Catholic Church-inspired organisations discuss lack of involvement among men in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission By Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS and Francesca Matera, Geneva delegation volunteer In many countries, pregnant women must seek permission from their husbands before accessing a simple HIV test that could be the determining factor for future health, illness or even death, both for themselves and their babies. Some women do not return for their test results because they fear the negative, or even violent, reactions of their husbands should the test be positive for HIV. And some HIV-positive women refuse to avail themselves of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes, again out of fear of male reactions and rejection from the extended family.
It is 7:30pm, in Amatlan, in the province of Cordoba Veracruz. The train whistle blows in the distance. In Norma Romero Vazquez' kitchen, headquarters of the "Patronas ", women bustle about.. Carmen, 90, the oldest of the women in the family, takes a crate filled with bags of food. Along with her daughters and granddaughters, Carmen goes to the railway that passes about ten meters away from her house. Over a distance of a kilometer, the fifteen women share the crates out between themselves. When the light of the train appears, they get as close as possible to the tracks and stretch out their arms laden with food bags. "God bless you", cry the migrants aboard the goods train. In a few minutes, the train has gone. Back to Norma's kitchen. For over 15 years, Carmen, Norma and the others have been handing out food, clothing and medicines to the migrants on [...]
By Helen Blakesley and Caritas Internationalis staff American Caritas member Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Niger (SECADEV) and its partners are mobilising emergency water, hygiene and sanitation facilities to meet the urgent needs of thousands of Malian refugees in neighbouring Niger. Fighting in northern Mali between the army and a rebel group has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. Nearly half have stayed in Mali, and the others have crossed borders seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. According to the United Nations, around 25,000 people have crossed into Niger since the end of January—two-thirds of them Malian refugees and a third, Nigeriens. An estimated 500 people are arriving every day. Most of the refugees are living in open-air shelters made of blankets stretched over sticks. They face extreme temperatures—the heat of the day and then cold at night—in the Sahelien desert zone. Many came on foot, leaving behind most […]
By Laura Sheahen “Aden, my oldest son, was four years old. He was watching our goats,” says Ahada, a Somali woman in her early twenties. “Men with guns came and wanted the animals. Aden shouted, ‘Don’t take our goats!’” Ahada’s small son was caught in the midst of the chaotic, seemingly never-ending war in Somalia. Armed bandits, militias and other violent groups terrorize the country’s rural population, who are mostly nomadic herdsmen. Children are not spared. Aden wasn’t. Aden was shot and killed in the midst of a drought that was leading to famine. Ahada’s husband was also killed by militants. After that she knew she had to flee. She’d heard of a country called Kenya, so she took her two children there, crossing the border. Thousands of other mothers were making the journey as well. Thirty-year-old Hawa, a mother of seven, was eight months pregnant as she walked for ten days, carrying [...]
By David Snyder You are not expecting rain when you come to cover a drought. But that’s what I found when I stepped off of the plane here Sunday—and what I have seen each day since. Rain. Looking around at the green of the hillsides, you could easily be fooled about the real problems facing the people here. But it doesn’t take much digging to learn how much trouble looms, where the rain now falling comes far too late to avert a crisis for as more than 11 million people. I spent yesterday visiting several projects around Dira Dawa A, a zone of eastern Ethiopia that has been hard hit by the failure earlier this year of the first of the country’s two rainy seasons. With the failure of the short rains, which normally fall from February to June, millions were unable to gather a harvest. Worse still, they were unable [...]
By Laura Sheahen, Death by starvation, death by lions and hyenas or death by armed bandits. Which do you pick? For refugees streaming out of Somalia, there’s no luxury of choice. They’re facing all three. Carrying babies in front and toddlers piggyback, clutching small plastic bags of belongings, thousands of Somalis are trudging barefoot for dozens or hundreds of miles. For months, as no rains fell in their homeland, they watched their cattle and goats die of thirst and hunger. Their stocks of corn or flour ran out, and they watched their children growing thinner and weaker. Finally, they gave up hoping that something would change and they left. They travel in groups of about 50 because danger is all around them: ambushes by men with guns are common in the area. So when they see something threatening in the distance, they run for what cover they can find—not easy in empty [...]
In the United States, Catholic hospitals, medical centers and health care centers came together in 1915 to form the Catholic Health Association (CHA). Its goal was to support one another in the ministry to the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. Today CHA remains dedicated to serving the nation's Catholic health care organisations and supporting the strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. CHA is also a leader in the United States regarding environmental issues, especially the “greening” of hospitals. You are invited to see their publications, inviting and challenging Catholic health institutions to become better stewards of the environment. In a recent publication entitled Environmental Sustainability: Getting Started Guide, CHA provides some great Green Tips. Here are some tips related to leadership: Green tip: What does leadership look like? Announces policies Develops an environmental mission Encourages dialogue Promotes/publicises your successes Develops an executive sustainability dashboard Identifies a lead person and committee structure for sustainability activity Apply for awards Develops a [...]