Blog

Today is United Nations Day, celebrating the ratification of the U.N. Charter on Oct. 24, 1945. For the past 68 years, the U.N. has been a driving force in global humanitarian efforts. More recently, the body’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have become an essential metric for member countries and nonprofits to measure their impact and track their progress in working to alleviate the world’s greatest problems.

The MDGs aim to:

  • Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Many organizations, and many regular donors just like you, are committed to making progress on the MDGs. Browse the Jolkona Blog archive to learn more about the work that we’re doing with our partners to support these goals, including these posts:

Taking Collective Action

In his official statement for United Nations Day 2013, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stresses the importance of planning for what happens after the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals:

This year again, we saw the United Nations come together on armed conflict, human rights, the environment and many other issues. We continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united.

Collective action is also central to Jolkona’s mission, and is the essence of the Give Together monthly philanthropy program we launched earlier this year. When you join Give Together during October, your donation supports three projects working to help women and girls locally and globally, promoting gender equality (as per one of the MDGs). We also have matching funds this month from the Seattle International Foundation for projects related to women and girls, enabling us to double the first $1,500 donated to those Give Together and Give Direct projects until Nov. 1.

Which one inspires you to give? 

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


Jolkona Staff - 2010

Jolkona’s Fearless Females – 2010

In Jolkona’s first five years, we’ve collected more than $700,000 for nonprofit partners locally and globally. More than $40,000 has come just through Give2Girls, a campaign we run every March to specifically support causes for women and girls. And we’ve raised more than $1,200 so far this month through our Give Together featured cause of Women & Girls, supporting projects in Seattle, Nepal and Sudan.

Our work for women and girls is much bigger than the occasional fundraising theme, however. One way or another, most of our partners empower women and girls. Some literally save lives; others strive to make those lives worth living. As Jolkona blogger Madison Abshire noted at the beginning of this month: “The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change… Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.”

We’ve had dozens of interesting posts here on the Jolkona Blog about how donors and volunteers can make a big difference for the world’s women and girls. Three blasts from the past:

Double Your Dollars

This month, we have matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation to amplify donations to Jolkona partner projects related to women and girls. This offer will double the first $1,500 given to our Give Together and Give Direct projects for women/girls. Which one inspires you to give? 

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

Is it impossible to strive for sustainable ecosystems and feed the world’s 7 billion people at the same time? Are these two goals completely at odds? Not according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Today is the U.N.’s World Food Day 2013: Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition. The FAO uses this observance to raise awareness about global hunger, encourage cooperation between developing nations to work on finding solutions, and promote technology to increase agricultural production.

This year, World Food Day’s focus is to raise awareness about the root causes of global hunger and brainstorm sustainable solutions. Issues like biodiversity and environmental sustainability, malnutrition and hunger are pieces of a larger picture.

 Every aspect of the food system has an effect on the final availability and accessibility of diverse, nutritious foods – and therefore on consumers’ ability to choose healthy diets. What is more, policies and interventions on food systems are rarely designed with nutrition as their primary objective.

Jolkona’s partners are finding innovative ways to improve agricultural sustainability and reduce hunger, by working to improve food systems as a whole. In honor of World Food Day, consider making a donation to one of our Give Direct projects related to Agriculture and Food. Two examples:

Give Fresh Produce to Children in Mexico

How can you provide an orphan in Mexico with a nutritious and balanced diet, and support local farmers at the same time? Every $40 donated to Friends of the Orphans will supply five children with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables for a whole month. In addition to improving nutrition for these vulnerable children, the program buys the produce locally, supporting Mexican farmers and agricultural communities.

Fund Biochar Producing Clean Cook-Stoves for Indigenous Cacao Farmers in Costa Rica

Indigenous farmers in Costa Rica face challenges like deforestation, poor agricultural productivity and unhealthy cooking practices. SeaChar works to solve these related problems by teaching communities to build, use, and sell biochar-producing stoves. These cooking stoves produce charcoal out of renewable agricultural products like coconut shells, and can also be used to supplement nutrients in the soil. A donation of $10 buys 10 kilograms of biochar for a community project; $40 can sponsor one person for a 2-day training workshop on using the stove. With your help, SeaChar can help indigenous farmers improve their environment, their food production, and even earn extra income through the production of biochar.

