Category Archives: poverty

Freed from jail, Cambodian surrogate mothers raise Chinese children

Surrogate photoSophea and her husband participate in a ceremony to rid her and her family of bad karma, in Oudong, Cambodia. December 7, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Matt Blomberg

by Matt Blomberg and and Yon Sineat | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Campaigners say Cambodia’s surrogacy crackdown is unlikely to end the trade as many women will continue to risk arrest for the chance to earn life-changing sums of money
OUDONG, Cambodia, Sophea was eight months pregnant when Cambodian police told her she would have to keep the baby that was never meant to be hers – and forfeit the $10,000 she was promised for acting as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.

Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two apartments where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

They were charged the following month with violating human trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves.

Campaigners say Cambodia’s surrogacy crackdown is unlikely to end the trade as poverty means many women will continue to risk arrest for the chance to earn life-changing sums of money.

For some of the newly-freed women, keeping their baby is a burden as they struggle to get by. For others, it is a relief.

Despite the financial loss, 24-year-old Sophea told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that she was happy the authorities intervened, and that her family had welcomed her baby boy.

“If not for the crackdown and my arrest, I would have been left in deep regret,” said Sophea, who did not give her real name for fear of backlash from the authorities and members of her community.

“I would have given away my baby,” she said just two days after being released from police custody, settling back into village life at the end of a sandy track that winds through rice fields in Oudong, a 90 minute drive north of Phnom Penh.

Members of the other families said the babies are a mixed blessing. Instead of receiving $10,000, the women went home with another mouth to feed, in a country where the average annual income is $1,490, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“It is a very difficult situation. I worry that my income will not support the whole family,” said Pich, a motorcycle-taxi driver whose wife is carrying what will be their third child.

The 40-year-old, who also requested that his real name not be used, said he never supported his wife’s decision to be a surrogate and that he was ashamed she had gone through with it.

Another surrogate, a 24-year-old woman, went behind her husband’s back to take part in the scheme.

The $10,000 would have allowed the couple and their two children to move out of the shack they share with 12 members of their extended family, said the woman on condition of anonymity.

“I agreed to give birth at the provincial hospital and look after the baby, but I don’t know how we will get the money to support and raise another child,” she said.

Ros Sopheap, director of the charity Gender and Development for Cambodia, said poverty will likely drive more women to engage in surrogacy – and that few know the practice is illegal.

“Very few people are aware of what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s against the law,” she said.

“The reality is that these women do this because they are living in poverty. So as long as there is a demand for surrogate mothers, they will continue.”

Southeast Asia has long been a top destination for couples seeking surrogate mothers. Thailand banned the practice in 2015 after several high-profile cases, followed by Cambodia in 2016.

In 2017, an Australian nurse and two Cambodians were jailed for 18 months for operating an illegal surrogacy clinic.

In the country’s most recent surrogacy raid – just last month – 11 pregnant women and four facilitators were arrested.

Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said the 32 women were released on humanitarian grounds last week, but that the fate of the latest 11 surrogates is unclear.

Each case will be judged independently and “law enforcement will become stricter” in the future, according to the official.

It would be difficult, she added, for authorities to track down those who organised surrogacy rings, or the Chinese couples who paid for Cambodian women to bear their children.

“Even surrogate mothers did not know nor (have) contact with the one who wanted the babies,” said Chou Bun Eng.

Sophea said she preferred not to know who the biological parents were.

“I will not tell my son what happened in the past,” she said. “I won’t tell him about his actual Chinese parents.”

She said her priority upon returning home was to invite a Buddhist monk to conduct a cleansing ceremony – in order to rid the family of any bad karma incurred during the ordeal.

Her four-year-old daughter and extended family have also welcomed the baby, she said after the ceremony, which was attended by a dozen relatives and several village elders.

“The whole family loves him,” Sophea said. “My husband (a construction worker) told me: ‘Your son is my son’.”
http://news.trust.org/item/20181210101810-y6rbm/

Poverty-Care for Creation Appalachia Immersion Trip

CMSM

Lexington, KY
Oct. 25-28, 2015 (29th optional) *RSVP Deadline: Sept. 1st

tin_can_8_10-980-copyPoverty in the U.S. is too often a forgotten and misunderstood reality, especially in the rural area of Appalachia. With Pope Francis’ encyclical linking Carefor Creation and poverty with “integral ecology,” CMSM invites you to consider an immersion encounter with the people in the concrete struggle for “integralecology.”

