Germany Aims to Strengthen Relationship With Rwanda

Peter Fahrenholtz, the German Ambassador to Rwanda has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to maintain close ties with Rwanda.

New Times reporter, Emmanuel Ntirenganya wrote that Fahrenholtz said that Germany was committed to supporting Rwanda’s transformation in areas such as decentralization, economic development and vocational training. He urged the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to visit Germany and encourage investors to come and invest in various lucrative sectors in Rwanda.

Germany and Rwanda have a great deal in common, and Fahrenholtz and others are impressed with Rwanda’s ability to recover and emerge after the tragedy of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that claimed more than one million lives. You can read more about what Fahrenholtz said at this event here

Source:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201410030879.html?aa_source=nwsltr-rwanda-en

Rwanda Set to Celebrate World Environment Day

AllAfrica.com reports “Rwanda will join the world in the celebration of World Environment Day (WED) on June 5 to be held under the theme “Green Economy: Does it
include you?””

“This is preceded by the ongoing National Environment Week dedicated to activities to raise awareness on environmental
sustainability which kicked off last Saturday.”

Read more:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201205300235.html

>Mother Africa Speaks: News for the Diaspora

>RWANDA

The Obama administration says it is “concerned” by disturbing acts by
the Rwandan government in the run up to the country’s elections that
President Paul Kagame won. These disturbing acts include the expulsion of a human rights researcher, the suspension of two newspapers, the arrest of journalists, and the barring of two opposition parties from taking part in the election. Kagame won with almost 93% of the votes, and who were his opponents? Three of his former political partners. Is there any reason to question why voters and observers have reservations about the legitimacy of this election? “Democracy is about more than holding elections,” the White House said two weeks ago. Rwanda has come a distance since its post-genocidal period, but that is more due to the commitment and desire of the people than the government that rules them.  

Here is a quick headline that should catch your attention- Rwanda National Police (RNP) strongly refutes the misleading reports published by Rwanda News Agency and on Africa news websites indicating that the grenade attack on civilians which occurred in Kigali on August 12, 2010 killed six people. They said that several people were injured and taken to the hospital, and that of the injured only two people died. 

SOUTH AFRICA

 As over 1 million workers stayed away from work on Wednesday; courts,
 schools, hospitals and other government institutions remained empty. Despite this, 
 Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi was emphatic
 yesterday that the government would not budge from its final offer of
 a 7% wage increase and a R700-a-month housing allowance for the public
 service, despite the escalating strike, because this was already R5bn
 more than it could afford. The government had given the unions until last Thursday to agree to the current public sector salary increase offer of 7 percent.

The strikers want an 8.6% wage increase and a monthly housing allowance of R1000 (which is roughly $137 U.S. dollars per month)   

On Friday, the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that doctors, nurses and other essential services staff had to return to work. Saturday afternoon, the KwaZulu-Natal government secured a court interdict preventing striking public servants from barricading hospitals and intimidating nonstriking workers. The state has threatened action against all essential service workers who refuse to return to work. Their main argument is that the strike has caused the deaths of people who were either refused treatment or never had the chance to receive or be denied service because the hospitals were closed. They have also argued that this strike has meant no school for the youth. 

I will keep you posted on these developments.   
 

SWAZILAND
A key advisor to the king of Swaziland is under fire for saying the
 country’s AIDS epidemic has been exaggerated to benefit pharmaceutical
 companies. Prince Mangaliso – chair of King Mswati III’s advisory
 council – also questioned the effectiveness of programs that promote
 circumcision and condoms as a way of preventing the spread of HIV. 

Although it is understandable to be hyper-critical of the medical community that has historically experimented on people, especially within Africa, it seems as though Prince Mangaliso needs an intense lesson on the effectiveness of condoms…even if the circumcision argument does not seem plausible (which some medical professionals in the United States may also agree). But let’s be real, to say that “water and a bath” would be equally effective in helping prevent the spread of HIV is illogical, when roughly 43% of the country’s women were infected with the virus in 2008, and that rate has increased over the past two years; and Swaziland holds the position as having the highest rate of HIV in the world!

So could anything top this? Well it has been confirmed by a joint government and UN report that “anecdotal evidence” that entrenched cultural beliefs among Swazis actively encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yes, you read that right. Although the common sense approach to HIV/AIDS is that “AIDS cannot be stopped unless there is a change in people’s sexual behaviour,” there is a commonplace practice in Swaziland to have unprotected sex with multiple partners regardless of the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS.

“All humans have sexual urges, but behaviour is determined by social norms. Swazis still believe that a woman’s role is to bear children continuously, and that a man’s role is to impregnate multiple partners, which is why polygamy is so strong here, both as an institution and in the minds of young men, who may not ever get married but still have many children from multiple girlfriends,” Joseph Dlamini, a youth pastor and counselor was reported as saying. 

A culture where polygamy is the norm, where the men dictate how many children and wives they will have; where the average birth rate is 5 children per mother, and the ultimate goal is to have boys since they continue the lineage (so they keep trying until they have multiple sons); and where they practice “kungena”, or wife inheritance, where a widow becomes the wife of the deceased man’s brother, a practice found to spread HIV. When isolated from other cultures, and lower access to educational sources, trust of outsiders is rare. 

