What's all this then?

Many aid workers keep online journals called web logs, or "blogs" for short. Blogs tend to be very personal, to present unabashedly biased opinions and to be much less formal than an organization's web site. Blogs are sometimes provocative, and some may make you feel uncomfortable -- you certainly won't agree with everything you read in blogs, including those produced by aid workers.

The AWN blog portal presents a range of aid worker-produced blogs from around the world. However, AWN is not responsible for the content of any of these blogs, and inclusion here on the AWN blog portal in no way endorses their content by AWN. If you disagree with what a blog has presented, by all means, write the blog author ("blogger") directly and let him or her know what you think.

If you would like to submit a blog by an aid, relief or development worker, please complete this form.

What do (cutting-edge, leading, academic) development economists do?

Roving bandit - April 3, 2014 - 7:17pm
Apparently not what developing country policy-makers want to know about. Jeffrey Hammer has a fairly damning report from the recent IGC conference in Lahore on the World Bank blog. The IGC funds research by many of the world's top development economists, and apparently none of them are answering the kind of policy questions that were posed at the conference by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan (a state of more than 100 million people). He wanted to know about how to allocate resources across sectors (which requires value for money and cost-benefit analysis, not just impact evaluation), and how to raise more revenues. What he got was precisely identified studies on the impact of policy tweaks, without any costing. "The Chief Minister posed serious questions that have traditionally been the bread and butter of the economics profession. Unfortunately, we are not even trying to answer them any more. The specific question was “Should I put more money into transport? Infrastructure (power, roads, water)? Law and order? Social services? Or what? And where am I going to get the money?” What questions could be more solidly part of the core of economics than these? Unfortunately none of these were even remotely the focus of the “evidence-based” policy making discussed. Almost all of the cases analyzed were single, simple policy “tweaks” that were, first of all, isolated from the broader market context in which they occurred and, second, had no conception of opportunity cost – what we would have to give up to pursue these things?"
Categories: AidBlogs

LTHF is Looking for Board Members

Let them have faces - April 2, 2014 - 8:35pm
LTHF exists to empower the local community to prevent violence and care for those affected. We desire for all people affected by violence to have a prosperous life in a communal society. LTHF is currently looking for board members in the Colorado Springs area. We are especially looking for those with a finance, fundraising, social enterprise and/or marketing experience.
LTHF received its 501(c)3 in December and wants to increase its work in the community. LTHF works mostly in the area of care and advocacy and focuses on personal violence issues (including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse and human trafficking). We also work closely with the foster care system, realizing that personal violence is interconnected and we cannot make strides in one area without consideration for the others. Through education and awareness, we seek to decrease stigma and stereotypes, ultimately creating a safe place for those affected to speak up and share their experiences.
Go here for a description of what we are looking for. If you are interested or have questions, please contact us at Amanda(at)

Categories: AidBlogs

What do development economists do?

Roving bandit - April 1, 2014 - 3:29pm
A series of youtube interviews profiling the careers of 6 development economists; Angela Ambroz (IGC, former ODI fellow & JPAL), Luca Pellerano (OPM and IFS), Peter D'Souza (DFID), Sarah Lilley (Save the Children), Henry Mphwanthe (ODI fellow), and Aarushi Bhatnagar (Phd student and World Bank consultant).
Categories: AidBlogs

Run for a Cause

Let them have faces - March 31, 2014 - 4:00pm
Our friends at the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado are participating in the Bringing Hope Run on May 3rd, at America the Beautiful Park. Bringing Hope Run benefits organizations locally and internationally who are committed freedom!  We want to help the Take Force have the most runners at the event and receive a grant for their work.
We are trying to get all of our friends to come out, support the Task Force and complete a 5K. Register before April 15th (make sure to choose the Task Force) and register for the 5K. Then email us and we’ll bring a LTHF t-shirt for you the day of the race!

