Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings

Wishing you…
every happiness this Holiday Season. Your commitment has brought needed assistance and hope to orphaned children and sex workers. During this season of reflection and gratitude, on behalf of ALIF and the children and families we serve, I want to say:

Thank you!

Their smiles are a reflection of your compassion!

Nasir Al-Amin

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(Presentation) Unity Program’s Future Leaders

I want to convey a sincere appreciation to Abraham’s Vision and the students of the Unity Program for affording me the opportunity on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 to speak on ALIF’s work with orphans and sex workers in Ethiopia. Globally, we as an international community face a global crisis in terms of our vulnerable children and other marginalized populations. With these crises in mind, it is always invigorating to speak with future leaders who will be the vanguards in redressing the plight of the poor and underserved.

Serving Humanity One Life at a Time,
Nasir Al-Amin

Monday, December 17, 2007

Interview: Tigist Salomon, sex worker in Ethiopia

Source: The Center for Public Integrity
By: Marina Walker Guevara

Article: Tigist Salomon, sex worker in Ethiopia

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

"During the day I am a member of the association and at night I am a commercial sex worker in the streets. I am not sure how old I am, but I think I am around 27," says Tigist Salomon as she introduces herself. Her carefully braided hair is pulled to the side revealing a pair of small earrings, her only adornment. Makeup is reserved for the night.

Where did you grow up?
I lived in an orphanage. With my friends, we escaped to try to find our parents. Along the way, I lost my friends and because of lack of other opportunities, I became a commercial sex worker.

Did you ever have a different job?
I tried a lot of different jobs, including shoe shiner. But I didn't succeed. Then I started commercial sex work.

How much money do you make?
If you stay with the man the entire night you can charge up to 50 birr [roughly $6.]. If it's for a short period of time, 20 birr. Sometimes men refuse to pay, they deceive me. I have a maximum of three clients per night.

What risks do you face in the street?
We face many problems. I was raped and became pregnant. My daughter is 9 years old.

I am very much afraid of HIV and I always go to VCT [voluntary counseling and testing]. I have to do it for my daughter; I have to live for her. Last time I got tested was six months ago.

Do men use condoms?
Men try to convince me that they don't need to use condoms. They say, 'I am confident of myself that I don't need to use condoms.' I always say no. If you go to a man's car he might use force to try to have sex without condom.

Who are your clients?
I don't know the profession of the clients, but they have cars. I believe they are gentlemen.

Is it safer to work at a hotel?
I would like to work at a hotel instead of in the street, but there are many commercial sex workers in the hotels. There's a lot of competition.

How did you get involved with ISAPSO?
The association looked for me in the streets and invited me to be a member. I have learned a lot of things about HIV. I like the collaboration with other women in my same situation. We work together, we defend each other. I like that very much. We are trying now to sell finished food — lunches, for example. If I get enough money here, why should I go to the streets? I don't like it there.

So you want to leave sex work?
I really want to leave sex work. She [my daughter] sees me when I put on my makeup and get ready to go out. I am worried about how that can affect her morals. One day she found a condom in my bag and asked me about it and why I was leaving the house with a condom.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

In pictures: Mozambican orphans with cameras

Source:BBC News
Photo:BBC News

"Children orphaned by Aids and aged between 11 and 18, living in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, were given cameras to document their lives."

Click here to view this photo journel!

In the best interests of the child: harmonising laws in Eastern and Southern Africa

Source: Eldis (www.eldis.org)

Article: In the best interests of the child: harmonising laws in Eastern and Southern Africa

The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

Harmonising child rights laws in Eastern and Southern Africa
Authors: ; African Child Policy Forum; UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional
Publisher: African Child Policy Forum, 2007
Full text of document

This report reviews and analyses how far 19 Eastern and Southern African countries have gone in harmonising and implementing the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC, or 'the African Charter').

The report gives an overview of states' performance in all the general principles of the CRC and the African Charter. Issues addressed range from whether states have an overarching definition of a child to looking at provisions protecting children from violence and exploitation, and children's participation. It shows the progress that is underway, but also identifies the gaps that remain between aspiration and practice. This report identifies specific issues that need immediate attention and recommendations that need to be considered in order to address the gaps and challenges.

Findings from the report include:

* despite important steps, children's rights are still not prioritised in Eastern and Southern Africa. Large numbers of countries have become party to the CRC and the African Charter, but child-centred bills have been pending for significant periods in some signatory countries, including Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa

* there is a complex patchwork of existing legislation relating to child rights across Eastern and Southern Africa which poses a significant barrier to the effective harmonisation of laws and legal protection of children. However, nine out of the nineteen countries surveyed have undertaken comprehensive reviews of their legal systems

* there is a need for clarity on the definition of a child

* discrimination against groups of children still exists under the law, particularly on grounds of parentage, as well as sex, ethnicity and disability

* the majority of the countries surveyed do not have adequate registration systems, including registration of birth, and in Ethiopia there is no formal birth registration system at all. This has consequences for many children's rights, such as their legal identity and proof of lineage

* while there has been progress in developing appropriate measures for children, there are still significant gaps in dealing with children in the criminal justice system

* children's participation is generally low in the countries studied, and that there is a need for change in cultural and societal attitudes towards children, as well as legal and policy developments

In conclusion the CRC and the African Charter are bringing about a paradigm shift in understanding and attitudes towards child rights. The challenge is to translate the provisions in the charters into concrete improvements in children's day-to-day lives. Specific issues that need immediate attention by the countries in this review include:

* harmonising the definition of a child

* ensuring that the guiding principle in child-related laws and policies is 'the best interests of the child'

* implementing appropriate justice systems for children, including raising the age of criminal responsibility and using child-focused procedures and systems for children in conflict with the law, and child victims and witnesses

* guaranteeing legal protection for children against violence, abuse and exploitation, including sanctions for corporal punishment in any setting

* providing free, compulsory and high quality primary education for all

The countries covered by the report are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Click here to be redirected to the Eldis site as well as this full text document!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

2015 Education Goals: Progress Not Fast Enough

Source: AllAfrica.org

Article: Africa: Halfway to 2015 Education Goals, Progress Not Fast Enough

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

~Critics say donors at a recent high-level meeting failed to make firm funding commitments for improving education, particularly in impoverished, fragile and war-torn countries, making it highly unlikely the world will meet ambitious education goals by the 2015 deadline.

