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Posts tagged ‘food’

Go Rwandan Orphan’s Project!

From Amakuru!

A fantastic year for the ROP, but there is still much to achieve.

The year 2011 was quite a year for the ROP (Rwandan Orphan’s Project)! In December three of our six graduates started university at two of Rwanda’s top universities, having won prestigious government scholarships because of their impressive grades. The year also saw the opening of the ROP’s library and playroom, a room full of books, art supplies and toys unlike anything our children or staff has ever seen before. We built a wonderful new kitchen that is both more efficient and more environmentally friendly than our old kitchen. The ROP also added a mental health program to the project, staffed by a psychologist and an experienced social worker. This program adds another facet to the care we already provide our children by ensuring that their mental health is looked after as well as their physical health.

There were many other achievements, but none bigger than the purchase of our own land back in September. This is the first asset that we can truly call our own and it is a major step forward in our journey towards becoming independent and self sustaining in the future.

As great as 2011 was, we all expect 2012 to be even better. We have a newly-opened nursery school that is the ROPs first income generating project. We’re also building new partnerships that we hope will allow us to reach our goal of starting construction of new buildings on our land this year.

But despite all these improvements, we still face real problems. We lack a steady, regular income to meet our monthly costs, which is our biggest struggle,

We are also trying to raise money to begin construction of a new ROP Center on our land. These are lofty goals but we believe that they are achievable. We hope to begin by raising funds to build several greenhouses on our land that would allow us to grow high value crops to generate income for the Center year round. The next phase of the project would be constructing the classrooms, offices and other necessary rooms that would make up the new and larger ROP School. The final phase of the building would be the raising of dormitories, a dining hall, a kitchen and other facilities and upon completion the staff and children of the ROP would make a final transition to our new home. We know we will face great challenges to get there, but we continue to believe that people from here in Rwanda and around the world will see what our program gives to so many orphans and vulnerable children and will be inspired to help us.

Murakoze (Thank You)!

Rwandan Holiday

From ROP Stories
Rwandan Orphans Project
Center For Street Children

by Sean
16 January 2012

A Christmas to remember at the ROP

Just as in the U.S. and Europe Christmas is a huge holiday in Rwanda. It’s a time for families and friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company, eat a lot of food and perhaps exchange gifts. It’s no different at the Rwandan Orphans Project. In recent years Christmas has been celebrated at the ROP Center by sharing a meal on Christmas day, usually followed by some performances of song and dance from our boys. This year, however, we wanted to give them the best Christmas they’ve yet had. We received some very generous Christmas donations from various people that helped us with this idea. We expected this to be a Christmas to remember at the ROP.

Christmas Eve was a day for celebrating with the staff, children and visitors. Jenny started off the day by having the boys make decorations for the Center. Some of them stuck to the design while others just stuck pieces anywhere and everywhere.

After the tree was well adorned we decided to give the boys an early Christmas present. We had many “new” clothes that had been donated by various visitors during the previous few months and we had been saving them for this day. As is the tradition we laid all of the clothing on the floor of the dining hall so all the boys could see what they had to choose from. As you can imagine each boy eyes the item he wants and hopes that nobody else chooses that item before their turn comes.

Of course we have to make sure that they fit before they take them. Often the younger, smaller boys choose clothes that are much too big for them simply because they like their design. This leads to the occasional round of tears when a small child is told he cannot have a sweatshirt that is meant to fit an adult.

After all the boys had chosen their clothes we had a treat for them. Elisabeth, the ROP’s staff psychologist, is good friends with a very well known Rwandan artist called Ben Gangi. She asked him to come and perform for our boys as a Christmas treat and he accepted. From the moment he started singing the boys were dancing all over the dining hall and singing along at the top of their lungs.

Read entire story and see all the photos at ROP Stories.

The Famine Is Still Here

Dear Gabriel,

The crisis gripping the Horn of Africa may have slipped from the headlines; however, the reality is it’s getting worse.

CARE remains on the ground at the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking help. People are dying on the long and dangerous journey to the camps — including many children. Those who make it arrive in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical services.

Will you please make a gift now to provide immediate relief in the Horn of Africa and support long-term programs that help fight hunger and poverty around the world?

Our work in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia is only reaching a small portion of the more than 13.3 million people in the region who face starvation. The problems are numerous, including a famine in parts of the Horn of Africa, the skyrocketing cost of food and the fact that people are losing their sole means of income as their livestock perish in the parched landscape.

