Thursday, September 22, 2011

Illinois Jaycees Elect President for 2012

Members of Illinois Junior Chamber have elected their president for 2012. Joanne Rinaldo, a 10th degree Jaycee, was elected president of this prestigious organization at the end of their general assembly which took place between September 9 and 11, 2011, at Holiday Inn Elk Grove, IL

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Though Rinaldo, was voted by acclamation, the post of area one vice president witnessed a hotly contested election between Richard Lewis, and James Greve. At the end of which Greve emerged victorious. Also elected was Heather Winemiller, as 2012 programming vice president.

In her acceptance speech, the Illinois 2012 president elect who ran her campaign under the theme “Make an Impact”, intimated that though times have changed since the creation of Junior Chamber, the mission of the organization has not, and that the organization has been building leaders and making an impact over the years. “The Jaycees need to continue to “Make an Impact” on our communities while developing our members to reach their full leadership potential. As a focused group of individuals under my leadership our impact can be even more substantial”, Rinaldo, told a cheering crowd of Jaycees.

In course of her speech the president elect was interrupted over a dozen times by joyous Jaycees chanting and waving placards bearing her campaign theme “Make an Impact” According to her campaign manifesto “2012 impact”, the president elect promise to provide the know-how and incentive to chapters and work with them to ensure success, tap the Jaycee alumni network to help members learn the fundamentals to execute new projects that they are passionate about, create new state chair position to oversee marketing and social media, grow at least 60 chapters by one member each trimester, create a leadership academy open to all Jaycees interested in expanding their potential, save 100 lives from malaria by raising funds for JCI Nothing but Nets, among others.

The general assembly was also an occasion for Illinois Jaycees to sharpen their skills on topics including non-verbal communication, and negotiation

A motivational keynote address was presented by USJC chairman of the Board Jeff Lank.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

God is constantly at work in the cause of human liberation

Below the surface of our awareness, God is constantly at work in the cause of human liberation. Unfortunately we have to look intently to see it though sometimes a dramatic event pushes the divine activities into view.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla, Originally Published on Yahoo news!

In the Gospel of John a man blind from birth is healed by Jesus. He understands that something special has taken place, but it isn’t until folks start to question him that he slowly becomes aware of who the healer was and what the healing means. Gradually, this formerly blind beggar recognizes the source of the power that has changed his life and he becomes an outspoken believer. This puts him into direct conflict with the local authorities who want to deny the healing so as to discount the healer

Struggle for human liberation has exploded across the world and especially the Middle East in recent days, and our contribution is the predictable jets and bombs in support of an armed uprising in “friendly” countries. Yet right next door in some of these so called “friendly” countries, revolutionaries are choosing another way to pursue their dream of democracy. Without mounting an armed force, compatriots of different repressive regimes had persisted in their plea for justice. Without raising a rifle, they held firm in their resolve, rousing and rallying the unstoppable power of their common cause, using means that were entirely consistent with their end – the creation of a nation free of oppression and dominance by the force of violence or the threat thereof. Why do we find it essential to back nation(s) in their decision to ‘perpetuate the cycle of violence’ rather than urge a peaceful revolution as what happened in Egypt? When will we “see” with Gospel eyes that the rules of engagement need to change, and in fact, are changing?

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Myriad rape shows collapse of Cameroon society. Corrupt judiciary, administrative bottleneck hinder justice

Rape, which is sometimes called sexual assault, is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. It’s all about power, not sex and can happen to both men and women of any age. A rapist uses actual force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being. In some cases rapists use drugs to take away a person's ability to fight back. In effect rape is undoubtedly a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, or a family member.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla Originally Published on Yahoo news!

Make no mistake, if one gets sex from a woman with her consent but without her reasoned and informed opinion of the consequences, it constitutes rape or with her informed opinion without consent it is also rape. Thus, a man can rape his wife if he uses force to get sex when the woman does not want it. In so doing, Rape can attract more severe punishment when it is perpetrated by a ‘man of God’ or someone under whose care the victim is kept

Debates on rape often provoke laughter, and sorrow sometimes in the case of a victim. While women would argue that it is possible for a man to rape his wife, men say it is not possible for someone to steal what belongs to him. On the other hand, some male folks would lament that more women are increasingly using force to get sex from men and that more men are placed at a weaker position in so far as negotiating for sex is concerned. Shockingly, most of victims of rape in Cameroon are below 15 years, and the act is usually committed by persons from all backgrounds including; fathers, ‘men of God’, friends, relatives, bandits, rich or poor as well as in rural and urban settings alike.

But for some reason(s), the seriousness of rape and its damaging consequences are sometimes better understood only after people come across victims or when victims take to the rostrum to tell their awesome stories.