~While developing countries agreed to allocate 10 percent of budgets to education, donor countries could not agree to include a specific percentage of budgets for education aid, instead pledging "to work to maintain and increase levels of funding to education" and to prioritise low-income, fragile and emergency and conflict-affected states.


~Still, both recently-released reports note significant progress in education since 2000, including a 36-percent jump in primary school enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa and a five percent annual increase in domestic spending on education in Africa and South Asia.

~Fourteen countries abolished primary school fees between 2000 and 2006

~However, 774 million adults cannot read or write, 18 million more teachers are needed, and early childhood - the first of the EFA goals - has been completely neglected. Quality of education still suffers.

~"The question is not 'is there progress?' but 'what is the pace of progress?'" said the Global Monitoring Report's Burnett

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Light on Sex Trade

Photo:Eva-Lotta Jansson

Article:SWAZILAND: Risky business: report sheds new light on sex trade

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

Selling sex for extra income
An increasing number of factory workers were also resorting to sex work, or "night duty", to make ends meet because they were underpaid,

"These are industrial workers; these are working women, they are not prostitutes. If they are forced into prostitution it is because they are not paid enough to support their families. The price they pay is HIV infection

The rising number of women resorting to sex work has been attributed to worsening economic and humanitarian conditions in the country.

Instances of violence against women engaged in commercial sex were also documented. "Some were taken to bushes and threatened with death by customers who refused to pay, whilst others were injured on duty," said Thwala-Tembe.

The survey distinguished between working women who engaged in sex for cash - usually in parked cars or at the homes of clients whose spouses were absent - and women who had multiple sex partners as part of economic arrangements. Such women would be homeless if they could not spend the night with one partner, and hungry if they were not given meals by a second sex partner.

Their highest-paying clients were members of parliament, religious officials, lecturers at the University of Swaziland campus adjacent to the Matsapha industrial estate, police officers, businesspeople and well-heeled tourists.

A session with a sex worker costs a typical client R50 (US$7), but can escalate to R1,000 ($146) for some pastors. Member of parliament and other wealthy clients reportedly paid nearly R3,000 (US$439) per session.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2008 Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE)

by: Nasir Al-Amin

I want to share with you all a great opportunity to make a commitment to serve humanity by volunteering for the 2008 Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE)!

Brief Information:
On January 28th, 2008, the Department of Homeless Services will conduct the sixth annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE 2008). Teams of volunteers will canvass streets, parks, and subways to count the number of people living unsheltered in NYC. This important information will be used to help homeless people leave the streets for a better life.

Click here for Volunteer Information!

Click here to register!

Please share this great opportunity with your friends, family, and community groups! Through our collective efforts we can contribute to the creation of better services for the homeless!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Does money matter? The effects of cash transfers on child health and development

Source: Eldis (www.eldis.org)

Article:Does money matter? The effects of cash transfers on child health and development in rural Ecuador

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

Relatively modest cash transfers to poor women leads to substantial improvements in child health
Authors: C. Paxson; N. Schady
Publisher: World Bank, 2007
Full text of document

This World Bank paper examines how a government-run cash transfer programme targeted to poor mothers in rural Ecuador influenced the health and development of their children. Unlike other transfer programmes that have been implemented in Latin America, the receipt of the cash transfers was not conditioned on specific parental actions. The programme therefore makes it possible to assess whether conditionality is necessary for programmes to have beneficial effects on children.

The paper finds that the cash transfer programme had a positive effect on the physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development of children, and the treatment effects were substantially larger for the poorer children than for less poor children. The programme also appeared to improve children’s nutrition and increased that chance that they were treated for helminth infections (infections caused by parasitic worms). However, children were not more likely to visit health clinics for growth monitoring, and the mental health and parenting of their mothers did not improve. The paper concludes that unconditional transfers will improve the welfare of poor families regardless of how the money is spent and may also improve child health and development.

Click here to be redirected to the Eldis site as well as this full text document!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Child labour organisations in Eastern Africa: still in the making

Source: Eldis (www.eldis.org)

Article: Child labour organisations in Eastern Africa: still in the making

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

An examination of child labour organiations in Ethiopia and Rwanda
Authors: G. Nimbona; K. Lieten
Publisher: Foundation for International Research on Working Children , 2007
Full text of document

Do child labour organisations make sense as a best practice? This report is one in a series of studies based on the fieldwork carried out for a project on Child Labour Unions in 3 continents (Africa, Asia and Latin America), conducted by the Amsterdam Foundation for International Research on Working Children (IREWOC).

The research for this paper focuses primarily on organisations that are run by working children and youths themselves, in an attempt to assess their presumed positive effects on the development of these children. It touches upon the challenges that new associations, such as the African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY) in Ethiopia and Rwanda, are facing. Views were collected through participatory consultation with children themselves.

The authors’ findings include that the degree of organisation of working children in Ethiopia and Rwanda is still low. In Ethiopia, the multi-purpose community development project has not yet established base groups according to the AMWCY philosophy and methods. In Rwanda, such groups exist but are stagnated by a lack of activity and monitoring. The AMWCY partners select from the methods only those attributes that they find easy to put into practice; the right for light and limited work is, for example, not defended for children under 14. There is no attempt at “alternative education” and children are prepared for primary education and formal education only.

Click here to be redirected to the Eldis site as well as this full text document!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Impact of cash transfer programmes on child nutritional status and some implications

Source: Eldis (www.eldis.org)

Article: A review of the impact of cash transfer programmes on child nutritional status and some implications for Save the Children UK programmes

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

Regular and large cash transfers help improve children’s nutrition in Latin America and Africa

Authors: D. Sridharm; A. Duffield
Publisher: Save the Children Fund , 2006
Full text of document

This paper, produced by Save the Children reviews eight cash transfer programmes in Latin America and Africa, and discusses the effectiveness of each in improving the nutritional status of children. It finds that cash transfers to targeted households have the potential to improve children’s diet and nutritional status. The positive impacts exceed those reported from other typical community-based nutrition programmes.

The cash transfer programme in Mexico called PROGRESA was found to be particularly successful. There are several factors contributing towards this success including: a large cash transfer constituting approximately one-third of households income; regular transfers made to women; transparent and objective targeting; and the provision of free healthcare. Cash transfer programmes are less successful if they make up a smaller proportion of household income and beneficiaries are paid less regularly.

