Monday, October 29, 2007

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

Source: PlusNews
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 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 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 ( 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