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Editors Note: This post was written by the one and only Chi Do!

I grew up in Vietnam, where I witnessed first-hand the inequalities of the health care delivery system in third world countries. Access to medical care was only for the more privileged, smaller sector of the population. If you were poor and lived hundred miles from the city, disease would almost be a death sentence. My childhood dream was cultivated from this knowledge. I wanted to become a medical doctor who would bridge that gap, bringing health care to the poorest of the poor, and to the most remote areas of the country.

That childhood dream took a back seat when my family immigrated to America and as I worked hard to build up a new life, aiming for the American dream. In 2006, the University of Washington, my alma mater, started a new tradition called the Common Book, in which every first-year has to read the same book prior to attending their first college quarter. The first book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains: the Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World” by Tracy Kidder captured my heart. It reminded me of that childhood dream I once had – the dream to bring health access to all. I started seeking for opportunities to get involved and found the Jolkona Foundation. The idea that a small donation makes a large impact speaks so much to me. Everybody can be a philanthropist. Everybody can help make life better for another person, whether they are right next to you, or half the world away.

A couple months ago, I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the middle of the largest urban slum in the country. There was a small building nestled in the corner, away from all the noises of daily life. It served as the slum’s clinic sponsored by Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI). While we were there, a middle-aged woman came in carrying an infant on her arms while a young girl walked shyly behind her. I came to find out the baby was born to this young girl, who was barely 17 years old. She was married when she was 13. The older woman was the baby’s grandma. They came to seek medical care for the baby boy who had a common cold. Hearing their story, my heart flew to them. Many young girls in developing countries today have never had the opportunity for education, never known anything else beyond the 4×4 wall of their family house in the slum, and have often entered motherhood and faced too many maternal health problems at such a young age.

I am proud to be volunteering for Jolkona, to spread the word, to cultivate philanthropy within my social circles, and to lend a helping hand. I do all this with the hope that more young girls and women around the world are given the health care and educational opportunities they deserve. I urge every one of you to do the same, to seek the passion that speaks to your heart. And if it is to share or to serve the underprivileged, join us!

During the month of July, your donation to any Global Health project will be matched. Consider donating to the slum clinic in Dhaka that I mentioned above. With $50, you can provide medical supplies for the whole clinic or cover the cost of a general practitioner, both for an entire week. For the majority of people living in the slum, this is the only place they can go for medical care. In addition, join us tonight at Maker’s Space, where Socializing for Social Change is hosting an event benefiting Jolkona. To attend, you must make a $10 donation to one of three health-related projects!

Inspired? Find more Jolkona on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Read more about Jolkona’s visit to the DCI Clinic here!

Global health has never been more important. In our increasingly globalized society, where one can travel to the other side of the world in mere hours, improving quality and access to health not only benefits others but also ourselves. New medical breakthroughs protect millions of people from debilitating diseases and prevent even more from contracting them. But without access to these services, millions fall between the cracks.

In my own experience, access to health services is a major concern in all parts of the world. The United States, despite its status as a Western industrialized country, has significant problems providing healthcare to its own population. Over 50 million people are uninsured and cannot effectively access services without making a large financial commitment. I currently work at a hospital clinic and every day I face situations where patients feel overwhelmed by skyrocketing medical bills. Some of our cancer patients in particular must significantly downsize their lives to afford care. These problems similarly plague the Indian healthcare system, where hospital accessibility and quality varies with socioeconomic status. My father once fell ill during a visit and though his every need was met promptly, it was expensive and likely more than most Indians could afford.

Jolkona’s GiveHealth Campaign, connects people to many amazing projects that aim to close this gap. I helped support women health workers in Peru run by our partner, Awamaki, which provide health services to people in the remotest regions of the country. During my travels in South American with fellow Jolkona volunteers last winter, I observed first-hand how difficult life can be in rural areas. Through this organization, many villagers can gain access to medication and educational opportunities to improve their lives. Make sure to check out what other remarkable projects you can support and this month only, DOUBLE your impact!

