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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Everyone knows that educating girls improves their career opportunities. But did you also know that educating girls reduces child mortality and kickstarts developing countries?

The Global Education Fund reports that each year that a girl spends in secondary school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent. An educated girl invests 90 percent of her income in her family and community. When a mother has received a basic education, her children are 40 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. When looking at the 50 million girls that currently live in poverty, just imagine the impact that educating these girls could have on the world!

Through Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month, you can support education projects in Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal. For these three countries, which have some of the lowest GDPs and literacy rates, improving education for girls is absolutely essential.

education_square medium

Improve Female Literacy in Afghanistan

Only 11 to 13 percent of girls and women in Afghanistan are literate, due the distances to travel to schools, caring for infants, and the social and cultural taboos related to attending co-ed schools, having contact with male teachers, and female education in general. But educating and empowering Afghanistan’s women is essential to lifting the country out of decades of war.

Barakat, Jolkona’s nonprofit partner on the ground, has an innovative curriculum that enables girls and women to become literate in a safe environment: all-female classes and teachers, community spaces, no restrictions on age or bringing babies to class. Barakat already engages 3,000 girls and women with their literacy programs. A Give to Girls gift of $60 will provide a Lower Level Literacy Education for one girl. 

Educate Girls in Liberia

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s school-aged children are not in school, including the most vulnerable girls in the country: orphans, homeless children, sex workers, and children of single parents. Jolkona’s nonprofit partner More Than Me believes that these low rates of education are directly related to the low life expectancy and other health problems Liberians face.

MTM’s program provides vulnerable girls in Liberia the opportunity to go to school, while also learning about nutrition, disease prevention and vaccination — giving them the tools they need to lead fuller, healthier lives. A donation of just $25 will provide two girls with school supplies, and $100 will provide a whole semester of education.

Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls

Struggling with extreme poverty, many families in Western Nepal take their daughters out of school and sell them into bonded service, known as Kamlari. The Nepal Youth Foundation works to rescue these girls by returning them to their family, helping the family develop another source of income, and prevent future trafficking through education.

NYF has rescued and educated more than 10,000 girls since its inception in 1990, and with your help, they can help even more. A gift of $100 will rescue one Nepali girl. Even just $5 can make a huge difference. 

Here at Jolkona, we are excited to support women’s education this month, since so many other causes hinge on the education and professional success of girls. Join us, and Give to Girls today.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 9.24.58 AMToday is International Day of the Rural Woman, a United Nations observance of the crucial role women play in the economic development and eradication of poverty in agricultural and remote parts of the world. In developing countries, women farmers produce much of the food for their communities, while caring for the young, elderly and sick, along with their own multiple pregnancies and childbirths. With all these responsibilities and their geographic isolation, these women have little opportunity for educational and professional advancement.

With your help, however, more rural women can be empowered to reduce severe poverty and increase food security in their communities. Jolkona has $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for projects related to women and girls this month. Some of this will double the October donations from our Give Together members; the rest can be used to amplify gift to our Give Direct projects related to women. Starting at just $5, you can contribute to our nonprofit partners working to provide agricultural training, environmental sustainability and maternal health for women in rural communities.

Two ways to support rural women through Jolkona today:

Train Women in Bio-Intensive Farming in Kenya

Women in Kenya do 80% of the farm work, but only receive 5% of the input, and own 1% of the land. The Feed Villages program from Common Ground/Village Volunteers educates rural communities in Kenya in bio-intensive farming techniques and sustainability strategies.

For every $64 raised, the program can train two Kenyan women in bio-intensive farming techniques, such as seed saving, which improves agricultural output, increases bio-diversity, and tree coverage. With this training, women farmers can improve their harvest and invest their profits in their communities.

Provide Healthcare for Nepalese Women

himalayan healthcare

When rural women don’t have access to effective healthcare, they often sacrifice their education and work because of unplanned pregnancies, and their children are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and preventable disease. Himalayan Healthcare provides healthcare to Nepalese women from contraception to postpartum care.

A donation of just $25 can fund a month of contraception or a prenatal exam for one woman, ensuring that she can remain healthy and help her community thrive.

