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Launch: The Contribution to Change Guide, London, 22 November 2013 [info]
- "The Contribution to Change Guide was produced to assist evaluators and those commissioning evaluations to measure the contribution that an agency makes to the changes to people's lives through humanitarian programmes." This event will also be live streamed.
"The Budget Myth That Just Won’t Die: Americans Still Think 28 Percent of the Budget Goes to Foreign Aid," Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2013 [text]
Disaster as Opportunity? Building Back Better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti, HPG Working Paper (ODI, Nov. 2013) [text]
Famine and Forced Relocations in Ethiopia 1984-1986 (MSF, Nov. 2013) [text]
- Latest case study posted on MSF's Speaking Out web site.
Foreign Aid Workers and Local NGOs – Mending the Relationship (IRIN, Nov. 2013) [text]
How to Hijack an Aid Program: An Open Letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (McLeod Group Blog, Oct. 2013) [text]
"The Logistics of the Last Mile," Forced Migration Review 25th Anniversary Collection (Oct. 2013) [open access text]
Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities.
Durable Solutions to Displacement: Exploring the Roles of Development, Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Actors (Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Nov. 2013) [text]
Note on the Mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees and His Office (UNHCR, Oct. 2013) [text]
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Part I: Covering the Period 1 January 2012-30 June 2013, UN Doc. No. A/68/12 (Part I) (UN General Assembly, 2013) [text]
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Part II: Strategic Review Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 58/153, UN Doc. No. A/68/12 (Part II) (UN General Assembly, 2013) [text]
- Note: This is UNHCR's first decennial review "of the global situation of refugees and the role of the Office." In presenting the report to the Third Committee of the UNGA, the HC noted that "the number of persons of concern to the agency had doubled in the last 10 years... ."
Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement, Oxford, 16 Oct. 2013 [info]
- Follow link for podcast.
Under the Radar: Internally Displaced Persons in Non-Camp Settings (Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Oct. 2013) [text]
UNHCR – A Humanitarian Organization with a Mandate to Protect Civilians in Refugee Camps (Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies Blog, Oct. 2013) [text]
- Note: The author has a book due to be published next month entitled Protecting Civilians in Refugee Camps: Unable and Unwilling States, UNHCR and International Responsibility (Brill).
"Claiming Asylum on the Basis of Your Sexuality: The Views of Lesbians in the UK," The Researcher, vol. 8, no. 2 (Oct. 2013) [full-text]
- Scroll to p. 17.
"Credibility Assessments as 'Normative Leakage': Asylum Applications, Gender and Class," Social Inclusion, vol. 1, no. 2 (2013) [open access text]
EU Court Ruling a Setback for Refugees (Amnesty International, Nov. 2013) [text]
- Comment re. ruling in X, Y and Z v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel; see also related BBC News article.
'Hearing the Right Gaps': Enabling and Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence within the UK Asylum Process, Research Paper no. 2013/36 (Edinburgh School of Law, Oct. 2013) [text via SSRN]
"Legal and Medical Bases for Granting Asylum in the USA to Women with Female Genital Mutilation: A Systematic Review," The Lancet, vol. 381 (Oct. 2013) [free full-text, with registration]
Missing the Mark: Decision Making on Lesbian, Gay (Bisexual, Trans and Intersex) Asylum Claims (UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, Sept. 2013) [text]
- See also related Free Movement blog post.
Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in Conflict: Next Steps in a Global Struggle, Washington, DC, 21 Oct. 2013 [info]
- Follow link for transcript and audio; see also this event summary.
On the Borders of Refugee Protection? The Impact of Human Rights Law on Refugee Law: Comparative Practice and Theory, London, 13-14 November 2013 [info]
- The conference programme is now available.
"Droits des étrangers (Art. 3 CEDH): La Cour européenne des droits de l’homme censure le manque de motivation des décisions de la Cour nationale du droit d’asile," Lettres Actualités Droits-Libertés, 31 Oct. 2013 [text]
"Immigration, Asylum, and Citizenship: A More Holistic Approach," California Law Review, vol. 101, no. 4 (2013) [full-text]
Nine Global Refugee Protection Challenges in 2013 (Refugee Council of Australia, Sept. 2013) [text]
"On the Morality and Legality of Borders: Border Policies and Asylum Seekers," Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 26, no. 1 (2013) [full-text]
"The Principle of Non-Refoulement and the De-territorialization of Border Control at Sea," Leiden Journal of International Law (Forthcoming, 2014) [text via SSRN]
"Refugee Rights and the Merits of Appeals," University of Queensland Law Journal, vol. 32, no. 1 (2013) [eprint via SSRN]
Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities.
