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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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It’s still Diwali for a few more days, so let’s start our November Partner Spotlight series with a nonprofit organization that fights poverty in India: Upaya Social Ventures.

Upaya logo

As one of three organizations in this month’s Give Together campaign for Poverty Alleviation — and also our neighbor in Jolkona’s new downtown Seattle office! — Upaya is creating silk weaving jobs in northern India for skilled workers living in extreme poverty. In his own words, Steve Schwartz, Upaya’s director of strategy and operations, explains why it’s important to support this project:

What’s your mission, and why? What inspires your organization?

Upaya Social Ventures builds businesses that create jobs and improve the quality of life for people living on less than $1.25 a day. We do this because we believe that giving someone a change to earn a stable and dignified living is the best way to ensure that everyone has a chance to permanently break the cycle of extreme poverty.

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

Upaya is working with a Bhagalpur, Bihar-based startup that trains Tasar silk weavers on new skills, techniques, equipment and designs. By contributing to this project, you are supporting Upaya’s ability to provide both the startup capital to launch the business and the management support to create new jobs and remain competitive in the marketplace.

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

Based on the program costs for its current portfolio, we estimate that Upaya spends a mere $250 for each job created — a job that can continually support a family for a lifetime.

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

The real question is “If a job is the key to providing food security, housing stability, and a chance to invest in children’s education to families living in extreme poverty,” the question really becomes “Why shouldn’t Give Together members support the Upaya project this month?”

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

Just one? I’d encourage everyone to check out the Face-to-Face section on our website to hear all about the folks who are having their lives changed by their first stable job.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am not just representing a Give Together project; I’m also a member!

Join Give Together, and check back on the Jolkona Blog for more installments of the Partner Spotlight series this month!

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

During my journalism career, I spent more than six years covering religion, and you would think that being married to an Indian American would have helped whenever Hindu news stories came up. Unfortunately, my husband is clueless about his family’s faith, so my research generally involved a basic Google search, then a quick call to his parents or sheepish Facebook chat with his cousins. Eventually, I grasped the basics — at least, enough to understand that the giant pink swastika wall hanging we received as a wedding gift was truly well-intentioned! (We left it in Pune. Auspicious or not, no way was that thing going on display in our Upper West Side apartment.)Diwali_Diya

Maybe it was a stretch in looking for new angles while covering longstanding belief systems for so many years, but I always got a kick out of finding similarities in unexpected places, such as between Muslims and Mormons. And despite my initial whiplash over the swastika symbol, I still notice common themes between Hinduism and Judaism. Both religions have a plurality of adherents who barely practice the basic rituals, yet still strongly  identify with these traditions on an ethnic-cultural basis. Both have a “festival of lights” around this time of year. And both have a confusing range of calendar start dates and English spelling options for every holiday… not exactly helpful for a journalist!

In any case, the major Hindu holiday of Diwali / Deepavali starts this weekend. (Some say it starts today; some say it starts Nov. 3. Bloggers get to be vague!) And for the first time, we are attempting to host a Diwali party. Our festivities will consist of serving food from an Indian restaurant, lighting candles, playing Bollywood films and soundtracks, and asking guests to make donations to Jolkona’s Upaya project in lieu of bringing us bottles of wine or some other kind of host gift.

Here are some other worthwhile nonprofit projects related to India, if you’d like to make a charitable gift in honor of Diwali this week:

Happy Diwali!

P.S. Forgot to add: this holiday is also observed by Buddhist, Sikhs and Jains! If that’s you, please feel free to share how you celebrate Diwali, either by posting in the Comments section or on our Facebook wall.

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

Calcutta Kids, the second Global Health project partner in this month’s Give Together program, provides medical treatment, fights malnutrition and analyzes data to battle India’s health problems before they become unmanageable. We recently spoke with Calcutta Kids founder Noah Levinson:

What is the inspiration behind your organization?

[The inspiration for Calcutta Kids] came the summer between high school and college when I volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying Destitutes in Kolkata. While deeply moved by Mother Teresa’s sole mission to give love to those who would otherwise die alone, I was unsettled by people dying of curable diseases. I wrestled with the question of whether more needed to be done.

The following summer, I returned to Kolkata and again worked at the Home. A young man, Sudip, was brought to the Home because he was dying of an infection on his head: a rusty nail had penetrated into the skull. I recognized Sudip from a program I had volunteered at the previous year. He was one of the kids still in line to receive treatment when medicines and bandages ran out. The following day Sudip died in my arms because of that untreated head injury. The pain and anguish I felt was excruciating…I then founded Calcutta Kids.

What’s the story behind your project?