You can also support women health workers in Peru by attending the #S4SC event this Thursday July 26th @ 6pm and choosing to donate your ticket fee of $10 to the Awamaki project.

Stay in touch with Jolkona and the impact your donations are making on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Before you read on, go check this website out. No, actually, click that link and take a look.

No Controversy is a site designed to facilitate awareness and dialogue about women who lack access to modern contraceptives. It was implemented with the fundamental goal of separating the use of contraceptives from abortion, and focusing on the benefits of family planning. It was also designed to generate hype for the London Family Planning Summit.

On July 11th, hundreds of delegates from 69 countries, NGOs and the UN gathered in London for the Family Planning Summit, an event aiming to revitalize support for family planning initiatives. In recent years, family planning has been pushed out of the global spotlight by issues such as HIV/AIDS, or by ideological arguments making it a sticky subject. The summit, hosted by Melinda Gates and Britain’s Department for International Development (DID), was put on to galvanize discussion about and support for family planning. The summit brought donor countries and groups in contact with governments of developing countries, who have created plans to increase education and access to contraception.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Melinda Gates speak with youth at the Summit

Why is this Important?

 

As stated in a recent Guardian article, Millennium development goal (MDG) 5 universal access to reproductive health, which is measured principally by access to family planning is the MDG least likely to be met by the 2015 deadline. But increasing access to contraceptives can drop maternal deaths by up to a third, because it means less high risk births such as births before the age of 18 and births spaced too closely. More than 220 million sexually active women say they do not want children but have no access to contraceptives. The need is there.

Increasing contraceptive use is a two-fold battle.

  • On one end, ideological arguments lock up aid by claiming that contraceptives will increase sexual promiscuity, or by linking it with abortion or population control.
  • On the other end, there is often misinformation about contraceptive use, so even if they are available, they might go unused. It is not enough just to provide access; women also need to be educated about the many options available to them, their side effects, and so on.

Sisters Brenda and Atupele (aged 16 and 18) both dropped out of school when they became pregnant, severely limiting their potential and putting their lives at risk

What are the Benefits?

 

The goal reached by the London Summit is to provide access to roughly half of the 220 million women lacking it by 2020, and organizers estimate this will cost 4 billion U.S. dollars in addition to what is already provided for. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

  • The statistics: “By 2020, the collective efforts announced at the summit will result in 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life.” (London Family Planning Summit)
  • Beyond statistics: Planning when to have children empowers women to become more educated, and to earn more money. It also allows families to decide how many children they will have, meaning they can provide them with a better quality of life. Countries which are trending towards smaller family sizes have seen increases in education, prosperity, and GDP. Melinda Gates sums this up well in her TED talk.
  • Multi-faceted impact: Much like improved sanitation, family planning helps nearly all the MDGs, especially those relating to maternal and child mortality, which are notoriously difficult to change.

What Can I Do?

You can have meaningful impact in three simple ways.

  1. Perhaps you already have, but take the pledge on www.no-controversy.com. Show your support for this cause.
  2. Donate to our projects aimed at improving access to contraception! Project 92 funds contraceptives directly, and Project 200 gives women the ability to educate their communities about health issues.
  3. Share this blog post. Start a discussion about contraceptives. Raise awareness and dispel misinformation.

Stay in touch with Jolkona on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you are passionate about this subject, attend the #S4SC event and donate to Supporting Women Health Workers!

My brother almost died when he was a new-born. Though healthy at birth, it soon became apparent that he was having serious problems. Increasingly emaciated and severely dehydrated, he was suffering from chronic diarrhea. As a result, lactose – the one thing he relied on almost more than anything – could not be digested. The diarrhea got worse and worse; he grew thinner and thinner.

Biologically speaking, this is what was happening to him: diarrhea is brought about when the mechanism controlling fluid balance in the intestine is disturbed. The most common causes of this are toxins secreted by bacteria, or damage to the lining of the bowel by bacteria. My brother was experiencing the latter due to a bout of gastroenteritis. As a result, his body was releasing excessive amounts of essential fluids – water and electrolytes. The loss of these fluids was literally draining the life out of him. The electrolyte imbalance could well have begun to damage his kidneys and cause his heart to beat irregularly. Untreated this would have killed him.

