There is no official national register of pensioners in the country of Uganda


The ministry of Public Service says many pensioners do not show up for verification hence leading to delays in payment of their monthly dues and the once off gratuity. Courtesy photo  


By Nelson Wesonga

Kampala

Government says it does not have records of pensioners due to “lack of data and personal files.”

According to the ministry of Public Service, many pensioners do not show up for verification thus leading to delays in payment of their monthly dues and the once off gratuity.
The State minister for Public Service, Mr David Karubanga told MPs during plenary that the ministry will, carry out a census and biometric validation of pensioners starting February 20.
“The ministry of Public Service does not have a national register of pensioners,” Mr Karubanga said yesterday.
“Despite the decentralisation of pension management, a number of votes [ministries] have not verified the records on the payroll.”
A day earlier, Aruu Member of Parliament, Odonga Otto had told the August House that many pensioners have not been paid for several months.
Many were, therefore, depending on their relatives – who already have other financial responsibilities – to pay their bills or to buy basics.
Those without relatives are borrowing items from shopkeepers.
Shopkeepers though can only lend them for a few months expecting to be paid once they get their gratuity.
Following Mr Odonga’s remarks, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said the government was treating the senior citizens disrespectfully.
On Wednesday, Mr Karubanga also said the Public Service ministry had for the last four years not carried out verification of pensioners “due to funding shortage and lack of clear addresses" [of the pensioners].

The verification of the pensioners will be done between February 20 and March 24 at the district headquarters by Face Technologies.

According to Mr Karubanga, Face Technologies will do the work, which the ministry failed.

However, it is still not clear how much the ministry will pay the company.

Face Technologies is the company that processes driving permits for motorists.

Workers Members of Parliament Margaret Rwabushaija and the Erute Member of Parliament Jonathan Odur said the government should tell Ugandans when it would pay the pensioners all their arrears.

Mr Karubanga said payments are the responsibility of the Finance ministry.

All that Public Service does is to furnish the Finance ministry with the particulars of the claimants.


Elderly persons petition Parliament over government funding:

 

By Olive Eyotaru


Posted Sunday, July 6 2014


He also said the President’s recent commitment that the programme will be extended to Nebbi has been futile, yet the pilot programme is slated to end in February 2015.


PARLIAMENT- A group of elderly persons, under their umbrella body, the National Network for Older Persons of Uganda (NNOPU), have petitioned Parliament, demanding an explanation from government over funding towards the Senior Citizens Grant programme under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) programme.

SAGE, aimed at expanding social protection to vulnerable persons, was launched in 2011 and is currently supporting 104,000 older persons above 65 years in 14 pilot districts.

Presenting the petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga on Friday, NNOPU chairperson, Mr John Orach, lamented that there is no financial commitment reflected in the 2014/2015 budget framework paper.

He also said the President’s recent commitment that the programme will be extended to Nebbi has been futile, yet the pilot programme is slated to end in February 2015.

“This has cast doubt on the future of the programme. The lack of demonstrable government commitment has caused anxiety among older persons in the districts where this programme has not been implemented, as well as uncertainty in the 14 pilot districts where it is currently operating,” Mr Orach noted.

Ms Kadaga acknowledged the efforts of the group, also revealing that she has been receiving complaints from the elderly persons in Busoga over lack of access to the money.

Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, told Sunday Monitor that the budget is the responsibility of line ministries, which Finance implements.

Efforts to get a comment from the State minister for the Elderly and the Disabled, Mr Suleiman Madada, were futile as his known phone number was switched off.

oeyotaru@ug.

nationmedia.

com



EDDWALIRO ERITAMBUZIBWA NGA LIJJA KUVA MU

NORTH AMERICA LITUUKA EKISEERA KYONNA:


Amagezi gano gavudde mu kukyala kwa Katikkiro Ow'Ekitiibwa Mayiga

mu North America, Boston omwezi guno nga gutandiika.

Embeera ya malwaalliro wano mu Buganda nga bweri embi ennyo ddala era

nga yabulabe eri abalwadde kisuubirwa nga ba na Uganda bangi ddala

abawaddeyo obuyambi(Ggwanga Mujje) okulaba nga emmotoka eno eggulwa, neleetebwa wano mu Buganda sente zebawadde zijja kuyamba bulungi

obulamu bw' abalwadde munsi Buganda ate ne Uganda.

Omusomi kikuyamba okugenda ku website eya: mobilevan

clinicinitiative.org.



 Wano nga nabaana    benyigiddemu       okusonda sente     eze Ttoffaalli

    THE

OBJECTIVES 

 It is to develop the elderly of Africa, Uganda financially.


Secondly, it is to assist the needy and disabled.


Third, it is to humanely visit the sick and stressed.


Fourth it is to create financial projects for the needy to generate income for the elderly and young.




This organization has carried out such activities as:

Cake and bread baking.


Members have been involved in rural building construction and road making and repairs.


Members have been involved in decoration on functions.


Members have been involved in all means of assistance in burial ceremonies in the communities.



Ugandan workers less educated, poorly paid

Publish Date: Sep 22, 2014



A Ugandan worker is less educated and poorly paid.

By Samuel Sanya 


MOST working Ugandans are only educated up to secondary level, work for 10 years, six days a week and earn at least sh403 per hour according to a wages survey.


In the wage indicator survey, released recently, 1,306 Ugandans from all administrative regions were interviewed by the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) in conjunction with Dutch and Tanzanian researchers.


Conservative estimates place Uganda’s working population at 17 million. The average working week of respondents is almost 60 hours and they work six days per week.


Slightly over half (51%) work evenings, seven of 10 workers report working on Saturdays, while four of 10 work on Sundays.


Nearly half of the workers in the sample were managers. Only two of 10 workers had a permanent contract, three of 10 were on fixed term contract while four of 10 workers said they are entitled to social security.


Despite the low numbers entitled to pensions, respondents indicated having four dependants on average. The analysis showed that 77% of the workers were paid on or above the poverty line of sh403 per hour or $1.25 (about sh3,000) per day.


Five percent of workers had no formal education, 14% studied to primary education 48% had secondary education certificates, 16% had a college education and 17% a university degree. Only 62% of informal workers are paid above the poverty line compared to 97% of the most formal workers.


Workers in trade, transport and hospitality are most at risk of poverty with 30% paid less than a dollar a day. Public servants are best paid. At least 92% earned above the poverty line.


Labour State minister Rukutana Mwesigwa recently revealed that Cabinet is considering creation of a wage board and a minimum wage.


The Government last set a minimum wage of sh6,000 in 1984. In 1975, the Minimum Wage Advisory Council recommended a sh75,000 minimum monthly wage. It remains on paper.

Why are the poor citizens of Uganda receiving money that is accounted for as a national pension for the elderly of this country?

Photo by Fred Muzaale

By JOSEPH KATO


Posted  Tuesday, July 5   2016 

The Senior Citizens Grant in Uganda is given to the elderly aged 65 and above to help them live decent livelihoods; however, in some districts, it is the young, energetic poor that are being given the money.

