Friday, January 04, 2008

The Canadian Press: Canadian aid worker in Kenya worries for her visiting family; the region's people

This strikes a little too close to home.  January 1st I was driving on the 401 near Kingston at 9am.  I drove for 20 minutes without seeing a single car on the road.  I actually drove for 15 minutes without seeing the road at all.  It felt like a war zone, only this was just mother nature and an annual ritual for me.  There was about a foot of snow dumped everywhere, and the snowplow drivers must have been too hung over to get the highway plowed because I was doing the plowing in my car... without snow tires.

It took over six hours for what would normally be a 2 hour drive.  But we were able to get home eventually, unlike these unfortunate Canadian aid workers who can't get a flight out of Kenya.

"You just had such an eerie feeling of driving down what was supposed to be a highway and what normally during the day is completely jam-packed with people and yet you are seeing no one. All you're seeing is army and police and maybe a few media."

The Canadian Press: Canadian aid worker in Kenya worries for her visiting family; the region's people

The key difference for us is the worst thing that could happen to us would be ditching the car or spinning out into the guardrail.    We saw about 10 cars that were stopped facing the wrong direction on the highway going home.   All of them had tow trucks and/or police cars next to them.

The other difference is that the snow caused nothing more than minor annoyance for everyone except those dumb enough to be driving in that weather.  In Kenya, a lack of aid to countries like Sudan & Somalia is a life or death situation.  Things are not getting better.

Another example (they are so easy to find lately) of unrest in the Eastern Hemisphere is what happened over the last two days in Mirpur, Pakistan.  A strike by garment workers caused the city to shut down.  Was the strike over wages?  Nope.  They didn't show up for work for two days to protest and mourn the death of a colleague who allegedly died after being forced to work a night shift while sick.  By the account of the factory the employees held management hostage and refused to leave.  When the factory workers returned the next day, they found the factory closed and took to the streets.

The woman's family will receive 100,000 rupees (approximately $1620) from the factory for her death.  That is over 3 years of minimum wage earnings in Pakistan, though it could be more for a garment worker.

This isn't the first time this has happened. 

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