All posts by sndden

Missionary priest rescues children from slavery in the DRC mines

Rebuild
A miner in eastern DRC. Credit: Griff Tapper / AFP / Getty Images.

.- Fr. Willy Milayi is a Missionary of the Immaculate Conception who lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He works rescuing children who have fled the coltan mines and offering them a place to live and learn a trade.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one the world’s top producers of coltan, a rare mineral used in the manufacture of many electronic devices, such as cell phones.

Working conditions in the DRC’s coltan mines are dangerous and the workers, including young children, are often exploited.

“The exploitation of these mines is in the hands of the guerrillas,” explained Fr. Malayi in an interview with the Diocese of Málaga in Spain.

“Our cell phones are stained with the blood of the ‘walking dead children’.”

Malayi works with children who have escaped forced labor in the mines. Many of them are living on the streets when he finds them. Some 20,000 children live on the streets of Kinshasa alone.

The Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception have started an educational center in the city. He described the center as “a home where they can learn a trade that ensures them a future away from the mines and to never return to the streets.”

“We can’t solve all the problems, but we thank God for every one of the children we can rescue. It’s a true miracle that is made possible thanks to people of goodwill,” Malayi said.

The priest recounted one boy he encountered in his ministry, who had escaped the mines and fled hundreds of miles.

Starving and grief-stricken, the boy needed someone to listen to him. “After giving him something to eat, he told me about his life,” Malayi said.

The boy said that his family had been kidnapped from their house by militiamen, who took them to the forest and told them they must choose between death and mining coltan 13 hours a day.

The family chose the mines: “They worked 650 feet below the surface taking out 15 sacks of coltan a day, for which they received two dollars at the end of the month,” Malayi said.

When riots broke out against the militias, they raped and killed the boy’s mother and two teenage sisters. They also killed his father.

“He managed to escape. But he told me amid tears: ‘I’m not afraid of death, I’m a corpse and a corpse does not fear death’,” the priest said.

At the educational center, the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception teach the children “to take care of each other,” Malayi said.

“We have heard more than one of them say: ‘Father Willy taught us that when we are older we’ll have to help.’ I think this is a very important step,” he said.

Malayi called on Christians to “defend the dignity of the person, the image of God” and recognize the value of each person as a brother or sister.

“In our world this concept has been lost, and we have put material things ahead of people,” he said. “What is killing us today is indifference. We don’t want to know anything about other people’s problems, and we just talk about our own. What is more worrisome than material poverty is spiritual poverty.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/how-one-priest-is-helping-children-whove-escaped-slavery-in-the-drc-mines-25986

Plastic: The Largest Predator in Our Oceans

Environment
Plastics are increasingly polluting the seas and oceans and threatening marine ecosystems. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

LONDON, (IPS) – Plastic pollution is currently the largest global threat to marine life. Each year, 10-20 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans, killing approximately 100,000 marine mammals and over a million seabirds.

Whilst the media has certainly helped raise awareness and inspire a change of attitude towards plastics, the amount of plastic in our oceans is still rising. As a result, vast numbers of sea species are now critically endangered, and the need for urgent action has never been stronger.

Marine Debris

So, where does all this plastic come from? Well, around 80% of all marine debris, derives from from land-based sources. This includes littering, illegal waste dumping, and the improper disposal of products such as wet wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds.

And although more parts of the world are now turning their attention towards the issue, the amount of rubbish entering the ocean is rising, with one truckload of plastic entering the ocean every single minute.

The remaining 20% of marine debris is the result of ocean based activity. This is mainly from the fishing industry, but also caused by boats that collect trash and dump it out at sea.

Dwindling Populations

Currently, there are more than 5 trillion plastic particles floating around the world’s oceans and this number is continuing to rise fast. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we don’t act now.

But what exactly would this mean for marine life?

The WWF states as many as 700 marine species are currently threatened by plastics. But whilst large numbers die from choking on shards of plastic, the chemicals in plastic such as petroleum and bisphenol, are proving just as deadly.

