Monday, December 27, 2010

Rich equals distance

The flight from New York to Zurich was uneventful. With the precision of a Swiss watch they managed to get us in the air despite high winds and runway closures at JFK. We touched down in Zurich only 10 minutes late. On my flight to Douala Swiss put me in business class. Sitting in my reclining chair, legs up, comfortably, served food with real silverware…. My Cameroonian friend only on row in front of me is too far away to keep chatting. Thus I am sitting here dining by myself, indulging dill marinated smoked salmon, fennel and saffron sauce – and that’s only the appetizer…. I will have fillet of beef with Alpine herb crust, roasted potatoes, aubergine and tomato confit…. Never mind followed by assorted cheeses topped by famous gourmet Swiss chocolate mouse. Now I just pray that the airline will do the same on my way home…? They pampered me all right, but I missed company to chat away the time. I am consoled by the thought of four weeks of devoted loving Cameroonians, their constant presence that keeps me company until I board my next Swiss flight. And guess what, the guy in first class was completely alone since there was no one else flying first class. Poor soul!

How to be successful in Cameroon

I have three back-up plans for each task. That’s a lot of planning, but it works for me. With the exception that this trip, I had to employ this strategy long before I left the US. Four days prior to my departure I felt like Africa while I am stil in the US.
What exactly happened?

In May this year the Cameroonian Embassy in Washington DC got word from the Ministry of Territorial Integrity in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon that I had applied for an NGO status of AIDSfreeAFRICA. Dutifully, Charles Di the Cultural Attaché at the Embassy called me and invited me to a face to face meeting. Of course I obliged and rushed to Washington. Besides the warm welcome it turned out that Charles was keenly interested in AIDSfreeAFRICA’s work. At the end of my visit he told me that my Cameroonian ID card allows me to travel to Cameroon without a visa. I never believed him, but maybe just enough to be a little careless, procrastinating I mailed the visa application rather late and started worrying about not getting my passport back even later. Friday before departure on Monday afternoon I did two things. I asked my mail carrier Linda if I did not get any registered mail, which she took the time to explain to me how to track it, and I called Charles at the Embassy and said my German Passport with the visa is missing. His first question was more a statement saying, but you don’t need a vias? The post office’s electronic tracking showed that the letter was never delivered to the Embassy but did not give a clue as to where it got lost.

I started calling and e-mailing my Cameroonians for help. I thought I should get a “visa on arrival”. The responses were warm and caring. Only three people actually went into action and checked and called and despite all conflicting responses and statements that “visa on arrival” was not granted any longer, one of my collaborators e-mailed me saying he did secure a visa for me. I breathed easier from then on.

Charles finally had me talk to a person in the Visa department at the Embassy, he reassure me that my Cameroonian ID is not merely a “drivers license” that proofs my identity but that it is related to a permanent resident or green card. That satisfied me. At the airport, not only were there no lines, they accepted my over the weight limit luggage and put me into business class! Bon Appetite!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chemistry Freeware Links

It is my intention to collect and post free and useful information and links. This link was brought to my attention by my collaborator and friend Dr. Bego Gerber from Chemists Without Borders.

This is a copy from the source that is sciencegeek:

On this page I, that is:,  post reviews and links to freeware chemistry programs available for download at other sites around the internet. All of the programs are ones that I have used, or currently use. None-the-less, I take no responsiblity for any problems you might experience as a result of installing any of these applications. Unless otherwise noted, the programs are for Windows systems.

ACD/ChemSketch 12 Freeware. ACD continues to release updates to the outstanding Chemsketch freeware. Chemsketch is an all-purpose chemical drawing and graphics software. Use templates or free-hand. Click and draw molecules, ions, stereobonds, text, polygons, arrows, lab aparatus, etc. Automatic calculation of MW and formula. See estimates of density, refractive index, molar volume, etc. ACDLabs also offers free downloads on several useful utilities and template packages that extend the usefulness of ChemSketch.

Molegro Molecular Viewer is a free cross-platform application for visualization of molecules in PDB, SDF, Mol2, and MVDML formats, as well as docking results from Molegro Virtual Docker. This cross-platform application runs under Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. Features include automatic preparation of molecules, molecular surface and backbone visualization.

Jmol is a free, open source molecule viewer for students, educators, and researchers in chemistry and biochemistry. It is cross-platform, running on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix systems. The JmolApplet is a web browser applet that can be integrated into web pages. The Jmol application is a standalone Java application that runs on the desktop. The JmolViewer is a development tool kit that can be integrated into other Java applications. Jmol is the applet that I use to run my Molecule Library. I recommend it enthusiastically!
Discovery Studio Visualizer 2.0 For those of you who remember WebLab Viewer, this is the updated version of that software from Accelrys. It includes a powerful molecular graphics viewer with superb rendering. An additional benefit is that graphics can be embedded in presentations such as Powerpoint using Object Linking and Embedding (OLE). You must complete a survey prior to downloading the software from Accelrys.
KnowItAll Academic Edition - In a continued commitment to academia, Bio-Rad is offering this completely FREE and fully functional software package to promote learning and research in the academic community. With the Academic Edition of KnowItAll, you can have it all and know it all for free-draw structures, perform IR and Raman functional group analysis, and generate high-quality reports. And best of all, this set of tools resides in one common interface, so it's easy to learn and easy to transfer data from application to application. The KnowItAll Academic Edition also includes free training movies to teach professors and students how to use and get the most out of the software. This program requires Windows 2000, or XP (Home or Professional).

The Virtual Laboratory from the ChemCollective is a new personal favorite. The online version is a java applet, but they now have a downloadable version that will run on any Windows desktop computer. The software allows a student or instructor to simulate many lab activities. Acid base titration, buffer chemistry, limiting reactant stoichiometry and solution equilibria are but a few of the simulations that are possible with this software. There is also an Authoring Program that allows instructors to design their own lab activities and add their own reagents.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chemistry Central - Providing Open Access to Research Literature

Here is another Open Access source:
I met this company at an exhibition at the August meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston. 

Dear Rolande Hodel,
It was a pleasure to meet you at the recent American Chemical Society meeting last month in Boston. We hope that you enjoyed hearing about Chemistry Central's portfolio of journals, including Journal of Cheminformatics and Chemistry Central Journal, and the benefits of open access publishing.

