Archive for June, 2012

Touching the Lives of Algerians By Offering Medical Assistance


Hi Samsung Village readers! My name is Dohee Lee, an associate at Samsung Engineering, and today I’d like to share with you a heartwarming experience I had in a country far, far away from Korea where I live: Algeria.

A few weeks ago, I started two-month on-the-job training at our oil refinery project site in Algeria’s Skikda region. In July 2009, Samsung Engineering won a project to revamp an oil refinery for state-run oil companySonatrach, and it’s on track to be completed this year. Once completed, the refinery will have an increased capacity of 330,000 BPSD (barrels per stream day) and be able to churn out new petrochemical products such as isomerate, para-xylene and benzene.

 

While our engineers were toiling away, transporting heavy modules close to 2,000 tons, a different type of project took place on the site that was just as important to the Skikda community, and that even provided life-changing opportunities to many Algerians.

And today, I proudly present the “Medical Cooperation Program in Algeria,” a social responsibility program that was initiated, organized and supported by Samsung Engineering’s Skikda project team.

 

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Samsung and partners working together to make a difference in Algeria

 

After five months of hard work with other great organizations such as the Ministere de la Sante a Skikda, L’hospita Skikda, Hallym University, Global Image Care and Gana Catering, eight prominent doctors from Korea took a journey of more than 30 hours to arrive in Skikda.

To tell you a little bit more about the region, Skikda is an industrial city with many petrochemical complexes. Unfortunately, quite a few of the residents have suffered third- or fourth-degree burns from gas explosions, and no access to plastic surgeons means most victims remain disfigured for the rest of their lives. There are also those suffering from congenital malformations like cleft palate, or severe neuropathy.

For these people, the Medical Cooperation Program was nothing in short of a miracle. Over 95 patients consulted with Korean plastic surgeons and neurologists and among them 28 underwent successful operations.

 

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Treatments that can help change these patients’ lives

 

I was fortunate to witness some of these life-changing surgeries and to meet the doctors who created miracles. I was overwhelmed with happiness for the people who benefitted from this program and awed by the expertise of the doctors. I also thought it was a huge benefit for the local Algerian medical community and staff that were able to gain know-how and expertise through these surgeries led by the Korean doctors.

I got a chance to sit down with Hyowon Seo, Construction Director of the Skikda Refinery Plant at Samsung Engineering, who shared with me how he felt about the medical project.

 

DoheeCongratulations for the successful completion of the first Medical Cooperation Program! What are your thoughts on this program?

Seo: Many of us were doubtful about the possibility of this project because so many pieces of the puzzle had to fit together. But everyone played their part well and we – along with our client Sonatrach, the local government, Gana Catering, GIC, and Hallym University – worked together as a great team. The result was a big beautiful picture. If any one of our partners had been missing, we could not have achieved such success.

 

DoheeHow was the medical team received by the locals?

Seo: The medical team was made of the best doctors in Korea including five prominent professors. They used their own vacations to come here, sacrificing their personal time to rest or to be with their families to make a difference to the lives of Algerians. They had very hectic operation schedules, but never once did I hear them complain about how tired they were. Rather, they wanted to do more operations. Their sense of duty and sprit of sacrifice was really impressive.
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Hyowon and his team working to deliver the best plant, while helping the community

 

DoheeWhat motivated you to put together this volunteer project? I am sure the plant project itself would have kept your team pretty busy and tied up.

Seo: Our first priority is bringing the best plant to the client. But our project becomes more meaningful when we make a contribution to the local community. We thought that the medical donation program was the best way to offer direct help to the local community.

The medical project not only changed the lives of 28 patients, but also raised the local community’s awareness of the importance of medical service. The plan to build a hospital specializing in treating burn patients in Skikda has become more concrete after being on the back burner for quite some time. Our program also helped bring to attention the need for a neurosurgeon department in L’hospita Skikda and now they have staffed two neurosurgeons for that department.

 

During my conversation with Hyowon, I learned that Ministere de la Sante a Skikda has officially requested that a second Medical Cooperation Program take place this September. For those patients that need more complex surgeries will be sent to Korea soon thanks to Samsung Engineering and Hallym University as they have both pledged to offer both financial and medical support for these patients too.

As this program continues, we look forward to sharing more heart-warming stories!

While economic crisis looms to the North, outlook for Algeria is positive


There are an abundance of articles written nearly everyday related to the travails of the Eurozone and its inability to generate growth among the majority of its member states, but very little is said about the impacts on other countries on the periphery of this region.  Peripheral countries tend to be heavily dependent on their export trade to Europe, and nearly all have had to adjust their respective fiscal plans for the possibility of negative growth going forward.  Algeria, however, is one exception to the rule.  Future prospects, though muted, remain on the positive trend built over the past decade.

