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“On Suffering and Structural Violence” By Paul Farmer- A Review

November 13, 2014

Structural violence can be referred to as a form of violence where some social structures or social institutions may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. In “On Suffering and Structural Violence”, Paul Farmer discusses the case of the violent impact of social structures and institutions on the lives of the people of Haiti.
Through his write up, Farmer shows that Institutionalized elitism, ethnocentrism, classism, racism, exism, adultism, nationalism, hetero-sexism and ageism are some of the examples of structural violence; as also proposed by Galtung (1969). The results of all these examples mentioned above are poverty, suffering and death and this is the kind of normal life of the Haitian people.

In their bid to chalk some successes, governments of especially developing nations embark on projects that go a long way to worsen the living conditions of their people. So that, even though, a country might be known by the international economic standard as developing or developed, the greater number of its people might be suffering from extreme underdeveloped conditions. This comes about as a result of the fact that a few wealthy people might be contributing their quota to the larger economic world, of course, as always, at the expense of the many poor and tattered ones.

Drawing on the building of Haiti’s largest dam and its effects on the lives of the Kay community people, we can say that their suffering today is as a result of the dam that was built many years before. Farmer writes that before the dam was built at the original location of the Kay community, for generations, thousands of families had farmed the broad and gently sloping banks of the river, selling rice, bananas, millet, including all kinds of crops in regional markets. (2006).
This means that life was as good as could be for the people since they had a source of income and better places of abode; at least, until the building of the dam. This dam which was supposed to provide the people with electricity and good source of drinking water rather rendered them homeless, hungry, and eternally unhealthy. Meanwhile, this same dam would have been fulfilling its promises of luxury and comfort to others living in the city.

Paul Farmer also uses the life and death of Acephie to show how women are forced into sexual choices due to poverty. These choices result in diseases and deaths as in Acephie’s case in which she contracted HIV/AIDS because she entered into a relationship with Captain Honorat, an HIV carrier and soldier. In the end, Acephie also infected her unborn child and another man; and so the chain goes on and on until it becomes a pandemic. This is the reason Paul Farmer is saying that poverty, suffering and death are a result of social structures and social institutions; that these structures, due to their institutionalized nature, most of which are a residue of colonialism, has made it difficult to address the issue of poverty.

In conclusion, I will say that the increased rate of poverty, sicknesses and deaths of those who occupy the bottom ranks of society, as against those who are above them, who experience a relatively lower death rate, can be attributed to the stress, shame, discrimination and denigration that results from structural violence. Until these structures are exposed and dealt with appropriately, economic development would not be a true representation of a nation’s peoples.
Farmer, P. (2006) Social Medicine. Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine. UN Press Release.
Galtung, J. (1969) Cultural Violence. Journal of Peace Research. University of California Press.

Forever by Karen Kingsbury

November 11, 2014

Karen Kingsbury, as you may have realized from my thoughts on diverse issues, is my favorite bestselling author ever! Yes she is. And time and again, I re-read her books because it’s simply pure joy reliving life through the pages of her wonderful stories. I spent mid-September and the whole of October with my family back home this year and I naturally found my way to Kingsbury’s Redemption Series and Firstborn Series.

Before I go to the books, I want to just say how much I had missed home, having spent countless number of months in school including vacation time and every other holiday. By September, I couldn’t take it any longer; it just wasn’t fair anymore!! Being home was a blast- at least until I started having nightmares about graduating a year behind…haha.

Re-reading those two series brought to me so many revelations that I hadn’t caught in my previous readings, which is really the point of going back to Karen Kingsbury. For now, I just want to talk about something interesting I learnt while reading the last book in the Firstborn Family Drama Series. So Reagan Decker and Luke Baxter are struggling in their marriage because Luke is struggling with work and is uncertain about his future as a lawyer while Reagan is struggling with the kids, their financial state and the fact of not being able to have a home to call their own, plus Luke’s recent uncaring attitude towards her and almost everyone else in their lives. It’s a whole lot more than these.

Lo and behold, John Baxter (Luke’s father) stumbles unto a letter his late wife, Elizabeth Baxter had written a long time ago for each of their six children, captioned, “Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage”. John graciously decides to post a copy of this letter to Luke and his wife, and prays that the words in that letter find a way to level the hurdles in his son’s marriage.

