as the autumn rainy season is called, will fail as well. Kofobicha is 55 years old and has lived through several times of hardship. But the drought has never been as bad. “We don’t expect the next rainy season to come. Even if the Hagaya rains come, no cattle will be left by September,” he forebodes. “But we don’t care about our livestock any more. All that counts now is to save human live. We have accepted that we need to fast, but who saves our children?”
Salad from Moyale town was lucky, he has been saved. Life has returned to him, thanks to CARE’s and the government’s interventions. But many more children and their parents will need assistance in the coming months. They need urgent humanitarian support, but they need also a long-term strategy to become more resilient to the impacts of drought. So Salad’s mother is able to buy him food when the next drought hits.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:10AM EST on July 26, 2011
By Linda Ogwell
Dama Godana knows all too well how difficult the life of a pastoralist woman is. In addition to the usual daily household chores of cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children, she has to walk long distances to fetch water and pasture for the small and weak animals during the dry season.
“Sometimes we have to move to inaccessible areas to look for pasture facing the risk of snakes, injuries and exposure to the harsh rays of the sun,” explains 40-year-old Godana.
When Godana heard what women in other non pastoralists communities around Ethiopia were doing to help themselves, she visited them and with the knowledge she gained she founded the Darara Women’s Savings and Credit Group in 2007. “Most pastoralist women depend on handouts from their husbands. They are not empowered,” says Godana. “I formed this credit group, so that we can work together make some income and improve our lives.”
The group started with a membership of 15 women each paying 60 Birr (about US$ 6) as a registration fee and a monthly contribution of 10 birr (US$ 1) per month. “With this money we invested in two young bulls and during the dry season we bought concentrated animal feed and sold it to the community members,” explains Godana. The group made a profit of 2000 birr (US$ 200).
During the dry season, the group sold scarce cereals like maize, beans and sugar to the community members and to date their membership has increased to 23 with a total budget of 8459 Birr (US$ 845) plus 4 bulls. Haymaking
CARE International in Ethiopia, under the Resilience Enhancement against Drought (RREAD) project, realized the difficulty these women faced in seeking pasture for their animals and trained them on haymaking. “Training the women’s group in haymaking was not only meant to lessen their burden but also to make pasture available for the small and weak animals during the dry and drought season, thus increasing their chances of survival,” says Temesgen Tesfaye, CARE project officer in Ethiopia. For the Darara women’s group haymaking has become second nature. Immediately after the rains stop they cut hay and collect it as it begins to yellow. This sequence retains the hay’s nutritional value. The hay is then laid out to dry on especially made beds to prevent its decay. Afterwards, it is piled in stacks and stored for use in the dry season.
“We are thankful to CARE for this initiative because during the drought seasons we don’t have to suffer anymore,” says Ashure Jaldessa, a member of the Darara women’s group.
The RREAD project also provides the group with a one-off payment of 25,000 Birr (US$ 2500) to strengthen their trading business and livestock marketing. “This money will increase our household income and improve our resiliency to drought,” beamed a happy Godana. RREAD also trained the women to handle different roles and responsibilities within the group. These include basic auditing, financial management and record keeping skills.
For Godana, the journey has been long. Married as a child at a tender age of 8 years, Godana lost her husband three years later. With no education but full of determination and ambition, she started selling local brew until she got enough capital to sell roofing materials, a business she still runs to date.
“I have no education and that’s something I regret but life experiences have taught me a lot and one lesson I learnt is that one must always strive to make life better and this is what I tell my fellow women,” says Godana. “This does not mean that education is not important. It definitely is and we must ensure that our girls to go to school and stay there.”
Godana’s efforts to improve the lives of women in her community caught the attention of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who in 2001 awarded her with a medal that reads, “Although illiterate, this woman’s struggle to uplift the women in her community has made her a symbol of development and we are proud of her.”
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 9:54AM EST on July 25, 2011
By Audrée Montpetit, CARE Senior Humanitarian Program Quality AdvisorJuly 22, 2011
We traveled ten hours by car from Addis Ababa to reach the CARE Ethiopia Borena Field office based in Yabello. This small town is located some 200 kilometers from the Kenyan border. CARE is scaling up its emergency relief operations rapidly to address the worsening drought situation for this primarily pastoralist population. The Borena pastoralists are known for their hardiness and endurance, as well as for their cultural tradition of ensuring that the children are fed and asleep before the men eat, and finally the women. When malnourishment of children amongst this population becomes a source of concern, it is clear that there is a crisis on hand.
In a presentation at the CARE office, the CARE field staff and government officials jointly painted a very grim picture of the current situation and repeatedly referred to a disaster in the making with the loss of over 200,000 livestock dead in Borana (out of 750,000) as a result of lack of pasture and water. Without cattle, there will be neither income to buy food or milk to feed the children. As the cattle weaken and become emaciated, they no longer produce milk and often reach a stage that by the time they are slaughtered, there is hardly any meat left on the bone to consume.
In one of CARE’s innovative programs in close collaboration with government authorities and community leaders, we aim to recover some value from emaciated and unproductive animals that would otherwise die from the effects of drought. Slaughter destocking decreases the grazing pressure at times of high pasture scarcity. We saw carcass after carcass being thrown into a pit after the animal was killed, and those animals that still yielded some meat were butchered and shared amongst families identified by government authorities as vulnerable. CARE Ethiopia’s program of de-stocking provides an opportunity to pastoralists to sell their cows at a fair price and to receive in addition to nearly USD 50 for each cow, grain to feed two remaining cattle. This project is an excellent effort to help families not only gain some savings from their cattle before they die from weakness, but also to try to save those that they still have.
But their remaining cattle are very few. Of original herd sizes of 15, 30 or 40 in nearly every case, women and men would tell us that they had only two or three cows left. They have lost the majority of their cattle in the past few months with mounds of partially decomposed skeletons scattered throughout the landscape attesting to this fact.
The respected elderly clansmen of Borena have predicted that the next rains will fail as well. Scientists credit the current drought to the La Nina phenomenon which changes weather patterns and causes drier conditions in Eastern Africa. The rains are not even due for another two months yet they are expecting the worse as their situation now is very grim. A dignified elder told us that there was no hope for them: ”We shall pass, but we must help the children.” He told us that they are not able to care for their cattle and that this is not their first priority anymore. The major issue is now the health of their children who are already starting to suffer. His words highlighted the scenes and conversations of the day visiting a local health center where too-thin babies were being treated for malnutrition, to the destocking site, and water provision activities, and later to the amazing clan gathering of around 15,000 Borena who meet every eight years to elect new leaders.
At this gathering, we were told that there were very few cattle and camels. One of the elders gestured to the encampment area and said: ”Look, it is empty. In the past years there were too many cattle and we had no space. This year we have hardly any cattle.” They told us that their fate is not in their own hands, and that they have to pray to God for rain. However, their cultural wisdom of ages past leads them to believe that the rains in September will fail again.
There is a window of opportunity for the Borena: If assistance is able to reach them at this time. They have lost their assets, their source of family insurance has gone, and they now face three months, at the very least, of continued drought. They are sure that without help, they and their families are at extreme risk of losing their lives. The CARE Ethiopia team has worked diligently over the past years to develop an excellent strategy and complementary set of interventions to help mitigate this situation in Borena. But, the complex set of factors created by a catastrophic region wide drought caused by the La Nina phenomenon, the loss of a cattle market in the Middle East, chronic poverty and the dramatic increase in food prices has resulted in a situation where the Borena are on the edge of disaster.
CARE is acting now to scale up and expand our efforts in our current programming areas of CARE Ethiopia -- to save lives that will be at extreme risk in the coming months. But we need more help. We need to prevent people from leaving their homelands in search of refuge, to prevent a further long term catastrophe including complete loss of livelihoods as well as loss of lives.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 3:56PM EST on July 21, 2011
Blog by Barbara Jackson, humanitarian director, CARE Emergency Group
July 20, 2011
We’ve just returned from a visit to Dadaab Refugee camp in northern Kenya, where I was accompanied by the CARE Canada President and CEO Kevin McCort, CARE Australia Head of Fundraising Andrew Buchannan and CARE USA Head of Foundations Liz McLaughlin.
In my more than 20 years of field experience with CARE, I have not seen such widespread levels of the effects of lack of food on so many people.
Every single man, woman and child that we saw and met with of the more than 1,500 people arriving daily do not have a spare ounce of flesh on their bodies. The adults are literally down to the bone; the children are incredibly listless, showing obvious signs of malnutrition and distress.
Single mothers carry one or two children on their backs with others holding tightly onto their ragged wrap. We met groups of over 40 people who had traveled together, leaving behind the elderly whom they knew would not be able to make the walk of 20 or more days to reach Dadaab. They do not know if they will ever see each other again.
Every single person with whom we talked -- from those who had just arrived after a grueling journey to those who have been waiting in small hastily and sparsely constructed shelters, to those working as volunteers with CARE to provide food and some basic essentials -- asked us to help them to tell the world of their plight.
“Please share our message from Dadaab that we need help, that we cannot wait, that we have come this far and we still do not have the food and shelter that we need.”