Categories: AidBlogs

International Women’s Day

Let them have faces - March 28, 2014 - 6:33pm
On March 8th 140 men and women gathered together to celebrate International Women’s Day. They heard the stories of four incredible, local women, working to end personal violence. Through stories of loss and triumph from eastern Africa to here in Colorado Springs, we learned more about resiliency and how it really does take a community to end violence against women.
Violence against women takes on many forms and can be masked in ways we cannot imagine. From the emotional abuse to honour killings and rape as a weapon of war, violence against any woman is violence against all humanity.
Some interesting notes to come out of the day:
  • Education for girls decreases early marriage, obstetric fistulas, and human trafficking. It leads to smaller families, increased family income, and decreases in poverty.
  • The majority of those trafficked are men for labor exploitation.
  • There is a strong relationship between the number of female legislators in a state’s congress and the funding available for victims of trafficking. However, the most effective examples are the ones in which female legislators pull in their male counterparts and get their buy in.
We cannot let personal violence become a niched women’s issue. Far too many see these issues as things that only affect women. We have allowed the discussion and the response to become too female driven. That is to say, we need to remember that violence affects men and women, that both men and women are perpetrators and that if we want to end it, we need to create a complete community response.
As we talk about what we know with others, let us remember and advocate that personal violence is a human rights issue. It does not just affect one group of people, it affects all of us.
“You are the hope God created for others” ~ Doris Rivera-Black
Categories: AidBlogs

The hanger

Street kids in Vietnam - March 28, 2014 - 4:43pm

Every week, Blue Dragon's Street Outreach team meets new kids who are in complicated and dangerous situations on the streets of Hanoi. Many are the target of traffickers, which is a relatively new phenomenon for the city; boys as well as girls face serious exploitation unless they get help quickly.

One boy, "Vu," was in such a situation when we met him almost 2 years ago, aged 13.

His family loved him very much, but several complexities lead him to leaving home and taking to the streets, where he immediately became a target for traffickers. Although Vu met Blue Dragon's Outreach workers, he was in such a state of despair that he didn't know who to trust. And then he vanished.

About a year later, he resurfaced. He was taller and seemed physically healthy, but his face belied the truth. Vu had been through a year of hell.

Even now, Vu says almost nothing about what happened during that year. But we know enough to understand the deep pain he lives with. One comfort is that, thanks to Blue Dragon's work with the Vietnamese police, 2 of the main people responsible for his 'year of hell' now live in prison cells.

Most of the trafficked boys who we work with act out their pain by getting in to all sorts of trouble. Not a week goes by that one of them doesn't get caught by the police for some minor violation... or come to tell us that their girlfriend is pregnant... or drops out of school for a few days. But not Vu. He quietly and smilingly goes about making friends with everyone at Blue Dragon. He tries to blend in, to be like everyone else, but when he thinks nobody is looking the pain returns to his eyes and the sorrow is etched into his face.

However, in the past week, Vu has achieved two major milestones: he has returned to school, and returned for a visit to his family home.

Going back to school was a way of declaring that he has healed. It took him all this time, but finally Vu told us that he was ready to get back to his studies. He didn't want to go to a 'special' school, either; he wanted to go back to a mainstream secondary school. With the school year nearly over, his timing wasn't great, but the school generously agreed for him to sit in on classes as a way of preparing for the new school year in September.

And then came Vu's next pronouncement: he wanted to visit his family.

Since leaving several years ago, Vu has not stepped foot back in his home. He's gotten progressively closer, though. Some months ago he agreed for Blue Dragon staff to accompany him home... but at the last minute couldn't bring himself to do it. So after a 200km drive, he hid in the car while the staff went and spoke with his father and grandfather.

Then at Lunar New Year he almost went home again... This time, he went to the nearest village to his home, called his father to come and have tea, and then returned to Hanoi. That was a 12 hour round-trip for a 30 minute drink.

But today Vu did it. He returned home, dressed in his school uniform so that everyone could see he's a 'normal' kid.

I was both fortunate and proud that Vu asked me to go along with him on this trip. These days I rarely get to go on such journeys myself: rightly so, it's my Vietnamese colleagues who accompany kids on their family business. But when Vu invited me to join him, I immediately agreed. I knew how important this journey was.

It was a long trip to get there, and Vu was nervous along the way; but once home, those worries melted away. Today was also the death anniversary of Vu's grandmother, so many relatives and neighbours had gathered at his family home. Having Vu return - with a foreigner in tow! - was a huge event for everybody.

