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:

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