Wedged between Morocco to the west and Tunisia and Libya to the east, Algeria has had a better time of it than its neighbors due to a number of factors.  Annual GDP growth has been steady during the new millennium, reaching a high of 6.9% in 2003 and a low of 2.0% in 2006, averaging approximately 4.0% for the entire period.  Algeria also managed to skirt the global recession that has disrupted financial affairs in most all developed economies of the world, due in part to its petroleum related industry and oil and gas exports.

Forecasts for 2012 have been as high 3.5%, but the slowdown in Europe has been reason enough to ratchet back those figures recently  to 2.7%.  In the meantime, the nation’s currency has depreciated nearly 10% versus the U.S. Dollar over the past twelve months, leading many to question what fundamental forces are causing this result when prospects are so favorable.  The chart history for the Algerian Dinar (“DZD”) is presented below:

 

An article on Forextraders.com discussing the “Fundamentals of Currency Evaluation” is a good place to start to find insights that address these changes.  There are a host of fundamental factors that impact the market’s valuation of a nation’s currency when it “floats”, rather than be “pegged” to some other index.  The Dinar does float on a daily basis.  Government fiscal policy and the monetary policy of its central bank are key components that impact exchange rates, while actual economic data provides its own set of influences.

A brief review of each of these factors follows:

 

  • Fiscal Policy:  As the global economy has subsided, the government has chosen to maintain subsidies for food, transportation, and housing.  Higher projected public spending has already lead to pressure on prices, as noted by rising inflation, especially in food prices.  Inflation erodes purchasing value of a currency, and thereby weakens it on a global exchange rate basis;
  • Monetary Policy:  The Central Bank of Algeria has kept its benchmark discount rate at 4% for the past few years to encourage business investment in both public and oil related companies.  This policy has resulted in a dependence on the price of oil on the global market, which tends to fluctuate often.  In fact, the depreciation of the Dinar has “mirrored” to a great extent the history of oil prices for the past year.  Oil prices rose but declined significantly over the past month;
  • GDP Growth:  Algeria has a legacy of a state-controlled economy that over time needs to be diversified to promote more growth an employment.  Despite the positive results achieved, unemployment remains high and government deficits are growing.  Growth in the private sector must be encouraged to ensure continued investment, growth, and stability.  Currency appreciation will follow these actions as a natural result.

 

Algeria has continued its positive growth posture, due in part to the actions of its central bank, but challenges persist if further progress is to be achieved

Mila exporte l’escargot


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Algeria’s peace keepers


full game algeria 4 vs 1 gambia june 15 2012


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‘Star Wars’ Fans Rally To Save Iconic Set In Tunisia


Every single “Star Wars” movie, save “The Empire Strikes Back,” uses the desert landscape and dusty villages of Tunisia as backdrops for the planet of Tatooine, the place where Luke Skywalker grew up. Specifically, Luke lived until the age of 19 at the Lars Homestead, the fictional name for a very real building that was, until recently, in danger of collapse.

To the rescue was neither Luke Skywalker nor George Lucas, but Mark Dermul, an avid “Star Wars” fan from Belgium who has been leading “Star Wars” tours of Tunisia since 2001. On a trip to Tunisia in 2010, Dermul discovered that the rounded hut that served as the exterior of the Lars Homestead in the film was in a state of disrepair. Dermul then set up the Save the Lars Homestead Project, working with the Tunisian Tourist Office and Tunisian government to secure the proper permissions to restore this movie landmark.

Save Lars raised $10,000 in 10 months and almost didn’t get realized because of the Arab Spring. At the end of May 2012, however, Dermul and his band of “pioneers” traveled to Tunisia, where they patched and re-plastered the Lars Homestead over the course of several days.


The Lars Homestead in a state of disrepair.


The Lars Homestead after restoration.

In the film, the Lars Homestead is located on the Great Chott Salt Flat, which is in reality Chott el Jerid, a salt flat in southwestern Tunisia. If you want to attempt a visit to the Lars Homestead, the “Star Wars” Wiki, or Wookieepedia, provides directions:

The location is a bit hard to find. From Nefta, take the road to Algeria (but do not enter!). Look for the 26 kilometer marker. If the weather permits, you should even be able to see the set from the main road. It’s only about 900 meters from the marker. However, be mindful of the trails you follow to get there. The surface may be difficult, especially when it has rained. A four-wheel drive shouldn’t have a problem, though. When you drive up to the set, you’ll get a rather eerie feeling, as it is only a small set, but so very pivotal in the saga. And there it is, in the middle of nowhere…”

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