ENCOUNTER: We will have the opportunity to visit organizations working closely with those on the margins. Such organizations address health care, housing, women and children, sustainable food, and alternative schools. We will also visit sites and organizations that illuminate the issue of environmental destruction and health issues, such as strip mining, coal, black lung, and deforestation. We will learn from speakers from various viewpoints on these issues. There will be regular times for group prayer and reflection on our encounters to deepen insight and friendship with each other. *See below for a more detailed schedule.

WHO: You are invited! But also consider others in your community who may have a desire or who you think it may be helpful for them to have this personal encounter.

WHEN: 6pm Sunday Oct. 25th to 7pm Wed.Oct. 28, with optional Thursday morning session.

COSTS: Travel to Lexington, lodging, and some food/drink. We will provide some meals. We also have some financial assistance for those with particular need.Please don’t let money be a barrier to this deeply spiritual encounter.

LODGING:

The only pre-booking required is for Sunday evening Oct. 25th and Wed. evening Oct. 28th. Monday and Tuesday we will be traveling and staying at other locations.
For Sunday and Wed. we have reserved a block of rooms at:

University Inn  [ www.Univestiy-lexingtonhotelsone.com ]
1229 S. Limestone
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 278-6625

Each participant will have to make their own reservations for each night. Rate: $90/night – bring your tax exempt information and its tax free. Both singles and double are available (share aroom and reduce expenses). Use the group name: CMSM when reserving a room. Please makeyour reservations before October 1st.

The hotel is about 6 miles from the airport. There is no shuttle service, so if you need a ride let us know ahead of time and we’ll pick you up.

CLOTHING and TRAVEL:

The fall is still warm in Kentucky and it is shaping up to be a nice trip. This trip is not well suited for people with limited mobility. We will be travelling by van and have many stops during the day. Airport to use is Lexington, KY. *Please don’t purchase plane tickets until we confirm adequate numbers for the trip.

COORDINATORS
Rev. Neil Pezzulo: 513-304-2878 (cell)
Eli McCarthy: 510-717-8867 (cell)

RSVP and CONTACT: If you’re interested in joining us, please RSVP by Sept. 1st to
Brian McLauchlin at bmclauch62@aol.com or 847-431-8145.

With Hope,
Eli
Schedule October 25 – 29, 2015

Sunday, October 25

6:00 p.m. Van pick up at Hotel for Dinner at Restaurant in Lexington, KY. Bp. John Stowe invited.

Monday, October 26

10:00 a.m. Orientation, Stanton, KY. Fr. John S. Rausch, Glmy

11:30 New Hope Clinic, Owingsville, KY–free clinic. Deacon Bill Grimes

Lunch

1:30 p.m. Frontier Housing, Morehead, KY–low income housing. Tom Carew

3:30 Sarah’s Place, Sandy Hook, KY–women’s and children’s issue. Sr. Sally Neale

Dinner

Tuesday, October 27

8:30 a.m. Prayer & Reflection about Monday

9:30 Christian Appalachian Project, Hagger Hill, KY–13th largest non-profit in U.S.

11:30 St. Vincent Mission, David, KY–sustainable food production. Sr. Kathleen Weiggen

Lunch
1:00 p.m. David School, David, KY–alternative school. Diantha Daniels

2:30 Mountaintop Removal (Martin Co. or Salyersville)–strip mining.

Dinner

Wednesday, October 28

8:30 a.m. Prayer and Reflection about Tuesday

9:30 Mt. Tabor Ecumen. Benedictine Monastery–only women’s monastery in E. KY

11:30 Vicco, KY–life after coal; Black Lung discussion

Lunch Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church–Franciscans

2:30 Robinson Forest Reclamation Project, Breathitt County

6:00 Arrive in Lexington (Prayer and Reflection TBD)

Dinner

Thursday, October 29 (optional)

10:00 Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY–discuss land use. Christy Brown

Investigation Tears Veil Off World Bank’s “Promise” to Eradicate Poverty

Nearly 50 percent of the estimated 3.4 million people who were physically or economically displaced by World Bank-funded projects in the last decade were from Africa and Asia. Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS
Nearly 50 percent of the estimated 3.4 million people who were physically or economically displaced by World Bank-funded projects in the last decade were from Africa and Asia. Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 16 2015 (IPS) – An expose published Thursday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media partners has revealed that in the course of a single decade, 3.4 million people were evicted from their homes, torn away from their lands or otherwise displaced by projects funded by the World Bank.

Over 50 journalists from 21 countries worked for nearly 12 months to systematically analyze the bank’s promise to protect vulnerable communities from the negative impacts of its own projects. Continue reading Investigation Tears Veil Off World Bank’s “Promise” to Eradicate Poverty

Obama Pushes Africa Investment as US Corporations ‘Drool’ over Resources

Common Dreams

Critics warn Obama’s multibillion dollar push to open Africa for U.S. business will further dispossess and impoverish people across the continent.

