Flooding in Benin

From http://beyondadventures.blogspot.com/2011/02/venice-of-benin.html
From http://beyondadventures.blogspot.com

A country of about nine million people to the west of Nigeria is experiencing the worst flooding in its history, and I have yet to hear about it in the American media.

Allow me to introduce you to Benin.

Benin is a little smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. More than a quarter of its population is Catholic, although nearly a quarter are Muslim. Nearly 20 percent of Beninese people practice voodoo. Benin is considered the birthplace of voodoo.

For hundreds of years, Benin was a kingdom, Dahomey, until it became a French colony in the nineteenth century. It achieved independence in 1960 and was led by military leaders until the early 1970s, when it became a Marxist dictatorship.

Socialism/communism in what became known as Africa’s Cuba put severe limits on individual freedom and brought the economy under government control. True to historical precedent, this system eventually failed and the economy collapsed.

Out of the ashes rose a fledgling democracy, and Benin held its first free elections in 1991. Since then they have struggled with government corruption, but have increased their exports and grown their economy. Their current president vowed to fight corruption when he took office four years ago, but has been slapped with allegations of questionable behavior himself.

More than one percent of the population of Benin is estimated to have AIDS, and its people suffer from many other diseases as well. Its average life expectancy is just 59 years, and the Beninese receive nine years of education on average. Its official language is French, and only 35 percent of its population can read– the same percentage that lives below the poverty line.

Right now it is estimated that two-thirds of the entire country is underwater. Heavy rain has caused flooding like never before. As in Haiti, there is a significant cholera outbreak in Benin right now. But where is the news media? I found out about Benin on the BBC’s website. I just now found this on CNN, but I’m bewildered as to why this story’s not getting more coverage.

Where are the celebrities performing on Benin’s behalf? I don’t expect that, but I haven’t seen any big names appealing for help so far. Actor Djimon Hounsou was born in Benin, and while he has no obligation to help out because he’s famous, he’s done other work with the UN and charities, so I find it odd that I haven’t seen him speaking out on this yet. The UN is the only entity I can find that’s providing aid to Benin right now.

Oftentimes when a natural disaster of epic proportions hits, we know almost immediately where to send aid and which relief agencies are involved. That is not the case here. The answers are far from obvious.

I have an email in to one Christian relief organization to see if they’re involved. Surely someone is, but why is it so hard to find out how to help? Why isn’t this story getting more press?

Please keep the people of Benin in your prayers. If two-thirds of the state of Pennsylvania were underwater, it seems that the international media would be paying much closer attention.

You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are. -Max Lucado

©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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