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Dear Friends,

After some organizational and planning work, we started, in March 2010, with the precious help and contributions of our supporters, a long-distance 'adoption' project.
For privacy reasons, we will refer to 'our' first three lovely kids, as 'Amadi' (Free man) from Malawi and 'Boipelo' (Proud) and Chipo (Gift) from Rwuanda.
I would like you to make their acquaintance:


This is Amadi in 2010!

Amadi is a sweet kid from a small village in the Mchinji district, in Malawi (Africa).
He comes from a family with 3 kids - he is the middle child. His family lives on agriculture only. They do not have drinking water and must walk a long way to get some.
With our regular monthly support, we will help his growing up, his school education, HIV prevention, medical check-ups, etc., as well as his community's development.
We will report here regular updates (approx. every three months) concerning his growing up, health and education.
** Updates on Amadi **


This is Chipo!

Chipo is a lovely girl, almost 6-year old. She is from a small village in the Ruheru area (Nyaruguru region) of Rwanda (Africa).
She comes from a family with 5 kids. Her family lives on agriculture and breeding (they have two goats).
In 2010 Chipo started attending the local kindergarten.
With our regular monthly support, we will help her growing up, school education, HIV prevention, medical check-ups, and so on. Welcome to the Starfish family, Chipo!
** Updates on Chipo **


This is Boipelo in 2010!

Boipelo is a sweet 8-year old kid from a small village in the Ruheru area (Nyaruguru region) of Rwanda (Africa).
He comes from a family with 3 kids - he is the younger boy. His family lives on agriculture only. He is now attending the basic school, learning to write and read.
With our regular monthly support, we will help his growing up, his school education, HIV prevention, medical check-ups, etc. Furthermore, our regular support will also be used to improve the economical and health conditions of that area, and thanks to ActionAid, Care International and the World Food Program (WFP), it will help the weaker subjects of Ruharu: widows and orphans.
** Updates on Boipelo **

Some Information about Malawi*
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, the biggest city is Blantyre.
Malawi was first settled during the 10th century and remained under native rule until 1891, when it was colonized by the British, who ruled the country until 1964. Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he was ousted from power. Bingu Mutharika, elected in 2004, is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government and its foreign policy is pro-Western, including positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organizations. Malawi is among the world's least developed and most densely populated countries. The economy is mainly based on agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in growing the economy, improving education, health care and the environmental protection and becoming financially independent.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world ranking 165 out of 177 countries according to the UNDP human development index. According to the National Statistical Office, 52.4% of the population of Malawi is considered poor. About 22% of the population are ultra poor and cannot meet the recommended daily food requirements. The country has a per capita gross domestic product of US$190. Malawi’s economy relies heavily on agriculture (crops such as maize, tobacco, tea, and sugarcane among others): nearly 90% of the labour population is engaged in agriculture. Since Malawi’s economy relies heavily on the export of agricultural products, it is particularly vulnerable to external shocks such as drought and declining terms of trade.

Malawi has a high infant mortality and one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. More recently, the 2007 HIV sero-survey of antenatal clinics estimated a national prevalence of 12%, for a total of roughly 930,000 Malawians living with HIV.

Here, the AIDS epidemic is responsible for 8 deaths every hourand AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adults: it is a major factor in the country’s low life expectancy - just 38 years (compared to Western countries' 79).The first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Malawi in 1985 at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, after which HIV prevalence grew quite rapidly.The number of orphans has also increased significantly with current estimates being at over 1 million orphans, more than half of whom are due to HIV and AIDS and related factors. The advent of the HIV and AIDS epidemic has also impacted negatively on Malawi’s fight against tuberculosis.

The AIDS crisis has affected all sectors of society in Malawi, but certain patterns have emerged as the epidemic has progressed. The majority of HIV infections in Malawi occur through heterosexual sex. There is no available information about the number of infections transmitted through sex between men, as homosexuality is illegal, but indications from a small-scale study suggests prevalence may be much higher than previously thought. There is a higher rate of HIV prevalence amongst women than amongst men: around 60% of adults living with HIV in Malawi are female.The majority of HIV infections occur amongst young people, particularly those between the ages of 13 and 24. The epidemic has heavily affected children. At the end of 2007, an estimated 91,000 children in Malawi were living with HIV. HIV prevalence is almost twice as high in urban areas as it is in rural areas. However, studies suggest that prevalence is declining in many urban areas and rising in many rural ones.

With high prevalence of poverty, it is increasingly difficult for the system to cope. This explains why over the last 20 years of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, Malawi has seen the evolution of new strategies for taking care of orphans; for example, the use of community-based childcare centers, adoption and orphanages.Number of people living with HIV: 930,000
Adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate: 12%
Adults aged 15 and up living with HIV: 840,000
Women aged 15 and up living with HIV: 490,000
Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: 91,000
Deaths due to AIDS: 68,000
Orphans due to AIDS aged 0 to 17: 560,000

Some Information about Rwanda*
Rwanda is a small (slightly smaller than the US state of Massachusetts or half the size of Scotland), landlocked country in East Africa, bordered by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda. The capital, Kigali, is located in the center of the country.With an estimated population of over 8,000,000 and a population density of 351 persons/sq km, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa and has one of the highest fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa, with 6.1 children per woman.Most Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda, one of the country's three official languages, and in market towns many people speak Swahili. Educated Rwandans speak French and English.

