Friday, June 22, 2012

To Reduce HIV, Circumcision and Solidarity in Zimbabwe

A research study in Africa showed that circumcision for males can cut their risk of AIDS in half.  At the time of the study, the New York Times reported:

The two trials were carried out among nearly 3,000 men in Kisumu, Kenya, and nearly 5,000 men in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS; they were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups. They were given safe sex advice — although many presumably did not take it — and retested regularly. 

The trials were stopped by the National Institutes of Health’s Data Safety and Monitoring Board this week after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new H.I.V. cases and the Ugandan men a 48 percent reduction.

Today, we see the results of this study put into action to save lives. First, MPs in Zimbabwe underwent testing recently for HIV.  Now, MPs in Zimbabwe are getting circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV. About 120 officials expressed interest and a make-shift clinic was set up in Parliament House, Harare, to perform the procedure. By midday, four had had the surgery with more expected, including possibly President Robert Mugabe.

In Zimbabwe, more than a million people are HIV positive. Given the same scenario, I wonder how many other politicians in other countries - particularly in the West - would do the same. That is, would they support better health for their citizens by personally participating in a body altering procedure to promote health and reduce the spread of a deadly disease? 
See the full article below or click here.

Zimbabwe's MPs to be circumcised in bid to fight HIV

A group of Zimbabwean MPs is getting circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and Aids cases. A small makeshift clinic for carrying out the procedures was erected in Parliament House in the capital Harare.

Blessing Chebundo, chairman of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids, said his main objective was to inspire other citizens to follow suit. Research by the UN has suggested the risk of HIV infection is lower among men who have been circumcised. More than a million people in Zimbabwe are believed to be HIV-positive, with about 500,000 receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

Mr Chebundo said more than 120 MPs and parliamentary staff had shown an interest in the circumcision programme. The BBC's Brian Hungwe, in Harare says that by 12:00 local time (10:00GMT), four had had the procedure performed, with more expected later. There was a possibility that some members of the executive may also attend, including President Robert Mugabe, he added.

The circumcision programme had attracted a lot of attention in Zimbabwe, and had divided opinion, our correspondent said. The issue was raised in parliament in September 2011, when Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe made a plea to her fellow politicians. At the time, many MPs shunned the idea. As well as a clinic in parliament, the initiative has seen a tent set up across the road from parliament, where counselling sessions will be held.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Child Labor

Every semester I ask my class to define childhood. What do children DO? What is their 'job'? The response: they play, they go to school, they are taken care of by their parents. Around the world are other children whose childhood is defined by hard labor. Whose 'job' it is to help provide for the family's welfare. Their education and health is not a top priority - for anyone.

