Friday, October 15, 2010

A Servant's Heart: Equipping the Blind

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Adam is a blind student studying Law at Addis Ababa University. He maintains that he wants to use his degree to enhance the lives of the blind and visually impaired in Ethiopia. He has been one of our beneficiaries for few years. One of the things he has requested was a computer and the accompanying programs for the blind and visually impaired. Through the generous support of a Kuwaiti Women's organization, that seeks to empower vulnerable men, women and children, they provided us with the funds to purchase the computer.

I thank them for their commitment to serving those who are marginalize and underserved. Together we were able to assist Adam in accomplishing his goal to become a Lawyer and servant of others in need.

To see more of these photos click here!

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on supporting orphans

Sunday, May 30, 2010

‎"The purpose of life..."

‎"The purpose of life is not to be happy but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make a difference that you lived at all." -Leo Rosten

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A Servant's Heart-Nuha

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Nuha, not her real name, lives with her 2 daughters in a shack that is high off of the ground that can only be reach by climbing a latter. The room was not long enough for 3 people to lay down/sleep in, nor tall enough to stand up.

Nuha's pain was tangible, but I'll let the pictures tell the story.

To view more photos from Nuha's home click here!

United: Donated Clothes

By: Nasir Al-Amin
During my last trip to Ethiopia I went to some of the homes of the women and children we serve to deliver donated clothing. I knew the kids would love the clothing and it shows in the pictures.I'm thankful to the donor as these items are a subtle reminder to the children that someone is thinking of them. That they are important and not forgotten.

During my last trip to Ethiopia I went to some of the homes of the women and children we serve to deliver donated clothing. I knew the kids would love the clothing and it shows in the pictures. I'm thankful to the donor as these items are a subtle reminder to the children that someone is thinking of them. That they are important and not forgotten.

Click here to view this photo album.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Servant's Heart-The Importance of Housing

By: Nasir Al-Amin
This impoverished family consist of a mother and her two daughters. The husband has passed away and the family is affected by severe health concern.

Their major concerns are housing, generating consistent income, and access to education; all of which are interrelated. One of the ways to address the family's concerns is to assist the mother with starting a small income generating business selling vegetables and other foods within her community. This would provide the family with consistent income for rent. This would allow them to secure permanent housing, rather than moving monthly, which adversely affects the daughter's education. For instance, one of the daughters is 15 and in the 4th grade. She failed the 3rd and 4th grade due to the family's constant moving. Presently, the family's income is generated from begging and collecting plastic from the trash and streets and selling them.

This impoverished family consist of a mother and her two daughters. The husband has passed away and the family is affected by severe health concern. Their major concerns are housing, generating consistent income, and access to education; all of which are interrelated. One of the ways to address the family's concerns is to assist the mother with starting a small income generating business selling vegetables and other foods within her community. This would provide the family with consistent income for rent. This would allow them to secure permanent housing, rather than moving monthly, which adversely affects the daughter's education. For instance, one of the daughters is 15 and in the 4th grade. She failed the 3rd and 4th grade due to the family's constant moving. Presently, the family's income is generated from begging and collecting plastic from the trash and streets and selling them.

Click here to view this photo album.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"You are someone's miracle..."

"You are someone's miracle. So many people are praying for miracles, we have to realize we can become their miracle." -Anonymous

Purpose of Influence

"The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence."
-Anonymous

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hana has become an orphan...

By: Nasir Al-Amin

I'll give you all an update when I return. However, I just wanted to forward this information on to you. Hana's mother is the woman we visited on thanksgiving--she was the one that was bedridden.

E-mail below:

Selam Nasir,
How are you doing? Today I have bad news. That is Hana mother (HIV Woman) died last Friday. It is hard for you to hear. But we couldn’t do any thing because everything is done by GOD. The only thing we can do is to care Hana.

I am really sorry Naisr.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girl’s Education: Investing in a more Compassionate World

By: Nasir Al-Amin

In Ethiopia, the sight of school age girls working at construction sites, is a visible reminder of the influence poverty has on the education of girls. Across Ethiopia, girls tend to be the most disadvantaged in terms of education: of the 7.8 million Ethiopian children out of school, 4 million are girls. However, this is not a problem particular to Ethiopia, as globally an estimated 62 million girls are out of school, and some 100 million girls engaged in child labor.

There are a myriad of factors that force girls into child labor. For instance, girls drop out to support ill family members and/or younger siblings, the associated cost of education (school fees and supplies), and cultural/family preference to educate male children over girls. Although, the importance of educating girls is multifold:
1) An effective strategy in tackling poverty;
2) Later in life, girls that are educated are more likely to earn more than less educated women, and tend to have more decision-making power with regards to age at which they marry;
3) Educated girls tend to have fewer children, as well as healthier children;
4) Children of educated mothers are more likely to be educated, thus decreasing the probability of entering child labor;

I have worked with young girls who split their day into a morning shift at school, and their afternoon at a construction site. They described hazardous work environments and being forced into exploitative situations. Like the millions of other girls poverty has forced into child labor, they deserve better. I firmly believe educating girls is essential to the global fight against child labor and poverty. Investing in girl’s education is a step towards a more caring and compassionate world.

Click here to view this photo album.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"We Need Change"-School Uniforms

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Something as simple as a school uniform can be an obstacle to impoverished children enrolling in school and obtaining an education.

Click here to view this photo album.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"God doesn't make junk"

"You are not an assembly-line product, mass produced without thought. You are custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece. God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve Him," and his creation. "God doesn't make junk."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Moment of Success…

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Reflections from Ethiopia

A few months back I wrote about one of the young men ALIF sponsors that graduated from Addis Ababa University. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him and the feeling I had when hearing of his accomplishment. On Sunday, November 29th during a celebration ALIF was hosting for the kids we serve he pulled me to the side asking if we could talk. After finding a place to sit and an exchange of warm greetings he said, “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, but I want to tell you I have a job now. And I make enough to take care of myself and my grandmother, so you can give the money to someone else who needs it.”

