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The voice of literature in culture

Like many other people I’m sure, one of my very favorite books of all time is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I consider it truly brilliant, and it has had a remarkable influence on me. When Salinger died in January of 2010, the tributes lauding his talent flooded the media. One phrase I recall reading by several different writers was that Salinger “defined a generation.” (You could argue he defined two). Such praise is deservedly lofty and not handed out on a whim. But what does this have to do with Machik’s Women’s Writing Program? A lot.

And here’s why: giving a voice through literature is – and has been for a very long time – an integral part of what we understand as “culture.” Deeper than that, the voice of literature within culture is inextricably conjoined with identity, whether it be on a wide or personal scale, which is precisely why we say of writers, ‘he/she defined a generation.’ We say it because we identify with that particular literary voice; it’s as if the voice is speaking for us. We perhaps take this truth for granted, but when you stop to consider it, you can truly appreciate how invaluable those voices are to us, how much they have shaped the narrative of not only our own lives but that of an entire country. This, then, is what Machik’s Women’s Writing Program in Tibet is going some way to achieve for the culture and identity of Tibetans.

Two historic Tibetan publications

In 2004, under the auspices of Professor Palmo Tso, Machik sponsored the development of two historic publications: the first ever anthology of Tibetan women’s writing, and the first print newsmagazine on Tibetan women’s affairs, The Land of Snow Tibetan Women’s Journal. Yes, these are the first ever of their kind for women’s literature in Tibet. Just think of the myriad anthologies of British and American women’s literature in comparison. Then think how rich Tibetan language and culture is, and how powerful a component women’s voices must be (or should be) within that. And yet this surface has only just begun to be scratched.

Breaking the shackles of marginalization

Ultimately, though, beyond culture and identity, giving Tibetan women a recognized voice through literature is about empowerment; empowerment against gender inequality. Women’s literacy rate in Tibet, for example, is that of approximately one third compared to men’s. And in a country where voices are largely marginalized, women’s especially, it becomes abundantly clear the scale of the struggle Tibetan women face. In the light of such facts, Machik’s Women’s Writing Program, and the projects it has brought to fruition, become all the more extraordinary. Not only that, they become all the more critical. This is why we as the Intern Team here at Jolkona have chosen to support this project for the 12 Days of Giving Campaign. Here’s our very bookish campaign video:

Give Tibetan Woman a voice

We’re asking for donations starting at $5 in order to support the publication of twelve stories or essays by Tibetan women in the tri-annual Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal, which is produced both in print and digitally. $40 covers the publishing costs of one story or essay. By donating you contribute to the improvement of women’s literacy and education, whilst helping give Tibetan women a conduit to greater empowerment and gender equality. In this way, you assist in shaping the narrative of not only the personal lives of the Tibetan women, but also the very narrative of Tibet as a whole. That is no small privilege.

So if you care about gender equality, if you love to read, or if you’ve ever read a book by a woman and enjoyed it, then give here via our campaign page.

Give Tibetan woman a voice – through literature.

 

AIDS doesn’t need much of an introduction. Its statistics are numerous as they are harrowing. But there is one statistic more conspicuous, more worrying, more jolting to the mind than perhaps any other, and this statistic is unchanging: there is no vaccine for AIDS; there is no cure.

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, one of the year’s most recognized international health days. Its goals are threefold: increase awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. Go the World AIDS Campaign page for a whole trove of information. Educate yourself.

Getting to Zero

Crucial to the battle against AIDS is the Joint United Nations Programme, UNAIDS, who are behind the push for a new global response to AIDS. Key to their phraseology is Getting to Zero. This sets our three main goals for 2015:

Zero new infections

Zero AIDS-related deaths

Zero discrimination

Such goals are equally ambitious, urgent, and inspiring. To learn more, go the UNAIDS strategy webpage here.

Jolkona AIDS projects: NHCC and the Slum Doctor Programme

At Jolkona, we are partnered with two projects in areas of the world where AIDS is most prevalent: Africa and East Asia. Cambodia has the highest AIDS incidences in the whole of Asia. The identified infected population is somewhere near 65,000. Over 3000 are children under the age of fifteen. Most of those children are orphaned. They are left for nothing. New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) provides full range housing, nutritional, health and educational needs for these children. They are a small beacon of light within a maelstrom of darkness. One donation of $75 supports the medical needs of one child infected with AIDS for six months. That’s $12.50 a month – what, a little more than your monthly subscription to Netflix? Go to the Jolkona campaign page, give, and help alleviate the suffering of these children today.

