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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 Binta Diallo

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

Nine months ago, Haiti was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake affecting as many as 3 million people.  Immediately, aid organizations and governments from around the world responded to this disaster by providing medical attention, food, shelter, and safe drinking water.  There was such an enormous effort in helping the country; immediate support and help coming from students and young adults from around the world.

After the earthquake hit, I started to come up with fundraiser ideas for the student body once I returned back to school.  About two days after everyone returned from winter break, my inbox was flooded by students proposing service and fundraiser ideas.  Food drives, dance-a-thons, bake sales, concerts, anything you name it was sitting in my inbox waiting to be read and executed!  I was excited to see that my fellow peers were ready to get involved. 

Okay, so many of you may be wondering what does this have to do with global health?  With every natural disaster, there are many health issues that arise.  In the case of Haiti, plenty of health issues arose such as concern for safe drinking water, malnutrition, infection and disease.  Although, it was almost impossible to physically go to Haiti to help with the efforts, students around the nation and world participated in various ways.  They worked with international organizations, their schools, their communities; all in hopes to make sure that they were doing as much as possible.  Without the efforts and help for the youth, students, young adults, there would have been a much different turn out. 

I am going to leave you with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Until next time, think about how you can change the world, you have the power!

My name is Binta Diallo and I am a St. Mary’s College of Maryland 2010 alum.  I majored in Studies of Developing Countries and International Public Policy!  I am looking to go to medical school within the next few years and then work as a physician in developing countries.  Global health is one of my biggest passions, it is absolutely fascinating and by increasing the involvement of students around the country and world huge differences will happen!

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

A quandary in advocacy today is that many young people do not relate to HIV/AIDS nor diseases prominent in underdeveloped nations such as malaria and tuberculosis. People know more about the diseases that matter to them. In past several decades public health initiatives and improved quality of life have reduced once widespread cases of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis are now considered minority related diseases particularly linked with poverty with devastating consequences in underdeveloped nations. Meanwhile, good access to healthcare in our nation allows our society to better manage HIV/AIDS cases and virtually avoid malaria and tuberculosis.

HIV/AIDS,malaria and tuberculosis are major issues targeted in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to halt the spread of global disease epidemics by 2015. With MDG summit taking place from September 20th – 22nd, it is becoming even more important that students take active roles in advocating and educating their peers about the MDGs.

An inspiring aspect of students is their capacity to be empowered by knowledge to take action. Students nationwide have hosted AIDS benefits and awareness rallies. In New York, students have banded together with their families,
teachers, and peers to join in annual AIDS Walks. Youth can be great leaders so long as they are equipped with knowledge. A major role young people can play today is to continue expanding and increasing their actions that promote awareness and understanding of global diseases.

William Tsang is a Psychology and Cognitive Science double major at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In recent years, he has had the opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS in both academic and humanitarian arenas. He is excited to be an issue analyst for HIV/AIDS  and to work with AIDemocracy to empower students who can make a difference.  You readers out there are encouraged to send him an email for any questions, but be sure to call him Billy!

Hello fellow AIDemocracy followers! I’m AIDemocracy’s new Global Development Intern, Noor Khalidi. I’m very excited to be on board this summer, to be learning more about social justice advocacy, and to be delivering you interesting news and reflections within the field of global development.

A little about myself—I am a junior at Virginia Tech studying Economics and International Studies. I began my college career very devoted to environmental issues, primarily due to a class I took my freshman year which exposed the frightening impact of modern human civilization on our Earth and its resources.

While my passion for environmental issues still burns, I have slowly begun to gravitate towards issues of global development and poverty alleviation. Earlier this summer, I traveled to Nicaragua as part of a Virginia Tech field study to learn more about approaches to sustainable development in poor rural communities–communities without running water and electricity, for example.

During my time in Nicaragua, I lived in two villages with very generous host families in modest adobe mud homes, filled with many chickens and a pig or two if lucky.  Through the international organization Green Empowerment and their local partner AsoFenix, I learned about low-impact sustainable development projects such as greywater filters and solar water pumps.

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Thoughts from the workshop:  “Youth of Color: Understanding Disparities in Sexual Health Outcomes”

At 15, many teens are entering high school, worrying about getting a date to homecoming and are trying to defeat algebra. That stereotype is far from real for 9.1 million youth ages 15 to 24. This is the number of persons affected by STD’s each year.

At this astonishing rate, young adults are coming to terms with the result of early sexual encounters, without the protection they need.

Due to unique barriers, such as urban sprawl, sexual taboos and support towards abstinence only, youth face a frightening reality: a lack of knowledge about sex, and how to protect oneself.

Youth of color are most at risk. Latina and Black women between the ages of 13 to 24  have over 75% of HIV/AIDS reported. For males, the Gonorreah rate surpasses that of white males by 41%.

This occurrence is not by coincidence. Health is greatly affected by social inequality and prejudice. Oppressed groups are more likely to experience poverty, lack of better education and creates loss of self-esteem in the individual. This leads to terrible circumstances.

But what can be done?

The harsh reality lies in ourselves. We must  work to create better sex education for youth, lessening the sexual taboo, looking beyond stereotypes, and ensuring access to information and services.