June 12 was Child Labor Day. Here are images from Reuters showing us what that means.
Mithun, 11, poses for a photo at a laterite brick mine in Ratnagiri district, about 360km (224 miles) south of Mumbai, April 14, 2011. He is paid two Indian rupees ($0.04) per brick and carries an average of 100 bricks out of the mine per day. Each brick costs between 10-14 rupees ($0.22-$0.31), and weighs around 40 kg.
REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Josue Alexander Chavez, 9 years old, uses a hammer to break stones as he works near the road to Mazatenango, about 165 km (102 miles) north of Guatemala City, June 11, 2012, ahead of World Day Against Child Labor. Chavez works with his parents, breaking stones for the construction of houses. He works from 7am-5pm and makes 20 quetzales ($2.50) per day.
REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez
Josue Alexander Chavez, 9 years old, carries a hammer as his father Mario Chavez gathers stones near the road to Mazatenango, about 165 km (102 miles) north of Guatemala City, June 11, 2012.
REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez
Josue Alexander Chavez, 9 years old, uses a hammer to break stones as he works near the road to Mazatenango, about 165 km (102 miles) north of Guatemala City, June 11, 2012.
REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez
A girl covers her face near the road to Mazatenango, where she fills holes in the road with earth in exchange for money, about 165 km (102 miles) north of Guatemala City, June 11, 2012.
REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez
A boy yawns as he waits for customers at his roadside apple stall in Kabul August 6, 2008.
REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Seven year old Wasim works in a bakery workshop on outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 10, 2012.
REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
Naser, 7, works at a metal workshop which makes propellers for ships at a ship-building yard next to Buriganga River in Dhaka, January 8, 2012.
REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
A boy works in a traditional factory producing coal about 30 km south of the city of Taiz, Yemen, December 12, 2011.
REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi
Waste collector Dinesh Mukherjee, 11, uses a magnet attached to a wooden stick to collect pieces of loose metal at the Ghazipur landfill in New Delhi November 10, 2011.
REUTERS/Atish Patel
Twelve-year-old Nepalese, Sirjan Rai, rests on the mountain footpath while carrying goods towards Dingboche, Nepal, April 30, 2011. Earning approximately 3000 Rupees ($66) per month, Sirjan helps works as a porter to help provide for his family in Pangboche.
REUTERS/Laurence Tan
Boys pan for gold on a riverside at Iga Barriere, 25 km (15 miles) from Bunia, in the resource-rich Ituri region of eastern Congo February 16, 2009.
REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
A boy tries to sell a hand made hat to tourists at a public beach in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, April 10, 2011.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
An Indian child laborer arranges bricks at a brick factory in Tharvai village, about 35 km (22 miles) from the northern Indian city of Allahabad, February 21, 2006.
REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
A child worker picks coffee beans from coffee plants at a plantation in El Paraiso, Honduras, February 4, 2011.
REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Child laborers sit on their wheelbarrows while waiting for work at a local market early in the morning in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 19, 2011.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
Riffat, 8, splashes water on his face as he works at a vehicle spare parts store in Dholaikhal, Dhaka February 29, 2012.
REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
Simon, 12, holds a light to assist his supervisor working on a motorcycle engine at a workshop in Islamabad January 31, 2011. Simon earns 20 Pakistani Rupees ($0.22) a day working as a helper at the workshop.
REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood
Czoton, 7, works at a balloon factory on the outskirts of Dhaka November 23, 2009. About 20 children are employed at the factory and most of them work for 12 hours a day. The weekly wage is 150 taka ($2.14) for the children.
REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
Tota Miya, 10, shows his hands after preparing soil to make bricks in a brick field on the outskirts of Dhaka November 21, 2009.
REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
A boy poses as he stands in front of a shop selling scraps in the old quarters of Delhi May 12, 2011.
REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
An illegal immigrant boy from Myanmar collects plastic at a rubbish dump site near Mae Sot December 22, 2009. Despite terrible living conditions and the fear of being sent back to their country, several hundred illegal immigrants from Myanmar live and earn an average of $1 per day collecting plastic at the rubbish dump near the border town of Mae Sot.
REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Children working as rag pickers search for scrap at a garbage dump in the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri November 14, 2008.
REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A boy carries rubbish for recycling outside Kabul December 15, 2010. About 1.2 million Afghan children carry out part or full time work, the government says, in a country where war, poverty, widespread unemployment and a preference for large families have created a huge underage labor market.
REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
A boy works at a brick-making factory outside Kabul July 15, 2010. Laborers, most of whom work barefoot and without gloves, earn from $3 to $8 a day depending on their working hours and the number of bricks they make.
REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
Afghan boy Abdul Wahab works in a blacksmith's shop in Kabul December 14, 2010.
REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghan boy Abdul Wahab rests after work in a blacksmith's shop in Kabul December 14, 2010.
REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Siddiqullah,12, carries a basket of potatoes to nearby vegetable and fruit vendors in Karachi September 27, 2009.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
A cobbler walks in a closed market during a partial strike called by traders against power cuts in Lahore March 31, 2012.
REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Ahsan, 12, stands looking over an oven at a brick yard in the outskirts of Islamabad November 23, 2010. Ahsan works with his family members at the brick yard and earns about 300 Pakistan Rupees ($3.5) per day.
REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Thursday, June 14, 2012

UN Criticizes 'Baby Boxes'

Your baby will be cared for here
Baby hatch in Germany

In a recent article in Time, the the UN criticized the use of 'baby hatches,' a system that allows mothers to anonymously abandon their newborns at designated locations such as hospitals. Around since the 13th century, these drop boxes are found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and in all 50 US states. While advocates say baby boxes prevent infanticide, UN critics say that many babies are abandoned by the mother's relatives and that infanticide numbers have not decreased. You can read the full article here.