Tumaini is a community based organization in Nairobi, Kenya, partnered with the Slum Doctor Programme. Tumaini’s main objective is raising funds to provide HIV medication. While the Kenyan government and major grants, such as PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief), pay for a substantial amount of this medication, the funds fail to cover the need to its full extent. Tumaini works tirelessly to bridge that gap and to fill that need. One donation of $30 provides full HIV treatment for one patient for two weeks in Nairobi. That’s about a third of your average monthly cell phone bill. Cut the chit chat and let your money do the talking. Give to the Slum Doctor Programme here.

Zero new infections. Zero AIDS-related deaths. Zero discrimination. Be a part of Getting to Zero.

 

Tomorrow, November 19th, is World Toilet Day. This is not nearly as lighthearted as it sounds; it is a day of reflection on sanitation, disease, and a lack of resources. These all come into play and are essential for preventing death. A lack of sanitation is still the world’s largest cause of infection. About 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to this basic need, and suffer extreme maladies as a result. 1.1 billion people defecate in the open; a very dangerous risk of exposure to life-threatening bacteria and viruses. The World Toilet Organization created World Toilet Day to heighten awareness, generate discussion and inspire supporters toward this issue.

Sanitation Conversation

In March of this year, Dr. Luis G. Sambo met with the Kenyan Minister for Public Health and Sanitation and the Minister for Medical Services, Hon. Beth Hugo and Hon. Anyang’ Nyong’o, respectively. Their goals were to discuss improvements in their governmental support system. Various action plans were discussed and initiated, for instance, deploying skilled midwifes and nurses to support health care. The major transitions will dramatically enhance the quality of life for Kenyans. However, many Nairobi slums continue to suffer, using “flying toilets,” or disposed plastic bags instead of a facility. MADRE, a Jolkona partner, offers a $45 clean water transformation for rural Kenyans. A privilege to use a sanitary toilet can be easily overlooked. Inspire another person’s life, and their families.

Haiti, India, & Nepal

I’m extremely touched to reintroduce our projects that give back to those in desperate circumstances. Our partners Project Concern International, Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, Himalayan Healthcare, and Living Earth Institute stimulate philanthropy, local work/economy, and provide clean latrines. One latrine can significantly improve health and stave off infectious disease within a community.

Help at Risk Haitian Families Recover and Rebuild:

This project has a wide description but humongous heart. Haiti has undergone major transition and change within the past few years. Every small (and large) contribution benefits Haiti as a whole. Just $167 provides a community with a sanitary latrine, low-cost solutions for waste disposal, mobile medical clinics, and establishes one “safe space” for children during the day.

Build Green, Hygienic Toilets in Rural India:

PPES, our partner in this project, provides their students’ villages with a clean latrine. $260 covers all materials to build the latrine, the labor to build it, installation costs, and training on usage and maintenance. This project contributes incredibly to disease prevention. This gift will be deeply valued each and every day. India currently loses 1,000 children a day from diarrhea caused by– you guessed it– dirty water and a lack of toilets.

Build Latrine & Septic Tank for a Nepalese Family:

The Honorable president of Nepal has announced that his country will be hosting the South Asian Conference on Sanitation in 2013. This is incredible news for the future of clean facilities for the people of Nepal. Kickstart this process and empower the citizens by stimulating local hiring to build a latrine: the materials, transportation, labor salaries, and their new lease on life is $200. Give just $20 and contribute to the pool of resources that Living Earth Institute is gathering to build toilets for Nepalese families. About 200 toilets have been completed, and their goal is 600. 

Image credit: Samson Lee

Much to my embarrassment, I heard the word “latrine” for the first time when writing this post. Latrines keep people from defecating in the open and potentially contracting dangerous infection.

To Spin the Giving Web

It is natural to feel an overwhelming sensation to contribute, and spring back in thoughtful consideration. Anita Pradhan wrote, “People believe that sanitation programmes and projects have failed because of a lack of involvement and commitment from both communities and external agencies and the consequent lapses in technology, planning, implementation, supervision, support and, above all, accountability.” One of the most surprising moments when I first donated to Jolkona by planting 50 trees in Brazil, was the proof I received. This is something unique to Jolkona’s giving process, and serves as a “thank you, it’s nice to meet you,” response from where you contributed. To personally connect and hear back from the country I chose to benefit solidified the confidence I have in philanthropy, and changing the world. At Jolkona, we understand that feeling, and it’s what motivates us all to give what we can, when we can.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

-Mother Teresa

Japan is still suffering.