Every dollar counts. Your gift can help feed a starving child, see that a mother has clean water for her family, help whole communities become resilient to droughts and floods and so much more.

Consider how your generosity can make a difference:

— $450 can provide a month’s worth of water for 50 refugees in Dadaab.
— $144 can provide a teacher and teaching supplies so children in the camps get their education.
— $70 can provide six months of extra nutrition for a child or pregnant woman.
— $25 can give enough seeds to an Ethiopian family to grow five months’ worth of food.

Hopefully, the coming months will bring rain, but it will take years for surviving families, farmers and pastoralists to fully recover from this devastating crisis.

By making a gift today, you can help save lives — and help empower many of the world’s most vulnerable people, especially women and children, to escape poverty and hunger for good.

While no one can predict when or where the next crisis will arise, CARE helps prepare communities at high risk to better respond to natural disasters, rising food costs and other shocks. For example, in one community in Kenya, CARE partnered with villagers to erect water pumps, dig effective irrigation canals and form microfinance groups that help people save and diversify their income. Today, during the worst drought to grip the region in 60 years, the families in that village are able to better cope with the disaster.

Thousands of similar success stories are waiting to be created — with your help. Please show your generosity and compassion by making a gift to CARE today to help us carry out our lifesaving and life-changing work around the world.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Help Horn of Africa

Don’t wait. Please act now!

From The Hunger Site

They’re calling it “The Children’s Famine.” More than 12 million people are at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa, including at least 1.25 million children who are “in urgent need of life saving interventions,” according to OCHA. Hundreds of thousands of additional children are severely malnourished.

This humanitarian crisis is caused by an unprecedented drought in the region, where families traditionally rely on livestock and farming for food. Food prices have spiked, crops and livestock are failing, and rivers are at their lowest levels in recent memory.

Displaced families desperate for food and water are spilling across borders and overwhelming refugee camps. “In many of the poorest communities,” reports UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, “people are either too poor or too weak to be able to try to walk for help.”

Mercy Corps has worked in the region for years, and is on the ground actively providing help in the places where it is most needed. Tens of thousands in Ethiopia have received emergency food and clean water distributions. In Somalia, cash-for-work programs are helping drought-affected families fill vital needs including food, water, and other essentials. Mercy Corps hopes not only to help people survive in the face of the current crisis, but to make these communities strong enough to thrive once it has passed.

You can help. Every penny of your donation provides emergency aid that is desperately needed in the Horn of Africa during this time of crisis.

Report from the Field

Mercy Corps
August 2011

Mercy Corps is actively engaged in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. They report that their drought response in the region includes:

SOMALIA
· Our work in Somalia will help more than 260,000 drought-affected people fill vital needs like water, food, and other essentials.
· We work directly with communities to ensure that aid gets to the people who need it. We run programs in Puntland, Somaliland, and the Central region.
· Emergency operations build on our work to provide education to Somali children, improve governance, and build more peaceful communities.

KENYA
· Our team in northeastern Kenya has started programs in over twenty villages in bone-dry Wajir County.
· We are helping 120,000 people gain life-saving access to water. Where there is no water, we’re trucking in hundreds of thousands of liters. Where there are water systems, we’re bringing in emergency fuel to keep water pumps running.
· We have found there is food on the market in northeastern Kenya, but people don’t have money to buy it. Vouchers, a likely next phase of work, provide food and boost local markets.

ETHIOPIA
· We plan to mount an emergency response in the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia, where there is an urgent need for food and water, especially for women, children, and the elderly.
· We also plan to provide cash for work, and initiate destocking, where Mercy Corps buys cattle to provide herders with much-needed income and the community with meat.
· We’ve been helping more than 625,000 Ethiopians gain access to food, water, income, nutrition and health education, and better farming resources and information.

Report from the Field
Joy Portella, Mercy Corps Communications Director
July 2011

The central element of this story is water; everyone is obsessed with finding it. I saw this in the eyes of the herder who’d been walking with his family — including his 10-year-old daughter — for 17 days to find water. I met a young woman with a baby who’d trudged eight hours to collect dirty water at a borehole, and was steeling herself for the grueling return trip. I witnessed a man climb a tree and ever so gently hold down a lone green branch so that his parched, starving camel could gain some strength.