My aim has always been to help people get to a point where they don’t need my assistance, and this young man no longer needs it.

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerso

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"I used everything You gave me."

“Life is a long lesson in humility. Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well. When I stand in front of God at the end of my life, I hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say: "I used everything You gave me."” -Anonymous

“Life is full of opportunities and choices...”

“Life is full of opportunities and choices, no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live. Starting your own journey from Me to We can be as simple as picking up the morning newspaper. When we spoke with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to bring peace and reconciliation to South Africa after the fall of apartheid, he called the morning paper “God’s prayer list delivered straight to my door.” At first, we were surprised: what with the current state of the world, the morning news can make for difficult reading! But for the Archbishop, the paper’s stories about local and global issues offer a menu of issues to choose from—and a map of possibilities for change. We have never forgotten his comment, because it helped us to truly see that opportunities all around us.”

(Kielburger, Craig. Me to We, page 227)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Personal Ethos for 2010: The Art of Giving

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

My personal ethos for 2010 is to excel in the art of giving: to always be in the act of giving. Giving of time, wisdom, hope, compassion, knowledge, silence, forgiveness, wealth and love. I'm deeply indebted to the impoverished women and children of Ethiopia for their numerous acts of giving that have enriched my life.  

Tickle An Orphan Until Tears Appear

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

During EID al-Adha, I spent a moment tickling an orphan until tears appeared in his eyes.

Click here to view this photo album.

Thanks Giving with an HIV Infected Mother

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I spent "Thanks Giving" with an impoverished, bedridden mother infected with HIV. She taught me what I need to be thankful for and what I should be giving of myself. Make a difference with your life.

"To Serve" and "To Give" are two verbs that should define your life.--Rick Warren


Click here to view this album.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"We Need Change" - Living Conditions

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

From Nov. 25 to Nov. 30, 2009, a group of us traveled to Ethiopia to follow-up with the orphans and vulnerable children I serve. These are photos of the substandard living conditions impoverished women and children are forced to live in.

Click here to view this photo album.

God's Gift to you... Your Gift to God...

"What you are is God's gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God"

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Focus: Notes from School Visits in Ethiopia (School 1)

“A student’s background is critical they don’t get enough meals a day. They are not in the best health to learn.(Staff member of visited school)

The aforementioned quote crystallized the educational plight for orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia for me. I began the first two days of my trip to Ethiopia visiting schools in an effort to gain a better grasp of the education system in Ethiopia for the poor. All of the schools I visited were formally public schools yet are now considered governmental schools. Their student body consists of poor and marginalized children—orphans and children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Before I toured the school, a meeting was held with the school’s administration and staff. What follows are my notes from that meeting:
• Average class size is 57—not teacher’s assistance, simply 1 teacher with 57 students.
• 3 to 4 students to a desk
• Girls typically drop out more, as they need to care for ill family member and/or support the family (financially)
• The school day is 8 AM to 3 PM. Each class is 45 mins.
• Student’s major difficulty is poverty: lack of food and adequate shelter
• “A student’s background is critical they don’t get enough meals a day. They are not in the best health to learn.”
• Lacking of school materials thus cannot conduct experiments or apply learning.
• 1 computer for 2,000 students. Only the top 120 students get training in computer, and they share that 1 computer.
• 1 microscope for 2,000 students to use.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THIS SCHOOL VISIT!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Willing to Serve ...

"Lord, I cannot preach like Martin Luther King, Jr. or turn a poetic phrase like Maya Angelou, but I care and am willing to serve... I am not holy like Archbishop Tutu, forgiving like Mandela, or disciplined like Gandhi but I care and am willing to serve."

Real Revolution: Revolution of the Heart

"Real revolution that is required today... is an ILLUMINATION OF HEARTS.. the remedy for the current problem is an ancient remedy... we need to turn within... create a revolution within... the revolution that is required is the REVOLUTION OF THE HEART."

"We Need Change" -Education in Ethiopia

By: Nasir Al-Amin

During the first two days of our trip to Ethiopia, we made a number of visits to public/government schools in the Capital city, Addis Ababa. These schools are the schools that orphans and the impoverished children of Ethiopia attend.

We started each school visit with an information session with the Principle and staff of each school. The three major concerns were generally the same:
(1) Food: The children are unable to concentrate in school, because they are hungry and lack proper nutrition. Students that are on medication for HIV/AIDS or other mental health issues need to take their medications with food in order for the medications to work effectively, yet they are to poor to afford the proper food to take with their medications. *NEED: SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAM

(2) Restroom Facility: The school averaged around 1,000 students and had one restroom facility. These restroom facilities were both male and female and divided by a wall and no doors. One restroom in particular, the students had to defecate or urinate at the door of the stall, as the whole for the toilet is full with feces. And due to a lack of funds, the school was unable to pay for the pipes to be cleaned, and thus the feces has hardened in the pipes and it cannot be removed—forcing the students to use the rest room at the entrance of the stall. *NEED: A NEW RESTROOM FACILITY

(3) School Supplies (Computers and Science Supplies): Each school averaged around 1,000 students and the school with the most computers had 3. Additionally, their science classes lacked supplies to facilitate experiments. For instance, their was one microscope for an entire school. *NEED: SCHOOL EQUIPMENT & SUPPPLIES.

We know what they need (and now you do too), the question is what will we do?Painted on one of the walls of the school was the phrase: “We Need Change.”

Monday, December 07, 2009

Light One Candle-(2004 to 2009)-2

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I've been working with *Hiwot since 2004. She has done well in school graduating from KG and is now in elementary.

*Not her real name.

"At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that make you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world."
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Click here to view this photo album.

