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Thanks to the generous support of the Jolkona community, we have raised almost $4,000 for our partner, Barakat, to help families displaced by the floods in Pakistan! As a result of your donations, the 70-75 households that took shelter in Attock, Punjab have all been taken care of. We’re excited to announce that this project is now completely sold out!

In our last blog post about Pakistan, we discussed how much of the $1.3 billion raised for Haiti’s earthquake relief still remains unused. Jolkona and our partner have learned from this experience and have decided to cap the Pakistan project at this point since our non-profit partner does not have the capacity to distribute additional funds for flood relief outside of the village they work in. You can rest assured that YOUR donations to this project are being used for aid and distributed to the families affected by the floods. Everyone who has made a donation will receive a proof of impact as soon as the gifts are implemented.

Thanks to your help, we were able to meet the immediate needs of the affected families who took refuge in Attock. We are working hard with our partner to add another project which will provide long-term benefits for these families.

Unfortunately, the need in Pakistan is still great. The UN reports that the flooding in the Sindh province of Pakistan is going from “bad to worse.” Whether you’ve given to our project or not, we encourage you to give what you can to other relief organizations working in Pakistan. See the short list of organizations we recommend below:

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Within 30 seconds of reading this you can get a seven-day weather forecast for Rio de Janeiro, Delhi, or Tokyo. You can learn how vaccinations work, get instructions on how to construct a pig pen, and even learn the definition of poverty… in Japanese. The point being, we live in an information rich world. With 1.7 billion internet users, some of us clearly have access to limitless amounts of information that the remaining 5.3 billion do not. However, when one goes further and looks at the billions who do not even have access a public library, the world’s 72 million children who are not enrolled in school, or 774 million that are illiterate, this information gap becomes almost unimaginable, but its consequences are very real.

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When the earthquake struck Haiti back in January, the world opened its wallets and generously supported the Haitians with over 1 billion dollars in donations. According to this recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, much of the  $1.3 billion remains unused. The article sites the specific example of American Red Cross who has only spent $133 million dollars out of the close to $500 million donations that it received. This is extremely frustrating to donors. The organizations asked for money under the banner of “immediate need of assistance” and yet 6 months after the earthquake so much of the funds are still unused. This lack of transparency will lead to donor frustration – we are already starting to see that play out.

At Jolkona, we try to address this donor frustration by providing tangible, meaningful proof of impact for every donation. In the days after the earthquake, we did not have any projects on the ground for people to give. However, by now we have projects in Haiti that assist in the long term recovery efforts. Here are our Haiti projects right now:

This provided a lot valuable lessons for us in terms of how to manage disaster relief and recovery in a way that effectively fits the Jolkona model. Now Pakistan is facing one of the worst floods in the country’s history – billions of dollars of damage and over 12 million people affected thus far. In Pakistan, we have been able to respond and set up a project within days since we had partners who were already on the ground.

This proves Jolkona’s ability to quickly respond to relatively fluid situations (especially around disasters) and help in the recovery process. As Jolkona grows, so will its ability to respond to future disasters around the world.

However, for now our focus is on the floods in Pakistan. Please give to help the displaced families in the floods in Pakistan. As feedback, you will receive information on how your donation was used by a specific family. You can continue to give through the traditional methods and they need all the help they can get. Through Jolkona, you have the opportunity to directly and immediately impact 600 displaced people and know exactly how you impacted them.

Recently I sat down with Josh Dirks, the founder of Social Creature Media and the sponsor of Jolkona’s Meet-up, to discuss the relationships between business, social media, and what motivates start-up companies like his to get involved with philanthropy. As leader of an organization dedicated to harnessing the power of social media and putting it to good use, Josh has many intriguing thoughts on the roles community and transparency can play in encouraging young people to give back. We live in a new era of accountability, with the ever-present 24-hour news cycle and most individuals in the world have at least some access to powerful tools of mass communication. There are of course many challenges in the era of information overload, but also great opportunities to use technology to bridge human needs.

Ready access to information has given tremendous power to individuals, and social media branding experts like Josh clearly understand that today’s youth know how to vote with their dollars. In the for-profit sector, this means that brands and businesses must become social and “owned” by their public: listening to, monitoring and engaging customers allows businesses to build a community of patrons that identifies with products or services. And much like the good old days when conventional wisdom spread through word of mouth, in the social media era, much of the most useful information out there is distributed by individuals who want to share their experiences, reviews, and opinions with those important to them.

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Somehow, the lyrics to the old Peaches and Herb classic ‘Reunited’ are on repeat in my head as I finish clean-up from my goodbye party here in Seattle. I’ve been home for about two months from my latest bout of career adventures in Toronto, Canada and although it’s been nice to unwind and reunite with family and old friends, I’ve found myself eagerly anticipating a whole different kind of reunion.

On July 30th, 2010 I will reunite with India – my country of birth but also a country that has become foreign to me after having gone over a decade without a visit. The anticipation of such a reunion fills me with many overwhelming emotions – excitement, fear, joy, nervousness, and at the best of times, an insatiable need to dance crazily to my favorite Bollywood hits. My mind is abuzz with incessant questions – Will I be accepted? Will I feel Indian? Will I be able to handle living there? But somehow in the background hums a current of calm knowingness that this is the homecoming I’ve been yearning for.

What adds to this sense of calm is my observations of friends and other second generation Indians who, despite having been raised abroad, have slipped comfortably and successfully into study and work positions in India. Their tales consistently include exciting adventures, travels, and, above all, a recognition of parts of themselves within the culture there. Confidence boosted, I too, set forth on a journey of self-discovery. 

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