For a while my parents weren’t sure if he would live. We were living in Morocco at the time, where healthcare is nowhere near the quality most of us have access to. However, in the end, they were able to diagnose the problem and treat it with a simple fluid replacement program. My brother’s life was saved. He now lives in Leicester in the UK, is married, and is training to become a doctor. He also happens to be one of my best friends and one of the kindest and most gentle people you’ll ever meet.

My brother lived. Millions of other children don’t. UNICEF estimates that number to be around 1.5 million annually.

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under 5 globally.

Bringing the Global to the Personal

If you follow my posts for Jolkona, you’ll know I have a penchant for telling personal anecdotes. I do this for a reason. Statistics are harrowing, yes. 1.5 million children is as incomprehensible as it is sickening. But I’m of the mind that you cannot measure suffering on the scale of figures. Suffering is suffering, for 1.5 million mothers as it is for one. So I share these parts of my life with you because I want you to understand that it’s the people behind the statistic who matter. It is they who suffer, who die, who mourn.

At Jolkona we want to invite you into the stories behind the statistics. So today I’m inviting you into the stories of children in India. Give $10 to save one child from diarrhea and we’ll send you the discharge certificate of the child whose treatment you provided. Even better, this month we’re running our Give Health matching campaign so we’ll double your donation and send you a second discharge certificate.

For the price of less than a movie ticket you save two lives. Two families spared from tragedy and suffering. Two stories you become a part of. It is a beautiful thing.

I care about this project because I am thankful that my family had access to the simple medical care that saved my brother’s life, and because I believe it is a terrible injustice that a child should die of something so banal, something so easily treatable as diarrhea. Give to this project. Give Health today.

You can also support this project by coming to our Socializing For Social Change event on Thursday July 26th. Tickets costs $10, the total of which goes to one of three global health projects of your choice. Saving a child from diarrhea is one of them.

Follow our campaign and its impact via our Give Health campaign page, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Tweet using the #givehealth hashtag.

 

Last week I had the privilege of representing Jolkona at the White House Summit hosted by the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and where people such as the Founder of Meet-up, Change.org and representatives from Rock the Vote, Echoing Green, Code for America (to name but a few) gathered to help the Administration answer the question: What should the blue print for citizen innovation look like and how can the White House best support it.

In its essence, the goal of this invite-only summit led by the Director of the Administration, Jonathan Greenblatt, was to understand from top innovators working in the sector how their administration can best help social innovation scale. I was honored to be a part of the first of hopefully many more discussions to help our country move forward through social innovation and civic engagement.

Here’s five of my top take-aways from the summit:

  1. It is our moment to drive innovative social change to make our country better. Can’t agree more with this theme. We need people, especially young people to step up and support social change so that we’re all better off.
  2. The importance of non-profits for a healthy economy. The non-profit sector is growing and today makes up about 10% of job force.
  3. The importance of participating in civil society with regards to networking, building job skills, trust, community, and ultimately a greater level of economic growth. Networking and being an engaged citizen leads to more opportunities, jobs, and thriving communities.
  4. There seems to be a lack of civic engagement in our country and the biggest challenge is how the White House can help spread enthusiasm and passion to make action more infectious.
  5. It’s possible to do well and do good at the same time, and social enterprises are for-profit models of making change that exemplify this.  In addition, the idea of citizenship is not purely altruistic, but one of self-interest too.  It leads to stronger communities and economic growth if properly executed and understood.