Over 110,000 persons aged 65 and above in 141 sub-counties, towns and 6,028 villages in 15 districts are beneficiaries of the Senior Citizens Grant (SCG) that was started in 2010. SCG is one of the essential modules of the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE), financed by government and development partners such as DFID and Irish Aid.

SCG is aimed at enhancing access to basic needs such as food security, better nutrition, health care and improving housing among others which is legal onus of the state to provide wellbeing and upkeep for the elderly.

David Lambert Tumwesigye, advocacy advisor at Expanding Social Protection (ESP) at the Ministry Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) calls upon the new MPs to join the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection (UPFSP) so that they can advocate care for the elderly.

What do MPs say?

Agnes Taka, Bugiri Woman MP, appreciates the services that have been offered to the elderly through SAGE. However, she calls upon the government to be open and involve grassroots leaders when selecting beneficiaries saying it will help to avoid issues of segregation.

“We need to know what criterion is followed when choosing SAGE beneficiaries. It is perturbing to learn about activities being done in your constituency from locals. Leaders need to be involved,” argues Taka.

She wonders why majority of the 15 districts where SAGE has been enrolled and the next 20 districts targeted to benefit from the programme are not from poverty stricken areas.

She asks her colleagues to push the government hard so that there can be transparency in the enrollment.

Rtd Lt Cyrus Amodoi, MP Tonoma County, Katakwi district, marvels at why the programme in some districts has been shifted from the elderly to the poorest people.

“What I have seen is that there is political interference in some parts where SAGE has been enrolled. In some places they target the poorest people instead of senior citizens,” says Amodoi.

In response to MPs queries, Drake Rukundo, Policy and Monitoring and Evaluation, UPFSP, says they have on ground people who gather information for the befitting citizens. He encourages the MPs to advocate countrywide enrollment for the elderly.

Rukundo says they want government to commit resources as a priority towards social protection to help the elderly live decent livelihoods because they are the bridge between the past and the future.

He applauds the 9th Parliament for being instrumental in ensuring the survival of the SAGE programme and extending it from 15 districts to additional 40 districts in the next five years.

In the FY 2015/16 Budget process, Parliament made a resolution where the SAGE programme was to be rolled out to the whole country covering 100 oldest persons in every sub-county.

Tumwesigye says the 10th parliament and the government did their work and it remains critical that all districts get covered for fairness and equitable development. The new MPs are expected to enlist to become members so that advocacy on social protection is boosted.

The forum undertakes to provide information and create spaces for engagement on issues touching social protection.

The cabinet passed the social protection policy which proposes a myriad of progressive interventions that if implemented will significantly contribute to the journey from third world to middle income status as envisaged in the Vision 2040.

However, even with the current roll-out plan, only a total of 55 districts will be reached leaving out 57 districts. To maximise pressure on government, the Forum has conducted regional consultative meetings that bring together Members of Parliament, District Chairpersons, District Community Development Officers and the civil society.

Reports from the Ministry

Reports from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development indicate that the senior citizens grant is increasing productive investment where 32 per cent of the beneficiaries use the money to buy livestock or engage in petty trading while 27 per cent of the beneficiaries invest their money in hiring additional labour to work in their gardens.

“At least 16 per cent of the beneficiaries save their month’s payment purposely to cover emergencies, 17 per cent use the gratuities to support productive investments, cultivation (15 per cent and meeting the educational needs of children and/or grandchildren taking 14 per cent,” reads the report on expanding social protection programme for senior citizens grant.

According to the report, majority of the senior citizens grant beneficiaries spend the large part of their transfers on food leading to increased frequency, quantity and quality of meals eaten by beneficiary households.

The report further shows that SCG beneficiaries especially women consistently report improved participation in community affairs, sense of self-esteem and empowerment. Older people report feeling less discriminated against in their communities and more valued by their families on account of their ability to make social contributions to community-based social support mechanisms which are based on reciprocity like contributing to funerals and weddings.

About SAGE

SAGE is a financial support programme for people aged 65 years and above. Currently, the programme is covering 15 districts. A total of 40 more districts have been lined up to benefit from SAGE by 2020.

In the 2015/16 budget, over Shs30b was expected for the national rollout where 100 persons per sub-county were to benefit but government committed Shs9 billion only.

jkato@ug.

nationmedia.com


THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

 

The African kid having a nap in the dust

Some people have homes, cars, and fancy clothes, but unfortunately there are some who has absolutely nothing! Please remember the poor and the needy in your prayers.

 

 

 

 

In Uganda, there is Mr Sejjoba who has been bedridden for 40 years from a car accident:

 

Sr Dafrose Tusiime helps William Ssejjoba put

 

Sr Dafrose Tusiime helps William Ssejjoba put his laptop in place at Mapeera Bakateyamba’s Home in Nalukolongo. Ssejjoba got an accident in 1977 that left him bedridden to date. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA. 

By Phionah Nassanga

A few metres from Nateete Junction, off Masaka Road in Nalukolongo, Rubaga Division is a seemingly deserted house enclosed in a perimeter wall. Behind the fence is an almost dead silence only interrupted by birds chirping and distant noise from trucks on the highway. This is Mapeera Bakateyamba’s Home where more than 90 people, mostly the disabled and elderly, converge to live again.

In the spacious well-manicured green lawn stands a monumental statue of Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga. At the corner of one of the blocks is room 37, William named after William Ssejjoba—who has occupied it for 31 years. Ssejjoba, now 62, came here on June 22, 1987, on his 31st birthday.

The William room

Inside the dimly lit room is a small two-seater sofa in front of a flat TV screen hanging on the wall.

In one corner stands an off-white bookshelf to which I point as I ask.

“Do you read all these books?” Looking into Ssejjoba’s bright bespectacled eyes.

“I read but not all of them. And, one over there…” he replies, as he points to the one titled The Diverted Hope. “I wrote it.” I discover that it chronicles his story since the accident that quashed his dreams

On that fateful day, February 14, 1978, you would expect lovers to be exchanging gifts and promises but it was not the case for Ssejjoba. Maybe because Valentine’s Day was not yet big business in Uganda. It was one of his worst days.

The previous night Ssejjoba had a nightmare. He did not want to go to work till his girlfriend began insulting him. He was unhappy about how she had wasted the only money he had intended for their week’s budget. She quarrelled, and reminded him of the many unfulfilled promises.

He opted to join his boss who had an appointment on Entebbe Road that evening. His girlfriend was unhappy. Ssejjoba had to force his way out. “She grasped both sides of the door frame and said she wasn’t going to let me pass…except after killing her,” reads his book in part.

Ssejjoba says he “easily but lovingly” lifted her from the doorway. And before he left, she said: “I curse you, go! I wish the car knocks you down and never come back here!”

It could have been a premonition he did not heed. Ssejjoba and his boss did not see the person they wanted to. On return, they stopped by Arizona, a nightclub near Kibuye Roundabout. They chatted as they sipped on soft drinks.

Soon a stranger walked in, straight to the counter where they were. He furiously asked in Swahili: “choo iko wapi?” (“where are the loos?”)

The bartender ignored him but Ssejjoba, who was here for his first time did the needful.

From there, things happened so fast: another man, who looked like a friend to the stranger joined in. The two dragged Ssejjoba and his boss to another club across the road.