To prevent more unnecessary deaths like Sudip’s, we started a mobile health clinic which drove around the streets of Kolkata providing medical treatment to street children. The basic premise behind this project was to prevent street kids from dying at the Home for the Dying Destitutes.  We collected treatment data and analyzed it regularly. Through this data we found out that while children were happy that they could be treated for their illnesses free of cost, they were coming back to the clinic again and again with the same illnesses. Basically the mobile health clinic was a band-aid solution to a larger problem. The larger problem was that most of these kids were malnourished as younger children and had weak immune systems and incomplete brain development. It was clear that if we really wanted to prevent people from ending up at the Home for the Dying Destitutes, we needed to work with children under the age of three. In addition to this, we needed to  help ensure that mothers give birth to healthy children with good birth weights and that malnutrition does not plague them and retard their development.  We therefore decided to start the Maternal and Young Child Health Initiative.

CalcuttaKids1

Let’s say Give Together raises $250 for your project by the end of August. What’s our impact?

The adoption of a pregnant woman/child pair. With that money, Calcutta Kids provides: pregnancy counseling in the home once a month for the pregnant woman by a qualified Community Health Worker, a minimum of three antenatal check ups with our qualified female doctor for the pregnant woman, a minimum of 2 tetanus toxoid inoculations for the pregnant woman, and access to folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin A to the pregnant woman and mother through lactation. In addition to this, the mother would receive daily access to a free clinic for the pregnant women and receive free medicines, access to a delivery savings scheme in which Calcutta Kids matches the patient party’s savings up to half the cost of a normal delivery ensuring that the child’s birth is facility-based, the required immunizations and micronutrients for the child, and monthly check-ups for child to monitor growth. If it is found that the child is not growing normally, the child will be invited to participate in the Calcutta Kids sponsored daily feeding program. The mother will also be provided with counseling in the home once a month and access to 24 hour emergency care for child at the local clinic.

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

If you care about pregnant women and young children, evidence-based interventions,  using effective and tested behavioral change communication to ensure lasting positive change, and believe that empowered community health workers can be change agents to improve their communities… then please join the Calcutta Kids family by supporting our work.

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 Calcutta Kids or two other global health projects. Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

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.

 

Imagine a woman working at a marketplace in the US . She needs to use the restroom, so she walks three minutes around the corner, grumbles about the line that has formed, but then uses the toilet and gets back to work.

Now imagine that woman living in the Shivaji Nagar slum in Mumbai. She has held it all day to avoid this moment, but she desperately needs to go. She walks 20 minutes just to reach the nearest women’s restroom to find it filthy, stained, and disgustingly odorous. After she finishes, the male attendant asks her to pay. “But I only urinated,” she protests. “How should I know?” he replies, still barring her exit. She hands over four rupees, about 1/6th of her daily earnings, and then is allowed to leave.

The above scenario happens daily for thousands of women in India as highlighted by these two New York Times articles. The lack of access to improved sanitation is a huge problem in India. In New Delhi alone, the national capital, there are 1,534 men’s toilets to just 132 for women. The situation is so dire that often women purposefully don’t drink water just so that they will not have to use the restroom, leading to further health problems than poor sanitation. Worldwide, around 2.6 billion people (36% of the world’s population) do not have access to improved sanitation facilities, and access is not increasing at the rate it needs to in order to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline of 23% in 2015.

While this data seems grim, in reality this lack of progress can be attributed to aid not going to the right places.

  • Drinking water and Sanitation often get lumped together into one aid category, but aid is often allotted to the first and not the second. By 2015, access to drinkable water will have far surpassed the MDG target.
  • Furthermore, as reported by the 2012 GLAAS Report, “only half of development aid for sanitation and drinking-water is targeted to the MDG regions of sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South-eastern Asia where 70% of the global unserved live.”
  • Lastly, most of this aid is directed to urban areas, but urban residents represent less than 1/3 of people lacking improved sanitation.

While building toilets might be less attractive than building wells, improved sanitation has an enormous benefit to the people who have access to it. It reduces disease, child mortality, and helps practically all the MDGs. It increases dignity within a community, can help raise education, end the poverty cycle, and even increase GDP.

For example: Improved Sanitation addresses the Gender Equality MDG in many ways. More toilets increases women’s mobility, dignity, and ability to work, and lessens incidences of assault or rape. In addition, the 2012 GLAAS Report that showed that improved sanitation in schools lead to better attendance. For example, if schools worked to improve menstrual hygiene they could encourage girls who often miss class when menstruating to attend. This in turn helps close the education gap.

What is Jolkona doing about it?

We’re running the Give Health matching campaign, and Jolkona has three projects (Project 67, Project 76, and Project 95) that address the sanitation situation. Two of them build sustainable latrines in rural Southern Asia, and the other builds either temporary or permanent latrines in Haiti. If you support one of these projects, you will receive a photo of the latrine you provided, and information about the family you are supporting. Donate this month and make double the impact!

Keep up with us and the Give Health Campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also check out the #S4SC Event!

