Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rebuilding Angola's Rural Schools

Angola's 27 years of civil war ravaged much of the country's interior infrastructure. Notably, rural schools virtually disappeared leaving an entire generation to grow up being unable to read or write. With the present concentration of building in urban areas and it is estimated that it will be years before the same efforts reach rural areas.

Rise International, ( a christian non-profit organization, has a mission to partner with Angolan churches, community leaders and the Angolan Ministry of Education to build primary schools in rural Angola

Since 2003, through the assistance of donated funds from global partners, RISE has:
  • Funded and built 126 schools in rural Angola since 2003;
  • Provided the opportunity for 55,000+ students to go to school;
  • Supplied 49,500 textbooks;
  • Received government recognition and facilitated partnership;
  • Facilitate workshops for over 1000 teachers and leaders.
RISE states that its concentration of building physical school buildings in remote and nearly inaccessible villages, faciliates many other secondary programs. They explain that only when a school building is present will the Ministry of Education send teachers, will there be protection from the sun and rain, will NGO feeding programs initiate, will there be some textbooks and supplies, will there be a place for adult education and literacy, and will other healthcare classes and community gatherings be enabled.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Letter to Manuel - Video

The Institute for Internal Medicine (INMED), recently produced a touching video highlighting the CEML Hospital and the great medical needs in Angola.  INMED is a non-profit, educational corporation who has a mission to equip healthcare professionals with the unique skills to serve forgotten people around the work.   Please see the video below.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Overcoming Angola's Doctor Shortage

Since its inception in 2006, the CEML Hospital has been staffed by resident and visiting expatriate doctors and medical personnel, who are able to operate a consistent and growing medical service to the southern region of Angola. In a strategy to create sustainability in operations and personnel, CEML is concentrating on training and implementing Angolan non-physician clinicians to meet the immense healthcare needs in the rural areas.

A Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, recently published a revealing article outlining the extreme situation in Angola, where government hospitals have been built but with no doctors or medical staff to operate them.  Read this interesting article on this website..............

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ovimbundu Wisdom! No. 4

Here is more Ovimbundu wisdom pertinent for the upcoming Mother's Day.  Enjoy.

Proverb: Ina yukuene ndan onin ndekumbi, la kalisoki wove.

Literal Translation: Even though the mother of another shines like the sun, you will never replace your own mother.
Meaning: Nobody can substitute the tenderness and dedication of one's mother.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Malaria's Toll on Angola

The CEML Hospital is committed to providing prevention solutions to the blight of the deadly malaria virus; still the number one killer on the continent of Africa.   The recent statistics concerning malaria infections and deaths confirm the need for our continued efforts.

The co-ordinator of the Programme of Combat to Malaria, Filomeno Fortes, said this Monday in Luanda that Angola registered 3.1 million cases of malaria during the year 2009, which resulted in 8,000 deaths.

The official was speaking about the situation of malaria in Angola and the national strategic plan in a forum about the role of journalists in the fight against malaria. He said that the transmission of the disease in not uniform, having added that the central, coastal Benguela province was the most endemic of the country's 18 provinces with 28% of the cases of 2009.
According to the physician, Angola has two of the most violent species of mosquito of the world, the giant anopheles mosquito and the anopheles spontaneous mosquito, which can adapt to various circumstances living inside and outside residences and can also feed from animal blood.

The Angolan Government wants to gain control and reduce the disease by 2015 and eradicate the disease by the year 2030. To reach this goal, the Ministry of Health aims at reducing the cases of malaria by 60 percent, by the year 2012, and cover 80 percent of children below the age of five and pregnant women with malaria.

The treatment of pregnant women through quick tests, the use of mosquito nets and an integrated control are the objectives of the CEML Hospital and the Health Ministry. In 2008, the country registered 3.45 million cases of malaria.  (Angola Press, April 19, 2010)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cotton Growing Revival: An Interesting Story

Prior to independence in 1975, Angola was one of the largest cotton producers both in Africa and globally. The decimation of the Angolan landscape during the 27 year-long civil war all but destroyed the cotton-growing industry as with most other agricultural industries.

The resurgence in the cotton-growing industry was kickstarted in 2005 by a massive loan agreement of $31.4 million with South Korea's Export-Import Bank to re-launch cotton production in Kwanza Sul province.  The modernization project is only now coming to fruition in 2010 with the completion of construction of irrigation infrastructure for a 5,000 hectare area in the coastal province.  Programs for technical assistance to cotton producers have only recently been ramped up. Though the project will begin in Kwanza Sul Province, it is expected to extend to other traditional cotton producing areas in Malange, Bengo and Benguela provinces and will ultimately employ about 10,000 families.

The initiation and growth of the cotton-growing history in Angola has interesting American roots; from the seeds to missionary involvement - read on! As early as 1820, the Angolan colonial government, ruled by Portugal, tried to promote cotton cultivation by promising to buy all cotton produced in the colony. The raw cotton materials was to be exported to Portugal to supply its burgeoning textile industry.  Under the initiative of the royal government, cotton seeds were acquired from America to distribute to Portuguese farmers in Angola.   