Asylum Seekers in Korea Should be Allowed to Work says Seoul Administrative Court (APRN, Oct. 2013) [text]
- See also related FRLAN article.
"Burma Just Around the Corner: When U.S. Corporations Employ Refugees," Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender and Society, vol. 28, no. 2 (Summer 2013) [full-text]
Challenging Misconceptions about Observing Refugees’ Work Rights (Refugee Work Rights, Oct. 2013) [text]
An Ethnographic Exploration of Economic Disparity among Refugees Living in Canada: A Challenge to Canada's Multicultural Image (Univ. of British Columbia, 2013) [text]
Federal Judge Approves Settlement Agreement in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Nov. 2013) [text]
The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK, Discussion Paper, no. 22/13 (Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, Nov. 2013) [text]
- See also related BBC News article.
The Labour Market Integration of Resettled Refugees, PDES/2013/16 (UNHCR, Nov. 2013) [text]
Refugee Livelihoods in Kampala, Nakivale and Kyangwali Refugee Settlements: Patterns of Engagement with the Private Sector, Working Paper, no. 95 (RSC, Oct. 2013) [text]
"Refugees in Australia: Employment Outcomes Remain Problematic," Third International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order: Realities of Culture, Colour and Identity - Conference Proceedings (The Cairns Institute, 2013) [full-text]
- Scroll to p. 147.
Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 13/123 (Migration Policy Centre, Sept. 2013) [text]
Facilitators and Barriers: Refugee Integration in Austria (UNHCR, Oct. 2013) [text]
Forced Migration in Belarus, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 13/113 (Migration Policy Centre, Sept. 2013) [text]
"Introducing the Western Balkans Legal Aid Network," Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter, no. 42 (Nov. 2013) [full-text]
- Visit WeBLAN's web site.
Refugees and Displaced Persons in Georgia, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 13/105 (Migration Policy Centre, Sept. 2013) [text]
- Regional Focus: Europe - Pt. 1
Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.
Asylum Applicants and First Instance Decisions on Asylum Applications: Second Quarter 2013, Data in Focus, no. 12/2013 (Eurostat, Oct. 2013) [access via EMN Belgium]
"Asylum Reception Centre in Cyprus: Setting the Bases for a Contemporary Organisational Structure," European Scientific Journal, vol. 9, no. 29 (2013) [open access text]
EU Rules on Maritime Rescue: Member States Quibble while Migrants Drown (Statewatch, Oct. 2013) [text]
Lampedusa and the ‘Crisis’ of Migration (e-International Relations, Oct. 2013) [text]
On the EU Frontlines of Migrant Reception in Bulgaria (IRIN, Nov. 2013) [text]
"The Other Euro Crisis: Rights Violations under the Common European Asylum System and the Unraveling of EU Solidarity," Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 26, no. 1 (2013) [full-text]
"An Overview of Transfers of Asylum Seekers from Germany to Italy under the Dublin II Regulation," Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter, no. 42 (Nov. 2013) [full-text]
Pushed Back: Systematic Human Rights Violations against Refugees in the Aegean Sea and the Greek-Turkish Land Border (Pro Asyl, Nov. 2013) [text]
- See also summary in German.
The Right to Leave a Country (EU Commissioner for Human Rights, Oct. 2013) [text]
- See also related press release.
Shifting Borders: Externalising Migrant Vulnerabilities and Rights? (Red Cross EU Office & IFRC, Nov. 2013) [access]
Job Opportunity: UNHCR Policy Development & Evaluation Service [info]
- Consultant sought for "South Africa Xenophobia Programmes Evaluation"; start date is 1 Dec. 2013; application deadline is 13 November 2013.
*The Rights of Palestinian Refugees: Return, Restitution, Nationality and Territory, Cairo, 14 November 2013 [info]
- Lecture at the American University in Cairo.
Reminder! Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture, Oxford, 20 November 2013 [info]
- This year's topic is "Refugee Rights: Beyond the 1951 Convention."
Call for Panels: 15th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM15), Cartagena, Colombia, 14-17 July 2014 [info]
- Theme is "Forced Migration and Peace: 30 Years of the Cartagena Declaration on Asylum Seekers." Proposals are due 1 December 2013.
