Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Polarity between Poverty and Privileged Induced Decisions: Sell myself or Die

by: Nasir Al-Amin

Me: Conjit…Endemensh? (Beautiful…How are you?)
Her: {She smiles at my broken Amharic}
Me: Denanish? (How are you?)
Her: {In her soft barely audible voice she says:}Dena. (Fine)
Me: Ta-faish? (Where have you been?)
Her: {She begins to look down}
Me: What’s going on? Lately no one knows where you are? I send people to your house to check on you and not even your sister knows where you are?
Her: {She continues to stare at the floor}
Me: Talk to me… what’s up?
Me: Conjit…
Her: yes…
--Moments of silence--
Me: Something is going on? And maybe it’s my fault; you told me about your sister’s work {prostitution}, I came to your mother’s funeral, but….
--Moments of silence--
Me: Are you receiving the money I sent?
Me: Did your sister get you into this?
Her: {She continues to stare at the floor}
Me: What happened?
--Moments of silence--
Me: Tell me something. Everyone knew but me…it got to a point that I kept asking about you, but everyone was mute or fumbled on their words. No one wanted to tell me you’re doing this…

As I sit comfortably in the West faced with decisions of either Macchiato or Cappuccino; slacks from Banana Republic or H & M; Indian food, Ethiopian or Thai; during that same breath she made the decision… sell myself or die!

*I wrote this in response to finding out that a girl I met in Ethiopia, who lost both of her parents is now selling her body for cash as a means to secure her basic necessities!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mulu's Story

Thirteen-year-old Mulu Melka’s soft voice and shy demeanour hide a character marked by courage, determination and steady nerves. When she was 11 years old, Mulu was abducted by a man who locked her up in his house for the night.

Click here to read Mulu's Story as well as the story of ther women!

State of the World's Children 2007 Report

Click here to read this report!

Violence Against Girls in Africa

Violence Against Girls in Africa: A Retrospective Survey in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda

On average, eight out of every ten girls surveyed in these reports are being physically abused by the people who they are supposed to trust most. Almost every girl will be psychologically abused in one way or another. And the majority of girls will be sexually abused (95% in Uganda, 85.2% in Kenya and 68.5% in Ethiopia).

Their mothers are tying them up. Their girlfriends are driving them into prostitution. Their teachers are psychologically abusing them. Their boyfriends are forcing them to have sex. Their brothers are kicking them. They witness their loved ones being beaten and even killed. In short, the girls representing the East African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are being denied their fundamental right to be a child.

Multimedia: Africa's Children and Sexual Abuse

Via: NYtimes
Click here to watch a clip on Sexual Abuse of girls: Africa’s Children

Sex Abuse of Girls Is Stubborn Scourge in Africa

Via: NYtimes
SAMBAVA, Madagascar — Thirty miles outside this down-at-the-heels seaside town, Justin Betombo tends his vanilla plants and cheers the local soccer team as if he had not a care in the world. And in fact, what was once his greatest worry has been almost magically lifted from his shoulders. In the local prosecutor’s office, a file filled with accusations that he had sodomized his 9-year-old niece has vanished.

Mr. Betombo was arrested in 2003 after the girl, Kenia, said he had savagely assaulted her. The police obtained his confession, which he later recanted, and a doctor’s certificate that Kenia had been sexually violated, rendering her incontinent and anorexic. Twice they sent the case file to the prosecutor.

There matters ended. Mr. Betombo attended one hearing in the prosecutor’s office, but Kenia’s parents say they were not told about it. The records are nowhere to be found. And Mr. Betombo walked away a free man. Kenia’s parents, distressed by what they saw as a travesty of justice, asked that her name be published, hoping that her case would set an example.

Among sub-Saharan Africa’s children, such stories are disturbingly common. Even as this region races to adopt many of the developed world’s norms for children, including universal education and limits on child labor, one problem — child sexual abuse — remains stubbornly resistant to change.

Click here to read the entire article!

Monday, December 04, 2006


Alif would like to invite you to its Civic Action Forum (CAF) that will convene this Friday, December 8th at 7PM. CAF is an action-oriented initiative that convenes monthly with the aim to move beyond mere dialogue and debate and into the development of tangible interventions to address critical issues faced by Ethiopia’s underserved and marginalized populations.

The location for the CAF meeting on Dec. 8th is Teachers College (Columbia University Campus) Russell Hall 3rd Floor, room 306.

Additionally, please join Alif online as it launches its online CAF Message Board for the Civic Action Forum (CAF). The six priority areas identified by the group are the following:
A Book Drive
The Hiwot (Life) Campaign
The Awakening Project
The Lalibela Project
Investing in Africa
Girls’ Education

The priority areas are not limited to these 6, thus your input is welcomed.

I hope to see each of you on both the CAF Discussion Board and at this weeks CAF meeting. Feel free to invite anyone you think might be interested in either of these action-oriented endeavors.

Click here to join the CAF Discussion Board

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The Aura of a Pessimist
by: Nasir Al-Amin

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty....” (Winston Churchill)
In times of difficulty, the optimist will spend his or her time thinking of ways to be an agent of change and the pessimist will spend his or her time talking! They both have a right to exist, but I also have the right to shield my soul and intellect from the aura of a pessimist, which siphons creativity, misguides the mind and cultivates a state of inertia.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing....” (Albert Einstein)

Friday, December 01, 2006



As we wind down from the arduous demands of this work week—appointments, assignments, travel and deadlines—let’s take a moment to reflect on what also occurred, albeit clandestinely:

This week in Ethiopia, approximately 5,000 new HIV infections will have been recorded, exacerbating an already dire situation marked by an estimated 2.8 million people infected and close to a million children orphaned by AIDS.

Twenty-five years after the first case of AIDS was recorded, let’s make World AIDS Day a day of commitment: a sincere commitment both in time and resources, to these 5,000 new HIV infections and a commitment to the 2.8 million people infected, as well as the children orphaned by AIDS. Ethiopia has one of the largest HIV/AIDS-affected populations in the world. The time to act is now!

Join Alif in its efforts to address the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)

Click here to make the Commitment Today!