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Mar-24-2011 00:20printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

Weekly update on the breaking stories in the African nations.

Children of Uganda
Children of Uganda. Photo courtesy: Hillsong Church

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Unseen, unheard; no one should be the bearer of these two words. Unfortunately, Africa is often in the forefront of this association.

Our common humanity should change this; we should never look away because it is too distant. Our commitment to one another, to human rights, and the ability to learn should always keep us connected no matter the severity and complexity of problems.

Important insights from last week, not to be missed:

National Immunization Days keep Somalia polio-free - On the eve of celebrating four years without polio in Somalia, the country kicks off National Immunization Days on Sunday 20 March, with a focus on ensuring that no eligible child is left unvaccinated during the three days of the campaign.

South Africa: A Female Citizen Asks – Are my Rights a Priority? - "Mummy I am so mad!" These were recently the words of my almost 15-year-old daughter (out of respect for her assertion that she is not 14 based on the scientific deduction that she is closer to 15). She had called to tell me that her dad's female friend had told her she would have difficulty finding a husband.

From an LRA camp to Harvard: The education of Survivor, Advocate Florence Apuri - Florence Apuri was in high school when she first understood the challenges of educating a girl in northern Uganda. The second of nine children, Florence grew up in a small village in northern Uganda that has experienced the terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. While in her third year of high school, Florence’s uncles brutally beat her father for sending her to school instead of giving her away to marriage so that she could earn a dowry for the family.

Africa: Agricultural Policy is Gender Policy - Eva, a Ghanian woman, was given five pigs and some training on how best to care for them. Eventually, her farm grew to 400 pigs and she was able to buy more land and a motorbike which she not only used for transporting her goods to market but for helping neighbours get to town and to hospital quicker.

Congolese victims of sexual violence call for help from international community - Marie* was first raped three years ago during a raid on her village that left her husband and 10 children dead – she was about 70 years old at the time.

Giving up your child to save her: a tale from Tunisia - With smooth features and a calm way about him, Abdullah Omar, 25, comes across as someone accustomed to hard choices. But the decision to send his one-year-old daughter back to war-ravaged Somalia, because he could not afford to support her, was one of the hardest he and his wife Khadija have ever faced.

Tanzania: New centers to boost Pediatric HIV care - Maria Pelula has looked after two HIV-positive orphans in the past and is now bringing up 12-year-old Adrian*, the orphaned son of a relative, in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. But she still does not know how to tackle the sensitive subject of testing Adrian for HIV.

South Africa: Activism Makes Inroads on “Corrective Rape” - he South African government has agreed to activist demands to address the increasingly common hate crime of "corrective rape", whereby lesbians are raped by men to "cure" them of their sexual orientation. Although statistics are lacking, gay advocacy groups estimate about 10 new cases of corrective rape occur every week in Cape Town, a city of 2.5 million.

Video: Eye Witness Recounts Razing of Village in Abyei in Sudan - The Enough Project has released a video statement from an eye witness of the razing of Maker Abior village who said he saw combatants wearing SAF uniforms as well as other armed actors. “Arabs attacked the village. Some were wearing SAF uniforms. Some were dressed like Janjaweed,” said Kuol Alor Kuol, a 73-year-old eye witness and resident of the village. “We will stay here because it is our land. This is our ancestors’ land.”

Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at:

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