Call for Presenters: First Global Forum on Statelessness, The Hague, 15-17 September 2014 [info]
- Deadline for proposals is 1 December 2013.
Rapid Response Grants Supporting Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises [info]
- If you are planning to submit an application, you must register your interest by 1 December 2013; the full application deadline is 22 Jan. 2014.
CFP: JOMEC Journal Conference, Cardiff, 14 April 2014 [info]
- Theme is "The Meaning of Migration." Abstract deadline is 2 December 2013.
Call for Panels: 29th Annual Meeting of ALNAP, Addis Ababa, 11-13 March 2014 [info]
- Theme is "Engagement of Crisis-affected People in Humanitarian Action." Submission deadline is 2 December 2013.
Children and Young People in Search of Safety in the UK, London, 12 February 2014 [info]
- Early registration discount available until 6 December 2013.
Internships, UNHCR Policy Development & Evaluation Service, May-August 2014 [info]
- Applications accepted from 9-23 December 2013.
The Future of NGOs in the Humanitarian Sector, London, 10 December 2013 [info]
- Free event, but registration required.
CFP: Anti-Trafficking Review [info]
- Theme is "Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking." Submission deadline is 15 December 2013.
- More Events & Opportunities: November 2013
Tagged Events & Opportunities.
Really excellent stuff from Jishnu Das, tearing apart a recent Economist article on cash transfers:recall that in welfare economics there are two rationales for government interventions to make people better off. First, governments fix market failures. ... Second, governments redistribute income by giving cash to the poor. ... Within this framework, giving cash always increases the welfare of the recipients; what we also worry about is the extent to which market failures circumscribe the ability of society to do better. ...
“does giving cash work well” is a well-defined question only if you are willing to say that “well” is something that WE, the donors, want to define for families whom we have never met and whose living circumstances we have probably never spent a day, let alone a lifetime, in. Has our hubris really taken us that far? What happened to respect for the poor? From there The Economist article degenerates, with “findings” that CCTs “work well” when the conditions are on things that people would not purchase without the conditions (I am serious; cut through the jargon, and that’s what it says). If by now you are tearing your hair out, join the club....
Health is not welfare, neither is education. So, can we please stop making judgments about what poor people should and should not do with money that is redistributed to them?
This blog post first appeared on Views from the Center.
At the heart of our work on Development Impact Bonds is the idea that to solve complex social problems it is necessary to test interventions, measure the effects, and then learn and adapt.
This is why, unlike Duncan Green, I think that the growing recognition that we are dealing with complex adaptive systems means that we need to collect more data, not less. The mantra for dealing with complexity is probe – sense – respond. Effective use of data – learning by measuring - is at the heart of how we should manage complexity.
But what does “learning by measuring” mean in practice?
My interest in how data can improve complex service delivery did not originate in some conceptual, think-tanky discussion or academic paper. I learned this from the real world experience of the organisations who are working together on the Social Impact Bond to reduce re-offending by former inmates of Peterborough Prison.
The Social Impact Bond has significantly changed their understanding of which interventions are working, and how they need to combine to achieve results. Here is Evan Jones at St Giles Trust quoted in the Guardian:
We had a bit of a finger-in-the-air approach to understanding how clients engaged with us after our initial intensive work with them on release. A lot were drifting off but we didn’t understand why. Through the Peterborough bond, we’ve been able to see really clear trends for the first time. We can see which areas of crime young people are returning to, why people stop engaging with us, how we can stay in contact in a way that’s right for them, and be there for them to turn to if they are heading towards re-offending, as well what work and training are having the most positive effect. We’ve been getting results with some of the most prolific locals who are known for repeat offences.
Development Impact Bonds are not primarily a financing model: they are a business model. They enable a group of organisations to come together around a well-defined social problem, and work together to find solutions through a process of testing interventions, measuring the effects, adapting and learning. This is possible in the case of a SIB or a DIB, but not in a conventionally structured project, because private investors provide flexible funding for the interventions and public sector agencies only have to pay if they work. These investors have the incentives to put in place high-quality data management systems (in the case of the Peterborough Prison SIB, managed by Social Finance) to ensure that interventions are adapting to information about what is working as it is gathered. Evan Jones adds:
Normally, by the time we’ve realised what is working or isn’t working on a contract, the funding has run out. This time we have space to say, ‘Let’s do more of this and less of this.’