A meal was prepared, and lots of typical 'family gathering' stuff going on, but there were also many touching moments, discretely held. Perhaps the most beautiful was when Vu's grandfather, 87 years old and hard of hearing, sat by Vu and tearfully encouraged him to work hard at school, always do his best, and remember his family when he (the grandfather) is gone.

Vu was shy about me taking photos at the house, but I took this one of a home-made clothes hanger in the yard. It struck me because I'd never seen one before. With so little money and resources, this family simply could not afford any luxuries, such as hangers for their clothes. So they made this one, out of a stick and some string.

Of itself, this hanger isn't particularly remarkable. But standing in Vu's home, seeing how little they have and how much they have all struggled, the hanger reminded me of just how unimportant 'things' are.

I have always seen hangers as basic household items. Yet for some families, they are a luxury; an unnecessary expense in the context of so many pressing needs.

For Vu's family, the list of needs is so long: hangers are surely last on that list. First and foremost is their need for family healing. Vu has been through such terrible times, but is now finding stability and thinking of the future. That's so much more important than having 'things.'

Life is starting to look good for Vu. He has a home with Blue Dragon; he's successfully returned to school; and he has re-established contact with his family. The reunion went so well that there's no doubt he can be confident to go back again any time.

Many struggles lay ahead, but I am optimistic of Vu's future. Maybe he doesn't have many 'things' to call his own, but as each day passes he has greater inner strength, and now he has started rebuilding a relationship with his family.

What could be more important?
Categories: AidBlogs

And We're Off

Paradox Uganda - March 28, 2014 - 8:21am

Please consider praying for us daily for the next two weeks.

This morning we are squeezing seven people, four small tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, a soccer and a rugby ball, homework, Bibles, ipod and speakers . . into the Landrover for a several thousand kilometer multi-country loop.  Kenya to Uganda to lead a 3-day meeting and spiritual refreshment retreat for the Bundibugyo Team (and Fort Portal), then two days to visit our old home.  Uganda to Rwanda to Burundi, to visit and encourage our two new teams in Kibuye and then Bujumbura.  Burundi back to Rwanda to visit friends of the mission who may want to open a new World Harvest field there.  Rwanda back through southern Uganda, and finally back to Kenya again.  Along the way we will be connecting with old friends, checking up on kids whom we have cared for nearly their whole lives who are now in various schools. We'll spend nights with a couple of missionaries and a couple African friends, we'll camp at least five of those nights in places where there is no where else to stay, and we'll have a handful of nights in guesthouses.  To cover this territory and be back to work in Kijabe in two weeks means we can't really linger.  It's a lot of distance.

Pray for wisdom as we meet with people who are tired, stressed, lonely, and in the throes of cross-cultural transition, or struggling with the overwhelming nature of need in remote places.  Pray for words and insight from the Holy Spirit as we teach about solitude, community, and ministry, and pray for people on the front lines of the spiritual battle.  Pray for love as we so desperately want to encourage these brave souls and lift their hearts.  Pray for creativity and communication as our kids spend time taking care of the younger missionary kids in these places, and hopefully provide a glimpse of hope for the young families that all shall be well.  Pray for grace with each other as we are cooped up in a no-frills car on no-frills roads.  Pray for safety as we dodge countless dangers.  Our first leg of the journey is on the A104 in Kenya, recently named one of the ten most dangerous roads in the world in terms of accidents and fatalities.  We'll cross borders six times, and each of those experiences can be fraught with shady rules, long lines, confusing processes, and unclear fees.

And could you pray for a little fun too?  This is Julia's last family road trip before graduation, perhaps her and Jack's and Acacia's last visit to their old home in Uganda for a long time.  Bethany Ferguson is joining Scott and me for the teaching and counseling and prayer ministry to our teams.  And the seventh person is Rich Kendall, a good friend of Jack's.  There isn't a lot of margin time for adventure, but we do have a night in a game park along the way twice.  Pray we would be refreshed by God's creation, and for humor and peace in our hearts.