The paper concludes that there should be no rules about how cash transfer programmes are designed since everything depends on the context. It sets out several questions that might be useful for programme staff and policy makers to consider when they design such a scheme. These relate to the size of the transfer scheme required and the costs of adequate diet and healthcare, the proportion of households needing the transfer, and ways of making targeting systems transparent and accurate.

Click here to be redirected to the Eldis site as well as this full text document!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Parenting an HIV Positive Child

Source: AllAfrica.org & The Monitor
by: Jackline A. Olanya

Article:Uganda: Parenting an HIV Positive Child

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

~For starters, parents and guardians of HIV positive children should gather as much information as possible about HIV/Aids.

~Ensure that you keep abreast on any new information and research as it unfolds

~The key lies in early revelation. Start talking to children early.

~If you are to protect your child's delicate emotions, learn to ask about them.

~Ask your child what he/she wants to become when they grow up. That will give a sense of future and be motivational. Also, build on their skills and talents.

~There is also need to show your love and affection. Studies have proven that infants can die and children fail to thrive when deprived of physical touch.

~Also, ensure balanced diets and any infection or disease needs prompt treatment.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Understanding and challenging HIV stigma: Toolkit for action (2007)

Source: Eldis (www.eldis.org)

Article: Understanding and challenging HIV stigma: Toolkit for action (2007)

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

Countering the stigma suffered by HIV positive children
Authors: S. Clay; C. Chiiya; M. Chonta; International HIV / AIDS Alliance
Publisher: Pact Tanzania, 2007
Full text of document

What is the impact of stigma on children? This toolkit aims to help explore and understand the different ways in which children are stigmatised, and to look at strategies to change attitudes and experiences. It provides guidance to help trainers plan educational sessions with community leaders, or to organise groups to raise awareness and promote practical action to challenge HIV stigma and discrimination.

Exercises for children and for adults are provided. These are based on a study in Zambia that found that:

* children may be blamed for their parents’ death; for being a burden; or in some countries orphans are seen as ‘unlucky children’ as if they ‘killed their parents’

* children may be excluded from school, families and communities because of fear of infection if there is HIV in their family

* orphans are often treated differently from other children in families, such as being given extra work, and are often accused of carrying on their parents’ ‘bad behaviour’

* street children are seen as ‘dirty’ and ‘out of control’.

Click here to be directed to Eldis site and the full text document/toolkit!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Bar girls and sex work in Nazareth (Ethiopia)

Document: Negotiating boundaries:Bar girls and sex work in Nazareth (Ethiopia)

“My client took me to one hotel room and while we had sex he asked me to do a movement I couldn’t do. So hehit me. He was so mad at me that he tried to strangle me. Then he took all of my clothes and my underwear andthrew me out of the room. Then he tried to drag me back again and I screamed. The boys I knew came out oftheir rooms and saw me naked. I was very ashamed because they were from my village and now they knowwhat I really do”. (Rahel, aged 17)

Click here to read the full document!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Genet's story: A life on the streets

Source: BBC News
Photo: David Levene/EveryChild

Article: Genet's story: A life on the streets

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

~ Violence and sexual abuse within the home are among the main reasons children run away to live on the streets, according to a report, the State of the World's Street Children, published by a coalition of charities.

~In Ethiopia, an estimated 150,000 children live on the streets.

~I was forced to go to bed with the male relative who we had been sent to live with and a woman in the household frequently beat us both.

~After being beaten and verbally abused, I decided to take my chances on the streets.

~I was pretty sure that the man was also sexually abusing my 11-year-old sister too.

~I find it very difficult to talk about my time on the streets of Addis. I survived there as best I could for over two months. I was often very hungry.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Presentation: My Journey to Compassion and Inner Peace

The possession of material riches, without inner peace, is like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake." (Yoganda)

I would like to convey a heartfelt appreciation to the MSA of Columbia University for inviting me to speak about my journey to inner peace through compassion/service to orphans and sex workers in Ethiopia. My journey began with the story of an impoverished 5 year-old girl yearning for some symbol of a better life and the stories of teenage girls selling their bodies as a means of survival. Their reality resonated in my soul and plated the first seeds of ALIF and subsequently, led me on a path of internal tranquility. I’m a firm believer that inner peace is found through service to others, and by service I mean showing compassion to others.

This universal principle is simple, yet profound: by showing compassion to ones brother and sister in humanity one will begin to experience inner peace.

I’ll close in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Again, I thank the MSA of Columbia for affording me the opportunity to present.


*The following are ALIF videos shown during the presentation:
Title: A Father's Struggle: "I just want to be able to send her to school." {Video Part 1}
Location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeXVTg1pp0w

Title: A Father's Struggle: "I just want to be able to send her to school." {Video Part 2}
Location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w13JU1aPdwY

Overview: Mr. Tekle is a single father of two children and day laborer at a construction site in which he earns 10 Birr (1.08 USD) a day. He lives in an extremely small dwelling with his two children, one of which is 6 year old Beti.

Title: Sex Work for HIV/AIDS Treatment {Video 1}
Location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3-EoXKztJo
Overview: Hiwot is a double orphan and the eldest sibling of three. Due to the death of her parents she dropped out of school in the 8th grade in order to find work to support her younger siblings. Thus, she is now the financially responsible for four people: herself, her daughter, her sister and brother.

Unable to secure enough money to support the family, she turned to sex work. She works everyday, at night, and her daily income ranges from 10 to 50 birr (1.08 to 5.40 USD). However, there are nights when she does not earn anything.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Vision and A Dream...

By: Nasir Al-Amin

“I could not afford the school fee...if I would have put him in school I would not have been able to afford to feed him.”

2004: The Beginning of a Dream

2007: The Beginning of a Visison....

Monday, October 29, 2007

"I was lured by clothes and cars and now I am HIV-positive"

Source: PlusNews
Source: www.Plusnews.org
Photo: IRIN

Article: Alem Tilahun: "I was lured by clothes and cars and now I am HIV-positive"

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

ADDIS ABABA, *Alem Tilahun is a high school drop out living in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. She told IRIN/PlusNews how, lured by the desire for a better lifestyle, she became involved with a much older man.

"There was a girl who used to live next door and while I spent my days sitting by our gate, she used to dress well and was picked up by different beautiful cars. I was always jealous of her and wanted to be like her.

"One day I approached her when she was dropped off and talked to her. I told her I wanted to get a job and be like her; she told me to come back the next day. I was so excited and could not sleep the whole night.

