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MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Achieve universal primary education

Today we continue looking at the connection between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. The second of the MDGs is achieving universal primary education. This means that every child receives the equivalent of an American sixth grade education.

A sixth grade education does not sound like much, and for those of us in the West we often think of someone who’s formal schooling stops at elementary school as being at a massive disadvantage compared to others with a high school or college diploma or other advanced academic degree.

But with a sixth grade education comes at least basic literacy and arithmetic skills—skills vital for economic development. Farmers need to know what price they are paying for seeds, store owners need to read property leases, and parents need to read and understand medical dosage information for treating their sick children.

Current progress

According to the United Nations 2011 MDG Report, as of 2009 about 67 million children are still out of school, down from 106 million in 1999. Of that 67 million, about 48 million live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (32 million in Africa, 16 million in Asia). The biggest barriers for the 67 million children still out of school remain gender (being female), poverty and/or being located in a rural community.

Still, some of the poorest countries in Africa (including Burundi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, and the United Republic of Tanzania) have managed to achieve the goal, giving hope that even the least developed countries can still achieve universal primary education by 2015.

How you can help

Jolkona supports a variety of projects aimed at achieving universal primary education. Here are a few:

  1. Provide tutoring to indigenous children in Guatemala
  2. Help teachers at a school in rural Zambia
  3. Support children’s education in India

For more information you can visit the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) education web site.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

A few weeks back we began our discussion of the Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. Today we will continue by looking in depth at the first of the MDGs.

The first of the MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Targets for eradicating extreme poverty

There are two target metrics the UN has set for the eradication of extreme poverty.

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1/day
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Economists use two bars for determining who in the world is considered economically poor. The first, people living on $2/day, are considered “merely” poor. The second, those living on $1/day, are considered the “extremely poor”.

This may seem like a strange distinction to make but it’s important because while we would all like to see everyone living in poverty to have a chance at a better life, it is those living on $1/day or less who are the most vulnerable to climate change, natural disaster and economic hardships like recessions or changes in food prices.

The best way to lift these people out of poverty is meaningful work. Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Target for eradicating hunger

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger

The most obvious cases of hunger are usually acute famines, such as what is currently transpiring in East Africa. A mix of political instability and climate change can create a situation in which crops are unable to grow, and people and livestock die as a result.

Food security is also an issue closely tied to poverty. People who are poor or extremely poor often cannot afford to buy the food they need for themselves or their families, especially in light of food prices that have risen sharply in the past few years. For some people, undernourishment or malnourishment is a way of life.

Poor nutrition hits children especially hard, and has long lasting effects. Children who do not receive a proper diet suffer from physical and mental developmental issues. This can range from simply being under-height and weight when they reach adulthood, to severe mental retardation as a result. According to one USAID report, even before the 2008 global financial collapse and concurrent rise in food prices, 178 million children (about 1/3 of all children) were suffering from chronic malnutrition.

What you can do to help

Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger would not just meet the first of the MDGs, it can have a huge impact on all the others as well. Here are some ways you can get involved through Jolkona supported projects:

  1. Provide seeds or farming tools to a family in Nicaragua
  2. Provide healthy meals for children in Uganda
  3. Help families fleeing famine in Somalia

For more information, take a look at the United Nations Development Program’s Millennium Development Goals page.

Guest post written by Noah Levinson, founder and director of Calcutta Kids

Every hour, 40 young children in India die from a disease which has afflicted every person reading this blog at one time or another — diarrhea. For most of us, diarrhea is a mere annoyance, a discomfort, one easily remedied by a few Pepto-Bismol tablets. But for hundreds of thousands of children in India and the developing world, diarrhea kills. In fact, diarrhea remains the second leading killer of children in the world. Jolkona partner Calcutta Kids is saving lives with a proven model of treatment and education that costs a mere $10 per child.

child being treated at Calcutta Kids Diarrhea Treatment Center
Child receiving oral rehydration solution at the Calcutta Kids Diarrhea Treatment Center

Effective, inexpensive treatment saves lives

It’s not actually the diarrhea that kills, but rather the dehydration caused by the diarrhea. While oral rehydration solution (ORS) is readily available throughout India, it is often misused or not enough of it is given to properly rehydrate the child. Providing ORS in a clinical setting greatly increases a child’s chance of survival.

