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Voices From Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes

Zimbabwe: Inflation continues to rule the day in Zimbabwe where they recently introduced a 50,000 dollar note in a bid to help hauling the country's porous currency around. Ironically, said new note is not enough to buy a loaf bread a mundane necessity so This is Zimbabwe asks, “Can anyone help Zimbabwe? Will anyone help Zimbabwe?

But with blackouts and acute food shortages wreaking havoc across the country Eddie Cross opines “The crunch has arrived.”

The only hope seems to be coming on the health front where a recent study found HIV/AIDS prevalence rates declining by as much as 25% in Zimbabwe. Mugabe Makaipa has a post on this interesting development.

Burundi:Agathon Rwasa spotlights two pivotal articles. From Human Rights Watch comes an article indicting a Congolese man Laurent Nkunda. Human Rights Watch urges the DRC's government to arrest Nkunda a former officer in the Congolese whom they charge is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Also posted is a commentary from the Sudan Times which ponders when the UN will finally put an end to the LRA's nefarious activities.

D.R.C: In a satiric critique of this article, Congogirl relates the DRC to the superbowl noting that Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren's wife will miss the big game to go on a medical mission trip in the DRC. “Sports columnists should not write about health statistics, at least not without asking,” she chides after noticing that the author claims that the DRC has a “92% infant mortality .” She correctly points out that,

“Infant Mortality is calculated as a RATE, not a percentage. It is based on 1,000 live births. And I know, it's confusing, but maternal mortality is typically based on 100,000 women. So, to take the above statistic and understand it by turning it into a percent, 9.2% of infants die before reaching a year old.”

Irked to find that rock star Bono's latest humanitarean endeavor RED, which channels funds to the Global Fund will be restriced to the UK and Ireland in it's first few months, Congogirl complains,

“It's not a successful global campaign to support the Global Fund if we can't participate. Think about it. The UK has 60 million people, only 20% of the US's 300 million. If (arbitrarily) 1 million UK residents signed up for the AmEx RED card and spent on average $500 a month, or $6,000 a year, then $60 from each person would go to the Global Fund, for a total of $60 million. That means that the US could raise $300 million for the Global Fund if the same proportion of people signed up (5 million people). “

Ingrid of Congo Watch urges us to listen to songs sung by children at Aveba Transit Camp, a disarmament camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo for children who have been associated with armed groups. She wonders if we will remained untouched by the plight of the children after listening to the songs.

Malawi: Tech guru Mike of Hacktivate posts on a touchscreen application developed by Baobab Health Partners which catalyzes data collection and tracking of HIV positive patients in a setting “where there are lots of sick people and very few doctors.” He includes some tragic anecdotes of his encounters with people carrying the deadly HIV virus including the sad story of a 10 year old girl who was raped and had to get a note from the doctor requiring that the perpetrator be tested for HIV. Read the post here.

Rwanda: George Conard is feeling uneasy after visiting a memorial to the Rwanda genocide with a colleague who wanted to have pictures of themselves taken at the site of such macabre events. Sensing a disregard for the dignity of the memorial, he opines,

“It felt a bit like someone wanting their picture taken at Mt. Rushmore or something. I totally get wanting to be in pictures when you travel… I do that too… but here, I don't know, it felt more like a ‘look, I was at a genocide memorial in Rwanda,’ kind of tourist thing than anything else.”

Just how much is too much? I guess it is a fine line.

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