To remind you Chemistry Central is an open access chemistry publisher, operated by BioMed Central and part of Springer Science+Business Media, committed to the widespread dissemination of chemical research. Chemistry Central views open access as essential to ensure the rapid and efficient communication of research findings, and is committed to maintaining high editorial standards through full and thorough peer review.
As well as the benefit to the whole scientific community there are many advantages to authors who choose to submit articles to our journals, including:

•High visibility and wide reach for your article
•Simple and convenient online manuscript submission
•Fast and thorough peer review
•Multiple article formats accepted with no space constraints or color figure charges
•Immediate publication on acceptance

Visit the website to find out more about Chemistry Central where you can sign up to receive regular updates or article alerts targeted to your specific area of research.

We would also like to thank everyone who entered our IPAD competition and congratulations to the winner from the University of Chicago.

Kind regards,
Jan Kuras
Associate Publisher

Sunday, October 3, 2010

African Access Initiative to Research Journals

JSTOR is a not–for–profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive of over one thousand academic journals and other scholarly content. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.


I thought I post this e-mail from Nancy directly below, since it contains every link needed for institutions in Africa to access free literature. Please, kindly give feedback to AIDSfreeAFRICA if you use this free service. We would like to know if it is user friendly and useful for your students and researchers.   

Hi Rolande,

Yes, I remember meeting you and hope all is well with you and your efforts.
We are US based, but serve institutions globally, and we provide access to our database to institutions in Africa for free as part of our African Access Initiative (more info on this available).
You can look up participating institutions on our website at . At present, over 540 institutions in Africa participate. If you know of any other institutions that may want to participate, please feel free to refer them to  or .


Community Facts & Figures - copied from their web site
JSTOR can be accessed at not-for-profit libraries in 39 countries on the continent of Africa.
JSTOR has over 540 participants in Africa.
JSTOR has partnered with INASP's Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information ( PERii ) and Electronic Information for Libraries ( eIFL ) whose primary missions are to support and advocate the availability of global electronic research in developing and emerging countries.

JSTOR Outreach & Participation Services
149 Fifth Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10010 USA
Phone: (212) 358-6400
Fax: (212) 358-6499


Consortium Information
Consortium name: Consortium of Cameroon University and Research Libraries (COCUREL)
Legal status: Legally registered as an independent organization
Management body: Management Committee, governing board and advisory board
Type of members: University libraries, Research institute libraries
Number of members: 8 (list of members see below)
Main activities: Electronic content licensing, marketing and advocacy for libraries, education and training
eIFL country coordinator: Alexis Eyango Mouen
Contact for: eIFL-IP; eIFL-OA; eIFL-FOSS

Cameroon COCUREL members include:

1. The University of Yaoundé I
2. The University of Yaoundé II
3. The University of Douala
4. The University of Buea
5. The University of Ngaoundéré
6. The University of Dschang
7. Central Africa Catholic University (UCAC)
8. Agricultural Institute of Research (IRAD)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

International Collaboration

As a member of the International Activities Committee (IAC) of the American Chemical Society (ACS), I visited universities in Cameroon to bring copies of the Merck Index and to lay the groundwork for scientific collaboration in Cameroon. 

When I meet new potential collaborators I start by asking three questions:
What is it you have in place already?
What is it you need?
How can we collaborate most efficiently?

The pictures give some answers: "We need chemicals and equipment
first," I was told. The professor speaking here at the University of Yaounde, says he sends samples of extracts from natural plants to Botswana to get nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis to determine organic structure of the compound. 

 Lectures are taught in the laboratory but no hands on lab instructions are possible.  "Don't send us students" I was told, "send us professors with a few of their graduate students. Come with a specific program, all necessary chemicals and equipment and teach us. Make the program a week to ten days long and please leave everything behind when you go home."
 A fact is that Universities are understaffed. Indeed professors are not supported by any staff to speak of. In addition things we take for granted like working computers, printers, availability of chalk.... phone lines, meeting and office space are not sufficient. professors do not have the time and energy to take care of a foreign student who needs supervision and guidance.

copied from

In collaboration with the University in Buea, the City University of New York (CUNY) and New York University (NYU) Physics departments held a training August 2-13, 2010 called Hands-on Research on Complex Systems.
The picture left shows the resulting poster session.
One note of caution: the University in Buea is English speaking, more recent thus more modern and better equipped than Yaounde and Douala Universities. Next year I plan to visit the University in Dschang, also located in the English speaking part of Cameroon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Visit Cameroon Leadership Conference


15th-21st November 2010 Yaoundé Cameroon

Conference link

A conference for leaders who believe in the concept of positive change and progressive development in all areas of strategic importance in relation to the changing nature of time.

A conference for those who are sick and tired of the status quo in their field of specialty and are yearning for a positive revolution which alters stereotypes and ushers in new paradigms.

A conference for 21st century pioneers, innovators, inventors and creators.

A conference to lay the foundation for the future in all fields.

Vision 2010 global leadership conference on the 21st century is a gathering of leaders of all walks of life to share knowledge on the paradigms of the 21st century in diverse areas of strategic importance. The conference is a millennium event, scheduled for the 15th-21st of November 2010 in Yaoundé Cameroon .

My regards

Dr Benard Etta

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweatshops, blood diamonds, rape and minerals in Congo

Congo Rapes Spotlight New 'Conflict Minerals' Law

By Joe Lauria  - see full story click here.

WeNews correspondent
Thursday, September 9, 2010

The recent mass rapes in a mineral-rich area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo underscore the urgency of a new U.S. law to certify consumer goods free of "conflict minerals" tied to the violence. The law may be hard to enforce but supporters have high hopes.

UNITED NATIONS (WOMENSENEWS)--The rape of approximately 500 women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks has underscored the urgency of a new U.S. law intended to choke off an illicit mineral trade that helps finance and motivate some of the brutality.                [.....]

Margot Wallstrom, the special U.N. representative on ending conflict-zone sexual violence, called the new law a great idea at an Aug. 31 press conference in New York. She said she was trying to persuade European legislators to follow. "Hopefully we will find a global system and the U.S. is showing the way," she said.
Lawlessness and banditry rule in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where local and Rwandan Hutu rebels often fight each other and the government mainly for loot. Complicating matters further, at least 10 of the recent victims were raped by government soldiers, who sometimes also take part in the illicit mineral trade, the U.N. says.
Wallstrom said rebel leaders organized mass rapes as a reward for their troops and as part of their looting of villages. She added that the violence helped rebels assert control over mining areas, where many local men normally sell small amounts of minerals they find on their own.            [...]
Rape a 'Cheap, Effective and Silent Weapon'

"Rape in war and conflict is a cheap, effective and silent weapon and it is used exactly to terrorize and put fear in a whole society," Wallstrom said in the press conference. "It lasts for generations: when the children see this how can they ever feel secure?"

