This post is written by Natacha Danon, a political science and sociology student at Bates College. She is pleased to volunteer with Jolkona before she leaves for Morocco, where she will study abroad next semester.

In the chaos of long lines, last-minute preparations, and family gatherings, the natural disaster that struck the Philippines just last month began to slip from my mind. But while buying the last of my Christmas gifts – and  watching people flood the mall again days later to shop the sales – I was suddenly struck by the irreconcilable contrast between these two worlds. The only commonality was the element of long lines – long lines of impatient customers at Macy’s, long lines of Filipinos awaiting scarce water, food and medical supplies. An image of consumerism and abundance; an image of scarcity and deprivation.

In this state of cognitive dissonance, I tried to take solace in the fact that I had done what I could. A few weeks earlier, my family members emailed back and forth to make individual pledges and pool our contributions for Peace Winds America, the Seattle-based nonprofit that Jolkona has partnered with for this year’s Standing With the Philippines holiday campaign. Remarkably, 100 percent of our donations go towards food, water, shelter, counseling and other needed services for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (known there as Typhoon Yolanda).

But our individual contributions aren’t enough; 11 million people are struggling to recover from this unprecedented disaster. So, please consider spreading the spirit of giving beyond your own family, by providing survivors in the Philippines with a glimmer of hope for the new upcoming year. Spread the word and give together with Jolkona and Peace Winds America in the spirit of this holiday season today.

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Are you still searching for a last-minute Christmas gift? Eager to keep the giving spirit going throughout the remainder of the holiday season? Hoping to start the new year off on the right foot?

Whether it’s for a family member, a friend, or simply in the spirit of the holidays, a contribution to Jolkona’s Standing with the Philippines holiday campaign will make a meaningful difference for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

Jolkona’s donors have been been wonderfully supportive of our holiday campaign — we are now 75 percent to reaching our goal! We couldn’t have done it without several new Jolkona Champions, who have joined Baby Aleena in supporting Peace Winds America in their relief and recovery efforts.

Before we all take a holiday break, two Jolkona Champions hope that their efforts will inspire and empower you!

What is your role at Jolkona?

Dhanya Satya: HR Recruiter
Ross Polk: I currently lead the development of Jolkona’s giving platforms including Give Direct, Give Together and Lift Bangla. Day to day, I handle partner communications and the creation of our impact statements.

Why is this campaign important to you?

Dhanya: This campaign is important to me firstly because I haven’t done anything like this in the past. It fills me with content to be a part of it and know that I can impact and make a difference.
Ross: I’d like to raise awareness about what is happening in the Philippines. When a disaster strikes, it’s often easy for us to follow the initial news coverage but eventually, attention slowly fades. I hope I can inform my network about Jolkona’s ongoing effort to provide initial relief and long term recovery efforts in the region.
Dhanya: Sending food, shelter, water and medicine to 6 families in Philippines
Ross: $1,000!

What does the holiday season mean for you?

Dhanya: For me holiday season means happiness, joy, peace, laughter, togetherness and sharing good times with loved ones. So with this campaign I actually intend to spread the same joy across Philippines.
Ross: More than anything, I enjoy getting together with family and friends.

What can the rest of us do?

For the last couple weeks of holiday season, we hope that you join Dhanya, Ross, Baby Aleena, and many others in Standing with the Philippines. They will need our help for many months to come. If you too have a project you are passionate about, you can become a Jolkona Champion! Lean more here.
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Aleena, the 5-month-old daughter of our co-founders Adnan and Nadia Mahmud, is living up to her “Youngest Philanthropist” moniker: She is already one of our Jolkona Champions, raising money for our Standing With the Philippines holiday campaign to help Peace Winds America bring relief to thousands of survivors struggling to recover from Typhoon Haiyan. The campaign, which we kicked off on #GivingTuesday Dec. 3, has raised more than $3,000 so far, through individual donations at the suggested $30, $60 and $200 levels, corporate matching funds, and contributions made as holiday gifts for friends and family.

Who Are Jolkona’s Champions?

Jolkona’s Champions lead fundraising campaigns for Give Direct or featured projects they are passionate about. Becoming a champion is easy, and is a good way to celebrate a birthday or special event, honor someone important to you, or see what kind of impact you and your community can have. Our four champions who are Standing with the Philippines have helped us raise 70 percent of our fundraising goal!

What Is Aleena’s Goal?

Help Aleena in her efforts to raise money to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan! For every $30, we can help another Filipino family recover from this catastrophic natural disaster. Donate here to join Aleena in Standing with the Philippines!

Are you passionate about making a difference, through bringing relief to the Philippines or one of our other projects? Become a Champion here!
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Jolkona donors are supporting Peace Winds America for our holiday campaign, Standing with the Philippines. As part of our Partner Spotlight series, we asked PWA representatives some questions about their organization and their goals:

What’s your mission and why? What inspires your organization?

