allAfrica: African news and information for a global audience
Se Min Park's insight:
This article really hit me hard because although I'd seen many stories about child soldiers, none were as heartbreaking as this one. The way that Moses tells his story without flinching or with any reluctance-he just "tells" it. He should be able to have a normal life just like the other teenagers his age, but instead he's scarred for life because of some fight between adults. Moses say that things felt normal after a few weeks, evidence that the soldiers brainwashed him and all the other children. He also mentions the fact that the abductors targeted little kids, killing all the adults in front of them.
I felt really sad that kids nowadays (including me) think that wars are cool and fashionable-we even reenact them in games-whereas the kids that are recruited to fight are forced to do it in real life, where it's NOT fun. This article, just like my other ones helped me feel the anguish of the African children and the hardships they face at my age. It also helped me understand my topic of the English project a bit more.
In an apparent bid to combat HIV and teenage pregnancy in South Africa, one man is offering women cash rewards and medals for staying virgins.
Se Min Park's insight:
This particular text about South Africa is very short and somewhat boring. However, it was an interesting piece of information about the country, because it helped me figure out the seriousness of the situation of HIV and AIDS in it. HIV is passed on through the sharing of internal fluids of the body by different ways, one of which being sex. However, the women of South Africa have difficulty maintaining their virginity as rape and child marriage by/with HIV patients are so prone in the nation. The state is growing so bad that a man is paying women to stay virgin so that the HIV rates will depreciate over time, with his own money. Of course, staying virgin should be a choice for all people, but for women in Africa, it is not such an easy thing. This also leads to child brides-parents will think twice before sending their daughters off only for money.
I personally think that this idea is a genius idea for women and for reducing the rates of HIV in the country, although it does sound like a lot of money for one person to handle. Nonetheless it is a very well-planned strategy, a very new one as well in my opinion as it covers two major problems at once-child marriage and HIV and AIDS.
When I first heard about this matter (child marriage) I thought "So? A lot of people get married young. No big deal!". Now, I know better than I did. Child marriage is prone in all parts of the world, but Africa (especially South and Central) could be called the pinnacle of the activity, like the Mecca is for Muslims. It usually happens because the lack of money to support for one's family and it is often the women that have to take the responsibility to make it (money)-it is closely related to the financial state of the family. Although not all girls end as depressed, used and out on the street, most of the times this is the case for them. More than 50% of the girls in Africa are married before the age of 18 and pregnancy is the leading cause of death in the adolescent years, not suicide or murders.
This issue is definitely an ongoing, growing matter, but just like other serious matters in Africa the citizens and various organizations are trying to stop it by educating the families or funding them. One other way the people protested was by making movie about it. "Tall as the Baobab Tree" is a film that portrays a poor family in Senegal that have no choice but to send their youngest girl into matrimony to save their boy. It shows how devastating the event can be for a girl and it is so realistic because actual victims played as the people in the script.
The fact that this horrible thing can't be stopped even after a film was made about it really brought tears to my eyes because the girls were losing a chance to live their OWN lives, at my age. Their freedom was taken away from them against their will and they died (die) trying to fulfill their "husbands'" wishes. I was angry, terrified and so thankful at the same time. One of those girls, could have been me. While they're out there getting abused and raped, I'm here, trying to figure out what to wear tomorrow for school. It made me feel guilty and just so relieved that it was't me. I now know what I should do to stop this matter. Maybe I can't help directly, but I can always fund them in other ways such as donating clothes or money to a nearby organization or orphanage. I actually teared up reading this article and I realized how lucky I was to be Se Min.
Learn about the water crisis facing South Africa. Read about some of the causes and the differences found from one part of South Africa to another.
Se Min Park's insight:
Water is an important factor of life and ALL organisms require it in order to survive. However, not all are able to access it, especially in South Africa. South Africa is notorious for its lack of water, but the problems are currently worsening as more than 5 million lack water in the country. Although it has one of the most effective cleaning water systems in the world, the lack of water and sanitation are increasing the death rate from simple, easily curabe water borne diseases. Another thing that isn't helping the crisis are the poor built dams-some are breaking down and some haven't even been started! Lastly, as the situation is becoming just unbearable, people are starting to steal water and distribute it illegally.
