The end of August means many things: that summer will give way to cozy sweater weather and the first orange leaves, that pumpkin spice lattes will soon be available at coffee shops around the country.  Here at Jolkona, the end of August means that our second month of Give Together is coming to a close, and it is you last chance to give to Global Health before we feature three new projects!

Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to increase our Global Health project goals twice, raising $640 in monthly donations through our Give Together community so far. Whether you vote for mother/child health care in India, prosthetics and amputee rehabilitation in Haiti, or cleft palate surgery in Bolivia, you are part of a global movement to save lives.

Online access to philanthropic causes has truly revolutionized microgiving and individual donor impact. Check out eBay‘s infographic, 16 Ways the Internet Has Proved it Has a Heart, demonstrating the various times in the last few years where online communities have pulled together to make an incredible impact. From raising thousands for Doctors without Borders, to raising more than $1 million to bring clean water to parts of Africa, to even helping to fund cryogenic freezing as a terminal cancer patient’s last wish, the ability of online communities to mobilize funds for issues like Global Health is unprecedented.

sample - viral giving

At Jolkona our unique Give Together community makes giving even easier, and is tapping the potential of viral giving.

Next month, Give Together September will continue this trend of online philanthropy with an Animals theme, featuring projects from the Snow Leopard Trust, Reading With Rover, and Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Check back on this blog for more information about these projects over the next few weeks.

Use these last few days of August to Give Together for Global Health. And, as you snuggle up against the coming fall chill with your favorite pet and your obligatory pumpkin spice latte, prepare to Give Together for Animals.

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about the importance of vaccines (you can read it here) and how much potential they hold in terms of keeping the world healthy. After writing this, I learned about a new malaria vaccine that is showing great promise.

Scientists have yet to create an effective and accessible malaria vaccine, but recently a new vaccine protected 12 out of the 15 volunteers from malaria. This new vaccine is called  PfSPZ, and if it continues to have the success it has been having, it could very much change how malaria is treated. NPR covered this story hereDr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, calls the findings “unprecedented.”

malaria-parasites_1059_600x450 2However, Dr. Fauci isn’t being naive about the fact that this study was conducted on a very small population: “It’s true to say that this is really impressive to have this degree of protection, but on the other hand you have to temper it by saying the numbers are still relatively small.” NPR further reported that this study doesn’t show how long PfSPZ protects the vaccinated person from malaria. (Image from National Geographic)

What Makes This Vaccine Different?

Making a vaccine for malaria is very difficult because malaria can change and adapt in the human body. NPR explained PfSPZ in the following statement: “PfSPZ is different from these previous vaccines because it uses whole, weakened parasites to trigger an immune response, instead of just a small part of the parasite, like a protein on its surface.” Sanaria, the company behind PfSPZ, is more than pleased with the results and is now trying to get PfSPZ tested on a larger scale. If these tests are successful, Sanaria is hoping to have a working vaccine no later than 2018.

Jolkona & Global Health

Here at Jolkona, August is Global Health month for our Give Together program, and we have three dedicated projects for this theme: helping India’s mothers and babies through Calcutta Kids; healing Bolivian children by supporting Esperanca, a medical treatment center that has helped thousands; and supplying prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation programs to amputees through BRAC: Haiti. For more information about all of these projects, read here. If you like what you read, join our Give Together community to contribute to these and other worthy causes!

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Our third partner in August’s Give Together campaign for global health is BRAC Haiti, an organization fighting chronic poverty by providing prosthetics, orthotic  and other comprehensive support programs to rehabilitate physically disabled Haitians. In the organization’s own words, here’s more information about this month’s project:

What’s the inspiration behind your organization?

BRAC is a development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. We started in Bangladesh in 1972, and over the course of our evolution, have established ourselves as a pioneer in operating innovative antipoverty interventions at scale. BRAC organizes the poor using the communities’ own human and material resources to catalyze lasting change and create an ecosystem in which the poor have the chance to seize control of their own lives. BRAC has developed support services that are geared toward inclusion in the areas of human rights, legal aid, education, social and economic empowerment, finance and enterprise development, agriculture, environmental sustainability, disaster preparedness and of course, health care.

