Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lalibela Project: Reception, Art Show and Auction

Thomas Kocsis

Founder and Director of the
Lalibela Project
cordially invites you to a Reception, Art Show and Auction

Thursday, June 15, 2006
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Hospital Audiences, Inc.
548 Broadway, 3rd Floor
New York, NY

Entrance Fee: $30.00
(Proceeds will benefit the Lalibela Project)

We request the favor of an RSVP
by returning the enclosed card or going to

The vision of the Lalibela Project is to create possibilities for children in an environment that will spark an epidemic of empowerment resulting in extraordinary life-altering experiences. The Lalibela Project, a non-for-profit organization, aims to develop and support an orphanage center in the village of Lalibela, Ethiopia. Providing housing and education will broaden these children’s perspectives and encourage them to dream.

Monday, June 12, 2006

1 in 7 Children Worldwide Work To Survive

Via: eJournalUSA

Seven-year old Catherine, her face scarred in a cooking accident, carries a bucket of water at a refugee camp in western Côte d’Ivoire. She was forced to flee her home during fighting over land on which to grow cocoa.

Text and pic provided by: Ben Curtis, AP/WWP

In pictures: Underground children (Ethiopia)

Via: BBC
The following is a dipection of street children in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, retrived from the BBC's section: In Pictures.

In hiding
Blink and you will miss the underground children in Ethiopia's capital city. They live in tunnels, sewers and drainage holes, hidden beneath Addis Ababa's teeming streets. They move from one makeshift shelter to the next, chased away by police or the rivers of water and refuse that flow when the rains come. Growing up amidst the traffic, they learn to hustle at a young age seeking change or selling small items to drivers at traffic lights.

Across from the main post office, there is a sewage drain. It draws little attention. Thousands of people walk across its steel bars every day without giving it a second thought. This is good for Mohammed and his friends. They do not want their home to be discovered. The space is not more than half a metre high, and though it is five or six metres long, only one small portion is covered and unexposed. When it rains, the boys huddle together among the rubbish and waste.

Encountering the street kids who live underground is not easy, but once we talked to a few, dozens appeared. As we walked in the shadow of the city’s main buildings, the children emerged from dark side streets and from nowhere at all. Soon we were surrounded by boys.

For the children who have found shelter, however destitute and impermanent, the difficulties truly begin when they come up from underground and face the realities of their daily life. They must hustle for food scraps, avoid police, and beware exploitation and abuse. Many children perform odd jobs for restaurants and cafés to get bread and leftovers. Sometimes shelters will give out food, and there are soup kitchens that serve cheap meals.

There are fewer girls but they are there. Hana, a 15 year-old, comes from Ziway, a town south of Addis. She left home and came to Addis after an incident in which she accidentally lost her family's cattle and feared her father’s rage. She hopes to return one day. "Here you don't have much to worry about," she said.
"If you get something to eat, that is good. When you don't have any, you pass the time either sleeping or chatting with friends."

When they do have money, from begging or doing odd jobs, Hana and her friends often go to the cinema. One of the girls described her attitude to sex. She said that to be safe from both pregnancy and HIV/Aids she always uses a condom. She claimed she did not face serious dangers in this regard, and said no-one had ever forced her to have sex.

Henok Tesfaye came to the streets when he was 11 years old after losing his parents in a car accident. Ten years on, he is used to life on the streets. He lives beneath a main road in an unused hole dug for telephone cables. The roof is made of concrete blocks placed side by side across a small opening. To keep rain out, Henok and his roommate spread plastic sheets underneath old windscreens. A small hole is both the door and the window to their tiny home.

Among the reasons for the high numbers of street children in Addis Ababa are extreme poverty, hunger, violent conflict and drought in rural areas. Often, the children come without families, orphaned by disease, escaping abusive and neglectful parents, captivated by tales of wealth and opportunity in the big city. An exact number is too difficult to pin down accurately, but various estimates put the total number of street kids in Ethiopia between 60,000 and 150,000.

As we were talking to Dawit, 12, he eyed a rubber wristband and we gave it him, but the next day it had gone. “It was stolen last night,” he said, crestfallen. “When I was sleeping, someone grabbed my neck and started choking me. They said: ‘Give it to me or I’ll take your life.’ So I gave it them.” He shrugged his shoulders and walked off with a friend down the busy street - unnoticed.