There are more than 15,000 refugees who have arrived who are still not on the U.N. registration system and are not entitled to receive basic health services or a monthly ration of food. We met many of these people on the outskirts of one camp where CARE is now providing additional water and sanitation services. When I asked to see their vouchers that were provided to them upon arrival to confirm when a date had been set by which they would be officially registered, I was surrounded by many people who dug into their carefully wrapped worn bags and pockets to show me vouchers with dates for as far away as mid September.
One young woman asked, “I am hungry now and I have no shelter, how will I be able to wait this long for food for myself and my children? We thought we would be able to get help here but there is no help.”
Our CARE staff is working many long hours each and every day to help speed up food distribution, to get water and sanitation services out to those who are escaping from the drought plaguing the region, and to increase educational services for the influx of many more young children.
I am extremely heartened by the great willingness and generosity of the CARE members to offer expertise and personnel as well as hopefully, in the short term future, significant additional funding. Many of the people who we met thanked us -- for the support they are receiving now and for what they truly hope will come.On Monday, Kevin McCort and I will meet with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) High Commissioner in Geneva. We hope that we can help ensure that the refugee registration system in Dadaab will be rapidly accelerated for, without that, there will be a continued huge gap and many women, children and men left without any hope.
I am now in Ethiopia with Andrew and Liz, visiting communities where CARE Ethiopia works to see how we can help expand our programming here to ensure that people do not have to leave their homes in search of help, that they will be able to survive the coming very lean months.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 10:08AM EST on July 19, 2011
Engda Asha, Emergency Project Manager for CARE Ethiopia
July 15, 2011
Engda Asha, Emergency Project Manager for CARE Ethiopia in West Hararghe, gives an update on the devastating effects of the drought on one of the worst-hit parts of Eastern Ethiopia.
The situation in West Hararghe is critical. As verified through nutritional survey conducted by some aid agencies, there is an increased percentage of children under five showing signs of acute malnutrition in most districts of the zone. The number of households needing general food assistance is increasing at an alarming rate every day. As a result, the number of beneficiaries to be addressed by CARE alone has skyrocketed from 28,000 at the beginning of the crisis to 135,240 just as of 12 July 2011. People are mostly in need of food assistance.
Owing to the seriousness of the condition, the regional Disaster prevention and preparedness commission (DPPC) officials are on stand by, closely monitoring the situation on weekly basis. A command post is in place at kebele level (lowest administration unit) and they report to the Federal level. CARE is one of the members of the command post and is involved in situational assessments every week.
Currently, it has started to rain in this part of Ethiopia and hence some water is available both for people and livestock. Following the improvement in the availability of pasture and water, I can say that livestock condition is improving. But the human condition remains critical, because there is not enough food.
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 12:29PM EST on July 18, 2011
By Alexandra Lopoukhine, Emergency Media Officer
July 12, 2011
I woke up early in the morning and accompanied American and German journalists to a reception center before it had opened for the day. We found people sitting outside in neat rows. Women with their small children made up three lines of about 20 adults each, then two lines were made up of families, fathers and mothers together with their children, and lastly, another three lines of single men, young and old alike. This is the prioritization for access to the reception center – women and children first.
What struck me today were the children and the mothers. I have had the privilege of traveling to many places in this big world of ours. I have found that in places where I spend time with people with whom I don’t share a common language, smiling and nodding hello is a great way to initiate communication. Often, the children I have met along the way find ways to laugh, to play, to joke with me…or the youngest of the children stare and sometimes cry if I get too close.
Here, at the reception center, the children were not laughing, not playing…. The mothers did not really give me a smile back, barely any nodded back at me – rather they just stared at me. The children were sitting, very quietly and others curled on their mothers laps. Not exactly what you think of when you think of a two year-old in line somewhere. Many of these people have just arrived from their long journeys here. And at 7:30 am, they were really only focused on the last few hours before they were to receive their first ration of WFP food.
Later in the afternoon, we arrived at the area where refugees who have been here for about three months had set up their homes. We arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon. Areas with water taps were bustling with activity. Women and men were talking along the side of the dirt road, as women with wood on their heads and a man on bicycle passed by. Goats grazed on mostly barren bushes. And there were children – wow, were there children…they were hard to miss: running, smiling, laughing, playing, and wrestling. I was struck by the contrast of this morning’s scene. Water. Food. Shelter. Latrines. Education - all the services these refugees were now accessing; it gave me hope.
The worst drought in 60 years is spreading across East Africa, creating the most severe food crisis in the world and threatening the lives of 10 million people. Life-saving support is urgently needed. Make a donation |Learn more
La pire sécheresse des 60 dernières années se répand à travers l'Afrique orientale, provoquant la crise alimentaire la plus grave au monde qui menace la vie de 10 millions de personnes. Des secours sont urgemment requis. Faire un don | En savoir plus
Posted by: Daniel Fava at 11:50AM EST on July 18, 2011
By Alexandra Lopoukhine, Emergency Media Officer
July 10, 2011
This morning, CARE staff were discussing, at length, ideas and plans on how to increase water supply in the areas where the newly arrived refuges have settled. A CARE International Water Expert has been with the team here in Dadaab for a few days now, assessing current needs and formulating a plan forward: more 10,000 gallon tanks; more drilling; more boreholes.
This afternoon, I headed out to the outskirts of Dagahaley and talked with some people who have been here for less than three months. A crowd quickly formed. One woman told me about the lack of water. Above us all, stood a very tall man (I am quite short, but he really was tall) and he explained to me that way too many people have to share one latrine. He told me they need more water – what they have now really isn’t enough. The crowd all agreed.
It was then that I explained that a water expert has come to help CARE determine what we can do about the water supply situation. I told him we know it is not enough. I told him the world is paying attention; money is coming-in to help get them more food, more water and more support. I apologized that things are this way right now, but that with all the new people coming recently, it has genuinely been hard to keep up. I asked them for patience.
What happened then will stay with me for a very long time. As my translator finished explaining that we were working hard to figure this out, he smiled. He smiled and stared me in the eyes and said thank you. The crowd nodded their heads and smiled as well. I say this now, this “thank you”, was the most sincere exchange I have ever been part of.
Newly arrived refugees from Somalia collect water at a water point that is having water delivered to it by a CARE water truck at Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in Dadaab, Noertheastern Kenya.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 1:13PM EST on July 8, 2011
By Alexandra Lopoukhine, Emergency Media Officer
On the far outskirts of the Ifo camp (one of three that make up the Dadaab Refugee Camps), round houses – sticks intertwined and covered with tattered cloth and pieces of torn plastic, are home to the newly arrived refugees. Today, I walked around and met a few people who had just arrived – last week in fact.
There was excitement to have me around, the children were pretty interested in me and there was a lot of laughter and smiles. It is a wonderful thing about being human: the smile transcends languages.
But through an interpreter, I was able to understand the language of pain. The stories I heard today did bring me to tears, I will admit. So too did seeing malnourished children. Mothers patiently waiting at the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic which was well placed in the middle of the newly arrived area of homes – their children receiving the immediate care they needed. CARE delivers water to this clinic; it was great to see a partnership of this sort, with the same goal of supporting the refugees, in action.
Some families have walked two weeks. Two weeks. Sleeping where they could, pushing-on to get to this camp. The children are much smaller than they should be. One story I heard was devastating: a mother walking, arrives at the clinic, takes her baby off her back and finds it has died without her knowing. I can't even imagine the pain this causes her. One man spoke to us in perfect English – he told us he has been a refugee since 1991, and now, here among the newly arrived, is his grandfather.
I feel privilege to have this time here, to talk and to hear the stories of people. I was asked today to tell the world, to share the stories and the reality of the situation. Thank you for reading.
Women and children collect water from a temporary
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 4:12PM EST on June 16, 2011
by Laura Bellinger
Bobbing in and out of his chair, a spritely six-year-old boy answers "Mignon" when asked his name. Mignon means "cute" in French. The name suits him, but unfortunately his life has become anything but cute.
Mignon and his father, Tiehi Didier, are staying a camp in Duékoué, Côte d'Ivoire sheltering 10,000 of the more than 500,000 Ivorians forced from their homes after several months of bitter, post-election fighting. And the heartbreaking story of how son and father arrived here speaks to why CARE has created a "listening center" to provide professional psychosocial support for survivors of Côte d'Ivoire's brutal violence.
Two months ago, Mignon and his mother traveled to Dabou, a coastal town where his mother regularly bought cassava to sell near their home in Abidjan. Like most Ivorians, Mignon's mother did not own a car, so, as is quite common there, they shared a ride home with a stranger. As the car neared Abidjan, they were stopped at a roadblock. Unbeknownst to Mignon's mother, the driver of their car had a gun. When the people manning the roadblock found the driver's gun, they ordered everyone out of the car.
"They cut off the driver's head," Mignon says quietly, "Then they told my mother to close her eyes. She closed her eyes and they shot her with the gun and cut her arms with a machete." Mignon gestures to his own arms to show where the men cut his mother, then gets up from his chair and runs behind his father.
"Mignon ran home to find help," Tiehi says. "And his aunt called me."
Tiehi hopes the listening center's social workers will be able to help Mignon. A school administrator, Tiehi says he understands the importance of counseling gravely traumatized children. Tiehi was traumatized during the post-election violence, too. Separated from Mignon's mother, Tiehi was living in Bloléquin during the attacks. Not only was his house burned down, but he was imprisoned as well.