"The next day she took me to her house and gave me one of her beautiful dresses. She made up my face until I couldn't recognise myself. After a while a beautiful car came and picked us up - there were two men in the car and she introduced me to them.

"Starting from that day I became a friend to one of the men. I told him that I was looking for a job; he promised me that he would help me and from then on he started giving me money and buying new clothes for me. I lied to my mother that I had found a job. I started supporting her and the whole family. Everyone was so proud of me.

"My life changed; he was treating me very nicely and although he was very old for me, I liked him. I even slept with him. He used to tell me that he would marry me.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Audio Interview w/ Nasir Al-Amin: A Life of Service and Inner Peace

"Although there are obstacles, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace knowing that I'm providing through ALIF opportunity to marginalized populations."

The following is an interview with Nasir Al-Amin, the founder of ALIF, in which he discusses a life of service and inner peace.

Click here to listen!

Slum Survivors

Photos:Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

Article: AFRICA: Slum Survivors - new IRIN film released

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article:

"Worldwide, more than a billion people live in slums..."

Meet Carol, a single mother of three, who walks miles each day in search of work washing other people’s clothes. It is a hand-to-mouth existence - sometimes she gets work and buys food, but most of the time she and her children go to bed hungry.

Carol’s situation is so desperate that on more than one occasion she has come close to suicide. With no-one to rely on for support, she’s left hoping for miracles.

“We hope that one day God will come down – we keep on saying that. One day God will come down and change our situations.”

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Slum Survivors {Video}

AFRICA: Slum Survivors - new IRIN film released
Click here to watch this the video trailer: Slum Survivors!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hiwot (Life) Campaign: One Year Later

by: Nasir Al-Amin

This chapter of ALIF, The Hiwot (Life) Campaign, began with the heart-wrenching narrative of a beautiful little girl imprisoned by a life of poverty and begging on the streets of Ethiopia. Her life’s story echoed the day-to-day struggles and survival tactics employed by orphans and vulnerable children living in abject poverty. This chapter detailed the plight of destitute mothers who face the poverty-induced choice to either send her child to school or to the streets to beg for food; the teenage mother who out of desperation is forced to sell her body in exchange for money to feed herself and child.

These vivid accounts led to the creation and launching of the Hiwot (Life) Campaign on October 27, 2007. Our aim was simple, provided 50 orphans and vulnerable children with the opportunity to obtain an education. So it brings me great joy to announce that on the 1-year anniversary of the launching of the Hiwot (Life) Campaign, we have not only met our goal, but have exceeded our goal of 50 children. This chapter will now turn a new page and begin with the narratives of 54 orphans and vulnerable children.

I sincerely appreciate each of you for your support in helping ALIF amplify the voice of the voiceless!

This chapter conveys the power of a child’s voice…


Zimbabwe's sex workers...

Zimbabwe's sex workers look to their neighbour for business
Source: IRIN
Photos: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

*The following are Talking Points from the aforementioned article:

Survival tactics
1) The Zimbabweans often survive by street vending, begging and working in the sex industry, but earlier this year the Zambian government clamped down on street vending in Lusaka, leaving sex work as the only option available to many women.

2) Zambia's immigration department recently raided a guesthouse in the capital where all the rooms had been rented by 51 Zimbabwean sex workers.

3) "So I have been supplementing my income to sustain my stay. During the day I sell my products in these shanty compounds; at night I go to taverns and nightclubs to hook up a man or two.

4) When asked whether she understood the risks of engaging in commercial sex work, Kwenda said: "I always insist on condom use, though some of them refuse and force me to sleep with them without using a condom. It is one of the hazards of this occupation, but there is nothing much one can do about such circumstances."

5) "They are usually aged between 16 and 40 years, and so it's a question of one's taste, whether to go for the young one or pick on the elderly and more experienced, but they would all be there at the reception."

6) "These people are desperate for cash and can do anything, regardless of whether they are infecting or getting reinfected. Some don't even know their HIV status."

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Organizational Sponsor: ESAi

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Logo: ESAi

I want to first say that I’m extremely excited about having ESAi as an organizational sponsor of ALIF’s Hiwot (Life) Campaign. Recently, I returned from nearly a month in Ethiopia, in which I had the opportunity to visit the homes of more than 25 orphans and vulnerable children, as well as sex workers in some of Ethiopia’s most impoverished communities.

ALIF launched the Hiwot (Life) Campaign on October 27, 2006 with the aim to send 50 orphans and vulnerable children to school in connection with the Millennium. It gives me great pleasure to say that we not only met that goal, but we exceeded it in securing an education for more than 50 orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

Thus, I’m honored that ESAi has joined our mission and look forward to working in partnership as united agents of change for the betterment of not only orphans and vulnerable children, but humanity as well!

One Life at a Time,
Nasir Al-Amin

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Humanitarian Impact of Urbanisation

Photos:Victoria Hazou/IRIN

Article: Tomorrow's Crises Today: The Humanitarian Impact of Urbanisation - Overview

*The following are Talking Points from the aforementioned article:

1) At present, 3.3 billion people live in urban centers across the globe.

2) The problem is not growth, but unplanned growth. In 2001, 924 million people, or about 31 percent of the world’s urban population, were living in informal settlements or slums, 90 percent of which were located in the developing world.

3) What this translates to is abject poverty, disease, and appalling conditions... Malnutrition is often highest in slums, as unemployment means people are too poor to purchase produce that could be grown on the land.

4) Defining a ‘slum’ and the ‘urban poor’ invariably focuses on what people lack - access to education, social services, employment, safe and affordable water, sanitation and housing, and residential status. In many cases, they live in sub-standard housing, in public spaces, or in squatter settlements near major urban areas.

5) It is generally assumed that urban poverty levels are lower than rural poverty levels, but the absolute number of poor and undernourished in urban areas is increasing. “In general, the locus of poverty is moving to cities … a process now recognized as the ‘urbanization of poverty’,

6) Throughout the 20th century, city growth was largely fuelled by rural to urban migration.

7) As the UN’s 2006/2007 State of the World’s Cities report notes: in Ethiopia, child malnutrition in slums and rural areas is 47 percent and 49 percent respectively, compared with 27 percent in non-slum urban areas

8) “Living in an overcrowded and unsanitary slum,” the report concludes, “is more life-threatening than living in a poor rural village.”