…too often [our] great generosity is triggered by a sudden event that garners significant news coverage: the Haiti earthquake or Japan tsunami. When disasters happen slowly — like a drought and famine — they’re less visible and get less of a response, but that doesn’t make them any less severe.

…the people who are living the drought are simply busy struggling to survive. In the Horn of Africa, that struggle has become increasingly severe. The call for aid has rarely been as urgent.

Don’t wait. Act now! The Hunger Site

Stop Somalia’s Tragedy

From AVAAZ.org: The World In Action.

Dear friends,

More than 2000 people are dying every day in Somalia, in a famine that threatens to starve more than eleven million people to death. Conflict between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab regime and world leaders has kept out aid that could end the famine. But a few key countries have the power to broker a deal to stop the suffering.

Sign the urgent petition for a humanitarian truce and forward to everyone: AVAAZ.ORG

The famine-hit area is governed by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist regime that is linked to terrorist groups. The isolation and conflict between Al-Shabaab, other local leaders, and the international community has kept out much of the aid and trade that could end the famine. But a few key countries, including the United Arab Emirates, still trade with Al-Shabaab — they have an opportunity to broker a deal with the regime and break the stalemate that threatens the survival of millions.

We cannot let the politics of the war on terror claim any more innocent lives. It’s time for the international community and Al-Shabaab to come to an agreement to immediately get food to the suffering Somali people. The UN Security Council is meeting in a few days — let’s demand that they take immediate action to support key Arab nations in an effort to open talks with Al-Shabaab on cooperating to end the famine and seize this chance for a long-term political solution.

Somalia’s government was destroyed in 2006 by a US-backed invasion which feared Islamic extremism. But the tactic backfired. Since then, even more radical groups like Al-Shabaab took over and brutalized most of Somalia, and the international community has propped up a corrupt government whose control is limited to parts of the capital. The policies of isolation, invasion and pressure in the war on terror have not helped anyone, and now thousands of Somalis are dying every day. It’s time for a new approach.

The US has already stepped up to tackle the crisis, relaxing anti-terrorism laws that blocked aid from reaching the Somali people in Al-Shabaab’s region. Meanwhile, there are growing cracks within insurgent groups, and some leaders are willing to let aid in. But it is not enough to break the wall that surrounds those hardest hit by famine. Only bold international diplomacy can engage with all key parties to ensure that relief safely reaches the hundreds of thousands of desperate families.

One of Al-Shabaab’s largest sources of income comes from cutting down acacia trees for charcoal, which they illegally export primarily to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. These nations could now leverage their economic ties to Al-Shabaab to play a crucial diplomatic role and guarantee humanitarian access to famine-stricken areas.

We urgently need a new direction for Somalia — let’s appeal to the UN Security Council to support key Gulf countries to lead mediation efforts to ensure that Somalis dying behind Al-Shabaab’s lines are able to access life-saving food and health care for themselves and their starving children.

Together, Avaaz members have ensured crucial aid was delivered in Burma, Haiti and Pakistan after natural disasters, saving thousands of lives. Now, as the world watches heartbreaking images of dying children in shock and horror, we can urge key countries to show the leadership the Somali people urgently need — let’s stand together now and help end the tragedy in Somalia.

With hope and determination,

Luis, Stephanie, Maria Paz, Emma, Ricken, Giulia, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

TAKE ACTION AT AVAAZ.ORG

Grateful Interdependence Day

Yes, in 1776 we declared independence from the English, but are we really independent? The prosperity the majority of Americans now enjoy, on this day of independence, has come about because of our dependence on millions of people throughout the world. Without the continuing supply of cheap labor from a stream of immigrants and the importation of sixty percent of the worlds’ resources, much of our perceived strength and image of self-reliance would collapse into a pile of deluded dust.

The food we stuff ourselves with daily; comes from a long line of inter-related, inter-dependent actions. Most Americans buy their food at a grocery store, but before it is placed on the counter, in the freezer or on the shelf, countless hands have touched, processed and grown the product we so easily consume. There are the truckers, the farmers, the packagers, landowners, farm workers, equipment, supplies and natural resources, to name but a few.

Our families depend on one another for safety, for health, for education, entertainment, recreation and personal enrichment. Our communities use the assistance of county, state and federal support for finances and security, which come from our neighbors’ taxes, time and contributions.

In spite of these realities, we cling to our separateness, our individuality, our belief that we must all “stand on our own two feet”, “pull up our bootstraps”; be different from “all the rest”.