Recent studies have revealed that 50% of the world’s coral reefs have already been destroyed, and another 40% could be lost over the next 30 years.

When plastic is ingested, these toxic chemicals are released and absorbed into the body tissue. Overtime, this can impact fertility and weaken the immune system. As a result, those feeding on plastic are breeding less and becoming increasingly vulnerable to diseases and infections, resulting in population decline.

This is particularly concerning for top marine predators such as dolphins, polar bears and whales, with studies revealing higher contamination levels among predators at the top of the food chain. Yet this isn’t caused by ingesting plastic directly.

Instead, pollutants are accumulating in their bodies through a process called trophic transfer. This is where toxins consumed by smaller creatures such as plankton and krill are stored into their body tissue. Over time, these toxins are passed up through the food chain. In most cases, these toxins come from microplastics.

The Rise of Microplastics

Microplastic are small plastic particles (less than 5mm) and it’s estimated there are between 15-51 trillion of these individual individual plastic pieces floating in our oceans.

In a recent UK study, scientists examined 50 stranded sea creatures including porpoises, dolphins, grey seals and a pygmy sperm whale, and microplastics were found in the gut of every single animal.

And it’s not just ocean creatures that are at risk. Microplastics have also been discovered in seafood, with research suggesting that each seafood consumer in Europe ingests an average of 11,000 plastic particles each year.

How Can We Beat It?

Plastic pollution is a man-made disaster, and it won’t go away by itself. To end plastic pollution, we must start by reducing our plastic consumption, particularly single-use plastics.

Much of the power lies with the large corporations and manufacturers, and they desperately need to realise their responsibility, and find other alternatives to plastic.

But you can still make an impact on a smaller scale, by reducing your own plastic consumption and encouraging others around you.

It won’t be easy, since almost everything we buy is packaged in plastic. In fact, UK supermarkets alone produce 800,000 tonnes of plastic every year. But start by making small changes wherever possible.

Look for zero waste products like shampoo bars and deoderant sticks, or products made from plastic alternatives such as bamboo toothbrushes and glass milk bottles. Participate in a beach clean every time you visit a body of water.

There are also plenty of great charities working to help combat plastic pollution. Plastic Oceans, Project Aware and Changing Tides Foundation are just a few examples but there are many more out there to choose from!

*SLO active are an exciting new social enterprise dedicated to cleaning up and protecting our ocean. They are cause-led, focusing on oceanwear and activism. For every piece bought, SLO active will donate to one of their ocean charity partners of your choice. They call it ‘Earth to Ocean’. Learn more at https://sloactive.com/

 

 

 

 

http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/12/plastic-largest-predator-oceans/

Pope Francis on Christmas: Christ’s light is greater than the darkness of world’s conflicts

Pope message
Pope Francis gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 25, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

.- On Christmas, Pope Francis prayed for Christ to bring light to the instability in Iraq, Lebanon, Venezuela, Yemen, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, and other parts of the world experiencing conflict.

“The Son is born, like a small light flickering in the cold and darkness of the night. That Child, born of the Virgin Mary, is the Word of God made flesh … There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still,” Pope Francis said from the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 25.

In his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis said that the light of Christ is greater than the darkness of broken family relationships or the suffering endured in economic, geopolitical, and ecological conflicts.

“May Christ bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world. May he bring comfort to the beloved Syrian people who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade,” he said.

“May the Lord Jesus bring light to the Holy Land, where he was born as the Savior of mankind, and where so many people – struggling but not discouraged – still await a time of peace, security and prosperity. May he bring consolation to Iraq amid its present social tensions, and to Yemen, suffering from a grave humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The pope prayed for the Lebanese people to overcome their current political crisis and to “rediscover their vocation to be a message of freedom and harmonious coexistence for all.” He remembered also Latin America, where he said many nations are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval.

Pope Francis asked for God’s protection for all people who are forced to emigrate due to injustice who endure “unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps.”

He prayed for the people of Africa, asking Christ to console those who suffer from violence, natural disasters, and disease.