Light One Candle-(2004 to 2009)-3

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I've been working with *Min since 2004. He has grown a lot over the years. He graduated from KG and is now in 3rd grade.

*Not his real name.

"At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that make you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world."
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Click here to view this photo album.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Light One Candle-(2004 to 2009)-1

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Our work from 2004 to 2009.

Click here to view this photo album!

"Light Just One Candle"-Reflection

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

At 4:00 am on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 I stepped on a flight destined for Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have traveled to Addis once or twice a year since 2003. This trip from its inception has been marked by inner growth, thus resonating with me as a spiritual journey. The pressing realities of disenfranchised children and impoverished young women pushed to the margins in search for sustenance have on a number of occasions awakened me form a state of spiritual slumber. For this awakening I am grateful.

On the surface it’s a trip to reconnect with orphans and vulnerable women that I serve in Ethiopia. To say that their plight is sobering is an understatement. The superficial facades and desires within myself become apparent once our eyes meet. Their hope and resolve informs my soul of a higher purpose, it reminds my spirit of my life’s work: service.

This trip was particularly unique in that I brought 12 co-workers along with me to share in this experience. We took with us suitcases filled with clothes and school supplies for the orphans I serve. However, my aim for this trip was to afford my co-workers the same opportunity I was blessed with: to touch and be touched by one life, one smile, and one story—in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to allow them to “light just one candle.”

"At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that make you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world."

These trips to Ethiopia are my way of dispelling a bit of darkness, a humble attempt to “overwhelm the world” with the light of compassion, which is most visible through service.

Click here to view this photo album!

"We Need Change"-Clothes & School Supplies for Orphans

My coworkers and I collected clothes and school supplies that were disregarded at the end of the school year. We packed it all up in 25 boxes and stored them in my office for 4 months until we were able to travel together to Ethiopia in order to deliver the supplies and clothes personally.

This album documents the boxes journey from my office to my apartment hallway, to the hands of orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

It was a fun and beautiful experience!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PICTURES!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ALIF-Light Just One Candle


By: Nasir Al-Amin

"At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that make you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world."
-- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Saturday, October 31, 2009

ALIF-The Motivation


by: Nasir Al-Amin

*Adam is one of the children ALIF works with in Ethiopia. In this video, he takes us on a quick walk to his home. Adam is one of the millions of vulnerable children living in Ethiopia. And like so many, his strength of his spirit is a source of motivation.

Together we can create viable opportunities for impoverished women and children!

Join ALIF it’s mission of service:
www.ALIF.us
www.OVCS.blogspot.com


*Not his real name.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Life & Control...

Source: www.YogaJournal.com

"Life doesn't give you breathing room, but if you stop grasping for control of the uncontrollable, you can learn to breathe through it all." (Chris Colin)


Friday, October 23, 2009

ALIF-Maladjusted


By: Nasir Al-Amin

"There are some things in our social system to which I am proud to be maladjusted to and to which I suggest that you too ought to be maladjusted." -MLK

This is the home of a impoverished family in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ALIF works with the family and on this day we went to conduct an interview, yet the home is located next to the toilet for that neighborhood. The small permeated this home and that of the surrounding homes. We were unable to facilitate the interview at the home, as the smell was unbearable. This was one of many concerns for this family.

Together we can create viable opportunities for impoverished women and children!

Join ALIF in this mission:
www.ALIF.us
www.OVCS.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Living a Life of Purpose: What's in your hand?



“What’s in your hand? What do you have that you’ve been given talent, background, education, freedom, networks, opportunities, wealth, ideas, creativity. What are you doing with what you have been given. That to me is the primary question about life. That to me is what it means to be purpose driven.” –Rick Warren

Monday, October 19, 2009

Secret of Happiness...

"The secret to happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon." -Paulo Coelho

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Spirit of the Warrior

Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself reveals again and again that opposite: That letting go is the path to real freedom.

Just as when the waves lash at the shore, the rocks suffer no damage, but are sculpted and eroded into beautiful shapes so to our character can be molded and our rough edges worn smooth by changes.

Through weathering changes can we learn how to develop a gentle but unshakable composure. Our confidence in ourselves grows and becomes so much greater that goodness and compassion begin naturally to radiate out from us and bring joy to others. That goodness is what survives death, a fundamental goodness that is in every one of us. The whole of our life is a teaching of how to uncover that strong goodness, and a training towards realizing it.

(Tibetan book of Living and Dying)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

ISNA Presentation: Bringing Success to Our World


Presentation by: Nasir Al-Amin

This video is from the ISNA session: Bringing Success to Our World. My presentation was entitled, "Your Legacy: A Life of Service," in which I attempted to make the connection between success and service. That those historical giants that we respect left a legacy of success through service to humanity.

Q & A After ISNA Session: "Bringing Success to Our World"


Presentation by: Nasir Al-Amin

This video is from the Question and Answer segment of the session: Bringing Success to Our World. My presentation was entitled, "Your Legacy: A Life of Service," in which I attempted to make the connection between success and service. That those historical giants that we respect left a legacy of success through service to humanity.

School Supplies and Clothes Collected for Our Children!



Pictures by: Nasir Al-Amin

A few of the teachers approached me about collecting items students left in their lockers or laying around the school after the last day of school. We were able to fill 26 boxes of items (clothes and school supplies) to send to our children in Ethiopia. Their is over $800 worth of items collected!!! The entire wall of my office is filled with boxes, almost to the ceiling. The teachers and I will be going as a group in November of 2009 to deliver all these items to the children.

Click here to view more photos of collected items for children in Ethiopia on Facebook!

Light Within-(Ethiopia) Day 5


Picture by: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Click here to view more photos on Facebook from Day 5!

Light Within-(Ethiopia) Day 4


Pictures by: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Click here to see more pictures from Day 4 on Facebook!