"I was chained by the ankles for four days. They thought I was with a rebel group and I finally convinced them to let me go," he says. Tiehi and Mignon, along with Tiehi's wife and their four other children found shelter at the camp for internally displace people in Duékoué.
"I don't know what to do with Mignon," Tiehi says quietly. "He can't sleep. He has no distractions. He keeps asking to go back to school, but now I have no money for school. We have no home."
Working with the local partner ASAPSU, the CARE listening center offers private one-on-one sessions where these victims of violence can work through feelings of grief, fear, sadness, and revenge. The listening center also provides referrals to professional psychologists for the worst cases of severe trauma. It's a crucial first step, not only for personal healing, but for preventing further violence and working towards reconciliation.
CARE has extensive experience implementing programs that strengthen the bonds between different groups in Cote d'Ivoire: Muslims and Christians; planters and cattle farmers; Boso fishermen and local fisherman. CARE continues to believe that the forces bringing them together are stronger than those pulling them apart.
Only by listening and learning can these groups build a future in which Mignon and the thousands of other children like him can sleep soundly once again.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:38PM EST on June 14, 2011
June 6, 2011
On the road to Carrefour, nothing has changed. At the entrance to the town, you see the market where fruit and vegetable waste is rotting and where traders stand with their feet in water.>
You may not notice it but the town has been facing a resurgence of the cholera epidemic, which reappeared here just under two weeks ago. This morning, a 12 year old boy died. He was one of two people carried on the backs of other residents of the site to a Cholera Treatment Center (CTC). He did not make it. He was living near the camp Bel Air 3. He had been ill since the previous afternoon, but his mother refused to admit that he had cholera until camp residents, trained and sensitized by CARE, realized he was suffering from the disease.
In the car taking us to Lycée Louis Joseph Janvier, which houses more than 1,200 people, the cell phone of Naomie Marcelin, one of CARE's health promotion activities supervisors, does not stop ringing. She is told that three cases have been identified in a site that had not previously been affected by cholera.
"Last week we distributed aquatabs in sites where we work already. We have also offered HTH solutions (concentrated chlorine) to disinfect the tents where there is a risk of cholera," says Naomi. "During the week we plan to deliver oral rehydration salts (ORS) to households."
Naomie is dismayed about the death of the young boy . To avoid a similar situation, she plans to propose the installation of oral rehydration posts (ORP) on sites in remote areas. "The boy died of dehydration. If people had been able to rehydrate him before taking him to the CTC, he would have survived," she explains.
At Lycée Louis Joseph Janvier, CARE teams are ready! They have posters and leaflets to explain key practices to prevent the spread of the cholera epidemic to representatives of a number of other local camps.
Around 20 people are present. Some are members of mothers' or youth clubs created by CARE WASH and Health teams to serve as peer educators.
Brice Sodlon is a voodoo priest who performs at Lycée Louis Joseph Janvier: "It is essential to learn, especially if you are a leader in your community. My family lives in this camp. My friends live in this camp. It is a duty for me to learn how to protect them from this disease," said Brice. "CARE can't stop. CARE does not have the right to stop. If CARE had run this training at the start of the crisis at Grand'Anse, I am sure all these voodoo priests would not have been killed by the people who were accusing them of causing the disease," he says.
Like other participants at the training, Brice knows the essential actions to take to protect himself against cholera: wash hands regularly, treat drinking or cooking water, cook food well, wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly with chlorinated water, treat human waste. Simple actions that save lives.
The cholera outbreak, which had decreased a few months ago, returned in force two weeks ago, affecting areas in which it had not previously been seen. CARE has started training and awareness sessions in camps, and also plans to distribute hygiene kits, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts and concentrated chlorine solutions.
On Saturday, May 4, CARE donated sanitation equipment – wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, trash cans – to Carrefour City Hall, which had organized activities to mark International Environment Day. These materials will be used to clean camps and public areas to avoid the worst.
Béatrice Jean-Louis and Magdala Saint-Ange, CARE staff members, holding a training session on cholera prevention at Lycée Louis Joseph Janvier, an IDP camp housing approximately 1,200 people. The cholera outbreak hits Carrefour where more than a thousand people are hospitalized.
Brice Sodlon, a voodoo priest in Carrefour, participating in the training session
A CARE mother's club member showing to the group how to use purification tablets to clean water at the training session.
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 2:45PM EST on April 19, 2011
IESC India: Arrival in Delhi and Visit to the First School in Hathras by Balaji Srinivasan
Our team had known each other for only a few short weeks but we had become a good working team already. We are diverse in our jobs at Intel and locations around the globe: K N Harsha from Intel IT in Bangalore, India is our technical leader on the project; Arvind Amin from Intel’s Software and Solutions Group in Dallas, Texas is serving as a teacher; Gary Motyer from Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group in Shannon, Ireland is serving as a teacher; Darrin Donithorne from Intel IT in Portland, Oregon is our team Project Manager; and I, Balaji Srinivasan, from Intel Sales & Marketing Group in Cary, North Carolina am serving as technical backup.
All the planning by the team prior to departure is paying off. We arrived at the Delhi YMCA Tourist Hotel on Saturday March 26th and got the first of many lessons to be had during this amazing journey on how things are done in India. For example, in India, always halve the first offer for service or product as haggling over price is expected for all transactions; none of us paid the same amount for a cab ride from Delhi Airport to our hotel. Gary Motyer, a seasoned traveler and “first ascent” mountain climber was able to get his taxi ride for far less than any of us. He seemed to have a knack for haggling with the local merchants throughout the trip.
After a fitful sleep in what is considered an average hotel (imagine Motel 6 quality), we spent only a bit of time on Sunday 27th finalizing our preparations for Tuesday’s visit to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. Confident we were well prepared to train the teachers, we used the afternoon to go see Delhi for the first time. Seeing amazing places like the Red Fort and Jamal Masjid (See photo: Jamal Masjid Mosque and Darrin in the foreground) and eating at world renown Kareem in a rundown poor part of Old Delhi were incredible experiences that stimulated all our senses to the fullest. This was our second lesson: to take it all in and try hard not to judge what we were witnessing for the very first time as India would show us a tremendous variety of old and new and test all of our assumptions formed prior to our visit.
The kickoff meeting at the Delhi office of CARE, our partner organization on the project, on Monday, March 26th gave us a good overview of what to expect at the Hathras and Mainpuri KGBV schools. We then boarded our very first train to Agra as it would be our home base for the first week of our 14-day adventure. (See photo: Harsha and Balji sampling platform food on the train to Agra.)
Once we arrived in Agra, we made it an early bedtime as key to our trip success was to ensure we got ample rest as each day would bring a long drive to the KGBV schools, hot temperatures and smog and dust that most of us were not used to back home. Tuesday morning March 29th, we purposefully arrived with low expectations but found the school was actually well maintained, equipped and organized; in fact we would later learn Hathras was one of the best ranked KGBV schools! The girls went through their morning assembly which included calisthenics, singing, praying and reading the daily news. The guiding principal, Prathibha-Ji, has a doctorate in Hindi studies and was singularly focused on making our visit successful while treating us like “God as we were guests in their school.” The girls are provided with room and board for an entire year as the principal and supporting four teachers focus on educating these girls to age-appropriate literacy goals for the 6th, 7th and 8th grade. These are girls who had dropped out of their local schools for various reasons in rural Uttar Pradesh. The teachers were very energetic, eager to learn and had accomplished much more than we had expected since the Intel Learning Series classmate PCs were installed in mid-year 2010.
Our lesson plan involved introduction to computers, basic PowerPoint and spreadsheet skills, and advanced topics like classroom collaboration software. Each of us took turns leading and supporting the various lesson plans. At this school the English proficiency was quite low. The language barrier was eased by excellent translation support by Harsha, Arvind and Shaleen-Ji. The girls at Hathras were ever so curious and eager to interact with such strange visitors as us. We were told the girls would be shy but it was not true as we quickly made many friends. Darrin broke down the communication barriers by joking with the girls. When I showed them pictures of my family, they were entranced by the pictures of America, snow skiing and pictures of the earth from an airplane. They tried hard to pick up our English and some of the girls would on their own continually translate to the other girls what we were saying to them.
The girls’ proficiency level with the classmate PCs was pretty good considering how little time they had used the PCs and some even knew shortcuts like ctrl-alt-delete and could navigate better than some of the teachers! This proved to us that given a powerful new tool like an Intel Learning Series PC, kids of any age and education level could quickly learn and make great use of them. The girls (and some teachers) could surf, search and download pictures and information from the Internet. Each day was split in half by a wonderful lunch prepared by the mess hall crew. They lived and cooked from the same building within the school grounds, and they would prepare all the required meals each day for more than 100 people. The elaborate midday meals were a welcome break for the teachers as we were teaching a lot of information in three short days, and it gave us a great chance to build our relationship with the teachers.
Our final day at the Hathras KGBV school and departure ceremony taught us our next lesson about India. Goodbyes are never short and sweet! The kids performed many songs for us, they gave us beautiful homemade cards and we even got in a game of handball with the teachers and girls. (See photo: Gary receiving his greeting card at the closing ceremonies). It was more than we could have imagined from our Hathras visit. We saw incredible potential in these teachers and students and we hoped their KGBV education supported by CARE and Intel, using classmate PCs, would propel them to achieve great things when they grow up in rural Uttar Pradesh. As we drove back to Agra, we were exhausted, amazed and thrilled at being afforded this golden opportunity from Intel (as part of our core value of Great Place To Work) to make a difference in so many lives with our volunteer effort.