The strangers said, this was appreciation for Ssejjoba’s hospitality. But the latter and his colleague wanted out. They had also began doubting the strangers’ motive. There was rampant kidnap of young men “who were accused of playing with girlfriends of people in power.”

Kidnap?

Ssejjoba and his boss sneaked out. But like a warder watching prisoners, the strangers caught them. They dragged them into their Mercedes Benz, grilling them for suspicious behaviour.

One of the strangers started the car like a maniac, he knocked a few cars in the parking yard as he sped off. “It was enough for us to start praying for God’s protection,” Ssejjoba narrates.

He drove thrice at a terrible speed round the Kibuye Roundabout before taking the Nateete direction. The girls in the car screamed for help. Reaching Nateete, they narrowly survived a head-on collision. The crazy driver had to deal with an on coming cyclist and Land Rover. The cyclist wanted to dodge a pothole and the Land Rover to avoid the cyclist. The Mercedes Benz driver could only land between the Land Rover and an electric pole. They were safe but not for long.

A few metres after they restarted, a police patrol truck was chasing after them. Then a boy joined the road, as if from nowhere. Stranded in the middle of the road caught between two speeding vehicles from opposite ends. Ssejjoba says as the Mercedes driver used all his skills to scrape through, he braked hard, the vehicle skidded and overturned. Unfortunately, the driver flew through the window, the girls and Ssejjoba’s boss got minor injuries, the second stranger a fractured arm, the boy died instantly. And Ssejjoba, 21, injured his spinal cord, never to recover.

His life journey

First, he used a wheelchair but soon it was painful to use. Only his hands and head can move. The countless trips to hospital did not help matters. He is 62. He gave up or diverted his hope.

Born June 1956, Ssejjoba is the first born of 13 children. His poor family had high hopes in him.

“It remains a challenge because my siblings and my parents looked up to me to provide the best example in the family,” he says. Some of his siblings are doing well but without his input.

Ssejjoba’s family could not fund his education and he dropped out after Primary Seven. He did tailoring, using his mother’s sewing machine. “I had grown up seeing my mother make different [clothing] designs. So it was easy for me to learn,” he relates.

Working with his uncle, the 15-year-old then did not receive any pay but this did not stop him from dreaming big. By early 1970s Ssejjoba had got a tailoring job in one of the stores in Mengo.

“I worked on a number of remarkable outfits expanding my clientele, something that earned me my boss’ trust.” When the store shifted to Kampala Road, Ssejjoba met many famous people such as Gen Mustafa Adrisi [Amin’s vice president]. “I made his wife’s wedding gown,” he recalls. “He was so happy and gave us recommendation letters to buy cars at government subsidised prices.” Still harbouring an academic dream, Ssejjoba with two friends hired a private tutor.

Life seemed fine for the young man and one of his clients, a wife of an ambassador, had introduced him to a study opportunity in one of the European countries [details withheld], before everything turned upside down.

The hospital

After the accident Ssejjoba was rushed to Mulago hospital, unconscious.

He says he did not suffer serious visible injuries such as fractures. He thought the few bruises would not keep him long in hospital since he had to process his travel documents. However, results read otherwise. His condition was worse than he expected and before the doctors revealed the scan results Ssejjoba was taken through a counselling session to prepare him for the sad news.

“The X-ray showed that my spinal cord was injured on the upper backbone between the fourth and fifth vertebrae; meaning my lower body including the four limbs could not respond to any commands from the central nervous system,” he explains.

Still, the doctors did not tell him that his condition would be permanent and he hoped to leave soon. Soon Ssejjoba could not hold things firmly. He had lost his sense of touch until many years later when Karyn, a counsellor whom he speaks fondly of, trained him how to use his paralysed fingers to hold light items such as pencils to sketch images and press the keyboard.

The two men who led Ssejjoba into this accident were junior army officers. The Mercedes Benz belonged to their boss, a senior army officer. Ssejjoba wanted justice. But while in hospital some people threatened him against incriminating soldiers. They told him to alter all the truths: saying he and his boss had asked for a “lift”, that the soldiers’ girlfriends were Ssejjoba’s and his boss’, etc. Even some lawyers who pretended to help him sue for the mess, were simply conmen. They extorted money from him and, never did the work.

A home away from home

During the NRA guerrilla war (1980-86) Ssejjoba stayed indoors. No one could risk to take him outside. Shortly after the war, his cousins hid him in Kasenge, Wakiso. Wheeling the chair on the muddy and bumpy roads, Ssejjoba suffered even more pain.

Under worse conditions Ssejjoba only accessed medication at Mulago Hospital as a refugee. Soon, everyone was leaving home for a new life. Ssejjoba’s aging mother could not cater for him.

Nine years after the accident, with the help of a friend, after filling in a number of admission forms, on June 22, 1987 Ssejjoba joined Mapeera Bakateyamba’s Home, a place he has called home since.

He, like many others over the years, is catered for by the Good Samaritan Sisters. They bathe him, feed him, do his laundry, turn him in his bed twice or thrice a day, everything. This home was founded by Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga in 1978—coincidentally the same year Ssejjoba suffered the accident—to provide shelter, health care to mostly those injured during the war that ousted Idi Amin. The Cardinal also founded the Good Samaritan Sisters, a congregation that specifically looks after the needy.

While Ssejjoba was still adjusting to the trauma of never walking again, with the help of loved ones around, tragedy struck again. In 1994, his daughter died mysteriously at the age of 16.

“It was such a trying moment. I felt forsaken,” he says with a frown. His only child, was born a few months after the accident. She would be 40 now.

Diverted Hope

After decades of disability, Ssejjoba tried writing. On the headboard, are electrical switches which power his laptop. With his stiff right thumb and the back of his index finger he types letter by letter. He has documented his story in the 188-page book titled The Diverted Hope. For lack of editors, the book is not well chaptered but it flows chronologically. Copies are sold to visitors at the home’s reception.

Ssejjoba still endures irritating occurrences. “I always feel a burning sensation in every inch of my body even if the caretaker turns me thrice a day or more,’’ he narrates.

Nightmares of the fateful accident recur. The involuntary muscular contractions are another cause of discomfort.

African Conjoined Twins are joining the University of Tanzania to study:

The African conjoined twins, Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti

Iringa, Tanzania | AFP | A pair of conjoined sisters are settling into campus life at a Tanzanian university, a first in a country where disabled people are often marginalised or abandoned at birth.

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti, 20, who are joined at the abdomen, have become minor celebrities in the east African nation where the media have closely followed their path through high school and arrival at university earlier this month.

Mwazarau Mathola, spokeswoman for the Ruaha Catholic University in Iringa in the centre of the country, said on Thursday the women arrived a few weeks before classes start in October to get used to their new life and take computer lessons.

“A separate house has been provided for them, furnished and set up for their needs, because they can’t be housed in normal student accommodation,” said Mathola.

A couch has been installed in their classroom to allow them to sit comfortably, and they have a carer.

The twins were abandoned by their mother after the death of their father, and later taken in by a Catholic mission. They will study education, with the hope of becoming teachers of history, English and Swahili, said Mathola.

