Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Men, Women and Children Who Suffer...

As militia attacks continue to happen in villages in Sudan’s West Darfur region, dozens of children 12 to 18 are reported missing, especially boys.

UNICEF and its UN partners sent an assessment mission to the towns of Sirba and Abu Surouj following government-backed militia attacks in West Darfur’s northern corridor earlier this month. The team found that thousands of residents had fled their homes in the towns after multiple buildings were burned in the attacks.

The UN has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and warned that the region needs many more peacekeepers as the security situation in the region deteriorated sharply in the past two months.

As the violence continues and remains unabated, people's lives...men, women and innocent children's lives are even more at risk. In these situations, the innnocent children so unfortunately become part of the many lost and unaccounted victims of war.

In Congo, the World Vision reported that men, women, and children continue to lose their lives from rebel attacks. There is, however, a glimmer of hope for this nation with the news that a peace agreement was forged between the government and several rebel groups.

This is indeed welcome news for a country besieged for the past 15 months, with armed conflict that resulted in the massive displacement of people — more than 400,000 in North Kivu province, increased gender-based violence, malnutrition among children, school dropout rates, and rising numbers of wounded civilians.

I once posed the question "When will this ever end?" when I posted an entry on Darfur several months ago. I don't think it will...not for as long as there are people who are selfish and greedy for power. All peace-loving people can do is to try and aid the victims the best way they can and this can only go far with powerful organizations and nations taking action and putting pressure on the warring groups and nations to achieve some peace.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Flooding in Bolivia...

I just read that there was heavy flooding in Bolivia recently and about 57,000 families were affected. Meteorologists blame the La NiƱa phenomenon for fueling torrential rains and massive flooding across Bolivia's Amazon region during recent weeks. Last year, a similar flooding also happened that displaced thousands of families from their homes. Prior to that, there was also political upheaval that took place causing some establishments to temporarily close down and people to stay home for days for safety reasons.

The World Vision there is now working with the World Food Program to distribute 5,000tons of food aid to feed 27,000 flood-devastated families during the next three months. Most of the families hit hardest there are among the poorest of the poor in South America's most destitute nation. Some 10,600 families also have lost their crops — their main source of livelihood. Because of damaged roads, delivering aid to survivors is fraught with challenges. Meanwhile, concerns are building about disease outbreaks caused by standing water.

News like these always worry me a bit. My sister has been residing there for over 10 years doing her missionary work. I still have to hear news from her. I hope she's doing well....

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I read this very touching story of Rhett, a baby with down syndrome, from Matt's blog who also read about it from another friend's. I'd like to share Rhett's Journey too, and I hope it touches your hearts as it has mine. Rhett's father can't work because he has a back problem and needed surgery. And his mom can't work because she needs to take care of Rhett full-time, his eldest brother who has aspergers syndrome and two other siblings.

I admire parents like Pam who have so much strength and courage in going through all these trials, and have a very positive attitude.

Maybe it's the fact that my eldest son with learning difficulty had to go through a special school and I found myself exposed to special children with autism, down syndrome or other kind of disability, that I have such a soft spot for these children. It opened my eyes at how special these children really are and that despite their disabilities, many have such amazing talents. We only need to understand them and how they express themselves.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"My Neighbors and Me" - An Update

After brothers Herbert and Ashman Wiltshire – then ages 18 and 13 started 'My Neighbours and Me’ in their neighborhood in Belize, the group has since then provided kids in their neighborhood, an alternative to drugs and crime.

Andrea Diaz, an ll-year old, is one who has benefitted a lot from this movement. She said there was really nothing to do after school and ‘My Neighbours and Me’ has given her the opportunity to make use of her time wisely by joining activities there like dancing or taking care of the smaller children.

The group also offers art and theatre, and children are taught practical skills such as how to use a computer, how to combat sexual violence and how to avoid HIV/AIDS. Educational outings give them a chance to explore Belize’s rich natural and political history.

Andrea's principal, Ms. Pollard, has seen a marked improvement in the kids who joined ‘My Neighbours and Me.’ They have taken on responsibility and have learned to develop their self-control and self-discipline. She said, “They are able to work with their assignments, whether they do them correctly or incorrectly, so they know they have a responsibility – that’s the bottom line.”

Herbert and Ashman Wiltshire's parents must be so proud at what their young kids had accomplished at so short a time and such young ages....I know I would be, I am, even if they aren't my kids. :)

Saturday, February 02, 2008


While reading the World Vision website, I came across the Charity Navigator link and decided to know more about how charities are evaluated and rated. I took note of those I found most interesting and posted them here with links. There are of course many other charity evaluators, and as much as we should be careful about what charities to donate to and support, we should also be able to determine how much we can rely on the charity evaluator's information.

The Charity Navigator is an independent charity evaluator that aims to "advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,300 of America's largest charities." Estbalished in 2001, it has come up with tips and guidelines on how one can determine reliable charities.

How to choose a reliable Charity:

When choosing the charities to donate to, one should consider several factors. Ask yourself these questions before donating:

1. Can your charity clearly communicate who they are and what they do?
If a charity struggles in articulating its mission and its programs, it will probably struggle in delivering those programs. If a charity can't explain who it is and what it does, and why it is needed, find one that can. Many good organizations exist who know exactly who they are, what they do, and why they are needed.

2. Can your charity define their short-term and long-term goals?
Organizations without quantifiable goals have no way to measure success. Be sure your charity can tell you what it is trying to do.
Can your charity tell you the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal?
Ask your organization what it has done to make the issue it confronts better. What are its results? Find out.

3. Do your charity's programs make sense to you?
If you support the mission of an organization, ask yourself if its programs also make sense. If you know you want to support the outcome the charity aims to deliver, ask yourself if its method of arriving at that outcome makes sense to you.

4. Can you trust your charity?
Don't support a charity until you feel comfortable with it. Ask the questions you need answered from the organizers before you can be assured this is a good use of your money. Do whatever it takes to put your mind at ease.

5. Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to your organization?
Ask yourself if your charity is the type of organization to which you're willing to make a long-term commitment.

The Charity Navigator has also come up with the top 10 charities based on set criteria and methodology. In rating these charities, they evaluated the organization's financial health, their organizational efficiency and their organizational capacity. Based on financial ratios or performance categories to rate each of these two areas, the Navigator issues an overall rating that combines the charity's performance in both areas. It guides donors on how efficiently a charity will use their support today, and to what extent the charities are growing their programs and services over time .

The TOP 10 CHARITIES (source: Charity Navigator)

10 Super-Sized Charities

10 Slam-Dunk Charities

10 Celebrity-Related Charities

10 Charities Drowning in Administrative Costs

10 Charities Worth Watching

10 Inefficient Fundraisers