The new U.S. law is an attempt to prevent American consumers from purchasing cell phones, computers and even hybrid cars that are manufactured by U.S. companies using minerals bought from rebel-controlled mines. The law is buried in section 1502 of the financial reform bill, which was signed into law by President Obama a little more than a week before a four-day reign of terror began for the rape victims in Luvungi and 12 other villages in North Kivu province on July 30. These were followed by attacks in South Kivu.  [...]
The rebels have found a ready market for their loot with legitimate companies mostly in the West and China, as documented by years of U.N. investigations. The proceeds from these sales are fueling the deadliest conflict since World War II, with as many as 5 million people killed over the past decade and more than 200,000 women violated.
The law calls on U.S. firms, including brand name consumer electronics makers, mineral processors, jewelers and automobile manufacturers, to report annually to the Securities and Exchange Commission if their products use any gold, tungsten, tantalum or cassiterite (tin ore) that was either directly imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo or smuggled through nine neighboring countries.

The Most Ubiquitous Metal  Tantalum is perhaps the most ubiquitous of these metals since it is found in electrolytic capacitors, which are inside nearly all cell phones and personal computers. Companies using such minerals must demonstrate how they are tracing the supply chain beginning with the original mine.  [...]

Jewelers of America lobbied strenuously against inclusion of Section 1502 in the financial reform bill, arguing that it would be too difficult to implement. The New York-based industry group said it will also be expensive as the law requires companies to hire outside auditors to prepare their reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But firms that can prove their products do not contain illicit minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo could gain a competitive advantage with consumers. Seeing the new law coming, Intel and Motorola--two electronics giants--in June began developing a process to audit their tantalum purchases.

John Crawley, an executive committee member of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, based in Lasne, Belgium--the Democratic Republic of Congo's former colonial ruler--also hailed the law.
"I think companies do have a responsibility to trace and audit their supply chains," Crawley said, adding that while gold may be difficult to trace, tantalum was not. "I believe that we can easily certify the supply chain and we in the tantalum industry have been further along in this process."   [...]

The U.N. reported late last year that a mineral company begun by Crawley's father in Hong Kong, and on which Crawley is a board member, used a "front company" and a suspected smuggler to hide purchases of rebel-controlled minerals. The U.N. backed up its case with numerous documents. The Washington-based Enough Project also produced shipping records that suggested that Crawley's own company in Nevada was importing conflict minerals.   [...]

Sasha Lezhnev, a consultant to the Enough Project, the law's chief lobbying group, noted that the law had seized the attention of CEOs and corporate legal departments and expressed confidence it would be enforced. He said nongovernmental organizations like Enough would help companies set up a certification regime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drug Production in Cameroon to start soon

Actually production of IV fluids has been taking place in Yaounde and Mutengene for years now. SIPP, based in Yaounde has been supplementing the governments tender of imported IV fluids with up to 10% and would love to expand its production. AIDSfreeAFRICA is working on a deal of having SIPP produce urgently needed diagnostic reagents.

The Cameroonian Baptist Convention has been producing IV fluids as wellas bottled water, ointments, eye drops and antiseptic soaps, but is limited to production for internal use by their hospitals and clinics.

By far the most advanced production however, is taking place in Douala, Cameroon's industrial capital. Dr. Etame (left picture receiving a copy of the Merck Index through AIDSfreeAFRICA) has been producing malaria, cough and pain in form of syrups. she recently added vitamins and is in the process to produce solid oral tablets for malaria. 

Producing solid oral tablets happens to be AIDSfreeAFRICA's definition of "drug production". However, a pharmaceutical industry needs more than one player to become reality.

Cinpharm, a cooperation with the help of India based generic manufacturer CIPLA and a loan guarantees from the Germans is owned by Celestin Tawamba, generally known as the pasta king for his success producing past in Cameroon and exporting pasta throughout central Africa. At the time of my last departure from Cameroon Cinpharm was still hiring and training people to possibly run the complex production: the equipment, water purification, clean air, intake, storage, warehouse, quality control and quality assurance labs, and so forth. The company even features an auger spin coating machine. I wish we had access to this machine a couple of years ago when Hoffman La Roche offered us through their technology transfer initiative to spin coat one of their AIDS drugs. Unfortunately this initiative has been "completed" - that means terminated, for undisclosed reasons. As far as we know a company in Kenya is one of maybe some others who were able to take advantage of the initiative. 
With three companies in the running, Cameroon may very well be the front runner for West Africa's emerging pharmaceutical production. AIDSfreeAFRICA is doing its best to support the efforts with GMP training and attempts to attract professionals from the industry to come to Cameroon and volunteer their time and expertise.   

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Designer, businessman and hospital owner

Blaz Essomba had big plans and turned them into reality. He built a large two story Hospital for his wife, a nurse by training. When the crates filled with modern equipment arrived the hospital was too small. He added its mirror image doubling the size of the building making it spacious and comfortable. 
I was introduced to Blaz through christopher Ekom, from the business development office of the US Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon. Owning a hospital Blaz was concerned about drug access. Christopher knew AIDSfreeAFRICA was working on just that. 
When I met Blaz it was a meeting of minds. I also met the Prime Minister Philomon Young, who immediately arranged for a followup meeting for me and Blaz. 
This happened January of this year (2010). In May when I returned Blaz was at a business meeting in Washington DC. His right hand man showed me the newly opened hospital. There were patients in the wards. 
A premature baby had been saved by c-section surgery. Mother ande baby were doing well.

Another women was recovering from having a large tumor removed from her belly.