Calcutta Kids has replicated the successful model of the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, which annually treats more than 180,000 diarrhea-afflicted patients in Bangladesh by providing oral rehydration solution in a clinical setting. Situated in a slum area outside of Kolkata, India, Calcutta Kids’ clinic officially opened in March 2011. Since then, it has successfully treated more than 200 young children with a combination of treatments: ORS, zinc, and very occasional use of antibiotics, plus behavior-change communication to promote good hygiene habits. Treatments usually last two to four hours, and families receive a follow-up home visit by a trained health worker to ensure that the child is recuperating and to provide life-saving information to the child’s caretaker.

One of the innovative components of this treatment is that the protocol is guided by a database to ensure that each step is followed. Through alarms in the database, nurses are informed when the next checkup must take place; through a graph, the doctor can estimate the child’s level of dehydration. The database also ensures that a trained health worker provides behavior-change communication before the child can be discharged.

Calcutta Kids' Diarrhea Treatment Center
Mothers receiving training and education to treat and prevent diarrhea

How you can help

Through Jolkona, Calcutta Kids has found a platform through which we can sustain our efforts to fight these senseless child deaths from diarrhea. At a cost of only $10 per treatment, we hope that people of all means will be able to finance one diarrhea treatment each month — and quite possibly, save a child’s life. We also encourage caring individuals and families to commemorate a loved one’s birthday or a holiday with a truly meaningful gift: a second chance at life for a child.

And when you donate to Calcutta Kids, we will make sure that you know how your money has been spent by sending you a digital copy of the discharge certificate of the treated child (with the name omitted for confidentiality purposes) with a full explanation of the services provided.

Noah Levinson, MPH, is the founder and executive director of Calcutta Kids, a nonprofit organization he founded while he was an undergraduate student at Marlboro College. He is also a founding board member of Jolkona Foundation and has provided Jolkona with invaluable guidance since our early days.

Calcutta Kids is an organization committed to the empowerment of the poorest children and expecting mothers in the underserved slums in and around Kolkata, India. Calcutta Kids is well versed at leveraging its resources — something we seek to emulate at Jolkona Foundation.

Groupon Jolkona campaign

Yesterday Jolkona launched a Groupon campaign to support a 10-week training fellowship for women grassroots leaders from around the world. This is a great campaign on so many levels. I decided to share my top 10 reasons why this is an awesome campaign.

10 Reasons to Support Women Grassroots Leadership Training through Jolkona

  1. According to the World Food Programme, for every dollar invested in a woman in a developing part of the globe, $0.90 of it will be spent on the woman’s family or community. So your dollars are going a long way.
  2. Women spend a lot of time with their children, setting great examples for the next generation on how to impact society.
  3. Women are proven community leaders. The training received by these women will be transferred to the rest of the community.
  4. Every one of these women is a great collaborator. Upon their return home, the impact of the training they receive in Seattle will be magnified through their collaborations with others.
  5. These women are champions of a fairer society. Your support for this campaign will lead to more just societies where these women live.
  6. After the training, these women leaders will be equipped with additional resources to grow their already high-impact programs.
  7. Through this training, women grassroots leaders will share best practices with each other. This sharing of ideas will lead to increased efficiency for each of their programs.
  8. All of Seattle will be able to learn from these leaders’ innovative approaches to solving problems in their societies, fostering deeper engagement by the Seattle community in international development
  9. This program works. Watch this video from the 2010 Women in the World Breakfast about the impact it had on a participant from last year.
  10. For every $10 donation you make to our campaign on Groupon, the Seattle International Foundation will match it, doubling your impact. Plus Groupon is covering all transaction fees, channeling 100% to go towards this cause.