9) Poverty has long been considered a key driver of violent crime. In recent years, however, this relationship has been challenged as too simplistic. A 2004 article on urban violence and insecurity in the journal Environment and Urbanization identifies inequality as a primary driver, noting that “interpretations based on statistical modeling have demonstrated that with regard to national-level data on murder rates, inequality is more influential than poverty, with income inequalities being generally more marked in urban than in rural areas”.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Monday, October 22, 2007


By: Nasir Al-Amin

Serving Humanity: “The best of mankind are those most beneficial to mankind.”

I would first like to convey a sincere appreciation to all of you for attending the FAST-A-THON event hosted by the MSA of Fordham University. Your attendance and contribution are vital to ALIF’s aim to amplify the voice of orphans and vulnerable children.

In an effort to amplify their voice the following two short videos illustrate the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia:

A Father's Struggle: "I just want to be able to send her to school." {Video 1 & 2}

Again, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the MSA of Fordham University for hosting this fundraising and awareness raising event.

One Life at a Time,
Nasir Al-Amin

AFRICA: Major improvements needed to retain patients on ARVs

Photos:Anthony Kaminju/IRIN

Article: AFRICA: Major improvements needed to retain patients on ARVs

*The following are Talking Points from the aforementioned article:

1) About a third of patients on antiretroviral (ARV) programmes in sub-Saharan Africa are being "lost" within two years of enrolment

2) "Loss to follow-up" - patients who missed clinic visits and failed to pick up their medication, followed by death - were the two main reasons for patients being lost from the system.

3) "Better tracing procedures, better understanding of loss to follow-up and earlier initiation of ART [antiretroviral therapy] to reduce mortality are needed if [patient] retention is to be improved,"

4) Adherence to medication for chronic illnesses averaged just 50 percent in developed countries.

Barriers to Retention
5) "Investment in healthcare systems across much of Africa is insufficient....There needs to be more social workers to reach people, even those who live in rural areas."

6) Many people stopped taking the medication because widespread poverty and food shortages meant they could not afford the quantity of food needed to consume with the drugs.

7) "Distance from health centres, transport costs, shortages of trained health professionals, irregular supply of drugs, poor monitoring systems - these are all issues,"

8) "Cost is also a barrier; even though the ARVs are free, people don't have the money to treat their opportunistic infections."

9) Stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people, even by health professionals, also hindered patients from adhering to their drug regimens and seeking follow-up care.

10) Previous studies have shown that good adherence and outcomes from ART were possible in poor rural African settings, provided healthcare systems modified their interventions to take into account social and economic barriers.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fundraising Events for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

By: Nasir Al-Amin

I want to thank Laila and Ambreen, for hosting fundraising events at their homes for ALIF’s Hiwot (Life) Campaign, an initiative to enhance educational opportunities for orphans and vulnerable children. Their efforts have secured an education for more that 8 impoverished children, with contributions still coming in.

In our globalizing world, it has become evident that we as citizens of a global community have to work in unison to address the world’s problems, which affect us all either directly or indirectly. Thus, beyond the funds raised one, of the dynamic features of their events was the diverse group of women who came together to discuss the plight of worlds orphans and vulnerable children—Yemeni, Pakistani, Mexican, Egyptian, African American, Iraqi, Tunisian, Palestinian, Haitian, Jamaican and a number of other rich ethnic backgrounds as well.

I sincerely appreciate all who attended and again, want to thank Ambreen and Laila for assisting ALIF in its mission to benefit humanity one child at a time!

Nasir Al-Amin

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How You Can Help!

The Hiwot (Life) Campaign is an initiative that provides over 50 orphans and vulnerable children with the opportunity to attend school!

We supply orphans and vulnerable children with the following:
 Financial assistance for food, rent & clothing
 Uniforms for school
 School Supplies
 Backpacks
 Registration Fees
 Tuition for Skill Training Programs

Invest in a child’s future today!
ALIF greatly depends on the generous support of individuals, families, business and organizations. ALIF is comprised of volunteers, thus your contribution goes towards our efforts to send and retain orphans and vulnerable children in school!

You can contribute by mailing a check payable to ALIF Fund to the following address:

Columbia University Station
P.O. Box 250457
534 West 112 St.
New York, NY 10025

You can also donate securely online at www.ALIF.us or click here: LIFE

A Father’s Struggle: “I just want to be able to send her to school.” {Video 1 & 2}

{Video Part 1}

{Video Part 2}

Mr. Tekle is a single father of two children and day laborer at a construction site in which he earns 10 Birr (1.08 USD) a day. He lives in an extremely small dwelling with his two children, one of which is 6 year old Bete.

His major difficulties are:
(1) Shelter: His home is unsafe to live in, as the roof is very old and leaks, as well as the walls are covered with cardboard—which has proven dangerous in the event of a fire.
(2) Scarcity of Food: “We are not getting enough food.”
(3) School Fees: Tekle can not afford the school cost for both of his children.

(1) “I want to renovate my house; I want it to be safe for the children.”
(2) “I need assistance with food and schooling cost for my children.”

(1) “I want my children to get a good education.”

Bete’s Vision:
(1) “I want to be a doctor.”

Click on the following like and help other children like Bete: LIFE!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Event: FAST-A-THON (Speaking Engagement)

In the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours as an act of submission, solidarity, and remembrance. One of the main reasons for fasting is to call attention to those who go hungry every day, not as an exercise of religious expression, but as a fact of life. In the world today, there are millions of orphans that do not receive proper nourishment and education. Therefore, this year Fordham’s MSA is raising money to help orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has approximately 6 million orphans; in addition an estimated 7.8 million children are given no form of education. To respond to this deplorable situation, the Fordham Muslim Student Association (MSA) has organized a Ramadan Fast-a-thon, an event that hopes to sponsor at least 10 children in Ethiopia. The proceeds will be given to a non-profit organization called ALIF, which is dedicated to enhance the quality of life as well as the well-being of orphans in Ethiopia.

