Monday, January 26, 2009

Missions in Congo; Facebook in Egypt

On Sunday Jan. 25 the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA offered a post-service lunch and slide slow by Dr. Larry Sthreshley about a denomination effort to deliver health care to the Congo in Africa.

The slide show was quite graphic as to showing the living conditions, such as collections attached mud huts in jungle clearings for extended families. A local leaf is a major source of protein, and the cooking process of turning it into pasta is very labor intensive. There are few paved roads in a country one third the area of the continental United States (large than Alaska) and four wheel drives, which still get stuck in mud, must be used. Some areas are accessible only on foot. Fresh water has been provided by tapping three thousand springs with simple technology. The country is divided into health care zones. Family planning is offered, and is controversial in a country in which abortion is illegal (which causes more abortion). The effort seemed to be independent of the Gates Foundation.

The slide show gave the history of the country, with the “pillages” by mutinous soldiers in 1991 and 1993, a very traumatic event. The largest city Kinshasha (formerly Leopoldville) offers electricity for only a small percentage of its residents. The slides showed considerable trash and squalor in the towns.

The slide show also presented relief effort in southern Sudan, apparently south of Darfur.

Also, yesterday, The New York Times Magazine has an important article, p 34, by Samantha M. Shapiro, “Can Social Networking Change Disaffected Young Egyptians into a force for democratic change,” (online title, “Revolution: Facebook style”), link here. A woman named Rashid organized a general strike on Facebook and wound up in jail, but also on talk radio shows; she became known as “The Facebook Girl” (sounds like a movie title, doesn’t it).

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