While working as a community organizer in the rural parts of South West Province (Region) in the Republic of Cameroon, I facilitated several workshops including those aimed at educating traditional rulers, women, journalists, civil society actors, young girls and boys and rape victims on the damaging consequences of rape on the society especially if unchecked

In narrating her ordeal in course of one of my workshops, a victim - Missodi, aged 30 tells how two of her brother-in-laws had brutally raped her. That after the death of her husband, she refused to be handed over to her brother-in-law as a wife as custom demands. But little did she know that her refusal to honor tradition only made her a target for rape. On that fateful day, Missodi said she had just lowered her pant to urinate when two of her brother-in-laws jumped on her from behind, put soil into her mouth then raped her.
Namolongo, another victim told of how she was hawking foodstuff at the age of 11, when she was raped. That she had heard the village masqueraders fondly called ‘jujus’ singing and dancing towards her direction. As she hides herself in the shrub to avoid eye contact with the ‘juju’ as tradition demands, one of them rush to her and assaulted. Unfortunately her mother was only interested in the items she was hawking upon hearing the awesome incident. Neille’s story was that of incest perpetrated by her father. In tears she told how her father had repeatedly raped her in the house, in abandoned buildings, in the bathroom and even on the farm. She was just 11 when it all started. It all got to the limelight only after she became pregnant at 16. Before that, she had sought refuge in a local Pentecostal church hoping to find a way to reveal the ordeal. But the ‘men of God’ were no different from her pedophile father, as they too began asking for their own ‘share’. She ran away.
Annabenga, told of how at 8, her mother used to leave her with her 25-year-old cousin to go for business. But one unfortunate day, the cousin brought in pornographic films and asked that they practice what they were seeing. It happened then and several other times.

In a related story a man narrated how he decided to divorce his wife after she was raped by bandits. He claimed the bandits tied him up on a chair at gunpoint while his wife was raped before his own very eyes. However, that the reason to divorce the wife was not due to the rape, but rather that the wife was screaming and enjoying the sexual act from the bandits (something he could not tolerate) instead of crying and shouting. Several other testimonies of forced sex in different circumstances were presented to the participants in course of the workshop

The military in this country are not helping the situation. They would stop at nothing in raping women especially during crises. A case in point was during armed attacks in North West region of Cameroon in March 1997, where hundreds of people, predominantly members of opposition political parties were arrested. “Civilians were beaten, kicked and humiliated and many incidents of rape were reported”, states Amnesty International (AI), in its 1998 annual report. “A special security unit, known as the COMMANDEMENT OPÉRATIONNEL (CO), the Operational Command, was set up to combat street crime in Douala and YaoundĂ©, the capital. It was reportedly responsible for killing scores of criminal suspects, as well as for carrying out beatings, rapes and other ill-treatment of detainees”, AI stated further in its 2001 annual report

Just like the military, the police and gendarme are noted for raping students when called to quell uprising on campus. Cases of rape on campus had been reported in various universities and school of learning in Cameroon including the university of Buea, Douala, and Yaounde

Different reports hold that rape has risen from 0 percent to affect 5 percent of women in Cameroon, between 1970 and 2010, prompting a nationwide campaign against this monster

And like in one voice participants at this crowd-pulling workshops all stood up to denounce ‘rapists’ and challenged the government of Cameroon to make every efforts to bringing rapists to face justice.
Whatever the case, rape is already a public health problem in Cameroon and constitutes one of the worst forms of violence against women and girls here. The German Technological Research (GTZ) Cameroon, reported 432,000 rape cases from the country’s ten regions recently. Though persons guilty of rape here can be imprisoned for up to 10 years, only 5 percent of perpetrators of this heinous act consider one of the worst degrading act against women were punished1970 and 2010. And the inability to bringing all those involved to face justice is due to high level corruption in the country’s judiciary coupled with administrative bottlenecks among many others issues related to bad governance. These and many other reasons make procedures for getting legal redress here too cumbersome and lengthy, essentially because of the need for preliminary investigations, from the police and hospital to the legal department, before getting to court. And in the course of these lengthy procedures, most victims encounter lots of interventions and negotiations whereby the case is stopped or withdrawn before justice is rendered notes a joint report by GTZ and a local Non-Governmental Organization in Cameroon.

No matter how it happened, rape is frightening and traumatizing. And people who have been raped need care, comfort, and a way to heal.

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HIV/AIDS: 30th anniversary of untold human destruction. 25m people killed, 34m more infected, over 14 million orphaned children as war continues

The disease needs no introduction. However, Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome popularly known by its English language acronym (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus known also by its English language acronym (HIV) This condition according to; progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system leaving individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections, and tumors.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981, and its cause, HIV, identified in the early 1980s

Scientifically proven is a fact that the disease is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk. Transmission can involve either anal, vaginal or oralsex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

Although there continue to exist a dichotomy between two scientists; American born Robert Gallo, and French born Nobel Prize winner - Luc Montagnier, as to who discovered the AIDS-causing virus, both men are unanimously recognized to have done important work on AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is thirty years old today and counting. I don’t know how old you are. But what I know for sure is that ANNIVERSARIES are times for sober reflection. You would all agree here that thirty years is a long way to go. And it’s now well over thirty years ever since scientists discovered the deadly AIDS disease and by implication thirty years since the battle to eliminate the killer disease started. Therefore the 30-years in the history of this disease call for reflection. Reflection in relation to the number of people infected/affected, killed, fight against the disease, etc, etc.