We ended the day with a great discussion on the ways the White House can solve these issues, and here’s a few of my favorite ideas:

  1. Sharing stories of new citizens.  40% of Fortune 500 companies are started by immigrants or children of immigrants. We need to hear more of these stories so everyone can truly embraces new citizens in this country.
  2. Sharing positive stories of citizenship and social innovation around the country. Every day we hear stories of failure and are disillusioned by the power individuals wield. We need to share more positive impact stories to help inspire and re-engage people to get involved.
  3. Leveraging the power of the White House to convene by hosting summits like this around the country to empower local leaders to spread civic engagement in their communities.
  4. Funding should not only be available for evidence-based programs, but we need to take risks and provide more funding for new innovative approaches that have potential to scale and make larger impacts and create more jobs.

We ended the summit energized with the idea that we must all re-commit to building up our citizenship muscle. After an inspiring day with amazing leaders in the non-profit and social innovation space, I left pondering what I could pledge to do to help spread the idea of civic engagement and this is what I decided:

One of the common themes discussed was the power of storytelling and collective action – two things that are absolutely to Jolkona’s mission and model of giving. Sharing powerful stories inspires and engages people to action they would have otherwise not taken part in. In addition  to our featured donor and volunteer posts that share the stories of how individual donors and volunteers are making a huge impact, I’m committed to showcasing stories of how each partner we work with is changing lives with the support of our community. We’ll start featuring two partners a month to really showcase the power small actions and funding can truly make. Hopefully this will inspire even more people to get involved with Jolkona or any other cause that they feel passionate about.

To follow tweets from the summit, search for #WHsummit and #socialinnovaton and tweets my tweets at @nadiamahmud or @gl_weekend who helped facilitate the summit.

Note from the Editor: This post was written by Jolkona volunteer Chi Do.

In Bangkok, on a very hot and humid June day, the Jolkona team got the opportunity to visit a vocational school run by Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB). Greeting us were many students dressed in white shirts and dark pants. They were there to attend 2-hour classes held every Sunday, studying subjects such as English, Thai, or computer skills. They all seemed to take these weekend classes very seriously. For many of them, this is the only education they are able to find. The majority of them have not graduated from high school and currently hold full time entry-level jobs at factories or in sales. Students can attend more than one class depends upon their financial resources.

TACDB was founded in February of 2003. Its mission aims to support the Burmese refugees and immigrants who come to Thailand from the poorest and most war-ridden areas of Burma.

Today, besides providing education and vocational training for these Burmese young adults, this non-profit organization also supports Burmese immigrants with legal assistance in labor unions. They strive to break down the language barriers for these workers, improve their awareness of their legal rights, and organize democracy campaigns to signify their presence in the Thai community.

We asked Myint Wai, the Director of TACDB, what they currently need the most. He responded without hesitation – financial support. It is easy to see that the school is running way over capacity. Thailand’s law dictates that there should be no more than 500 students in this size of facility, yet they are enrolling close to 850 students on a regular basis. There are 45-60 students in each class. And there are only 10 computers that are functioning and being used for teaching. All of the teachers volunteer their time. They receive nothing besides a minimal travel stipend to get to and from the school.

To further understand the impacts this school provides, we interviewed a couple students.

Ngelay-Bright has been attending English class for the past 5 years. She works full time as a sales clerk. She emphasized to us that she is saving money to continue learning at the school, because she believes advancing her language skills (both English and Thai) and computer skills will significantly improve her earnings. She wishes to one day finish high school and attend university.

Aung Naing is a fairly new student at the school. He has only been learning English for about 5 months, but he had no problem communicating with us. He said that he is thankful to have found out about the school and started studying there. It is impressive how much education, commitment, and determination can work to make a difference in the lives of these young people.

Investing in education is undoubtedly the best way to improve the lives of the Burmese refugees and immigrants in Thailand. Personally, it touched me a great deal to be able to relate their story to my own, when my family first migrated to the United States. Without the educational opportunity available to me, I wouldn’t have been able to finish college, obtain a good job, adapt and establish my life in a foreign land. I am passionate to campaign for the support the “TACDB” school needs most. Let me break it down:

  • With 350 Thai bahts (11 US dollars), we can send one student to one class for 3 months.
  • With 250 Thai bahts (8 US dollars), we can support the travel expenses for one volunteer teacher a week.
  • With 10 donations of 1000 Thai bahts (32 US dollars), we can pay the facility fees for 1 month.

