Monday, March 2, 2015

CEML Doctor Reaches Medical Milestone in Angola


Dr. Steve Collins is the CEML Hospital's resident ophthalmologist. 

Born in Angola to Canadian missionary parents, Dr. Collins
began ministry in Angola as a certified general-internist doctor. Realizing the great need for ophthalmology expertise in Angola, in 1995 he received training in cataract surgery in Nigeria and South Africa.  

In his 20 years of ophthalmic work in Angola, Dr. Collins recently completed his 20,000th cataract surgery on an Angolan patient!  Actually, all his cataract surgeries were performed on Angolan patients.   The amazing and mitigating fact in this feat is that Dr. Collins recently passed 76 years of age and performed all the surgeries by hand under a microscope; he has not used any of the new laser equipment. 

This is an amazing medical ministry to Angolans and one can imagine the impact that this one person has had on the lives of so many Angolans across the country.   Dr. Collins always maintains that it is a great privilege to minister here and admits that he is often challenged spiritually by the godliness of his Angolan patients.

Dr. Collins continues on in his ophthalmology work, committing 2 weeks per months at the CEML Hospital and the remainder of the month at remote outpost clinics using a portable operating theater to conduct cataract surgeries. In these remote conditions, during his 2 week outpost visits, he will perform 300 - 400 eye consultations and 50-60 cataract surgeries on average.   Dr. Collins will seek to retire soon and CEML will be looking to replace him with a new ophthalmologist. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Baia dos Tigres: Angola's "Ghost' Island

The Baia dos Tigres (Tigers Bay) is a small isolated and unpopulated island in the southwestern region of Angola with a land mass of 98  square kms.  As the largest and only sandy island off the coast of the 2000 km-long Namib Desert, it remains the least known coastal wetland along desert coast rich in shorebirds. 


The Island was once a thriving commercial fishing community in the Portuguese colonial era,  connected to the mainland by a small sand causeway.  The inhabitants abandoned the Island in 1974 to escape the strong wind, lack of drinking water and the transportation difficulties to the mainland.  Filled with hundreds of abandoned Portuguese-style buildings and properties, the structures are now being enveloped by the continual blowing sand.

Though the waters surrounding the island are very rich in fish stocks, the location is renown for its birdlife.  Two surveys of the Island region in 1999 and 2001 indicated a rich wetland bird diversity consisting of 25 species and a bird density of 33 birds per square kilometer. 

The Island is only visited now by adventure-seeking tourist groups. (AngoWebs - Angola) 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Angola Elected to UN Security Council

In October 2014, Angola was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years (2015-2016).

Foreign Affairs Minister, George Chikoti said Angolans were proud that their country received the backing of other member states for the position.  He promised that Angola would strive to make the UN Security Council more efficient and balanced.

Minister Chikoti stated that, in the area of peace and security, Angola will be promoting dialogue among nations as an essential element for a culture of peace, respect for difference and conflict prevention.

"Angola will also contribute to a more efficient identification of the causes of conflict and to the reduction of violence through preventative diplomacy, promoting African agenda and contributing to peace and security in Africa and the world" (Sonangol Universe Magazine)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Angola's Grand New City

A new city being built outside of the capital Luanda, Kilamba Kiaxi, is considered the largest social housing project & EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract in Africa and one of the newest, emergent Smart Cities. In the Kimbundu language the name means Land (Kiaxi) of Kilamba.

Built by the China International Trust and Investment Corporation, the city is designed to accommodate 500,000 people and includes 750 eight-story apartment blocks, occupying 880 hectares.

Located 20 km from the center of Luanda, the Kilamba project is the most advanced to date of the five new cities that are being built around Luanda alone and carries a price tag of $3.5bn.

Angolan officials are employing such a grand urban development scheme as a means of providing housing for the millions of Angolans who are without formal housing, 12 years after the end of the civil war.  During the war years, little social housing was built, with the result that ¾ of the 4.3 inhabitants of Luanda live in mussekes or informal settlements.

Constructing new city centers on the outskirts of existing cities is a new urban planning method employed to eliminate the difficulties involved in relocating populations who already live on development sites.

The Kilamba Kaixi buildings include 20,002 apartments and 246 shops, containing 24 (KG) kindergartens, 9 primary schools, 8 secondary schools, 2 substations, 1 sewage treatment plant and 1 water treatment plan, with primary & secondary municipal roads.  Beyond the normal municipal systems such as water supply, power supply, telecommunications, sewage, drainage, traffic signals, the original development plans entailed the integration of electronic systems to enable an Internet interconnectivity of housing and municipal systems. (Consolidated Consulting Group, African Business Magazine)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Angola's Annual 10K Race


The São Silvestre De Luanda 10K running race is one of the most celebrated and traditional athletic events held in Angola.  Occurring on December 31 each year in the Angolan capital, Luanda, the race is an international sporting event that promotes athletics in Angola in its purest essence. 

Patterned under the race of the same name in Brazil, the São Silvestre was first held in 1954 and featured only Angolan runners until 1964 when recognized world athletes were invited to participate.   Consisting a plot of 10 Kilometers, the initial aims of the race were to equally celebrate one of the Catholic's Holy Day's of Obligation as well as to prove international athletic character.

Recognized athletes from Ethiopia, Portugal, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe annually participate in the running event. (Sao Silvestre website)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating Christmas in Angola

Angolans only began celebrating Christmas after the arrival of Christian Missionaries in the 15th century. Presently, after more than 500 years of Christianity and colonization followed by over 30 years of independence, the celebration of Christmas has undergone various influences – from traditional African culture, popular Catholic traditions from the previous Portuguese colonization and from other Christian sects as well as secularism.

Christmas for most of the people in the countryside is the most-awaited feast; the preparation is done both materially and spiritually. It’s always preceded by spiritual exercises and pilgrimages to the their local churches for the 'ceia'; church service. Materially, families usually save some money during the whole year to buy special foods for this feast – rice, pasta and other industrialized foods. In agricultural communities, some animals are reared to be slaughtered at Christmas – such as cows, goats, and chickens.

In the cities, Christmas preparations are more organized and better structured. Spiritually it is notable in the participation of the faithful in retreats and preparation for the baptism of children. More zealous Christians go to church services at midnight on December 24th and on Christmas Day.  Those who miss the chance to go to church, either because of work or perhaps over-indulgence in festivities, end up viewing the live telecast church services on the National Television Channel.

Since Christmas is also an occasion for a family feast, it is common to find homes filled with parents and grandparents, children and grand-children.  Like in the countryside, unexpected guests are most welcome. There is room for everybody; this comes from the deep-rooted African tradition of hospitality.

At the ceia church service at midnight on December 24th, urban Angolan families eat cozido de bacalhau, or cooked cold fish, with many vegetables. They also eat turkey with rice and drink table wine and other drinks. After the ceia they exchange gifts and eat handmade cakes and dried fruits, including grapes with which everybody makes wishes. 

Specifically, at Christmas urban Angolans celebrate the end of the year and the coming New Year with an Angolan Christmas tradition of the eating of ‘bolo-rei’(translated ‘king-cake’);  a sweet, Portuguese cake. (from La Salette website)