Reading the list of secrets, one that made most sense to me was this:

Learn about love languages. Not all people show love or receive it in the same way. You want a back rub and your spouse wants a clean kitchen. The love languages are fairly simple: acts of service, time, physical touch, gifts and words of affirmation. Learn them. Love is better received when it’s in the language that person speaks.”

This point right here reminded me of some discussions my friends and I have been having. The ladies (and myself- obviously) think that home management and other household chores are not cut out for women only and that men need to get involved in a more meaningful way. Most ladies love their men like that. Well, your guess is as good as mine- the guys disagree. They would rather come home to a clean and quite house so they can spend quality time with their wives. Of course the debate is still on! However, remembering these discussions now, I realize that both we and the guys have been speaking different languages about the same subject- Love.

Forever has made me understand that marriage, and for that matter any kind of relationship thrives when the parties involved learn to become masters of each other’s love language. That it doesn’t matter that one may not like doing or saying certain things, but that they say and do them as far as those things are what communicate love to the other; and not to the one doing or saying them. Love is reciprocal so the receiver never remains a receiver forever.

Let me know what you think on these things. I would love to hear from you too. Cheers!

Conviction vs. Condemnation

November 11, 2014

Originally posted on Brittney Moses:

medium_4487519028When I think of the Holy Spirit visually, He compares to bumper rails on a bowling alley to me. Whenever the ball starts to roll off track the rails bump it back into place to make sure it stays on course and on aim with its target. As we go through life the Holy Spirit consciously keeps us on track with conviction. Conviction’s purpose, in the same way, serves as an indicator that we’re headed in the wrong direction and God is warning us to get back on track!

Sometimes I think we get conviction confused with condemnation. God convicts, the enemy condemns.

Conviction is an alert to our spirit that makes us aware of ourselves and warns us we’re off and headed toward the traps of sin. Its a warning! Condemnation, on the other hand, pulls you into your guilt and tells you you’re stuck in your…

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Birthday in the Wilderness

August 12, 2014
On the missions field

“I cannot imagine; and as precious it is . I am so excited! God’s banner over you is exceptional. I thank God for your life. Enjoy your day. I pray that His mercy for you will be forever, Amen.”- Daddy

This is what Daddy sent me on our WhatsApp family page on my birthday and I loved it. Yes, yes, I just celebrated it….hurraayy!!! It was pure joy, that day. The best thing about it was that I was on the missions field. Two; we fasted half the day and prayed through the morning until it was way past our breaking Three;I was one of fourteen happy people who went from house to house sharing the gospel to all who welcomed us. I prayed with and for many of these people. And I helped organize the evening crusade. Oh what a day!!

Wait, that’s not all!! I received special treatment at the dinning table and in the evening, the 13 threw a cute birthday party for me!!! Each one of them said a special prayer for me and helped themselves to a sachet of chilled yoghurt. The beauty about all of this is the fact that eventhough I was not with my family, this new family of mine made sure that my day was celebrated in the most possible way even in the midst of  this very involving exercise of propagating the gospel, and I love them for it.  I was happy and I felt completeness and happy…again.

So in the midst of the celebration of life  in every aspect of the word, I wrote these words and forwarded them to family and friends. Now I want you to see what I wrote and invite you to celebrate with me. Chao!!!

“Today is my birthday!! Am thanking God for adding one long year to my life. It has been a real roller coaster ride and God has been nothing more than faithful. Today, I know that I have no reason to worry about my tomorrows for He has carried all my burdens and turned them into celebrations. Every thing I have worried and prayed about,God had done for me and has given me endless testimonies. Whenever you read this,you celebrate with me and therefore I pray for you; that may the God of the  heavens and the earth renew His covenant with you and enlarge your territory. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. I will shout for joy when you are victorious and lift up my banner in the name of my God. In the name of El-e lion, Amen!
Oh and thank Jesus for me too…He is definitely the best! Bless you and bless all August borns!!! Foward this to a loved one who is an August born. Hope I am one…”

Brenda Writes…..





I’m Grateful!!