AIDS is now a pandemic. Logically, yet unfortunately, there seems to be no cure for this deadly disease monster. Since its discovery, HIV/AIDS has infected about 34m people after sending 24m others to their untimely grave. Africa - the continent in which the disease was discovered, and particularly the republic of South Africa, has the world’s largest number of AIDS cases and one of its highest infection rates too. Additionally, over 330,000 children, and 76% of those HIV/AIDS related deaths in the world, occurred in sub-Saharan Africa with over 25 million deaths in southern Africa alone since the epidemic began.

Make no mistake the number of casualties would have been higher were the battle against the disease not taken seriously. The fight against the disease has instills hope in the lives of people in vulnerable countries who were expected to have died of the disease by now.

Today, the death rate is dropping and is expected to drop even more. Attest is the most recent report released in 2009 indicating the disease was able to kill 1.8m people against 2.1m people. Moreover, some 5m lives have already been saved by drug treatment and infections is down by 25% or more from its peak in 33 of the worst-affected countries

Even more hopeful is a recent study which believes “drugs used to treat AIDS may also stop its transmission”. And if that proves true, “the drugs could achieve much of what a vaccine would”, suggests the economic magazine.

Make no mistake; though treatments for AIDS/HIV can slow the course of the disease, there is no known cure or vaccine! Yet, many charlatans including “men of God” and particularly traditional doctors in Africa take advantage of certain situations to deceive the population - insisting they (the charlatans) are capable of treating the disease.

Though antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, the drugs remain expensive and routine access to medication is not available in all countries. Even where they are available some other factors apply including but not limited to administrative bottlenecks, corruption, bad roads, cultural barriers etc..

More disturbing is a fact that people in countries were the disease is causing untold misery are using it for personal gains. In the republic of Cameroon for example, a former minister of Public Heath, and some of his closed collaborators are now awaiting trial for alleged embezzlement of funds (provided by the global fund initiative) associated with the treatment of HIV/AIDS including other communicable diseases. Like the former minister and his collaborators, many leaders of non-governmental organizations with objective of fighting the disease, are feeding fat from funds donated by sympathetic international non for profit interested in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In the early days scientists were often attacked by activists for being more concerned with trying to prevent the epidemic spreading than treating the affected. Some doctors and particularly those in third world countries for example were helpless in the face of the epidemic. I remember in Cameroon, people diagnosed with HIV, were advised to go home, and return after it had developed into full-blown AIDS. It was then the doctors would start treating opportunistic infections with no hope of bringing the patient back to life. Today, the situation is different as many have had training in relations to handling the disease. Whatever the case, it would be a big relieve to the world if AIDS is defeated

As the battle against HIV/AIDS continues, the United Nations launched the ‘Global Fund’ during one of its first meetings on AIDS. And today, the fund as well as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPAR) created by former US president Georg Bush Jr, are the two main distributors of the life serving drugs – antiretroviral around the world. Last year, the PEPAR, spent almost $7 billion on AIDS and tuberculosis that often accompanies it, and it is responsible for helping half of the 6.6m people now on anti-retroviral drugs.

There exist many “heroes” in the fight against HIV/AIDS besides the Global Fund, and the PEPAR. Among whom is Bill Gates. The billionaire, and co-owner of Microsoft Co, uses his Gates and Melinda foundation to discharge much of his Microsoft fortune to help in this fight. Hence, the foundation has created meaningful partnership with government of worst-affected countries including non for profit in its mission.

Thirty years after, the consequences of HIV/AIDS are myriad! Individuals with a positive HIV diagnosis are at high risk for mental health problems, especially depression and anxiety. Not only is depression likely following a positive diagnosis, living with HIV disease is a constant source of stress due to changes in work status, the experience of acute illnesses, and adherence to complicated medication regimes. HIV disease is also highly stigmatizing, and can result in discrimination and outright ostracism. Individuals often lose their social support systems when they are most needed.

While HIV disease can be managed with medications, there is still likelihood of early death which can result in reckless behavior and higher risk for suicide. Furthermore, HIV medications often involve complicated dosage and food restrictions and can produce severe side effects; these medications are a daily reminder of the reality of the illness and even without side effects can be considered a source of stress. Data from a longitudinal study of HIV clients referred to a program for enhanced substance abuse services are used to examine the mental health consequences of HIV/AIDS and the relationship between mental health problems, social support, substance abuse and treatment adherence.

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