We think that NGOs and other service delivery organisations working in development face these challenges in much the same way as their counterparts working in domestic service delivery. By design, DIBs put the rigorous collection and use of data at the heart of the partnership, informing and improving decision-making in real time. A striking lesson from the Social Impact Bonds in that using this data in this way is hugely powerful for improving performance, and that the service delivery organisations – contrary to feeling “over-managed” – find it empowering and valuable.
The burning bush represents the impossible presence of God, and when you see that, you have to take off your shoes.
And that happens in the grief, when a teenager meets Jesus, when a mother is comforted, when we bow in desperate prayer.
It also happens in awe.
So to complete the story of the week, I spent four hours in the hospital this morning in meetings. Not the usual choice for holy ground. The first was the Neurosurgery Audit, where we discussed the last two months of admissions, deaths, infections, new procedures. The Albrights are inspiring people, working way too hard to care for ever increasing numbers of children. Kijabe sees about 250 spina bifida patients a year, ten times more than even the busiest neurosurgical services in America, with a fraction of the resources. And they are doing research on new surgical techniques, publishing scientific papers, and training Kenyan doctors. Inspiring.
From there to a meeting with the Medical Director, Executive Director, Head of Engineering, Head of OB, and me. To propose an expansion of our nursery and maternity space to meet demand. Mardi had made a proposed drawing. Only the Executive Director wanted to think bigger. To have new construction, new space, better facilities, and double the capacity. Again inspiring, because this has real potential to impact child survival.
And from there to a meeting of the BKKH (Bethany Kids) team, surgeons and nurses and administrators who care for children with birth defects and disabilities. We discussed how to not just train surgeons and send them out to Madagascar, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda . . but to also support all the other services needed for kids there, to multiply what is happening at Kijabe. A lot of brainstorming and philosophy and really good stuff. Holy ground.
So in the midst of the losses, it is good to see that we are ever improving services, ever increasing hope. To be reminded of the 20 that go home cured for every one who dies. Of the amazingly dedicated and talented people I work with who are pouring their lives out for kids and for Jesus.
It is not very hard (but it is much harder than it should be) to set yourself up to be able to receive encrypted emails. I am using Mailvelope which adds encryption to Gmail. The idea is that you publish a key (mine is here) which other people can use to encrypt a message to you; because you are the only person with the other half of the key, only you can decode the message.
I think it would be a good idea for most people to use encryption most of the time. This makes it less likely that information is accidentally released (such as your bank account details) and also makes it harder for the state (or other people’s states) to intercept our communications. And even though a lot of what we send by email could safely be transmitted en clair, if we encrypt everything then that makes it harder for other people to find the stuff we don’t want them to see among all the ephemera. (It would be nice to say at this point that King Christian X of Denmark thwarted the Nazi order that all Jews should wear armbands with yellow stars by wearing one himself, but sadly that story isn’t true.)
But I know very few other people who are set up to receive encrypted emails, and hardly anybody ever sends me anything encrypted.
Why is that? It isn’t that difficult to set up GPG. One reason is that there is apparently no way to go through all your contacts automatically and check if they have published a public key that you can use to send them messages. So if my friends to have public keys, I would have to find that out manually. Ideally, Mailvelope would automatically identify which people have a public key and encrypt messages to them, without me needing to intervene.
Even better, though, would be to build encryption into the email infrastructure of the internet. This would have three big advantages: it would mean all email is encrypted by default, so massively increasing the size of the encrypted haystack within which people would have to search for valuable information; it would make encryption frictionless for users; and it would mean that the email metadata (who the message is from, who it is to, the subject line) would be encrypted as well, making it impossible for authorities to collect all our email metadata as they do now.
The way it would work is this. Each domain would publish a public key for its email server, as part of its MX record (that’s the information each domain already publishes so that we know where to deliver the mail). The message transfer agent on the sending domain (eg SENDMAIL) would encrypt the entire message, including the metadata, using the public key of the recipient domain. The recipient email server would decrypt the message on arrival (using its private key), so finding out which of their users the message is for and where it came from, conduct the usual spam checks, and then deliver it to the relevant user. If we did this, then all the email traffic on the internet would be encrypted, with only the destination domain visible to anyone watching the traffic go by. Individuals who were not confident about the security of their email services could of course add their own layer of encryption on top as well, if they wish.