Renade below the knee prosthetic

What’s the story behind your project?

BRAC has worked directly in Haiti since shortly after the devastating earthquake that hit in January 2010, drawing on its own experience of starting up and operating relief and rehabilitation programs in post-conflict and post-disaster environments. Our immediate disaster relief efforts included replication of BRAC’s Limb and Brace Center in Bangladesh to help victims of the earthquake. BRAC Haiti’s Limb and Brace Center opened in September 2010 in Port-au-Prince and continues to make and fit low cost, quality artificial limbs and braces, in addition to providing counseling and rehabilitation services. The Center is staffed by qualified local Haitian technicians and a medical officer that received hands-on training and guidance from BRAC’s team of professionals from Bangladesh for over two years.

By providing artificial limbs and braces to the poor, BRAC is helping to reduce the burden on families of physically disabled individuals by increasing their ability to participate in daily life and other social and economic activities, thereby allowing disabled Haitian citizens to contribute to ongoing, post-earthquake recovery and rebuilding efforts.

How did you become connected with Jolkona?

BRAC has been acquainted with Jolkona since your organization started after your founder reached out to us to offer a platform to raise funds for our important programs – his family is Bangladeshi and he was aware of BRAC’s work and so extended the invitation to our team in the US.

Can you tell us more about your current project?

The BLBC offers physical therapy and other rehabilitation services, and counseling to the physically disabled and their family members. It is equipped to accommodate patients who come from outside of Port au Prince or who otherwise require overnight facilities. BRAC’s Limb and Brace Center is the only provider of customized, durable braces in the Port-au-Prince area. All prosthetics and orthotics are manufactured onsite using suitable technology deemed appropriate by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) that takes into consideration the Haitian context and convenience and ease of maintenance to the beneficiaries.

The clinic has served over 2,392 patients as of April 2013. While the BLBC continues to see patients injured as a result of the earthquake, it is increasingly serving patients injured by accidents, and children born with limb deformities and disabilities. Approximately 74% of patients treated at the BLBC are under the age of 15.

Patients receiving treatment from BLBC are shown as below:

Particulars Total Male Female Adult Child
Total Patients 2,392 1,158 1,234 636 1,756
Total Prosthesis 123 48 75 52 71
Total Orthosis 1,926 964 962 470 1,456
*Others 343 146 197 114 229

What kind of lasting impact do you hope to achieve?

Haiti’s population of citizens living with untreated physical disabilities was high even before the earthquake due to a lack of sufficient development in the health care sector and poor infrastructure conditions fed by unfavorable economic and social conditions. Everyday life in Haiti paints a picture that can be harsh at best and those living with a disability are often regarded as economic burdens or social pariahs. A locally-based and consistent supply of quality, cost-effective limbs, braces and patient services, including counseling, are required to unlock the potential of this often disregarded segment of Haiti’s population.

Let’s say Give Together raises $150 for your project by the end of August. What’s our impact?

The BLBC offers a range of treatments to individuals – from brace and split orthotic devices all the way through to prosthetic limbs. A donation of $50 provides a foot orthosis that can correct a prohibitive deformity. A donation of $75 can provide a long leg brace that can make walking possible in spite of lack of certain leg muscles or can provide a custom ankle foot orthosis that will allow a patient to perform a wider range of physical activities. A donation of $530 would mean that a patient could receive a needed below the knee prosthetic limb and $720 would provide a full below the hip prosthetic limb to an individual in need. Beyond providing the devices themselves, these amounts include the cost to provide important counseling, rehabilitation and follow-up care to the Center’s patients by a team of qualified and caring professionals.

We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

Viola is 34 years old. She had a small roadside business and was working there when the earthquake started in January 2010. When the tremors began, she fell down and a neighboring building collapsed on top of her. Viola faded in and out of consciousness for several hours and was taken to the hospital by community volunteers, where she finally woke up. The doctors there informed Viola that her leg was severely damaged and that they had no choice but to amputate. After the amputation, Viola was unable to walk. She could no longer operate her small business and had no way of generating income for herself and her daughter. Viola’s partner had left her after the amputation and the little support he provided went toward school fees for her daughter. Each day was a struggle for Viola and her child.