In July, Maria made an emotional call on state television for parents not to “hide or lock up their handicapped children”.

“They must know they human beings, handicapped or not, are equal and have the same rights,” she said.

The sisters, who enjoy knitting and cooking together, thanked the teachers who helped them through highschool, as well as the government who provided a vehicle to take them from their home to school each day.

“We didn’t expect this day to come, it is by the grace of God that we are here today,” said Consolata, the chattier of the two.

The sisters admit that they do not always get along, as Consolata told a local newspaper in 2015: “For example when I want to do laundry and Maria prefers to read. However we always find a way around it.”

An American Baby has had a huge tumour removed from her face: (Amazing transformation)

By  

Updated: 
A child born with a massive disfiguring tumour covering the left side of her face is back home in Montana, USA, after receiving her latest surgery to remove it.

 

Joe and Jennifer McGillis returned home from New York City after their child, two-year-old Sloan, received the care she desperately needed.

Brain tumour breakthrough could lead to improved treatment

Updated: 

 

A breakthrough in the most common form of fatal brain tumour could lead to an improvement in how they are treated, according to a new study.

Scientists from Newcastle University say they have contradicted the commonly held belief that tumour cells require mainly sugars to make energy by showing that they actually rely on fats to fuel growth.

The experts claimed this could have significant implications for understanding the behaviour of glioma, which is the most common form of malignant brain tumour in adults with approximately four cases per 100,000 people each year.

Dr Elizabeth Stoll, from Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience, said: "Patients with malignant glioma currently receive a poor prognosis, and new interventions are desperately needed to increase the survival and quality of life for patients with the condition.

"Our results provide new insight into the fundamental biochemistry of cancer cells, with exciting implications for patients in the future.

"Most cells within the adult brain require sugars to produce energy and sustain function. Interestingly, we have discovered that malignant glioma cells have a completely different metabolic strategy as they actually prefer to break down fats to make energy.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

"Our finding provides a new understanding of brain tumour biology, and a new potential drug target for fighting this type of cancer."

The study made use of tumour tissue donated by patients undergoing surgery, as well as mouse models of the disease.

Findings of the research are published online in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

In the study, the scientists claimed to show that glioma cells grow more slowly if they are treated with a drug known as etomoxir, which prevents the cells from making energy with fatty acids.

But they said that it does not address whether nutrition or diet influence tumour growth.

Dr Stoll said she hoped to carry out future studies to develop the drug with clinical partners, so that glioma patients may benefit from the research in the coming years.

The Ugandan kid who could not make it on planet Earth

Mother has decided to kill her kid due to poverty in Uganda
And a lot of these unspeakable crimes are being committed by women. The level of horrific barbarities being committed in Lango is almost  beyond human comprehension, and this is a daily occurrence. Hudson Apunyo, a Lira based journalist, chronicles this grotesque barbarity and sends me the pictures. It breaks my heart. What more can I say? . I have lost a country, but now I am beginning to think I have also lost my people.

I want to beg any woman who does not need a child for any reason not to kill but hand the kid over to me to raise, I can't bear this pain of seeing innocent children born with no fault of their own go through this pain.  I feel bad that I could do nothing to save this child because by the time my team reached the scene she was already lifeless

She was hanged by Mummy because she never wanted her new boyfriend to know that she has another kid from somewhere else.

Yours faithfully,

Booby.

 

 

The British Medical Surgeons have taken on the surgery of Erick to give him a New face:

Erick the Ugandan boy who has been given a new face after surgery in the United Kingdom.

 

19 October 2016

 

Since this documentary was filmed on 5 Star Channel TV in Britain, Erick’s tumour had started to recur and he needed further medical treatment. However, afterwards this operation was a success and the young boy was returned to his country, Uganda. A very happy boy indeed.

Facing the World, the charity that helped Erick, exists to provide life-changing craniofacial surgery to some of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

 

The happiness again of Erick on Planet Earth

 

For more information, please visit  www.facingtheworld.net

 

 

The Suffering Twins of this world:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nakato holding on to her dear sister

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babirye in bandages after operation.

 

Here are the humane hurting memories of a handicapped girl in Uganda:

Her name: Nassuna Judith Babirye

She is four years old and suffers from congenital multiple joint deformities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The medical report.

 

Her treatment had started 17th March 2015 at Physi-Tech Rehabilitation Centre.

E-mail: physitech001@gmail.com/odisire@yahoo.co.uk.

This medical rehabilitation started at a cost of 1.8 million Uganda Shillings(£363.00)

The family and friends contributed to this cost of about 350000/- Uganda Shillings(£70.00) and run out of money.

There are two major Radio Stations in the country which had taken interest in fund-raising on her behalf. Bukedde Radio refused to take up the offer but Radio Simba did for sometime.

After what seemed to start as a successful fund raising campaign, the Director of the programme suddenly stopped the project and advised the single mother of the patient to switch off her phone number.

There was no clear  explanation given other than to be told that there was no one interested in her requests for charity.

Since then up to now 14 January 2016 no financial assistance has ever come to Nassuna Judith Babirye. She is looked after by her very poor single parent mother M/s Rose Nibogeza, a Christian Catholic lady from Bugwere/Pallisa Province of Uganda.  Presently she lives at Mpererwe, Namere, in Kawempe Zone. She has the responsibility of looking after the young twin sister of Babirye known as Nakato and another 2 sets of twins who are fortunately very normal. One set of twins is 7 years old and another set of twins is 9 years old. They belong to a parental father Mr Salongo Ndorabo Manuel, who unfortunately has left M/s Rose and migrated back to his homeland of Ruanda.

 

Nakato is starting school soon this year if her mother can manage to obtain the School fees. Babirye will certainly be a very lonely girl staying put at home in a wooden panelled- walled house structure alongside a dusty road with no one to play about with in the small dusty front compound. Life indeed is going to be very tough for this very young human being.

If there is any one on this planet interested in the dilemma of this family, the mother can be contacted personally on this telephone number: Uganda: 0773534765.

One understands of recent that some help from very concerned parents is forthcoming for these twins to live a more hopeful life.

 

 

A Mother in Uganda dumps a four-month old baby under a tree:

By Godfrey Ojore

Added 19th January 2016

 

Amecet receives, on average, two abandoned children in Teso sub-region every week.

Soroti1 703x422

Florence Atim the in-charge of family protection unit of police in Soroti district carrying the baby. Photo by Godfrey Ojore

Soroti - An Unknown woman has dumped her four-month old baby boy under a tree in Arapai sub-county, Soroti district under unclear circumstances.

The baby wrapped in clothes was found by a passerby lying under a tree and decided to carry it to the police in Arapai police post.

The Police founf a chit indicating that the baby belongs to one Felix Odongo of Abarilela, Amuria district who is believed to be a teacher.

Florence Atim, the in-charge of family protection unit of police in Soroti district, said that

there were also telephone contacts of the said father though they were not going through.

        Police spokesman Uma Assan Yene and Florence Atim,

the incharge of family protection

unit of police in Soroti district carrying

the baby

 

"I have decided to contact the director of Amecet, an orphanage in Soroti to take care of the baby as police mounts a search for the baby's mother," Atim said.