Image credit: kaspernybo on Flickr

Remembering Tohoku

Here at Jolkona, we’re reflecting on Tōhoku– Japan is still suffering. It has only been half a year since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake evolved into a devastating tsunami. Consuming cars, houses, and buildings in minutes, it resulted in more than 15,000 confirmed deaths and over 4,000 people missing. Efforts to bring support have generated recovery, and the reactions of Japanese natives away from home are inspiring.

Nurturing Hope

Ryo Ishikawa’s generous donations to relief efforts through the Master’s golf tournament in April, and the numerous disaster response teams have engendered hope for the Japanese people. Though the urgency of the horrific crisis has died down, there are still unresolved issues and complications.

Immediately following a disaster, many needs are funded after an analysis of the damage. This takes time and can stall the effects of your contribution or potentially negate any authenticity of your generous actions. This was depicted in many of the misconceptions that developed with the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The beginning of positive change is the rebuilding stage. We are excited to announce a new nonprofit partner who is introducing you to four new projects that fuel life-changing opportunities to help this process.

Welcome iLEAP, presenting transformative projects in Japan that support their currently challenging circumstances. iLEAP is a Seattle-based nonprofit that equips young entrepreneurs with training and educational knowledge, collaboration with global leaders. They send their equipped volunteers to inspire empowerment and give opportunities for growth to societies in need.

Support one, two, or all four projects through Jolkona:

Prevent Postpartum Depression for Mothers in Japan

Women who are giving birth after such a stressful chain of events are local heroes, bringing renewal and promise of a new generation to rebuild the world. Prevent emotionally painful postpartum depression among Japanese mothers by providing physical health through community fitness classes, for $50, or educational materials for $15.

Help Tsunami Affected Children Return to School

Onagawa Night School is providing education for children who have lost their homes, possessions, and families.
Philanthropic tip: Commute to work by bus for a month, and support three children as they attend night school in the Tsunami affected area for 60$.

Sponsor Young Fellows to Help Earthquake Victims

Young Fellows is a strong group of dedicated people who contribute community support to inspire confidence in those who are struggling. Philanthropic tip: Host a dinner party instead of going out, and donate $70 to sponsor a young fellow for an entire day in Japan.

Help Japanese Non-Profits Receive Tax Exempt Status

Giving is a chain that links eternally, inspiring the power of the human heart. Japanese non-profits require lengthy paperwork and certifications in order to gain tax-exempt status, which will often break the chain of any nonprofit. Your donation of $100 would bring one group to an educational event rich with experience to successfully begin their project.

Know Your Impact

With every donation you make through Jolkona, you will receive personalized feedback: a unique proof for the person or project that you have generously supported.

How do you wish to contribute? Can’t decide? Explore this flowchart to guide you:

Explore this flowchart!

Image by Mike Sturgeon, Graphic Design Jolkona Intern

To learn more about our projects for Japan relief, visit http://www.i4JAPAN.org

Late July of this last summer, Jolkona raised money through our Groupon campaign to fund women grassroots leaders to come to Seattle and participate in a 10 week training program. The deal was this: for every $500 raised, Jolkona would fund one week of training for one woman. In addition, all funds raised would be munificently matched by Seattle International Foundation, and then implemented by iLEAP. Let me say right now that it was – and continues to be – a brilliant success, and on so many levels. And here’s why:

The total raised from the 3 day Groupon campaign, plus the additional donations since then, including the generous match from SIF, is a vertiginous $20,000! (I’m not usually one for wielding exclamation points in my grammar, but that one is thoroughly warranted.) And with that amount raised, Jolkona was able to fund fellowships for two women for the entire 10 week training program. Please, allow me to introduce them to you:

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar is from Honduras – she is a Sociology and Law professor at CEUTEC-UNITEC in La Ceiba, and is coordinator at GOjoven Honduras, where she is involved in promoting women’s rights, especially those pertaining to reproductive and sexual health, as well as in combating violence against women.

And….

Margaret Edwin Molomoo is from India. She works for Tarumitra, where she educates students, farmers, and women about the methods and benefits of organic farming in villages surrounding Bahir. Her work has assisted many farming groups in changing their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in their farming practices.

Thanks to the funds raised, Claudia and Margaret, already stalwart pursuers of a fairer society, are now even better equipped to grow their successful, high-impact programs.

