January 26, 2009 —
I recently had the great fortune of spending over a week in Uganda with a friend. She was considering working at a hospital located in the Bwindi region in the southwest corner of the country, and she asked if I wanted to join her in a scouting trip of the hospital.
My answer? “I’m packing my bags right now!”
For a photographer like myself, the opportunity to see “the pearl of Africa,” as Winston Churchill once described Uganda, was one I could not pass up. I was also excited to visit the Bwindi Community Hospital which, I learned, bordered the Impenetrable Forest. With a name like that, I imagined magical and wonderful things must happen there. But what I experienced in Bwindi was beyond my wildest imagination.
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November 25, 2008 —
I’m often saddened by how little the conflict in Iraq shows up in the news these days. It was already fairly underreported, and then the election and financial crisis knocked it even farther off the media radar. The good news is that there actually is less violence in Iraq to report these days. The country has stabilized quite a bit from when I was a reporter there in 2004.
But it’s still a very dangerous place. And the daily UNICEF operations briefs I read almost always include some disheartening news from Iraq. (Two recent ones contained subheads Five killed, one injured north of Baghdad and Iraq violence leaves 14 dead.)
|© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2321/Michael Kamber
|IRAQ: Children follow American soldiers as they patrol the streets of a neighborhood in the town of Falluja. The levels of violence in the city have fallen dramatically over the course of the year. But critical shortages of medicines and vaccines have left nearly one-third of children in remote areas without basic services. One in five Iraqi children has stunted growth, 1 in 13 is underweight, half are missing routine vaccinations and 1 in 5 girls is not in school.
I sometimes think that one of the reasons we Americans don’t want to know too much about the situation in Iraq is that it’s just so complicated. There are a lot of different combative groups, and it can feel as though it’s sometimes hard to know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. But for UNICEF, it’s simple: kids are always the good guys.
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