Then one day a neighbor told Viola about BRAC’s Limb and Brace Center and she made her way to the Center. After her first visit, she thought, “They will give me the ability to walk… I was happy”. Two weeks later, Viola was fitted with a prosthetic leg, designed out of durable material that is easy to clean and maintain. She practiced walking on her leg, which felt heavy at first, and gradually grew accustomed to it. Soon after, Viola was back to work. “I do the same business as before,” she says. “I have no problems.” Now, instead of worrying about how to provide for her family, Viola spends her free time playing with her daughter. She hopes that her daughter will grow up to be a doctor, so that she can help others.

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. Throughout the month of August, you can sign up to join Give Together and choose BRAC or two other global health projects.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Updated 8/22/13 with Huffington Post link.

Adnan Mahmud, Jolkona’s co-founder, gave an inspiring talk at Seattle Tech Meetup’s Tech For Good night yesterday, citing the five lessons he’s learned from our organization’s first five years. Check it out:

More than 300 people packed into HUB Seattle for this event, with others watching the livestream from elsewhere. Other speakers represented Survive the Streets, PathForce, MovingWorlds, ActivelyLearn, and Vittana.

For more on Adnan’s advice to young philanthropists — including his adorable baby girl — check back here for here’s the link to his Huffington Post Impact column. You can also chat with Adnan and other Jolkonans at our next Seattle event: Paint Together, #GiveTogether on Sept. 6 at Material Good’s studio. RSVP here.

We’ll be posting more stories related to Jolkona’s upcoming 5-year anniversary over the next few weeks, culminating in our Corks & Forks dinner, auction and celebration on Oct. 10 at Blue Ribbon Cooking & Culinary Center. Save the date — ticket info coming soon!

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.


What do you think the world needs more of? Today is U.N. World Humanitarian Day, and your chance to spread the word, literally. Aug. 19th is the beginning of a monthlong campaign called “The World Needs More.” Tell the U.N. what you think the world needs in one word, through a Twitter hashtag or through a donation on its website. Jolkona’s suggestion?  #WHD2013 #TheWorldNeedsMore #GiveTogether.

World Humanitarian Day acknowledges the sacrifices of those who put themselves on the line to bring help to others. Set on Aug. 19th, the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, World Humanitarian Day in 2008 to honor those who have died giving humanitarian aid, and those continuing to make a difference around the world. In particular, this holiday celebrates first responders to crises, like conflict or natural disasters. These volunteers are often as affected by events as those they aid, and are more likely to lose their lives while helping someone else.

World Humanitarian Day also aims to encourage everyone to be a humanitarian at whatever capacity. Many parts of the world still need aid, and only global and international cooperation can effectively address some of these issues. Humanitarianism on a global scale needs the involvement of everyone who wants to help, even if it’s through making an important word reality, or a small donation.

Beyoncé stepped out in support of World Humanitarian Day 2012. This year, the Kid President is asking you to become a global citizen. With the World Needs More campaign, you have a chance to make a direct impact with your word of choice, and make a difference.

At Jolkona, our philosophy is that a small action can make a huge impact, and that anyone can be a philanthropist. Through both our Give Together program and Give Direct, choosing your cause and making a high impact donation makes humanitarian aid both easy and effective. Your donations not only provide help for under empowered people globally, but also support the dedicated volunteers making it all happen.

With the launch of Give Together, our goal is to make giving more communal, compounding the contributions of many to make a bigger impact. In that spirit, we think the world needs more #together. Take the time to check out the project page and use Twitter to spread #GiveTogether as your word of choice.

For more information, check out the World Humanitarian Day on Facebook and Twitter.

Remember: @Jolkona @UN_WHD #WHD2013 #theworldneedsmore #GiveTogether

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Feeling crafty?

In celebration of our new Give Together monthly philanthropy program, we are hosting an arty party at Seattle’s Material Good, home of the adorable Little Shirley vases!

Material Good vases

Paint your own pottery, enjoy some tasty food, sip a little wine and support a great cause with great company.