Charts from: WHO and UNICEF (2010) Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water; 2010 update. Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. [http://www.unicef.org/media/files/JMP-2010Final.pdf]

 

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Report on Girls’ Education in India

Note from the Editor: this report is written by Daljit Singh, Jolkona Office Manager intern, a graduate in political science from the University of Washington.

photo credit: Flickr, Simon Tucker Photographs

Education is a basic human right that should be exercised fully in all nations, but for many girls in India, attending school is not an option. A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack girls’ education, witch hunting, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.

A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that three out five girls receives primary education versus three out four boys. There should not be differences in the numbers of such a basic, universal human right. The law of the land makes it clear that both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six through fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). Girls are not receiving equal access to primary education in rural India and therefore are not achieving equality.

In this report, I want to focus on rural India and will examine the main reasons why girls have been kept away from receiving a complete primary education.

Limited access to laws and rights

The laws governing education in India are remarkably similar to the laws of western nations.  These laws are accessible to the citizens of India, but many of the citizens are unsure of how to properly live them out and where to go with complaints. Complaints usually fall on deaf ears and the citizen is told that there is equal access but that they are not fully utilizing it. It is a catch-22 situation.

In addition to national laws, there are also international laws that also govern these states. These laws, however, are harder to access for the average citizen. The citizens are only able to access these laws through local NGOs. However, the NGOs are not usually located in rural India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a clear article outlining that the access to education is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). These declarations should give more power to the government to provide access to education to all children.

Education is the crux

The impact of education on girls is extraordinary. Education sustains human values. It forms the foundation for learning and critical thinking. Education also provides skills for girls to become more self-reliant and provides them with more opportunities. Thinking into the future, education also provides them with the knowledge to manage health problems. A girl understanding her own body can make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an illegal abortion. Having the knowledge beforehand is crucial to saving and protecting lives.

Education does impact human development, as mentioned, along with economic development but the greatest impact is on democracy. Education is the only way a girl can be an informed citizen, leading the way for her to having her voice heard in society.  Education also provides a better overall quality of life. Research has shown the life expectancy rises by as two years for every one percent increase literacy (U.S. Census Bureau 1998). When women have a voice there can be changes made to existing laws changing the future for young girls.

photo credit: Flickr, karathepirate

4 reasons why girls are pulled out of school

The first reason why girls are pulled out of school is because of family responsibilities. Girls provide free labor at home for the family. Home is also where they learn to be a better housewife. Many girls are kept at home because it is a better payoff than going to school. Having the girl attend school is not valuable to the whole family. This problem is lucidly evident in India, even in urban areas, but more prevalent with poorer families. Girls can be found doing everything from farm work to household chores.

The family plays a central role in a girl’s life and shaping her future. Respect is given to elders in all situations and no decision can be made without consulting an elder. This often leads to the practice of arranged marriages. The decision is entirely up to the family and the girl often does not even see her future husband until the day of the wedding. Compared to American norms, individuals growing up in India are much more dependent on their families, especially parents.

The second reason why girls are kept from receiving a primary education is because they are pulled out early to protect family honor. This also can affect the dowry when the girl is married. The boy’s side of the family can raise the dowry if they suspect she has been in school with boys during puberty. The practice of dowry is illegal, but laws are not always implemented. If the dowry cannot be paid, the bride runs the risk of being ruined, or worse, being killed. Honor killings are prevalent among the poor.

The third reason for inequality during primary education is because girls can’t attend school due to inadequate facilities. Schools are unable to provide safe and sanitary facilities for young girls to attend, and with the population increasing at a rapid speed the priority for new facilities is given to boys. In many cases, though, this is exacerbated by basic infrastructural problems: roads, running water, and electricity are often scarce.

The fourth reason girls are kept from school is because of the shortage of female teachers. The problem can be solved, but it starts with first educating girls so they can aspire to be teachers. The government, however, does not see this as a problem and continues to deny that there is gender inequality within the education sector. There have been efforts, as listed earlier, by the government to enroll more girls but this has not been for the nation of India, but rather for international recognition and numbers.

The Solution

All of these contribute to the issue of unequal access to education for girls along with many more issues. These four issues have many underlying issues that contribute to the overall problem. And to solve this issue we can look to three conclusions: NGOs and nonprofits, and the government’s response.

First, NGOs and nonprofits can offer the most helpful solution to this problem because of grassroots movements across rural India. Many of the past efforts have come from reviewing previous reports. NGOs and nonprofits work at a local scale where a difference can made, whereas the government has worked on a larger scale with less success.

Second, the government’s response can help the whole process of providing primary schools for girls. The Indian government has recognized the problem has been slow to act on the issue. As mentioned earlier, education is not a priority for the government right now; rather the government is focused on the economy. Without girls being involved in the future economy, the government is taking a risk and putting the issue off for another generation.