Sickness, loss and death tend to shatter these illusions. When you’ve had a loved one die, taken care of an ill family member or needed care from others, it’s nearly impossible to remain independent, yet many, including myself, try to “go it alone” and find it difficult to accept help from others. We’ve been so ingrained with the idea of self-reliance that it feels like pulling teeth to ask for or accept help from another.

I often hear from clients that one of the most painful transitions and the most surprising, is how difficult it was for they or their loved one, to ask for or receive assistance and care. To accept someone’s help implied weakness, debt, dependency and shame. It’s OK to give to and care for others (and the sense of control that provides), but it’s not OK to receive or accept the same care from another?

I don’t wish to imply that independence, self-reliance and self-determination are not valuable or important qualities for personal and societal survival . . . they are . . . but at what cost? Must we wait until we’re so sick we can hardly move, so overwhelmed we don’t know what to do next, or in great emotional and/or physical pain, before we remember how close and inter-dependent we all are? Can we use the 4th of July as a reminder not only to celebrate our independence and sovereignty, but also our connection with and gratitude for the lands’, nations’ and peoples’ with whom’ we share this planet?

Orphanage Kitchen Complete!

A new and much needed kitchen at ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda was just completed.

Last week the ribbon was cut and ROP’s much needed new kitchen was officially opened for use. The construction was funded by Line Loen and her Metamorfose organization. Line visited the Center earlier this year and upon seeing the old kitchen, with its smoke damage, inefficient open fires and crumbling walls, decided to sponsor a new, safer and more efficient facility. She partnered with Manna Energy, based in Colorado, who funded and constructed the large “rocket stove” that is used to cook the large amount of beans and corn meal the boys consume every day. Metamorfose contributed funding for the bulk of the project, including sinks for washing food and hands before eating and three smaller stoves for cooking vegetables and other food.

Line, a very strong sponsor of the ROP, wanted to construct the new kitchen to promote cleaner cooking, better hygiene, better health conditions for the cooks and to reduce our firewood costs. Emmanual Habimana, one of the Center’s cooks, shared his happiness with the new kitchen. “We can cook more food, and cook it faster. Mostly, though, we can see what we’re doing and we can breath, thanks to the smokeless stoves and ventilation.”

Surviving in Time of Crisis

Here is the beginning of a very important article by Alison Rose Levy at the Huffington Post.

What You Need to Survive in an Age of Crisis

In this special blog, I’ll share with you what my 30-year survey of the most powerful, little known and guaranteed health interventions has revealed.

There is no pill you can swallow, food you can buy, nor gizmo that confers complete protection from pervasive toxicity, skewed societal consensus or invisible radiation. There’s no place you can go, nowhere you can hide and no authority — scientific, medical or spiritual — who can help you to escape what we’ve all created (or allowed to happen) here on planet Earth. Whether you are rich, poor, young, old, sick, healthy, right or left, no health manna, rural organic garden, island dwelling, nor spiritual belief can give you, me or us an out if we keep on screwing up.

Unless we turn around and heal the disconnect that allows us to misguidedly pursue personal goals, without sufficient care for the health of our society and the earth, than it’s likely our health problems will go from bad to worse.

If facing this sad reality seems disheartening, don’t worry — a lot of us are in the same boat. It’s called planet Earth. We’re worried about it, and we can use your help. Health-conscious people need to do more than take potassium iodide; we need to take action.

However, if this truth is too uncomfortable, or violates your subscription to the All Good News, All the Time network, then retreat to whatever offers you temporary relief. We’ll still be right here when you get back.

Lots of people send me their suggestions and questions, not to mention their latest e-books and requests to blog on The Huffington Post. In the current crisis, they either want, or give, answers: Isn’t it over yet? Are we sure? Take this — no, take that. Don’t take anything. We’ll tell you what to take, and when.

One email boosts a superfood, another social activism, while a third person despairs that industries disseminating toxins or radiation don’t seem to care about the gradual, ongoing, cumulative pollution of our bodies, our waterways and our world by their stuff.

People tell me they feel helpless, believing that they’ve no more influence than a mosquito buzzing round an impervious colossus.

I agree that it’s scary to go from the supposed certainty of taking a pill (or an attitude adjustment) to the uncertainty of stepping up to social activism. Unlike other corners of our market-driven society, restoring skewed societal priorities comes with no guarantees.

