This Sunday, May 11, is Mother’s Day: the day we celebrate moms and what they do for us and our communities. Many of us take this opportunity to shower our mothers with gifts, cards and affection — but what about giving a gift that also impacts a mother in need?

Jolkona is here to help you find a Mother’s Day gift that honors moms in more ways than one. Your donations can support three projects that improve maternal health in Palestine, Guatemala and India.

Support Safe Births in Palestine

Your gift through MADRE will provide a “safe birth” medical kit, and help train and equip Israeli and Palestinian midwives to deliver babies in the West Bank. Due to movement restrictions, an estimated 2500 Palestinian women face difficulties on their way to hospitals and birthing facilities. With your help, midwives can reduce maternal and infant mortality, by providing the resources needed for a safe pregnancy and successful delivery.

Provide Maternal and Prenatal care in Guatemala

Your gift through Project Concern International (PCI) will help indigenous Guatemalan women living in isolated rural communities have access to prenatal care, as well as safe and clean birthing facilities. With your help, PCI will train hundreds of community health workers to make sure both mothers and babies are healthy and safe before, during, and after delivery.

Provide Prenatal care in Calcutta

Your gift through Calcutta kids will help provide six months of prenatal care, a safe birthing facility, and post-partum care for a woman living in the slums of Calcutta. Calcutta Kids uses community-based programs to optimize the health of both mother and child throughout pregnancy, leading to higher birth weights, and better immune and neurological development.

When you celebrate Mother’s Day by giving a gift in your mom’s honor to one of these Jolkona partner projects, you know you are making your own mother proud by aiding another in need. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Giving birth is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do, especially in a developing country. But with your help, Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is raising funds this month for programs focused on improving maternal health in Palestine, Guatemala, and India.

According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, around 300,000 women die in childbirth every year; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly 5 million babies die before their first birthday every year. This doesn’t include the women and children who suffer permanent injuries, malnutrition and physical and neurological under development. The good news is that many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, if we can improve access to adequate prenatal and maternal health services.

Each of these Give to Girls projects aim to help women have safe pregnancies and healthy babies:

Support Safe Births in Palestine

Due to its status as a conflict zone, Palestine is a difficult place for a woman to give birth; maternal health conditions have actually been in decline since 2000. Jolkona’s partner MADRE works to provide prenatal care and safe births and prevent unnecessary deaths for women in West Bank, who are unable to access a hospital or adequate care.

MADRE works with Palestinian and Israeli midwives to provide training, prenatal supplements, portable ultrasound devices and birth kits, so that as many women as possible can deliver their babies safely.

Reduce Infant Mortality in Guatemala

Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate in South America. The majority of these deaths occur in rural indigenous populations, among the poorest 20 percent of people in Guatemala. Jolkona’s partner Project Concern International provides an integrated infant and maternal health program to bring proper clinical care for women, and and low-tech care techniques to parents and care-takers to ensure a higher chance of infant survival.

Effecting over 1500 women and children, your donation to PCI will provide a clean environment and clinical care to the mother, as well as transportation to a hospital for her birth.

Provide Prenatal Care in India

Even though India is rapidly industrializing, it has an infant mortality rate 100 times higher than other industrial nations. Adequate prenatal care not only helps thousands of babies survive their first year, but also reduces susceptibility to malnutrition, disease, and underdevelopment. Jolkona’s partner Calcutta Kids is focused on increasing access to health and nutrition services, providing health information and encouraging positive health-changing behaviors.

Calcutta Kids provides six months of prenatal care for a pregnant woman in the slums of Calcutta, as well as delivery in a private facility, and follow up care for two years following birth.

When you Give to Girls to support maternal health, you not only help women and babies survive delivery, but also set them up for a healthier future. Please Give to Girls today!

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Seattle may be best known for its contributions to the music, tech, fishing and coffee industries, but did you know it’s also a major hub for global philanthropy? The region is home to more than 300 organizations — including Jolkona and about a third of our nonprofit partners, plus powerhouses like the Gates Foundation and World Vision  — working to improve lives in the world’s 144 developing countries. I think we need a brand, like Silicon Valley. How about Compassion Corner?

