Archive for September, 2012

Slavery is a Problem Now More than Ever

September 26, 2012

Girls at work in a red light district in India

There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today. More than any other point in human history, according to the UNCHR and UNICEF. Yesterday, the U.S. President gave a speech at The Clinton Global Initiative where he vowed he would use all resources to end the global trafficking of children and women. We don’t often realize that the clothes we might wear or the chocolate we might eat are made by young people sold into slavery.

In South Asia alone, millions of people from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan are trafficked for forced labor or prostitution. The traffickers are often the people the children know well–neighbors or relatives.

From the map, we can see the highest incidence of trafficking in Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and then in South Asia and Latin America. A mainstream movie like Taken opened our eyes to the seamy underbelly of trafficking in glittery Paris, while Slumdog Millionaire showed us what it means to poor, powerless and young in urban India. So, what can anyone do to make a difference and stop this ongoing crime? Many sites have a step by step guide of what we can do to be more aware of people who are traffickers and those who are trafficked. A major step is lobbying congressmen and industries to enact laws and measures that will target traffickers. With stricter laws and more rigorous border patrol at high-risk areas it’s harder for people to be trafficked out of a country without their consent.

Check out the Not For Sale campaign, where you can see what might be done


In India There’s More Cell Phones than Toilets

September 17, 2012

This is one of the big problems of aid management in India. A report released by the World Bank in 2010 said that the lack of toilets and proper sanitation in India costs a whopping $54 billion annually. The situation now seems to be no better. There are an estimated 450,000 deaths out of 575 million cases of diarrhea every year in India. Due to the lack of proper sanitation and facilities, millions of people in rural and urban areas resort to defecating in public, often along railroad tracks.

This creates long-term public health problems, of course, with illnesses that arise from diarrhea, malaria, trachoma and intestinal worms, but the lack of sanitation leads to the agonizing social situation for anyone’s dignity, especially for women. When so much is spent on programs related to education and empowerment of the poor, you’d hope that some more money would be directed toward having more sanitation facilities across the country, so people could feel empowered in little, but significant ways.

The journalist Adam Yamaguchi did a great profile on this, that he called The World’s Toilet Crisis, which you can check out here

Vanguard Toilets Shoot


Hoarding, Rodents, and The Yosemite

September 10, 2012

Glenn Dean, a National Parks Occupational Safety and Health Specialist, inspects tent cabins for mice entry points at Curry Village at Yosemite National Park on Tuesday, September 4th.

Not cleaning out your basement can occasionally lead to some devastating consequences. Last week, the CDC reported an outbreak of hantavirus.

The National Park Service announced that there were 8 confirmed cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in visitors who stayed at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park since June of this year. Public health officials believe that these visitors may have been exposed to hantavirus while staying at the Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village.

Hantavirus is carried by mice, in their urine and feces, and is an airborne infection. The mice not suffer from the disease but humans do. Humans are thought to become infected when they are exposed to contaminated dust from the nests or droppings of mice. Contaminated dust is frequently encountered when working in or cleaning long-vacated cabins, sheds, or other enclosed areas. Infection is not passed between humans.

It affects the lungs and the symptoms resemble those of influenza–fever, chills, nausea, vomiting. The C.D.C. Web site quotes one survivor as saying that it felt as if he had a “tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face.” The worst case scenario is respiratory failure and internal bleeding.

The last time an outbreak of hantavirus made the news it was in 1993 concerning an outbreak on an Indian reservation in the Four Corners area of the southwest. It was due to a case of hoarding in trailers and tents where mice bred in dark, crowded little rooms.

As of now, five people are ill from the Yosemite outbreak and three have died. Health officials predict that up to 10,000 guests could have been exposed to hantavirus from  sleeping in the cabins since June 10.