By making small donation through Jolkona’s Give Direct or Give Together programs, you can make a big difference for the world’s most vulnerable people and their communities. Give today!

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

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 9.24.58 AMToday is International Day of the Rural Woman, a United Nations observance of the crucial role women play in the economic development and eradication of poverty in agricultural and remote parts of the world. In developing countries, women farmers produce much of the food for their communities, while caring for the young, elderly and sick, along with their own multiple pregnancies and childbirths. With all these responsibilities and their geographic isolation, these women have little opportunity for educational and professional advancement.

With your help, however, more rural women can be empowered to reduce severe poverty and increase food security in their communities. Jolkona has $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for projects related to women and girls this month. Some of this will double the October donations from our Give Together members; the rest can be used to amplify gift to our Give Direct projects related to women. Starting at just $5, you can contribute to our nonprofit partners working to provide agricultural training, environmental sustainability and maternal health for women in rural communities.

Two ways to support rural women through Jolkona today:

Train Women in Bio-Intensive Farming in Kenya

Women in Kenya do 80% of the farm work, but only receive 5% of the input, and own 1% of the land. The Feed Villages program from Common Ground/Village Volunteers educates rural communities in Kenya in bio-intensive farming techniques and sustainability strategies.

For every $64 raised, the program can train two Kenyan women in bio-intensive farming techniques, such as seed saving, which improves agricultural output, increases bio-diversity, and tree coverage. With this training, women farmers can improve their harvest and invest their profits in their communities.

Provide Healthcare for Nepalese Women

himalayan healthcare

When rural women don’t have access to effective healthcare, they often sacrifice their education and work because of unplanned pregnancies, and their children are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and preventable disease. Himalayan Healthcare provides healthcare to Nepalese women from contraception to postpartum care.

A donation of just $25 can fund a month of contraception or a prenatal exam for one woman, ensuring that she can remain healthy and help her community thrive.

By making a contribution through Jolkona’s Give Direct or Give Together programs, you can empower specific women around the world today. In return, she will help eradicate poverty in her family and community — and drop by drop, our collective impact can make an ocean of change!

Find out more about Day of the Rural Woman through the U.N. Women Commission, and spread the word with #ruralwomen on Twitter.

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

Our final Partner Spotlight for October’s Give Together for Women and Girls campaign is the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. This organization changes the lives of young women in Nepal by giving them the means to pursue higher education, either at colleges or trade schools. We asked them some questions so you can get to know them.

Remember, we have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. Join Give Together and your donation will be doubled this month!

LorrieSunitaMarilynWhat’s your mission? Why? What inspires your organization?

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation empowers underprivileged young women in Nepal by providing access to higher education. We believe that by helping one woman at time we can make a meaningful difference for that individual and the world – that the rippling effect is monumental. Our goal is to empower young women through higher education, to help them become confident, self-reliant, productive citizens in their country.

In Nepal, young women face numerous obstacles to education, including extreme poverty and cultural stigmas related to gender, class or caste, and, in many cases, disability. Most families don’t have the money or motivation to send girls to school, and a majority of young women are married by age 15. Less than 3% of Nepali women go on to college, so every scholarship we give makes a difference.

We have tremendous respect for our scholarship recipients. Most are from very poor, often very remote villages. Some are from regions that suffer from human trafficking, others have overcome disabilities to pursue their education. Their powerful personal stories, professional goals, courage, and perseverance continually amaze and inspire us.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Over the past decade, the Foundation has awarded $100,000 in scholarships to 39 young women in Nepal. This year, we broke our record — and awarded 21 scholarships. But we need your support in order to renew these scholarships for next year. Our Give Together goal is to raise the equivalent of at least one student’s room and board fees for a year.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

$250 will provide room and board for one BMKF scholar for a whole school year! Compare that to the cost of room and board for a U.S. college student — which is closer to $2,500 per quarter at a Washington State college.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project?

This $250 will make a life-changing difference for a courageous young woman in Nepal, who would not otherwise be able to afford the cost of living while earning a degree at a college or university in a community that is far from her home village.