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 2.09.52 PMAimed at raising awareness of our amazing global development sector, Jolkona partner Seattle International Foundation and the Office of the Mayor launched the Seattle Ambassador program earlier this year, inviting citizens to apply to be the city’s representative on tours of poverty-alleviation projects abroad. The inaugural ambassador is Jozlyn Pelk, 21, a University of Washington – Bothell senior who is currently making her first trip outside the United States, visiting Guatemala and Nicaragua. She’ll be back next week, making her first public remarks about her trip at Jolkona’s Corks & Forks celebration on Oct. 10, then a featured appearance at the Seattle Ambassador Fall Bash on Oct. 17.

Jozlyn is blogging and tweeting (hashtag #206global) while in Central America. Here’s some observations from her blog posts so far:

Oct. 1, 2013:

I spent hours with the group of 20 scholarship students; who knew drawing and balloon exercises could teach us so much about community.  It struck me to hear the children speak about their desire to help out at home, what their communities’ need, and their dreams to become teachers, firefighters, and singers. The children are so young yet they know what community is and how to contribute. This was striking to me.

I see where their passion comes from. At the end of our visit at Casa Blanca, we met with the school’s committee of mothers of these students. I have never encountered such genuine and endearing people, who expressed their deepest gratitude for their opportunities provided for their children by showering us with beautiful gifts consisting of hand woven cloths, headbands, and typical Guatemalan atole and tamales. Their gifts and long goodbyes will be something I will always cherish for the rest of my life.

Oct. 2, 2013: Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 2.23.46 PM

I was inspired by the CECAP’s emphasis on creating economic opportunities for women. Rosalía shared that nearly all of the women I met with in these workshops have become small business owners and are able to generate an income because of their new vocational skills. 90 percent of vocational workers in Santa Cruz have graduated from the help of the Amigos scholarship program.

I had life-changing experience of meeting with a woman who has set an example for others in the community because of her involvement at CECAP. We were welcomed into the humble home of Espiritu Santos Alvarez, a 30-year old woman who has completed two beading workshops at the vocational training center. Espiritu laid out her jewelry portfolio on a table under the shade of the tin roof of her house, which consisted of aqua-colored doorways and windows, an outdoor stove, and a weaving table. Espiritu shared her story of becoming an artisan, and how her time at CECAP has allowed her to earn an income to support her family.

Oct. 3, 2013:

Before Escuela Milagros (“The Miracle School”) was built in 2011, children had to walk down this steep rocky hillside to Tzununá to get to school. When the river is high, they are unable to leave Tzanjumel. I thought to myself, “How in the world are children supposed to get to school in these conditions?” It was already a struggle trying to drive up the uneven rocky surface with four-wheel drive. Imagining children trying to hike up and down this hill everyday — or not being able to make it to school at all — consumed me with frustration.

This is the stuff that creates new philanthropists. We can’t wait to hear more from Jozlyn at our Corks & Forks dinner next week!

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Jolkona takes considerable pride in its multitude of partnerships. The organizations we link up with are committed and compassionate. Roots & Wings International is one such non-profit that truly works hard for its cause, which is fostering educational opportunity for Guatemalan youth. A partner of Jolkona’s since July 2009, we are grateful for their passion and purpose.


Roots & Wings International began simply enough, with founder Erik Swanson in Guatemala on a post-college expedition. After spending several months teaching English to students and forming a connection with the community, though, those couple of months rapidly snowballed into a two year stay in Guatemala.

By the time he was done, Erik had worked as the director for El Instituto La Asunción, a junior high and high school. He even supported the college ambitions of the top two high school graduates – one boy and one girl – by singlehandedly funding their university scholarships.

Erik officially founded Roots & Wings International in 2004, making education the organization’s central mission. Illiteracy is a prevalent issue in Guatemala, with up to a 70% illiteracy rate in rural communities. By virtue of families basing their livelihood on predominately subsistence farming, the majority of children do not receive more than an elementary school education.

Photo Source: Roots & Wings Intl.


Roots & Wings International wants to change the illiteracy levels in Guatemala – but in a way which facilitates self-sustained development. The autonomy and agency of individuals within their own communities is paramount. Erik and those that work alongside him have seen first-hand that when given proper educational access, people in their local communities become best-equipped to lead, change, and cultivate their environment.

They are witnesses to short-term improvements in students’ lives vis-a -vis scholarships and tutoring programs. Long-term, though, it is the computer training lessons and college education that will sustain them in the future. Roots & Wings commented that, “many of our scholarship students intend to return to their home communities to be teachers, lawyers, or doctors…our mission is to improve overall educational opportunities to empower young people to promote development in their own communities.”