For related posts go to:
Saving Baby
and Safe Haven in Chicago

Friday, June 1, 2012

Before You Volunteer

Al Jazeera posted an overview of the right way to volunteer in orphanages abroad. Always do your research too. 

Read their expose of the Cambodia orphan business where you will learn that:

. . .  inadvertently, well-intentioned volunteers have helped to create a surge in the number of residential care homes as impoverished parents are tempted into giving up their children in response to promises of a Western-style upbringing and education. Despite a period of prosperity in the country, the number of children in orphanages has more than doubled in the past decade, and over 70 per cent of the estimated 10,000 'orphans' have at least one living parent.

 And perhaps most disturbingly, stories have emerged that Cambodian children are being exploited by some of the companies organizing the volunteers or running the orphanages.

Is profiting from people's good intentions, even to the possible detriment of children they hope to help, another downside to capitalism?

As stated in this article, an estimated one-third of Cambodian children live below the poverty line, and few would doubt that help is much needed. Below are some guidelines for potential volunteers to consider:

Volunteer at a childcare facility in your own community before considering the option of participating in an orphanage voluntourism experience.

Your research. Ask local educators and NGOs about reputable organizations that are helping orphaned Cambodian children. Look for one that is legally registered and employs an active family reunification program.

Select programs that require a thorough background check on you, including fingerprinting, in order to participate and have a long-standing track record of working in a given community. Ask the organization if they have a child protection policy in place and a system for reporting suspected abuse.

Sign on for a long-term project. Choose a placement where you are supervised and working within a long-term curriculum. Consider helping community-based programs, which support families and enable the children to live at home.

Bring special skills. Medical specialists, teachers and human rights educators are often needed. Ask to speak to a volunteer who came before you.

Donate goods in kind. Ask the organization, rather than a tuk tuk or taxi driver, about their needs. A common scam involves exorbitant charges for rice on the advice of a profiteering driver.

Go to any orphanage that actively solicits tourists.

Work with the children directly. Instead, assist the permanent staff; this keeps the locals in charge and minimizes attachment issues.

Hand over large volunteer placement fees (which can top $1,000) without ensuring that a portion is passed directly to the organization.

Volunteer at any organization that does not ask for a CV, references and police reports in advance. The more that is demanded, the greater chance that the children are being protected.

Select programs that will put you in a position of playing a direct role, as opposed to a staff-supporting role, in working with children.

Volunteer in an orphanage without having made arrangements to do so prior to departure from your home destination. 'Spur-of-the-moment', in-destination, orphanage voluntourism should be strictly avoided.

For more information on volunteering:
Anti-Human Trafficking and Exploitation Organisation (SISHA) - A not-for-profit organization that aims to ensure justice for children, women and men who have been subjected to trafficking and exploitation in Southeast Asia.

ICC-Project Sky - A Phnom Penh-based project that seeks the safe reintegration and social inclusion of young adult orphans into communities in Cambodia.

International Organisation for Adolescents (IOFA) - Focuses on empowering orphaned youth and building effective response systems for child trafficking victims.

ChildSafe Travellers Tips - A list of seven better ways to help protect children around the world, who are at great risk of being abused.

Child Safe International - A proactive child protection network involving key members of society, protecting children from all forms of abuse and preventing child exploitation and trafficking.

Cambodian Children’s Fund - Provides life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia's most destitute communities.

Friends International - Provides information on a wide range of myths and realities about orphanages in Cambodia in the hope of educating visitors and travelers.

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) - One of the UN agencies mandated to make Cambodia a country fit for children.

Good Intentions are not enough - Provides donors with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed funding decision, such as the type of charities and projects.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) - A company that boasts 4,000 international volunteers each year who are sent to assist developing countries in a variety of jobs and for various periods of time.

STAR Kampuchea - Aims to promote democracy, poverty reduction, the respect for human rights and civil society, on the basis of the rule of law in Cambodia.