In connection with this, we are inviting you to the extraordinary annual Women in the World’s Breakfast, held at the Four Seasons in Seattle, where you can meet our fellows, Claudia and Margaret, in the flesh. Buy tickets here. And to whet your appetite, here’s the inspiring video of last year’s event:

The raising of the funds and the opportunity and skills it provided Claudia and Margaret were not the only success stories of this campaign. Another aspect deserving of sincere pats on the back was the campaign’s collaboration: the three-pronged spearhead of SIF, iLEAP, and Jolkona. You see, unfortunately, too many nonprofits try to go at campaigns alone, and what this campaign exemplifies is the exponential difference nonprofits can make when they work together. Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved.

Our goal is to fund 5 women; so far we’ve funded 2. The campaign is still running and SIF is still matching every one of your donations, dollar for dollar. Make a difference. See the results. Give to the campaign here: Invest in Women Grassroots Leaders from Around the World.

What do coffee, a five-dollar bill, and rainforests have in common? Coffee is one of the top ten commodities of the world. In the U.S., most handcrafted lattes and espresso beverages fall somewhere under five dollars. Sadly, rainforests are often compromised to accommodate the need for growing more crops and delivering the beans to caffeine-loving folks around the world.
Why is this important? We lose between 3 and 6 billion trees annually due to deforestation. Our world population is under 7 billion; imagine losing every person living on this planet each year. That is the effect of harvesting lumber for logging and cultivating farm land to grow crops. The pretty penny spent on many cups of java begins with the coffee beans themselves.

 

Many countries near the Equator and around oceans harvest coffee beans.

Many countries near the Equator and world oceans harvest coffee beans. Photo credit: Samson Lee

Preserving our Delicate Ecosystems

Let’s look at Brazil: the world’s highest producer of coffee, churning out an impressive 2,249,010 tonnes in 2007 alone. In response to this demand, many coffee harvesters occupied fertile soil, eradicating many of the lush vegetation in that space. As an effect of this type of production, many forests and habitats have disappeared. By removing the trees, the goal was to maximize the growth period of the coffee plants (via photosynthesis) in order to yield even more product at a faster rate. However, this creates detrimental effects on our global environment such as atmospheric warming and near extinct species of exotic animals.
There is a solution. Allowing native trees to flourish among coffee crops generates seed dispersal from birds, giving birth to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. Attracting multiple species of trees is ideal, because the sprouting vegetation that results often unite empty spaces present in rainforests today. This process may also reverse the effects of deforestation over time, Jha claims.  Read the entire report on Shalene Jha and Christopher Dick’s exploration in shade-grown coffee and how it improves the effects of deforestation.

Natural landscapes like this are losing their chance to be preserved.

Natural landscapes like this are losing their chance to be preserved. Photo credit: rumpleteaser

World Rainforest Week

World Rainforest Week is October 10-16; a time of reflection and appreciation for the flora and fauna of every lush forest in the world. Burundi, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mali, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Senegal are all recognized under Jolkona’s Tree Planting project with “Trees for the Future.”

This year for National Coffee Day on September 29th, I donated to this project by supplying Brazil with 50 more trees.

This week, I challenge you by trading one latte, cappuccino, or cup of drip for 50 trees to replenish our world loss of 3 to 6 billion trees annually. As always, a Jolkona “thank you” for your donation will be real-time updates from our partner about your gracious contribution. Every drop counts, and even one new tree is an additional contributor to future growth!

To learn more about shade-grown coffee and other environmentally conscious actions you can take, visit Green Bean Coffee’s website and mongabay.com

Note from the Editor: This is a guest post written by Steve Schwartz, Director of Strategy & Operations for one of Jolkona’s newest partners, Upaya Social Ventures.

Meet Upaya Social Ventures from Steve Schwartz on Vimeo.

From the U.S., it is easy to see images of households in far away countries living in a way that looks different than our own and to assume that the differences — a tin roof, a barefoot schoolboy, a pot cooking over an open fire — fit neatly within a universal definition of “poverty.” But scratch the surface and you’ll find some families never worrying about where their next meal will come from, while 100 yards away others search endlessly to find enough work to eat again tomorrow. Not all poverty is created equal, and that relative difference is what Upaya Social Ventures was founded this year to address. An estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide are classified as “ultra poor,” living on less than $1.25 a day and struggling to find work that will pay them enough to afford stable shelter, clean water and three meals a day. The ultra poor often speak of feeling trapped in miserable conditions, with such meager earnings that any progress they make satisfying one need comes at the expense of meeting another. At the very heart of the problem are informal livelihoods — a cluster of irregular activities like shoe-shining, begging, day labor, hawking of second-hand items and trash picking that generate highly unpredictable incomes for those working in them.