Until recently this level of encryption would have been computationally too expensive for senders and receivers; I don’t think it is now (perhaps someone can work out if this is right? This approach might also have the side benefit of adding a computation tax to computers sending large quantities of spam.
This seems a pretty straightforward way for the geeks to subvert the surveillance state. Can anyone tell me the flaw in this idea, please?
Six months ago, 13 year old Tiep* thought that life had no hope.
Deceived by a trafficker pretending to have 'training opportunities' for disadvantaged youth, Tiep's parents agreed for him to leave home and learn a new skill, which they hoped would guarantee him a better life.
Instead, Tiep was taken over 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from home and put to work 16 hours a day in a small factory. There was no salary, no day off, and no training or education.
Blue Dragon found Tiep and took him home in July. It was immediately clear that his family's extreme poverty was the main reason they were vulnerable to trafficking: their family home was in ruins, and they had no money to repair it, let alone pay for their children's school fees.
Apart from helping Tiep home and supporting him to return to school, Blue Dragon agreed to rebuild their house. As the family belongs to the Thai ethnicity, we've had it built in the local style, and as of today the house is almost completed. In the coming week the floor will be finished and the electricity connected. Tiep and his family are thrilled!
But the best part has been seeing the whole community chip in to get the house built. The village has no money at all to contribute, so instead people have helped with the construction even though it's also harvesting time for most families. Some local government officials have been involved too, helping with the design and making sure we stick to budget. It's really been a 'whole village' effort.
Yesterday we had a small gathering to congratulate the family on their new home. Tiep's mother was close to tears as she told us that she never thought her children would have a proper roof over their heads.
What a delight to help this family get their lives back together.
* Not his real name
I asked my friend Jonathan the roots of a Nigerian concept, the “oga on top.” Oga means bossman, and apparently oga on top is an even more deferential term.
Jonathan helpful sent along this 90 second YouTube video that went viral and sparked the term. TV reporters ask an NSCDC (a security-related government agency) official to state his office’s website.
Reporters: “What is the website of the NSCDC?”
Official: “[provided excuses for not answering...] it has got to be made known by my oga at the top.”
Reporters: [Um, what?]
Official: “www.nscdc Yes. So. That’s all.”
This video is incredible for so many reasons, but for me I just found amazing how vigorously and confidently he tried to claim that he couldn’t share the URL, when in fact he just didn’t know it. People have spoken like that to me so many times, and I often wonder if they are trying to cover up for something. But then I feel guilty for being so cynical. Now I feel less bad about this intuition.
I had just walked out of the morning's monthly staff meeting when my pager went off, and I hurried to the HDU knowing it would be Vincent. He had been vomiting, cold, listless, with abdominal pain through the night I had heard from the on-call doctor, worse than I had left him, but in the early morning hours told the nurse he was hungry. His mother called the staff over an hour later, alarmed, because he was no longer responding. I walked in to find him gasping in the way that people do as they die, pulseless, with the large unmoving pupils of the brain dead. He was gone. That gasp was his last, and as I watched the heart monitor petered out to a flat line. We had long before decided that we would put every effort into his fluids, medicines, oxygen, feeds, and wound care. But we would not do CPR. The low-likelihood of helping high-pain violence of it would have been grotesque in this circumstance. Vincent's suffering was over, even as we gathered around his bed stunned, and then held on to his shaking, weeping mother, he was free. Free of TB and pressure eroding his paralyzed body. Free of the monitors and hospital. Free of our failed help.
Two things made this morning bearable. First, a conversation with the nurse a few minutes after he died, as we reviewed the course, his treatment, what could have gone wrong or been done better. "Did you know that Vincent prayed to receive Jesus last week here, as did his mother?" No, I didn't, but evidently another nurse had been sharing Jesus with them even as she cleaned his wounds. Second, the assurance that we had done everything possible, there was no treatment we held back. We didn't just move him to a corner to die, we kept open the possibility of a miraculous reversal right up to the last minute.
I wish we had seen the Fall-in-reverse, the resolution of disease that we long for. I was reminded by others later that we were discharging 4 other kids who had been healed, and many more the week before. Most kids do get better, most of the time we are witnesses to improvement. But Vincent's body was so weak, so spindly, so ravaged, so destroyed, the path God chose for him to healing was through the valley of the shadow of death, straight to the table prepared. I do not regret the all-out effort to keep him alive for two weeks, which enabled him to experience the hands and heart of Jesus in those who cared for him, to encounter the living Christ. I wish he had not suffered such pain or his mom such loss, but I know that he met Jesus in his suffering, and pray she does too.
