Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Now for something different....Africa

Thanks to BBC radio, learnt of the tragic case of Samia Yusuf Omar – the Somalian female runner - who took part in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  With the rise of the Islamic fundamentalists and the general descent of Mogadishu into a warlord-run turf, woman’s sport was probably one of the last things that they would be interested in. Sadly what happened - she tried to reach London independently and travelled over-land to Libya with the support of her overseas relatives—one of whom was a sister living as a refugee in Finland - where against the advice of her mother, she took a migrant ship which ran aground in Italian waters. The Italian navy apparently using the latest European technology, being one of the main countries having to deal with illegal migration, threw them a rope and 6 women and 1 man died while crawling across – Samia one of them. I just thought how much of these stories that we never hear about—the daily struggles of the common folk to see some sort of future. 
Also, what’s sad – those Somalian women who became world-famous like the model and actress who had married the singer David Bowie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali whose books we read in the Bookclub, who seemed not prepared to help their sisters in tragedy and use their fame to start some sort of Foundation to improve the lot of women back in Somalia- I admit not an easy task to try and make sense of the mess back home.
I note the various medical ‘outreaches’ of Overseas Guyanese – something is better than nothing, but for chronic diseases, surely helping people to make better choices – the primary one as I can see is eating properly – the odd shot in the dark is just a Bandaid maybe better to support of National Policies – like giving the Gardasil vaccine to girls before becoming sexually active (Guyana has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the region/world even?).  It is very difficult to encourage people to take responsibility for themselves when the general atmosphere is ‘grab it now before it’s gone’.  There is room for both types of aid—as far as I can recall it was the Remote Area Medical team (overseas –based doctors volunteering their precious two weeks vacation to run volunteer clinics in Guyana’s interior) that highlighted the high incidence of genital warts/cervical cancer back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s but of course the Government may want to claim credit with the improved Health facilities and training of more Medexes.
The Ethopian Prime Minister died at a relatively young age of 57 – he apparently came to Public  Notice in mid-1980’s – around the same time I met a pretty Ethopian student who surprised me with her reaction to my sympathetic mutterings about the awful famine rampant in Ethopia at the time – she informed me that in fact Ethopia was exporting their staple grain! Bob Geldof arranged Band-Aid around the same time.  So this PM takes credit for Ethopia’s impressive 11% growth rate in the last few years, the war with Eritrea back in the 1980’s and the large-scale ‘leasing’ of Ethopian land to the Asian neo-colonists (China and India) and its attendant miseries not really highlighted.

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