Light Within-(Ethiopia) Day 3


Pictures By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa Ethiopi
a

Click here to see more photos from Day 3 on Facebook!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Light Within (Ethiopia)- Day 1

Pictures by: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

"It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (Our Deepest Fear)

Click here to see more photos from Day 1 on Facebook!

Leaving for Ethiopia: Cleansing the Lens of the Soul!

By: Nasir Al-Amin
*This blog entry was orignially posted on April 28, 2009. It is being reposted as the following blog entries will contain pictures and reflections from this journey.

Tonight, I have a redeye flight to Ethiopia. My journeys to Ethiopia always have a dual agenda/reality attached to them. Outwardly, my journeys are work related. Inwardly, they are transformative, therapy for soul, a stimulus to refocus. Thus, the outward and inward aims of this trip are the following:

1) Yousef: One of the orphans we work with has been in the hospital for a month. Previously he was diagnosed with HIV+ and I have been informed that his body has adjusted to his medication, and thus stopped working effectively. I hear he is in critical condition, so my main aim is to check on him.

2) Commercial Sex Workers (CSW): Last year we launched a project to provide skill training (sewing and tailoring) to 10 women engaged in CSW. I'm going to follow-up with them the about skills they have gained and their life post-intervention.

3) Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs): In partnership with HAPSCO, an NGO based in Ethiopia, ALIF provides monetary assistance for school fees, food, and housing to impoverished and/or HIV/AIDS infected children that have lost one or both parents.

4) Donated School Supplies: A Kuwaiti volunteer, Noura,
donated school supplies for the children we serve. Therefore, I will have the pleasure to see their smiles as I give them the supplies.

5) Listen, Observe and Reflect: My first trip to Ethiopia in 2002 fostered a paradigm shift, in that the way I viewed the world and my role in it changed significantly. Each subsequent trip has helped to cleanse the lens through which I perceive, understand and process life experiences and the realities of others. The poor and marginalized have given me something priceless: "the gift of perspective."

"Where we direct our attention, is where our life flows"

Source: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

"Life is a force flowing through us. Where we direct our attention, is where our life flows. Every moment is an opportunity to direct our attention to ideas that inspire us. Every day brings the promise of a new beggening, and the opportunity to transform every life challenge into a gift."

The Power of Compassion

By: Dalai Lama
Source: The Middle Way (text)
"I respect the world’s political leaders, but sometimes I think they should have more compassion. If even one of these political leaders cultivates more compassion, then millions of innocent people get more peace. "

The following are direct quotes from the text:

I often tell audiences that the twentieth century was a century of violence, and through that experience we now know that violence cannot solve problems. The only way to solve them is with peaceful resolution. Therefore, the twenty-first century should be the century of dialogue. For that, we need determination, patience, and a broader perspective. Again, this is where compassion has an important role. First, as I mentioned, it brings us self-confidence. Compassion brings us deep recognition of others’ rights. Compassion also gives us a calm mind, and with a calm mind, we can see reality more clearly. When our mind is dominated by afflictive emotions, we can’t see reality, and we make poor decisions. Compassion gives us a more holistic view.

I respect the world’s political leaders, but sometimes I think they should have more compassion. If even one of these political leaders cultivates more compassion, then millions of innocent people get more peace. Many years ago, at an official function in India, I met a politician from the Indian state of East Bengal. The meeting included a discussion of ethics and spirituality, and he said, “As a politician I don’t know much about those things.” He was probably just being humble, but I gently chided him. Politicians need more ethics, more spirituality, I said. If a religious practitioner in a remote area does something harmful, it probably doesn’t have much global effect. But when leaders and politicians are not mindful and compassionate, it is very dangerous.

I believe compassion is not a religious matter. Some people think compassion and forgiveness are the domains of religion, and if people have a negative view of religion they may become negative about these things as well. That’s a mistake. Whether we accept a religion or not is up to the individual, but as long as humanity inhabits this world, these deeper values are crucial and must not be neglected. Everybody is making every effort for material prosperity. That’s fine, but if in the meantime we neglect our inner world or inner values, we will not be happy. We must combine material development with the development of internal, human values. We need to develop respect, love, and a sense of compassion in order to have happier lives, happier families, happier communities, and finally a happier world. We need these inner qualities.

Click here to read the full selection!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Distance Doesn't Matter Only the First Step...

Source: http://www.lessonsoftheday.blogspot.com/

"We must not.....ignore the small daily differences we can make which, overtime, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth. The distance doesn't matter only the first step is difficult."

Click here to read this and other reflections.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awakening: Ambiguity Fosters Clarity

By: Nasir Al-Amin
(This was my first post after returning from a 6 month stay in Ethiopia, it was written on February 18, 2006.)

Ethiopia was a moment of awakening. It brought the numbers to life; the figures (4.6 million orphans, and 200,000 children living on the streets of Addis) became tangible. The words (domestic workers, poverty, commercial sex workers, child labourers, orphans, under-five mortality rate, and beggars) were now faces, individuals that I built relationships with, people I ate and laughed with, people I hugged and lent a shoulder to in moments of sorrow. In essence, my reality had changed. My perspective and/or worldview was altered by the realty of others. The children and their families became the center. My life, rather my life’s purpose was no longer about me. And it was this shift that nurtured a dormant seed of discontent that subsequently, led to a year of isolation, self-reflection and reprioritization.

After I returned to the States, I would often isolate myself (at first unknowingly) from friends (especially my Ethiopian friends) and environments (Ethiopian restaurants and cafés) that at best reminded me of Ethiopia and at worst subjected me to that dreaded question: “How was Ethiopia?” As Ethiopia was no longer this tranquil place, an escape from America’s dominant culture and norms, a bastion of generosity and love, my own little gem, this utopia that the West had not conquered or found. Ethiopia (both figuratively and literally) in all it splendor had changed and I could no longer articulate this new reality. My life experiences, Columbia diction and education could not prepare me for the emotional component of my endeavor. The veil had been removed, and what I saw left me speechless.