Els Van, the director of Amecet, told New Vision that this is the second baby to be recovered in a period of one week.

"Last week police recovered a one-week old baby dumped in Katakwi district and was brought to our care. Her mother has not been found and we hope that the parents shall show up one day," Van said.

She explained that they receive on average of two abandoned children in Teso sub-region every week.

Kyoga East regional police Commander Juma Hassan Nyene said the problem is big and it's majorly school girls that dump children.

Nyene explained that young girls are made pregnant by irresponsible men who do not offer any assistance to a woman.

"Some girls after realizing that they made a wrong choice to date irresponsible men, they resort into abortion while others who may fail to abort end up dumping children on the road side," Nyene said.

Nearly half (49%) of women aged 20–49 years were married before the age of 18 years and 15% by the age of 15 years according to Uganda Bureau of Standards.

 

Here is M/s Eron NABUKEERA suffering it out on the streets of the African Continent at Kampala, Uganda:

 

Ms Eron is stranded on Kampala Street, Uganda,

outside near one of the richest banks

in the world, Barclays Bank.

She asks for help from anyone

that cares.

 

She can be contacted by mobile phone that she holds in her belongings. The phone number by 13/08/2016 is: 0755085330. She says that she has looked for help from the Medical Fraternity in the Ministry of Health without any success.

Nb

Unfortunately for this young girl, she is very difficult to trace nowadays(28/06/2016). What one finds in some of these very miserable situations is that there are other humans in the control and care of these worse off humans on whom they are very dependant on for their dear life! Some do not want to be photographed at all or take their details. One reckons she lives in real fear of her leg being cut off completely by her medical advisers.

 

War against cancer in Uganda: Besigye washes cars to treat the cancer that is slowly eating away Carol Atuhirwe's young life:

FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye joins well-wishers in a fundraising drive involving a car wash to raise more funds to treat Ms Carol Atuhirwe, who needs Shs270m to undergo intensive medical examination in the US. Photo by Emmanuel Ainebyoona

By Job Bwire

 

Posted  Saturday, April 23  2016

Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye has joined well-wishers in a fundraising drive involving a car wash to raise more funds to treat Ms Carol Atuhirwe, who needs Shs270m to undergo intensive medical examination in the US.

Besigye on Saturday took his car to be washed at Panamera Bar in Naguru opposite Kampala Parents School where the fundraising drive was held.

He joined several other well-wishers and companies who thronged the place to have their cars washed at Shs50,000 each. Motorcycles are being washed at Shs20,000. 

Earlier, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) paid Shs100,000 for the Caterpillar and Shs1,750,000 for 35 other cars (at Shs50,000 each).

Ms Atuhirwe, who is currently admitted to Mulago hospital, was first diagnosed with cancer of the throat (larynx) in 2011 but later developed lung cancer, which she has been battling for the last five years.

A social media campaign running under the ‘SaveCarol Campaign’ has so far raised Shs117m, leaving a balance of Shs153m to make Shs250m.

Mr Muhereza Kyamutetera, the coordinator of the ‘SaveCarol Campaign’ and chairperson of committee, said Ms Atuhirwe’s family needed supported now having been drained by the five-year battle to save their daughter.

 

Ms Carol Atuhirwe needs Shs270m to undergo intensive medical examination in the US. 

Ms Atuhirwe, according to Mr Kyamutetera, has so far undergone more than 30 surgeries and the several chemotherapy sessions have caused severe burns and a broken esophagus.

According to Mr Kyamutetera, Ms Atuhirwe is currently unable to talk and feeds through a tube but is able to communicate through writing.

 

The drive comes just days after The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi (AKUH-Nairobi) announced that it will work with the Ugandan government to provide as many as 400 cancer patients with free treatment in response to the breakdown of Uganda’s only radiotherapy machine.

“We are committed to working with the Government of Uganda to help save the lives of cancer patients in need of treatment while it works to re-establish its radiation therapy capacity,” said AKUH-Nairobi Chief Executive Officer Shawn Bolouki.

Meanwhile, the executive director Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), Dr Jackson Orem yesterday emphasized that patients with advanced cancer and in dire need of radiotherapy treatment will not be sent to Nairobi for medication.

Dr Orem said preference will be given to patients whose cancer is just starting because they have higher chances of surviving than those whose infection has widely spread in the body.

“Priority will be given to those patients who we know if offered radiotherapy treatment, are going to get cured, those patients who radiotherapy will prolong their survival and other patients who have failed to control the cancer symptoms on all the other forms of treatment,” Dr Orema said.

 

Many more Uganda Patients are coming out from hiding so that their various diseases can be helped out financially by a concerned public. 

Ms Nazziwa Mercy , a patient with aplastic anaemia

awaiting her blood transfusion procedure at UCI, Mulago.

BY EMMANUEL AINEBYOONA

 

Posted  Thursday, April 28   2016 

 

Mercy Nazziwa, a resident of Ntinda suburb in Kampala, is seeking for support of about Shs168m needed for a bone marrow transplant in an Indian hospital as government defends its failure to treat most complicated cases.

Nazziwa, 36, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in November last year and she is currently receiving supportive care treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute located in Mulago.

Aplastic anemia is a condition that occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells. It leaves patients feeling fatigued and with a high risk of infections due to uncontrollable bleeding.

Mr Charles Mukasa, the husband says the condition has left his wife very weak and in much pain

“She currently coughs blood, bleeds from the nose and when she goes into menstruation, her bleeding extends for more than two weeks due to lack of a clotting component in her blood,” said Mr Mukasa.

He added that his wife is currently on weekly blood and platelet transfusions in addition to drugs to prevent life threating infections.

“I spend about Shs200,000 (£42.00) per week buying the medications required to treat any infections that could be arising, he says, adding that sometimes the cancer institute has a shortage of blood required for transfusion.

In a recommendation letter, Dr Henry Ddungu, a consultant hematologist at UCI says Nazziwa needs about $50,000 (Shs168m) to assist her receive a lifesaving bone marrow transplant from India.

“A bone marrow transplant is Mercy’s only chance for long term survival. However this procedure is very expensive and is currently not done in Uganda,” Dr Ddungu says, adding that Nazziwa needs assistance to help her raise the money.

Dr Ddungu explains that the diseases causes failure of her bone marrow to produce blood cells like red blood cells essential for carrying oxygen to the body and platelets which prevent bleeding and white blood cells which help her immune system to fight infections.

Nazziwa’s ordeal comes barely a week after a fundraising seeking to help Carol Atuhirwe, a throat and lung cancer patient, who also needs about Shs270m to undergo surgery in the United States but still has a deficit of about Shs70m.

This dilemma is not only for the two patients but for several other patients in Uganda who are in need of support to have treatment in international hospitals.

Ms Joy Asasira, a Programme Manager at the Center for health, Human rights and Development (CEHURD) says government has failed to fulfill its obligations of providing quality health care to its citizens.

“As a human rights advocate, I think government has an obligation of providing health services and commodities like the cancer machine and it has failed in the that regard,” Ms Asasira said.

However, the Health Minister Elioda Tumwesigye defended government saying that it’s not abandoned its people.

