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What do mosquitoes, freshwater snails and ticks have in common? All three are vectors – critters that transmit deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever – and therefore major villains in this year’s vector-borne disease themed World Health Day, the April 7th World Health Organization observance that raises awareness of serious global health problems.

Three facts to think about over the weekend:

  • More than 1 billion people are infected and more than 1 million die from vector-borne diseases every year.
  • Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases.
  • Malaria causes more than 600 000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years old.

Many of these diseases are preventable, primarily by improving access to clean water and sanitation. Jolkona’s partner MADRE works in Kenya to provide sources of clean water in rural, indigenous communities. This project builds communal collection points in villages in schools, and trains local people in hygiene, health, and water system maintenance.

Along with preventing and treating vector-borne diseases, our health partners also work hard to improve access to prenatal care, lifesaving surgeries and prosthetics. You can make a difference, too, by supporting any of these projects:

You can observe World Health Day on Monday by learning more about vector-borne diseases and contributing to a global health project — even with just $10. As we say here at Jolkona: every drop counts.

Photo Credit: WHO/S. Hollyman

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Sunday, April 7th is World Health Day, celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the World Health Organization in 1948. It is a day to bring attention to the significant global health issues that impact people all over the world, and a day to donate to a project through Jolkona, that will improve the health of individuals, and of a community.

This year’s theme of World Health Day is cardiovascular disease (CVD), and high blood pressure.  CVD (including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure) is the leading causes of death and disability world wide, representing 30% of global deaths (17.3 million people). In fact, as cause of death, it is far more common in developed countries than it is in undeveloped countries. So this year, in honor of World Health Day, we are asking you to think locally by taking action to reduce your own risk for CVD, whilst also acting globally by working to alleviate health concerns that under-empowered people face, such as malnutrition and poor sanitation.

You can be sure to lower your risk of CVD and other related non-communicable diseases by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are some key ways to protect heart health.

  • Avoid excessive tobacco use, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.
  • 30 minutes of physical activity every day of the week.
  • Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as limiting the amount of salt to less than a teaspoon a day.

Find out more about CVD at the WHO

While you take steps to improve your health, remember that CVD is a global epidemic, and disproportionately affects the developing world.

  • 80% of people who die from non-communicable diseases live in low or middle-income countries.
  • Low birth weight, folate deficiency, infections and poor nutrition are risk factors for non-communicable diseases that significantly impact people in developing countries.
  • People in developing countries are usually unable to access the resources needed to effectively diagnose and treat their disease.
  • The lifestyle changes associates with industrialization and urbanization, such as a sedentary lifestyle, and increased alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of CVD in developing countries.
  • Premature deaths due to CVD reduce the GDP of low and middle-income countries by as much as 6.8%, resulting in a heavy burden on rapid economic development*

*Statistics taken from WHO’s CVD Factsheet

While maintaining a healthy heart is certainly important, you can also impact global health by donating to a project that benefits under-empowered communities who face pressing health crises due to malnutrition or disease.

  • Donate $100 through the Mali Health Organizing Project to provide a year of high-impact health care for 10 people living in slum neighborhoods in Mali. Your donation enrolls families in a comprehensive healthcare program through a local clinic. The program provides home visits to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases quickly and effectively, educating communities about healthcare, and reducing child mortality.
  • Donate $40 through Friends of Orphans, to provide a month’s worth of fresh seasonal produce for an orphan in Mexico. The children receive a balanced diet, which aids in physical development, and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Donate $260 through the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society to build a hygienic and environmentally friendly toilet in the poorest parts of rural India. This allows people, especially women, to perform bodily functions in safety and privacy, while reducing contact with waste, which causes 80% of preventable disease in rural communities.

Spend April 7th making the world a little bit healthier. Make changes to your lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular disease, and lengthen your life, and reach out to a community that faces a pressing health crisis. Think locally and act globally on World Health Day.

Spread awareness about global health via social media: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and re-pin our pins on Pinterest.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing the Global to the Personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

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

 

 

 

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.

Kick it with Kenya (KWIK) – a Jolkona project partner – is a community soccer tournament that leverages community gathering for sports to promote public health awareness. What is so innovative about this tournament is that it harnesses the power of the community in a fun way (who isn’t passionate about soccer?) to rally around their villages and also improve access to medical care and prevention. The tournament was hosted in Dago, and the Dago village team took home first place! It was amazing to see the spirit of the community and be a part of the talk of the town. Needless to say, the entire village was partying all night long at the orphanage center and will have another celebration to officially welcome home the trophy on Sunday evening.

The tournament brought together over 500 participants and even more spectators to show their support for each village and to receive medical treatment and counseling.

We had a chance to observe the clinics in action during the tournament and interview the medical team, which we will share with you in future posts. While the soccer games were  going on at the school field, the classrooms were converted to temporary health clinics. There was an optometrist, a nurse who diagnosed conditions and dispensed medications, and an HIV testing counselor. The community had access to free vaccinations and health mentors and advocates. This year, over 500 people were tested for HIV screening and over 250 patients received medical care and medications during the tournament.

It was such a privilege to see this project in action and experience how the donations from Jolkona are leveraged because of the triage of support from the dedicated community volunteers, the government, and generous in-kind donations secured by the tournament’s organizers.

Thank you to past donors who helped make the annual Kick it with Kenya soccer tournament possible! This tournament only happens once a year, and we welcome your support of this project throughout the year so that it can continue to grow and improve the lives and building of community in this rural part of Kenya.

Happy holidays from Dago, Kenya!

As part of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving, Team Africa is launching a campaign to sponsor 20 students to participate in the next KWIK soccer tournament. For $27, you can help promote public health awareness through a fun community event. Want to help make an impact for the holidays? Check out Team Africa’s campaign page.

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GET INVOLVED!