We are asking Fordham students and staff to go hungry for one day, so someone else won’t have to. To participate, students can either fill out a pledge form at the table or email us msafordham@yahoo.com with subject line “I pledge”. On October 9th, we will abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours. At the end of the day, participants are invited to a free dinner in the Music Room at 6pm to break their fast.Speakers at

Imam Siraj Wihaj (Muslim Scholar, Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa): Will discuss the relationship between Ramadan and the signficance of charity

Nasir Al-Amin (Founder of ALIF): Will provide insight into the plight of orpans and vulnerable children as well as the plight of sex worker in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Urgent: Translation & Video Editing Request

Translation & Video Editing Request

ALIF is looking to have 3 video interviews with orphans and sex workers transcribed from Amharic to English. The videos were recently recorded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and are between 3 to 5 mins long. The videos will be shown at an upcoming event to raise awareness about the plight of Ethiopia’s orphans and sex workers, as well as children living with HIV/AIDS.

Additionally, if you have knowledge of video editing we also would greatly appreciate your help, as once the interviews are translated we need to put the English subtitles on the video.

Geographical location is not an issue as the video will be uploaded to the ALIF website, and thus viewable to anyone. Please e-mail me (Nasir@ALIF.us) if you are able to assist with this initiative to amplify the voice of the marginalized and underserved.

Nasir Al-Amin
Founder/Executive Director

A Father's Struggle {Video}

"I just want to be able to send her to school."

Video Coming Soon!



I've met with orphans...
I've met with sex workers...
I've met with HIV positive children...
They spoke, I listened...
There struggle is now my struggle...

It's time to create change!


Update from Ethiopia

Greetings from Ethiopia,

Since September 4, 2007, I've been in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia traveling from home to home meeting with some of the 50 plus orphans and vulnerable children ALIF is sponsoring through the Hiwot (Life) Campaign. Words cannot begin to explain this heartrenching experince. One of my aims in establishing ALIF was to create a medium that amplified the voice of the marginalized and underserved, so it brings me some since of relief to know that I will be returning with videos of our sponsored orphans and children telling their life story in their words!

One of these stories will be of a young woman, who after the death of her parents she became the head of the household and thus had to secure the basic neccesities (food, clothing & shelter) for her daughter, younger sister and brother--who is HIV positive and requires a considerable amount of medical attention. Out of despiration she became involved in sex work, which beyond the psychological and physical effects she suffers from, her main concern is that even though she is engaged in sex work she still is unable to secure the funds needed for her younger brother's HIV treatment that he desperately needs.

The videos show of a father's struggle to raise his two children after the passing of his wife, and the "shanty" homes constructed out of mud and pieces of cardboard box. It will tell of the young girl who at the age of 16 left for Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic worker, only to fall victim to sexual and psychological abuse.

This trip has awaken my soul to how precious life is and just how each breath and moment is a precious gifts. I think the only comparable gift each of us can give is the gift of helping somone else breath a bit easier. These stories have strengthen my resolve and commitment to a life of service, and I hope you all will join me as humanity needs all of us to give a gift!Sincerely,

Nasir Al-Amin

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Salaams, Tadiase, Greetings to All,

I have not had access to this blog since my arrival to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 4, 2007 as it is blocked here—I'm not sure why, but unfortunately it is the case. However, I'm currently in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and can access it here.

However, with limited time I will direct you all to go to Youtube and put "ALIF" in the search field and you will be able to see some of the home visits I've conducted with some of our sponsored orphans and vulnerable children, as well as interviews with commercial sex workers. I will try to post some of them here as well as make entries when possible but do to travels with Saudi and limited access upon my return to Ethiopia I will resume making entries about my experiences in Ethiopia after September 29th—when I return to the States!

Until then, I pray that you all are in the best of health and spirits!

Nasir Al-Amin
P.S. If you would like to reach me send me an e-mail at Nasir@ALIF.us

Friday, August 31, 2007


By: Nasir Al-Amin

The list of “51 + 4” is complete. I was supposed to select to 50 orphans and vulnerable children for the Hiwot (Life) Campaign, however I couldn't pull myself to not include Tirsit, who is a 10 year-old 5th grader whose mother is a day labour. Also, Tirsit is a single orphan as her father is deceased.

And then there are the 4 who needed not only assistance, but like the others need to be commended for their commitment to education despite the obstacles. Therefore, I had to add them as well. So its back to the arduous task of fundraising for Tirsit and the following four:

Zelalem, a 22-year old, single orphan in his first year of University. He is living with his mother who is receiving treatment for a mental health condition. The family is solely dependent on the support from neighbors and relatives.

Sisay, is a blind 21-year old, 10th grader living with this uncle, as he is a double orphan. His uncle is a day labor, construction work.

Shewareg, is a 27 year-old, 12+1 student living alone and attending college courses through the support and assistance of the college. She has no relatives in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Fetiya, is a 19 year-old 10th grader living with her divorced mother in temporary shelter. The mother is a day laborer and her father is not assisting the family.

Click here if you would like to help ALIF assist these youth complete their education!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Profile list of 81 Orphans and Vulnerable Children

by: Nasir Al-Amin
Photo: Nasir Al-Amin

I have a list of 81 profiles of orphans and vulnerable children in need of urgent assistance. Through the Hiwot (Life) Campaign funds have been raised to provide assistance to 50 of these orphans. The following is a sample of that list:

He lives with his blind mother who is a beggar.His father is not alive.

She lives with a family who has no blood relationship with her and both are daily laborors.

She is an HIV positive child living with her HIV positive mother.The mother is a daily laboror and her father is not alive.

He is a single orphan living with his mother who is taking continious tratment for her mental health problem. The family depends on the support from neighbours and relatives.

He is a blind youngster living with his uncle. His uncle is a daily laboror(construciton work).

She is an HIV positive youngster living alone with the support of her friends and she is attending her class in a college being sponsored by the college. She has no relative here in Addis.

She is a double orphan living with her grandmother who has mental health problem. The family does not have its own income and depends on the support from relatives and neighbours.

He is a double orphan living with his grandmother in a temporary shelter. Both the child and his grandmother are totally dependant on a kind neighbour for their food.

She is a double orphan living with her grandmother's family who depends on her children's support.

She is a double orphan living with her grandmother's family. Her grandmother sells Injera and this is the income source for the family.

He is a double orphan living with his grandmother in a temporary shelter who is dependant on her neighbours support for her and the child's food.

He lives with his grand mother who does not have her own income except the support from her married children.

His mother is not alive and he lives with his HIV positive father who is a daily laborour.

She has lost her both parents and is currently living with her uncle who is a working as a guard.

She is a double orphan living with a family whom she has no blood relationship with.

She is also a double orphan living with her grandmother who sells charcoal on a road side. She is also works as a servant during the day time and attend school in the night.