In 2008 the Rwandan government announced that English would receive official recognition. This change was initiated to ensure further integration with the global economic community. Rwanda was admitted in November 2009 to membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.

At the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS in June 2001, Rwanda was one of 189 Member States that adopted the Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS, a framework for halting and beginning to reverse the HIV epidemic by 2015.The population is relatively young, with 43.5% of the entire population under 15 years old and 55.2% in the 15-49 year age bracket. Life expectancy at birth is 39 years. Rwanda's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is US$ 272; 57% of the population lives below the national poverty line and 37% live in extreme poverty.

In the most recent UNDP Human Development Report, Rwanda was ranked 161st out of 179 countries on the Human Development Index.Rwanda has received considerable international attention due to its 1994 Genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people (or as much as 20% of the total population) were killed. Since then the country has made a recovery and is now considered as a model for developing countries. The government is widely seen as one of the more efficient and honest ones in Africa.

On April 6, 1994 Rwandan President Habyarimana and the Burundian President were killed when Habyarimana's plane was shot down near Kigali Airport. Hutu extremists, suspecting that the Rwandan president was finally about to implement the Arusha Peace Accords, are believed to have been behind the attack. The shooting down of the plane served as the trigger for the Genocide. In the course of the next few months the Hutu majority in Rwanda organized and implemented the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority. Hundreds of thousands of Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates were killed on the orders of the Hutu dominated government under the Hutu Power ideology.In his 1996 report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rwanda, Rene Degni-Segui, stated that "rape was the rule and its absence the exception." The report also stated that "rape was systematic and was used as a weapon" by the perpetrators of the massacres. This can be estimated from the number and nature of the victims as well as from the forms of rape. The Special Rapporteur estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Rwandese women and girls had been raped. A 2000 report prepared by the Organization of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that "we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it". The victims were mostly Tutsi women and girls, of all ages, while men were only seldom the victims of war rape. War rape during the genocide was also directed against Hutu women considered moderates, but also occurred regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation, with young or beautiful women being targeted based only on their gender. Sexual violence against men was much less common, but frequently included mutilation of the genitals, which were often displayed in public. The perpetrators of war rape during the Rwanda genocide were mainly members of the Hutu militia, the "Interahamwe". Rapes were also committed by military soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forced (RAF), including the Presidential Guard, and civilians.The long-term effects of war rape in Rwanda for the victims include social isolation (social stigma attached to rape meant some husbands left wives who had become victims of war rape, or that the victims were rendered unsuitable for marriage), unwanted pregnancies and babies (some women resorted to self-induced abortions), sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS.

Aftermath - Approximately two million Hutus, participants in the Genocide, and the bystanders, with anticipation of Tutsi retaliation, fled from Rwanda, to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and for the most part Zaire. Thousands of them died in epidemics of diseases common to the squalor of refugee camps, such as cholera and dysentery. The United States staged the Operation Support Hope airlift from July to September 1994 to stabilize the situation in the camps. In October 1996, an uprising by the ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge people in eastern Zaire marked the beginning of the First Congo War, and led to a return of more than 600,000 to Rwanda during the last two weeks of November.

This massive repatriation was followed at the end of December 1996 by the return of 500,000 more from Tanzania after they were ejected by the Tanzanian government.

Now in Rwanda 11,2% of the population is HIV positive, mostly due to the rapes that took place during the Genocide. Before the Genocide, in rural areas the HIV infected people were 1,3% of the population - after the Genocide this percentage jumped up to 10,8%.

The Government is now focused on increasing production and reducing poverty while creating an environment of good governance. Vulnerable households (headed by women, widows and children) represented 43% of all households in 2006 and were concentrated in rural areas. Poverty among vulnerable households is around 60%, indicating that vulnerability remains a serious concern.

Recent years have seen progress on gender equality: Rwanda has the highest proportion of female parliamentarians in the world (55%). However, much remains to be done. Much violence against women, such as rape and domestic assault, goes unreported and hence unpunished. There are about 1,350,800 orphans and vulnerable children in Rwanda between the ages of 0 and 17. It is estimated that AIDS accounts for a fifth of these.

Number of people living with HIV: 170,000
Adults aged 15 and up living with HIV: 150,000
Women aged 15 and up living with HIV: 88,000
Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: 21,000
Deaths due to AIDS: 10,000
Orphans due to AIDS aged 0 to 17: 250,000

* Above mentioned data, statistics and info are taken from UNAIDS, ActionAid, Unicef and AVERT reports.


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