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Games Kids Play!

Because of sparse living conditions, most Angolan children in rural areas are forced to create their own toys from scratch if they cannot acquire manufactured toys. It is interesting to see what is contrived; there is no lack of ingenuity. Using what is available, old bicycle rims, soda cans, mud, bailing wire and sticks are just a few of the materials used to create imaginative toys.  Here a just a few examples:

Toy trucks are abundant, made out of old scraps of tires, wood and metal.

Using an old bicycle rim and a short stick, races are held between kids.  Once the forward motion of the rim is established, the stick is used to guide the rim in a straight line and to continually propel it forward.  (I tried doing this various times with Angolan kids and it is harder to control than it looks; I was made a great laughingstock for the kids!)

Guitars are often made from old cooking oil tins, with strings being contrived from pieces of wire.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Return of the Cheetah!

The after effects of the 27 year Angolan civil war not only are apparent in the destruction and neglect of the national infrastructure, but also in the decimation of the once plentiful herds of wild animals.  Though vast numbers of animals were destroyed during the war by the soldiers and the dominance of poachers, small perserved populations of elephant and unique giant black sable, red buffalo, antelope are seen in the rehabilitating national parks.

One of the recent and exciting spottings that occurred last month in March is that of the cheetah; the first sighting of the animal in Angola for decades.  Though cheetahs are swift, powerful hunters, they were no match for the civil war which devastated the cheetah's main habitat, the Iona National Park. This arid area in the extreme southwest of the country was one of the former ranges of the cheetah, however, due to Angola’s three-decade civil war, the cheetah’s status in the country has been unknown.

The 1.6 million hectare Iona National Park, proclaimed a reserve on 2 October 1937, is located in southwest Angola, bordering Namibia. Although it is very dry, the area is perfect cheetah habitat with thousands of hectares of open savannah and a growing prey base such as springbok and oryx, two species that adapt to an arid environment and are the cheetah’s primary prey.

According to recent reports from the conservation group, Cheetah Conservation Fund, a three day survey in the arid Iona Park revealed reported various sightings of the fast, spotted, leopard-like wild feline.  "We found nine different marking trees," one spotter remarked. In one, he saw cheetah dung. Then "two male cheetahs ran out. It was very exciting -- there are cheetahs in Angola," he said.  (Excerpts from Africa Geographic)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Angola has a rich flora which includes many species of trees. This is not surprising with its varied terrain, ranging from coastal plains to mountain escarpments and high plateaux.  With this is wide-ranging climate producing deserts in the south, equatorial tropical jungle in the north and a great area of grassland in the center of the country.  Here, I want to show two of Angola's most interesting trees.

The African baobob, known in Angola as the imbondeiro, is native to much of Africa and is regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world.  The enormous rather squat trunk can reach 28 meters (92 feet +) in girth while the tree seldom reached more than 25 meters (82 feet) in height.  These dimensions spawned the African belief that God planted the tree upside down. It is the archetypical large solidary tree of the savannah, although in Angola it also grows in woodlands and in coastal regions.

The tree has large velvet-skinned fruits called mukua which contain an off-white powdery material that can be made into a refreshing drink rich in vitamin C and has twice as much calcium as milk. The leaves can be cooked fresh as a vegetable and the fibrous bark is good for making mats.

The mopane tree gains its presence and importance in the Angola fauna as an important food for the mapane 'worm'.  The tree is slim and grey-trunked and often growing up to 30 meters (100 feet) in height.  It has a crown of rigid, irregular branches and grows in a riparian habitat along the Cunene River among the dry forests of southern Angola.

The leaves are often described as beautiful or elegant, or like butterflies, and they close up in the heat of the sun to preserve moisture. The mopane

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Angolan Sculptures

As like most African art, masks and wooden sculptures are not merely aesthetic creations. They have an important role in cultural rituals, representing the life and death , the passage from childhood to adulthood, the celebration of a new harvest and the beginning of hunting season . Angolan artisans work in wood , bronze and ivory , in masks or sculptures . Each ethno-linguistic group in Angola has its own unique artistic traits.

 Perhaps the most famous Angolan art or sculpture is the 'O Pensador' or 'Thinker', a hand-made crafted wood piece which is considered a national symbol in Angola. The 'Pensador' originates from the Tchokwe tribe and represents today a reference of the culture concerning all Angolans, as it is a symbol of the national culture.

It represents the figure of an elderly person that could be a man or a woman. Designed in a symmetric profile, with the face slightly bent down, it expresses an intentional subjectivism as, in Angola, the elderly represent wisdom and enjoy a privileged status. The elderly represent the wisdom, experience of long years and knowledge of the secrets of life.

This image today is Angola’s emblematic figure that is included in the watermark of the kwanza bank note, the national currency. It is considered as a native piece of art trustworthily Angolan. Alike any emblematic figure of a people, as it is the case of the "Zé Povinho" in Portugal, "John Bull" in England or the “Uncle Sam” in the United States, 'O Pensador' represents the same national tradition.