She lives with her HIV positive mother who sells charcoal and her father is not alive.

He lives with his parents. His father is HIV positive and daily laboror. His mother is also daily laboror but not HIV positive.

She lives with her HIV positive parents who are both daily laborors.

These orphans are Our Shared Future! Contribute to the Hiwot (Life) Campaign today!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tommorrow is My Birthday: A Moment to Renew My Commitment to a Life of Service

A Moment to Renew My Commitment to a Life of Service
by: Nasir Al-Amin

I’m blessed to see another year and chapter of my life begin. I pray that this chapter of my life is one that exemplifies a commit to a life of service—a year in which I’ll achieve and maintain a balance in what I believe inwardly and what I display outwardly. On that path I’m confident I can be of better service to myself and humanity.

Internal Blindness: The Source of Individual and Global Imbalance

Internal Blindness: The Source of Individual and Global Imbalance
By: Nasir Al-Amin

It was once conveyed to me that it is not the eye that grows blind, but the heart. After reflecting on recent domestic and international affairs, I found myself saturated with two opposing feelings: one a sense of gratitude and the other, a feeling of discomfort. Specifically, I’m grateful for my present physical and material state as I woke up this morning in a tranquil state, void of concerns about food, clothing, shelter or my physical security; yet I also feel a sense of discomfort and/or inner agitation.

One reality that globalization has crystallized, is that we are all citizens of a global community, and therefore what occurs in one part of the world will either directly or indirectly affect us all. Unfortunately, in our international community we have millions of men, women and children suffering through unspeakable conditions. In our community, women desperate to feed their children are forced to engage in prostitution. We live in an era that has seen our adolescent, teenage boys and girls calling the streets their home and selling anything including their bodies to survive. Conspicuous consumption, greed, materialism, and nihilism have inundated humanity and reduced our diverse and beautiful cultures, belief systems and personal aspirations to a “me-first” mentality, which blinds the heart from seeing and feeling the daily suffering that transpires in our community. This blinding of the heart, what I refer to as internal blindness, thwarts our individual and collective efforts to alleviate the suffering that occurs in what we affectionately refer to as humanity.

If for a moment we can accept this premise of internal blindness, then I further assert that at the core of internal blindness, is a dichotomy between humanity’s inner beliefs and outward actions. It is that dichotomy and/or contradiction that leads to such unacceptable conditions for humanity’s marginalized and underserved. I know at a micro level, personally what I believe, my values, ethics and creed are not always reflected in my actions hence, fostering a state of imbalance between my creed and actions. Subsequently, that imbalance has hampered my spiritual and intellectual growth, and thus abates and undermines my capacity to serve humanity. On a macro level, this simple equation of internal and external equilibrium, a balance between creed and action, is a vital component to alleviating the inhumane conditions that some segments of our community face. Therefore, is it plausible that the first step on the path of healing humanity is individual balance?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New research shows helping others the key to Happiness?

Do Good, Feel Good

New research shows that helping others may be the key to happiness
Via: MSN Health & Fitness
By: Lisa Farino

"Few of us are immune to the frustrations and challenges of daily life—family problems, conflicts at work, illness, stress over money. When we get depressed or anxious, experts may recommend pharmaceuticals or therapy. But a newly emerging school of thought suggests that a simple, age-old principle may be part of both the prevention and the cure: Help others to help yourself. "

"There’s no shortage of research showing that people who give time, money, or support to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives—and less likely to be depressed. Could helping others be the key to weathering the inevitable storms of life?"

"Some people wonder if these positive benefits make helping others an ultimately selfish act. “If the warm glow and ‘helper’s high’ that people experience when they help others is selfish, then we need more of this kind of selfishness,” says Post. "

How to help others—and yourself
Incorporating kindness into your daily life isn’t difficult. Here are five easy things you can do to help others—and yourself:

Volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer just two hours per week (about 100 hours per year) have better physical health and are less depressed. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, visit Volunteer Match or contact your local church or school.

Informally offer help to family, friends, and neighbors. Lend a needed tool, bring dinner to someone who’s sick, feed pets for neighbors on vacation, or offer a ride to someone who lacks a car.

Donate. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. Toss change into coffee cans at cash registers or support local organizations by buying a raffle ticket. Look for opportunities to give within your means. You’ll help make the world a better place and make yourself feel better too.

Listen. Sometimes all others need is someone to lend a sympathetic ear to make them feel heard, cared for and loved.

Make other people (and yourself) smile. The easiest way to make other people happy is to act happy yourself, even if it’s not how you feel. “Sometimes we can act ourselves into a way of thinking,” says Myers. “So like the old song says, 'Put on a happy face.' Talk as if you have self-esteem and are outgoing and optimistic. Going through the motions can awaken the emotions.”

Click here to read the rest of this article!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Video: Prostituting ourselves to feed our children

Via: CNN
Video/Photo: CNN

Story Highlights
*Aid workers: Violence, increased cost of living drive women to prostitution

*Group is working to raise awareness of the problem with Iraq's political leaders

*Two Iraqi mothers tell CNN they turned to prostitution to help feed their children

*"Everything is for the children," one woman says

Click here to watch this video!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Iraqi women: Prostituting ourselves to feed our children

Photo: CNN

"Prostitution is a choice more and more Iraqi women are making just to survive"

The women are too afraid and ashamed to show their faces or have their real names used. They have been driven to sell their bodies to put food on the table for their children -- for as little as $8 a day.

"People shouldn't criticize women, or talk badly about them," says 37-year-old Suha as she adjusts the light colored scarf she wears these days to avoid extremists who insist women cover themselves. "They all say we have lost our way, but they never ask why we had to take this path."

A mother of three, she wears light makeup, a gold pendant of Iraq around her neck, and an unexpected air of elegance about her.

"I don't have money to take my kid to the doctor. I have to do anything that I can to preserve my child, because I am a mother," she says, explaining why she prostitutes herself.

Click here to read the full article!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Baghdad baby rescued from garbage

Via: CNN/Reuters
Photo: CNN

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- In the nine months since she was born, tiny Fatima Jubouri first lost her father, then gunmen killed her mother and uncle and she was left alone and uncared for in a pile of garbage in Baghdad.

Police found Fatima, malnourished and suffering from dehydration in Iraq's scorching summer heat, hidden under rubbish in one of southern Baghdad's most violent districts.
How she got there is not clear, although there is speculation her mother hid her before she was killed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Audio Interview with Nasir Al-Amin

Recently, Mariam Lodin of Peace X Peace interviewed Nasir Al-Amin, founder of ALIF, about ALIF’s work in Ethiopia, a life of service and inner peace.