June 6, 2014

Oh My God!! It’s been ages since I have been on here; and I’m so sorry about that…sooo sorry. Oh My God, I’m soo excited to be back cos I feel like I had been on this long roller coaster journey that felt so strange and yet so familiar that you are not sure whether you will make it but you also know for sure that you have to make it. That’s how my being away looks a little bit like. And my God was I rotting away with guilt the whole time because I couldn’t get to spend time here!
What it was is, I started my Master of Arts in Communication and Media Studies at the University of Education, Winneba in August, 2013, of course with MPhil in view…lol… Little did I know that my life was going to change completely and what I had dreamed of for that programme was in fact not it at all. Well, I think it’s safe to say that I have been a pitiful sight for almost a year now…lol. It has not been even a tiny bitty easy; and dear, you have got to believe that I’m not exaggerating one bit. Because I have never lived my life having to fight through countless sleepless nights just to meet impossible deadlines and still have some kind of life outside of academia, until now; and all my friends who have been on the same ride with me would add more if they were here with me right now. The good news, though, is that we are almost done; written exams done (and yes we write sit –in exams…I know, it’s a shock!), some term papers done, the rest of the few still in the pipeline, then the end will come.
Do not be misled though. Coming to read Communication and Media Studies has been one of my best moves yet and in spite of everything I have had to go through, I would still not change it for the world. This programme has turned my world in all directions possible that I feel like in this less than a year, I have grown ten extra set of eyes and brain. Hahaha!! It’s true, really! As for my experiences, I’m sure they will be slipping in in my next million posts.
For now, I want you to know that I’m happy that I decided to learn; that I decided to broaden my horizon and do new things. I want you to know how grateful I am to my parents and my family for supporting me in cash and in all love and kindness to do this. I have said that one of my greatest role models in life has and will always be my mom. She makes me have no reason to fail in life and I love her for it. I want you to know that I’m grateful to my  family here who welcomed me in their home to stay and study. I am grateful to my friend, Jane, for cheering me on and wanting me to finish quickly and do something else. I am grateful to the amazing CMS family that I have come to love so much. They are unbelievable!! I want you to know that I’m grateful to you for choosing to hang out with me here and for giving me the opportunity to inspire you.
And to the Almighty God, who has for now, blessed me with all these!!!
I’m Grateful!!!


How Love Goes

January 22, 2014

It is funny how love goes- that it always finds itself no matter what happens. It’s funny that Mummies always say that “friends always forgive each other.” It’s funny how they say that one never forgets their first love. It’s funny how love will always find a way. But it’s true then that love is strong enough to stand against all odds and defend itself!

I am sitting here in my room, on my study table at 10:38pm; and I can’t help but remember some of the many situations I have gone through and come out of because of the power of love. And for a lady in her twenties, there is only so much that I go through; given that I’m still finding myself and my place in this life.

When I was growing up, people always said that in life friends and family might betray or disappoint you, but bla, bla, bla…”  Whenever people said that, I realized that many times they were speaking from experience and their pain was obvious- at least in their eyes. I realized all that but I never could understand why anybody would be hurt because of something that other people did. I couldn’t make sense of their pain and their experiences; and I wished that everyone was like me- get away from the bad guys and go on being happy!

Growing up, I have realized that our tent grows and enlarges with us; and under this tent, our experiences multiply, our qualities get perfected, our vision grows bigger and eventually, we grow to become better or worse people.

My life had been more of a hit- and run kind; except in this case, the one hit would be me and the runner would still be me. Immediately I get hit, I stand up quickly and take to my heels, never looking back. And that is what I did with all the people who came into my life. If you are mean to me, I make sure to never encounter you ever again and in all of this, it was my heart I was trying to protect. Until I grew up.

I have had these episodes where I imagine myself as a soldier in the middle of a fierce battle, with all the flying bullets and bombs and the spilling of blood and shouts and tears; and every single time, I look around me and see soldiers taking their death bullets and bombs. What I do is I hurriedly fall on the ground among the dead, close my eyes, take little bites of breaths, and just wait until fire seizes and the enemies believe absolutely that everyone is dead. I still wait; just lie there and wait until they are gone. That is when I open my eyes, scan around just to be sure, and then, then I sit up, rise up and run for dear life!

Many times I have imagined this and chosen the easiest way on the battle field. Interestingly however, every time in this episode, just around the time I open my eyes to run, I see all my partners lying dead, with the enemy gone; and just me on a lonely desert, with no one to run home with. This is when I realize that in my quest to save my life, I had actually lost it the moment everyone else lost theirs; until I had no one to celebrate mine with.