If you can give a $1 for each of these reasons, then you will consider buying our Groupon deal for only $10.

BuyNow

You can read more about this unique program here to build capacity among a new generation of women grassroots leaders. With your support, these women leaders will be catalysts for positive change in their institutions and communities.

Here at Jolkona, we like to talk about how our projects line up with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But we haven’t talked much about what the MDGs are and why they are important.

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The United Nations MDGs are the most current and probably most important multi-lateral development effort in the world to date. While “development” is a somewhat nebulous term, in this case it refers to any effort by governments or nonprofits to improve, among other things, the living conditions, health or education of a country or people group. This could range from small rural medical clinics to massive infrastructure projects such as new dams or highways.

Before the MDGs, development work was mostly done piecemeal, with organizations and governments determining their own goals and metrics for success. The MDGs represent the first time every member country of the UN — along with a number of nongovernmental organizations — agreed to the same development objectives, committing to see eight specific and measurable goals achieved by 2015.

History of the Millennium Development Goals

In 1996, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began working on a framework for what the goals and strategies of development in the 21st century would look like. The Millennium Development Goals are the combination of that framework and the Millennium Declaration, a document signed by all United Nations member countries after the September 2000 UN Millennium Summit. Since that time the MDGs have been the main framework for doing global development work.

Eight goals for development

There are eight goals identified by the MDGs, the first seven of which are measurable and the eighth which is more of an ideal than a goal:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality rates
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental stability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Why Jolkona uses the Millennium Development Goals

Though Jolkona does not pick projects based on their connection to the MDGs, all of our projects align with them. Connecting our projects to the MDGs allows Jolkona and donors to track how our work is contributing to key development metrics. Not only can you see your donation’s impact on a micro level — through the feedback you receive from our partners in the form of school grades, photos or field reports — but you can also see how your gifts are making a difference on a macro level as countries achieve the various goals. Your funding one child’s education, for example, also moves the country that child is in closer to achieving universal primary education, the second MDG.

How to get involved

Now that you have a better understanding of what the MDGs are, take a look here on the Impact page of the Jolkona site to sort projects by the specific MDG they work toward. On each project page you can also see which MDGs that project aligns with (note the colored bars on the right in the image below).

For the most up-to-date information and statistics on progress toward the goals, take a look at the UN’s MDG homepage.

You can also keep an eye on our blog — in the coming weeks, we’ll drill down on each of the goals, talking more about what they hope to achieve and highlighting Jolkona projects that work toward them.

During our recent trip to Africa I found myself drawn to farming. I took a lot of interest in projects that were dealing with farming – everything from how to increase yield to helping farmers find markets for their crops. I took pages and pages of notes. I could not figure out why I was so fascinated with farming. I couldn’t figure out why farming would be so compelling to someone like me, a city-dweller from America who is an engineer by profession.

Then on our second day at the Serengeti, after we finished our hot air balloon ride and were on our way back to the visitor center, we came across a leopard. There were 20 to 30 other tour vehicles around the leopard all juggling for a good position to get a good picture of the leopard. We waited around for over 30 minutes trying to get the best angle to catch the spotted animal. That’s when I realized that I was drawn to farming because it was similar to photography.

Photography is all about getting the perfect shot. It is about tweaking all the various factors like lighting, exposure, film speed, etc., and combining them in a particular way to get the perfect picture. It takes many years of practice to understand how these various factors work with each other. The ultimate goal is not to only get one perfect picture, but to be able to replicate that quality over and over again for every picture you take.

Farming is not that different. Farmers spend years trying to understand how the various factors like rainfall, season, sunlight, amount of fertilizer, harvest time, etc., can be tweaked to give them the maximum yield. Their ultimate goal is also not just one great harvest, but to be able to take the learnings from one great harvest and replicate it for every season.

