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The Upstream Journal

A magazine on social justice since 1975

Posts Tagged / africa

  • Mar 28 / 2014
  • 2
Journal

The critical voice of South Sudan: Mading Ngor

Mading Ngor was one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan who fled the infamous massacres of Darfur. He left his village in 1991, when his father was killed. He eventually arrived at a Kenyan refugee camp in 1995, where he remained until he got a visa for Canada in 2001. He went to high school in New Westminster, B.C., studied journalism at Edmonton’s Grant MacEwan University, and then earned his BA in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University in Victoria, when he co-founded a news website, New Sudan Vision. After a brief period working as a freelancer for the Calgary Herald in 2011, Mading returned to South Sudan and became a radio journalist on a popular morning show called Wake Up Juba! Today, he is an international correspondent with Reuters and The Huffington Post, as well as a production assistant with the BBC.

Growing up during the civil war and fleeing Sudan

You were born in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state in 1983. What was your childhood like?

A critical voice in a new country

A critical voice in a new country

My people are cattle rearing, so life around me when I was young was all about cattle because that’s the Dinka tradition. Even my name Mading is the name of a bull and most of the Dinka names are all about cattle. So I used to take care of the cattle, used to swim by a nearby lake and go hunting with my dog. To me it was a normal childhood. But that all changed when the massacre in 1991 happened in my village and changed my life irretrievably. Continue Reading

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  • Feb 01 / 2014
  • 0
Journal

Cocoa industry and child labour

“There’s something that is really unsavory and horrible about companies, and the people that run those companies, being able to be so wealthy at the top of the supply chain. But at the bottom you see a level of exploitation that is almost unmatched. Still, the chocolate industry is transforming, and a good portion of that transformation is due to consumer pressure.” – Sean Rudolph, Campaigns Director, International Labour Rights Forum

A boy drying cocoa beans.

A boy drying cocoa beans.

70% of the cocoa exported worldwide comes from West Africa, primarily from Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. More than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work in what the US Department of State calls one of the worst forms of child labour. 10,000 are estimated to be victims of human trafficking or enslavement.
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  • Jan 01 / 2014
  • 0
Journal

African countries take a hit in federal budget says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Excerpts from the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget 2013:

“Despite sometimes marginal increases in wealth, income is concentrated among a more wealthy minority and many people live precariously on the margins of poverty. Globalization and free trade may have brought with it growth in some parts of the world, but it certainly has not been equitable neither between countries and regions, nor within them.

Against this backdrop, Budget 2012 delivered a punishing message to the world’s poor. Between FY2011–12 and FY2014–15, Canadian aid is set to decrease by 7.6%, from $5 billion in 2011 to $4.66 billion in 2014–15.

Between 2011–12 and 2012–13 alone, it is estimated that Canada’s ODA will drop by almost $320 million, assuming no additional supplementary estimates in 2012–13. This is equivalent to the Canadian International. Continue Reading

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  • Jan 01 / 2012
  • 0
Journal

Chaining the mentally ill

A mentally ill boy

A mentally ill boy is held by restraints as a precaution against him turning violent, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

Across the islands of Indonesia, people commonly use iron shackles, wooden stocks and rope to restrain individuals with mental illnesses. This is known as pasung, and includes physical restraints and confinement.

Many nurses and mental health workers chain patients or place patients in seclusion rooms to establish a sense of order in hospitals. Fearing a family member with a mental illness, families use similar practices at home, often in emulation of the professionals in the hospitals.

Such treatment compromises the health of the mentally ill, argues Dr. Soumitra Pathare, a psychiatrist in Pune, India, and expert in human rights law and mental health. He has assisted several countries, including Indonesia, develop mental health policy and law. Continue Reading

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  • Sep 01 / 2010
  • 0
Journal

How we give A portrait of canada’s developmet aid now

Targeted, effective, accountable. These are the seemingly notable goals behind the dramatic reforms made in the last two years to the way Canada finances development assistance. The changes follow decades of calls from domestic and international think tanks to reform the old system, which gave a little slice of the pie to almost anyone who asked.

In the 1990s, Canada was operating in over 135 countries on a wide variety of issues, making it hard to gauge effectiveness or achieve large-scale results.
“All of the reforms are consistent with what the donor and NGO community have been telling CIDA for years – that it was too scattered and too top heavy,” says Stephen Baranyi, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies. So why is that same donor and NGO community up in arms over the results? Continue Reading

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  • May 10 / 2010
  • 0
Journal

The “walking dead”: Tanzania’s trade in the body parts of albino people

Albanism

Photos by- Rick Guidotti for Positive Exposure (photoexposure.org)

 

Known locally as the ‘walking dead,’ people with albinism are regarded with suspicion in Tanzania. Occult beliefs in the magical properties of albino body parts – used by witchdoctors for rituals thought to bring wealth and prosperity – have given rise to a series of albino murders.