Thankfully, there are many organizations that are starting to realize the terrible situation and are trying to stop it. They build wells and taps in areas that lack clean water so the villagers have an easier chance of drinking fresh water. After reading this, I really think that even if I can't donate money, I should still save water because the crisis is serious-it's not going to fix itself. It helped me understand the severety of the crisis and what I should and could do to help stop it.
Christian Aid has produced an exhibition to share the stories of some of the survivors of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.
Se Min Park's insight:
There are many beautiful and inspiring stories that one will come across in their lives and this was definitely one that brought tears into my eyes. It explained a large, global issue about soldiers so vividly, even though the witnesses only spoke a few words. In many countries, child soldiers are a big problem. It’s not a problem just in Africa or some Asian countries; it happens in Europe as well-just a little bit more in Uganda on a larger scale. Additionally, it’s not only the boys who get abducted, but the girls as well, to use as sex slaves.
This article is about a personal story of Norman, who was taken at a young age to serve as a child soldier in the LRA. Norman shared his painful experience of being a child soldier and the problems the children /he had to face to reintegrate with his own village. He also confessed about having to take the lives of his own family members in order to survive himself, which was and is a way to brainwash the children to make into killing machines. He told to the world how brutal the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony were and what terrible things he and the other kids were forced to do. Hearing this, The Christian Aid produced an exhibition to tell the whole world about Norman’s story and these heartbreaking incidents called “Kony’s Shadow”. This exhibition showed the once healthy and bright young children now living in broken lives because of Joseph Kony’s inhumane abduction plans for his army.
The reason why this article melted my heart a little bit was the fact that the children had to shoot their own family to live and save themselves, to “harden up”, to be brainwashed. I couldn’t imagine the mixture of feelings that they went through before pressing the trigger, or when they were rejected by their own communities for what they didn’t mean to do. It definitely has to be stopped-children deserve to be children, to be silly and just “kids”. It’s a human right to able to have free access to non-violent conditions and it’s obviously being violated in Uganda. This article really made me think about the privileges I had in my own life and about having to be thankful for it.
Africa is known for its cultural beliefs and eccentric rituals, but this particular one takes it to a whole new level. In the World Cup of 2006 held in Germany, Ghana won Brazil 3-0 in a football game. We all know that the audience prayed for their own team to win, but the country of Ghana went a bit extreme by using witchcraft. Apparently, these practices are usually very arcane and secretive, but it appears that the concept is very common in football in Africa. Although nowadays people say that the custom has deteriorated and so not many soccer clubs use it, but a German documentary filmmaker Oliver Becker assumes that Ghana did. He claims that because Soccer is the most preferred sport in Africa and many citizens are superstitious, the two factors must relate somehow, just like having religious leaders perform Juju rituals to promote a victory.
After reading this article, I thought that it was very amusing how far traditions and culture could control, could manipulate one's life so easily, even though that life is and will be incorporated with so many other secular, worldly events. I also got to understand what a big part of Africa witchcraft is and additionally I thought it was very interesting that Ghana actually used it for a game with another country.
Have you heard about the new superhero, ARV? “If he saves one child’s life I will be happy,” says Elexis Schloss. “But I am told he has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Se Min Park's insight:
HIV is a serious disease anywhere around the world, especially in Africa. It stands for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus" and it destroys one's immune system gradually, thus making you vulnerable even to a common cold. It spreads through the liquids in the patient's body that passes on to another human being through various methods of contact, such as breast milk or saliva. Unfortunately, Africa is a continent that is teeming with this particular virus, mostly because of child trafficking and lack of education about sanitation (clean water). Not a lot of citizens know about it either and if they do, not many know what to do about it let alone how to cure themselves. To prevent the disease from spreading and to inform the people about the sickness, a woman named Elixis Schloss created an easy, eye-catching comic book about basic sanitation and warnings. The summary of the story is that the main character finds out that he has the disease and disappears, but in the end the day is saved by a superhero called ARV (Anti Retro Viral) who cures the sickness. The author plans on making many other books about matters like these and currently this particular book is to be translated into many languages in Africa.
After reading this article, the seriousness of the situation with HIV struck me hard. The fact that it is a very difficult disease to cure and that so many people have it and are often forced to catch it really bothered me. Honestly, I don't know what I can do to help this matter. It's not like I can donate thousands of dollars to help this woman or other organizations, but I did feel that I should do SOMETHING to help. I just sincerely hope that I find a suitable way to help these people like this woman quickly.
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