Thanks for being our support team.  We have nothing to bring to these Ugandans, missionaries, teams, friends, other than what we have been given from God through you.
Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Regional Approaches

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
A new book entitled Regional Approaches to the Protection of Asylum Seekers: An International Legal Perspective was published this month by Ashgate. Here's part of the description:

"This book presents a comprehensive assessment of regional responses to the crisis in the asylum/refugee system and critically examines how different regions tackle the problem. The chapters consider the fundamental challenges which undermine an effective asylum process as well as regional difficulties with the various circumstances surrounding asylum seekers. With contributions on Africa, Europe, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East, and the Pacific, the collection strives to appreciate what informs each region’s approach to the asylum process and asks if there are issues common to every region and if regions can learn from one another."
Read the freely available introductory chapter for more information.

Other publications:

Cartagena +30 (Forced Migration Current Awareness, March 2014) [text]

"Out of Africa: Toward Regional Solutions for Internal Displacement," Brooklyn Journal of International Law, vol. 39, no. 1 (2014) [text via SSRN]

Refugee Protection and Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia:  A Fieldwork Report (Australian National University, March 2014) [text via Kaldor Centre]

"Regionalism: A Strategy for Dealing with Crisis Migration," Forced Migration Review, no. 45 (Feb. 2014) [open access]

Roundtable on Refugee Protection and International Migration in the Western Balkans: Suggestions for a Comprehensive Regional Approach, Vienna, 10-11 Dec. 2013 [info]

Tagged Publications.

Categories: AidBlogs

Tip of the Week! Promoting Discussion

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
Recently, I've come across several initiatives that aim to promote discussion of particular issues among academics, policymakers and practitioners by cross-linking different fora.  Here are a few examples:

Topic: The Globalization of High Seas Interdiction - Sale’s Legacy and Beyond (Opinio Juris) [access]
- "This past week, a group of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers gathered at Yale Law School to discuss the rise of maritime migrant interdiction as a border-policing paradigm of global significance. Thanks to the generosity of the editors at Opinio Juris, this online symposium will make those discussions available to a wider audience."

Topic: Humanitarian Action and Protection: Lessons from Sri Lanka (International Development Policy Journal) [access]
- "This policy debate section presents an initial discussion paper written either by a scholar or a policy-maker, followed by critical reactions from academics, reflective practitioners and other stakeholders in a constructive spirit. This debate can be pursued on the eJournal’s blog... ."

Topic: Introducing Myanmar in Transition? A Displacement Perspective (openDemocracy) [access]
- "Dr Kirsten McConnachie introduces a series of articles for openDemocracy which anticipate some of the key debates that will be under discussion at the Refugee Voices conference."

Resource: RRN Discussions (Refugee Research Network) [access]
- "Over the next few months, we will be holding a series of online discussions that address issues raised during various events (conferences, workshops, symposia) in a more in depth way than is traditionally available through the time constraints of a panel format and Q&A’s." Two currently planned discussions are: 1) Gender, Security and Access to Education in the Dadaab Refugee Camps, 26 March-9 April 2014; and 2) What Are the Implications of Human Rights for Our Understandings of Refugee Law?, 23 April-7 May 2014.

Resource: Urban Refugees Debate Forum ( [access]
- This Forum "offers an online space for discussion and interaction between practitioners, researchers, urban refugees and IDPs themselves, as well as the public at large. Our intention is to bring together diverse contributors and commentators to ensure a rich and forward looking debate." Contributors write articles and solicit feedback from users of the Forum. The most current contribution focuses on urban displacement in Libya.

Tagged Tips.

Categories: AidBlogs

Assessing UNHCR Policy and Guidance

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
UNHCR's recently launched Protection Manual makes it much easier to access - and assess - a wide variety of the organization's policy documents.  Two of these documents have been the subject of recent critiques:

UNHCR Issues New Guidelines on Temporary Protection. They Need a Rewrite (, March 2014) [text]
- In this blog post, Michael Kagan takes a close look at the "Guidelines on Temporary Protection or Stay Arrangements."  He concludes with "So, let’s please agree to call these Guidelines a rough draft. I’m sure the intentions were good. But please revise."