Day laborers breaking rocks in a dry riverbed for an average ~$.50 per day

Day laborers breaking rocks in a dry riverbed for an average ~$.50 per day

The Upaya Approach

That’s where Upaya comes in. Taking its name from the Sanskrit word that means “skilled means” and connotes a creative solution to a challenging problem, Upaya is working with local social entrepreneurs to build businesses that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for the ultra poor. It’s a deceptively simple solution — increase a family’s earning potential through steady employment, and pair those jobs with access to affordable healthcare, education, housing and financial services so that the family makes sustained progress out of poverty.

But it is not always that simple, as the ultra poor are marginalized even within their own communities and skeptical of outsiders with “too good to be true” opportunities. For the entrepreneurs, too, there is a struggle to balance social responsibility with running a profitable business, and to attract funding to test their ideas.

Mothers reliant on begging to provide for their families

Mothers reliant on begging to provide for their families

This is why Upaya has created the Life-changing Interventions for the Ultra Poor (LiftUP) Project, a 24–36 month social business accelerator program that provides management support and financial resources to entrepreneurs who create jobs or improve access to basic services for the ultra poor. As a nonprofit organization, Upaya is able to make modest, longer-term equity investments — between $25,000 and $75,000 — in local entrepreneurs with early-stage ideas (any financial returns generated by investments are re-invested in future LiftUP Project partners). In addition to providing business development support, we also help these entrepreneurs create a “social accounting” system for tracking and analyzing the impact their activities are having on the lives of their employees or customers.

An Ideal Partner

And that is what brought Upaya to Jolkona. As Upaya works with businesses to monitor their social impact, we also have a unique opportunity to give donors a forum to track the progress of the causes and businesses they support. Through the Jolkona platform, donors will be able to see quarterly updates on employees’ quality of housing, improvements in the number and nutritional value of meals, status of children’s education and access to affordable healthcare. Upaya is taking a comprehensive approach to tackling the problems of extreme poverty, and Jolkona allows supporters to be active participants in that process.

www.upayasv.com

In part two of this series, we will profile Samridhi, a community dairy initiative in one of the poorest states in India that is creating jobs and providing regular salaries to women in households without any other form of steady income. Upaya has already raised $45,000 for Samridhi since the beginning of August and is looking to double that amount by the end of September.

About the author: Steve is the Director of Strategy & Operations for Upaya Social Ventures, and is one of the organization’s co-founders.  In a career that has run from Wall St. to the footpaths of smuggling routes in West Africa, Steve has long held the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to live their lives with dignity and means.

 

End malaria now_bestdamntech

Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases

Continuing our series on how the United Nations Millennium Development Goals relate to Jolkona, we look today at Goal 6.

One of the biggest challenges in development remains combatting the effects of pandemic, preventable disease. One UN report estimates that malaria alone saps up to 1.3% of the yearly economic growth of some African countries. That 1% might not sound like a lot, but when spread across an entire economy over several years, it could mean tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic productivity.

In part for this reason, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #6 is fighting the effects of HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases.

Target metrics

mdg 6

The UN identifies three target metrics for fighting communicable disease.

  1. Have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs by 2015
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDs
  3. Have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of Malaria and other major diseases by 2015

The fight against HIV/AIDs

Currently there are some 34 million people living in the world with HIV. While there is no cure, in the developed world HIV/AIDs rates among the general population remain low and there are treatment options available for managing the disease. In many developing countries however, rates of infection run much higher and few, if any, treatment options are available. Recognizing the role pandemic disease plays in slowing economic development the United Nations Development Programme is one of the agencies at the front of helping countries deal with HIV/AIDs.

Successes

While HIV/AIDs and Malaria continue to be huge problems in public health worldwide, it is important to remember that there have been successes in eradicating pandemic diseases before. Smallpox, which killed an estimated 300-500 million people during the 20th century was completely eradicated by 1979 thanks in part to efforts spearheaded by the World Health Organization. And while the fight against Malaria and HIV/AIDs can seem daunting, some hopeful estimates put Polio–another once pandemic disease–near eradication in the near future.

How you can help

Here are some current Jolkona projects working toward Goal 6.

  1. Supply medicine to children in Sierra Leone
  2. Give care to HIV-infected children in Cambodia
  3. Help build latrines in Haiti

Photo Credit: Drew Olanoff

Give My Lunch Infographic

The famine in Somalia and the crisis in the Horn of Africa is getting worse every single day, and it is the children who are the most at risk.