“May he bring peace to those living in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, torn by continuing conflicts,” the pope said. “And may he bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”

Pope Francis also issued a special Christmas message for South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Rev. John Chalmers, the former moderator of the Scottish Presbyterian Church:

“We wish to extend to you and to all the people of South Sudan our best wishes for your peace and prosperity, and to assure you of our spiritual closeness as you strive for a swift implementation of the Peace Agreements,” states the message sent to South Sudan’s political leaders, who came to the Vatican for a peace-building retreat in April.

“May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, enlighten you and guide your steps in the way of goodness and truth, and bring to fulfillment our desire to visit your beloved country,” the message states.

After the pope’s Christmas blessing, the great bell of St. Peter’s Basilica rang out in celebration of Christ’s birth. The campanone bell is only rung on the solemnities of Christmas, Easter, and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

“May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love,” the pope prayed.

Pope Francis called on the 55,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to practice charity and care for the most vulnerable.

“Through our frail hands, may he clothe those who have nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry and heal the sick. Through our friendship, such as it is, may he draw close to the elderly and the lonely, to migrants and the marginalized,” he said.

“On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world,” Pope Francis said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-on-christmas-christs-light-is-greater-than-the-darkness-of-worlds-conflicts-68891

Stella Maris supports seafarers facing unseen crisis at Christmas

Seafearer
Stella Maris port chaplain with seafarer

While most businesses and companies have started winding down operations in preparation for the Christmas holidays, global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) will be busy supporting the many seafarers who face unseen difficulties this time of year.

The organisation’s port chaplains and ship visitors in Great Britain and around the world are working through Christmas to ensure that crew members, and particularly those going through crises, receive vital pastoral and practical support.

In one recent case, Stella Maris stepped in to help the Kenyan crew of a vessel who lacked food and water and had received death threats from the ship’s owner. The charity arranged with the local church for the crew to be visited and is working with colleagues to get the situation resolved.

“This will be a hugely stressful time for not only the crew but for their families back home too. Christmas can be a lonely time for many seafarers, without family around, but for those caught up in such awful circumstances, the effect upon their mental wellbeing is huge,” said Martin Foley, Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator.

Last week, a Stella Maris chaplain in Southern Africa learnt about a fishing vessel that was arrested in port with six seafarers on board who are without sufficient food and water. They have also not been paid their wages for a few months now.

The local Stella Maris team intervened, providing emergency food and water supplies. One of the seafarers was shivering from the cold so the chaplain gave him his own warm jacket for which he was really grateful to have. Stella Maris continues to monitor the situation.

Martin said, “Sadly, situations like these are not unfamiliar with Stella Maris port chaplains and ship visitors, as the charity’s HYPERLINK “www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/life-sea-report” Life at Sea Report – the second edition of which will be published next year – has shown.”

He added: “The sight of a Stella Maris port chaplain or ship visitor going on board a ship is a welcome one for many seafarers, especially at this time of year when we ensure that seafarers are not forgotten and show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make throughout the year.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38585

Sister thanks ACN for bringing smiles to 19,000 children this Christmas

Sr. AnnieSr Annie with children image: ACN

Thousands of Syrian children will be smiling this Christmas thanks to Aid to the Church in Need – according to a Sister helping suffering Christians.

In an audio-message, project partner Sister Annie Demerjian thanked the charity’s benefactors for supporting children living in the ruins of the Syrian crisis.

She said: “ACN brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts.”

For the eighth year running, ACN is providing Christmas parcels for displaced children, including warm clothes, shoes, toys, devotional items and other essentials.

Sr Annie praised ACN’s work with the elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo, providing food, soap and other washing items, medicine, clothes and shoes. She said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you. They thank you and they told us that they pray for you. Really you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”

ACN supported a project in Aleppo, at the request of Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen of Aleppo, to provide food packages for the poorest Christian families, which also include financial aid for fuel and heating oil.

Sr Annie said: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”

During the civil war, more than 1,700 Christians were killed and more than 600 abducted.

Christians in Syria have declined by up to two-thirds within the last decade. In Aleppo, the Christian population has declined by more than 80 percent since 2010, falling from 180,000 to 29,000.