That Saturday, a dozend or so nurses and staff were busy, but you would not have guessed that the hospital had just opened 2 weeks prior to my unannounced visit. They were a team, working together as if they had been there years. Every place was friendly, colorful with small designs sprinkled into the shiny tiles to break the monotony of hallways and doors. 
This shows that where there is will there is a way and a poor country such as cameroon can have a state of the art hospital, with modern equipment and capacity to do surgery and safe pregnent women and their babies.
Not to take away from Dr. Christopher Anyangewe from the Alpha Rroyal Clinic in Bamenda, who successfully treated me experiencing a blinding gallstone attack and got me on my feet and back to pursue the mission of AIDSfreeAFRICA, but if I needed surgery, I'd check myself in to Blaz's hospital in Sam/Yaounde/Cameroon.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Books to read

My favorite book is written by Zambian native Dambisa Moyo, international economist, Professor at Columbia University and author of the New York Times best-selling book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. Past United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan commented on the cover of the book that Dr. Moyo is too harsh in her critique on the role of aid, but agrees that “the determination of Africans, and genuine partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, is the basis for growth and development.” We ought to consider moving on from simply donating goods and services to promoting full economic business development in partnership with the people we claim we wish to help. We ought to move more from giving fish to teaching how to fish, creating the infrastructure that allows the creation of jobs and the establishment of more than just a pharmaceutical company.
AIDSfreeAFRICA teaches people how to fish, not just give them fish. Self-sustainability and sound business decisions must guide our work. Moyo lays this out brilliantly and in an easy to understand context.

Africa is the richest continent on earth considering it's natural resources. Why is it also the poorest continent? What influence has the IMF, World Bank, Foreign AID, you and me to keep it that way - or change it? Giles does not write as eloquent as Moyo, but his writing is much more simple and easy to understand for people who are not in the inner circle of global issues. Also, his proposed solutions fall short and are disappointing to read. try it but move on to Moyo's book, it just has more depth.
The origin of HIV/AIDS, what has the polio vaccine to do with the occurrence of AIDS? Now that we are almost done eradicating Polio, did we inadvertently create the AIDS virus in that process? The book is 1000 pages long and worth every page. I read it cover to cover in one weekend, through the night and all..... The alleged contaminated samples are still in the freezer in Copenhagen. Will they ever be released? If so, it will not make a difference to the millions dying and suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Ask your local library to find you a copy of these books.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cameroon expatriates meet for serious business

 Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia are home to many Cameroonians, most of whom work in health care profession. They manage to cook their native foods such as jama jama and fufucorn and they support as generous as possible those at home whom they miss so dearly.

In addition to wiring money for Christmas, there are occasions throughout the year, such as a cry die (funeral) or a born house (baby shower) and one or the other emergency that requires extra cash.

However, this past Saturday, August 28th the group of Cameroonians came together to work on something more permanent. The women and two husbands came together to hear a proposal from AIDSfreeAFRICA to get involved in fundraising to establish revolving drug funds.

Revolving drug funds such as the one already in place in Limbe enables small clinics and remote health care centers to receive medicine which is sold to the patience who need them. A portion of the income is collected and paid into a bank account. Once the fund is replenished AIDSfreeAFRICA takes this money to buy new drug supplies and the cycle repeats, thus the name “revolving drug fund”.

The group agreed to focus on Mbengwi and Nkwen first. These two villages are still close to the large city of Bamenda, but in the future the group will venture further into the remote villages which are in desperate need to access medicine.

AIDSfreeAFRICA is pleased with the energy, enthusiasm and warm welcome.

Monday, August 30, 2010

HIV-gel a medical solution to protect women

Women e- news published this story from the Vienna AIDS conference. As much as AIDSfreeAFRICA is focused on establishing drug production in developing countries we are aware of the fact that drugs are not the only solution and are in contact with other non-profit organizations working on other aspects of the epidemic.

The article is a good reminder that HIV is especially spreading amongst the poor and disenfrancised.
2/3 of positive people in Cameroon are women. Human rights are as much needed as drugs, some would argue more than drugs. AIDSfreeAFRICA is determined to add this piece to the puzzle, knowing that there are many more contributing to solve the problem.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vienna AIDS conference 2010

The International AIDS Society did an excellent job to organize the 18th International AIDS conference
AIDS conferences I have attended in the past took place in Mexico City and before that Toronto. 
Since the Obama administration lifted the travel ban on HIV positive people wanting to travel 
to the US, the 2012 conference will take place in Washington DC.   

                An excellent summarz can be found by clicking on the logo. 

            Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis 
 AIDSfreeAFRICA has successfully renewed its collaboration efforts with German NGO Actrion Medeor, 
the only NGO we know of today that is interested in drug distribution management and drug production. 
We are also please that Tibotec is introducting their AIDS drug in Sub-Saharan countries including 
Cameroon. Diagnostic machine manufacturer Partec offers now reagents for CD4 count machines that 
do not need refridgeration and have a longer shelf life. 
We are very please to have been promised large shipments of HIV tests using saliva, thus no more 
need to draw blood and looking for syringes. Besides boxes of condoms we are also expecting a 
shiopment of k1 vitamin injection, crucial to stop bleeding in post partum women. We are working 
with an organization to offere GMP (Good Manufacturing Procedures) training and are working towards 
raising the $40,000 we need to by a blisterpack machine. 
Taking advantage of other organizations connections and by pure luck we got two sources of MD doctors
one of which will hopefully go to Yaounde to work in our collaborators brand new hospital. 
The conference also emphazsised and showed us hard facts that human rights prevent HIV. 
How can this be? In countries where homosexuality is persequted infections amongst men having sex 
with men (MSM) is higher than in countries that legalized homosexuality. 
Countries with needle exchange programs have fewer positive interveneous drug users. Managing prostitution
instead of criminalizing it helps to keep up condom use and down the rate of infections amongst sex workers. 
Even prison abuse has a negative effect on the rate of infections of prisoners, although I must admit 
I am not able to reccount the details of this argument, it made sense to me when I heard it.   

Indeed a good conference! I am very pleased.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Servas Cameroon: the new kid on the block

Written for and first published in: Open Doors United States Servas, Inc Spring 2010

Dr. Rolande Hodel sent this report about the development of one of our newest Servas organizations. Etienne Françis Maemble, Servas member since 2003 and coordinator for Cameroon, successfully grew the group to 14 members and has registered the group as a non-profit chapter of Servas International with the Cameroonian government. He can be reached via e-mail. Please note that he is a francophone, with some ability to communicate with written English, and much less spoken English.