Ganga at Janakpur, NEpalWe love impact reports at Jolkona, do you have a favorite story about how your organization changed someone’s life?

All of our scholarship recipients are passionate advocates for promoting women’s education and women’s rights in their country, and most plan to pursue work that will allow them to give back and support the communities they come from.

At age 28, Lali Kumari is unmarried and single-handedly runs a health care outpost in a remote village where she serves as a midwife and health care provider to people who walk for hours to receive her care. Lali learned to take care of wounds as a 14-year-old nurse in the Maoist army. Last spring, she approached some filmmakers from Seattle and asked if they knew of any scholarships for women. With her BMKF scholarship, Lali is pursuing a four-year nursing degree. She believes that with advanced skills she will be able to save more lives in her remote community.

Ganga Tamang was abducted as a child and trafficked in India for years before being rescued. She started school late and graduated from high school at age 23. Ganga is studying to be a social worker and she works as an activist, helping other women and girls who have survived human trafficking experiences.

Sunita Dangi was severely burned as a toddler and grew up disabled. She is pursuing sociology and rural development studies, and she volunteers for a rehabilitation program that helps people with disabilities. Her goal is to show other disadvantaged and disabled girls that it is possible to be successful, self-reliant, and pursue their dreams.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for helping empower women in Nepal! Please visit our website or Facebook page to learn more.

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether.

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

Our second Partner Spotlight for October’s Give Together for Women and Girls is MADRE, an organization that works with local, regional and international women’s groups to address issues like human rights, education, and economic development. We asked them some questions to help you get to know them.

Remember, we have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. Join Give Together and your donation will be doubled this month!

What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

MADRE works to advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. We work towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights, in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably, in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society, and in which people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. MADRE’s vision is enacted with an understanding of the inter-relationships between the various issues we address and by a commitment to working in partnership with women at the local, regional and international levels who share our goals.

MADRE photoWhat’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

We are supporting women farmers in eastern Sudan by helping provide the seeds, tools, and training they need to feed their families and generate income for their communities.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

If Jolkona members raise $250, we’ll be able to cover all expenses for two women to attend two days of training, where they will learn new skills and techniques for a successful harvest. They will be able to share what they learn with other women when they returns home to their villages. In addition, we can buy 50 lbs. of seeds, enough for 10 women to sow sorghum, sesame and millet for one season.

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

When you give to MADRE, you can be sure you’re making a concrete difference in the life of a woman who is struggling to build a better future for herself and her family. By supporting women farmers in Sudan, you’ll help provide them with the seeds, tools and trainings they need to feed and support their families for the long haul.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

Since Zeina’s participation in the Women Farmers Union, she’s been able to grow the food her family needs to survive. Income generated from surplus crops allowed Zeina to send her daughter to school. Her daughter is now attending a nearby university. She is the first person in Zeina’s family to go to college.

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to MADRE, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #WomenandGirls

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

This month, our Give Together projects focus on supporting and empowering women and girls. Our first partner, the Jubilee Women’s Center, provides essential services like affordable housing and job training to homeless women in the Seattle area, to help them transition out of poverty. Follow them on Twitter: @JubileeSeattle.

We have up to $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. So join Give Together and your gift will be doubled this month!

Jubilee photo2What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

Jubilee Women’s Center’s mission is to support women experiencing poverty to build stable and fulfilling futures, one extraordinary woman at a time. We are inspired by the women we serve who, although they have been through terrible circumstances, are all – we believe – extraordinary. Jubilee works to help them overcome their circumstances and build resiliency for a healthier, more secure life ahead.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Recently, Jubilee has expanded the capabilities of our Learning & Opportunity Center so we can now serve women in the community in addition to our residents here. We can now offer computer and life skills classes for up to 22 women at a time! Classes range from Introduction to Computers to Conflict Resolution to Resume Writing. All of these skills can give women the skills they need to have a more secure future.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

If Give Together members can raise $250, Jubilee can offer a four-class series to 12 women on career exploration, resume writing, job interview skills and job searching. With these skills, women can begin to work toward a career that will pay them a living wage and insure their independence.