Throughout Syria, ACN has provided education scholarships, medicine, rent money for housing, repairs to homes and churches, and support for Sisters and priests. Last year, the charity supported 185 projects in the country.

In her audio-message, Sr Annie said: “I am very happy to have this opportunity to send you a message to thank you for all that you are doing for our people and our families, especially those who are suffering from the consequences of the war.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38531

Haiti’s Cry for Help as Climate Change is Compared to an Act of Violence against the Island Nation

Joseph-Jouthe
Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe says that “climate change is a very big terror in Haiti”, and without funds the Caribbean island nation is unable to adapt and mitigate against it. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

 

MADRID, Dec 13 2019 (IPS) – Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe has compared the climate emergency to a violent act and appealed to the international community for help to fight climate change.

“Climate change is a very big terror in Haiti. It’s very hard for us to deal with climate change,” Jouthe told IPS on the margins of the United Nations climate summit, the 25th Conference Of The Parties (COP25), in Madrid, Spain.

“Haiti is not responsible for what’s going on with climate change but we are suffering from it. We want better treatment from the international community.”

Jouthe said Haiti remains committed to strengthening its resilience to climate shocks and to contributing to the global effort to mitigate the phenomenon.

Haiti is pursuing a four-fold objective in relation to climate change:

  • promoting, at the level of all sectors and other ministries, a climate-smart national development;
  • creating a coherent response framework for country directions and actions to address the impacts of climate change;
  • promoting education on the environment and climate change as a real strategic lever to promote the emergence of environmental and climatic citizenship; and
  • putting in place a reliable measurement, reporting and verification system that can feed into the iterative planning processes of national climate change initiatives.

But Jouthe said the country simply cannot achieve these targets without financial help.

“In Haiti all the indicators are red. We have many projects but as you may know [The Caribbean Community] CARICOM doesn’t have enough funding to build projects,” he said.

Patrice Cineus, a young Haitian living in Quebec, said access to funding has been a perennial problem for Haiti.

But he believes Haiti is partly to blame for the seeming lack of inability to quickly receive financial help.

“Haiti, my country needs to build evidence-based policies, and this will make it easier to attract help from the international community,” Cineus told IPS.

“If we don’t have strong policies, it’s not possible. We need research within the country. We need innovative programmes within the country and then we can look for financial support and technical support.

“We cannot have access to funding because the projects we are submitting are not well done. We don’t use scientific data to build them. They are not done professionally,” Cineus added.

Cineus’ theory appears to be substantiated by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which helps CARICOM member states address the issue of adaptation and climate change.

The centre’s Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie said since 2016, under an Italian programme, it is required to develop projects that would help countries adapt to different areas of climate change.

“One of the areas that we have been considering, and we spoke with Haiti, is to build resilience in terms of schools and shelters that can be used in the case of a disaster.

“Funds have been approved but, unfortunately, unlike the other member states where we have already implemented at least one, and some cases two, projects, we have not been able to get the projects in Haiti off the ground,” Leslie told IPS.

“Each time they have identified an area, when we go there the site is not a suitable site and then we have to start the process again.”

While Haiti waits for funding, Dr. Kénel Délusca, current head of mission of a technical assistance project, AP3C, of the Ministry of Environment and Environment and the European Union, said the country remains one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.

Scientists say extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts will become worse as the planet warms, and Island nations like Haiti are expected to be among the hardest hit by those and other impacts of a changing climate, like shoreline erosion.

“The marine environment is extremely important to the Haitian people. There are more than 8 million people living in coastal communities in Haiti,” Délusca told IPS.

“There are more or less 50,000 families whose activities are based on these specific ecosystems. In other words, this is a very important ecosystem for Haiti and different levels – at the economic level, at the cultural level, at the social level.”

Haiti is divided into 10 départements, and Délusca said nine of them are coastal. Additionally, he said the big cities of Haiti are all located within the coastal zone.