COMPLETE ARTICLE AT HUFFINGTON POST

Eco Tourism In Rwanda

When most people think of Rwanda, the first two images that come to mind are usually Hotel Rwanda and the gorillas. If you asked them where in the country the gorillas reside (on the northern border of The Congo and Uganda) or when the genocide occurred, the majority of respondents must admit ignorance. If you told them the gorillas have been flourishing, as well as the country, they may think you are pulling their leg. Sixteen years since the 1994 genocide and several decades after the murder of Dian Fossey is a tiny blip in historical time, but centuries in the changes that have occurred in Rwanda.

In a country known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is becoming increasingly known for its environmental policies, gender equality, stable government and breathtaking beauty. Positive internal and international support for protecting and expanding the parks and educating the people living in the surrounding towns and villages, has been nurtured, supported and expanded. There are now over 700 mountain gorillas (minus the recent killings of several gorilla families in the Democratic Republic of Congo) living in an area that once saw them close to extinction. But how has this rapid change and growth been impacting those directly involved, both those in the tourist industry and those living in communities that surround the Volcanoes National Park, where the gorillas reside?

As we descended from the world-renown sanctuary (which includes the Dian Fossey Research Foundation) through the village of Sacola, a local farmer named Dagazay Ma replied to such questions by adamantly stating, “The tourists and park don’t help our family, but I think it is important to protect the gorillas and it gives hope for Rwanda.” Another man named Jimmy Ma leaned on his hoe at the corner of his field of vegetables and said, “The gorillas are very very important for our country because they help the country and local people. If you get the tourists, they buy from shops. Life has gotten better since more tourists arrived.” Jimmy has two sisters and one brother he helps support, as both his parents are no longer living. He is in his early twenties and says he goes to school during the week and works on the farm on weekends and evenings.

Our park guide Fidel, who has worked as a ranger at the park for 13 years, added, “A portion of your fee (500 U.S. per person) goes to fund community projects, schools and local arts and crafts. The stone wall around the park was made by local villagers who were paid for its construction.” The wall keeps buffalo from leaving the park and trampling the farmer’s fields, as well as providing a delineation point for the park boundaries. A portion of the fee also pays for the rangers, who are on 24 hour patrol throughout the park, as well as continuing research by the Dian Fossey Foundation and other conservation organizations (both national and international).

The majority of tourists arrive from America, England, France and neighboring African countries of Uganda, Congo, Burundi and Kenya. Kamanzi Alloys, who drove us from the Rwandan capital of Kigali to Ruhengari (the largest city in the north) said, “People in town like the money tourists bring into their shops. More and more people are learning English as a result. I learned English in school. Our country is safe and people are happier. Tourists go to the national park and Lake Kivu (on the western border of Rwanda) for all their natural beauty.”

Because of the current level of safety, government stability and support for the environment, numerous international businesses and non-governmental organizations are finding their way to Rwanda. It is centrally located, has one of the best communications systems in Africa, especially for wireless phone connections and has a political climate that has opened the door for investment and entrepreneurs. Some of the companies investing in Rwanda include Starbucks, Costco, Bechtel, Columbia Sportswear and Google. Rwanda is also one of the first countries to participate in the One Laptop Per Child Program that intends to provide a revolutionary new computer with internet access to every child in the country. Other nations and organizations have also committed funding for Rwanda’s energy needs, education and health care. All of the people involved with these agencies, companies and organizations bring goods, services and capital into the country. Combine that influx of capital with the money tourists spend on food, lodging, transportation, entertainment and merchandise and you can see why it would be difficult for most Rwandans to turn off the cash faucet and say “No”.

Even with this influx, not everyone is partaking of the bounty; not everything is “trickling down” or even started to flow. Less than five percent of the population has computers or internet access and the majority of this agriculturally driven economy are still poor farmers tilling every inch of land available. Rwanda is the most densely populated country per square mile in all of Africa. Thousands of orphans continue to live on the streets and the middle class are just beginning to see the benefits and climb out of poverty themselves.

Rwanda is not picture perfect, but for those directly and indirectly impacted by tourists visiting the Volcanoes National Park and the rare mountain gorillas within their midst, life is looking pretty good. Compared to the recent past, Rwanda is becoming a Shangri-la in the middle of Africa and all of those involved in the tourist industry are climbing aboard, holding on to and leading the tourist’s coattails, with hope for continued prosperity and a better tomorrow.

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