  • What: Paint Together, #GiveTogether
  • When: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm (or whenever you can get there!)
  • Where: Material Good Studio, 2959 Utah Ave S., Seattle
  • Why: Food, wine, live music and an excuse to get crafty. Did we mention it supports a great cause, too?
  • Tickets: Admission includes a pottery item of your choice to paint + food and wine. $20 for single tickets or $35 for 2 tickets in advance; $25 at the door.
  • How: Buy tickets here.

Grab a friend and join us on Friday, Sept. 6 – we hope to see you there!

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Calcutta Kids, the second Global Health project partner in this month’s Give Together program, provides medical treatment, fights malnutrition and analyzes data to battle India’s health problems before they become unmanageable. We recently spoke with Calcutta Kids founder Noah Levinson:

What is the inspiration behind your organization?

[The inspiration for Calcutta Kids] came the summer between high school and college when I volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying Destitutes in Kolkata. While deeply moved by Mother Teresa’s sole mission to give love to those who would otherwise die alone, I was unsettled by people dying of curable diseases. I wrestled with the question of whether more needed to be done.

The following summer, I returned to Kolkata and again worked at the Home. A young man, Sudip, was brought to the Home because he was dying of an infection on his head: a rusty nail had penetrated into the skull. I recognized Sudip from a program I had volunteered at the previous year. He was one of the kids still in line to receive treatment when medicines and bandages ran out. The following day Sudip died in my arms because of that untreated head injury. The pain and anguish I felt was excruciating…I then founded Calcutta Kids.

What’s the story behind your project?

To prevent more unnecessary deaths like Sudip’s, we started a mobile health clinic which drove around the streets of Kolkata providing medical treatment to street children. The basic premise behind this project was to prevent street kids from dying at the Home for the Dying Destitutes.  We collected treatment data and analyzed it regularly. Through this data we found out that while children were happy that they could be treated for their illnesses free of cost, they were coming back to the clinic again and again with the same illnesses. Basically the mobile health clinic was a band-aid solution to a larger problem. The larger problem was that most of these kids were malnourished as younger children and had weak immune systems and incomplete brain development. It was clear that if we really wanted to prevent people from ending up at the Home for the Dying Destitutes, we needed to work with children under the age of three. In addition to this, we needed to  help ensure that mothers give birth to healthy children with good birth weights and that malnutrition does not plague them and retard their development.  We therefore decided to start the Maternal and Young Child Health Initiative.


Let’s say Give Together raises $250 for your project by the end of August. What’s our impact?

The adoption of a pregnant woman/child pair. With that money, Calcutta Kids provides: pregnancy counseling in the home once a month for the pregnant woman by a qualified Community Health Worker, a minimum of three antenatal check ups with our qualified female doctor for the pregnant woman, a minimum of 2 tetanus toxoid inoculations for the pregnant woman, and access to folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin A to the pregnant woman and mother through lactation. In addition to this, the mother would receive daily access to a free clinic for the pregnant women and receive free medicines, access to a delivery savings scheme in which Calcutta Kids matches the patient party’s savings up to half the cost of a normal delivery ensuring that the child’s birth is facility-based, the required immunizations and micronutrients for the child, and monthly check-ups for child to monitor growth. If it is found that the child is not growing normally, the child will be invited to participate in the Calcutta Kids sponsored daily feeding program. The mother will also be provided with counseling in the home once a month and access to 24 hour emergency care for child at the local clinic.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members choose your project this month?

If you care about pregnant women and young children, evidence-based interventions,  using effective and tested behavioral change communication to ensure lasting positive change, and believe that empowered community health workers can be change agents to improve their communities… then please join the Calcutta Kids family by supporting our work.

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. Throughout the month of August, you can sign up to join Give Together and choose Calcutta Kids or two other global health projects. Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

If you are between the ages of 15 and 24, log onto Facebook, update your Twitter, and post a selfie on your Instagram because today is International Youth Day #InternationalYouthDay #Celebrate #NoFilter. Every August 12 is International Youth day, a day meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the young people of the world. The UN chose this years theme to be “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward.”

