Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras 2009 or how I spent my second to last weekend in America

This weekend we were in Louisiana visiting Kristi's family and it happened to be Mardi Gras time. On Sunday evening we went to New Orleans and attended the Bacchus parade. We found a nice little spot on St. Charles and 2nd from where we watched the floats, bands, cars and people go by. Being a mardi gras virgin, I was quite amazed at the scale of the parades (there are several throughout the weekend) and the mardi gras spirit of the locals. It was a very cool cultural experience to be a part of.
Here are the pictures, which at times look more like a riot scene with fire and cops everywhere than a happy parade.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Pictures For Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse recently used my pictures in a story they did about the HIV/AIDS testing program in Lira, Uganda. You can find the story by going here http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/peace_of_mind/
click on the little tv with "play multimedia" on it to see the slideshow.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Uganda Revisited: Congolese Refugees

As many of you might remember, during our stay in Uganda the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) flared up. I had the opportunity to join a Samaritan's Purse team on a needs assessment trip to Kisoro District where large numbers of refugees were coming across the border. The area was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen; a place of other-worldly ageless beauty where rolling green hills stretch as far as the eye can seen, lakes line the valley crevices and primeval trees reach far into the oceanic skies. We found a group of about 500 villagers living in temporary shacks just inside the Ugandan border. They told us that every day they would cross over the border to work in their gardens and then return at night. Their greatest needs were access to clean water and finding health care for their sick.
The majority of refugees were younger boys (ages 12-18) and many of them stated that the reason they left was because the rebel troops were recruiting child soldiers.
We also visited the UNHCR Refugee Camp called Nakivale. At the time of our visit approximately 13,000 refugees(primarily Congolese) were living here. One little girl about 8 years old that I met during our visit will forever stand out in my mind. The entire time we were there, she followed me around and kept telling me her story. She said she was living in the refugee camp by herself and the only living person left in her family was her grandmother. She had gotten separated from her during the trip to Uganda and desperately wanted us to help her find her.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Book Review: Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

Without giving away too much of the plot "Waiting for the Barbarians" describes the life of a magistrate living on the fringe of an empire. His peaceful life here is soon disturbed when the empire sends troops to the frontiers to fight the "barbarians". J.M. Coetzee who is the South African author never comes out and actually names the empire as South Africa but throughout the novel the allusions and similarities are undeniable. The magistrate experiences internal turmoil as he slowly comes to grips with the barbarity within his own "civilized" heritage.
He concludes that barbarity is less a result of external actors and more of internal fear; essentially that xenophobia reveals the barbarity within "civilized" society.
Overall, a very intriguing and thought provoking book that I highly recommend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eyeing Africa Photoblog

I have a new daily photoblog at www.eyeingafrica.aminus3.com
I will continue to post on here but the other one will purely be for photography.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Book Review - From Poverty to Power by Duncan Green

So I just recently finished reading From Poverty to Power by Duncan Green. Duncan Green is Head of Research for Oxfam and maintains a blog here
The book melds both academic thought and theory on development with concrete evidence and case studies. He takes a thorough look at the driving factors behind development, its discontents and what can be done to forge a way forward. His primary premise is that active citizens (empowered people who realize their rights and are able to claim them) partnered with an effective state (a state willing to listen to the people and who has their interests at hand) is what ultimately drives development. Overall it was a very interesting read and quite thought provoking.