P.S. Click here to catch up on the adventures, experiences and learnings from the 14 previous Intel Education Service Corps teams and the other two teams who are working right now in Kenya and Vietnam.
Posted by: Notes from the Field | By Kristian Bertel | CARE International... at 9:36AM EST on April 13, 2011
Photos: Kristian Bertel
India is a country which is rich in heritage, culture, cuisine, nature and history. It has so much diversity that is hardly seen anywhere else in the world. It is an ideal blend of the modern culture and history.
With one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India has certainly made giant strides over the past decade. However, despite averaging an annual growth rate of around 9% in recent years, vast sections of the country’s billion-plus population have seen little benefit from the economic boom.
Poverty in India is a big a problem now as it has ever been with well over 200 Million people living below the poverty line. A third of the global poor now reisde in India and the shocking statistics are highlighted by the huge disparity between the rich and poor.
An Indian girl is collecting things in Varanasi, India.
Poverty can be classified into rural and urban types. Rural poverty is caused due to various factors like dependence of rural population over the agriculture which is highly dependent on rain; injustice towards people of lower caste, lack of education, large family size with many mouths to eat and lesser hands to earn and unequal distribution of income.
Main reasons responsible for urban poverty is the scarcity of job opportunities caused due to migration of rural families to cities and lack of proper housing facilities.
About the photographer
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 10:59AM EST on April 4, 2011
By Robert Laprade
Today we distributed hot meals to evacuees in Yamada. Since the tsunami hit northern Japan, many survivors have not received balanced, hot meals on a regular basis. They are mostly surviving on just rice and some occasional fruit. In a situation like this, with cold temperatures and many older people in poor health condition, it is important to get nutritious food in order to stay healthy. Trained cooks and cafeteria staff helped us to prepare the food to ensure cleanliness. We are providing two meals a day in three locations of one big school compound here in Yamada. The evacuees were really happy and thankful. In this rather positive mood we set off to do some further assessment in Otsuchi, a fishing town south of Yamada. When we arrived there, my good mood was suddenly replaced by pure shock. Described by some newspapers as one of the worst hit towns, Otsuchi was in dreadful condition. Here again we could see the destructive force of a tsunami: debris everywhere for kilometers as far as the eye could see—houses, cars, parts of large concrete bridges, large electrical turbines, even a few fire engines strewn across the muddy landscape as if a giant child had emptied his set of Legos and children's toys into a muddy, dirty sandbox. In the areas where the waves had reached their maximum incursion inland, some houses were but left with one to two meters of grey, ugly mud that now covers everything. Within that mud, everything imaginable is mixed. Driving through the area of Otsuchi where some of these houses survived, we saw elderly people digging in the mud, trying to find even just a few belongings that can remind them of the world they once knew.
We talked to one woman, who was picking around the smelly mud. She was around 70 years old. The tsunami took her husband away. When we approached her, she had just dug a few dishes out and squatted around a plastic bowl where she cleaned them in water. It was cold outside but she wanted to rescue her few little things; it was all that she had left. She told us that even though a few volunteers came to help, she was really doing the cleaning all by herself. Her house was still standing, but everything inside was destroyed. It was really heart-wrenching. The tears from my CARE Japanese colleagues ran down their cheeks for five minutes; I think it was a blessing that I required a translation and could not understand everything she said. We were so far away from the glittery, high-tech world of Tokyo that we see from the movies and TV about Japan. People here did not possess much to begin with, most lived in small duplex houses, provided by the government and which looked like trailers. This was a fishing area. Those young, agile, and educated enough have long gone to the cities to find better paid work. Only the old ones were left.
We met another woman together with her husband. Both were also digging through the mud, looking for a few valuables. She told me she was the youngest around here – and she was already 60 years of age. She pointed to some of the houses, saying that almost all of the inhabitants are 80 years and older. Most of them are just physically not able to clean the mud from their houses. They need help. They were questioning why the municipality did not help them. When we drove about a kilometer over a hilly outcropping and gazed out over a small bay we realized why nobody would help for a very, very long time. The entire commercial and downtown residential area of Otsuchi was gone. Washed away. The mayor died—so did anybody else who remained behind or couldn't run fast enough when the warning sirens went off. From the hill, it looked like a bomb hit this town. Probably only one in twenty buildings were even recognizable as buildings—just foundations or a post or two of metal, maybe a half wall here and there. When entering this burned out ghost town of mangled metal, concrete, and mud, I noticed an overhead highway sign that remained standing. It indicated that Sendai is 230 kilometers away--230 kilometers to the center of tsunami impact. How in the world could it look worse than here?
After this awful excursion into hell, we went back to Yamada. I am glad that we could provide the people here nutritious food. And we'll do more of it elsewhere. Afterall, it's people like the women we met who are the residents of the evacuation centers. There is so much work to do.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 11:42AM EST on November 12, 2010
Story and photo by Marie-Eve Bertrand, CARE Haiti
Yveline walks up to me with a nice smile, but I can tell she is reserved. As we walk into her parent's house, I notice that all of her family's belongings are stored on the table, on the higher cupboards or shelters.
"When Tomas approached, CARE staff brought a speakerphone to the community and told us to get prepared. We stored our things and, therefore, did not lose too much," Yveline says. "The rain and water filled the streets and our house." She shows me the mark on the wall, indicating the water level: three feet high.
Yveline is one of the 333 children that CARE sends to school here in Gonaïves. She has been in the project for six years and is really thankful for the help her family gets from CARE. She is smart and caring.
"My dream is to be a doctor because I want to help my community and other people who are disadvantaged. I know it is a lot of work, but thanks to CARE's generous donors, I have been able to concentrate on my studies," Yveline tells me. "My family supports me, and I know that one day I will do good work."
I asked her about cholera and the situation in Gonaïves. She tells me about what they have learned so far through CARE's prevention training."Cholera is an illness that is treatable and preventable. People need to wash their hands, disinfect their house if someone is sick and give them rehydration salts. And we need to make sure that we should not abandon those who are sick. They need help!"
She adds, "Cholera should not kill so many people. The problem is that we have little sanitation infrastructure, and now with Tomas' flooding it is even worse. We have very poor land management. We cut too many trees with no plans, and did not pay attention to our natural resources. Now, it is our infrastructure that is missing. We do not have enough gutters, and we do not care enough for our environment." "
When looking at her, you see that she does care for her neighbors. She is volunteering with CARE – attending meetings and training. She wants to make a difference in her world.
We walked outside of her parent's house, and jumped on stones to avoid stepping in the mud that covers their yard. The streets are filled with waste and mud. But, Yveline is off, helping spread information on how to prevent cholera.
Once she's gone, I can't help wonder how many out young Yvelines did not have the chance to go to school, live their dreams and build a better life for themselves and their communities.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 11:23AM EST on November 12, 2010
Story and photo by Marie-Eve Bertrand, CARE Haiti
The sun is shining, dogs are barking and the wind is blowing. This could be a normal day in Gonaïves. But it's not. Streets are empty, kids are not in school and mothers are concerned.
As I was with a community volunteers team, we were training women on how to purify the water they sell with bleach that CARE is providing them. A woman showed up. Wearing a mask, she was scared to approach me, scared to touch anyone.
Our team then visited an area called Descoteaux. This part of Gonaïves was flooded by Hurricane Tomas a few days ago. Now mud and garbage are covering streets. We stopped at Rosette Noël's house situated in a zone where CARE's volunteers and staff have distributed aid. A little girl is looking at us. Suddenly, another one joins her, then a grandma, a dad, two teenagers and a mom. Rosette is the mother of many kids she tells me. Her family includes her sister, her brother, and many siblings. I tried to get an exact figure. I don't think she knew.
Rosette tells me that when Tomas struck, they did not have enough time to gather their belongings. I could tell this was true by looking at the clothes and miscelleous household items drying on the brick wall between the houses.
"There was mud everywhere," she says. "We sought refuge with our neighbors. In this neighbourhood, we take care of one another. But what concerns me now is that my niece was sick yesterday. And now it is my sister. They are resting in bed, and we give them rehydration salts and clean them. We do what we hear on the radio messages." CARE's public information campaign via radio instructing Haitians on how best avoid and prevent cholera has reached at least 200,000 people to date. I am glad Rosette has hear them.
When I asked her why she was not taking them to the hospital, she turns her head. She is concerned about the fact that the hospitals are already over capacity and that the staff does have the ability to take care of her loved ones.
"We know that some people were left on the streets because they were sick. I don't want that to happen to my family. We can take care of them. I am afraid that they will get more sick in the hospital," Rosette explains. "Family is everything."
Her youngest looks at me. She is gorgeous and smiling. Her eyes are full of life and joy. I just wish I could do something to help them. But they know what to do.
"CARE helped us a lot. They came here to tell us how to protect ourselves before Tomas, and then after [explaines how to help]avoid being sick. We received soap bars and aquatabs," Rosette says.