Benefits of Youth Migration

The Pew Research Center described Millennials as, “confident, self-expressive, liberal, and open to change.”  These characteristics, paired with relatively cheap transportation costs, make international travel a viable option for many young people who don’t have strong ties at home, or who are just adventurous in general. Many young people (th

Holding Hands Around the World 2

e majority being young women) migrate to another country to learn another language, to gain new experiences and to look  for work. The United World Project recently talked about youth migration stating, “They can provide financial as well as social remittances, including innovative ideas, practices, identities, and social capital.” Although it seems like both sides of the equation are equal and mutually beneficial, some young people who migrate aren’t always welcomed with open arms. (Photo by: UofL International Student & Scholar Services).

Risks of Migration

The same United World Project article described a number of risks that young migrants may face: “Pre-departure through in-transit, post-arrival and return and reintegration to their own society.” The article goes on to say that migrants are “often misguided and susceptible to abuse and exploitation.”  This is an unfortunate reality because some young migrants don’t know their rights, or didn’t do their research. “Information is power,” says Jo Rispoli of the International Organization for Migration. If someone is misinformed, it may cost them dearly, especially if they are far away from home.

What Should Be Done

The familiar picture of stick figures holding hands around a world is supposed to signify  camaraderie, tolerance, and a global community that stands together. However, this is not even remotely the case. Migrants being taken advantage and being misinformed about the place they are traveling to is the norm, and this is a big enough problem that the UN made it a topic for an international holiday. Migrants should read up-to-date guidebooks and always do their research on places and jobs they have accepted.  Doing this could mean the difference between a positive life changing experience, or a very dark one.

Here at Jolkona, we are all about positive life changing experiences, and give you the opportunity to change someone’s life. This month is Global Health month, and through our Give-Together campaign, your micro donations can make a real impact on a global scale. Check out this month’s projects here, and donate!

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


It’s been a few months since we trekked through West Africa, so it is time for our favorite tradition: the reunion. We have been doing this ever since our first expedition in 2010. An evening of re-creating local dishes we had on our journey, accompanied by stories of our favorite local heroes we’ve met along the way.

Suejin and Timothee cooking up briques and oeuf cocotte:

IMG_0006 IMG_0009

Adnan made an epic fufu — only a full day of cooking time! It was the dish that we featured in all of our brochures when we were forming the team, yet we only had one chance to eat it during the trip… but the power was out and the fufu could not be made.


Punit and I made one of our favorite dishes: jollof rice. The first time we ate it was made by our home cook, Pearl, and we were blown away. We ordered it frequently after, but it was never as good as Pearl’s.

Maggi cubes (the magic ingredient to give jollof that kick of flavor):

maggi cubes

Tomato, onion, hot pepper goodness all blended up. Then add rice.

red sauceIMG_0011

Team effort:

IMG_0004 IMG_0008IMG_0007

Jollof Rice Recipe

adapted from Africanbite

4 generous portions

  • 2 cups long grain rice (eg Basmati)
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 fresh habanero chilli pepper (it’s gonna be spicy!)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 70 grams of tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow sweet pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, diced
  • A handful of fresh green beans
  • 2 small Maggi cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Peel the onion and cut in half, and put in a pot together with the tomatoes, garlic cloves and fresh chilli pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the skin of the tomatoes starts peeling.

Put the boiled tomatoes and other vegetables in a mixer with a little of the hot water from the pot and mix until you have a smooth sauce.

Pour the mixture into a large pot, add the tomato paste, chilli flakes, Maggi cubes and some more of the hot water from the first pot and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat.

Add rice. Cook until the rice is done. You might have to add some more water, depending on what kind of rice you use.

You can steam the diced red/yellow peppers and the green beans. I always pan fry them quickly to get more flavor. Add to the pot once the rice is done cooking.

It’s ready to serve, enjoy!

Join the next expedition

Very soon Team Jolkona will prepare for our next expedition: Bangladesh and Burma this December. If you’re interested in learning more about the expedition and to see if you are a good match for our travel team, please email

You can read all the posts from the Jolkona Team expedition in West Africa here.  

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

We would like to help you get to know our three global health projects for this month’s Give Together, through our Partner Spotlight series. First up is the inspirational Esperança, which provides life-saving surgeries and medical training to rural communities in Central and South America.

