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By Simone Oyekan
Simone is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Simone below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.
Yet, malaria is a treatable disease.
How do I know?
I’ve had it before.

I was 9 years old. If not for my families’ access to drugs, I may have been 1 of one million children that die each year.

Malaria is caused by an anopheles mosquito bite. The parasite that is transmitted by these mosquitoes multiplies in the liver and infects red blood cells. Symptoms can include a fever, vomiting, weakness and a headache. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

It’s easy to see why developed countries have a stake in international development. The more efficient countries such as Nigeria are, the more oil can be obtained. However, when the issue turns to malaria, it’s hard to explain exactly why we should care about malaria. The truth is that malaria can also affect developed economies. It has the potential to lower GDP, increase death mortality rates, lower the workforce and increase government spending in poorer countries. As the world becomes more globalized, one country’s problems will affect the rest of the international community.

Sometimes I believe people see malaria as something unsolvable and begin to accept it. For instance, while I was in Uganda, I contracted a stomach virus. When I told people that I was sick, the first thing people asked was if I had malaria. I had no symptoms whatsoever, but people (even the doctor in the hospital) jumped to the conclusion that I had to have it. For the record, I didn’t.

From the 1920’s to 1940’s, malaria existed in the American south. The Center for Disease Control and Read the rest of this entry »

By April Stewart
April is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about April below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Happiness is the name of a young girl I met in Usa River, Tanzania. She is four years old and loves orange Fanta and dancing. She and more than 30 of her friends live in an orphanage run by the Tanzania Millennium Hand Foundation. All of these children have been infected or affected by HIV, including Happiness. Happiness tested positive for HIV more than a year ago, which she contracted from her mother, who passed away from complications associated with AIDS.

Youth around the world are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The growing number of youth who are infected by this virus reiterates a need for a new perspective on this global issue. Youth posses the creativity and drive to inform their peers about HIV and lower the infection rate. Organizations around the world have targeted youth in safe sex campaigns and HIV/AIDS education, yet because of the diversity of cultures, religion, and location, programs that may work to reduce infection rates in one region of the world are ineffective in others. Youth’s voices should be incorporated into these organizations to provide tailored methods of dealing with HIV/AIDS in their specific region.This could be done through youth teaching seminars, where young adults become trained to teach their peers. This could be complimented with a youth summit in which those that educate their peers around the world could exchange creative teaching strategies.

Organizations, such as the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), work to incorporate youth in policy and programming decisions, empowering young people in a arena which has greatly affected the. With more organizations committed to giving youth a voice, children like Happiness will be represented in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

My name is April. I am a junior at Northwestern University where I study Social Policy. Getting involved in the fight against HIV has become a passion of mine since high school, when I volunteered for the Minnesota AIDS Project. Since then I have worked in Tanzania, Washington DC, Chicago and New York learning and teaching about this important issue.

By Sara Hooker
Sara is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Sara below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Dambisa Moyo, author of the book Dead Aid, made headlines for three reasons.  The first two were quite simply that she was a young black woman talking about foreign aid, an area whose academia and discussion is dominated by middle-aged white men.  The third reason she made headlines was that she advocated for no aid at all. She argued that the way aid was given to countries worsened their condition rather than improved it.

This is a point of view the US will never endorse, simply because inherent in the American psyche is a commitment to improve the human condition elsewhere. And it does this in vast quantities, committing $21 billion in 2005. However, even the US is starting to adjust to the changing face of aid. Barack Obama has acknowledged the need to be much more careful about how aid money is spent.

His first visit to the African continent was carefully chosen to be Ghana, a success story on the continent with relatively little corruption and a stable democracy. His white house convention of young African leaders on the 13th of August was praised as emphasizing new approaches to the continent as he warned that ‘sometimes the older leaders get into old habits.’ This all sends a strong message that the era of signing blank checks to corrupt regimes is over. Or is it?

US foreign aid is still crippled by its politics. In the Middle East, most obviously Iraq and Afghanistan it endorses corrupt regimes and fuels ethnic tensions by misappropriating aid. In Africa and Latin America it lacks the efficiency of Chinese infrastructure projects which have been praised for quickly building schools, roads and hospitals (although China’s generosity is ethically questionable).    

So what is the role of young people in this changing landscape? If the youth want a stronger voice they need to force the discussion from the boardrooms of huge inefficient multinational and government organizations to small NGO’s with innovative ideas and room for incorporating young people. The solution is not no aid as Moyo claims, but rather more intelligent aid, with more access for us the youth.

