2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 113 posts.

The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 137 views. The most popular post that day was Rape as a Weapon of War.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were en.wordpress.com, mahalo.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, and vhoagland.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for rape, somalia, war rape, aisha ibrahim duhulow, and e-waste.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Rape as a Weapon of War May 2009


Somalia is the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis December 2008


United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development June 2009
1 comment


Africa’s future grows bleaker as drug shortages roll back the clock on beating AIDS April 2009


A Brave New World March 2009


Coming to your area soon: Breakbone Fever and Jericho Buttons

I spent the month of August living and working with our sisters in Argentina. Of course it was winter there, and when I arrived at the beginning of the month, it was cold. Soon, however, the weather changed and it became unseasonably warm. The sisters told me that their winters have become much warmer in recent years and that there has not been enough rain. With the warm weather comes mosquitos and the threat of dengue fever and malaria. The shorter winters and longer periods of warm weather mean that the people have a longer exposure to these disease bearing insects. Earlier this year, dengue fever reached epidemic proportions in Argentina with at least 8000 reported cases.

It turns out that during my stay in Argentina I experienced an aspect of climate change that is rarely discussed – the relationship between climate change and health.

According to the World Health Organization global climate change poses grave risks to human population health. Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean there have already been alterations in the geographic range (latitude and altitude) and seasonality of certain infectious tropical diseases.

One of these is Dengue (or “breakbone”) fever, a disease that is characterized by high fever, rash, and severe headache with aching bones, joints, and muscles. Dengue and its deadly complications, dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, have increased over the past several decades. Global warming has substantially increased the number of people at risk of dengue epidemics, as warmer temperatures and changing rainfall conditions expand both the area suitable for mosquitoes and the length of the dengue transmission season in temperate areas.

Currently, dengue fever and its complications cause an estimated 50 to 100 million infections, a half-million hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths annually in more than 100 countries, including parts of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. By 2085, an estimated 5.2 billion people—3 billion additional people worldwide—are projected to be at risk for dengue because of climate change–induced increases in humidity that contribute to increased mosquito presence. Already, the specific types of mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever have become established in a swath of at least 28 states and the District of Columbia, and across the south and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States and there were 4000 cases of the disease reported to the Centers for Disease Control between 1995 and 2005.

A 1917 case of "Jericho Buttons"

Another disease that is on the move is Leishmaniasis, sometimes known as Jericho Buttons. Until recent years found in parts of the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe, leishmanaias is a parasitic disease that is transmitted by the bite an infected sand fly. Now, cases of the disease are being reported among mountain dwellers in the Andes in Peru. The disease causes skin sores, which may develop a raised edge and central crater, causing the sores to look much like a volcano. These sores take a long time to heal and often leave scars. In the more severe forms of the disease, killer parasite migrate to the internal organs, such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow and cause fever, weight loss and swelling of the spleen and liver. If left untreated, severe cases may result in death.

Personally, I find the threat of these diseases becoming prevalent in the area where I live a great motivator for taking positive steps toward reducing my contribution to global warming. How about you?

Wealthy Nations have a Moral Obligation to Help Africa Fight AIDS

Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said yesterday that he is worried that funding commitments to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic are in jeopardy because of the global financial crisis.

An estimated 33.2 million people worldwide are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS and 25 million have died so far from the fatal and incurable disease. Africa is the hardest hit continent. Last year 1.7 million people died there because of the disease.

In 2005,  at the G8 summit in the Scottish town of Gleneagles, the world’s wealthiest industrialized democracies promised to provide universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010 — an undertaking costing billions of dollars. As a result, 3.5 million people in Africa began treatment. Now, as countries focus on trying to revive their own economies it is feared that money earmarked for fighting AIDS will be diverted for other purposes. Already, Global Fund, which pools donations to fight infectious diseases, has reported that it is $4 billion short of the amount needed to fund AIDS projects it was already running or had committed to financing.

The challenge facing the world right now is how to fix the economy without losing our compassion. The financial crisis does not absolve us from our responsibilty to be care for the most vulnerable among us. Wealthy  nations have a moral obligation to keep their promise to help Africa fight AIDS. We must not abandon people on treatment or leave Africa’s 14 million AIDS orphans without help. Now is not the time for the world to falter in its committment to making drugs and treatment, particularly for the poorest of the poor, accessible and affordable.

Africa’s future grows bleaker as drug shortages roll back the clock on beating AIDS

globeandmail.com: Drug shortages roll back the clock on beating AIDS in Africa

Children forage in e-waste dump
Children forage in e-waste dump

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA — Every two weeks, Evelyn Mapota haunts her local pharmacy, pleading for medicine to keep her daughter alive. And every two weeks, she is told to try again another day.

After five months of waiting, Mrs. Mapota feels a wave of fear whenever she hears little Thato cough or thinks she might be catching a cold. “I worry and I start panicking,” she says. “I have sleepless nights thinking about it.”

Five-year-old Thato is one of an estimated 15,000 people in Free State, a province in the centre of South Africa, who are waiting for anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. About 30 are dying every day.