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

Jubilee relies on the support of our community to help women transform their lives. Led by the guiding principle that all women are to be treated with respect and dignity, Jubilee’s holistic programs, housing and support services help women make permanent life changes. We do this by providing safe, affordable and supportive community housing and educational resources to empower each woman to become financially independently, regardless of her circumstances.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

There are so many stories of how Jubilee has changed women’s lives! The first one that comes to mind is a resident who drained her savings and retirement fund when she was treated for breast cancer. When it came back, she found herself homeless. She found Jubilee as she was losing her apartment, and had time and space to go through treatment and get healthy. She took advantage of the many resources at Jubilee and is in college, working to earn a degree in accounting. There are so many stories like this!

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #WomenEmpowerment

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST WAS UPDATED OCT. 2 WITH INFORMATION ABOUT A MATCH CAMPAIGN FOR THIS MONTH.

The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change. That’s why empowering women, promoting gender equality, and improving maternal health are emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N. initiative to significantly reduce extreme poverty around the world.  Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.1377587_10151597205727396_451819059_n

Starting at just $10, join Jolkona and Give Together to three projects that not only change the lives of specific women locally and globally, but also help advance these Millennium Development Goals.

sudan madreMADRE

MADRE is an international human rights organization that addresses the urgent needs of women in crisis. By partnering with women locally, regionally and internationally, MADRE believes they can create lasting solutions to the world’s toughest problems, such as social injustice, inequality and sustainability issues.

Give Together‘s MADRE project supports women farmers in East Sudan, training them in sustainable agricultural practices to address malnutrition, provide basic education and access to literacy and health programs. Women contribute 80 percent of the food crops in Sudan, but are excluded from government aid programs. The Give Together community’s donations will give a woman farmer the means to support herself and her family despite the challenges of environmental degradation, the threat of armed conflict, and generational poverty. For every $250 we raise, MADRE can send two Sudanese women to a 2-day agricultural training program and buy enough sorghum, sesame and millet seed for 10 women this year.

Jubilee Women’s Center

The Jubilee Women’s Center is a Seattle-based organization that provides training and support to help women transition out of homelessness.

jubilee center

Where many homeless women come from a life of poverty and abuse and lack the job skills to be successful in today’s careers, the Jubilee Women’s Center has a proven record of success in helping these women achieve sustainable employment and independent living.

Give Together to help expand Jubilee’s Learning and Opportunity center so they can not only provide training to the center’s residents, but also women in the greater Seattle area. For every $250 that Give Together raises for this project, Jubilee can offer a 4-class career-building series to 12 women, including resume writing and job interview skills. With your help, these women will be able to find jobs and achieve independence.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

Most Nepali women are married by the age of 15, and only 27 percent are literate. These are huge barriers towards women becoming financially productive and independent.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation provides young women and girls in Nepal with access to higher education, which reduces income inequality and empowers young women to become independent and productive agents of change in their communities. For every $250 we raise, the foundation can provide room and board for one female student for an entire year. Give Together to help a young Nepali woman attend a trade school or college.

Check the Jolkona Blog throughout the month for more detailed information about each project. UPDATE: This month’s donations will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation, so our contributions will go twice as far!

Join Jolkona to Give Together for Women & Girls in October, and make a big difference for women in Africa, Asia and the United States.

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

One of the happiest moments of my childhood was when I brought my cat, Hamlet, home from the Heart of the Valley shelter in Bozeman, MT. Twelve years later, I have moved him into my first post-college apartment in Seattle. Throughout the years, he has been my snuggly companion, and “assistant” with countless projects. Between the nights where he has sat quietly by my side as I studied for tests or rushed to finish papers, and the winter weekends he has spent sleeping on my tummy, he has been an irreplaceable friend.

All week long, Jolkona’s staff and volunteers have shared their own philanthropic experiences of providing a forever home for a faithful friend. Those pet adoption stories could easily be yours, too. But if you can’t keep a pet, the next best thing is to support animals elsewhere. One way is to join our Give Together campaign before the end of September, while this month’s Animals theme is still raising money for projects through Reading With Rover, the Snow Leopard Trust, and Woodland Park Zoo.

hamlet imageAnimal adoption is one of the causes I am passionate about. As our other Pet Adoption blog posts have shown, this simple act of philanthropy has a lasting impact. The U.S. Humane Society and the Jolkona team have some compelling reasons why pet adoption is the best option for both owners and animals:

You can save a life

Many shelters keep as many animals as they can, but the overcrowding problem means that over 2.5 million potential pets are euthanized every year. By adopting from a shelter or rescue organization instead of buying from a store or breeder, you are literally saving a life.

