Happy Holidays from FWA!

Happy Holidays, Friends!

A world of hope…peace…love…joy.   That is my wish for you—and for all people—this holiday season.  Together, we celebrate the possibility of a world free of war and injustice.

Each year, we at the Friends Women’s Association know that whether people around the world remember and celebrate the miracle of the burning oil, the birth of the “prince of peace,” or light returning to the world, the annual holiday season calls us to reclaim and give voice to this dream for the world.  Here in Kamenge we work every day through challenges and obstacles to make the dream real in the lives of women and children.

This holiday season, you can make a unique contribution to our work.  With our recent accreditation as a Centre du Sante, we are in the process of expanding our medical services to include pre- and peri-natal care, skilled attendants at delivery, minor surgeries, and a mobile HIV testing unit.  We will also conduct a baseline health survey of the Kamenge community and implement an electronic medical records system that will allow us to better track patient and population health.

Claire Kamugisha and Gisele Misago are two of our nurses and are critical to this work. Since Claire began working with FWA in 2003, she has personally provided consultation to over 7,000 patients.  She is also in charge of planning how mothers and newly identified HIV+ patients from our expansion will be incorporated into our psychosocial programs (home visits, microfinance, gardening, and nutrition programs).

Gisele has only been a member of the FWA staff for one year, but is one of the most well-known faces to our patients.  She lives only a block away from the FWA clinic and responds to patients seeking medical attention in the middle of the night.  She also coordinates the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, ensuring that we don’t face a stock rupture of critically needed medications or materials.

This holiday season, your contribution to the Friends Women’s Association will help us raise $6,000 to support staff members like Claire and Gisele. FWA’s staff members are faces of hope in Kamenge.  They give their time, energy, and love to help women improve their health and well-being.  Yet the cost of living in Bujumbura has gone beyond what we are currently able to pay them.   This is our opportunity to give back to the people who provide so much hope, love, peace, and joy to the population of Kamenge.

In honor of your support, if you make a donation of $25 or more this holiday season, we’ll send you or your loved one a holiday card handmade by a local income generating project for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Donations can be made by clicking here.  This site will take you to the Friends Peace Team’s giving website “Just Give.”  Please make sure you “Designate Your Donation” to “FWA Clinic” and include you or your loved one’s name and address so we know where to send your card! Checks should be made out to “Friends Peace Teams/AGLI” with a memo notation of “FWA Clinic” and sent to 1001 Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104.

With many thanks and holiday wishes,

Me and the rest of the FWA Staff

 

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FWA October Report

Hello Friends!

Haven’t felt updated on FWA in a while?  Read the FWA October Report which gives you information on all of FWA’s most recent activities.

Peace,

alex

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Some Interesting Articles

Hello Friends,

It’s been a while since I last wrote, as per my usual busy schedule.  But in addition to the October Report I’m about to post, I wanted to share a couple of articles that have captured my attention as of late:

First, as I’m sure you’ve all heard, the Pope has approved condom use in certain cases!!  While his original statement only mentioned homosexual men, a recent interview shows that condom use will be approved in some heterosexual cases too!  While not enough as far as I’m concerned, this is a huge step forward by the Catholic church and is being  met with applause in Burundi and across the continent.  Read about it here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/world/europe/24pope.html?ref=world

A new clinical trial with homosexual men in 6 countries on 4 continents shows that adhering to a daily prophylaxis of Truvada, an antiretroviral therapy, could reduce HIV transmission in as high as 90% of cases! This is amazing…tho has yet to be tested with women, who biologically have higher risk of transmission than men.  However, researchers believe the prophylaxis will have similar results among women as the ARV attacks the virus in the blood, rather than through a vaginal microbiocide.  Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/health/research/24aids.html?ref=health

Finally, PTSD is beginning to get greater attention in the medical community.  While the truth is that trauma has gone in and out of “fashion” for over 100 years, this article begins to recognize that trauma is much more common…and much more real…than previously believed.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/health/23voices.html?ref=health

Happy reading, friends!

Peace,

alex

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How big is Africa? Really.

Yesterday some friends and I watched the movie “The Visitor” (nice film which also stars my heartthrob Haaz Sleiman ).  There’s this great scene in the film where a middle-aged white woman approaches Zainab (the girlfriend) and asks where she is from.  When Zainab responds “Senegal,” the woman then says “Oh, my daughter was in Cape Town once.”  After the woman leaves, the Israeli sitting next to Zainab turns to her and ask, “And exactly how far away is Senegal from South Africa?”  She responds, “About 8000 km.”

I could not even count the number of times I’ve had this sort of experience since moving to Burundi.  “You live in Africa?  I know someone who went there once. How is African culture?”

A lot of you have probably heard me talk about this before…but how big is Africa really?  The map below hung in one of our lecture halls at Mac….it puts things in perspective.

How big is Africa?

Centuries of colonialism and Euro-centrocism have distorted how we see the world.  Maps have been made to privilege Western cultures… another good basis for how to think of the world is that when you’re looking at a map, remember that Greenland (836,330 sq. m) is actually roughly the size of Mexico (761,605 sq. m).  Not 7x larger as its commonly displayed on the well known Mercator Map (see below).

Mercator World Map

An article I read recently calls this distortion and complete unawareness of people “immappacy.”  The author says, “In addition to the well known social issues of illiteracy and innumeracy, there also should be such a concept as “immappacy,” meaning insufficient geographical knowledge.”

I would add “poorly taught geographical knowledge.”

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I need your opinion: which do you like best?

Hey hey!

So FWA is in the process of creating a new logo.  Given we don’t have the funds to hire a graphic designer (tho a dear Kenyan friend–Mahmood Juma, aka “Snoop”– has been helping out with the design…asante sana mi araña…and my old colleague Rich Jeong with the tech stuff..thanks!), yours truly is trying her best.  Here are some of my attempts.

Please comment below about whether or not you like the abstract mother/child image.  If so, which color scheme/style do you like best?  Otherwise, what ideas would you have?

Thanks!

-alex

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Listening to Displaced Rape Survivors

Hello friends!

So once again I’ve been out of touch for a few weeks.  For those of you who I’ve talked to by other means, you know that part of the reason for my absence is that I’d traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to do the evaluation of another of AGLI’s programs, the Listening to Displaced Rape Survivors Project.

Here’s the report if you are interested.

Listening to Displaced Rape Survivors Project: 1-year Progress Report

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Seeking a Mac…

Hello friends!

We’re in need of an Apple laptop!  If you or anyone you know is thinking of replacing their Mac between now and Christmas, please let me know!  We’d be happy to make good use of it!

In January, a family friend and videographer–Kwame Braun– is planning to come to Burundi to make an information video about FWA that can be used to aid with fundraising and promotion.  He’s also bringing a small camera to leave at the clinic and plans to train the staff in basic video editing…that way we can send you all new video updates via YouTube and other similar programs!  But while Kwame’s got the software, we need a Mac which the staff can use to do their editing!

Thanks for your help in finding us a donated Mac!

Peace,

alex

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