This is such a sad story to read because you see a life expectancy that was age 61 ten years ago, drop tragically to the age of 32 (according to the Human Development Index of the UN Development Programme.)…I’m about to turn 35 in two months…technically if I was Swazi and living there, I would not have been expected to live this long. 
 
I will let you ponder that.

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. 

 
SOURCES:

Rwanda Sources:
The New Times.  http://www.newtimes.co.
The Monitor http://www.monitor.co.ug

Swaziland Sources: 
RFI http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20100818-aids-epidemic-exaggerated-says-swazi-prince

IRIN http://www.plusnews.org/

South Africa Sources:
Sue Blaine. BUSINESSDAY. http://www.Businessday.co.za
http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=118761

>International Women’s Day Highlighted by "Join Me on the Bridge" Event

>For International Day, Women for Women International held a Join Me on the Bridge global event that joined women and men across nations to honor and support the efforts of women in Rwanda and the DR Congo towards self-sufficiency, empowerment, and freedom from the harsh cruelties of war. It is amazing to see how many people came out to show their support on numerous bridges in cities around the world on March 6-8.

Bridges in New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, London, Edinburgh, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities had supporters waving peace signs, flags, and pictures to passerby. What is especially touching is to see the images from Rwanda and DRC…the look of faith and hope in their eyes.

To see pictures from many of the locations visit: http://www.womenforwomen.org/bridge/media.php

I look forward to seeing a larger turnout next year as we continue celebrating our accomplishments as women internationally, while also demanding peace in those countries that rape, torture, mutilate, enslave, abuse, and murder women (and their children).

Through organizations like Women for Women International women in these countries will one day be free from living in fear, and free to live the life and be exposed to the opportunities many of us take for granted.

If you have not taken the time to learn about this great organization that I support, please visit their site today: http://www.womenforwomen.org/

Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman

>Join Me March 7th to Say NO to War, Rape and Torture in the DRC and Rwanda

>

Many of you know of my philanthropic efforts to assist women and young girls domestically and abroad to become educated, empowered, and elevated above their current lifestyle…experience…condition; and free from rape, torture, and the heightened probability of death due to victimization from war, or lack of resources at their disposal.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th) I want to share with you the work of one of the charities that I support…Women for Women International. Two of the war torn countries that Women for Women International works within to provide tools and resources for survival and self-sufficiency of women and their families, are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
For those of you who are not familiar with the history of the DRC and Rwanda, and the impact on both country’s women and children, let me share some horrifying facts with you… 
It has been estimated that roughly 500,000 women and girls in Rwanda were raped, tortured and physically abused during the genocide that began in 1994. The country’s population is 70% female with more than half of the households ran by women; 80% of which are widows.
In the DRC it has been cited that in more than a decade of conflict and war there has been over 5.4 million deaths and hundreds of thousands of women raped, tortured, and beaten. Women in the DRC face kidnapping, mutilation, rape and torture from soldiers of both foreign militias and the Congolese army as they are being held as hostages. 
Over 1/4 million children in Rwanda have been made orphans due to AIDS. “Despite the extreme poverty many Rwandans find room in their hearts to adopt as many as 6 orphaned children, treating every child like their own, a mantra of the country and its President, Paul Kagame(Women for Women International Website).
Due to the strength of the women in Rwanda their ability to finally speak up and speak out after years of silence has led to the act of rape to be prosecuted as a war crime. In 2003, 49% of parliaments seats were filled by women. But these strides don’t mean that women are completely free from the effects of war.

 The women of the DRC and Rwanda need our help so that they can help themselves. Women for Women International has served more than 40,000 women in both countries, and through Women for Women International you can help a woman gain the sense of self-worth, the ability to provide for her family with dignity and respect, and bring her one step closer to living in peace. These women are not looking for charity…they are looking for the opportunity to stand up and speak out; get training and develop the necessary skills to become self-sufficient…while being blessed with the chance to provide for and protect their children.


Join me and others this Sunday, March 7, 2010 at the 17th Street Bridge in Atlanta, Georgia from 12:00-1:00pm as we come together to participate in Women for Women International’s global campaign, Join Me on the Bridge, working together towards building peaceful bridges between the countries of Rwanda and the Congo. On this day we stand together on the 17th Street Bridge, and display peace banners to honor these women and millions of others who have survived war worldwide. Join Me on the Bridge unites women from around the world in a global movement that shows we can build bridges towards the development of a fruitful future. 

I hope to see you there…men also…we’d love for you to join us so that you too can stand up and speak out for the very women that could be your mother, aunt, sister, niece, grand daughter, cousin, or your daughter.

You can register in advance (yes, the event is free), or if you can’t attend please find it in your heart to donate anything so that we can stand as family and say NO to war and YES to peace, love, and hope! 



For more information on Women for Women International click here







Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman.

Image Source: Women for Women International Website http://www.womenforwomen.org/