Text and pictures: Will Connor and Mesay Berhanu

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ethiopia: HIV Prevalence Among Women Reaches 5 Percent

Source: allAfrica
Summary by Nasir Al-Amin

Globally, Ethiopia has one of the largest populations infected with HIV. Conservative findings indicate that nearly two million people in Ethiopia are living with the virus; however, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contend that the number is over three million—at the national level, the prevalence rate of infection is 4.4%. (allAfrica, 2006) According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH), the country has observed a rise in the infection rate among women, as well as a rise in the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among women, which is presently at 5%. (allAfrica, 2006) In Ethiopia, like other developing countries, women’s health and child survival are place at greater risk given the presence of both HIV/AIDS and poverty. In an effort to curtail the spread of HIV in the country, the government of Ethiopia, established a free ART initiative that since its inception in January 2005, has serviced 35,000 beneficiaries, of which 46% were females and 4% are children. (allAfrica, 2006)

In order to read the article click the link: Ethiopia: HIV Prevalence Among Women Reaches 5 %

Monday, June 05, 2006

Two in Five Children Work

Via: IRINnews
Summary by: Nasir Al-Amin

In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 50 million children aged five to 14 are engaged in some form of child labour, contends the United Nations Labour Organization (ILO) in their report ‘The End of Child Labour: Within Reach.’ According to Yaw Ofosu, an ILO child-labour specialist, sub-Saharan Africa presents an amalgamation of both success and set-backs in the fight to end child labour: the proportion of child labourers declined from 28.8 percent to 26.4 percent, however, the absolute number of child labourers increased to 49.3 million from 48 million. Influential factors that obstructed progress are extreme poverty, high population growth, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, maintains Ofosu.

The continent of Africa is home to 50,000 children “engaged in commercial sex and pornography, and some 120,000 children under age 18…coerced into taking up arms as child soldiers, military porters, messengers, cooks or sex slaves.”(IRIN, 2006) Thus, globally Africa has the highest rate of children engaged in laborious activities. “What is crucial is policies that help poor families send their kids to school,” said Ofosu.

Friday, June 02, 2006

"Spark the mind that will change the world."

By: Nasir Al-Amin

"I may not be able to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the mind that will change the world." (Tupac)

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being a panelist at Millennium High School’s career day fair. I was pleasantly surprised as I arrived at Millennium, situated in Wall Street, I noticed some students were having a canned food drive. Engaging youth in acts of social welfare is vital to nurturing the seeds of civic responsibility. This was the aim of my presentation, to convey a message that regardless of the profession they choose, they should look to see how their career, skills, talents and creativity could be used to affect change in the world.

During one segment I inquired if any of students could guess the number of children engaged in child labor globally? I received a number of figures, with the highest being 2 hundred million. They were shocked when I informed them that there are approximately 246 million children engaged in child labor. Ultimately, any time I’m afforded the opportunity to speak, it’s really an opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of orphans and vulnerable children. In the words of Tupac:
"I may not be able to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the mind that will change the world."

Below are EXCERPTS from the speech I delivered:

By Nasir Al-Amin
I’m honored to have the opportunity to speak to you today.

I am here today because:
AIDS has rendered an estimated 13 million children orphans. By 2010, approximately 25 million children will have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS.

I am here today because:
Globally an estimated 246 million children are engaged in child labor, and each year approximately 1.2 million children are trafficked, and annually“over a million children enter the sex trade.”

I am here today because:
Half a million children in Ethiopia die each year from malnutrition and disease

So my purpose is to awaken in all of you the spirit to dream, create and persevere. To encourage you all to choose a path in life that will affect change in the world. Whether it’s a domestic or international issue such as HIV/AIDS, Child Labor, Child prostitution, parity in education and the health care system, or issues of racism and discrimination, choose an issue, saturate your mind and heart with information about those adversely affected by that particular issue and strive to affect change.

This brief outline is in essence, is the blueprint to my life: a life that enjoys both ease and hardship, but respects the necessity of both. A life that is a success, as I define success—not as popular media or the norms of this society defines success. Which leads me to my second point that I want to leave you with: Define for yourself what a successful life is, and constantly reflect and redefine your definition. The point is to remain the author, the definer.

So the two salient points I want to leave you with are the following:
1. First, educate yourself about an issue you have a passion for. Then dream, create and persevere.
2. Define for yourself what a successful life looks like.

For myself, my passion is aiding orphans and vulnerable children, specifically in Ethiopia. Additionally, I define a successful life as merely the culmination of successful days and a successful day is one in which I’ve made efforts at alleviating the suffering of others.

In closing, as future agents of change, I pray that you all are successful in your endeavors and that the world will benefit from your dreams, creativity and perseverance.