As I leave the house, they wave goodbye to me. The grandma tells me to take good care and to stay healthy. These people are generous, and I am so proud I got to meet them.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 11:05AM EST on November 12, 2010
by Dr. Franck Geneus, CARE health manager in Haiti
The situation here in Artibonite is all but reassuring. You can feel the angriness rising slowly but surely. In Raboto, it was reported that the dead were being abandoned in the streets. Hospitals are already at capacity with patients infected with diarrhea. Others who are infected are being discharged or discouraged not to go to the hospital in the first place. The police have assigned a car that transports infected people both dead and alive. This car is not being disinfected.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:38PM EST on November 5, 2010
by Marie-Eve Bertrand, CARE Haiti Emergency Team
06:00, Nov. 5, 2010
I woke up to dark grey clouds. There is no sun in Port-au-Prince today. It was pretty quiet first thing this morning as the storm was 'stopped' by the mountains, but then suddenly, it was as if someone opened the tap. It is loud now... very loud! The rain sounds as if you're standing next to a waterfall. For a moment I thought we would be okay. Now I am really concerned about our staff and friends living in camps or shelters. You don't want to be outside at this time...
Yesterday the staff and people in our neighbourhood were getting ready for the storm - packing up food, water supplies. I was at the market yesterday and you could tell that people were nervous. Everyone was filling up their baskets, talking loud, moving fast ...
Usually the market it's pretty relaxed, but yesterday everything changed. People were in the streets, the traffic was heavier much sooner as everyone tried to get home to their families, and the businesses closed much earlier.
People were asking: "Why this? Why us? Why again?"
The rain is getting harder. The wind hasn't picked up yet, but if this gets worse, I can only imagine how bad it will be for the people in the camps.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 12:43PM EST on September 9, 2010
by Deborah Underdown, CARE media specialist in Pakistan
As I left Islamabad for Swat I can't deny that I wasn't a little apprehensive. Most people have only heard about this region because of conflict and Swat's association with militant groups.
Swat has been hit hard by the floods with some people – a month after the rains – having still received nothing. Many roads and bridges have been destroyed making areas, and the people that live there, unreachable.
CARE, through our partner organization IDEA, is targeting the families who have yet to receive help. Families were identified last week and given a token and informed of the time and place they could collect essential goods such as soap, towels, pots and pans and a tent.
Today, I saw these people receive their goods. Arz, 60, said, "I walked for three hours to get here. I am happy to receive these goods. This is the first time we have had anything since the floods."
I am struck by the organization of the distribution – no one is fighting or pushing. People are calmly waiting in line to receive these precious goods and then sit, with what looks like relief, before picking up the goods and starting the long journey home.
CARE is also providing people with 2000 rupees to help them transport their goods home; the methods of transport include donkeys and mules. Arz told me that he is going to use the money for something else, "I am going to use the money that was given for the transport on new clothes for my children." He'll walk the return journey that will take 4-5 hours as he will be carrying a heavy load.
As we literally reach the end of the road, a huge chunk of it was washed away. But I am struck but the sheer determination of the people here. A zip wire has been strung across the vast Indus River and people and their goods are able to get from one side to the other. I look at people going across and at how high up they are, sitting in a small metal cage, and think how brave they are – it then hits me that they have no other choice.
Arz, 60, said, "I walked for three hours to get here. I am happy to receive these goods. This is the first time we have had anything since the floods."
A zip wire strung across the vast Indus River carries people from one side to the other.
Photos: 2010 Deborah Underdown/CARE
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 4:09PM EST on August 26, 2010
by Deborah Underdown, CARE media specialist in Pakistan
The word flood has taken on a new meaning for me. Last month, a flood was a burst water pipe in my flat in London, a few ruined carpets and the inconvenience of sleeping in my lounge. Today, a flood means your entire home being submerged with water. A flood is all your possessions being washed away. A flood is something that forces you to live in a tent wondering where fresh water and food will come from.
Nowshera is about an hour and a half drive from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. When I arrived I was shocked to see the floods waters hadn't receded. On my left were the submerged houses and on the right, overlooking what used to be their homes, were families living in tents.
I met Khayal Marjan. She smiled at me from inside her tent, provide by CARE, and spoke to me about the floods.
"Our sewing machine was damaged in the flood – it was our only source of income," she said. "I also had 40 chickens and some goats and cows; they all drowned. We only had time to save ourselves."
Approximately 400 families are living in tents provided by CARE – a shelter from the monsoon rains that continue to fall. The needs of the families in these camps are numerous, ranging from shelter to medical care and food to clean water. CARE continues to help. There is a mobile health clinic treating skin diseases and the growing number of diarrhea cases.
The scale of this disaster is overwhelming and unimaginable. Nowshera is just one area of Pakistan affected by these floods. There are many other cities, towns and villages in the same situation - all needing more support.
Flood waters are still present on Nowshera, where some people told us that their homes are still submerged in 4 feet of water.
Children in Nowshera wade through flood water to salvage what they can from their homes.
A camp set up by CARE and local partner IDEA in the village of Nowshera.
Photos: 2010 Deborah Underdown/CARE
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:55PM EST on August 26, 2010
By Faiz Paracha
It was my first day working with CARE, and I visited one of the worst affected areas of Khyber-Pakhtoon-Khaw, Nowshera and Charsada. Both districts have been devastated severely by the flood. Traveling along the Motorway M-1, you cannot realize the wreckage that the torrential flood water has caused.
When we left the M-1 through the Nowshera interchange, I was shocked to see the destruction caused by the flood. The river Kabul flows side-by-side to the road to Nowshera, and there are a lot of villages constructed sporadically alongside the banks of the river. This has affected people living in those villages tremendously.
We stopped at a village called Zareenabad.
The local people told us that the flood water came in a two-meter-high wave. All of it was so sudden that they had no time to gather their valuables – but could only run for their lives. Many of them got swept away by the water and others are still missing, heir families believing them to be dead.
The water has taken away their belongings and their houses. Many houses collapsed when the flood wave came and the rest broke down due to standing water. Their entire household lost in water. People remained under the open sky with nothing – until CARE reached them. CARE was the first organization to provide them with shelter.
CARE has established a camp with our local partner IDEA for the affected people of this village. This camp is accommodating some 400 families. The camp has been provided with tents, non-food items, kitchen utensils and hygiene kits. Drinking water tanks are provided twice a day.
People here need more help. The damage that we see now is only the beginning. The basic source of livelihood in this region was agriculture, daily wage labor or cattle farming. All have been engulfed by water. New homes will be needed to be built for them. Funds will be needed to help rebuild their livelihoods so that they can make it on their own. People, especially children, will require psychosocial support.
It is vital that the pledges by international donors materialize. Concrete and fulfilling promises regarding aid are needed so that the people of Pakistan are saved from their worst humanitarian crisis.
CARE and partner organization IDEA has provided tents to around 400 families in Nowshera.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 12:29PM EST on August 19, 2010
CARE Media Specialist in Pakistan Thomas Schwarz interviews CARE Pakistan's Country Director Waleed Rauf
August 17, 2010
Q. After more than two weeks, how would you describe the situation in Pakistan as of today?
A. It still raining and we are in the midst of the second phase of the monsoon – and there are always three phases. The overall situation is worsening, and the United Nations meanwhile spoke about up to 3.5 million children in danger of waterborne disease.
Q. That sounds as if the aid agencies are not able to help?
A. CARE and other aid agencies are working up to their limits. Even now during the fasting Ramadan period, they are working around the clock. Together, with our partners in the northwest of the country as well as in the south, we are contributing to the people.
Q. What is it exactly, what CARE is doing? What kind of support are you providing?
A. There are different regions of Pakistan we work in. CARE is supporting mobile health units through our partners in Khyber Pakshtoon Kwa (KPK) and Sindh Provinces. We are providing access to basic medicines and first aid care. We emptied all of our warehouses immediately after the floods started. They were the stocks CARE maintains for emergencies such as this one. These included stocks of basic items such as tents, clothing, kitchen sets and hygiene kits, which as of today, have all been distributed in the worst-affected areas of Nowshera and Charsadda. More will be distributed in Punjab and Sindh as soon as possible.
Q. Many people have fears that the aid do not reach the victims but instead go to hidden channels. What is your opinion on that?
A. Well, the challenges here are enormous but aid is getting through to those who need it. I can assure each and every donor who is ready to support CARE. Our long experience in the field and the passion of our partners on the ground guarantee this, and we have rigorous systems in place to ensure that aid goes directly to the people in need. Undoubtedly, there is much more to do and international organizations, including CARE, are committed to doing so. Even through the fasting month of Ramadan, our colleagues continue to work around the clock to ensure aid reaches those in need.
Q. So, what is needed most? What is the priority number one?
A. There are three priorities – all at the same time because they are interdependent. As we see the rising numbers of hungry flood survivors, food is an urgent need. Hygiene is a priority, too. Stagnant water in 100-plus degree heat and humidity provides the perfect breeding ground for waterborne diseases so health is a major issue. Children and women especially are threatened here. The United Nations announced this week that as many as 3.5 million children are at risk of disease. The third priority is shelter. Many of the tents sent to Haiti after the earthquake came from Pakistan suppliers, and stocks here in Pakistan are not yet back up to the needed levels.