By making a contribution through Jolkona’s Give Direct or Give Together programs, you can empower specific women around the world today. In return, she will help eradicate poverty in her family and community — and drop by drop, our collective impact can make an ocean of change!

Find out more about Day of the Rural Woman through the U.N. Women Commission, and spread the word with #ruralwomen on Twitter.

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

With the Give2Girls campaign launched, and in the midst of Women’s History Month, it is more relevant than ever to explore the ways that we can empower women across the world. There are so many challenges that women in developing countries face, however, understanding which solution has the most significant impact for these women can, in itself, be a challenge. Can a single factor increase literacy, reduce extreme poverty, and reduce gender inequality? Yes, and the answer is higher education.

Having graduated from university rather recently, higher education is still very much on my mind, and all the highs and lows it brings with it. Did I spend a lot of time worrying about increasing tuition, getting the best grades I could, and other standard concerns? Of course I did. But now that I have been released, do I feel empowered, like I have all the tools I need to be successful? Once again, of course. Was I extremely fortunate to have these opportunities in the first place? Absolutely. However, many young women do not have the same access to higher education as I did. Of course with enough help, that can be changed. Projects, such as the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, which works in Nepal, can begin to alleviate some of the severe global inequality of higher education. 

What is the problem?

In Nepal, where the cost of a higher education institution or technical school is around $500 for a year of schooling, the cost is still prohibitive. Many – mostly women – cannot afford it, even when it would drastically improve their ability to participate in the workforce. In addition to the cost, many women experience difficulty obtaining a higher education due to cultural restrictions, and because they lack a basic education in the first place. In a country where many women marry before the age of fifteen, and have a significantly lower literacy rate than men, the opportunity to gain a higher education is certainly a rare opportunity. Unfortunately, many women who are hungry for the chance to further explore their education are unable to do so.

How can we change this?

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is aiming to turn around the trend of undereducated and under-empowered women in Nepal by funding higher education. The project helps women access basic amenities such as transportation, Internet, books, room and board, and tuition.
Why is this project so important?

  • Providing for a higher education for women in Nepal not only aids with greater opportunities, but also alleviates extreme hunger and poverty. 
  • Better educated women have marry later, and have fewer children
  • With the training to access jobs in higher paying fields, women will significantly increase their earning power, and will be able to reinvest their added incomes for their families. 
  • Giving women the same access to higher education would help to alleviate gender inequality. 
  • Women would be better able to access high-paying jobs in male-dominated fields, such as engineering.

Through a donation of as little as $25, which would be doubled up to $250 through the Give2Girls campaign, a young woman in Nepal can have more opportunities than ever to have a career, gain a better quality of life for her and her family, and become empowered.
Give today.

You can also be a part of this movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. Pumpkin carvings, haunted houses and zany costumes. October 31st traditions are commonplace among U.S. households to bring fun, laughter – and inevitable sugar highs – to children. The first Halloween I remember involved cladding my young self in armor, a young but valiant knight. Another year around kindergarten age I danced in and out of the shadows as a trick-or-treating ninja. The vibrancy of kids’ imaginations, not to mention the overwhelming allure of free candy, turns an ordinary day into a happy, costumed spectacle.

UNICEF’s Inspiring October Month

Children deserve the stable health and peace of mind necessary to fully engage in cultural community traditions like Halloween. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a riveting campaign created to assure such an accomplishment for our youth. UNICEF concentrates on developmental work and human rights for children and women all over the globe. If most adults are still just kids at heart, then helping children out in the world right now should be a no-brainer. The Trick-or-Treat campaign has already accumulated tens of millions of dollars for causes which champion the education and success of kids.

We admire the widespread efforts of UNICEF in its autumn campaign. Similarly, Jolkona would like to emphasize a few of its child-minded partners who continue to make life less scary for their communities of focus. Take a look below at engaging non-profits in the fields of healthcare, education and nutrition.

Children are the Future


Supply Medicine to Children in Sierra Leone: All As One is a non-profit medical clinic that combines professional nurses, doctors and resources under one roof for ailing children in Sierra Leone. Lack of access to proper healthcare services greatly contributes to the country’s high child mortality rate. Improve their quality of life in a substantive way today.