In any amount possible, I hope you consider supporting the TACDB, or at least learn more about their work.

We will keep updating you on the SE Asia Trip during Global Health Month! Keep following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Imagine a woman working at a marketplace in the US . She needs to use the restroom, so she walks three minutes around the corner, grumbles about the line that has formed, but then uses the toilet and gets back to work.

Now imagine that woman living in the Shivaji Nagar slum in Mumbai. She has held it all day to avoid this moment, but she desperately needs to go. She walks 20 minutes just to reach the nearest women’s restroom to find it filthy, stained, and disgustingly odorous. After she finishes, the male attendant asks her to pay. “But I only urinated,” she protests. “How should I know?” he replies, still barring her exit. She hands over four rupees, about 1/6th of her daily earnings, and then is allowed to leave.

The above scenario happens daily for thousands of women in India as highlighted by these two New York Times articles. The lack of access to improved sanitation is a huge problem in India. In New Delhi alone, the national capital, there are 1,534 men’s toilets to just 132 for women. The situation is so dire that often women purposefully don’t drink water just so that they will not have to use the restroom, leading to further health problems than poor sanitation. Worldwide, around 2.6 billion people (36% of the world’s population) do not have access to improved sanitation facilities, and access is not increasing at the rate it needs to in order to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline of 23% in 2015.

While this data seems grim, in reality this lack of progress can be attributed to aid not going to the right places.

  • Drinking water and Sanitation often get lumped together into one aid category, but aid is often allotted to the first and not the second. By 2015, access to drinkable water will have far surpassed the MDG target.
  • Furthermore, as reported by the 2012 GLAAS Report, “only half of development aid for sanitation and drinking-water is targeted to the MDG regions of sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South-eastern Asia where 70% of the global unserved live.”
  • Lastly, most of this aid is directed to urban areas, but urban residents represent less than 1/3 of people lacking improved sanitation.

While building toilets might be less attractive than building wells, improved sanitation has an enormous benefit to the people who have access to it. It reduces disease, child mortality, and helps practically all the MDGs. It increases dignity within a community, can help raise education, end the poverty cycle, and even increase GDP.

For example: Improved Sanitation addresses the Gender Equality MDG in many ways. More toilets increases women’s mobility, dignity, and ability to work, and lessens incidences of assault or rape. In addition, the 2012 GLAAS Report that showed that improved sanitation in schools lead to better attendance. For example, if schools worked to improve menstrual hygiene they could encourage girls who often miss class when menstruating to attend. This in turn helps close the education gap.

What is Jolkona doing about it?

We’re running the Give Health matching campaign, and Jolkona has three projects (Project 67, Project 76, and Project 95) that address the sanitation situation. Two of them build sustainable latrines in rural Southern Asia, and the other builds either temporary or permanent latrines in Haiti. If you support one of these projects, you will receive a photo of the latrine you provided, and information about the family you are supporting. Donate this month and make double the impact!

Keep up with us and the Give Health Campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also check out the #S4SC Event!

Charts from: WHO and UNICEF (2010) Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water; 2010 update. Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. [http://www.unicef.org/media/files/JMP-2010Final.pdf]

 

When we start talking about Global Health, there’s always the risk of creating an impression of generality. We can easily succumb to the idea of a vast plethora of ‘worldwide issues’ clumped together, one indistinguishable from the other. Needless to say, this is not the reality. So this month, Seattle’s Global Health month, Jolkona is bringing the Global to the personal. Today we’re thrilled to launch the Give Health matching campaign. By donating to any one of our Global Health projects we’ll directly show you the impact your donation makes in the lives of those the project supports. Even better: we’ll match your donation, double the impact, double your proof. The match will be up to $3,500, which has been generously provided by a group of anonymous donors.

What is Global Health?