Since growing up, I have realized that it is worth it to give people other chances because in doing that, you give yourself another chance to be better and greater. My friends have hurt and disappointed. Family have shocked and betrayed me. I have been absolutely mystified to find out that the people you least expect to leave you in the middle of the road are those who do just that. Sometimes, some of our best friendships immediately turn sour and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it; only that people change and we can’t force them to love us or hate us

Growing up, I have learnt that there is a purpose for everything that happens under the sun. I have seen that the God who runs my life has my best interest at heart and nothing can change that. Since I learnt about the indescribable love of Jesus, I have decided to choose love as well. So that whether family and friends love me or hurt me, I will not stop loving them. After all, Jesus loves me not because I’m perfect, but because He chose me to love me.

I choose love because as much as it is difficult to stick with it, hatred is much more difficult and costly. I choose love because I want to love and be loved. I choose love because at the end of the day, it is my family and my friends with whom I want to celebrate my wins and my seeming not-so-wins.


My Supernatural Encounter With Karen Kingsbury

August 24, 2013

Thank you for giving to the Lord

I had a life that was changed

Thank you for giving to the Lord

I am so glad you gave.

                                         -Ray Boltz

There is a woman who I met during a time in my life, when if I had not met her, I don’t believe that I would be in this place in my life today.

I had just entered my first year in the university, feeling a lot of things all at the same time; shocked, elated, overwhelmed, lost and missing my family terribly. I had not made friends yet and was just now settling down and imagining half the time how amazing it would be if I met someone who could be my best friend. I had two ridiculously hilarious roommates with whom I had bonded on our first night together. Surely, I won’t bombard you with this side of the story. Maybe another time.

On this account, though, here I was, thirsty for a bestselling author which always magnified my moments, any day, any time. Yet, there was a problem. The Lord had started revealing Himself to me and I had started to be aware of this Jesus I had heard of so many times at church and home. More interestingly, He was helping me see the negative influence that my choice of novels were having on my life. And oh it was negative!

At the time, my most preferred novels were Harlequin books. This time, though, I knew the truth and wanted not to go there again because when you had experienced God in the ways that He was letting me, all you wanted was to just do Jesus- if you know what I mean?

Killing my love for reading, though, had become a large burden on my heart because next to my family, the thing I cherished most was reading. And to give it up? (You can’t see but I’m shaking my head right now). Plus I had two or three fat Harlequins stuffed under my things somewhere. This might surprise you but it was my daily struggle; to not run to those books straightaway, grab them one after the other and feed my poor, hungry soul on them.

Then it happened! SRC Week was here and there was going to be an exhibition fair throughout the week. On Friday, I went to the fair and naturally gravitated towards the hundreds and hundreds of books that had been arranged neatly on tables and book stands. That was where and when I met Karen Kingsbury and the amazing ministry that God had called her into-writing.

It was the first book I picked and the first ever Christian fiction I read. When I picked the book, I read the blurb and the piece about the author. I wasn’t so sure. I mean, I  did not want to go back to those books that  sought to teach me that the foundation of true love, real love was sex, and the last thing I needed was to be led right back into the world I was trying to get behind me.

The book I picked was Rejoice

by Karen Kingsbury and Garry Smalley and words will never describe enough what I found in the pages of that book. All I know is that I seemed to find more and more of Jesus on every page I turned and unless you’ve been there, you cannot completely imagine the world I was, from then on, and always will be, transported into. That night, I heard for the first time, angelic music and angels sang for hours and hours and hours, non-stop. My heart was overflowing with love so strong and so kind and by morning, I was a completely new person. Today, I say to the glory of God, that I was supernaturally delivered of my love for sex-prone novels.

The next day, I skipped my last two lectures and went to the fair. I bought all the books in The Redemption Series and then I bought Fame because they were the only Karen Kingsbury books available.

You see, I had never in my life heard that such a thing as Christian Fiction existed and that night when I found out, I was completely, head over heels in love with this woman who had kind of led me to this discovery, and I was even more in love with Jesus for bringing me to all of this. Because aside from all other reasons, it meant that I didn’t have to give up reading. That was the bestest news ever!!

So it is no coincidence that I say that Karen Kingsbury is my role model of all times. Well, plus my mum and Katherine Khulman and Beth Moore. I just feel extremely blessed that I know these amazing women, even if only through their ministries because they give me hope and I know without a doubt that my God shall perfect that which concerns me.

One of my biggest dreams is to meet at least Karen and Beth since Katherine has gone to be with the Lord and since I have met my mum already. She is incredible! I am sure though that I will meet them someway, someday in a little while.

May God mightily bless you, Karen, for being part of the testimony of my salvation. I don’t imagine that I will ever forget you. I hope that God uses me to be same for many others. Cheers!


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