The rapidly growing trade in albino body parts, which also targets children, is lucrative. Traders can sell albino limbs on the black market for $500 to $2000. It is estimated that this trade resulted in 60-70 murders in Tanzania in 2009.

Although the Tanzanian government has pledged to crack down on the gruesome industry, it admits that action has been slow because most of the attacks happen in rural areas where police forces are understaffed. As well, failure of the court system has meant that dozens of accused people have not been tried for the murders.

Peter Ash is the founder of the Canadian NGO “Under The Same Sun,” which provides advocacy and support for albino people in Tanzania. He says that of 57 reported murders, and 6 attacks in which victims lost limbs, in the last two years, there were convictions in only 2 cases. In neighbouring Burundi there were convictions in 12 of 14 cases. Government officials have blamed the slow progress on lack of funds, but Ash is not convinced.

“We are unaware of other capital murder cases that have been stopped due to lack of funds, we’ve never heard of that happening before,” he said. “We believe that it is due more to a lack of political will.” Continue Reading

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  • Mar 10 / 2010
  • 1
Journal

Orphanage corruption in Ghana: For the benefit of children?

ghana
While volunteering in Ghana, 22-year-old Jenna Macdonald from Tiverton, Ontario, was asked to buy 250 chickens and a coop for the children of Good Shepherd Orphanage. She had already paid an $800 “volunteer fee” and seen the orphanage administration refuse to pay fifty
Ghana cedis ($37 Cdn) for a young staff member’s malaria treatment, which resulted in his death.

“When I met with the orphanage owner, Bishop Kwaku Addei, he wanted me to give him $350 cash for the coop. I was apprehensive about that, but it always seemed to be money first and action later in Ghana.”

seated group
re there to help with the kids.”  The Good Shepherd Orphanage founder and director is Kwaku Addei, a bishop in the Great Word of God Church, which he also founded. He denies that the orphanage misuses volunteer funds and maintains that volunteers are generally happy with their experience. “There are good volunteers who come to the orphanage without any problems,” he said. “And there are some who only come here to criticize the work we are doing. Nobody gives me money for the upkeep of the children. Only some individuals and churches donate to support the children.

We pay electricity bills, teachers, and internet bills without any volunteer contributions. Young volunteers should not condemn what we are doing here.” However, Ian Nowosad is another volunteer like Jenna, who is concerned about mishandling of volunteers’ donations. While he was at Good Shepherd Orphanage, he gave the children’s primary caregiver, “Mama,” an extra five dollars every day so that she could buy them nutritious food. Ian worked at the orphanage for over six weeks and he never saw the kids’ meals improve. Continue Reading

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  • Nov 01 / 2009
  • 0
Journal

State-sponsored homophobia in Africa: fueling the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The names and images of gay and lesbian people interviewed cannot be disclosed because of fear of violence. This image is of Mpho Thaele, 19, an orphan who sells her body on the streets of Maseru, Lesotho.  Photo © Eva-Lotta Jansson/UN-OCHA IRIN and Red Cross

The names and images of gay and lesbian people interviewed cannot be disclosed because of fear of violence. This image is of Mpho Thaele, 19, an orphan who sells her body on the streets of Maseru, Lesotho. Photo © Eva-Lotta Jansson/UN-OCHA IRIN and Red Cross

 

“Gug” – short for “GayUganda” – maintains an internet blog where he writes about his life, giving personal anecdotes along with scathing commentaries about Uganda’s homophobic leadership. But he keeps his identity secret.
“Being with the man I love, I risk a life sentence, to make sure that the morals of the country are not destroyed by my “immorality,”

In Uganda, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is a crime punishable by life imprisonment. Authorities in many African nations would prefer to deny the existence of people like gug. Of 53 African countries, 38 have repressive government policies and sodomy laws that legitimize and encourage social discrimination, including unequal access to medical treatment.

This condemnation drives behavior underground, away from prevention and treatment services, thus increasing the risk of HIV transmission. It is fueling the epidemic on a continent that is already home to over 60 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS. Continue Reading

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  • Nov 01 / 2009
  • 0
Journal

Notes from the corridors

World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn speak with NGOs.  The reception hall featured a display of mannequins in fashion from around the world.  Photo: World Bank

World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn speak with NGOs. The reception hall featured a display of mannequins in fashion from around the world. Photo: World Bank

Wednesday

I arrive in Washington at noon, depressed as I consider the financial crisis and what it will mean for people in impoverished countries. It’s time for the main policy meetings of the World Bank and IMF, and NGOs like me take part in some of the dozens of meetings that are planned.

I take the metro from the airport to the guesthouse to drop off my bag, and within an hour I’m at my first session, on gender and income. It’s not a hopeful start. Money from production goes increasingly to corporate profit, and less to wages, and the financial bailouts are reinforcing inequalities. Continue Reading

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