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China

Tough Bridal Market: Over-The-Top Wedding Proposals In China

Worldcrunch

SINA NEWS, CHUTIAN DAILY (China)

HUBEI – A few weeks ago, reports Sina News, a man showed up in front of the Hunan University female dormitory with a cortege of BMWs.

The 11 cars were parked in two rows of five, while the lead car was parked next to a red carpet running from the car to the doorstep. His well-organized team quickly set up audio equipment and started playing romantic music while the suitor, carrying a bunch of roses, took out his mobile phone and called a young lady. Soon after, the object of his attention came down the stairs and, as expected, accepted the engagement ring in front of the cheering crowd.

A few days later, according to the Chutian Urban Daily, a 25-year-old man, obviously inspired by the BMW approach, led a mighty team of 50 bicycles, each with a heart-shaped balloon at the front, through the streets of Hankou City. When they arrived at the real estate agency where his sweetheart was working, the bicycles formed a heart around the leading man. With flowers in one hand and a suitcase in the other, he knelt in front of his heroine, and opened the suitcase. He was leaving nothing to chance: inside was a stack of cash, folded in the shape of hearts.

These days in China nothing is too over-the-top when it comes to proposals: men need to prove they can provide for their future wives. Because of the one-child policy, which has led to the selective abortion of baby girls, China has an imbalanced female to male sex ratio of 100 to 118. The marriage market is pretty much in a woman's hands, as well as her parents'. She will choose a man who can guarantee what she considers a reasonably comfortable life. A recent survey conducted by a Chinese matchmaking agency shows that 70% of women consider that owning a house is a prerequisite for a man to propose, and that 80% of women think that only men earning more than $630 a month are eligible for love.

According to the China Times, a mother from Hangzhou City has recently set up a QQ group, an instant messaging platform for people with common interests, for rich parents who are looking for son-in-laws. The condition is that candidates must be worth at least $4.7 million; that's what these parents claim to be worth themselves. Unfortunately for the young ladies, candidates don't seem to be lining up. Perhaps they smell a trap?

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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