"The Dynamic of International Refugee Law," International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 25, no. 4 (Dec. 2013) [extract]
- On pp. 658-61, Guy Goodwin-Gill provides an analysis of "Claims to Refugee Status related to Military Service within the Context of Article 1A (2) of the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees," similarly determining that "it is perhaps best to see these December 2013 Guidelines more as a work in progress... ."

Note: IJRL has published other articles that analyze UNHCR guidance; recent examples have focused on sexual orientation (see preprint on SSRN; also note that this guidance has since been superseded) and human trafficking (the full-text of this article can be accessed via FMO; scroll to vol. 19).

Tagged Publications.

Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Health

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
"An Exploratory Trial Implementing a Community-based Child Oral Health Promotion Intervention for Australian Families from Refugee and Migrant Backgrounds: A Protocol Paper for Teeth Tales," BMJ Open, vol. 4, no. 3 (March 2014) [open access]

"High-risk Sex and Displacement among Refugees and Surrounding Populations in 10 Countries: The Need for Integrating Interventions," AIDS, vol. 28, no. 5 (March 2014) [eprint via UNHCR]

"Implementation of New TB Screening Requirements for U.S.-bound Immigrants and Refugees – 2007-2014," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 63, no. 11 (21 March 2014) [full-text]

"Irish Midwives’ Experiences of Providing Maternity Care to Non-Irish Women Seeking Asylum," International Journal of Women's Health, vol. 6 (Jan. 2014) [open access]

Revisiting Therapeutic Governance: The Politics of Mental Health and Psychosocial Programmes in Humanitarian Settings, Working Paper, no. 98 (RSC, March 2014) [text]

"Spinal Cord Injury in the Emergency Context: Review of Program Outcomes of a Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program in Sri Lanka," Conflict and Health, 8:4 (March 2014) [open access]

"Suicide and Self-harm Prevention for People in Immigration Detention," Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 199, no. 11 (Dec. 2013) [full-text]

Related post:
- Thematic Focus: Health (3 March 2014)

Tagged Publications
Categories: AidBlogs

Events & Opportunities: April 2014

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
CFP: Refugee Protection Outside of the International Legal Framework: Expanding Cross-national and Cross-disciplinary Collaborations, Evanston, IL, 27-28 May 2014 [info]
- Deadline for abstracts is 1 April 2014.

FY 2014 Funding Opportunity Announcement for NGO Programs Benefiting Refugees in South Sudan [info]
 - Proposal submission deadline is 3 April 2014.

5th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights, Bangkok, 2-4 September 2014 [info]
 - This year's theme is "Building a Framework for Regional Protection"; the registration deadline is 14 April 2014.

CFP: Refugees and Migrants: Unaccompanied Children in Britain 1914-2014, Southampton, UK, 17-18 July 2014 [info]
 - Submit abstracts by 15 April 2014.

Migrating in, Migrating out: How to (Re)think "Migrants'" Struggles, Sofia, 8-9 May 2014 [info]
 - Abstract deadline is 15 April 2014.

Crisis of Humanitarianism / Humanitarianism in Crisis Conference, Chicago, 25-26 April 2014 [info]
- Register by 16 April 2014.

Second Postgraduate Workshop on Refugee Law, London, 25 April 2014 [info]
 - Registration deadline is 16 April 2014.

FY 2014 Funding Opportunity Announcement for NGO Programs Benefiting Malian Refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger and Nigerian Refugees in Niger [info]
- Proposal submission deadline is 18 April 2014.

Refugee Rights Leadership Training, Geneva, 13-14 June 2014 [info]
 - Submit application by 21 April 2014.

Affect, Borders and Bordering, London, 28 April 2014 [info]
- CMRB seminar.