Picture left from Left: Rolande, visiting with Steeve and George, members of Servas Cameroon

Cameroon is not one of the least developing countries, but poverty becomes obvious as soon as one travels into rural areas. It is a beautiful country on the west coast of Africa. Etienne lives in the capital Yaounde. He lives on odd jobs he conducts on the Internet. He is a good net worker, something not as common in Africa as we would think.
As president and founder of AIDSfreeAFRICA I have 4 years of experience in this country. Anyone considering traveling to Cameroon, please consult our web site and  and feel free to call me. I love Cameroonians and the country and their traditions. There is so much to see and experience. If you have an opportunity to visit, please contact me. We always look for unused luggage capacity to move medical supplies and other items too expensive toship. 914-923-2073 USA/EST.

Servas member Mary to my right and three of her children. She owns an Internet cafe where she let's me use her own office. Cameroonians are generous and welcoming. I miss them when I am not there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton .....

June 28, 2010

Secretary Hillary Clinton
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are concerned that the State Department has yet to release updated guidance for HIV prevention among injection drug users. Last December, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) released a new Five-Year Strategy for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that underscored the importance of establishing prevention priorities necessary to combat the epidemic. Around the same time, Congress voted to allow federal funding for syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in the US, underscoring the importance of evidence-based prevention programming. Despite clear statements from the Administration in support of syringe exchange as part of a comprehensive program, without Administration guidance domestic and international programs are still prohibited from using federal funds for one of the most effective HIV prevention tools.

Outside sub-Saharan Africa one third of new HIV infections are due to injection drug use. In countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Vietnam and China, more than half of infections are due to injection drug use. By implementing syringe exchange, some countries, like Britain, Australia and France avoided large scale epidemics among people who inject drugs. A review of data from 81 cities across Europe, Asia, and North America with and without SEPs found that, on average, HIV infection increased by 5.9 percent per year in the 52 cities without SEPs and decreased by 5.8 percent per year in the 29 cities with SEPs. This represents an 11 percent net difference in seroprevalence when comparing cities with and without SEPs. Programs could, right now, prevent thousands of new HIV infections at very little cost.

The upcoming International AIDS Conference in Vienna will have a special focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where injection drug use is the cause of one of the world's fastest growing HIV epidemics. As the single largest donor for HIV/AIDS programs around the world, the United States will be in the spotlight. We urge you to release guidance that embraces syringe exchange in advance of that event.