Be a part of the solution. Jolkona is focused on providing mentorship and training to young social entrepreneurs who seek to create solutions that address things like education and women empowerment through a social accelerator program called Jolkona Catalyst. Join us in supporting the next generation of leaders by volunteering or by making a donation to the Jolkona Catalyst program.

Your gift will allow Jolkona to expand the Catalyst program to other parts of the world. This program has had a significant impact on the young leaders we have already invited. You can help us achieve our mission of accelerating positive social change by empowering even more young social entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s turn small acts into big impacts!

 

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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

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

 

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

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

Preserving our Delicate Ecosystems

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

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

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

World Rainforest Week

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

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

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

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

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.

Hello from India! These past few weeks have flown by and I am finally beginning to feel somewhat settled here in the bustling, ever-vibrant city of Hyderabad. My first official duty included site visits out to five of the six schools that the Rural Development Foundation (RDF) operates. This was my first ever in-depth taste of rural India, and I was excited to get a sense of the lifestyles of these students, especially the impact an RDF education is making on their lives. The multi-school tour began with Kalleda, the flagship school established in 1996; which, having been established first, has received the most funding, resources, and attention of all the schools.

Kalleda Morning Assembly

Kalleda Morning Assembly

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Somehow, the lyrics to the old Peaches and Herb classic ‘Reunited’ are on repeat in my head as I finish clean-up from my goodbye party here in Seattle. I’ve been home for about two months from my latest bout of career adventures in Toronto, Canada and although it’s been nice to unwind and reunite with family and old friends, I’ve found myself eagerly anticipating a whole different kind of reunion.

On July 30th, 2010 I will reunite with India – my country of birth but also a country that has become foreign to me after having gone over a decade without a visit. The anticipation of such a reunion fills me with many overwhelming emotions – excitement, fear, joy, nervousness, and at the best of times, an insatiable need to dance crazily to my favorite Bollywood hits. My mind is abuzz with incessant questions – Will I be accepted? Will I feel Indian? Will I be able to handle living there? But somehow in the background hums a current of calm knowingness that this is the homecoming I’ve been yearning for.

What adds to this sense of calm is my observations of friends and other second generation Indians who, despite having been raised abroad, have slipped comfortably and successfully into study and work positions in India. Their tales consistently include exciting adventures, travels, and, above all, a recognition of parts of themselves within the culture there. Confidence boosted, I too, set forth on a journey of self-discovery. 

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Health is a pivotal step towards the economic development and sustainability of communities. For children in many villages in India, health care, particularly preventative care, is almost unheard of and limited to either poorly staffed government health centers or private clinics, usually run by con artists or unqualified apprentices. While there are many ways to prevent and treat malaria, the developing world often has limited access to these technologies. Without bringing these solutions to the people in rural tropical climates, scientific progress completes only half the battle.

Malaria cuts economic growth rates in countries with high prevalence rates and countries ravaged by malaria suffer from a compromised, unhealthy workforce. An increase in malaria prevalence is statistically correlated with a decrease in literacy and school attendance, which limits the potential of each new generation. This health crisis threatens long-run prosperity at the individual, family, community, and national levels.

Bed nets, specifically Long-Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets (LLINs), are one of the most effective daily deterrents to mosquitoes. A LLIN is a ready-to-use insecticide treated mosquito net created in response to low re-treatment rates of traditional insecticide-treated nets.  These nets require no additional insecticide treatment and remain effective for years, even after multiple washes. They are recommended by the World Health Organization and are the preferred choice of mosquito nets for many groups, including UNICEF. A treated bed net can reduce the overall number of mosquitoes that enter the home and can reduce transmission as much as 90% in areas with high coverage rates. LLINs are rarely used in rural areas because of their cost, limited availability, and a lack of knowledge of their importance and existence.

Thus, there are two interrelated problems: lack of knowledge and lack of access. This project aims to address both these problems.

The Barakat Initiative Against Malaria will distribute LLINs to students enrolled in the Barakat schools in Uttar Pradesh, India. Nets will be distributed prior to the next monsoon season, when the mosquito count peaks. Prior to receiving their nets, students and their parents will attend classes on malaria transmission, community prevention, proper use and care of bed nets, identification of early symptoms, and the importance of preventative medicine. Learning about malaria is a key step in order to ensure that the nets are used diligently, and that steps are taken in the community to reduce overall mosquito breeding levels. For example, currently, basic, effective knowledge such as reducing stagnant water and covering water tanks to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds is unheard of in this area.

The Barakat Initiative Against Malaria is now able to purchase LLINs to be shipped to India at a subsidized rate of approximately $5.00 a net. For less than the price of lunch, one can tangibly improve the health of one student. No gift is too small, as just $5 can save a life.

GET INVOLVED!