“We are trying to establish capacity to handle all patients with complicated cases here. We have a plan to build an international specialized hospital and also looking at equipping the Heart and Cancer Institutes to be able to handle these cases,” Dr Tumwesigye said.

Currently, Dr Tumwesigye says that in the short-term, the budget for international referrals is underfunded hence not able to cater for every patient.

“We have a medical board which accesses the patients for international referrals and there is a case by case consideration,” he says. He notes that the most important thing for government is to build capacity and have all patients handled in Uganda.

Utility

For any financial assistance, donate to Nazziwa Mercy, through her;

Centenary Back account: Name Nazziwa Mercy & Mukasa Charles, Account Number 3620100635

Mobile Money numbers Nazziwa Mercy 0782960019 and Mukasa Charles 0779391140.

 

 

Maama womwaana ye Maria Gorrette Nazziwa, abeera Namere, Mpererwe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Leeya surviving in much pain sitting in his Mum's lap

 

Omwaana ye Joseph Leeya.

Emyaka alina 4

Taata womwaana ye Patrick Ssaku:

Akolera Mpererwe Primary School (Church of Uganda School mufumbiro lya baana). He is 52 years old. Unfortunately he has abondoned his child.

 

Muganda wa Gorreta yalina essimu wa myaka 23 era essimu ye eri 0755958436 nga akola nga House Maid okutuusa nga ye Mukyala Gorreta afunyewo sente okufuna essimu eyiye. Omwami omulala ayamba ku maama ono ali mukutegana bwati ye Mr Fred Onen. Essimu ye eyinza okukozesebwa: 0784325229.

This young mother of 32 years gave birth to her young baby boy at Mulago Hospital in 2012.

The baby was born with an abscess behind his back. He was put into intensive care. Surgery was done at six months old to remove the swelling. This surgery excercibated the swelling of the head  as can be seen in the photo. His legs are getting deformed and he cannot walk.

The specialists could not cope with it all and advised the mother to seek further medical assistance at Katalemwa Chesire Home. M/s Maria Gorette Nazziwa was registered and allocated to one of the hospital branches in the country of Uganda at Mbale. Surgery was done on the swollen and supple head of the child. As the medical reports explain, there was some improvements and the child patient was released from hospital.

M/s  Gorette is now unable to continue with the treatment of her child. And she has four other children to look after. She has spent over 30,000 of her own money to pay for this whole treatment. She owes the Katalemwa Chesire Home 70,000. Her Husband has refused to assist her in the treatment of her child.

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THERE IS POVERTY IN THE RICHEST COUNTRY OF THE WORLD THAT IS AMERICA

Posted on 17th December, 2017

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: Welcome to North American States:

17 December, 2017
By Guardian paper
M/s Ressy Finley, lives in a tent on the 6th Street in downtown LA

LOS ANGELES – “You got a choice to make, man. You could go straight on to heaven. Or you could turn right, into that.”

We are in Los Angeles, in the heart of one of America’s wealthiest cities, and General Dogon, dressed in black, is our tour guide. Alongside him strolls another tall man, grey-haired and sprucely decked out in jeans and suit jacket. Professor Philip Alston is an Australian academic with a formal title: UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

General Dogon, himself a veteran of these Skid Row streets, strides along, stepping over a dead rat without comment and skirting round a body wrapped in a worn orange blanket lying on the sidewalk.

The two men carry on for block after block after block of tatty tents and improvised tarpaulin shelters. Men and women are gathered outside the structures, squatting or sleeping, some in groups, most alone like extras in a low-budget dystopian movie.

We come to an intersection, which is when General Dogon stops and presents his guest with the choice. He points straight ahead to the end of the street, where the glistening skyscrapers of downtown LA rise up in a promise of divine riches.

Heaven.

Then he turns to the right, revealing the “black power” tattoo on his neck, and leads our gaze back into Skid Row bang in the center of LA’s downtown. That way lies 50 blocks of concentrated human humiliation. A nightmare in plain view, in the city of dreams.

 

The tour comes at a critical moment for America and the world. It began on the day that Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted for sweeping tax cuts that will deliver a bonanza for the super wealthy while in time raising taxes on many lower-income families. The changes will exacerbate wealth inequality that is already the most extreme in any industrialized nation, with three men – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet – owning as much as half of the entire American people.

A few days into the UN visit, Republican leaders took a giant leap further. They announced plans to slash key social programs in what amounts to an assault on the already threadbare welfare state.

“Look up! Look at those banks, the cranes, the luxury condos going up,” exclaimed General Dogon, who used to be homeless on Skid Row and now works as a local activist with Lacan. “Down here, there’s nothing. You see the tents back to back, there’s no place for folks to go.”

California made a suitable starting point for the UN visit. It epitomizes both the vast wealth generated in the tech boom for the 0.001%, and the resulting surge in housing costs that has sent homelessness soaring. Los Angeles, the city with by far the largest population of street dwellers in the country, is grappling with crisis numbers that increased 25% this past year to 55,000.

The richest 1% now own a staggering portion of the world's wealth 

Ressy Finley, 41, was busy sterilizing the white bucket she uses to slop out in her tent in which she has lived on and off for more than a decade. She keeps her living area, a mass of worn mattresses and blankets and a few motley possessions, as clean as she can in a losing battle against rats and cockroaches. She also endures waves of bed bugs, and has large welts on her shoulder to prove it.

She receives no formal income, and what she makes on recycling bottles and cans is no way enough to afford the average rents of $1,400 a month for a tiny one-bedroom. A friend brings her food every couple of days, the rest of the time she relies on nearby missions.

She cried twice in the course of our short conversation, once when she recalled how her infant son was taken from her arms by social workers because of her drug habit (he is now 14; she has never seen him again). The second time was when she alluded to the sexual abuse that set her as a child on the path toward drugs and homelessness.

Given all that, it’s remarkable how positive Finley remains. What does she think of the American Dream, the idea that everyone can make it if they try hard enough? She replies instantly: “I know I’m going to make it.”

A 41-year-old woman living on the sidewalk in Skid Row going to make it?

“Sure I will, so long as I keep the faith.”

What does “making it” mean to her?

“I want to be a writer, a poet, an entrepreneur, a therapist.”

 

Robert Chambers occupies the next patch of sidewalk along from Finley’s. He’s created an area around his tent out of wooden pallets, what passes in Skid Row for a cottage garden.

He has a sign up saying "Homeless Writers Coalition," the name of a group he runs to give homeless people dignity against what he calls the “animalistic” aspects of their lives. He’s referring not least to the lack of public bathrooms that forces people to relieve themselves on the streets.

LA authorities have promised to provide more access to toilets, a critical issue given the deadly outbreak of Hepatitis A that began in San Diego and is spreading on the West Coast claiming 21 lives mainly through lack of sanitation in homeless encampments. At night local parks and amenities are closed specifically to keep homeless people out.

Skid Row has had the use of nine toilets at night for 1,800 street-faring people. That’s a ratio well below that mandated by the UN in its camps for Syrian refugees.

“It’s inhuman actually, and eventually in the end you will acquire animalistic psychology,” Chambers said.