Roots & Wings International shared an especially meaningful story about one of their students with us. They recounted, “Manuela Tzep Lopez is one of our scholarship students nearing the end of her studies in Social Work…she is also working as a coordinator in a small community development organization.” Her diligent work ethic shines through brightly; “she is gaining valuable social work experience coordinating job training programs for young women and inmates.” By empowering the youth, Roots & Wings are providing them the education and tools they need to help others in the community.

Roots & Wings International is a trustworthy, industrious non-profit that deserves recognition. For individuals interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Guatemalan children, follow the link below for an easy, reliable way to do so. You can support computer literacy in the region by providing a month’s worth of training for as little as $5.

Give a donation through Jolkona via Roots & Wings International and improve a child’s education today.

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Jolkona Team

Image credit: Karen Ducey

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch held at the Seattle Center. This event provided support by highlighting and donating funds to organizations aimed at making a positive impact in the community. Among the finalists, a remarkable number of groups were founded by local high school and college students. These students saw problems that existed in the world and used ingenuity to craft effective solutions. I loved hearing a recent high school graduate discuss how she was inspired to create her non-profit after observing how alienated disabled student felt from their peers. Despite her youth, she is making a tangible difference in the world.

As a recent college graduate myself, I am happy to see that young people are getting their due credit as a powerful force in philanthropy. Students and the under-25 year old demographic are increasingly more engaged with the world and addressing disparities. Through internet and smart phones, we are readily connected to all parts of our global community. Minutes after the devastating earthquake hit Japan last March, Twitter feeds and news articles exploded with images and information. Immediately, youth from Japan and beyond engaged in the global response; donating time, money and resources to help the cause. It was inspiring to see young people work together to aid in relief efforts in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

As part of the team for NextGen powered by Jolkona, I feel lucky to be part of our efforts to engage more young people in philanthropy. I first started with Jolkona because I wanted to help but didn’t know how. The wide variety of projects along with proof that my pledge made a tangible impact inspired me to do more than just be a donor. It interested me in engaging more of my peers in philanthropy. It doesn’t take a huge financial pledge or large time commitment to make a difference. We’re in a time of giving where people can pool a little to create a significant impact; for example, one $5 donation helps a rural Guatemalan child become computer literate. Together, we can help an entire community become educated. Everybody can turn their small change into big change!

Editor’s Note: Keegan Falk is the social media intern here at Jolkona and the voice behind our Facebook page. You can connect with Keegan here or on Twitter @Keego27.

With graduation coming up, I want to do something to celebrate my time at Seattle University and with Jolkona as an intern. Consider it a final project to stick in my portfolio as I head into the workforce. My last hurrah if you will.

What I’ve done is made my own campaign with Jolkona (anyone can do this using our start your own campaign feature). The project I chose for my campaign is one to help tutor children in Guatemala where over 60 percent of the people do not complete elementary school and the national illiteracy rate is over 70 percent. These people need help.

The name of my campaign is 50 for 50 as I am looking for 50 students locally in Seattle to give to 50 students globally in Guatemala.

For $10 you can help tutor a child for one month.

Your donation will help cover books and supplies, pay for tutors, and help maintain the class and learning areas. You will also receive information about the student you are helping along with a photo as proof of your impact. At Jolkona 100% of your donation goes directly to the project, always.

I am asking for 50 donations to help 50 students.

I ask you to imagine where you would be without an early education. What would you do if you couldn’t read or write? As a student, I love being in the classroom, learning and interacting with my professors. With this campaign, I want to encourage others to share that passion of learning with those who really need it.

I want to show students like me that giving doesn’t require much.

Here at Jolkona one of our key messages is low-cost high-impact. My generation is looking to change the world but we can’t always do that. With classes, internships, homework, jobs and social life, many students don’t have the time or money to be a philanthropist. With micro-charities like Jolkona, it takes as little as $5 to make a considerable change.

My goal for this campaign is to help 50 students in Guatemala by June 12, the day I graduate. Will you help me reach my goal?

You can give here: 50 Students Locally Helping 50 Students Globally.

Jolkona interns Keegan Falk and Kim Kish hard at work changing the world

If you cannot make a donation, please share this with your friends and family via social media or email.

Thank you.