What words can speak to the reality of desperate girls walking the streets at night selling their bodies, or a teenage mother and her baby after a day of begging trying to sleep and stay warm on the sidewalk wrapped in tattered and soiled blankets—shockingly, often one sees groups of street children huddled together employing body heat as their sole means of staying warm. How does one express that somber feeling when children run to your vehicle at traffic lights placing their hands and faces on the car window with a dismal gaze begging for food or coins?

Unfortunately, for some Ethiopians living abroad and in Ethiopia, this reality has become normalized and thus they have become desensitized to the destitute and their plight. So much so that when they speak of Ethiopia and/or their trip back to Ethiopia the latter (destitute families and children) are not apart of the discussion—for instance, some will rave over the industrial improvements of Addis (which is laudable), yet fail to recognize that the conditions that give rise to street children, prostitution, child labour and exploitation have failed to improve. How do I reconcile these two worlds? How do I express to people that their $5-$10 dollar a week Starbucks addiction could change the life of a child begging on the streets of Addis, as this same amount of money could take a child from the streets into the classroom, and secure food, a school uniform and supplies. How do I convey to people that the cost of dinning out two nights a week if collected at the end of one month, could prevent an uneducated and desperate girl from resorting to prostitution for a year.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ethical Travel: Child Exploitation Tourism Video

Source: Action to End Exploitation
Beyond Borders Newsletter, Issue no. 10, Spring 2007


The following are direct quotes from the aformentioned site:

Tips for travellers
*Be vigilant when you travel to high risk countries. Avoid bars and hotels and other places where you suspect child sexual exploitation might be happening.

*Don't visit red light districts. This encourages the proliferation of child sexual exploitation. Even the most innocent of purchases provides indirect financial support for this crime.

*If you suspect child sex tourism when you are abroad, report it to the local police inform the nearest Canadian embassy, or access www.cybertip.ca to report it. Tell your tour guide and hoteliers. Encourage them to inform tourists that sex tourism is a crime.

*When you return home, let your travel agent and tour operator know of your observations and encourage them to take action.

*Visit www.thecode.org to find out the tour operators and travel agencies that have committed to fight against child sex tourism by signing on to an international code of conduct for the tourism industry. if you can use their services, then do.

Click here to read more and watch the video.

"My children cry out for food day and night"

Source: IRINnews

The following are direct quotes from the article:
YEMEN: Huda Omar, "My children cry out for food day and night"

Huda Omar, 30, fled war-torn Somalia by boat in 2006 to Oman, where she spent more than two and a half years before paying traffickers to smuggle her to Yemen.But in Yemen she is eligible for protection only, and not support, as she has not been allowed to register as a refugee with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Living in the street with her two young daughters, just metres away from UNHCR’s office in Sanaa, Huda told IRIN her story.

“No one helps us… I and my two children have no income. I am forced to beg for money from passers-by to feed my children and myself. “I have been living in this place for three months without any way to clean, or get drinking water. Nobody cares about my suffering.

“My children cry out for food day and night and I barely sleep at night because of my illness and hunger. My condition is getting worse with time because I don’t have good food and medicine.“My dream in life is to have a shelter for me and my children, and enough food and clean water. But I don’t know if it is possible for me to achieve this dream before I die.”

Click here to read the full article.

Call Firestone TODAY!: World Day Against Child Labor!

Source:Change.org

The following are direct quotes from the article/video:

Take action today to stop child labor on the Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia by calling Bridgestone Americas CEO Mark Emkes at 615-937-1000 and tell him to switch from a quota pay system to a living daily wage for workers on his rubber plantation in Liberia.

For 82 years, Firestone has operated a rubber plantation in Liberia where there is widespread child labor, abuse of workers’ rights and environmental destruction. Workers have an extremely high production quota they must meet every day or their low wages are halved — which means they have to bring their children to work to meet their quota. After a long struggle, the workers on the plantation finally have democratic and independent union. The union is negotiating their new collective bargaining agreement with company management right NOW. The biggest demands for the workers is to switch from a task-based pay system to a living daily wage. Firestone can honor World Day Against Child Labor today by agreeing to end the quota system, but they need pressure from you!

So CALL Bridgestone Americas CEO Mark Emkes at 615-937-1000! Ask for Mark Emkes and say, “On World Day Against Child Labor, I want you to take action to end child labor on your rubber plantation in Liberia by switching from a quota system to a daily wage with a living salary.” Then, call Dan Adomitis at the Firestone Natural Rubber Company at 317-575-7281 or 317-575-7000 and tell him the same thing.

Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ethiopia's orphans face life of hardship

Source: Timesonline (Jonathan Clayton)

The following are direct quotes from the article:

A few miles away, dozens of children sleep in drains at night and beg by day at the sprawling central bus station. They face constant dangers. “Some are forced into prostitution, some are sold by relatives after their parents die, they are kept as maids and often abused,” said Dagmawi Alemayeau who runs an organisation, Forum on Street Children, which tries to fight trafficking. Most of an estimated 50,000 children on the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, at some stage pass through the bus station where he has his office.

“Traffickers go to the rural areas ... there are places where you can even buy a baby for as little as $1, he told The Times. He always keeps an eye open at the international airport where so-calleduncles” can often be spotted boarded planes to Gulf states with teenage girls.

Across the rest of Africa, a combination of soaring populations, growing poverty and the HIV-Aids epidemic has led to a huge increase in orphans. A UNICEF report estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa alone there will be more than 20 million by 2010.

Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ZIMBABWE: OVC may be at greater risk of sexual abuse

Source: IRIN PlusNews
The following are direct quotes from the article:
Girls who have been orphaned may be twice as likely to experience sexual abuse, according to research from child-friendly clinics in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Dr Eunice Lyn Garura, director of the Family Support Trust, an NGO operating clinics for survivors of sexual abuse, said 30 percent of the predominantly female clients were orphans who had lost both parents.

Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

MALAWI: No money, no services

Source: IRIN
The following are direct quotes from the article:
Interviews with OVC identified food - by a wide margin - as their chief concern, followed by access to clothing and school. They saw themselves as excluded from community and health services, and the report stressed the danger of commercial sex work as a means of meeting those needs.

EQUINET recommended the widening of community social safety nets, introducing communal farming schemes, and income-generating projects to support OVC. It also called on the government directly to address the shortages in CBO funding, and improve social protection services.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, June 22, 2009

RWANDA: Vulnerable children living on the margins

Source: IRIN
The following are direct quotes from the article:
Lambert Rukeratabaro has turned 16, but is still only in the fourth year of primary school in Byumba, north of the capital, Kigali.  Like thousands of Rwandan children who lost their parents in the 1994 genocide or more recently to HIV/AIDS, Rukeratabaro is an orphan.

"I have been told that my parents died during the genocide," he told IRIN. "Our life is hard. Our parents left us some land so when the harvest is good, we have enough food for lunch and supper." Rukeratabaro's two sisters work on other farms to earn some money. "My sisters had eye and skin problems and it was very difficult getting medication," he said.

"There are at least 2.8 million vulnerable children in the country," said Gisele Rutayisire, the officer in charge of social protection and governance for child rights with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kigali.  An estimated 100,000 Rwandan households are headed by children.

Rukeratabaro said his dream would be to continue his education but he lacks money and relies on well wishers for support with school materials.

"Although I am not very good at school I would like to study up to university so that I can assist my family," he said.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

CAMEROON: Bringing street children back home

Source:IRIN
The following are direct quotes from the article:
Ousmanou, 13, has lived in the streets of Cameroon’s political capital Yaoundé for four months. He and his brother used to live with their grandmother in the northern city of Maroua but she could not afford to feed them properly. Now Ousmanou often forages for food in trash bins.

“We often have no choice but to search the garbage for something to eat,” he told IRIN, nursing an arm injury for which he said he cannot afford to see a doctor. He said he has been unable to find work as he had hoped and has turned to begging.

Reasons for children ending up in the streets vary, from economic hardship to family conflicts to peer pressure, according to ministry interviews with children. Many children in Yaoundé told IRIN they left home desperate to find work, their families unable to support them. But most said they regret their decision, having hit a dead end.

He added: “Children are used to transport drugs; they are recruited into gangs."

Click here to read the entire article!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

KENYA: Domestic workers often do more than housework

Source: IRINnews
The following are direct quotes from the aforementioned article:

*When Nora Adhiambo, 21, started working as a housekeeper for a family in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, she expected to cook, clean and look after their young children; not that she would have to regularly have sex with her employer.

*"He would force me to have sex with him; every time he would sleep with me without a condom and this went on for two years," she told IRIN/PlusNews. "He threw me out when I told him I was pregnant; I realised later that I had not only left that house with a pregnancy but also HIV."

*Salaries are sometimes so low that they are forced to seek additional sources of income, including sex work; those forced out of their employer's home after being raped may resort to sex work as the only way to survive.

Click here to read the full article!

BENIN-NIGERIA: Learning English to enter the sex industry

Source:IRINnews/PLUSNews
The following are direct quotes from the aforementioned article:

Many young people in French-speaking Benin are learning English to adapt to globalization, but some young women have another goal: to enter the thriving sex industry in neighbouring Nigeria, where the market is considered more lucrative.

"Some of them, for example, go to learn English ... in Nigeria, for further study - not all of them go with the intention of becoming [sex workers], but their circumstances push them into it," said Legonou, who emphasized the need to "concentrate on awareness-raising of young girls", particularly to the risk of HIV.

Amy, a young sex worker near one of the big hotels in the city, came from Ivory Coast in 2007. She said she made enough money to rent an apartment for US$400 a month in a suburb of Abuja.

Nigeria has 2.6 million people living with HIV - the third highest HIV caseload in the world after India and South Africa – and a prevalence rate of 3.1 percent, compared to 2 percent in Benin, but this does not discourage young people.

Click here to read the full article!

WEST AFRICA: Combating world's lowest literacy rates

Source: IRINnews
The following are direct quotes from the aforementioned article:


*Illiteracy rates in West Africa are the highest in the world, cramping development and weakening citizens’ power to effect socio-economic and political change,

*Sixty-five million West African adults – 40 percent of the adult population – cannot read or write according to a new study, 'From closed books to open doors – West Africa's literacy challenge'.

*Of the 10 countries with the world’s lowest recorded adult – 15 and older – literacy rates, seven are in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone, the report says.

*An educated population will also show stronger support for democracy

*Education activist and former child soldier in Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah, told IRIN: “Education is not only something to get a career or change your socio-economic status, but it is a way you can begin to understand your government and demand more of it.”

*Rich country aid to education in West Africa in 2007 was equal to just one per cent of what the US government spent on bailing out [insurance company] AIG alone,” Pearce said.

*When supporting education donors should pay more heed to literacy, the report says.

Click here to read the full article!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Your purpose is beyond you...

"Past the seeker as he prayed
came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten.
And seeing them...he cried
"Great God, how is it that a loving creator
can see such things and yet do nothing about them?"
God said "I did do something. I made you."
(Sufi Teaching)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Secret of Living Well...

The secret of living well is not in the answers we amass but in the actions we take. No matter how many problems we solve, there will always be new ones to take their place. We can be more masterful in life if we allow problems to be an ever-present, challenging, and stimulating aspect of living. Accepting and embracing our own humanity is one of the secrets of living life truly satisfied and free of suffering.

[Judy Tatelbaum, You Don't Have to Suffer]

Friday, May 08, 2009

Build and live in a new world...