Still it was a hard day, moving through the ward, back and forth to clinic, with sorrow in my heart.
Then in the mid-afternoon I went to nursery where we were sending a baby for admission. Simon, the little baby who was in ICU for weeks after multiple surgeries and chest tubes to repair his congenitally non-functional esophagus and trachea, was still there. His faith-filled mom is always content, hopeful, patient. She greeted me warmly. We have spent more time together over Simon than most people in her life. His last chest tube had come out a couple days ago, and he is finally doing well after weeks of nearly dying. I think she could sense that I needed to touch hope today. "Do you want to hold him?" she asked. I'm not sure any mom has ever asked me that. She gently scooped him up in his blanket and handed him to me. Not to evaluate, just to enjoy, mom to mom. It was beautiful. Nothing speaks hope more clearly than a one-month-old who has survived against extreme odds, and is only a short step away from cure.
I tried to get Simon to smile as he chomped his pacifier. I'm sure I smiled. A lot. He was the perfect reminder that God is at work in healing at Kijabe, in spite of the morning with Vincent, there is much good we can still do.
Cyril Allen: “If [the British] try to make Taylor uncomfortable [...] we can make Liberia very uncomfortable for [them] through our traditional values.”
Below is an excerpt from an AFP article on Charles Taylor. Taylor’s wife says he is upset both about daily strip searches and being treated the same as everyone else at a British maximum security prison. (h/t to Johnny Dwyer)
But the leader of [Taylor's] NPP party in Liberia this week threatened Britons living in the west African nation with reprisals over his treatment.
“If they try to make Taylor uncomfortable where he is, we can make Liberia very uncomfortable for some of their citizens through our traditional values,” NPP chairman Cyril Allen told journalists in the capital Monrovia.
“They are roaming around our interiors, they are roaming around our country, and this government cannot protect them.
“You cannot take our traditional leader and treat him like a common British criminal. If they don’t stop treating our (leader) in a manner that is unacceptable to us, we are going to fight back.”
For the second year we are collecting gift cards for girls in foster care for Christmas. The gift cards to local retailers allow the high schoolers to get bras and other personal items they need. There are three ways to donate:
1. Send your gift cards to LTHF, PO Box 934, Colorado Springs, CO 80901
2. Donate and specify it’s for bras
3. If you live in Colorado Springs, let us know and we can arrange a time to meet and collect the gift cards
When we were kids and walking along a sidewalk, one of us would invariably pipe up with, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back; step on a nail, put your father in jail." At this, we would adjust our stride and nimbly step over any pavement cracks or nail heads in boardwalks, all the while keeping a beady eye on the steps of others lest they slip up. If you did accidentally step on a crack, a chorus would rise, "Aha! You broke your mother's back!" or "You put your father in jail!" It was fierce but fun competition, and anyway, we were looking out for our parents' welfare! Thankfully, even though I probably slipped up many times in the game, neither calamity came upon my parents :-)
The cracked pavement above, which I think is actually quite pretty, is one of many on the veranda floor of the getaway beach spot we are at for just over a week. We have been coming here once a year for about 10 years, and each visit is unique in itself. One year, we arrived to discover that the wind had eroded the sand to the point where several thatched installations had collapsed and their reconstruction in a new location was underway. Another year, it was so stiflingly hot we could hardly bear the heat. The next year it was so unseasonably cold and windy we could hardly enjoy the hammocks on the veranda. Then there were the years where we had to deal with rat infestations, and the year where an arsonist almost burned the entire place to the ground. Yes, there are many stories to be told!
I wish I could say that this year's story is just about sand erosion, rats, or the weather. But it's not. This year's uniqueness has to do with recent political turmoil that has disrupted life in some way for just about everyone living in Mozambique. There have been many repercussions for us too. One of these was that we needed to take an alternate route south for this trip rather than take the in-country main highway where the military convoy has been the target of recent attacks.
We took the convoy less than 2 months ago while on a business trip to South Africa. It was safe then, but things have since deteriorated and shootings and attacks are common. So we made the decision to get to our southern Mozambican destination via our neighbouring countries Zimbabwe and South Africa. Talk about taking the long way though. It was a 3 day trip as opposed to a 9 or 10 hour drive.