Click on the following link and listen to this brief audio interview!

To hear other interview with agents of change visit Peace X Peace at: www.peacexpeace.org/resources/voicexvoice.asp

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

One Life at a Time: Yared

What does going to school mean to you?
“It will help me achieve my dream.”

Yared is one of the bright and driven youth that I had the pleasure to meet while in Ethiopia. By the time Yared reached the age of 4, he had lost both of his parents, and therefore was one of the first beneficiaries of ALIF’s Project FACE—a conditional cash transfer program designed to assist orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia access education. Often, I would sit with Yared and listen to him share his dreams for his life and how gaining an education is the first step in his vision of being a benefit to his country, Ethiopia.

One of the things that stood out to me about Yared, is his hard work and commitment to fulfilling his vision. Due to such high scores on his examinations, Yared was provided a scholarship to attend a private school in Addis, where he know learns French, English and computer skills. And even though Yared does not have access to tutors and a personal computer like his fellow classmates, he still excels academically. However, recently Yared was faced with yet another obstacle to his education.

Not to long ago, Yared was temporally living in a shanty dwelling next to a sewage system, as he was forced to leave the home of the caregivers that took him in after his parent’s death. This sudden crisis obviously became a threat to Yared fulfilling his dreams. Once, Menen and a Social Worker from WeSMCO became aware of this situation they made an appeal to have Yared moved to another location. Through your financial support, ALIF and WeSMCO were able to move Yared to a new home. And thus, have created an environment for him to actualize his dream to finish his education.

What does going to school mean to you?
“It will help me achieve my dream.”

Yared is yet another source of joy and accomplishment, as well as an example of our commitment to enhancing humanity one life at a time!

Take a moment to invest in a child’s life, join the
Hiwot (Life) Campaign!

Unitus Microfinance Microcredit Introduction Video

Microcredit debate

Muhammad Yunus: Creating a Poverty-Free World (preview)

"Children Earned between US$0.05 and $0.10 for Providing Sexual Services"

SUDAN: Juba's street children survive at risk of HIV
Via: IRINnews
Photo: IRINnews

"My father was beating me at home - whenever I did a mistake he beat me. He told me that he was sick with malaria and he left to go back to our village," he said. "After that there was nobody to care for me so I came to the market." He had been living on the streets for at least three years.

Begging and scavenging food

Like the other boys he lives with in Konya Konya Market, Mabior survives by begging and scavenging food from local restaurants. He does not go to school and has no access to even the most basic of healthcare facilities.

One of the main dangers faced by homeless boys and girls is the sexual predators. "Sometimes it happens that men come and look for boys for sex; they are looking for boys and girls, but where I stay there are only boys," Mabior said. "It is a mixture: Arabs, southerners, soldiers from all over ... some boys will go straight away for the money, others will resist and refuse, but this means they can get beaten."

He said the children earned between US$0.05 and $0.10 for providing sexual services.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Defining child labour

Via: International Labour Organization (ILO)

Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

It refers to work that:
  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children;

  • and interferes with their schooling by:

  • depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;

  • obliging them to leave school prematurely; or

  • requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
Click here to read full definition!

*This definition is a direct quote from the ILO

Sex and drugs leave Bujumbura's homeless at risk of HIV

Via: IRINnews
Photo: IRINnews

"Thousands of children and adults living rough on the streets of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, face a daily struggle to eat and find a warm corner to sleep in; many blot out the reality of their situation by turning to sex and drugs."

Talking Points:

  • "Innocent Bagayuwitonze, now 26, has been living on the streets for 12 years. He told IRIN/PlusNews that he used the pittance he earned as a casual labourer to pay local sex workers for their services. Unable to muster the same fee as other men, he only gets lucky when the girls have had a particularly bad night."

  • "We [homeless men and boys] offer them 1,000 francs [US$1]...We negotiate with them when they do not get the rich men they want." Bagayuwitonze and other homeless people regularly get drunk or high on drugs in the evenings, and rarely use condoms, putting them at higher risk of contracting HIV."

  • "Newcomers to the streets usually seek protection from older, more experienced boys, which often entails entering into a sexual relationship with one's protector."

  • "Olivier Ndimubandi, 12, told IRIN/PlusNews about his humiliating rape by his protector, in the presence of other boys on the street."

  • "If a street boy gets infected he dies rapidly because he cannot get drugs."

Steady progress being made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals for Ethiopia’s children


Talking Points:

  • "Close to 400,000 children under-five still dying from preventable causes each year, Ethiopia continues to have one of the highest child mortality rates in the world"

  • "Plumpy’Nut factory in Addis Ababa, which is producing the ready-to-use-therapeutic food...will help save the lives of severely malnourished children and help fight malnutrition across the country”

  • "Under-five mortality rates in Ethiopia have steadily declined to 123 out of every 1,000 live births."

  • "Child mortality in Ethiopia has declined by 40 per cent in the last 15 years”

Click here to read the full article!

“I had to forget my honour to save my husband’s life”

Photo: IRIN

“Now I’m alone, without a job or husband, with three children to look after. Sometimes death is the best way to end suffering.”

“They asked me to enter a disgusting-looking house and told me to wait. A rude man came into the room and bluntly told me that I had two choices: have sex with him and get my husband released or return to my home and never see Ahmed again."

AFRICA: Urban population to double - UNFPA

Via: BBC
Photo: BBC

Talking points:
  • "The urban population of Africa will double from 294 million in 2000 to 742 million in 2030"

  • "If policy makers could reduce the intensity of population growth, they would have more time to address existing needs while preparing to deal with future increases in urban population," Rakotomalala said. "The solution lies in reducing the rate of natural increase by improving the social conditions of the poor and advancing women's rights."

  • "In Ethiopia, poverty was increasing faster in urban areas than rural ones...40 percent of the urban population was living in extreme poverty."

  • "In sub-Saharan Africa, urbanisation has become virtually synonymous with slum growth; 72 percent of the region's urban population lives under slum conditions, compared to 56 percent in South Asia,"

  • "Slum dwellers account for a billion people, of whom more than 90 percent are in the developing world. In Ethiopia, the majority of urban dwellers live in slums."
Click here to read the full article