Global health refers to health problems that transcend national borders or have global political and economic impact. This includes not just problems such as infectious and insect-borne diseases which can spread from one country to another, but also health problems that are of such magnitude that they have a global political and economic impact, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and malaria.

Why Global Health?

Because health is one of central foundations of a good and just society – and we passionately believe that. Because Global Health indirectly and directly impacts all of us: the spread of a crippling disease in another country, while confined to its borders, can still have major economic and political repercussions in your country. Furthermore, an uncontrolled disease that transcends a country’s borders obviously has the potential to wreak havoc on a truly global.

But we care most about Global Health because we know what it means be in good health and, more importantly, because we know what it means to have the support of healthcare facilities and medications when we are not. The tragedy is that there are billions of people worldwide who do not have access to the most basic healthcare. It is devastatingly unjust – almost unthinkable to us – that a mother should lose her child because of something as mundane as diarrhea.

Bring the Global to the Personal

During this campaign we want to show you that you can make a difference by showing you how you make a difference. So give to any one of our 30+ Global Health projects and we’ll match your donation, whilst you see double the proof of impact. For example, give $10 to save a child in India from diarrhea, we’ll donate an additional $10, and we’ll send you copies of both the discharge certificates for the children whose treatment you provided. You are the person who makes the difference, and you see the difference made in the person’s life. This is how we’re making Global Health a personal issue.

Go to our campaign page to view our Global Health projects. Find one you care about. Donate.

Giving Health, socializing for change

As part of the campaign, our friends at Socializing 4 Social Change (S4SC) are throwing us a party to help draw awareness to three of our Global Health projects. The evening will be replete with giveaways, music, food and drinks, as well as a silent auction. Buy a ticket for the event and the full amount will go to one of the three projects of your choice. The event is on the evening of July 26 and you can get your tickets here. At $10 a pop, how could you not?

Give Health and make Global Health a personal issue.

Keep up with us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

 

As we’re now getting into Global Health Month (a.k.a. July) I thought I would get everyone excited about our matching campaign starting on Monday! But you may be thinking ‘Global Health is such a huge topic, how can I make a difference?’ Well, we at Jolkona will tell you ‘One drop of water at a time.’

Speaking of drops of water, increasing access to sanitation and drinking water is a major solution that addresses 7 out of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. While we’ve made great progress in this area, much more still needs to be done. Jolkona has multiple projects that further this solution, such as this one.

This infographic provides a snapshot of how far we’ve come, and how the situation stands right now.

If you’re interested in supporting solutions such as this one, get excited for our upcoming matching campaign and Global Health Month!

You can learn more about the campaign and keep up with us and all that’s going on at Jolkona on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

In case you missed it, Jolkona featured as a case study in the Millennial Impact Report 2012, an extensive study of more than 6,500 millennials (defined as people born between the early 80s and the early 2000s) on how they learn about, connect with, and give to non-profits. The results demonstrated the exponential improvement in giving that could be achieved if:

  1. Donations could be made online.
  2. Miro-giving was an option.
  3. There was proof of impact.

If you know anything about Jolkona, then you’ll know we are stellar on all three of those fronts.

One of the other significant findings from the report was that 79% of smartphone owners said they have connected with a nonprofit via smartphone. So here’s another front we’re going stellar on!

Enter Change by Jolkona, the new Windows Phone app.

Change yourself and the world in 21 days

Change by Jolkona is a Windows Phone app that allows you to track and share personal goals while making an impact in the world. Research shows if you can repeat an activity for 21 days it will become a habit. Change by Jolkona lets you easily set, track and share personal goals. Along the way we will motivate you by showing how you can also create positive change in the world.

How does it work?

1) Create or choose a personal goal:

 2) Choose a Jolkona project  which tackles a specific Millennium Development Goal:

 3) Update and track your personal goal:

 4) Check in with your global goal:

And in 21 days we’ll show you how you can engender change on a personal and a global scale.

Download Jolkona Change here. Find out more on our Change Facebook page here. Connect with Jolkona in a way you’ve never been able to before – on your smartphone!

GET INVOLVED!