Related posts:
- News: Funding for Research Projects
- Regional Focus: Americas

Tagged Events & Opportunities.  
Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Detention

Forced migration blog - March 27, 2014 - 8:07am
Detention in Canada (Detention and Asylum Research Cluster, Sept. 2013) [text]

Dispatches: Malta Commits to Ending Detention of Migrant Children (Human Rights Watch, April 2014) [text]

France: Unaccompanied Children Detained at Borders (Human Rights Watch, April 2014) [text]

IDC Side Event at the UN Human Rights Council (IDC, March 2014) [access]

Invisible Suffering: Prolonged and Systematic Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Substandard Conditions in Greece (MSF, April 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

"Nauru Blocks UN Human Rights Delegation from Visiting Island: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was Prevented from Inspecting Australia's Offshore Detention Dentre," The Guardian, 9 April 2014 [text]

New Country Profiles (Global Detention Project, April 2014) [access]
- Profiles of Greece and Turkey now available.

Putting an End to Indefinite Detention on the Political Agenda (Migrants' Rights Network Blog, March 2014) [text]

UNHCR Seeking Access to Detained Asylum-seekers and Refugees in Nairobi (UNHCR, April 2014) [text]

Related post:
Thematic Focus: Detention (24 March 2014)

Tagged Publications.

Categories: AidBlogs

There is the sting

Paradox Uganda - March 26, 2014 - 5:51am
This has been a rough spell in the ICU.  Severe viral pneumonias with shock, overwhelming sepsis, has claimed the lives of at least five patients.  Mostly these have been normal healthy kids who get a little vomiting and diarrhea, start to cough, come in and then within a few days are fighting for their lives.  In spite of being on a ventilator, getting pressors to support blood pressure, antibiotics which aren't much use, constant monitoring, they just have been crashing and dying.  
So when the sixth one was admitted, I realized I was subconsciously detached.  I watched him following the same pattern.  I knew he was going to die.  And I just wasn't ready for one more.  I informed his mother of his lack of progress, his increasing illness, several times on Monday.  But I wasn't getting attached, wasn't getting my hopes up.  He stopped moving, stopped breathing much, letting the machine do it all, stopped responding to pain or touch. Then she leaned over to talk to him, to see if she could get any response.  "Jack,"  she pleaded, willing him to open his eyes, "Jack."  My objective distance went right out the window.  I knew his name was Jackson, but hearing her call him by the same name I call my youngest, just went straight to my heart.  I learned that her own mother had died last week. They buried her Friday, just as Jack got sick.  Her husband disappeared from the scene, unreachable by phone.  She had come to the hospital expecting a quick check of a normal fever, and now she was losing her second close family member in a few days.
On Tuesday afternoon I noticed visitors, and offered to meet with all of them in the conference room to update them on Jack's situation, which was dire.  I wanted her to hear the worst when she had a rare window of emotional and spiritual support.  The nurse did a great job helping me go through the details of his case with the stoic group of a half dozen ladies, all with head scarves and matronly clothes, kind faces that have seen too much pain, encouraging words.  I talked about the book of Job, and how Jack's mother was not guilty, how God is looking for faith in impossible circumstances, how we can't explain and make sense of all the hurts in a fallen world.  Together we decided to take him off the vent while this supportive group of aunties prayed and waited.  We put Jack in his mother's arms, and she held him as he breathed is final gasp.  
It was a good death, a good process, full of community and holiness and love.  But the sting was still there.  Hope, yes.  But the painful prick of reality, of a world broken, of the innocent dying, of unexpected loss, still jabs.  Come, Lord Jesus.
Categories: AidBlogs

They're back!!

Paradox Uganda - March 25, 2014 - 8:51pm
Thanks to Mr. Daubenmeier we have Julia photos.  She has crashed in bed asleep, but all three are full of amazing stories of elephants, dust, rapids, rock climbing, cliff dives, bungee jumping, languages, service, tree planting, markets, playing with kids, swimming with dolphins, hiking in forests, trying new languages, kayaking, spices, waves, drawing water from wells.  It was fantastic.  Perhaps photos from the other trips will appear later, but in the meantime here's Jules.

Categories: AidBlogs

Blessings of community and rest

Paradox Uganda - March 25, 2014 - 5:33am
Last night the Medical Officer Interns treated us to dinner they cooked themselves.  In two weeks they will have completed their grueling year of internship, rotating through medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and surgery for 3 months each. We have spent countless hours up at night with these cheerful learners, and days on rounds, giving lectures, demonstrating, counseling, praying, encouraging.  Now they are anticipating being launched on their own to government hospitals.  We will miss them A LOT, and we were blessed an honored by their goodbye.