It doesn’t take much to help. As this infographic shows, the $5 that you spend every day on your lunch for a month can help feed a family of six for three weeks. That’s a lot of aid for a very little amount.

1) Donate to help feed families fleeing Somalia

There are multiple gift options, and with every donation that you make, you will receive proof of impact for the families you help.

2) Join our founders’ “Give My Lunch” campaign

Our founders, Nadia and Adnan, are giving up lunch for 30 days and using that money to help those affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa. You can join them with as little as $5. As of August 15, they reached their initial goal to feed 30 families. But since there’s still a great need, they’ve increased the goal to 40 families — or more! Join them.

3) Share this infographic

A picture says a thousand words, and the same thing goes for an infographic. Please help us raise awareness of the crisis and how people can get involved.

Together, we can help change the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Many thanks to our infographics intern, Sylvia Ng, for designing this!

This week I am excited to be attending the the Global Business Coalition’s annual conference in New York as a Global Health Ambassador.   Myself along with nine others who I am super excited to meet with in person are invited to attend the conference to help drive discussions and awareness for the conference sessions over various social media channels.

I’ve attended several conferences over the past year or so either as a speaker or just as an attendee and always live tweet interesting leanings while I’m there, but what is exciting about this conference is that it will be covering pressing issues at the cross-section of the business sector and public health sectors, two areas I feel very passionate about.  It will bring together NGO leaders, private sector leaders, government, and heads of leading social businesses.

What exactly is the Global Business Coalition?

The Global Business Coalition is an organization that mobilizes the power of the global business community to fight the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics.  Today it is a network of over 220 global companies that help bring the business community together to make a healthier world.  The GBC essentially brings companies, nonprofits, and governments together for collaboration and coordination related to solving pressing global health and development issues.

While I plan to attend most of the sessions during the conference, I will be covering the following two sessions in more detail.

  1. Innovative Financing in Health
  2. Entrepreneurship in the Social Context: Business Visionaries Who See the “Return” on Health Investments

At Jolkona, two of the most popular categories of projects are education and public health.  That is why I’m super excited to be able to learn about how the business community can play a leading role in tackling many of the problems our global health partners try to address in the community level.  I truly believe, that in order to make a dent in pressing global health and poverty related issues, we need each one of us to do our part, and that includes non-profits like the ones we work with, but also donors like all of you in the Jolkona community, along with the business sector.

Stay tuned for my tweets, leanings, reflections and comments from the conference on June 1 and June 2 from NYC! Follow the conversations on twitter with @GBCnews @nadiamahmud & #GBCHealthConf

 

 

 

Earth Day by AlicePopkorn

Earth Day—April 22 of every year—is a day dedicated to inspiring and mobilizing people all around the world to demonstrate their commitment to the environment, sustainability, and this big green and blue planet we call home.

There are tons of ways to celebrate your commitment to the environment:

There are freebies

If you bring a reusable mug or tumbler into any Starbucks location in the US or Canada today, they’ll give you a free brewed coffee or tea. This promotion isn’t just about free coffee, it’s about keeping “nearly 1.45 million pounds of paper out of landfills,” as per Sue, manager of global responsibility at Starbucks.

There are celebrations

Our friends at the Nature Conservancy are hosting a Picnic for the Planet in a number of cities worldwide. The goal is for people to step outside and head to their favorite outdoor spot to enjoy good food in the company of great people. If you’re in Seattle, be sure to swing by the Nature Conservancy of Washington’s picnic at Pike Place Market!

There are projects that let you make a direct impact on the planet

Jolkona has 15 projects that support the environment. For as little as $5, you can plant 50 trees in countries like Burundi, Ethiopia, and Haiti. To date, the Jolkona community has planted over 18,000 trees worldwide. How many more can we plant by the end of Earth Day?

In addition to planting trees, we have 4 projects for less than $100 that work towards ensuring environmental sustainability:

Teach Water Conservation to Costa Rican Youth – This is one of my personal favorite environmental projects that Jolkona offers as it combines two things: education and the environment. Through the Water Guards Program, students in Costa Rica learn about water conservation and how to teach what they learn to their peers and lead their community at school how to reduce unnecessary and wasteful water consumption. Talk about an amazing project!

Want to see this project in action? Last year, two Jolkona team members visited this project and saw its impact first hand.