Q. What is your overall expectation about the next two to three weeks?
A. If we – and I am not only talking about CARE – receive sufficient funding and donations, Pakistan could respond much more quickly. We could do much more, broaden our response, reach more people more quickly. If not, I would not want to guess what could happen to the millions of survivors who haven't yet received any assistance and are struggling alone.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 4:42PM EST on August 17, 2010
Thomas Schwarz, CARE media specialist in Pakistan
The Taliban helps flood victims and then publicly praises its own work. This is what I read in the news. In interviews, journalists ask if it is true, and I say yes. Of course they publicize their good works. Everybody who does good deeds for others publicizes it. But, is this the question we should be asking right now? Not for me.
This debate about the Taliban has nothing to with the reality we face here everyday across the country. The debate is a Western obsession, not one of the flood-affected people in need.
Frankly, I barely understand the connection between the topic and the biggest natural disaster of our time. We should be focusing our attention on how we can provide immediate relief efficiently and effectively to those in need.
I witnessed in Moltan just how CARE is supporting mobile health clinics so that primary health care is accessible to those who need it.
The temperature here is a humid 104 degrees, and flies are everywhere. A man shoos them away. Flood survivors queue patiently for their turn to registrater and receive medical assistance. The process is quick and efficient, and the people here are directly benefiting from this intervention because of generous donations to CARE.
Moltan lies to the south of Punjab Province, where new floods are predicted as monsoon rains continue.
CARE's warehouses here are all now empty and, as more donations come in, we are procuring more supplies to distribute to those in need. Since the floods began we have distributed tents, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and kitchen sets. It is not true that humanitarian assistance is not reaching those in need. It is – but simply not enough!
Along the main, four-lane road out of Moltan, we see tents, one after another like a string of pearls. Tents? That's an exaggeration. They are really just plastic sheets held up by wooden poles. The fronts and backs remain open, offering no privacy for those who seek shelter. But they at least provide some protection from the fierce sun.
A 70-year-old man sits alone, staring into space. Around him children sit likewise.
When we arrive, we are surrounded by people immediately. Everybody wants to say something. They all say the same thing, "We have no tents. Look!" They point to a village, less than 200 meters away. It is completely flooded – all we see are roofs. We know that these people will not be able to return to their village as long as the rains continue and the stagnant water refuses to recede.
We are relieved to hear that the villagers are receiving food. When we ask from whom, and they reply, "People from Moltan are coming every day to deliver food.” The people from Molten are strangers, but the villagers know they can rely on them.
Today, as the holy fasting month of Ramadan has now started, the strangers arrive in the evening after sunset. Tomorrow, Pakistan celebrates its independence from the British empire. People help people in Pakistan. This is the true Pakistan I know and appreciate.
By the way, Zahid, the sick little boy I met in Charsadda, is back home and playing again! My colleague, Mujahid, just sent me an e-mail to let me know.
Another question often asked by journalists comes to mind: “Does the help reach people?” Yes, it does.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 4:10PM EST on August 17, 2010
Thomas Schwarz, CARE Media Specialist in Pakistan
When we started out early this morning from Islamabad, I didn't exactly know what would be awaiting me in the region of Mardan. I had seen many reports on TV, read the papers, listened to the radio and spoken with my CARE colleagues. The whole weekend, I spent meeting with United Nations representatives as well as other international humanitarian organizations.
We drove the motorway No. 1, direction northwest. This highway is cut into three pieces, almost through half of the whole country, from Lahore in the South to Karachi in the northwest. On both sides there are fields and women and men alike are working them. Everything seems to be okay at first – at least it looks like it's okay. No flooding, no water, not even rain.
Then, after about 50 kilometers, we saw the Indus River. Aggressive, powerful, and threatening. It has doubled in size. We cross it, over a long bridge, and all of a sudden it disappeared, as if it were trying to hide from us, in the fog. But there it is, the monster that has claimed lives and stolen everything from millions of flood victims. And, as always, it was taken from the poorest and most vulnerable.
The water has stolen everything
After the bridge and the fog, maybe 60 to 70 kilometers later, we see tents, again and again. They stood in fields, along the highway. People put them anywhere they found a space without water. There they live now, those who have lost their homes and almost lost their lives. After another 30 kilometers, we arrive in a town where 26,000 people live in normal times.
There, we meet Nambarj. She's 65 years old and a widow. "See here, this house. It disappeared," she says. "It is simply not there anymore."
When the flood came, the water jumped more than two meters above the wall of the courtyard. What is left? "Look there," she says. She shows the old kitchen, where she used to have all her kitchen utensils. "There, this is everything I have now. Two small machines. Everything else, the water has stolen from me."
CARE has provided her with a tent. We promise to bring the woman kitchen utensils within a few days. When one has lost everything, even small things can make a really big difference.
Terrible pictures, unbelievable poverty
In this area, CARE is cooperating with local partners. Imran Inan of the Community Research and Development Organisation, or CRDO, is a person who deserves my deepest respect. The way he accompanies me and translates impresses me. He has a word for each and every remark of the survivors. His patience and humble work is really something I admire. CRDO is just one of several partner organizations of CARE in Pakistan.
I have an idea about poverty. I have seen it in many different countries; it is a reality. What I have seen now, though, leaves me stunned. Not only the situation of the widow, but also the one of the old man, who tells us simply: "I don't even have shoes anymore." He lives with his children and grandchildren in a tent next to his son's house, which is still standing. Imran is listening carefully. "He will get them tomorrow," he says. "We just received shoes. He will get them tomorrow. Promised."
The people in the northwestern part of Pakistan are poor, even poorer than many in other parts of Pakistan.
Is there a boy like Zahid in rich countries, too?
But it is the small boy laying on the wet, muddy floor of his family's small, simple house that shocks me. Zahid is only four years old. His coughing and a high fever has exhausted him so much that he is sleeping, his chest is slowly going up and down. It is 3:30 in the afternoon. The mother cries, when she sees not only me, but also the others coming to her house. It is empty aside from Zahid laying on the floor.
The mother does not have enough money for the transportation to the hospital or for the medication he urgently needs. Someone gives her some money for the transport. "Do you know, Thomas," my CARE colleague, Mujahid, says, "there are many cases like this one in this region. We will find a solution."
I find it profoundly shaming, how we – the rich countries – are coping with one of the biggest natural disasters in decades. At the same time I try not to become unjust. Also in our countries are poor people, of course. There is poverty, yes. But I wonder, if there is a boy like Zahid in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France or Germany. I am not sure.
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 10:19AM EST on August 10, 2010
By Umaz Jalal, security manager for CARE in Pakistan.
August 5, 2010
On the eve of August 4, I was tasked to deliver a convoy carrying relief goods to flood-affected areas of Pakistan. We started our journey for the distribution point at a little past 7:00 p.m.
As usual, we communicated the departure to the security unit and the field staff. The convoy traveled through the Grand Trunk Road as the motorway was badly damaged in the recent floods. When we reached Nowshera (in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan), we were told by the police that the Grand Trunk Road was also blocked by the floods and we had to take a detour to get to our final destination -- the city of Mardan.
Our convoy was going slowly when I could saw the reflection of water on both sides of the road. I asked if we were still crossing the Kabal River. To my shock, the driver told me, "It’s not the river; it’s the flood water that we are passing."
I remembered that there were lots of small towns on both sides of Grand Trunk Road, which use to be full of life even at night time.
While crossing a small village, which was badly affected by the rain and floods close to 3:00 a.m., no life was present as far as eye could see. Then, I saw a woman who was undergoing labor pains and in need of urgent medical help, being carried by a girl and old man towards the nearest hospital.
I asked the driver to stop the vehicle so I could ask the old man if he needed any help. He told me that they have been walking for two hours trying to take his daughter to the hospital in Mardan as the all medical facilities in Nowshera were damaged by the floods. We told them that we were headed to Marden, which was 17 Kilometers away, and would drop them at the hospital.
The condition of the woman looked serious, but she safely reached hospital and was provided medical care.
After that, our convoy reached Mardan and all of the relief goods we were carrying were distributed.