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer

President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel during the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel during the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

 

 

 

 
At a  Washington, DC gathering of African state leaders and U.S. corporations, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled a multi-billion dollar drive to promote U.S. business investments in Africa. While the President said the plan will unleash “the next era of African growth,” experts warn it amounts to more of the same extractive policies that have already impoverished and dispossessed people across the continent.

“All you have to do is look who has a seat at the table to understand what is happening,” said Emira Woods, expert on U.S. foreign policy in Africa and social impact director at [ http://www.thoughtworks.com/ ]ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, in an interview with Common Dreams. “We’re talking African leaders, some with bad human rights records, and American CEOs.”

“Strip away all the modern PR and prettified palaver and it’s an ugly scramble for oil, minerals, and markets for U.S. goods. Everyone wants a piece of Africa: drooling outsiders, corrupt insiders, cynical middle men.”
—John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
Obama’s much-touted “Africa Summit”—which started Monday and ends Wednesday—is co-sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation, and was attended by chief executives of General Electric, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, IBM, and other multinational corporations. Continue reading Obama Pushes Africa Investment as US Corporations ‘Drool’ over Resources

The “Billion Dollar Map” Under the Appearance of Good

AEFJN

French

The Billion Dollar Map
econ3The World Bank has presented a new project called “Billion Dollar Map” aimed at helping African governments find out about natural resources in their countries. The project tries to identify those natural resources which are not yet exploited in African countries, estimate the reserves of these resources as well as their value on the market. The World Bank believes that the information will help African governments in negotiations and that civil society will be able to assess the value of any deal.

It is estimated that 30 sub-Saharan African countries are significantly rich in natural resources and that they hold 30% of the world’s reserves of uranium, platinum, diamonds and gold. Moreover, the continent has great reserves of oil, coal and gas. In spite of this wealth, 50% of its population is living below the poverty line.

According to a 2013 report by Global Financial Integrity, African countries have lost between $600 Billion and $1.4 trillion over the past 30 years in net resources transfer. However, it is not only the lack of information that causes the loss of millions of dollars every year; there is also a set of problems caused by a lack of transparency in negotiations, an unfair tax system, the abuse of transnational companies operating in developing countries and corruption or inadequate infrastructure.

Continue reading The “Billion Dollar Map” Under the Appearance of Good

What’s Wrong With the Electrify Africa Act

The Nation.com  , Foreign Policy In Focus, Janet Redman, Emira Woods, John Cavanagh and Foreign Policy In Focus

Secretary of State John Kerry tours the General Electric
Secretary of State John Kerry tours the General Electric

Secretary of State John Kerry tours the General Electric compound in Angola

This week, the House will vote on the Electrify Africa Act. This bill directs the president to draw up a multi-year strategy to strengthen the ability of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to “develop an appropriate mix of power solutions” to provide electricity, fight poverty and “drive economic growth.”

Because of strong pressure from climate justice advocates, some positives—such as integrated resource planning and decentralized renewable energy—are named as a part of that mix. But because it still leaves the door wide open to fossil fuels, the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect people or their environment.

And the debate over Electrify Africa continues as the Senate drafts a companion bill.

Powering Fossil Fuels

Behind both pieces of legislation is a White House initiative announced last summer called “[ http://fpif.org/electrifying-africa-cost-africans/ ]Power Africa.” It frames President Barack Obama’s approach to energy investment on the continent, which has been condemned by environmental justice groups. It’s an “all of the above” energy strategy that favors the fossil fuel companies that are destroying the planet and corrupting Washington.

Continue reading What’s Wrong With the Electrify Africa Act

Africa loses $50bn a year in plundered resources

Mail & Guardian

Lynley Donnelly  

Clamping down on illicit plundering of food and natural resources could curb Africa’s food shortages, says the latest Africa Progress Panel report.

African Forest and Fisheries
African Forest and Fisheries

Africa’s forests and fisheries, which could be an answer to the continent’s food shortages and dire poverty levels, are instead being stripped illicitly to the tune of almost $20-billion each year.

When added to the losses the continent is experiencing as a result of other illicit outflows, $50-billion is lost overall each year, or 5.7% of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).

This is according to findings from the latest Africa Progress Panel report released on Thursday. It was scheduled to launch in Abuja, Nigeria, where the [ http://mg.co.za/article/2014-05-07-world-economic-forum-on-africa-opens-in-nigeria ]World Economic Forum on Africa is being held, but the launch was moved to London because of rising security concerns.

Senegal was estimated to lose as much as $300-million or 2% of its national GDP to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing alone in 2012, according to the report.

Continue reading Africa loses $50bn a year in plundered resources