Two years ago, the picture was much different. Estimates of the number of people newly infected with HIV declined from 3 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2007, while access to treatment rose by 42%. This was an unprecedented gain. Now, drug shortages brought on by donor cutbacks resulting from the economic crisis are reversing much of the progress that was made in the last four years.

These drug shortages will have a devastating effect on the already weak economies of African nations. Without access to medicines, anti-retrovirals, many more of those who are HIV positive will contract full blown AIDS. Not only will they be unable to work, they will also require significant care from others. HIV/AIDS is the fastest way for a family to move from relative wealth to poverty. Families often take on extra work, sell assets, borrow money and take children, usually girls, out of school and use the school fees to pay for medical interventions and the girls for care giving and other household tasks. Each of these strategies provides a short-term solution, but makes the family worse off in the long term.

The drug shortages also mean that more people will die, and more children will be left orphaned. If children who are orphaned by AIDS are lucky, they are cared for by grandparents or other members of their extended family. Many though, are left to fend for themselves and face a future blighted by stigmatization, lack of education and poverty.

Bill Gates Unleashes a Swarm of Mosquitoes

Bill Gates unleash swarm of mosquitoes at TED 2009 – Telegraph.

Prophets make us uncomfortable. The gospel reading today from Mark is about the death of John the Baptist. Herod killed John the Baptist  because he made his wife uncomfortable.

Today, Bill Gates made some people uncomfortable.

“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” he yelled to the crowd attending the  elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference today, before unleashing the insects, which were not carrying the disease. “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
  • There were 247 million cases of malaria in 2006, causing about 880,000 deaths, mostly among African children.
  • Malaria is preventable and curable.
  • Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries.
  • Travellers from malaria-free areas to disease “hot spots” are especially vulnerable to the disease.
  • Malaria takes an economic toll – cutting economic growth rates by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates.

Gates said that more money was being spent finding a cure for baldness than developing drugs to combat malaria. “Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted,” he joked. “That is why that priority has been set.

“The market does not drive scientists, thinkers, or governments to do the right things. Only by paying attention and making people care can we make as much progress as we need to.”

He called for greater distribution of insect nets and other protective gear, and revealed that an anti-malaria vaccine funded by his foundation and currently in development would enter a more advanced testing phase in the coming months.

It would be easy to have an argument about whether or not Bill Gates is a prophet, but today he performed a prophetic act. He spoke up for what is right. Those of us who call ourselves Christians need to be more like John the Baptist, and Bill Gates.

How can you help? Visit http://www.malarianomore.org/ to donate or get involved in advocacy.

Cutters turn Razors on Babies to Evade FGM/C law

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines female genital mutilation/cutting  FGM/C as any injury to female genital organs for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons.

WHO has stated that consequences can include lifelong debilitating psychological and physical trauma – such as extreme pain during childbirth, sexual relations and urination. For details about what FGM/C entails, see Classification of Female Genital Mutilation.

Some three million girls, the majority under 15 years old, are cut every year. Amnesty International estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been affected by some form of FGM/C. FGM/C is mainly practiced in African countries.

In the African country of Burkino Faso, babies instead of young girls are undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) as families and communities  seek to evade laws prohibiting the practice. Despite the fact that FGM has been illegal there since 1996 and is punishable by lengthy prison terms and fines, the number of FGM victims under five years old is on the increase. At least 70 newborns nationwide were admitted for hospital emergency care after botched cuttings in the first three months of 2008, according to the government.

In the video below, UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on a group of Ethiopian girls who have just undergone genital mutilation, and UNICEF’s work to help end the harmful practice.

IRIN Africa | West Africa | Burkina Faso | BURKINA FASO: Cutters turn razors on babies to evade FGM/C law | Children Gender Issues Human Rights | Feature.

Red Eyes

Today I learned that old women in some parts of Africa, and by old women I mean women about my age which is 52, who have red eyes from years of cooking and tending the fire in poorly ventilated houses are often accused of witchcraft. These women, who are nearly always widows, are at the very least turned out of their homes by those who want to take away their meager possessions, and at worst burned alive.

When I heard this I wondered if the women accused of witchcraft in Europe and colonial America in the 17th century had red eyes too. Probably they did.

How women look has always affected their self-worth and how well they do in the world. Beauty is an advantage and aging is hard. Lately, it seems that every decision I make about how to spend my time and energy directly impacts how I look and feel, physically and psychologically. When I was younger my body took care of itself and I never had to do anything special to live up to the expectations of those who had expectations concerning my appearence.  Now I think a lot about how to appropriately deal with my 52 year old body. I’d like to write about what I’ve been thinking here, and am not sure about how self-revelatory I want to be.

I am not very happy with my body these days and I hate the way I look. I have gained some weight. My feet hurt all the time and so do my knees. I have lupus, SLE, so I cannot rely on my body to get me through what I want to do on any given day. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and think and wonder why other women can walk all around NYC in flip flops without a second thought and I envy them. But I also think about women who suffer so much more than I do, and my concerns about body image seem trivial even though I cannot seem to let them go. I would like my experience to help me in a little way to stand with my sister who has red eyes, but that seems too much to hope for. I guess the real question is, can I accept the/my body that is a product of the way I choose to spend my time and energy and can I make sure that I spend my time and energy on what is really important.