Many breeders and the puppy mills that supply pet stores, breed irresponsibly leading to serious health problems, keep their animals in reprehensible conditions, often with inadequate health care and human companionship. By supporting a shelter and taking business away from these other options, your small contribution will make a huge impact in saving the lives of thousands of animals – not only those in shelters but also those directly impacted by breeders and puppy mills.

You get help

Shelters provide health screens and basic medical care to the animals in their care and match you with an animal whose temperament best matches your own. They will often send you home with supplies as well. Most animals in shelters are placed there because of human circumstances, such as owners moving, or being unable to afford them, meaning that they are by no means ‘defective.’ If you want a particular breed, or want to work with or rehabilitate a rescue animal there are specialized shelters and rescue groups that can provide resources as well.

Adoption is affordable

Adoption fees are very small compared to spending thousands at a breeder. Shelters vaccinate, spay and neuter animals before they are adopted, meaning that you save money on the initial health check.

A pet will make you happier

Having a pet has been shown to be beneficial to your emotional, psychological and physical health. In addition to having a meaningful friendship with a companion animal, having a pet lowers blood pressure, and, especially with dogs, encourages you to be more physically active.

Give Together for Animals

If you aren’t in a position to have a pet or take in another animal, you can still make a big difference through our Give Together campaign this month. There’s only a few days left to support Animals; next month, the theme will switch over to nonprofit projects related to Women/Girls.

At Jolkona, we make it easy to fund a trusted animal based organization that is right for you. If you love dogs, join to support Reading with Rover‘s mission of using therapy dogs to help children learn to read. If you love cats, join to support the Snow Leopard Trust‘s conservation and education efforts. If baby animals make you happiest, join to help the Woodland Park Zoo care for their new additions, including a giraffe calf. Whether you Give Together for animals around the world, or bond with an adopted pet at home, you can be proud of your choice.

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

The Woodland Park Zoo has joined Jolkona for this month’s Animal-themed Give Together campaign. The organization, a leader in educating the greater Seattle area and our visitors about wild animals and conservation, is raising money to help feed and care for its newest addition: a baby giraffe!

Tell us about your current project:

Woodland Park Zoo has been blessed with the births of some amazing animals. Our current baby boom started with four lion cubs in November. Then came the twin sloth bear cubs in December, followed by the triplet jaguar cubs in March, and our giraffe calf and six flamingo chicks this summer. All these animals are thriving at the zoo and inspiring people who see them to take conservation actions to protect their cousins in the wild.

Why should Give Together members support your project?

Zoos are responding to species decline and are leading the way in preserving animal populations. Wildlife and habitat conservation is the cornerstone to Woodland Park Zoo’s mission. Through the animals in our collection, we provide a window into the lives and habitats of the world’s wildlife, inspiring people from all walks of life to learn, care and act on their behalf. You can inspire conservation stewards and support animal ambassadors by contributing to this campaign.

How will donors see their impact?

Your gift supports state-of-the art veterinary care and feeding of the baby giraffe. We will share photos and videos of the calf and our other new animals as zookeepers and veterinarians work with them to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Tell us more about your organization:

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit www.zoo.org

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your September contribution to the Woodland Park Zoo or one of our other animal-related projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #Animals.

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.

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

CalcuttaKids2

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!

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

Monsoon season in Bangladesh brings in the flood waters, and as a result, thousands of students are unable to attend school. Many of these students are rural and have issues accessing schooling in the first place. This brings to mind perhaps the most essential tools a student needs for learning: a school. One man came up with a creative solution to address the issue and brought the school to the students during times of flooding, rather than leaving them behind.