He has been living on the streets for almost a year, having violated his parole terms for drug possession and in turn being turfed out of his low-cost apartment. There’s no help for him now, he said, no question of “making it”.

“The safety net? It has too many holes in it for me.”

Of all the people who crossed paths with the UN monitor, Chambers was the most dismissive of the American Dream. “People don’t realize – it’s never getting better, there’s no recovery for people like us. I’m 67, I have a heart condition, I shouldn’t be out here. I might not be too much longer."

That was a lot of bad karma to absorb on day one, and it rattled even as seasoned a student of hardship as Alston. As UN special rapporteur, he’s reported on dire poverty and its impact on human rights in Saudi Arabia and China among other places. But Skid Row?

“I was feeling pretty depressed,” he told the Guardian later. “The endless drumbeat of horror stories. At a certain point you do wonder what can anyone do about this, let alone me.”

And then he took a flight up to San Francisco, to the Tenderloin district where homeless people congregate, and walked into St Boniface church.

What he saw there was an analgesic for his soul.

San Francisco, California

About 70 homeless people were quietly sleeping in pews at the back of the church, as they are allowed to do every weekday morning, with worshippers praying harmoniously in front of them. The church welcomes them in as part of the Catholic concept of extending the helping hand.

“I found the church surprisingly uplifting,” Alston said. “It was such a simple scene and such an obvious idea. It struck me – Christianity, what the hell is it about if it’s not this?”

It was a rare drop of altruism on the West Coast, competing against a sea of hostility. More than 500 anti-homeless laws have been passed in Californian cities in recent years. At a federal level, Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who Donald Trump appointed U.S. housing secretary, is decimating government spending on affordable housing.

Perhaps the most telling detail: apart from St Boniface and its sister church, no other place of worship in San Francisco welcomes homeless people. In fact, many have begun, even at this season of goodwill, to lock their doors to all comers simply so as to exclude homeless people.

As Tiny Gray-Garcia, herself on the streets, described it to Alston, there is a prevailing attitude that she and her peers have to contend with every day. She called it the "violence of looking away."

 

That cruel streak – the violence of looking away – has been a feature of American life since the nation’s founding. The casting off the yoke of overweening government (the British monarchy) came to be equated in the minds of many Americans with states’ rights and the individualistic idea of making it on your own – a view that is fine for those fortunate enough to do so, less happy if you’re born on the wrong side of the tracks.

Countering that has been the conviction that society must protect its own against the vagaries of hunger or unemployment that informed Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. But in recent times the prevailing winds have blown strongly in the “you’re on your own, buddy” direction. Ronald Reagan set the trend with his 1980s tax cuts, followed by Bill Clinton, whose 1996 decision to scrap welfare payments for low-income families is still punishing millions of Americans.

The cumulative attack has left struggling families, including the 15 million children who are officially in poverty, with dramatically less support than in any other industrialized economy. Now they face perhaps the greatest threat of all.

As Alston himself has written in an essay on Trump’s populism and the aggressive challenge it poses to human rights: “These are extraordinarily dangerous times. Almost anything seems possible.”

Lowndes County, Alabama

Trump’s undermining of human rights, combined with the Republican threat to pare back welfare programs next year in order to pay for some of the tax cuts for the rich they are rushing through Congress, will hurt African Americans disproportionately.

Black people are 13% of the U.S. population, but 23% of those officially in poverty and 39% of the homeless.

The racial element of America’s poverty crisis is seen nowhere more clearly than in the Deep South, where the open wounds of slavery continue to bleed. The UN special rapporteur chose as his next stop the “Black Belt,” the term that originally referred to the rich dark soil that exists in a band across Alabama but over time came to describe its majority African American population.

The link between soil type and demographics was not coincidental. Cotton was found to thrive in this fertile land, and that in turn spawned a trade in slaves to pick the crop. Their descendants still live in the Black Belt, still mired in poverty among the worst in the union.

You can trace the history of America’s shame, from slave times to the present day, in a set of simple graphs. The first shows the cotton-friendly soil of the Black Belt, then the slave population, followed by modern black residence and today’s extreme poverty – they all occupy the exact same half-moon across Alabama.

There are numerous ways you could parse the present parlous state of Alabama’s black community. Perhaps the starkest is the fact that in the Black Belt so many families still have no access to sanitation. Thousands of people continue to live among open sewers of the sort normally associated with the developing world.

The crisis was revealed by the Guardian earlier this year to have led to an ongoing endemic of hookworm, an intestinal parasite that is transmitted through human waste. It is found in Africa and South Asia, but had been assumed eradicated in the U.S. years ago.

Yet here the worm still is, sucking the blood of poor people, in the home state of Trump’s U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions.

A disease of the developing world thriving in the world’s richest country.

The open sewerage problem is especially acute in Lowndes County, a majority black community that was an epicenter of the civil rights movement having been the setting of Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in 1965.

Despite its proud history, Catherine Flowers estimates that 70% of households in the area either “straight pipe” their waste directly onto open ground, or have defective septic tanks incapable of dealing with heavy rains.

When her group, Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (Acre), pressed local authorities to do something about it, officials invested $6 million in extending waste treatment systems to primarily white-owned businesses while bypassing overwhelmingly black households.

“That’s a glaring example of injustice,” Flowers said. “People who cannot afford their own systems are left to their own devices while businesses who do have the money are given public services.”

Walter, a Lowndes County resident who asked not to give his last name for fear that his water supply would be cut off as a reprisal for speaking out, lives with the daily consequences of such public neglect. “You get a good hard rain and it backs up into the house.”

That’s a polite way of saying that sewerage gurgles up into his kitchen sink, hand basin and bath, filling the house with a sickly-sweet stench.

Given these circumstances, what does he think of the ideology that anyone can make it if they try?

“I suppose they could if they had the chance,” Walter said. He paused, then added: “Folks aren’t given the chance.”

Had he been born white, would his sewerage problems have been fixed by now?

After another pause, he said: “Not being racist, but yeah, they would.”

Round the back of Walter’s house the true iniquity of the situation reveals itself. The yard is laced with small channels running from neighboring houses along which dark liquid flows. It congregates in viscous pools directly underneath the mobile home in which Walter’s son, daughter-in-law and 16-year-old granddaughter live.

It is the ultimate image of the lot of Alabama’s impoverished rural black community. As American citizens they are as fully entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s just that they are surrounded by pools of excrement.

This week, the Black Belt bit back. On Tuesday a new line was added to that simple graphic, showing exactly the same half-moon across Alabama except this time it was not black but blue.

 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Alabama secretary of state

 

It depicted the army of African American voters who turned out against the odds to send Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate, the first Democrat from Alabama to do so in a generation. It delivered a bloody nose to his opponent, the alleged child molester Roy Moore, and his puppetmasters Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.

It was arguably the most important expression of black political muscle in the region since King’s 1965 march. If the previous entries in the graphic could be labeled “soil”, “slavery” and “poverty”, this one should be captioned “empowerment."

Guayama, Puerto Rico

So how does Alston view the role of UN rapporteur and his visit? His full report on the U.S. will be released next May before being presented to the UN human rights council in Geneva.