ACT UP Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
After Hours Project, Inc., Brooklyn, NY
Agua Buena Human Rights Association, San Jose, Cost Rica
AIDS Action Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
AIDS Action Council, Washington, DC
AIDS Alliance for Faith and Health, Atlanta, GA
AIDS Care Ocean State, Providence, RI
AIDS Community Research Consortium, Redwood City, CA
AIDS Education Global Information System (, San Juan Capistrano, CA
AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
AIDS Foundation Houston Inc, Houston, TX
AIDS Policy Project, Philadelphia, PA
AIDS Project Greater Danbury, Danbury, CT
AIDS Project Hartford, Inc., Hartford, CT
AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region; The Cleve Jones Wellness House, Gilsum, NH
AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland, OH
AIDS Task Force, Inc., Fort Wayne, IN
AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, New York, NY
AIDSfreeAFRICA, Ossining, NY
Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, Anchorage, AK
American Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY and Washington, DC
American Medical Student Association, Reston, VA
American Public Health Association, Washington, DC
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
Aniz, Inc, Atlanta, GA
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Akron, OH
AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, New York, N.Y.
AXIOS Eastern Orthodox LGBT Christian AIDS Ministry, New York, NY
Brandywine Counseling, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware
Brown University AIDS Program, Providence, RI
California Communities United Institute, Citrus Heights, CA
Caring Ambassadors Program, Oregon City, OR
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Washington, DC
Center for Health Justice, Los Angeles, CA
Center for Women Policy Studies, Washington, DC
Centre for Health Policy and Innovation, Johannesburg, South Africa
Chattanooga CARES, Chattanooga, TN
Chicago Recovery Alliance, Chicago, IL
Children With AIDS Project of America, Tempe, AZ
Circles of Fire Productions, Brooklyn, NY
CitiWide Harm Reduction, Bronx, NY
Common Ground – the Westside HIV Community Center, Santa Monica, CA
Community Access National Network (CANN), Washington, DC
Community Health Action of Staten Island, Staten Island, New York
Community Health Awareness Group, Detroit, MI
Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), Providence, RI
Community Information Center, Inc., Portland, OR
DC Community AIDS Network (DC CAN), Washington, DC
Delaware HIV Consortium, Wilmington, DE
Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), Delhi, India
Dignity/USA National AIDS Project, Boston, MA
Divine Openarms, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Downtown Manhattan HCV Support Group, New York, NY
Drug Policy Alliance, New York, NY
Eastern Maine AIDS Network, Bangor, ME
Education for Healthy Choices, Sacramento, CA
EL HAYET des personnes vivant avec le VIH, Paye, Algerie
Elton John AIDS Foundation, New York, NY
Family and Medical Counseling Service, Inc. (FMCS), Washington, DC
Family Services Network of New York, Brooklyn, NY
Fenway Health, Boston, MA
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR), Brooklyn, NY
Frannie Peabody Center, Portland, ME
Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York, NY
Global AIDS Alliance, Washington, DC
Global Coalition of Women against AIDS, Kampala, Uganda
Global Health Strategies, York, NY
Global Justice Ministry, Metropolitan Community Churches, Metropolitan Community Church of New
York, NY
Grand Rapids Red Project, Grand Rapids, MI
Greater Love Tabernacle-HIV/AIDS Services, Dorchester, MA
Harm Reduction Action Center, Denver, CO
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana
Health GAP (Global Access Project), New York, NY
HealthReach Harm Reduction, Augusta, ME
Hep C Connection, Denver CO
Hepatitis Education Project, Seattle, Washington
HIV/AIDS Law Project, Phoenix, AZ
HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Ypsilanti, MI
HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County, Oakland, CA
HIV Medicine Association, Arlington, VA
HIVictorious, Inc., Madison, WI
Housing Works, New York, NY and Washington, DC
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
IDSA/HIVMA Center for Global Health Policy, Arlington, VA
Indiana Minority Health Coalition; Brothers Uplifting Brothers, Inc., Merrillville, IN
International Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS-North American Region, Washington,
International AIDS Empowerment, El Paso, TX
International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Washington, DC
International Women’s Health Coalition, New York, NY
Interpharm International Limited, Kenya
Intersect Worldwide, New York, NY
Laramie Reproductive Health, Laramie, WY
Liberty Research Group, Rochester, NY
Life Foundation, Honolulu, HI
LifeLinc of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Lilitan Research and Consultancy, Accra, Ghana
Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, New York, NY
MCCNY Charities, New York, NY
Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network, Ukiah, CA
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Community Church Key West, Key West, FL
Michigan Positive Action Coalition, Detroit, MI
Minnesota AIDS Project, Minneapolis, MN
Minority Health Coalition of Marion County, Indianapolis, IN
MOCHA Center, Inc., Buffalo, NY & Rochester, NY
National AIDS Fund, Washington, DC
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, Washington, DC
National Association of Social Workers – USA, Washington, DC
National Forum of People Living HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), Kampala Uganda
National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council, Brooklyn, NY
National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, Decatur, GA
National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), Washington, DC
Needle Exchange Program of Asheville (NEPA), Asheville, NC
Network of Zambian People Living with HIV/AIDS, Lusaka, Zambia
New Destiny Recovery Ministry, Inc, Baltimore, MD
New York Harm Reduction Educators, Inc., Bronx, NY & New York, NY
North American Old Catholic Church, Washington, DC
North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Winston Salem and Chapel Hill, NC
North Shore Health Project, Gloucester, MA
NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN), Brooklyn, NY
NYU Medical Center Hepatitis C Support Group, New York, NY
O'Connor Hospital HCV & HBV Support Group, Delhi, NY
Open Society Institute, Washington, DC
Philadelphia Global AIDS Watchdogs (GAWD), Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix Center, Springfield IL
Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, MA & Washington, DC
Population Council, New York, NY
Positive Health Project, Inc., New York, NY
Positive Outreach Foundation, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
Positive Voice, Athens, Greece
Praxis Housing Initiatives Inc., New York, NY
PreventionWorks, Washington, DC
Project Inform, San Francisco, CA
PSI (Population Services International), Washington, DC
Public Health - Seattle & King County, Seattle, WA
Safe Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
SafeGames Project, New York, NY
Salud Latina/Latino Health, Chicago, IL
San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco, CA
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), New York, NY and Washington, DC
Sisters and Brothers Helping Each Other, Kankakee, IL
SLO Bangers Syringe Exchange, San Luis Obispo, CA
Sonoma County Commission on AIDS, Santa Rosa, CA
Sonoma County Hepatitis AIDS Reduction Program (SHARP)/syringe exchange, Santa Rosa (and
surrounding areas), CA
Spokane AIDS Network, Spokane, WA
St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction, Bronx, NY
Status C Unknown, Medford, NY
Support on AIDS and Life through Telephone Helpline (SALT) Uganda, Kampala
Tapestry Health, Florence, MA
The AIDS Institute, Washington, DC & Tampa, FL
The Brown Global Health Initiative, Providence, RI
The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence RI
The Foundation for Research on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Inc (FROST’D), New York, NY
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), Oakland, CA
The Miriam Immunology Center, Providence, RI
The Space at Tompkins, New York, NY
The Women’s Center, Bronx, NY
Timi Hami Ani Hamro Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
Total Health Awareness Team, Rockford, IL
Transexuales y Transgeneros en Marcha (TTM), San Juan, PR
Treatment Action Group, New York, NY
Treatment Education Network, Denver CO
Triangle Health Collective, Durham, NC
Tri-County Health Coalition of Southern Indiana Inc., New Albany, IN
Trust for America’s Health, Washington, DC
2 God B The Glory, Inc Women Supportive Housing Program, Baltimore, MD
25 Messengers, Indonesia
Uganda Integrated Community Based Projects, Kampala, Uganda
UHAP -- Upstate New York Hepatitis Awareness Project, Delancey, New York
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, Abilene, TX
Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS), Washington, DC
Voices Of Community Advocates & Leaders (VOCAL), Brooklyn, NY
Vortex Consulting, LLC, Wenonah, NJ
Washington Heights CORNER Project, New York, NY
Wateree Aids Task Force in Sumter, SC
West County Health Centers, Inc., Guerneville, CA
Women in Motion, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
Youth Empowerment & Human Development Initiative (YEHDI), Kano, Nigeria
Senator John Kerry, Chair, Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Inouye, Chair, Appropriations Committee
Senator Leahy, Chair, State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Gregg, Ranking Member, State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Tom Harkin, Chair, Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Richard Durbin, Majority Whip
Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
Representative Howard Berman, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee
Representative Waxman, Chair, Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative David Obey, Chair, Appropriations Committee
Representative Nita Lowey, Chair, State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
Representative Kay Granger, Ranking Member, State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
Representative José Serrano, Chair Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee
Representative Donald Payne, Chair, Foreign Affairs Africa and Global Health
Representative Michael Castle
Representative Elijah Cummings
Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Representative Barbara Lee
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard
Ambassador Eric Goosby, Global AIDS Coordinator

Monday, June 28, 2010

I met Eunice Suh in 2005 my first trip to Kenya and Cameroon. I was sitting in someones office waiting. So did Eunice. Naturally we two women started talking. I can't remember if either of us bothered to wait for Henry to come back. I do remember her inviting me for lunch, then inviting me to her school to talk about AIDS and me trying to figure out if I can say the word "sex" to a bunch of young students. I met the kids and the rest is history.  Benwie Kalawie was born Dec. 26, 2003 to a very very young woman who gave her up. Eunice took her in and the then 10 year old Delphine raised the baby. In 2006 I came back with 6 with women volunteers. They loved the children and two of them Katie and Jennifer spend 2 month teaching the kids. By then Benwie claimed me for herself. As soon as she saw me she would climb up in my arm and I would carry her around. At night she would come and fall asleep in my lap and I would carry her to her bed tuck her in under her mosquito net. Again in 2007 I spend much time in Eunice's house. By 2008 my job took me away from Bamenda and I saw Benwie only briefly, but the child was overjoyed. When I found her in 2008 I asked her what she wanted and she said: chocolate. I asked her to bring me to the place where she can get chocolate and she took me by the hand and walked to a small shop down the road and ask the lady to hand her a small plastic cup with some Nutella like chocolate spread. She ate it on the way home.