 Dear friend Karen Masso celebrated her birthday on Sunday in her NEW HOME.  We are so thankful to have the Massos as neighbors once again.  The world is back in balance.  Michael made Karen this picnic table for their front porch.  He will be creating a community development curriculum for Moffat Bible College, and they will still support the South Sudan team with trips, fundraising, advice, and encouragement.

The kids are on "interims", week-long trips around East Africa where a dozen or so students and some staff disperse to learn about Kenya's varied cultures, and learn about God as they face new challenges.  Julia is pictured here with her tiny backpack and sleeping bag, heading out for a week of biking around Mt. Kenya.  Jack is with the Samburu people in the north, and Acacia learning about coastal culture in Zanzibar.  So Scott and I had our own "interim" this weekend.  That's a giraffe you see behind us on a walking safari near Lake Naivasha, and we biked at Hell's Gate national park.  We had a true sabbath of rest for 48 hours at a nearby resort on the lake, and it was Heavenly, literally.  
Now it's back to intubated kids and blood and reports and stress, but we are very thankful for our community here, and for time together that gives us staying power to press on.
Categories: AidBlogs

Kijabe Needy Children's Fund

Paradox Uganda - March 25, 2014 - 5:14am
Meet Beatrice, a precious baby girl who was born not only prematurely but also with a blocked intestine, a place where the gut had failed to form.  She was transferred to Kijabe where she had emergency surgery, weeks of intravenous feeding, percolating in an incubator, fighting infection, on the verge of survival.  At last she was strong enough to be fully corrected surgically and begin to breast feed.  Last week she went home with a prognosis for a long and normal life.  The odds of her survival in Kenya being born 2 months early would have been 1 in 4 most places.  Add to that her surgical emergency, and it probably goes up to 1 in 100.  So it was a day of rejoicing when she was ready for discharge.  Her family was able to raise about $350, but her total bill was about $2,500.  Even with a subsidy from the Bethany Kids surgical fund, she was still left with about $1000 unpaid.  This is where the Kijabe Needy Children's Fund comes in.   This fund was established years ago as a way to sponsor care for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford it, a way to keep Kijabe Hospital running when the excellent care provided would be otherwise uncompensated.  We are a church hospital that has to pay the laboratory technicians, the round-the-clock expert nurses, the records clerks and kitchen cooks and maintenance personnel.  We have to buy the expensive antibiotics, and generate the oxygen and electricity.  Saving a baby like Beatrice costs money.  It costs only a small fraction of what it would cost in many countries.  About half our physician staff are missionaries, so all our supporters already subsidize this care by subtracting the need to pay us salaries.  But paying the Kenyan staff and maintaining the enormous physical plant and providing the equipment and medicine takes funds.

Last year God provided $40,000 and we spent every penny helping over a hundred Needy kids.  In 2014 already, the fund has received and disbursed over $4,000.  It is exciting to see a family right here in Kenya hand me an envelope of cash that exactly covered the bill for a young twin with malnutrition and a severe injury, or a church from Tennessee write and send just the amount Beatrice needed.  Our chaplains and finance office work with us to identify the patients who are truly in need.  The money flows in and out in pretty divinely matched proportions.  This is a picture of Mary, who has spent 33 days in the ICU.  She has Guillan-Barre syndrome, a temporary paralysis that would result in death in most places in Kenya.  But if we can support her breathing for a month or two, she should fully recover.  She got a tracheostomy two weeks into her course, and just yesterday she came off the ventilator to breathe on her own for the first time in a month.  She's starting to wiggle her shoulders a bit more.  She still has weeks to go before she can leave, and months before she can walk and run and play.  All that care will bring a hefty bill that her mother will need help to pay.
Thanks to brilliant Ann Mara, the fund is now much easier to donate to.  There is a paypal account associated with the hospital, and the money (after a very small admin fee of 3% or less is subtracted) comes directly to the account.  Then we paediatricians with the chaplains and finance office decide which patients need it the most, and it is transferred directly to cover their bills.  If you or your group want to raise money for kids in need of medical care, here is the link for sending it: It is the second project on the list, code NCF-1. (Meanwhile take a look around our Kijabe Hopsital website which Ann also worked hard to create!)
God promises to bless those who care for the widow and the orphan.  This is something close to His heart.  And I thank those that support us personally and the other doctors here, which is equally important in providing this low-cost and effective care.  We depend upon you, and are grateful.