Tom's Bolivia trip 2012 039

What is the inspiration behind your organization?

Esperança began in 1970 but one of our two founders, James Tupper got his first close look at medical deprivation and poverty in 1960 while traveling to the South Pole abroad a U.S. Navy icebreaker bound for Antarctic.  The 26-year old Medical College of Wisconsin graduate couldn’t believe his eyes when the shipped docked along the coast of South America.  He went ashore and saw families living in shacks built on islands of trash in open sewers, children with swollen bellies sat listlessly in front of mud-and-stick hovels and adults coughed up blood into dirty rags.  These images haunted James for many years.

When his military service was completed, he entered the Franciscan Order. After his ordination, Father Luke was assigned to Brazil and began the overwhelming task of bringing medical care to the people of that region. In 1970, His brother Jerry, an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, incorporated the nonprofit organization, Esperança, to support Luke’s tireless efforts.

During this time, Luke encountered about 250,000 people in the Central Amazon Region who needed medical care, but it took them up to three days to travel by boat to reach the Esperança clinic. In 1972, Esperança solved that problem with the purchase of the San Diego passenger ferry, the Point Loma, for $15,000. Over the course of 18 months, with donated materials and volunteer labor, the Point Loma was converted to the hospital ship Esperança.

Ten years after arriving in Brazil, Esperança’s medical and surgical facilities were moved on shore.  Today, the Fundaçao Esperança occupies a full city block with up-to-date medical facilities. They are a self-sustaining operation after 30 years. This endeavor was the backbone of how we operate as an organization now. We now partner with NGO’s in the countries we operate in and help to provide sustainable disease prevention and control with a working relationship within the community.

What’s the story behind your project?

Of all the work Esperança conducts, none has more dramatic effect than our surgical missions.

Each mission is dedicated to either general surgery or a surgical specialty such as plastic surgery, orthopedic, ophthalmology, pediatric, gynecology, and urology. All operations performed significantly improve quality of life for our patients and in some cases are life-saving. Volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses come from throughout the U.S., procuring medical supplies for their mission and paying their own travel expenses. Each team travels 1-2 weeks and accomplishes between 40 and 50 surgeries. Training of local health professionals is an important component of our program.

Bolivia Mother child

How did you become connected with Jolkona?

Esperança was originally contacted by Jolkona because of our high ratings for efficiency and accountability.

Can you tell us a bit more about your current project, and how it’s going?

This past year at Esperança in our surgical program alone we saw over 1,000 patients! This does not include the numerous consultations and training hours for local area doctors to learn from our surgeons.

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to make?

Esperança as an organization hopes to use the training from the missions and the expertise of our surgeons to educated local doctors to the point that our assistance in not needed.

So say I give $15 to the project, what will be my personal impact?

A single surgery cost $156! By giving $15 you are able to start building the resources for a surgery to be completed along with the training of local doctors.

We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

Maria Galvan, a 28-year-old Nicaraguan mother, formed a powerful bond with her daughter Claudia, the moment she laid eyes on her. But, little did she know that only a month later, that loving bond would be put to the test.

Claudia was born at home in a single room, thatch-roofed house deep within Bosawas rainforest. According to the midwife, she was a perfectly healthy baby girl. But about a month afterwards, Maria noticed something was seriously wrong. Claudia never had a bowel movement. Claudia’s life was in danger and that she needed to take her to a hospital right away. The closest hospital was on the other side of the Bosawas rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere. Maria had never been outside her own village. To save her daughter, she would have to travel over 375 miles through dense, dangerous, and unfamiliar jungle, carrying her baby every step of the way. But despite her fears, her motherly bond with Claudia made the decision simple. The following morning Maria set out, hiking hour after hour through 24 miles of rainforest to the closest major river. From there, she took an 18-hour boat trip before finally arriving in the city of San Jose Bocay.

But her journey wasn’t over yet.