My name is Sara Hooker and I go to school at Carleton College, Minnesota. I am an international student here, originally Irish, but I spent most of my childhood in Southern Africa; in Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. I plan to major in International relations but also enjoy economics. I am really loving my time in the U.S and hope to visit at least 15 states by the time I graduate. I am currently on 5!  🙂

By Sydney Kornegay
Sydney is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Sydney below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Mwawi Nyirongo is an unexpected force, a woman whose stamina overshadows her stature. The fragile, five-foot Malawian doctor may not look strong, but after watching her work in rural Africa- nursing abandoned HIV/AIDS infants, treating malaria, and attending to the old, arthritic agogos in her village  – I was convinced. She’s a superhero.

Despite her endless energy, Mwawi is quick to admit she can’t do it all. “I have always believed that no man can work like an island if we want development,” she says. “The communities in Malawi really need others’ brilliant ideas.”

Mwawi’s statement underscores the need for individuals across the globe to combine perspectives, passions, and expertise in solving international issues. While Mwawi plays an important role as a front-line fieldworker, we as youth are vital in helping stimulate those new, “brilliant’ ideas that Mwawi is looking for.

We are the ones who can ask challenging questions of our governments, NGO’s, and communities. Through political advocacy and community mobilization, we can ask what can be done for the 11.6 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Sahara, or the 100 million street children across the globe. We can push these questions to the forefront of the political agenda on behalf of our peers in the developing world.

We can also serve as communicators. Through our access to and understanding of new media outlets and social networking, we can both ask questions and communicate solutions. We can educate ourselves about global health issues, and put a personal face to those problems for our friends and communities.

Finally, we can combine our ability to ask questions, access information, and communicate issues to a broader audience with the medical expertise of people like Mwawi. Through collaboration across cultures and generations, skill sets and knowledge bases, we can serve as another unexpected force.

As a senior Political Science Major at Davidson College, Sydney Kornegay believes that issues of global health, development, and social justice are best studied outside the classroom.  She has spent four summers working with an organization for HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi, Africa, and a semester studying and interning in development and women’s health in rural India. She enjoys exploring other cultures at home and abroad- either through travel, salsa dancing, or playing the African djembes. She believes students have the potential to be powerful sources of change in international issues, by educating themselves, their communities, and advocating for change.

By Michaela Maynard
Michaela is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Michaela below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

I don’t give it much thought when I pick up my birth control pills each month from the pharmacy.  I know that if I need them, I can walk to the store and buy condoms. On Tuesday nights, I watch MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.  As young Americans, we have the luxury of living in a society where reproductive health is accessible and topics like sex are becoming less taboo. Unfortunately, other countries in the world are not as progressive when it comes to issues surrounding sexual and reproductive health.

Each year, over 3 million females endure the dangerous tradition of female genital mutilation. At least 100,000 women every year are left incontinent and ostracized from their communities due to obstetric fistula.  Today, women account for almost half of the 33 million people living with HIV. This past May, the birth control pill turned 50 years old, yet many women don’t have access to contraception.

Barriers to women’s health are complicated, but the solution doesn’t have to be. In Malawi, Africa, Girl Guides are playing a role in improving the sexual and reproductive health of themselves and their peers. The Girl Guides Association is dedicated to teaching females about HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equality and safe sex practices, and inspiring young women to achieve their goals. Through education and empowerment the Girl Guides have the knowledge and the courage to make decisions about their health and their sex life, and little by little, they are establishing safer and better lives for themselves.  All women deserve this kind of girl power.

Michaela has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the George Washington University. She resides in Rhode Island where she is employed at a local hospital as a HIV/hepatitis C Clinical Research Assistant. In 2007, Michaela traveled to Malawi, Africa as the inaugural recipient of the Americans for UNFPA Student Award. She is an advocate for the health and rights of women all over the world.

A follow up post to the one below, also from the Food First blog.  A little long, but well worth it.

Africans Face Competing Visions of Agricultural Development at Critical Juncture
Posted May 20th, 2010 by rjonasse
By Richard Jonasse, Food First

Aid Collage

A contest of competing visions over the future of Agriculture is playing out across Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers’ organizations are lining up against an aid regime that threatens to swamp smallholders with purported “solutions” to which these farmers have not assented and do not desire.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great politicized poetry from Pambazuka News on aid, development and media coverage of Africa.  Thanks Maggie!