It has been a long time since we have been to Zimbabwe, and after paying $75/person for single entry visas, not counting other border costs, it's no wonder. There are now also several toll charges of USD $1 each to drive the main road south.
After our long, drawn out trip, we were weary and very happy to arrive at our destination! As I write this, we are concerned for Mozambique and her people. After 20 years of peace and development, the country has recently been plagued with hot spots of civil unrest, fighting, and increasing violent crime. There is a serious breakdown in communication and goodwill between the ruling and opposition parties, and much like our childhood's crack in the pavement, it is bringing calamity and pain to people. The country, especially youth, agonizes over events as they unfold. Just when things were going so well! Municipal elections are being held in less than 2 weeks and this does little to ease tensions, of course. We are keeping abreast as possible of the situation and so far in our area, things have been quiet and life goes on as usual. We do trust that once elections are over, things will settle for everyone and that this December will be one in tune with the season--that of renewed peace and hope.
Otherwise, for me, life has been a blur with the busyness of things. A key staff member left to pursue his career further north recently and it landed a heap of student photo taking and data collecting in my lap. I am training one of the health workers to take on most of this, but first he has to learn to type. So yes, there is much learning to be done yet! All in all, about 400 records needed to be updated (current student info, photo, and letter), but we have now completed that so we are rejoicing. I am so thankful for the enthusiasm of all those who work alongside us.
This is what my desk and life have been occupied with primarily for the last few months. Reading the students' letters to their sponsors has been heart warming though.I love the attention and detail they put into their artwork...what a great avenue for creativity and expression it is. Like the mirror of one's heart.
"Me taking pictures of students taking pictures of me." Fair's fair.
For now though, let me sign off. There is a break I must enjoy :)
Take care, and keep Mozambique in your thoughts and prayers.
Vincent (see post below) pulled through today, barely. Overnight his breathing became labored and he was moved into our 3-bed High Dependency Unit (the level of care between the general ward and the ICU) for high flow oxygen and monitoring. Alarmed by his sleepiness and cold skin this morning I asked the nurse to take his blood pressure: 60/20. Yikes. Fluids, pressors, warmth, antibiotics, prayer and by afternoon he was up to 85/55 and sipping some milk. He just teeters on the edge of fighting the bacteria in his bloodstream and the despair in his soul.
The HDU is a 3-bed unit of excellent care too late. Vincent with his paralysis, chunks of missing flesh, raging infection, all most likely from a disease that was curable for the first few years of gradual symptoms. Little A in the middle whose minor skin pustule turned into a massive flesh-destroying infection, over a matter of a few months eating its way through his side, his kidney, his spleen, his intestines. Perhaps if he wasn't an orphan, living in a remote corner of Kenya, he might have had definitive care in time to save his life. His last surgery revealed we are losing this battle though, and his care is now designed to make him comfortable until his inevitable death. And on the other side Jonah, still pulling for a miracle, fractionally more awake day by day.
Some days, the burden of sorrow just weighs too much. My tough can-do wavers at a kind face bringing tears. The stress of complicated ICU patients, these three heartbreaking HDU patients, the myriad of the malnourished and seizing on the general floor, and the steady flow of outpatients needing assessment or reassurance or more wisdom and insight than I can muster, drains me.
But in the midst of all this a few doses of hope.
First, we had a lovely graduation ceremony yesterday for two Paediatric Surgeons completing their fellowship. Dr. Situma will return to Uganda where the ratio of surgeons to patients is even lower than Kenya . . note that all three boys who got too little care too late had problems that were partially surgical . . . and Dr. Lebbie to Sierra Leone where he will be the first and so far ONLY paediatric surgeon in the country.
The spiritual as well as the medical maturity and excellence of these two men was evident in their speeches, and in contrast to so much of what passes for success in Africa. Really inspiring.
And then I found Acacia and a classmate volunteering to serve meals on the Paeds ward in the evening, and came home to dinner with Jack and three friends from his soccer team, great guys. These are the next generation of hope, and they lifted my spirits.
Lest there be any doubt that Nigerians are the coolest people on earth, battabox.com (an incredible and funny Nigerian website that defies any further description) interviews a man who created a tricycle limousine (pictured above) and tricycle hummer. They then interview Nigerians to see if people would buy Nigerian-made vehicles. Check it out here.
Hat tip to Jonathan.