To change the world we do not need to manipulate people or events; we need to change our minds. Effective transformation springs naturally from higher vision. As we open to a higher reality, we find evidence to support it. Everyone who has improved the world has seen a bigger picture than the one most people were living, and found the courage to live as if it were already so.

Our history is not our destiny. You and I are here to build and live in a new world. Your role in bringing about that world is much simpler than you have realized. You are not required to become a world leader, invent a revolutionary mode of travel, or discover a miraculous medicinal panacea. Your purpose here is much more personal and relevant to the life you are now living. You are here to discover and release the beliefs that have kept you living in a circle smaller than your potential, and step into a world that honors the greatness within you and everyone you meet. You are here to claim your vision and walk in the light. You are here to be you.
[Cohen, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore]

Each of us really can save the world...

The miracle is that each of us really can save the world. Indeed, we must, for what else of value is there to be done? Since there is no order of difficulty in miracles, our desire to save the world must be within our reach. And since the task of our physically maneuvering the world and its people into harmony is unthinkable, there must be some other way.

That way is the way of Spirit, the way of God, the way of Love, which is not confined to time or to space. When we align our hearts and minds with the intentions of Godly Love, we are joining the forces of that power, indeed the only power that can redeem humankind. We have found the only avenue of action that can have any real effect. We have aligned our intentions with Him whose intention is salvation. [Cohen, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

INDONESIA: Poverty at root of commercial sex work

Source: IRINnews
The following are direct quotes from the aforementioned article:


*In a district of the northeastern part of West Java, commercial sex workers are touting for business right outside the mosque.

*"The root of the problem is poverty, but in some areas... prostitution is accepted. It's the culture," explains Arum Ratnawati...with people so poor they are forced to sell or send their children into commercial sex work to earn income for the family.

*In a country with high unemployment and over 4 million school-age children unable to go to school, it is not difficult to understand how trafficking can thrive. The latest government estimates in 2004 put the number of children trafficked for prostitution at 21,000 for Java and 70,000 for the whole of Indonesia.

*The stories are usually the same: poor, uneducated girls who do not know how to protect themselves are preyed upon by people they trust, including relatives or neighbours, who promise to give them jobs in the city or abroad. They end up working in brothels, forced to pay off the IDR500,000 or IDR1 million ($55 or $110) the trafficker paid their parents.

*While they conduct awareness-raising activities and provide skills training, these NGOs find that many prostitutes do not want to be rescued. "Out of 500 children we tried to rescue over the past four years, only around 150 really want to quit prostitution," says Ratnawati. "They give up their rights because of their economic situation. They need the money."

Click here to read the full article!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leaving for Ethiopia: Cleansing the Lens of the Soul!

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Tonight, I have a redeye flight to Ethiopia. My journeys to Ethiopia always have a dual agenda/reality attached to them. Outwardly, my journeys are work related. Inwardly, they are transformative, therapy for soul, a stimulus to refocus. Thus, the outward and inward aims of this trip are the following:

1) Yousef: One of the orphans we work with has been in the hospital for a month. Previously he was diagnosed with HIV+ and I have been informed that his body has adjusted to his medication, and thus stopped working effectively. I hear he is in critical condition, so my main aim is to check on him.

2) Commercial Sex Workers (CSW): Last year we launched a project to provide skill training (sewing and tailoring) to 10 women engaged in CSW. I'm going to follow-up with them the about skills they have gained and their life post-intervention.

3) Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs): In partnership with HAPSCO, an NGO based in Ethiopia, ALIF provides monetary assistance for school fees, food, and housing to impoverished and/or HIV/AIDS infected children that have lost one or both parents.

4) Donated School Supplies: A Kuwaiti volunteer, Noura, 
donated school supplies for the children we serve. Therefore, I will have the pleasure to see their smiles as I give them the supplies.  

5) Listen, Observe and Reflect: My first trip to Ethiopia in 2002 fostered a paradigm shift, in that the way I viewed the world and my role in it changed significantly. Each subsequent trip has helped to cleanse the lens through which I perceive, understand and process life experiences and the realities of others. The poor and marginalized have given me something priceless: "the gift of perspective."

Monday, April 27, 2009

In their words...

“There are some that try to steal from you forcefully and others would try to kill you, just as someone killed one of my girl friends.
(CSW, 22 years old, bar-worker, Assab)

Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In their words...

A couple of the key informants spoke of Muslim men from adjoining countries (e.g. Sudan, Saudi Arabia) as being common clientele.

“They are ‘over satisfied ones’, those who have much money. Some come from  foreign countries for vacation. For example from Saudi Arabia because there  is “Sharia” law, they come here and pay so much money they can do whatever they want. They are Eritreans who live abroad; they live in Saudi Arabia.(Key informant, student, 20 years old, Dekemhare)

Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

Friday, April 24, 2009

KENYA: HIV-positive people feeling the pinch of high food prices

Source: IRIN/PlusNews
The following are direct quotes from the article:

*Soaring food prices are beginning to affect the health of HIV-positive people in Kenya.

*"The success of ARV drugs is no more; many patients are suffering seriously,"...They have developed health complications because they cannot afford basic food, leave alone a balanced diet."

*According to the UNAIDS,
adequate nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining the immune systems of people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as helping to ensure that those on treatment get the maximum benefits from antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

*The latest humanitarian food update by the UN...Kenya could expect a food deficit as a result of global food shortages, increased food prices and reduced production, compounded by poor rains and the displacement of people...

*Rama said families had been forced to increase spending on food to ensure their HIV-positive family members had a balanced diet, at the expense of other essential requirements like their children's education...
some of the poorer HIV/AIDS patients had begun rejecting free life-prolonging ARV medication because of the side effects of taking the drugs on an empty stomach.