“These ecosystems are very strategic to the development of Haiti. The Haitians have a lot of activities that are based on the marine resources. We also develop some cultural and social activities that are based on these environments,” Délusca said.

For poor island countries like Haiti, studies show, the economic costs, infrastructural damage and loss of human life as a result of climate change is already overwhelming. And scientists expect it will only get worse.

Though Haiti’s greenhouse gas emissions amount cumulatively to less than 0.03 per cent of global carbon emissions, it is a full participant in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by five percent by 2030.

 

 

 

 

http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/12/haitis-cry-help-climate-change-compared-act-violence-island-nation/

Top Global Scientists Call for ‘Profound Food System Transformation’ to Combat Extreme Malnutrition

malutrition
A new multi-paper World Health Organization report published Monday in The Lancet details the need to overhaul global food systems to address mass malnutrition. (Photo: Bartosz Hadyniak/Getty Images)

A multi-part World Health Organization report published Monday in the British medical journal The Lancet detailed the need to urgently transform the world’s failing food systems to combat the coexistence of undernourishment and obesity—or the “double burden of malnutrition.”

Based on global data from recent decades, the WHO report estimated that more than 150 million children are stunted worldwide while nearly 2.3 billion children and adults—about 30% of the planet’s human population—are overweight.

Dr. Francesco Branca, the report’s lead author and director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, said that “we can no longer characterize countries as low-income and undernourished, or high-income and only concerned with obesity.”

As he put it: “We are facing a new nutrition reality.”

This new reality “is driven by changes to the food system, which have increased availability of ultra-processed foods that are linked to increased weight gain, while also adversely affecting infant and pre-schooler diets,” said co-author and University of North Carolina professor Barry Popkin. “These changes include disappearing fresh food markets, increasing supermarkets, and the control of the food chain by supermarkets, and global food, catering and agriculture companies in many countries.”

Considering these changes, Branca explained that “all forms of malnutrition have a common denominator—food systems that fail to provide all people with healthy, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets.”

“Changing this will require action across food systems—from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labeling, to consumption and waste,” he added. “All relevant policies and investments must be radically re-examined.”

This is especially true for the more than a third of low- and middle-income countries that face “the two extremes of malnutrition.” A WHO statement highlighted the following regions: sub-Saharan Africa, south and east Asia, and the Pacific.

Authors of the WHO report urged world governments, the United Nations, civil society, academics, the media, donors, the private sector, and economic platforms to pursue fundamental changes to global food systems with the aim of ending mass malnutrition. Doing so, according to the authors, means seeking assistance from grassroots groups, farmers and their unions, faith-based leaders, advocates for planetary health, leaders of green companies, local politicians, and consumer associations.

“Given the political economy of food, the commodification of food systems, and growing patterns of inequality worldwide, the new nutrition reality calls for a broadened community of actors who work in mutually reinforcing and interconnected ways on a global scale,” said Branca. “Without a profound food system transformation, the economic, social, and environmental costs of inaction will hinder the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come.”

The report acknowledged that fighting malnutrition requires successfully promoting healthier diets, which WHO defines as: optimal breastfeeding practices in the first two years; a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, nuts, and seeds; and limited amounts of animal products—particularly processed meats—as well as foods and beverages high in sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and salt.

“Today’s publication of the WHO Series on the Double Burden of Malnutrition comes after 12 months of Lancet articles exploring nutrition in all its forms,” wrote The Lancet editor-in-chief Dr. Richard Horton in an editorial accompanying the report.

“With these and other articles across Lancet journals throughout 2019, it has become clear that nutrition and malnutrition need to be approached from multiple perspectives,” Horton continued, “and although findings have sometimes converged, there is still work to be done to understand malnutrition’s multiple manifestations.”

In January, as Common Dreams reported, more than three dozen experts with the EAT-Lancet Commission called for a “global agricultural revolution” and people worldwide to adopt a “planetary health diet” to tackle the harmful nutritional and environmental impacts of the world’s unhealthy, unsustainable food system.

Co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University explained at the time that “to be healthy, diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/16/top-global-scientists-call-profound-food-system-transformation-combat-extreme