Our mission is to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific through effective, collaborative disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Peace Winds America aims to promote durable partnerships and to focus on the areas of greatest need. Among the many inspirations driving our organization is the collective response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. In that disaster, organizations from every facet of society banded together to render assistance. We saw the potential for a truly “whole of society” response that integrates government assistance agencies, military units, local and international NGOs, multilateral organizations, and private businesses. Following that model PWA promotes training and interaction that strengthens these bonds.

What can you tell us about your project to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines?

PWA has been working with the Manila-based Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) since the middle of 2012. We responded together to Typhoons Saola and Bopha and PWA staff assisted in country with relief efforts. In this current relief mission, PWA is funding CDRC efforts in Busuanga Island, which is in the Palawan region of western Philippines.  Our relief will target 1,000 families and bring them essential food and non-food items including hygiene and bedding supplies. We are actively monitoring the relief efforts and have already begun discussions with our partner on how to fund recovery. We know the most heavily affected individuals were fishermen and rice farmers, and we’ll be exploring ways to aid their short and long-term recovery.

What’s the impact of every $30 raised by Jolkona’s donors?

We’ve calculated that $30 will provide a sleeping mat, utensils, and food for roughly one week to an affected family.


In a nutshell, why should a donor support your project?

PWA’s relief program quickly gets donated funds to our partner on the ground, with a minimum of delays, red tape, or overhead (generally equal to or under 10%). We are a small organization and can move quickly, speedily approving relief proposals and without any need to spend time looking for new partners on the ground. We have enjoyed success in this particular arrangement in past disasters and are highly confident in the impact of our work.  In addition, donated funds always remain restricted — donors who give to the Philippines will not suddenly find their contribution being used in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, or anywhere else.

We love impact stories at Jolkona. Can you tell us about how your organization has changed someone’s life?

We’re presently awaiting reports from this current disaster, but I can give you an example from Japan. Our friend and partner Yachi Onodera owned several coffee shops in and around Kesennuma, Japan. Most were completely destroyed in the tsunami. PWA provided a grant for him to obtain a new coffee roaster, allowing him to restart his business. Today, his coffee shops are thriving and expanding.

Anything else you would like to add?

We look forward to remaining involved in the Philippines. Other relief organizations tend to pull out after the emergency phase, but PWA stays on.

Photo Credits: CDRC Support PWA, and donate to our holiday campaign, Standing with the Philippines. Your donation will make a huge impact, and will be a great way to celebrate the season of giving.

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Nelson Mandela passed away on Dec. 5. In his honor, we have changed the main image on Jolkona’s homepage this week:

The banner will resume linking to Standing With the Philippines, our holiday campaign to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors, after Mandela’s funeral this weekend.

We also highlighted Mandela’s wise words about the power of education at the top of our first Give Together newsletter earlier this year:


Bill and Melinda Gates and other global nonprofit leaders have stepped forward to praise Mandela’s work — not just as a statesman, but as an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. Jolkona co-founder Adnan Mahmud “wasn’t lucky enough to ever be in the same room as Mandela,” but was nevertheless inspired to write a new Huffington Post column sharing his own view of this man’s legacy:

Mandela’s Gift: How to be Loved by the People

Why was Mandela so special? What makes him worthy of this attention?

In fact, the detractors have already begun to surface. Some say he was a violent guy. He was a communist. He disapproved of U.S. policies. He neglected his family. His presidency was mired by corruption and economic problems.

Yet no one can deny the power of his legacy…

Check out the rest of the column over at The Huffington Post. We also currently have eight projects you can support in Africa via our Give Direct program, ranging from funding elementary school teachers in Zambia to providing financial services for people in Ghana.

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In honor of Giving Tuesday yesterday, the Seattle mayor’s office issued a proclamation to encourage charitable donations and acts, and Jolkona hosted a holiday party to kick off our Standing With the Philippines campaign. It was inspiring — and fun! — to join the international #GivingTuesday movement, aimed at reclaiming the true meaning of the holiday season after the feasting and chaotic consumerism of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Our supporters have contributed more than $1,200 so far, which Jolkona partner Peace Winds America can use to help at least a dozen Filipino families displaced by last month’s Typhoon Haiyan. Let’s keep it going throughout December — and well into 2014, as the relief and recovery efforts are ongoing, despite our tendency to move on to the next headline.

As our co-founder Adnan Mahmud stated in his recent Huffington Post column:

The trouble is, most of us tend to remember to give only after disasters and during the holiday season — especially with the growing popularity of the “Giving Tuesday” movement, observed Dec. 3 this year. But for the millions of people in need locally and globally, access to medical care, housing, food and water aren’t only problems once or twice a year. Poverty doesn’t take a day off.

Our Philippines campaign has suggested donation increments of $30, $60 and $200, but any amount will make a difference. Donors can also make contributions as holiday gifts for family and friends — a win-win situation, if you’re like me and have trouble shopping for several people on your “nice” list every year…

For more on Peace Winds America’s disaster relief plans in the Philippines, here’s a clip of Jon Ehrenfeld, the organization’s civil-military program manager, at the #GivingTuesday party at Jolkona HQ last night.


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