You don’t even have to read.  Just LISTEN!

http://www.pambazuka.org/media/PZ0011.mp3

Post by Gina del Tito, Dickinson College

I sat somewhat nervously in the empty Great Room, with a million thoughts swirling round in my mind, none of them really having to do with issues of development aid in Africa. They mostly had to do with the fact the it was ten minutes to seven o’clock, the time of the film showing, and there were only three people in the room: myself, the filmmaker and one other student. What was I thinking, trying to host an event on the first day of classes for the spring semester at Dickinson College, with a student body of only 2200 some students to begin with?

Clammy with sweat, I began to pace, and think about all of the people I had texted, emailed, threatened and sent facebook messages to. But I should not have been so worried. Like any average college student, everyone (nearly 100) streamed in, five minutes before the beginning of our presentation.

When I presented filmmaker Tim Klein and looked out at the packed room, I did not see faces of students I had specifically asked to come, it was people from all different disciplines and social circles. All there to try and gain some insight into the question so many of us, even non-development specialists, are asking: “What are we doing here?”

Read the rest of this entry »

We often forget that HIV/AIDS is not just a growing epidemic on other parts of the globe, but it is also an ever growing crisis that has also been plaguing America since the 1980s.  In 2006 the HIV virus was estimated by the Center for Disease Control to have infected 1.1 million people in the United States with the number of infections growing at a rate of 56,000 more Americans a year.  A recent study, conducted by the World Health Organization, concluded that AIDS is now the leading cause of death and disease for women between the ages of 15 and 44.  International AIDS Charity Avert estimated that there were 2 million children under the age of 15 in the world infected with HIV at the end of 2007. AIDS around the globe, including America, is a growing crisis that we as global citizens need to address.

Washington DC has the highest rate of AIDS of any city in the United States.   It is estimated that one In 33 DC residents is infected with HIV/AIDS giving DC an infection rate of 3%, though the number is believed to be higher.  According to The Washington Post, DC’s infection rate is comparable to San Francisco’s during the height of the AIDS epidemic and has double the infection rate of modern day New York City.  The Center for Disease Control views an infection rate of 1% to be a crisis yet the capital the United States has three times that number.

The nation’s capital is the perfect place to voice our concern and demand an ending to the epidemic, both in DC and abroad. During the start of the Obama administration, many promises regarding AIDS were made. Promises about increased global funding for US Global AIDS programs, access to affordable generic drugs in developing countries, and lifting the federal ban on federal funding of syringe exchange were all broken as none of the promises have materialized.

On December first, World AIDS day, Washington DC will urge the administration to follow through with their promises.  In an effort to inspire the US government to take action against the dire condition of the capital city, and in many places around the globe, DC Fights Back (www.dcfightsback.org), along with other groups including AIDemocracy, will be organizing a march/rally starting in Lafayette Park (the White House) at 12 pm and ending in Freedom Plaza at 2 pm.  The rally hopes to raise awareness of DC’s and the World’s AIDS crisis and inspire policy changes.

Interested in joining the rally? Just show up at the White House at 12pm on December first, OR for more information on joining the AIDemocracy team during the rally, contact Priti@aidemocracy.org.  On Facebook? You can RSVP for the rally and learn more about the issues there, visit: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=187734974082&ref=mf.


It had started off simple enough.

Two weeks ago, still relatively new in my position as a Northeast Regional Coordinator with AIDemocracy, I spent a few hours trawling through Social Edge and twitter. With an eye on global development and security, my goal was to discover what was being done already in the non-profit world, who was doing it best and who among these folk were the most open to collaboration.

I made a number of new friends: the people at Acumen Fund, Water Charity (not to be confused with charity:water), Be Unreasonable, Sangam India, CORD and Open Society Institute were fantastic right off the bat– They were engaging, interested and human. It was like a Utopian first day at school.

In the context of my new job and projects I had in mind, I needed to know what was being done in terms of technology support for non-profit outreach and education services. One name that came up regularly was Ken Banks, founder of Kiwanja.net

I had heard of Kiwanja in passing before, but didn’t know much about it’s main project FrontlineSMS, otherwise known as \o/ (Which, btw, is a design based on this fantastic visual here).

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before this Saturday, I had no idea who Ken Banks is as a person, and was as wary as a product of post-post-colonialism can be of anybody who does “non-profit work” in “Africa”. I was afraid I might run into yet another individual who’s working to “save Africa” just because that’s what Bono, the UN and everyone else is talking about right now.

[And if this is something that bothers you, Aid Watch has a great post on the issue here.]

I sent an email to Ken, one of those self-introduction/basic outline of project/can we chat sometime emails. You must remember that I moonlight as a writer: after all my experiences writing lit mag queries, I was prepared to face rejection or silence.

Read the rest of this entry »

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