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 1:58PM EST on March 30, 2010
By Sabine Wilke
Standing in the middle of the dusty parking lot surrounded by huge trucks, you find yourself right in hustle and bustle of the logistics center supporting CARE's emergency response. Planes are roaring over the site every couple of minutes – Port-au-Prince's airport is only a couple of blocks away from the warehouse. And there is another particularity to this location: "We're right in the middle of the red zone," says Geoffroy Larde from the CARE logistics team. The warehouse borders on Cité Soleil, the infamous slum that has been neglected for years and has experienced severe damage from the January 12 earthquake.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 1:40PM EST on March 30, 2010
High in the hills above Léogâne, near the epicenter of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, the signs of both devastation and courage are everywhere.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 12:27PM EST on March 19, 2010
by Rick Perera, CARE Media Officer in Haiti
Monday, March 17, 2010
I love watching the humming machine of the Haiti relief effort in action. CARE has more than doubled our local staff since the January 12 earthquake, and the well-oiled supply chain is cranking along. Our huge new warehouse buzzes with workers loading and unloading, trucks rolling in and out. It's a sight to see.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 2:02PM EST on March 10, 2010
by Sabine Wilke, CARE Media Officer in Haiti
Monday, March 8, 2010
Her first life was that of a teacher at a nurse's training school in Port-au-Prince, teaching skills to make sure that women have a healthy delivery. Today, Carline Morney spends her days in and around the earthquake-stricken capital of Haiti, helping expecting and young mothers to cope with the difficult situation. She is one of more than 70 new CARE staff members who have been hired in addition to the existing team to ensure a timely and efficient emergency response.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:50PM EST on February 16, 2010
By Melanie Brooks, CARE International Media Officer in Haiti
Friday, February 12, 2010
While professional rescue teams used heavy equipment to pull people from the rubble, Jacques Wylens' father, Jacques Wilkens, used a sledgehammer and his bare hands in a desperate effort to free his son from the coffin of what was once their home. Next to where two-year-old Jacques lie trapped and crying under the rubble were his dead grandparents.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 1:14PM EST on February 16, 2010
Story by Rick Perera, CARE Media Officer in Haiti
Friday, February 5, 2010
Woose Gammanuel Ulysse wipes his runny nose, as he hides behind his mother's skirts. The five-year-old has been wheezing and coughing since the terrible events of January 12, when his world collapsed around him. The boy was trapped for an hour an a half under the rubble of his uncle's house in Port-au-Prince, says mother Tulia.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 6:02PM EST on February 1, 2010
by Rick Perera, CARE Emergency Media Officer in Haiti
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I've just returned from one of the most heartbreaking visits of my two weeks here: to meet the family of Dr. Franck Geneus, CARE's gentle, dedicated health program director. Their homes destroyed, his extended family of 30 is packed into Franck's brother's tiny house and yard -- from the littlest niece, five-month-old Joelle, to grandmother Inosie, who says she's 94.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 9:49PM EST on January 24, 2010
by Rick Perera, Emergency Media Officer in Haiti
Saturday, January 24, 2009
"I can't describe how frightened I was," recalls Joanie Estin, remembering that terrible day barely a week ago when her world fell apart. "We've lived through a lot in Haiti, but this is the first time anything like this ever happened."
But Joanie doesn't look scared. Sad, yes – but resolute, confident, and committed. Every inch the Girl Scout. "I always keep a cool head, because otherwise you won't be able to help other people," she says calmly.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 4:42PM EST on January 22, 2010
by Rick Perera
Thursday, January 21, 2010
You might expect to see Wilner Ulysse helping a little old lady cross the street. That's the classic image of a dutiful Scout. But Wilner, age 23, has a much more important good deed for today.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 4:26PM EST on January 22, 2010
by Loetitia Raymond
Thursday, January 21, 2010
At the fragile moment in time when a life enters the world, when a child leaves the warm, protective cocoon of her mother's womb, one gesture can change everything. It can transform what could have been a happy occasion into the saddest of all.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:58PM EST on January 21, 2010
by Patrick Solomon, CARE USA SVP, Global Support Services
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Yesterday, the CARE staff went to the Place Saint Pierre in Pétion-ville extremely close to the CARE office to do pre-work for today's distribution of hygiene kits. The team did an assessment and registration process to identify pregnant and elderly women to make sure they were recipients of the distribution. Today, the team ensured that these women were given priority in the distribution process.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 5:08PM EST on January 20, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media officer in Haiti
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
This entry is a small collection of photos of senior staff inspecting damage in the hard-hit Delmas section of Port-au-Prince.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 4:33PM EST on January 20, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media officer in Haiti
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It's obvious that people here are still in grave shock. You can see in the grim faces as people try to pick up the pieces that they are in desperate need. Everywhere we go, we see hand-painted signs on bed sheets pleading for help, asking for medicine for children or letting people know bodies are there.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:26PM EST on January 20, 2010
by Patrick Solomon, CARE USA SVP, Global Support Services
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Patrick Solomon and Steve Hollingworth, CARE's COO and EVP for Global Operations, spent the day with in the hart-hit town of Léogâne, southwest of Port-au-Prince, where CARE distributed water bladders, jerrycans and hygiene kits to 135,000 people.... (more)
Posted by: Staci Dixon at 3:13PM EST on January 20, 2010
by Steve Hollingworth, CARE USA COO and EVP, Global Operations
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Patrick Solomon, CARE's SVP for Global Support Services, and I are traveling with a CARE convoy to distribute water bladders, jerrycans and hygiene kits to 135,000 people staying in an areas southwest of Port-au-Prince in a town called Léogâne. We have 21 staff moving out in four SUVs and a large truck. There is lots of apprehension in the car about keeping together through the extremely congested traffic. The trip should take around two hours.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 9:55AM EST on January 18, 2010
by Rick Perera, CARE's emergency media officer in Haiti
Its name, Hôpital La Paix, means Peace — but this massively overflowing hospital is anything but peaceful. The largest medical facility still standing in devastated Port au Prince, La Paix is beyond overflowing with critically injured people.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 7:25PM EST on January 17, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media officer in Haiti
Sunday, January 17, 2010
If charity begins at home, CARE is in the right place. Just outside our Haiti headquarters, many hundreds, perhaps thousands — no one has counted them — of newly homeless people are camped out in the main square of Pétionville, a near suburb of Port-au-Prince. They wait patiently in the hot sun, but their desperation grows by the hour. At night, groups of people can be heard clapping and chanting. Some have hung banners, painted on bedsheets, with messages like "We need help!" in English and Creole.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 7:13PM EST on January 17, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media coordinator in Haiti
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I keep hearing the same question from journalists: why isn't aid getting to these desperate people faster? The answer is: aid workers are moving as fast as they can, but the conditions are grim. Haiti has never seen a catastrophe of this magnitude in modern times; it was already desperately poor to begin with; and in the aftermath of so many disasters in recent years, the people and infrastructure were utterly unprepared to cope.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 2:26PM EST on January 16, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media coordinator in Haiti
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I'm with a convoy of three CARE vehicles carrying water purification supplies form the airport to three different points of distribution. In order to avoid the risk of mobs trying to take materials, we're using ordinary SUVs — Toyota Land Cruisers — and piling the materials low enough so they can be covered and out of view from the windows.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 2:17PM EST on January 16, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media coordinator in HaitiSaturday, January 16, 2010
I am near the airport at the U.N. security base. CARE's country director in Haiti, Sophie Perez, and our emergency response leader, David Gazashvili, are here meeting with the heads of all the relief agencies. We are coordinating how best to get help to those in urgent need.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 12:59PM EST on January 15, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media coordinator in HaitiFriday, January 15, 2010
We're crossing the border at Jimeni, between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Things are moving fairly quickly, at least on the Dominican Republic side. We're seeing supplies crossing the border including search and explore teams with dogs, many large tanker trucks with water, backhoes and other construction equipment, mobile kitchens from the Dominican Republic, and many journalists.... (more)
Posted by: Rick Perera at 10:54AM EST on January 15, 2010
by Rick Perera, emergency media coordinator in HaitiFriday, January 15, 2010
A group of CARE staff and journalists – 12 of us in all, landed in the city of Puerto Plata in the northern coast of the Dominican Republic early this afternoon. We were welcomed as tourists by a steel drum band, scantily clad dancers and free cocktails. It was a surreal experience.... (more)
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 10:47AM EST on January 15, 2010
by Hauke Hoops, regional emergency coordinator in HaitiFriday, January 15, 2010
This is one of the biggest disasters I’ve ever seen, and it is a huge logistical challenge. Everything has to come in by plane or boat, but the port is destroyed. The airport is overstretched, overcrowded with flights.... (more)
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 2:15PM EST on January 14, 2010
by Hauke Hoops, regional emergency coordinator in HaitiThursday, January 14, 2010
Hauke Hoops, CARE’s Regional Emergency Coordinator, flew from Panama to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, just after midnight Jan. 13. We reached him at the airport in Santo Domingo Jan. 13 at 6 a.m. local time, as he was preparing to board a humanitarian flight to Port-au-Prince.... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 2:26PM EST on October 6, 2009
by Adjie Fachrurrazi, CARE emergency coordinator in Indonesia
It has been raining non-stop for the past six hours. Heavy, heavy rain.
People are traumatized. They are asking for help. Everyone is suffering. People say to me, "Don't count the number of destroyed houses. Count the number of houses still standing. It will be faster." In most villages I have seen, only 15 percent of houses are still standing. Some houses are totally flattened. The roof is flat on the ground. People lost everything. Their houses are destroyed, everything in them is destroyed. And everyone is afraid so those with houses will not go inside. There have been aftershocks over the past few days but today was mostly quiet. Everyone is afraid of another earthquake.
So people are sleeping outside, living outside. We are all wet. They have no shelter. Some people are sleeping under broken pieces of roof. Shelter is the main issue. People also need mosquito nets. They are sleeping outside, and with all this rain, there will be mosquitoes and malaria. Children are already starting to get sick. They need blankets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for shelter.
People are drinking coconut juice, or river water. People in these village used to get their water from springs, but the pipes are broken. In Padang city, the municipal water is not running yet. The water from the river is not clean, and people don't have stoves to boil water. They need clean drinking water or there is going to be a rise in waterborne illness. We have supplies to help 5,000 people to start, but we need funds to help more.
There are many injured people and people still buried under buildings. It is very hard to reach the affected areas. Landslides have blocked roads and there is debris everywhere. Our team went out by motorbike today. We have 20 people on the emergency team, including staff from our local partner. This damage looks worse than the Yogyakarta quake in 2006.