Mohammed Rezwan founded a nonprofit called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sansgstha, which runs a fleet of boats acting as schoolhouses, libraries and adult education services. Since his family had a boat growing up, he was able to go to school year round, but he saw that many of his friends didn’t have the same access. He started with one boat and a few small grants, then his project garnered much more attention. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2005, he added solar powered electricity and computers, and expanded the fleet to its current size, with 20 school boats, 10 mobile libraries, and even 7 centers for adult education on practical issues like agriculture, and 5 clinics. Since it’s beginning, Rezwan has brought schooling to 70,000 students, and hopes to reach 100,000 more in the next five years. This is an amazing project, since, for many in Bangladesh, it is the only way to learn.

Shidhulai imageThis story shows that creative educational tools can overcome adverse conditions, and with enough support, bring schooling to more people than ever. Here at Jolkona, we know that making a big difference starts with a small and creative idea, just like Rezwan’s single boat has turned into an expanding educational flotilla. Through our Give Together Program, you can support similar innovations, and help students all over the world to expand their education.

One project that also approaches impediments to education with creative solutions is Enlighten Playgrounds Inc. which you can support this month through Give Together. This project provides innovative LED lanterns, charged with playground equipment to rural Ghanaian students to take home and study with at night. By providing something as simple as light, EPI improves the access and the quality of education in villages that don’t even have electricity.

Both Shidhulai and Empower Playgrounds Inc. confronted a seemingly immoveable issue, such as flooding and natural disaster, or lack of electricity with creative and clever solutions. Support the efforts of innovative educators like those behind EPI with Give Together. Many students do not have access to things like light at night, or even solid ground on which to attend school, that we take for granted. When we think about the tools needed for a successful education, we do not think of those needs, but they are absolutely vital.

With just a $5 donation, you can join in on Give Together, and make a difference on education. We only have a week left to focus on education, so remember to vote for your favorite organization!

Photo Credit: Amy Yee, NYT

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

Rather than reducing income inequality and providing access to the same opportunities, higher education seems to be maintaining, the status quo.

Anyone who has attended a University in the last decade has been aware of the skyrocketing costs of tuition.  For me, the small increases on my tuition statement every quarter, combined with the occasional obligatory (and often poorly attended) student strike in protest became a normal part of my academic landscape. However, I have realized that the world of higher education is highly complex, and very parallel to the struggles of the collective student body.

closing school

Two recent stories show that this struggle is played out not just between students, but between universities as well, especially private schools. With the recession, small private schools with less access to resources are at higher risk of closing. These are schools that struggle with funding, as they often do not receive the massive donations that larger schools do, and have to rely only on student fees to survive. In turn, they are less able to provide amenities and the level of quality necessary to draw in a healthy student body in a competitive student landscape.

However, this is not endemic of the greater higher education industry suffering as a whole. One of the latest scandals in the field was the news that NYU was giving its “stars” housing loans and other enormous monetary benefits to keep them at the school.  This has caused outrage, since NYU is one of the most expensive institutions in the US to attend, and its students have been leaving with startling amounts of debt.  When its faculty and other academic assets are being paid massive bonuses, and its president makes 7 figures, the news of this further fiscal abuse is truly disheartening. Clearly NYU isn’t raising tuition costs in order to survive like smaller private schools. They are doing it because they can.

So, what do these stories tell us? They tell us that the same trends that maintain income inequality between students even after attending a university are endemic on a higher level. These trends are apparent in the private sector of higher education as a whole from school to school.  What is even more distressing, is private universities such as NYU and its small, failing brethren, are non-profits. We expect the for-profit education industry (which accounts for a full fifth of college students) to financially exploit students. What we don’t expect is that a famous non-profit private school, which receives substantial donations, would land its students with a huge financial burden in order to fund second homes for famous faculty.

This is a time where more Americans are earning degrees than ever, and the changing nature of jobs means that applicants need more specialized training than before. Access to higher education, is becoming more of a necessity, and is still the best chance at reducing income inequality. Something so necessary shouldn’t be a game to play with bank accounts.

What becomes clear is that the rapidly rising tuition rates is making students, and smaller private schools poorer, and is an opening for large, dominant schools to pad their pockets. When institutions of higher education think only about money, it is the students who suffer, especially those who need it the most.  It is time for things to change.

The good news, is that you can positively impact education for students all around the world, through our Give Together program.  Be proactive about education, and donate today.

Learn more about Give Together and sign up here. You can also keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

GET INVOLVED!