Conserve African Rainforests – Protecting the Earth’s rainforests are essential for preserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and supporting local villages who are custodians of the forests.

Build an Energy Efficient Stove for Nepali Family – A lot of people living in the U.S. have Energy Star appliances, so what does “Energy Star” look like in the rest of the world? This stove not only protects old growth forests in Nepal from being harvested but also reduces lung disease through proper venting and frees up the village women from spending an average of 8.5 hours per household per month on collecting firewood.

Train Environmental Youth Advocates in Kenya – To create change in your own community, you need local leaders to be advocates and change makers. This project helps train ten rural village youth to educate and advocate on human-caused sources of pollution and the effects it has on public health in their own community. Much like the Costa Rican Youth project above, this one has amazing potential to make a lasting impact!

This planet is all we have right now, let’s work to make sure we keep it!

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Photo by: AlicePopkorn

Maheen with the children at Distressed Children International clinics

About three weeks ago, I walked into a room with a bench on one side and a desk on the other. There was another room in the back with a curtain partition for privacy. There was a doctor on the other side consulting with a patient I walked back into the waiting room, there was a mother there that had come in with her baby. The baby was strangely silent, and the mother was mentioning that her child had a constant fever and she didn’t know what was wrong. This “room” that I had walked into was one of DCI’s (Distressed Children & Infants International) clinics in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The clinic cares for and provides medical supplies and prescriptions to those cannot afford it and have nowhere else to go.

What led me to this clinic in Bangladesh was the Jolkona campaign I was a part of called the 12 Days of Giving. I decided to promote a health related project in Bangladesh and chose to support the DCI sponsored clinic, as public health is an interest of mine. I had never raised funds for anything prior to this experience nor had I promoted any type of project before! To be perfectly honest, I was attempting to pick whichever project I thought would be easily marketable so I would have a remote chance of fulfilling the looming $1,000 target goal. Not until I had a chance to visit the clinic and an orphanage also sponsored by DCI, and actually see those that were positively affected by the money raised, did I realize what $1,000 in Bangladesh really means.

Think about the anxiety that you feel when you’re sick for a couple of days and don’t know what is wrong. Not fun, huh? Now multiply this feeling times 100 to emphasize what toll that it takes on those “living” on the streets of Dhaka. The grave impact is felt not only because they do they not know what’s wrong with them when they’re sick, they know that they absolutely cannot walk into a hospital and get help, and whatever they have will probably only get worse.

Maheen with the children at Distressed Children International clinics

There are 450,000 children who live on the streets of Bangladesh and 30,000 die everyday due to circumstances of poverty. Through the DCI orphanage and with very little money, about 20 of these children are taken off the streets and are provided with healthcare, a good education, food, and shelter. With $10, a baby is provided with doctor care and relief. As demonstrated by the patients and kids at the DCI projects, a couple of dollars does not mean much to us here, but can most likely save a life and provide a child with a chance of having chance to enjoy a view of what life without poverty could really be…a reality.

I will never think about this project, these children, or $1,000 the same way again.

Maheen Aman is the Campus Outreach Lead for Jolkona and is extremely passionate about global health and development. She recently went on a global adventure that took her to Bangladesh and Turkey. This is a snapshot of one of her adventures.

Editor’s note: International World Water Day is held annually on the 22nd of March to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. What first began as an initiative by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) has turned into a movement and a celebration of what it means to have access to clean, freshwater. To commemorate this day, we are sharing a first-hand experience our team had when they visited one of our freshwater partners in east Africa during the holidays.

Did you know that over 884 million people around the world still use unsafe drinking water and as a result, 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases? The health and economic impacts of this problem are immense. This is why creating innovative ways for improving access to clean water is so imperative in alleviated poverty globally. While in East Africa visiting some of our projects, we had the opportunity to visit one of our partners in Kenya who have created an innovative way to provide clean, safe drinking water.

Common Ground, located in the village of Kitale, Kenya have developed an innovative cost-effective product to filter water for families, schools, and small clinics to use. Using local materials and labor, the NGO manufactures the water filters and certifies local women as water-health specialists, training each woman about water borne illnesses. They learn and then teach others about the importance of treating water and about the care and maintenance of the filters. Upon certification these specialists meet with women’s groups, churches, and schools to educate their community on the health risks associated with water drawn from lakes, streams, cisterns, and shallow bore holes.

I always love learning about new innovations related to providing access to clean water since it addresses so many pressing issues facing the developing world. I hope to see this simple “technology” and model spread throughout Kenya and other parts of the developing world.