Categories: AidBlogs

Lent and the Precious Exhauster

Paradox Uganda - March 25, 2014 - 4:42am
A couple of weeks ago, we noticed a foul smell around our house.  Suffice it to say that many years of occupancy had backed up the plumbing and our septic system was overwhelmed.  Enter the Precious Exhauster.  A team of men and this truck pulled into the yard and basically sucked all the years of muck out of the buried tanks.  They inserted a huge hose, turned on pumps, and within half an hour all those years of waste were emptied.  Then some hospital workers opened up the system and washed things through.  It was a pretty disgusting reveal of just what is under those concrete covers, but a huge relief.
This is the season of Lent, one that I did not grow up with but have come to appreciate as an intentional rhythm of the year of worship.  We are half-way through a period that precedes Easter with 40 days of seeking God, modeled after several Biblical examples of fasting and prayer.  Elijah and Jesus fled to the desert, and threw themselves upon God's provision alone.  Lent is a time to fast from that which we normally depend upon, to clear space, to focus intention. To prepare for new ways that God is moving and working, to align our hearts to that purpose.  

The exhauster truck reminds me that my heart needs to be cleared out.  Petty thoughts, jealousies, disappointments, failures, poor choices, conflicts, selfishness, festering wounds, these all percolate, sometimes hidden, flushed, covered.  Until there is no more hiding the seeping sewage.  Jesus doesn't just spray some deodorizer; He offers a complete cleaning.  When we fast from something that distracts or numbs, we come face to face with the reality of our need for radical solutions.  And holding onto our sewage would be as absurd as protesting this crew and accusing them of stealing our property.  The good news is that Jesus offers continual cleaning, creating space for something that is better, sweet, pure.  Our family is reading Wright's meditations for Lent based on Matthew, which starts with the challenge towards humble willingness to be open to new ways God might work, new paths He might call us to, bringing new Kingdom values into a world that is full of muck.  I fear emptiness, the empty nest which looms, the emptiness of transition, of loss, of grief, of aging, of inadequacy.  But this Lent I'm challenged to faith that emptying is creating space for something as startling as redemption, for something as precious as God himself.

Categories: AidBlogs

Horrific account of two women who escaped from Boko Haram

My Liberia blog - March 24, 2014 - 3:29pm

A horrific account of two women who escaped from Boko Haram, by Will Ross:

“They were slitting people’s throats with knives. Both women and men were killed – especially the men who didn’t agree to fight for them,” she said.

“Those that tried to escape were shot but they hardly ever used their guns to kill. They usually used knives. About 50 people were killed right in front of me.”


“One of the captives stood up and said: ‘You only die once. Who is ready to make a run for it?’ Six of us jumped into one of the Boko Haram vehicles in the camp – a Volkswagen Golf.”

“They chased us on motorbikes, shooting at the car until we got close to Bama town. Then they left and we got out of the car to continue on foot as there was a curfew in place. It was only then that I realised the three people on the backseat had all been shot dead.”

On who Boko Haram members are:

One of the great fears people have today stems from not knowing exactly where Boko Haram has a presence in the country and whom you can trust.

A businessman from Borno state told me he had helped the Nigerian police arrest 11 Boko Haram members in the capital, Abuja.

Some working on market stalls, he believes, are sent to be the eyes and ears of the group. It is a worrying indication of Boko Haram’s desire to maintain a presence way beyond the north-east of the country.

Categories: AidBlogs

Teodorin Obiang’s 1991 ESL study

My Liberia blog - March 22, 2014 - 4:36pm

An excerpt from a 2013 US Department of Justice in rem lawsuit against property held by Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, alleging that Obiang purchased Michael Jackson memorabilia with funds acquired through abuse of public office:  (via EG Justice)

Full complaint here.

Categories: AidBlogs
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