WSCO: What’s up with last minute bylaw changes?

Last year, hundreds of people were bused in from outside the neighborhood to stage a takeover of the West Side Citizen’s Organization. In late October, the by-laws were amended, in a last-minute move that raises questions for this year’s annual meeting. West-Sider Jon Kerr received a postcard October 18, inviting him to a special meeting to vote on West Side Citizens’ Organization (WSCO) by-law changes just four days later. “Does anyone know anything about the proposed WSCO bylaw changes that are supposed to be voted on before the candidates’ forum on Monday night (October 22)?” Kerr inquired in the St. Paul E-Democracy open forum. Continue Reading

Darfur: What more can Minnesotans do?

‘Genocides happen because we let them happen’
Last week’s “Darfur: the war that won’t go away” forces us to ask what we and our political leaders here in Minnesota can do to help end this “particularly vicious genocide” half a world away. Darfur is becoming increasingly dangerous. In recent weeks, 10 African Union (AU) peacekeepers were killed and their weapons and equipment stolen from one of their camps. The AU’s 5,400 peacekeepers in Darfur lack a mandate to stop the Janjaweeds and other militias. Approved on July 31, 2007, the United Nations peacekeeping mission is supposed to be in Sudan by January 1. Continue Reading

Darfur: the war that won’t go away

Minnesota’s political leaders are taking steps to curb the genocide — but is it enough? At the University of Minnesota Law School, Gabriel Kou Solomon, a graduate student in international human rights advocacy, tried hard to hold back his tears. He cried, and then explained about his nieces Yar, age three, and Ajak, 18 months, abducted by Murle militias in Liirir, south Sudan. “This is a big problem,” said Solomon, 27. “It is occurring daily in Sudan.”
This shows that despite a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005, the local Murle militias, an auxiliary of the Khartoum-supported Janjaweeds, continue to abduct young children with impunity. Continue Reading

Minnesota’s lonely elders

Minnesota African Women’s Association executive talks about elders’ mental health in Minnesota
“There is a problem especially when it comes to our African elderly senior citizens,” said Nyango Melissa Nambangi, executive director, Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA) at the Dakota County African Mental Health Summit. “Especially those who come to this country to see their children, and then you have the ones that come because they are refugees.” Many have left their societies back home and what they have there is not in existence in places like Minnesota. Back in their home countries, they have the support of their family members. “When they don’t have family members around them, it causes a lot of sadness,” said Nambangi. Continue Reading

African business thrives on St. Paul’s Snelling Avenue

The welcome sign at Midway Rendezvous Coffee reads, “Coffee of the day – Sidamo Ethiopian Coffee.” The customers sitting around the small circular table are from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. As they sipped their tea from porcelain and glass cups, they talked about the latest news from their countries. African businesses in St. Paul are mostly family oriented, but open to everybody. “This is a good place to talk to friends and families. Continue Reading

In the shadows of refugee camps

Jennifer Vago, a registered nurse and field worker has served 10 missions with Doctors Without Borders in different refugee camps. From Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia to Sri Lanka, Vago says the stories from the refugees are the same; full of suffering, hunger, frustration, helplessness, rape and the fear of death. Doctors Without Borders, a French international medical humanitarian organization exhibited “A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City” in Loring Park, Minneapolis at the end of September. It highlights the untold sufferings of 33 million refugees, and people uprooted by wars. Staff at the exhibition also share their personal stories, and work to visitors. Continue Reading

The United Nations at St. Anthony Avenue

The wrestling match lasted for almost a minute. Two young men from Somalia and Ethiopia respectively, locked into each other’s arms, test each other’s strength while their friends watch and cheer. A group of elders, mostly from Somalia, stood outside the building discussing recent changes on Green Cards, and the latest news from home. A couple of Asian elders dropped some clothes into laundry machines located on the main floor of the building. This is 1247 St. Continue Reading