It has been five days now. It's not clear how many people are affected yet. We don't have all the information from the rural areas. There are many dead bodies. And the smell is coming.
Posted by: CARE at 11:57AM EST on August 14, 2009
Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, blogs from her trip to Kenya.
August 10, 2008
This morning after a breakfast briefing we loaded up in a van and headed to a drop off point to get to Kibera Tabitha Clinic. Kibera is a densely populated "informal settlement" or slum area of Nairobi. Population estimates for Kibera are as high as 1 million people. It's probably the largest and most studied slum in Africa – nearly the size of Manhattan's Central Park. From our drop off point at the top of a hill, it looks like a corrugated sea of rusted tin roofs and open sewers.
Reaching the clinic involves walking through a maze of muddy walking paths as there are no streets. While there we were briefed by Dr. Rob Breiman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who is a former colleague from my days at CDC, and the clinic's director, Salim Mohammed. The clinic took two years to build and was completed this year. The bricks to build it were all carried by hand down the same narrow, windy path to the site and was built by the community.
The clinic partners with the CDC to identify trends in infectious diseases and develop programs to meet the highest priorities for improving health. They also integrate HIV training, reproductive health and antenatal care. About 150-200 people visit this clinic every day.
Staff also do home visits to households every other week, asking questions to identify possible health issues. For example, if someone has a cough or potential complications with a pregnancy, it initiates a specific set of questions to help determine the whether there is a problem that needs attention. I had the chance to go on a home visit to meet with a woman named Cynthia, a mother of five. It was interesting to see how the local health worker, Jaciuta, gathered surveillance information on Cynthia's family that was logged on a handheld PDA – technology put to good use. This allowed the home health worker to go back to the office and upload household health information on a daily basis. Sure beats old fashion paper record keeping!
From there, we walked through another part of Kibera to meet with a group of women. They told us about the daily struggles they face as well as some of the support they receive from a woman named Judy, a retired nurse who started her own organization that CARE supports as a local partner through our Local Links program. Judy helps the women start small businesses, like selling vegetables, to earn their own income.
The story of one woman, Mwinza Mwema, especially impressed me. She has seven children and two orphans in her care. Her vegetable stand was burned to the ground during the post-election violence in Kenya last year but she didn't give up hope. She takes on jobs washing clothes and dishes, making a little over a dollar a day. It never ceases to amaze me the resilience of women like Mwinza, who continues to have a positive attitude despite the hardship she faces. This is a woman who survived home childbirth, cutting the umbilical cords herself because she couldn't afford to go to a hospital. She was lucky to have survived and that her children still have a mother. She mentioned other women she knew who didn't survive home childbirth, a common practice in poor areas. Hopefully as more clinics like Tabitha go up, more people will start accessing health and family planning services.
During lunch we spoke with Peter Anyang Nyong, minister for medical services, who noted health challenges in Kenya, and how improving infrastructure and human resources are critical to the country's development.
(L to R: Admiral Fallon, Minister for Medical Services Peter Anyang Nyongo and me at lunch)
From there we drove to Pumwani Maternity Hospital for our final visit of the day. According to the director, Dr. Charles Wanyoni, it's the busiest maternal health hospital on the continent. This year, he said they've experienced seven maternal deaths for some 11,000 deliveries. He noted that "when it's this busy you can expect complicated cases." The hospital has two operating rooms, one antenatal clinic, family planning services, services to prevent mother-child transmission of HIV and comprehensive care. Because it's located right next to Kibera, many women and girls who deliver there have to work out with a hospital committee how they will pay for services – approximately $40 for a normal delivery and double that if a caesarean-section is needed.
(Here I am visiting the Pumwani Maternal Health Hospital's neonatal unit.)
Because the hospital was built in 1926, it was obvious they've have to expand, which is a constant struggle when facing high demand and low funding. It was good to see that the CDC is supporting the hospital with a laboratory, and it also receives PEPFAR (the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) funding. The hospital staff has aspirations for developing their infrastructure during the next five years to include things like a new water system and more skills training workshops for staff.
I really hope for the day when poor women can focus on getting the care they need without putting themselves in precarious financial positions that deepens their poverty. This is what I will continue to push for: more investment in maternal health and family planning. These issues really need to become a priority, not just in Kenya, but on a global scale.
Tonight, I have to brush off the dust from today's trip to wear another hat: meeting with health leaders and key donors at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Ranneberger. More tomorrow!
Dr. Helene Gayle of CARE shares her thoughts on the importance of visiting Kenya on a Learning Tour trip.
Posted by: CARE at 10:46AM EST on August 10, 2009
Blog by Allen Clinton, CARE staff, currently on a Learning Tours trip to Kenya.
There's a lot involved in putting together a Learning Tours trip. Right now I'm in Kenya as part of a team doing an advance run-through. I'll hold back on all the program details until the trip starts but I will say we've been on the road a lot visiting numerous communities, hospitals and clinics to make sure delegates have a safe, well managed and well informed trip.
On the way to one clinic in the slums of Kibera to review the schedule and time the walk, we were instructed to keep moving along a narrow one lane pathway so we don't hold up anyone coming from the other direction. As parts were muddy, black rubber boots were provided. Some who didn't have the right shoes on wore the boots. For the majority of us who didn't try out the black boots, we did survive walking through or stepping over drainage ditches. I took a few photos to show you what I mean.
Along the way children would walk with us for a few steps asking, "How are you?" When we respond we're fine and returned the same question, they would always smile and giggle. Some even asked the folks with the boots on when it was going to rain.
Posted by: CARE at 2:19PM EST on July 22, 2009
Blog on her recent trip to Ghana by Sarah Blizzard, Development Writer, CARE
Today, I received one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever been given – a bouquet of flowers from the Girls' Club in the village of Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti region of Ghana.... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 5:05PM EST on July 15, 2009
Blog on her recent trip to Ghana by Sarah Blizzard, Development Writer, CARE
CARE works with farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana to help improve cocoa yields and educational opportunities for children. How do these two seemingly-disparate things go together?... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 5:09PM EST on July 9, 2009
by Rick Perera, Media & Communications Officer
Farewell, Pakistan. My month among these kind, hospitable people is coming to an end. As I leave this country that is struggling with a massive wave of civilians fleeing conflict, my mind is full of thoughts, and my heart full of emotions. I've seen the sacrifice of ordinary Pakistanis doing their best to help their suffering compatriots. Their generosity is an inspiration, but also a challenge, to the rest of the world.
Posted by: CARE at 12:34PM EST on June 29, 2009
by Rick Perera, Media & Communications Officer
Just 12 years old, he carries the weight of the world on his narrow shoulders. The eldest of five children of a widowed mother, Sajjad Ahmad feels responsible for his family. It’s not easy being the man of the house at such a young age.
Posted by: CARE at 12:06PM EST on June 11, 2009
Blog by Rick Perera, Media Officer, CARE International in Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD – It’s become depressingly familiar: a tragic attack on civilians. Tuesday’s hotel bombing in Peshawar is just the latest in a string of events marring this beautiful country.... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 11:36AM EST on June 11, 2009
Blog by Rick Perera, Media Officer, CARE International in Pakistan:
Posted by: CARE at 10:48AM EST on June 5, 2009
Blog by Thomas Schwarz of CARE Germany-Luxemburg, May 28, 2009:
It is about noon up here in the northwestern province, or maybe a little later. In one of the camps for displaced people we meet a teacher, who is now volunteering to help his fellow countrymen. He tells us his story: "When all of the refugees arrived, I did not hesitate. I contacted the government to register as a volunteer. 'What can I do,' I asked them. 'How can I help?'"... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 1:26PM EST on June 4, 2009
Blog by Thomas Schwarz of CARE Germany-Luxemburg
While travelling to places like Pakistan, I naturally meet many different people. All of them have their own story and background, their traditions, cultures and personal experiences. Talking to the displaced people in Pakistan, I realized right away how different their path of life is compared to my own. Living in Buner, Kohistan, Dir and the village of Swat bears no resemblance at all to lifestyles in so many western countries. The gap could not be much bigger.... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 1:24PM EST on June 4, 2009
Blog by Thomas Schwarz of CARE Germany-Luxemburg
Posted by: CARE at 5:39PM EST on January 13, 2009
GAZA (January 8, 2009, 4: 45 a.m.) - This is the 13th day of the attack. It is really more horrible than we could ever describe. We feel like the sky is going to attack us. There is nothing worse than being tired, needing to sleep so badly, but being unable to sleep. We feel if we close our eyes for a moment, we will die.
Posted by: CARE at 12:29PM EST on September 16, 2008
My first lesson in the realities of poverty and global inequality came on a trip to Guatemala when I was four years old. My father, a doctor, had volunteered for a rural medical project, and brought his young family along.
The country was a riot of unfamiliar colors, smells, and sounds for a child’s senses. The joyfully clattering melodies of the marimba. The bustling marketplaces, where meat came not wrapped in cellophane, but on two or four legs. The destinations called out in sing-song voices by boys hanging precariously from brightly painted buses. “Gua-te, Gua-te, Gua-te-ma-la!” they’d shout, as they departed for the capital. I had no idea that these children, only a few years older than I, worked to help their families survive, at the price of a missed education.
Posted by: CARE at 4:21PM EST on August 7, 2008