Today, Delphine (another child also taken in by Eunice) returned to her family of origin and Eunice's own children, all five of them have left the house. Since there is no one to take care of Benwie she was moved first to Eunice's mother Madam Atanga in Bafut and then to Benwie's grandmother also in Bafut. Although smaller than Bamenda, Bafut is too populated and spread out for me to go and find Benwie. I needed mama Eunice to help me. Eunice promised to bring the child to Bameda but failed repeatedly. I enlisted a friend who has some family ties to Eunice but to no avail. The day before I had to leave for Yaounde I took matters in my own hands and succeeded. I traced down Eunice and told her in no uncertain terms to enter the taxi. y brain worked overtime making a mental map of the 1/2 hour ride. Leaving town at five in the afternoon is way to late to make it back home safely before dark. I did not care. Eunice wanted the taxi to wait for us to go back, but I wanted to have time with Benwie and thus send the taxi away. We climbed up a hill along a dirt road, turned right with a church to our left and another turn right, we crossed the place in front of a primary school GS Niko. Once we had passed in front of the two small buildings there seemed to be nothing but tropical forest. Down a steep hill a small path became visible and at the end we could see a small mud brick house. Benwie saw us first and came running. She ran past Eunice and directly into my arms. 

 With all the miracles and amazing situations I have experienced and witnessed in Cameroon, I was never happier than at that moment and for the next hour or so we spend with Benwie, her 12 year old uncle, her grandmother and grandfather in front of their small house. We ate mangoes and I took Benwie and lead her away from everyone to ask her if she is all right, goes to school, is treated well. She nodded. I asked her what she needed and then what she wanted. She wanted "her baby" ! The pink stuffed teddy bear that we gave her in 2006. it had obviously not made the move. I took her grandmother aside to give her money without the male knowing - i am afraid he would take it from her. Officially I gave him some money - much less, assuming he will turn it into alcohol anyway. One never knows. Benwie looked good. She was clean and healthy and I know she is very smart. from young age on she spoke more English than Pidgin and she has always observed things a lot. next trip I will bring a big box with things she can use and some close for the boy. Her uncle is her grandmothers youngest child and only 12 years old. I asked him what I can bring him. Shy, he finally asked for clothes for himself. 

Whatever it is that makes us fall in love with that particular child - it is what it is. I always promise Benwie that I will come back. I will. I have to.        

Rotary.... with a little help from my friends!

Rotary's motto is: Service over Self. How true.

AIDSfreeAFRICA has been the recipient of support for numerous projects helping Cameroonians.
We are always welcome by Rotarians and the list of invited speaking engagements is long.
Ramapo Valley Rotary in Sloatsburg was the first club to sponsor a medical kit, followed by Wyckoff-Midland Rotary. John Adams was the man behind the scence making it possible that we were able to double the amount of supplies. Since we got the supplies from Anne Richards we were able to use the Rotary money to pay transport cost. We doubled the amount  to deliver 100 pounds instead of 50 pounds last year. We also delivered insulin syringes and a glucose meter with test strips donated again by my former student from Westchester Community College. Every year we receive a very generous donation of chewable children's vitamins from the Ossining Health Smart Pharmacy Dr. Bruno Tullio. The vitamins have been handed to so many places and people that it would fill a book with pictures. Maybe one day I will do that.... what do you think?

Our recipients of the medical supplies are the clinic in Limbe (see separate blog later) and new to us: a small bush clinic hours away from the capital Yaoude and too far for me to go to. But Mary (right) makes the trek every so often, and she will carry these boxes all the way to where they are needed. Also in the picture is my SERVAS host Steeve (left) - who by the way wants me to find him a young American woman who wants to marry him..... and my dear friend Solomon who made sure I traveled safely.

This is my Bamenda family where I spend  Christmas. From left is Dr. Christopher Anyangwe, proprietor of the Royal Alpha Clinic in Bamenda who saved me when I had a gallbladder attack of some sort. the two boys belong to Samuel Anyangwe and his wife Florence (not in the picture). The tall boy has been juvenile diabetic since age three. His mother knew something was wrong. She had the presence to taste the child's urine to convince a doctor to test the insulin level. In the US non of us can imagine what heroic an act it is to attempt to keep a diabetic child healthy and alive in Cameroon. We are told that the syringes make a big difference, since now they can reuse them a little less often and throw them away when the needle gets dull and it becomes to painful to use.... can you imagine?
To my very left is Christopher and Samuel's mother. She is the mother to many more Anyangwe's, some of whom I have met and others I am sure I will. She speaks only Pidgin English and whatever she says it is said with a welcoming smile that translates any language into just that: a warm welcome. 

AIDSfreeAFRICA thanks our donors, all Rotarian's, my students, my friends and family and my Cameroonian friends for receiving me so warm in their homes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Imagine Beging In A Life You Love"

We live into the future we create. Failing to create a future results in the appearance of a default future. The default future amazingly looks like our past. Ever wondered why the same things happen to you over and over? The same crummy bosses, the same type of intimate relationship of which the end is almost predictable?
My most profound teacher in life was a series of seminars that I took at Landmark Education in New York City. There I created not only the vision of AIDSfreeAFRICA but also who I have to be to lead this organization. No, I did not become perfect, but I am who I say I am. And I love it.

To keep me living in that possibility that became my most exciting and rewarding job I have my business coach Donna Zucchi, president of DMZ Consultants. Every athlete has a trainer/coach. Why not everyone else? It works for me.

In May I was invited by my friend and former Landmark Education seminar leader Toni Smith president of VSA Consulting Group, LLC. to a book signing in New York City. I called all my NYC friends and donors to meet me there for a quick reunion before I was leaving for my sixth trip to Cameroon. It was a delightful warm pre-summer evening. Too busy I did not realize that the book signing was about "Imagine Beging in a life you love" co-written by Jaqui Janes-Lowry and Kristin Andress. Toni's company VSA had donated enough books for everyone that crowded the penthouse terrace listening life to the authors fascinating story. Later that night some of us finally gathered around the authors for a lively introduction and sharing of personal stories. What a fascinating crowed of mostly women had been attracted to this event.

It is deeply satisfying to go to Africa knowing that there are so many of us who not only have big visions but also pursue them vigorously, unstoppable and with much love.

"Less than a zero chance of survival"

This was a prognosis Anne Richard would not accept for her son Michael. Today three years after being left quadriplegic from being a passenger in the wrong car at the wrong time Michael smiles and wiggles his toes. He loves pink - everything pink. So we found him this beautiful Cameroonian outfit - all pink.
Anne struggles to get all the support she knows Mikel needs. She became an advocate for those who can not fight for themselves. Needing so much for Michael she also gives away anything she receives but can not use. This is how AIDSfreeAFRICA got into the fortune situation to help Cameroonians with unused medical supplies.