For more information, see Advocates for Youth: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/

Yesterday I wrote about the Global Gag Rule and its effects on abortion rights and services around the world. What I didn’t write about was the Helms Amendment,  which has been in effect since 1973 – it followed right on the heels of Roe v. Wade as a conservative backlash to the legalization of abortion in the US.  The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of US foreign assistance funds to pay for “abortion as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortion.” Although this amendment is slightly less far-reaching than the Gag Rule, it also has a huge detrimental effect on the availability of safe abortion services to women around the world. Currently, approximately 67,000 women worldwide die each year as a result of unsafe abortions, and millions more are seriously injured. Check out this article by IPAS to get a better idea of how the Helms Amendment violates human rights and inhibits other nations’ efforts to provide abortion services in their own countries.

The Helms Amendment is the Foreign Policy equivalent of the Hyde Amendment,  a domestic policy which prohibits federal funding from being used to pay for abortion. Read the rest of this entry »

Post by Claude Joseph, Brooklyn College.

The CARE’s National Conference 2010 is the most far-reaching event that I have participated in in the past three years. The reasons are twofold: first of all, it approached the eradication of global poverty with a paradigm focused on empowering women. Since women are the cornerstone of any society, this approach is, in my opinion, the best one. I was so proud to meet Her Excellency Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Her Excellency Ida Odinga, wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya–two women who are committed to play a significant role in the fight against global poverty.  I had the opportunity to chat briefly with these two venerable women about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit my country, Haiti, on January 12, 2010. In this short meeting, I realized how deeply struck they were by what was happening in Haiti, despite being an ocean away.

Secondly, thanks to this conference, I have joined the CARE Action Network, a social network of great magnitude in terms of people who are committing their lives to the struggle for a better world. I am proud to join these people who welcome each other with open-minds and share their experiences on many subjects.

Also, it is worthwhile to mention that the CARE conference inspired me to further engage with the Haitian Youth Leaders’ Symposium, held in Haiti last week, where more than two thousand young people gathered to discuss reconstruction efforts.

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In my previous post I introduced you to our AID Chapter at Western Kentucky University, and told you about our work on Foreign Assistance Reform. I failed to mention our other large focus this past semester, how silly of me!

This Spring we worked with a Professor, Dr. Saundra Ardrey, to create a course called “Grassroots Resistance in the 20th/21st Century.” We used the course to explore previous methods of grassroots organizing and change to enhance our organizing for the future. While we initially set out to have the class deal with foreign assistance reform as well, an opportunity presented itself to try and affect real change in a unique way.

Dr. Charles McGruder, a professor at WKU and world renowned physicist, brought to our attention an exciting project for both science and development called the Square Kilometer Array.  Here’s a little background from the abstract we are presenting to Congress:

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is an exciting scientific endeavor; it will be the world’s largest radio telescope comprised of three thousand dishes capable of new science in the search for answers to life’s big questions, including the birth of our universe. The international consortium working to bring SKA to life is currently debating the host country for the project, with South Africa and Australia being the potential recipients. While both sites meet the technological and geographical requirements, South Africa and the eight partner countries on the African continent that will host parts of SKA, will see many benefits in terms of alleviating poverty and spurring development. The Square Kilometer Array is an opportunity for a new approach to development, offering a way to advance science and humanity at the same time. The promise of investment in vital areas such as education, technology, and infrastructure, including a massive expansion of high-speed Internet access, will aid these countries in overcoming problems and advancing development.

Now us “Hilltoppers” from WKU are headed to the “Hill” in Washington, D.C. this week to present a proposal we drafted urging Congress to take steps to encourage the International Consortium in charge of placing SKA to choose the African bid. We have drafted a sample resolution of support that we hope to get introduced to Congress, but we are looking also for advice and support on the best ways to act to support the South African bid.

I will keep you all posted on what happens on our journey.

“Cause you can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery” – Paul Schickler, President of Pioneer Hi-Bred

This week I had the privilege of attending the release of Feed the Future (FTF), the Obama Administration’s strategy to address global hunger and food insecurity. Approximately 300 senior leaders from the Administration, Congress, and the business, policy, and NGO communities packed into the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel to hear USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah unveil the Administration’s plan.

With more than a billion people – one sixth of the world’s population – now suffering from chronic hunger, the U.S. is stepping up its game. At the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy last summer, President Obama pledged $3.5 billion over three years (to be leveraged in conjunction with the more than $18.5 billion pledged by fellow heads of state) to “scale up” U.S. investments and impact towards achieving Millennium Development Goal #1: Eradicating Extreme Hunger and Poverty.

Some of us have expressed skepticism with respect to the Administration’s initiative and the Global Food Security Act in the past: namely with respect to money earmarked for corporate biotech research and U.S. investments being funneled through “multi-lateral” institutions such as the World Bank.

While those concerns remain, I want to take a moment to highlight the points of this plan that deserve applause:

  • FTF puts addressing global hunger and poverty back at the forefront of the US foreign policy agenda
  • FTF supports country-led strategies, supporting effective governments and active citizens’ efforts in determining which goals to pursue and how to allocate resources

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Hi Everyone!  Just in from two great days at the 2010 CARE National Conference here in Washington, D.C.  We’ll have some more personalized news coming to you soon.  In the meantime, check out these videos of Senator Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, and Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and what they had to say regarding CARE and the “necessary trouble” of fighting global poverty.

Keep your eyes out for AID staff and interns in this one!

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