The trial and error aspect of farming along with the ultimate goal of perfection makes farming very appealing to me. If we can figure out how some of these lessons can be better shared across communities, then we can help accelerate this learning process. There is some great work being done already, especially in the mobile space (e.g. receiving weather updates on phones). And I imagine we will see a lot more innovations around sharing farming knowledge in the next 3 to 5 years.

This series of four photos is my attempt at trying to capture a perfect shot of the leopard.

All photos are by Adnan Mahmud.

Throughout my trip thus far, I have seen over 10 projects and many innovations around the pivotal role community plays in development. Everywhere I have seen examples of individuals who depend on their community for support in order to advance themselves and in turn enrich the well being their neighbors. In turn I have seen communities come together to help those who need it the most. Because of this model, this inherent need to build up each other and those around them, these groups of individuals create change by organizing their efforts together.

I call this “Powered by Community” and here is the impact community can have in affecting change:

  1. Foster closer community through honesty and openness. Members of the community of Dago, Kenya come to together once a year for the Kick It with Kenya Soccer Tournament.  Time is made to connect and openly share ideas with other communities who come over as visitors to  the tournament. Making time to honestly share helps with community growth and building long-term relationships.
  2. Break taboos and stigmas. Talking about HIV and AIDS used to be a big taboo in African villages like Dago. Now every community has a voluntary counseling and testing center (VCT) where the conversation about the prevention of HIV and AIDS is commonplace. It is far easier to change long held beliefs if change is being done as a collective whole.
  3. Continue traditions. Families have started to see their members spread out geographically. In a family with 5 children, most might move out to the city or even another country. Yet, during Christmas, everyone attempts to come back home to reconnect with their roots and share stories – continuing a tradition that has been in place for generations.
  4. Improve health. In Dago, Community Health Workers organize their own communities to educate themselves about current health conditions, provide preventive measures, and distribute medications to those in need. Providing this much-needed service at a reduced cost increases the prevention of illnesses to all within the village.
  5. Educate the youth. Every community has a primary school with the goal to send every child to school. In addition, communities are finding ways to support continuing education of the brightest students so that every family can continue to prosper. For example, Dago’s orphanage has solar power – giving the children ability to study after dark, while 99% of the homes in Dago don’t have power at all.
  6. Share risks. In the village of Kiminini, Kenya, women pool their savings to make loans to their peers. The borrower needs to get signatures from other women in her group before applying for the loan. This way, the women in the community take the risk of having to pay back the loan in case the borrower defaults. Distributing risk empowers the community to insure the borrower is successful.
  7. Share responsibility. Just like distributing risks, the women in Kiminini understand the share responsibility amongst the group members to make sure that the borrower pays back the loan on time by distributing ownership for loan amongst members of the group.
  8. Build skills. Outside of Kampala, Uganda, an orphanage houses close to 100 kids during the holidays. They kids don’t have a family to go to. Yet, they are spending the holidays learning various dance techniques like their own regional dances as well as salsa and other contemporary styles. Encouraging learning during what would typically be a difficult time for these children raises their self-esteem and further develops their sense of cultural belonging.
  9. Achieve self-sustainability. In Dago, Kenya, the villagers are implementing farming initiatives that will ensure that they can meet the local food needs and have all the pieces in place for self sustainability now and for future generations.
  10. Have a family. The community provides a family to everyone, including those who don’t have one of their own. In Dago, the community comes together to support widows with housing, food, and land for farming.

How do you define community?

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.

After spending the day seeing Nairobi, this morning we packed our bags and headed to Dago, a small rural village about 4 hours west of Nairobi. Of course we wake up early with the plan to leave at 8am, only to be reminded of “African standard time.” We didn’t leave the house until 8:45am and although we reached the shuttle stand without much delay, once we got there we again were faced with the reality of how slow things move in Africa. Our goal was to get on the 9am shuttle, which ended up being full. So with much convincing from our hosts, we were able to get booked on the 10am shuttle, only it didn’t actually arrive until 11am! Finally we loaded up our stuff with our local guide named Eric and were off.