Nobody expects much to come of that: the world body has no teeth with which to enforce good behavior on recalcitrant governments. But Alston hopes that his visit will have an impact by shaming the U.S. into reflecting on its values.

“My role is to hold governments to account,” he said. “If the U.S. administration doesn’t want to talk about the right to housing, health care or food, then there are still basic human rights standards that have to be met. It’s my job to point that out.”

Alston’s previous investigations into extreme poverty in places like Mauritania pulled no punches. We can expect the same tough love when it comes to his analysis of Puerto Rico, the next stop on his journey into America’s dark side.

Three months after Maria, the devastation wrought by the hurricane has been well documented. It tore 70,000 homes to shreds, brought industry to a standstill and caused a total blackout of the island that continues to cause havoc.

  The Black American citizen suffering it out on an outdoor bench

 

But Puerto Rico’s plight long predates Maria, rooted in the indifference with which it has been regarded since being acquired as a spoil of war in 1898. Almost half of Americans have no idea that the 3.5 million Puerto Ricans on the island are U.S. citizens, which adds insult to the injury of the territory having no representation in Congress while its fiscal policies are dictated by an oversight board imposed by Washington. What was that about casting off the yoke of overweening government?

Nor do most people appreciate that the island has twice the proportion of people in poverty (44%) than the lowliest U.S. state, including Alabama (19%). And that was before the hurricane, which some estimates suggest has pushed the poverty rate up to 60%.

“Puerto Rico is a sacrifice zone,” said Ruth Santiago, a community rights lawyer. “We are ruled by the United States but we are never consulted – we have no influence, we’re just their plaything.”

The UN monitor was given a sense of what being a plaything of the U.S. means in practice when he travelled south to Guayama, a town of 42,000 close to where Maria made landfall. Devastation was everywhere – houses mangled, roofs missing, power lines drooping alarmingly overhead.

Looming over the community is a coal-fired power plant built by the Puerto Rican branch of AES Corp., a Virginia-headquartered multinational. The plant’s smoke stack dominates the horizon, as does a huge mound of residue from the combusted coal that rises to at least 70 feet like a giant sandcastle.

The mound is exposed to the elements and local people complain that toxins from it leach into the sea, destroying the livelihoods of fishermen through mercury poisoning. They also fear that dust coming off the pile causes health problems, a concern shared by local doctors who told the UN monitor that they see a high incidence of respiratory disease and cancer.

“It kills the leaves of my mango tree,” said Flora Picar Cruz, 82. She was lying in bed at midday, breathing with difficulty through an oxygen mask.

Studies of the pile have found perilous levels of toxic substances including arsenic, boron, chloride and chromium. Even so, the Trump administration is in the process of easing the relatively lax regulations on monitoring dangerous effluents from it.

AES Puerto Rico told the Guardian that there was nothing to worry about, as the plant was one of the cleanest in the US having been purpose built to avoid any run-off into air or sea. That’s not what the people of Guayama think. They fear that the age-old pattern of being taken for granted by the US colonizer is about to rise to the next level.

When such attitudes are replicated across the island it helps explain why so many Puerto Ricans are voting with their feet: almost 200,000 have packed their bags and quit for Florida, New York and Pennsylvania since the hurricane, adding to the more than 5 million who were already on the U.S. mainland. Which gives a whole new meaning to the American Dream – anyone can make it, so long as they abandon their families, their homes, and their culture and head off into a strange and forbidding land.

Charleston, West Virginia

“You’re an amazing people! We’re going to take care of a lot of years of horrible abuse, OK? You can count on it 100%.”

Donald Trump’s promise to the white voters of West Virginia was made just as he was securing the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016. Six months later, his audience handsomely repaid him with a landslide victory.

It is not surprising that white families in West Virginia should have responded positively to Trump’s charm offensive, given that he offered them the world – “We’re going to put the miners back to work!” After all, numerically a majority of all those living in poverty nationwide – 27 million people – are white.

In West Virginia in particular, white families have a lot to feel sore about. Mechanization and the decline of coal mining have decimated the state, leading to high unemployment and stagnant wages. The transfer of jobs from the mines and steel mills to Walmart has led to male workers earning on average $3.50 an hour less today than they did in 1979.

What is surprising is that so many proud working folk should have entrusted their dreams to a (supposed) billionaire who built his real estate empire on the back of handouts from his father.

Before he ran for the presidency, Trump showed scant interest in the struggles of low-income families, white or otherwise. After almost a year in the Oval Office, there is similarly little sign of those campaign promises being kept.

Quite the contrary. When the UN rapporteur decamped in Charleston, West Virginiam on Wednesday as the final stop in his tour, he was inundated with evidence that the president is turning the screws on the very people who elected him.

That same day, Republicans in the Senate and House were fusing their plans for tax cuts ahead of a final vote next week. Many West Virginians will be lulled into believing that the changes are designed to help them, as initially everybody in the state will pay less tax.

But come 2027 when deficit-saving changes kick in, the bottom 80% of the population will pay more, while the top 1% will continue to enjoy a $21,000 bonanza.

“Trump’s policies will exacerbate inequality, suppress wages and make it harder for low-income families to seek assistance,” said Ted Boettner, executive director of the non-partisan West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

 

If sewerage is the abiding image of the burden of the Black Belt, then a mouthful of rotting teeth is West Virginia’s.

Doctors at Health Right, a volunteer-based medical center in Charleston that treats 21,000 low-income working people free of charge, presented the UN monitor with a photograph of one of its dentistry clients.

The man is only 32, but when he opened his mouth he turned into one of Macbeth’s witches. His few remaining rotting teeth and greenish-blue gums looked like the festering broth in their burning cauldrons.

Adult dentistry is uncovered by Medicaid unless it is an emergency, and so people do the logical thing – they do nothing until their abscesses erupt and they have to go to ER. One woman seen by the center’s mobile dentistry clinic was found to have nothing but 30 roots in her mouth, all of which needed surgery.

In other briefings, Alston was given a picture of life under siege for West Virginia’s low-income families. If Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, then Trump is waging a war on the poor.

People are jailed for years because they cannot afford bail awaiting trial; private detectives are used to snoop on disability benefit claimants; mandatory minimum drug sentences are back in fashion; Jeff Sessions is scrapping federal rehabilitation schemes for those released from prison; tenants in subsidized housing are living in fear that they will be evicted for the slightest infraction – the list goes on and on.

And the result of this relentless drubbing? “People end up fighting each other,” said Eli Baumwell, policy director of the ACLU in West Virginia. “You become so obsessed with what you’ve got and what your neighbor has got that you become resentful. That’s what Trump is doing – turning one against the other.”

 

And so it was that Philip Alston boarded one last plane and headed for Washington, carrying with him the distilled torment of the American people.

At one point in the trip Alston revealed that he had had a sleepless night, reflecting on the lost souls we had met in Skid Row.

He wondered about how a person in his position – “I’m old, male, white, rich and I live very well” – would react to one of those homeless people. “He would look at him and see someone who is dirty, who doesn’t wash, who he doesn’t want to be around.”

Then Alston had an epiphany.

“I realized that’s how government sees them. But what I see is the failure of society. I see a society that let that happen, that is not doing what it should. And it’s very sad.”

 

 

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