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 [...]
By Sara Fajardo Women bent over handmade brooms sweep the streets of southern Sudan’s capital of Juba free of dust each morning. On the few miles of paved city roads, concrete road dividers are brightened with freshly planted flowers and saplings. The entry gates of buildings and homes boast fresh green paint. The rows of robust trees along the road that houses the majority of southern Sudan’s Ministry offices are adorned with bright white banners that read “Happy Independent Day.” Everywhere there are signs of Juba preparing to be ushered in as the world’s newest nation. Even the electoral countdown clock that once ticked away the hours left for southern Sudanese to cast their ballot for self-determination has been reconfigured to flash stats of the Republic of South Sudan’s pending nationhood: “East Africa’s newest nation #6, the United Nation’s Country #193 , Africa’s Youngest Nation.” Recycling bins and newly minted trash cans [...]
By Kim Pozniak When I arrived in South Sudan’s future capital Juba yesterday, the joyous preparations for independence were immediately apparent. Landing at the airport, another passenger pointed out the newly installed lights along the runway to allow for night flights. Everywhere you look there are small signs of progress. Driving along Juba’s bumpy, dusty roads, you see women cleaning the streets. Signs for the long expected independence have been put up along small storefronts, on crumbling walls and white washed tree trunks. Spending my first day in Juba, I spoke with many people about their hopes and dreams for the new nation. I want to tell you about two of them. Taban Benneth, 25, works as a driver for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and plans to see the celebrations firsthand so he can tell his children and grandchildren that he was there when the flag was raised for the first time. “I’m really happy [...]
Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, was in Agok as part of the Caritas response in Sudan that supports more than 100,000 people forced from their homes by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei. CRS is a Caritas member. The situation here in Agok is still very fluid. It’s been a few weeks since their displacement from Abyei, and you still see people coming and going. Some are leaving to go further south while others are arriving because they’ve heard from the government that it is safe to return. This is the planting season, so people are trying to make decisions about what they’re going to do over the next few months for food. It is important to them to be able to get seeds into the ground to harvest crops in the coming months. Their very livelihoods are in jeopardy. Markets here continue to be bare. [...]
Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, was in Agok as part of the Caritas response in Sudan that supports more than 100,000 people forced from their homes by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei. CRS is a Caritas member. One thing that has become apparent to me while working to meet the needs of those displaced from Abyei is that the Church’s presence really is a symbol of hope. A few Sundays ago during Mass, local parish priest, Fr. Biong gave a speech about helping people to rebuild their lives and the need for continued support during this difficult time. This is such an important message for everyone to hear: the displaced, host communities, and those working to help meet their needs. Priests like Fr. Biong help people to feel that they have not been abandoned. He continues to be with his people seeking refuge in Agok, [...]
The first miracle in Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala’s life happened when he was just a few months old. During a military raid on his village in southern Sudan, soldiers entered his family’s house and killed his mother and sister. They left baby Eduardo unharmed and didn’t burn down the house. Now, 47 years later, he is the Bishop of the Diocese of Tombura-Yambi, and he continues to devote his life to bringing peace to Sudan and to South Sudan which becomes an independent nation on 9 July. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be hosting a live chat with Bishop Kussala Stay with Sudan. Build a future on Wednesday, June 15 at 1 p.m. eastern time in the United States. Bishop Kussala will answer your questions about his life, the current situation in Sudan and his vision for the future of a new nation. Find out how to join in with the [...]
Available in French and Spanish by Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Coalition on Climate Change In an article appearing in U.S. Catholic magazine this coming month (April 2011—and posted in December 2010 online), I suggested that those of us in developed nations have an addiction to oil. To overcome this addiction, we might learn from the 12-step programmes that help other addicts: realizing our powerlessness over the problem; seeking a higher power to help overcome our weakness; and taking things “a day at a time” meaning that we should consider how our daily choices have consequences for a warming planet. What we buy, how we move, what we waste, how we conserve, how we spend our time: all of these things impact our planet and its people.
By Jessica Howell, Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a Caritas member) The early days of last August seemed fairly unremarkable for the small Pakistani village of Rajo Bhayo, until the Indus River – swollen from days of unending monsoon rains in the north – breached a protective embankment nearby and came swirling towards the village. Villagers had about an hour to prepare before the flood hit them. “We did not understand what was happening to us when the waters came,” says Soomri, a 75-year old mother of five and grandmother of 23. Panic ensued, with people fleeing to higher ground as quickly as they could, watching their entire village disappear under rapidly-rising water.