*Mary is afraid her chances of living much longer are being compromised by the food shortages. "I have developed many health problems in the past three months. I had malaria, pneumonia and now I have TB [tuberculosis]; I can no longer wash people's clothes to feed my three children," said the mother of three who tested HIV-positive three years ago.

*...high food prices were also affecting HIV prevention efforts, because girls and women were being forced into commercial sex work to feed themselves and their families. "Food insecurity has been one of the major factors responsible for HIV/AIDS cases in northern Kenya," he said. "It is worse now, and we fear that many girls and women will fall victim to the virus now."

Click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In their words...

“…Many people are really shocked to see us. I am young and my friends are younger than I am. If there were rehabilitation centres I wouldn’t choose prostitution. I would love to learn, play and live." (CSW, solicits from nightclubs, 18 year old, Massawa)

“The solution is for the government to give us alternative work, like a trade, in order that we can leave this job…I will be able to create a good future for my children; a chance for them to be educated.” (CSW, working from home, 28 year old, Keren)

Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

YEMEN: Poverty, lack of education boosting HIV/AIDS

Source:IRIN/IRINnews.org

The following are direct quotes from the article:


*Maha (not her real name), 22, has been a commercial sex worker since she was 17. She told IRIN she and her sister were forced into prostitution to provide food and medical treatment for their ailing mother. 

*"My father died when we were young and so my mother had to work as a house maid. We lived as destitutes and we could not continue our education. My mother got cancer and my sister and I decided to work on the street," she said. "Prostitution has become our source of income. We have no education or skills... Job opportunities are very scarce," she said.

*When asked whether she was at risk of HIV/AIDS, Maha said she had never been tested. "We hear about AIDS and all I know about it is that it is fatal. I think Yemen is safe as it is a Muslim country. AIDS comes from Western people and we don't sleep with them," she said.

*Experts say Yemenis are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS as a result of high rates of poverty and lack of education.

*According to the US Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report 2006, Yemeni children were trafficked internally for sexual exploitation, and Yemen was also a destination country for trafficked Iraqi women.

*Some 16 percent of Yemen's 21 million population lives on less than US$1 a day and 45 percent lives on less than US$2 a day, according to UNDP

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In their words...

“The situation is hard; there are no jobs. If you want to help us, create job opportunities for us or give us education. If this is done, we sex workers will not exist, so there will no longer be any clients.” 
(CSW, solicits from nightclubs and streets, 25 year old, Asmara)

Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

Report: Staying Safe on the Streets

The following are direct quotes from the article:
Staying Safe on the Streets: A Situational Analysis of Commercial Sex Work in Eritrea

Major Findings
Classification of sex workers
Commercial sex workers (CSW) are usually classified according to the type of place from which they operate, namely from bars, hotels, their own houses or from the streets, and there are differences in the type of clientele for each of these types, and in the fees that they charge (as discussed below). Often they are also grouped according to their age group – usually into what are commonly referred to as “underage” girls (below 18 years), and older women. Some classify CSWs according to whether they are registered or not; the latter are often referred to as “secret” CSWs, who usually have other occupations too. CSWs who work in bars are apparently often not paid to do so; their payment is in return for sex with clients who frequent the bars.

Problems faced by CSWs
Most agreed that there is significant competition between CSWs, based on the clothes and jewellery that they wear, their hairstyles, their youth and beauty. Key informants had sometimes witnessed nasty fights (involving broken bottles, for example) between CSWs, though others spoke of a strong support system amongst fellow CSWs. The main problems faced by CSWs include violence from clients, clients who refuse to use condoms or who deliberately take them off or tear them during sex, a lack of alternative job opportunities and requests for ‘unusual’ or distasteful sexual acts by their clients.

Possible interventions
The main suggestions for intervention included the facilitation of employment opportunities and training for CSWs, and the provision of more entertainment facilities for youth, to detract from the demand for prostitutes. Several wanted the female condom to be made widely available to CSWs. Rehabilitation centres were suggested, too. CSWs reacted favourably to the idea of peer education and other health-related programmes. They felt that registration appealed on account of their being able to have frequent health-check-ups and free STI treatment but noted that some CSWs resist registration because they fear an HIV positive test result or are afraid of identifying themselves as commercial sex workers.


Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In their words...

“ There are those clients who if you refuse to go with them, start hitting you. This is a life where you cry more than you are happy.” (CSW, bar worker, 30 year old, Massawa)

Source: Staying Safe on the Streets
(UNAIDS, UNFPA, Min. of Health Gov. of Eritrea)
Click here to read the full report!

Help Kenyan Women Leave Risky Work Behind

USAID, Peace Corps Help Kenyan Women Leave Risky Work Behind
Source: USAID (FrontLines-April 2009)
Writer: Kim Wylie
The following are direct quotes from the article:

*USAID started the project in East Africa in 2005 and aims to reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS in towns along major transport routes. These towns have high rates of commercial sex work and multiple sexual partners, and, consequently, high rates of HIV.

*As many as 80 percent of women in these communities have turned to sex work, including with truck drivers, because few opportunities exist for other kinds of work

*The LifeWorks Partnership Trust, one component of ROADS, supports alternative jobs that help women earn money. LifeWorks Shukrani Ltd., for example, is a company that produces shawls, placemats, napkins, table runners, and tote bags. It employs 21 Kenyan women.

*The stories of the Shukrani workers appeal to socially-conscious buyers who are able to put dollars into the pockets of the most vulnerable in these communities—women and older orphans.

*Shukrani’s workers earn a fair daily wage and don’t have to engage in risky survival strategies to care for themselves or their families. “And we’re giving women access to health benefits and insurance and supporting them to open their own private bank accounts,” Domenico added.

*Seamstress Wanjiku (a pseudonym), 22, who was orphaned at 16, said: “This project recruits people who are hopeless in life and kind of gives them a safe haven. They can meet their basic needs and there’s no reason to go back to the road” to sex work.

Click here to read the full article.