The brilliance about all of this is these filters are made everyday materials—sawdust and clay. The filters are a very simple design but because of the innovation of using sawdust with the ceramic holder, it is able to filter out 99% of harmful water-borne diseases. The sawdust is magical ingredient trapping the harmful particles during the filtration process. The container itself provides an easy to pour dispenser for families and children to share water from safely. As volunteers, we were all proud of our accomplishment that day making 10 filters, however we learned that the regular workers could produce about 28 filters in the same time! We’ve got to work on our production time for next year, for sure!

What I love about this impactful approach:

  • Simple materials (clay & sawdust!) used to make water filters which last around 5 years
  • Reduces potential lethal outcomes from water-borne diseases
  • Offers an economic opportunity for the local women and benefits entire community
  • Creates an effective model for disseminating public health education in a culturally relevant manner.

Through the support of Jolkona and other development organizations, you can fund the transport, packaging, and cost of the filter to vulnerable schools, orphanages, or clinics up to 8 hours away from the manufacturing plant. Each filter serves roughly 8-10 people so for just $100, you can provide 5 water filters serving an entire school, orphanage, or clinic and then find out which school or facility receives those filters. Each filter provides adequate filtration for about 5 years! You can give the gift of clean water by supporting this project: Provide Ceramic Clean Water Filters in Kenya.

Sources:

  1. UNICEF/WHO. 2008. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation.
  2. World Health Organization. 2008. Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a global day dedicated to honoring the economic, political, and social achievements women have made throughout history by celebrating the women in our lives today. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam, and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

This year, Jolkona is partnering with CRAVE and a number of women-owned businesses to launch Give to Girls (Give2Girls), a campaign dedicated to educating, empowering, and providing health for women and girls around the world.

But why are we launching this campaign if women already get one entire day dedicated to them?

Because we want to change the statistics*

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 — already the largest in history — is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We all have the ability to help make an impact in the lives of women and girls in our own community and around the globe. We all can celebrate International Women’s Day by looking beyond where we’re at today and think about where we want to be tomorrow.

Announcing the Give 2 Girls Campaign

We are committed to improving the lives of women and girls around the world. To jumpstart this investment in their future, we are partnering with CRAVE and a group of women-owned businesses who have created a fund that will match the first gifts made to women’s development projects on Jolkona, dollar for dollar, up to $2,000.

Will you be one of the first donors to join us in investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today?

For each donation made, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation. Once exceed the matched donation, let’s keep the momentum going and see how much we can raise for these projects through the end of March.

Special Thank You

This campaign is made possible by the generous support of the following businesses that have combined their dollars to sponsor the matched fund for this campaign. Each one of these companies are owned by women and but their client base is not. We encourage you to check them out!

Gold level: Hias Gourmet
Silver level: Virtually Savvy
Bronze level: Flaunt, Inc.

We would also like to thank the team at CRAVE for partnering with us on this campaign and helping us put International Women’s Day on the map!

Join the movement – you can follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as the conversations that are happening on Facebook and on Twitter (via @Jolkona and #Give2Girls).

Other ways to get involved

  • Tonight, we’re kicking off the campaign by celebrating International Women’s Day with CRAVE at PNK Ultra Lounge. If you’re in Seattle, come join us for the fun and stay for the dessert bar (RSVP here!).

*Source: Girl Effect Fact Sheet

As you know, Jolkona was created to allow donors to support causes they care about and then receive feedback on how their donations are used. We exist to help our partner non-profits do more by raising money for them online from donors who demand transparency.

But how do we raise money to support our own operations? While we send 100% of donations made to partner projects and we rely on our donors to support our work by fundraising for our operations through a separate budget, the Kona Fund. One way to do this is during checkout, you can make an optional donation to Jolkona. We also have a separate fundraising strategy that includes traditional donor solicitations, corporate matching initiatives, and grants.

Today, we are excited to announce a new initiative that shows that Jolkona practices what we preach. We want donors to be able to support our work with micro-donations as well that are tied to specific impacts. So if you love what we do and want to support our growth, check out two new projects we’ve added to support our operations for very specific projects and see the type of feedback we can provide.

  1. Add a new project to Jolkona.org
  2. Provide Access to PR and Marketing Development for 1 Jolkona staff

And look for new giving opportunities to support Jolkona in the upcoming months. How cool would it be to say that you helped make it possible to add a new project and earn that partner nonprofit more money to do their work?

Photo Credit: krasi

GET INVOLVED!