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India: The orphans of HIV

Editor's note: The names of the teenagers in this article have been changed to protect their identities. MUMBAI, India — Three teenage girls pull up chairs and form a semi-circle around me. Sabeena, whose pigtails and wide eyes make her look younger than her 15 years, carries a bowl of grapes and offers them to me. No, no, I tell her, I’m fine. “Take one,” she insists. I oblige. Her friend, Amrita, also 15, tells me she is in her last year of high school. How long have you lived at this orphanage, I ask.

India: Community journalism in the slums

MUMBAI, India — Zulekha Sayyed sits with the men. They talk about the garbage dump directly behind their community and how the children have been playing in it and getting sick. As the wife of one of the men serves the group tea, the men say the dump’s stench gets worse when night falls. The wife returns to the kitchen. The mother-in-law sits on the floor and serves her grandchildren breakfast. She tears off a piece of roti, kneads it in a metal bowl of milk and sugar and then places the bite in the toddler’s mouth.

Opinion: Haiti stands alone

Why Israeli gays opt for US surrogate births

TEL AVIV, Israel — At an age when most people are welcoming their first grandchildren into the world, Avishay Greenfield, 59, gets little sleep as a father of twin babies.

Opinion: US can give better aid to Haiti

WASHINGTON — Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion. But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti’s future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti’s people.

Interview: Death penalty decreasing worldwide

BOSTON — Amnesty International released its annual survey on the use of the death penalty. The report found 18 countries executed people in 2009. China is estimated to have executed the most people, but refused to release an official figure. In the 17 other countries 714 people were executed.

Opinion: Foreign aid industry inherently flawed

WASHINGTON — Pundits on the Potomac love to draw parallels between 21st-century Washington and imperial Rome – pomposity and profligacy often being counted among the shared characteristics. But when it comes to the pressing question of fixing U.S. foreign aid, the better metaphor is monastic, medieval Europe. For like monks calculating the number of angels able to dance on the head of a pin, the apparatchiks of our international assistance community remain focused on dogma, never questioning the foundations of their credo.

Fighting child sex trafficking in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Say “child trafficking,” and you’re likely to conjure up images of organized crime and international smuggling rings. But sexual exploitation of children is often the result of more ordinary pressures: poverty, disease and social disintegration. In Tanzania, where trafficking of poor girls from rural to urban areas is a serious problem, these are the complex social issues that anti-child trafficking workers are trying to disentangle.

Nepal: The Big One?

KATHMANDU, Nepal — When disaster specialist Amod Dixit looks out his window in Kathmandu, he sees collapsed bridges, demolished hospitals, schools reduced to rubble and dusty corpses lying in the street, the nightmare of Port-au-Prince revisited on his Himalayan home. “Unfortunately, that is the reality (of what we are facing), if not worse,” said Dixit. “If Kathmandu is impacted with a shaking of an intensity IX on the Mercalli intensity scale, the aftermath is going to be much worse than in Haiti.”

Will the EU help end FGM?

BRUSSELS, Belgium — As a young girl in Guinea, Aissatou Diallo couldn’t save herself. She was 14 and six people were holding her down while a seventh cut her.  Somalian Ifrah Ahmed couldn’t even comprehend what was happening to her. She was only 8 years old and there were people holding her arms and legs. She had no anesthesia of any kind before or after, just raw agony and then the 40 days of isolation imposed on newly circumcised girls. Five years later, inexplicably, they did it to her again. 
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