How I met Anne was as innocent as responding to an offer to pick up moving boxes. The announcement came via Westchester Freeshare, a yahoo group set up by people who knew that one persons refuse is another persons treasure.
I needed to pack up my apartment to allow needed renovations to take place while I working in Africa. When I called Anne she said she had all these empty boxes from medical supplies she receives. Medical supplies? I asked.... and the rest is history. Michael in his hospital bed donated by Yonkers based medical supplies non-profit Afya smiles knowing he helps people far away in Cameroon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Revolving Drug Funds

A revolving drug fund works like this: AIDSfreeAFRICA donors donate the initial amount of money needed that enables AIDSfreeAFRICA to buy a substantial amount of medicine, supplies and laboratory reagents and diagnostic tests. This is given to a small rural clinic that so far operated with few drugs and often no doctor. The clinic now treats patience who pay for the service and treatment. Every week small amounts of money is deposited in a bank account controlled by AIDSfreeAFRICA. When the money in the bank reaches an agreed level and AIDSfreeAFRICA founder Dr. Rolande is visiting, she takes the money and buys more drugs and supplies. The fund generates more money that what is required to keep the fund liquid, thus salaries can be paid more reliably, small improvements can be undertaken and most important the patience come to a clinic that can do more than just talk to them.

Imagine, a child five years or younger contracting Malaria - a very common occurrence - will die within 3 days if the proper treatment is not initiated. Imagine to visit a clinic without malaria drugs in the pharmacy. Imagine mother and child now need to hire transport and travel to the next hospital which may be hours away and if it has medicine you can bet that the waiting time to see a health care provider is long.... 

Our first established revolving drug fund with the Cameroonian Christian Welfare clinic in Limbe is showing success. Leading the clinic is Polycarp Nji, left in the picture with his daughter and relatives taken in his native village Esu. Back in Limbe before the revolving drug fund I saw hardly any patient at all. Now six month later at any given time I showed up there where patients on drips occupying the 12 beds and being treated. About half of the drug we had supplied had been used and paid for by patients.

We thank Alfred Schwendtner and his wife Carole, both members of Servas a international peace organization for helping us to establish the fund with a generous donation. You can not imagine how many peoples lives have been saved and will be saved.

But the before and after picture shows the difference, first a few packages in the hospital pharmacies shelves monitired by John Laluh and the next picture four boxes (one shown) with drugs and supplies arrive.

AIDSfreeAFRICA's projects are all designed to be income generating and perpetual. For this design we reached the semifinals in the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge Every year the finalist of this challenge receives a $100,000 US$ award. However, we also have to keep an eye and strict control over these projects. Persistent poverty and living permanently on the edge of an emergency together with access to money, especially cash creates situations where money is easily misappropriated. Of course often we are dealing with outright theft, but where theft is not a problem it is our responsibility to avoid to create temptations. I recommend everyone dealing with African humanitarian projects not to wire money and not to give cash - the temptation is too big, the pressure from begging and deserving friends in need too large to resist. Believe me we speak from experience.

It is also not enough to reward projects well done. We have implemented a double strategy: reward good behavior, severely punish wrong doing. The key is that the punishment has to be figured to really impact the people who run the projects. It has to have teeth. In a society where suffering and uncertainty is a fact of life the definition and type of punishment has to be closely examined and adjusted to the situation.

Non-profits have poured too much money into the hands of people who abuse our generosity. it is time to ask for accountability and to set strict rules. Zambian native and Columbia University professor Dambisa Moyo put is all into her book: "Dead AID, why AID is not working and how there is a better way for Africa." AIDSfreeAFRICA agrees fully with her assessments and recommendations.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cameroonian Hospitality is Top Notch

The five weeks in Cameroon I spend most of my time in three cities Bamenda Yaounde and Limbe. In each city I am hosted by a family in my own room and safely tucked in under a mosquito net. Best of all, there is someone cooking for me. And although I am able to eat local food it is still somewhat adjusted. For example I still can not manage to eat peppe because it burns me from the inside out. In Bamenda I am hosted by the Anyangewe family. Susan can be seen here cooking fufucon over the open fire. The room is so smoke filled that I can manage to be inside only to shoot the video that is posted on our web site.

Moving on the Yaounde a very pregnant Melissa welcomed me. Her brother Steeve is my host, translator and guide in the french speaking capital. Melissa left her boy friend's home to stay with her brother to cook for me. What delicious dishes she cooks. Well spiced with plenty of fish and vegetable and fried plantains among other things. Melissa plans to name her baby "Roland" if it is a boy or "Regina" if it is a girl. I am so flattered.

My final destination is the smallest of the three cities. Limbe, a tourist magnet nestled on the foot of Mt. Cameroon and the ocean, I am welcomed by Rosemary, the principal of the PYC, Presbyterian Youth Center, a good sized church high school. Honoring is a sixteen year old student who cooks with the help of the elder Helen, also secretary of PYC. Helen and I discovered that we were born in very similar circumstances, both of our mothers worked to the last minute and dropped us almost on the doorstep to the hospital. Causing both of us to live a life running working and pushing ahead of everyone. We had such a good time.

One the left principal Rosemary and a neighbor stamping Achu - a delicious traditional dish that has to be eaten with one's fingers despite the fact that it involves considerable amounts of either yellow or brown sauce. The yellow sauce contains lots of potash which is very basic and not for my stomach. The brown sauce is sometimes agreeable especially when it has mushrooms in it.

My Honoring was very photo shy thus I just caught her running away. Young as she is one evening she gave us an education on Limbe's women of the night. They paraded in the small muddy driveway behind the school waiting for lovers. Honoring knew the house where they would go, who comes and goes and who the pimp is watching over everything. For us American hard to fathom that prostitution would be allowed to flourish so obvious behind a high school.

She came down with Malaria good for us I always know doctors. John came and fixed her up. He jokes that Honoring always gets sick when white visitors are about to leave, just to make them stay.... five weeks is little precious time and always comes to an end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Alcohol kills more than AIDS and TB....

Sylvia Okidi distils enguli, a potent gin, in Lira, Uganda.
Hudson Apunyo / Reuters