Sponsor a Child in Bangladesh: Underprivileged is an understatement for many Bangladeshi youth; Distressed Children & Infants International works tirelessly to secure children equality and education. School supplies, adequate medical treatment, clean clothes – these are essential factors during childhood and adolescent development. Partner with DCI by sponsoring a child’s future well-being.

Rescue Nepali Children from Severe Malnutrition: Poor nutrition, as well as a scarcity of food in general, significantly contributes to Nepal’s struggling population of kids and mothers. The Nepal Youth Foundation operates Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes where they can come to live, learn, and grow healthy and strong. Mothers learn how to prepare nutritious meals with local, affordable staples; children are periodically checked up on after returning home.

Halloween’s festive day is filled with otherworldly ghouls, goblins, witches and werewolves – but consider joining Jolkona in its aspirations for regular, extraordinary people. Children are in need of healthful treatment and care everywhere.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest and keep up to date with all we are doing and the impact you are making.

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

This guest post contributed by Robert Rose, Executive Director of one of our partner organizations – TRIFC.

Last year on my yearly project/programs visit to Nepal we had an unusual experience with a group of Nepali Rotarian friends.

We all got together in the early evening at a new restaurant that at that point in time was going to open in several weeks named ‘Chop-Sticks’. We were going to get a ‘sneak-preview’ to try out the location, ambience and snacks.  The restaurant had a trendy look with interesting and colorful lighting/décor.  We all sat down and were about to be served some ‘finger-food’ and tea/coffee.  Just before the food arrived, our TRIFC.org board member, Rabendra announced, “I have an interesting idea that I’d like to see if you are all game for…why don’t we turn off the room lights, close our eyes and experience just a bit of what it’s like to be without sight?  When the food and drinks arrive, keep your eyes closed and try to navigate the different dishes and choices onto your plate and into your mouth!”

We had about twenty Rotarian friends surrounding the coffee tables in the comfortable lounge chairs and they all agreed to give it a try.  The restaurant staff were a bit confused by the whole thing, but they agreed to turn every light off except a cell phone light which they used to bring the food in and set it down in the right place. 

It was quite illuminating being without sight and trying to locate where food had been placed and then trying to place it on your plate! I slowly passed my hand over the table, like a magician casting a spell.  The first thing I noticed was the warmth that radiated from the heated food.  You could figure out where to drop your hand, crane-like over the plate where you could feel the heat.  My first ‘catch’ was some French-fries which I scooped up and placed on the plate I managed to get under the food.  I decided not to press my luck and try to put some ketchup on the plate, however!

The others were experiencing similar thoughts and feelings.  Without the sense of sight your other senses pick up different information and feed it to the brain to fill in the gaps.  Eating became a much more tactile experience with shape, texture, temperature and size telling us the story of the food item we currently held in our hands.  Other food items were quietly placed on the table by the waiters, whose presence could only be perceived by the sound of their footsteps and gentle placement of the plates on the table.  I managed to find a different food item which I found to be shaped like a French-fry in length, but more textured on the outside.  This I found to be a breaded chicken-strip, which I proceeded to consume and then reached out to find more! 

What I ate tasted different…more vibrant and vivid.  The taste sensations in my mouth were working overtime to help overcome the absence of sight.  Then Rabendra suggested, “Now let us just sit quietly for one or two minutes and focus on what we are eating, hearing and feeling.  Let us experience and appreciate this moment by living ‘in the moment’.”  This was a magical minute or two, as we sat together in the darkness with our eyes closed, living ‘in the moment’, with me from half-way around the world sharing such moving experiences with my Nepali Rotarian friends. 

Of course, this was but a ‘taste’ of living without sight (no pun intended!) but it was definitely an educational and enriching experience.  I would encourage all of you reading this post to give it a try at home with your family.  It was truly illuminating, bringing the light of understanding out of darkness.

TRIFC.org is about awareness, empowerment and tangible programs to help the ‘differently-abled’ in Nepal.  Our “Backpacks for the Blind/Visually-Impaired” program currently listed on Jolkona.org is a high-impact program that can help blind children in Nepal have a better chance to succeed in school.  Please check it out!

GET INVOLVED!