It turned out that the doctors in San Jose Bocay weren’t equipped to properly diagnose Claudia’s condition, and their only option was to refer her to a hospital in Jinotega. By the time she arrived, Claudia was severely dehydrated and in septic shock. It took several days of intensive care for Claudia to stabilize. Once she was stable, the doctors diagnosed her with rectovaginal fistula, a birth defect that leaves an open passage in the bowels. Unfortunately, none of the surgeons had the skill or expertise to properly treat such a condition. The best they could do for Claudia was to perform a colostomy. Happy that she was alive, but devastated by the fact that her little girl would always carry this burden, Maria set off on the long journey back home.

Six months went by before the stopgap procedure failed. Claudia’s colostomy tube had become obstructed, and she began to descend again into septic shock.

Maria prayed for the chance to save Claudia’s life, she wouldn’t accept defeat; she simply couldn’t give up on her daughter. Days later, she heard about Esperança on the radio and that we were going to be in her area with a surgical mission. So Maria set out in a race against time to the hospital in Jinotega.

Esperança had brought surgical volunteers to Jinotega that week to perform vital surgeries far above the capabilities of any local physician. Holding onto hope, Maria brought Claudia to one of our best surgeons, Dr. Daniel Custer, for evaluation. After a thorough examination, he scheduled Claudia for immediate surgery. He not only cleared the colostomy, he was able to remove it altogether because he was also able to mend the rectovaginal fistula that was causing all of Claudia’s problems in the first place.

Maria couldn’t believe that the nightmare was finally over. Dr. Custer had fully cured her daughter and, in doing so, given her a bright new future! After a few days of rest and some teary goodbyes, Maria set off on her final journey – to return home with her healthy baby girl. Without a doubt, Maria is an amazing mother who went to great lengths to save her child.

In a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

Because of the countless stories like Claudia’s — about 1,000 stories last year! Let’s see how many we can make this year.

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Our theme for Give Together in August is Global Health! 1094765_10151501495977396_94142620_n

We have three partners making a difference worldwide by providing quality healthcare to underserved people and their communities. Check out their profiles, and join our Give Together program to donate to your favorite. Make a difference in Global Health today!

Adopt a New Mother in India’s Slum’s


Calcutta Kids is a medical treatment and preventative healthcare initiative based in the slums of Kolkata. In addition to providing needed medical treatment, they also gather and analyze data to effectively battle major issues — such as malnutrition and poor development — by treating them before they become crises. Their Maternal and Young Child Health Initiative focuses on making sure that pregnant women receive the prenatal, postpartum and pediatric care their families need to survive and thrive.

The key to improving global health is effective preventative medicine. Calcutta Kid’s data-based method has reduced malnutrition in the slums they work in by 75% in 3 years. Through Give Together, you can help make even more of an impact. Your donation will contribute to “adopting” a mother/child pair, providing counseling, vitamins, vaccines, check-ups and a safe delivery.

Make Bolivian Babies Smile

Esperança provides medical treatment and much needed surgeries to some of the poorest and most remote communities in South and Central America. The organization brings mobile teams of volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists and technicians to villagers who would otherwise be unable to seek treatment for chronic or emergency health problems. In addition, it trains local doctors and medical practitioners so they can make a sustainable difference on the ground.

Last year, Esperança treated more than 1,000 patients. A surgery from Esperança, such as repairing a young child’s cleft palate, costs as little as $156 and has a permanent, positive impact. Contribute through Give Together to Esperança and begin building the supplies for a surgical team to treat rural communities.

Get Haitians Back on Their Feet

In many communities, people with permanent physical disabilities are unable to work, and are therefore stuck in poverty. BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) recognizes that providing medical care is central to fighting poverty, resolving this problem by providing services like prosthetics, orthotics and training for poor people living with disabilities.

The devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti resulted in thousands of additional amputees, overtaxing a healthcare system that already struggled to provide major medical care. BRAC stepped in to turn their Limb and Brace Center into a sustainable health enterprise, not only by supplying much-needed prosthetics and orthotics, but also through counseling and other patient services. By contributing to BRAC Haiti, you can provide the means for Haitians with disabilities to lift themselves out of poverty.

By contributing to any of these three projects, you can improve the quality of life for vulnerable people, and make an impact in Global Health. Give Together today!

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