Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Girl, 6, embodies Cambodia's sex industry

By Dan Rivers (CNN)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- At an age when most children might be preparing for their first day of school, Srey, 6, already has undergone trauma that is almost unspeakable. She was sold to a brothel by her parents when she was 5. It is not known how much her family got for Srey, but other girls talk of being sold for $100; one was sold for $10.

Before she was rescued, Srey endured months of abuse at the hands of pimps and sex tourists. (Watch where freed girl is found upon reunion with reporter )
Passed from man to man, often drugged to make her compliant, Srey was a commodity at the heart of a massive, multimillion-dollar sex industry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. "It is huge," said Mu Sochua, a former minister of women's and veteran's affairs who is an anti-sex trade activist.

The precise scale of Cambodia's sex trade is difficult to quantify. International organizations -- such as UNICEF, ECPAT and Save the Children -- say that anywhere from from 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are involved. An estimated 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh are under the age of 18, according to the United Nations. The actual figure may be much higher, activists say.

Global sex industry
Around the world, more than 1 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade each year, according to the U.S. State Department. The State Department believes Cambodia is a key transit and destination point in this trade.

Sochua said that with millions of Cambodians struggling to live on less than 50 cents a day, many women turn to the sex industry. Poverty is also often what drives parents to sell their child or themselves on the streets.
"Always a child is left behind, often a girl, who is preyed on by traffickers," Sochua added.

Click here to read entire article!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope
by: Nasir Al-Amin
Photo by: Menen Hailu

Recently, I purchased Senator Barack Obama’s book entitled “The Audacity of Hope.” Although I’m intrigued and admittedly inspired by Senator Obama’s ability to be a lawyer, professor, member of Congress and father, it was the allure of the title that made me purchase his text. As the phrase, “the audacity of hope,” reminds me of why I created Alif, rather it reminds me of the children who inspired me to create Alif.

The plight of orphans and vulnerable children is unacceptable by any standards: increased risk of physical and sexual exploitation, malnutrition, limited medical attention, loss of parental protection, an environment of chronic poverty and hopelessness, high rates of school dropouts and child labor. However, the children I met represent the 4 million plus orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia that are driven by this brazen and unmitigated optimism in themselves and their future, which I liken to Senator Obama’s phrase “the audacity of hope.”

Such children dare to dream. If you ask them what they want, most will tell you: “I want to go to school to become a teacher…I want to help my country.” These are children who have a vision and the drive. Thus through Alif, I want to match that resolve by affording orphans and vulnerable children with an opportunity to actualize their dream: to be able to attend school and disengage from child labor. For me this is my minute contribution to children who have “the audacity of hope.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Short Video: The Plight of an Impoverished boy from the Oromo Region

Via: Global Goals

This film conveys the life of 13-year old Gezahegn, who due to his impoverished status has difficulties obtaining a basic education.

Click here to view this short film!

Video: A short film about life in Addis for the impoverished

Via: Global Goals

This film depicts the plight of an impoverished girl, Elene, and her obstacles to education and a healthy, vibrant childhood.

SUCCESS STORY: Providing hope and support for HIV-affected women

Battling the Stigma of HIV/AIDS: Providing hope and support for HIV-affected women

Several years ago, a young mother in Ethiopia named Tadeleu contracted HIV from her husband, who later passed away from the disease. Her two children, who are HIV negative, live with her mother. She tells of the stigma she faces, both emotionally and socially. “When I found out I had the disease,” she said, “all I could think about was how much I hated myself, and I kept denying that I had the disease. I do not want to become intimate with people, because I fear they will find out my status.”

When Tadeleu discovered she had HIV, she started attending support meetings at the Hope Center, a church-based organization established with help from USAID funding. She found a sense of community and a program that would change her life. The Center provided skills, training, and start-up capital for her to begin a small sewing business.

Now, she is too busy to worry about disapproval from her neighbors. Her buyers are often from markets several towns away, because she does not want to deal with local people. Despite the stigma of living with HIV in Ethiopia, she finds relief in the Hope Center. “I am happy that the church has provided support,” she says. “They keep our secrets.”

Vibrant fabrics grace the wall behind Tadeleu where she spends each day hard at work from sunrise to sunset at her manually powered sewing machine. Orders come in regularly, giving Tadeleu confidence in her work and a sense of security. Amidst her tears, a smile breaks out, and she says, “This program has given me life.” With funding for a small business, Tadeleu keeps busy with orders on her self-powered sewing machine.

“This program has given me life,” said Tadeleu, an HIV-positive mother who now runs her own small business.

Snapsot of the Situation: Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ethiopia

By: Andrew Heavens

Overwhelming numbers
More than 744,000 of Ethiopia’s {6 million} orphans have lost parents to AIDS. These huge numbers are overwhelming extended families and communities who struggle to help where they can.

As a result, many orphans do not go to school, and many are forced to live on the street. They get caught up in child labour, taking on the drudgery of domestic service and the dangers of sex work.

Many orphans have to become the heads of their own households, taking the place of their deceased parents. These young people often sacrifice their own education to guarantee a better future for their younger siblings.

Click here to read entire article!

Two Brooklyn youths join the fight against AIDS in Ethiopia

By Gerrit Beger
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 30 November 2006 – Kimberly Canady, 19, and Elias Perez, 20, both from Brooklyn, look tired but have a sparkle in their eyes as they arrive in Ethiopia after the 16-hour flight donated by Ethiopian Airlines. It’s the first time either of them has travelled outside the United States.
Tired or not, there is no time to rest. Kimberly and Elias are youth activists on an important UNICEF mission to see firsthand what AIDS is doing to children and young people in a region that has been hard-hit by the disease.
Click here to read entire article!

AIDS impact on children
HIV-positive children orphaned by AIDS? Isn’t that an African story? Not necessarily. But although their story is similar to many others here in Ethiopia, the impact on their lives is worlds apart.

In Ethiopia, too many mothers are still passing the virus to their newborns, even though it could easily be prevented. Thousands of children wait for HIV treatment that is easily accessible in developed countries but a distant hope for most African children in need. Too many young people are infected because they don’t have the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe. And hundreds of thousands who have lost their parents to AIDS face hardships that challenge their potential to survive and thrive.

Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA)

UNESCO's Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) is a 10-year project that spans 46 sub-Saharan countries with the mission to enhance national teacher policy and teacher education. The TTISSA aims to synchronize teacher policies, teacher eduation and labour practices with national development priorities for Education for All and the UN Millennium Development Goals for identified sub-Saharan countries.

What follows is the TTISSA National Report--March 2006:

This report was prepared by the TTISSA National Coordinator for Ethiopia to introduce and analyze teacher status in the country (training, status, living and working conditions, etc.), as well as existing teacher training actions. It was presented on the occasion of the First Meeting of National Coordinators for TTISSA held at UNESCO Dakar from 7 to 9 March 2006.
Click here to read the full report!

(Source: UNESCO)