Outside of Nairobi, the Kenyan countryside is just amazing! We passed through the Great Rift Valley and descended into the land of the Masaai, traditional Kenyan nomadic warriors.

The road through this part of town was quite smooth and very beautiful. After what felt like hours-and-hours of driving through the northern plains of Kenya, we ended up in Kissi. Here we were picked up by a car and then transported to Dago, about 30 minutes away.

The roads were bumpy, made mostly of dirt. We finally arrived in Dago at 5pm, just in time for us to catch the last quarter of the “Kick it With Kenya Soccer Tournament” semi-final round. Dago Dera Hera puts on this tournament with the financial support of one of our partners, Village Volunteers. The tournament brings together over 500 youth from neighboring villages for a 4-day soccer tournament that includes free HIV/AIDS testing, medications, check-ups, and public health education. It’s a great way to bring together so many youth and to promote public health awareness at the same time.

Great energy, great music, and a crowd of kids like I’ve never seen before…what more can you ask for? How about an amazing home cooked meal and great conversations with the organizers of the tournament and our host family for our stay in Dago.

This family is incredible! The mom and dad and all of their children have dedicated their lives to helping their community, one that suffers from a large orphaned population due to an epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the area. Needless to say, it was an amazing night of learning about how they got started in this work and everything that their community center and this tournament achieves.

One of the things that inspired me about this family is the extreme compassion they have to help others. Although they are fairly privileged in their village standards, they are by no means what any one of us would consider “wealthy” or even “well-off” in the U.S. However, without taking any compensation, they volunteer their time, energy, and whatever extra resources they have to help these orphans and their community. I’m just amazed at what they’ve accomplished and at their generosity.

After dinner we headed to our room for the night. It was such a humbling experience to sleep in a hut without running water and plumbing using a community bathroom/latrine. Although it was a huge adjustment from the city life in Nairobi, it’s actually quite peaceful once you get used to it. I mean, who needs electricity and running water when you have a tube, well, buckets, and flashlights anyway?

I’m really excited to be helping out with the health clinics on the last day tomorrow as well as presenting trophies and prizes to the winners of the final round tomorrow.

By coming here I am seeing first hand what an impact this tournament is making and how cost-effective it is. For just $27, you can sponsor one of the participants in the tournament and give them access to free health screenings, education, and screenings. I hope you will join me in our campaign to help raise money to cover the costs of 20 kids to attend this tournament.

Again, each scholarship is only $27, but if you can only give $5 or $10 it all goes a long way here, TRUST ME! Please make a small contribution today. Good night from Dago!

KITO International takes reformed street youths in Nairobi, Kenya and provides them with operational business training so that they can work with KITO’s many businesses (e.g. bag productions) and/or set up their own, profitable business. Nadia and I had a chance to meet with the first group of youths who are about to finish the course. It was amazing to hear their stories, where they are from, and the dreams they want to pursue after they finish at KITO.

One of the youths that spoke to one of my own passions was named Alex. He wants to be a rapper. Here is a short sample of what Alex’s talent:

The mastermind behind KITO, is Wiclif Otieno, who we met at Opportunity Collaboration. He himself was a street child in Nairobi. He is commonly called a “reformed street kid” – street children who are rescued from their current conditions. After going through the government-run program, he realized that a big problem faced by these reformed youths is that there are limited opportunities to apply themselves after completing the program. As a result, they can often end up back out in the street as before. Wiclif wanted to break the cycle and create change. Through KITO, the next step is to help Alex connect with a producer.

I am looking forward to having KITO go through Jolkona’s vetting process and be added as a Jolkona partner so that you can help Alex and others pursue their dreams and leave the street life behind them.

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