• Hilton and the West Africa Water Initiative

    I can't remember how I discovered the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, but I suspect it was in one of the hotels owned by the Hilton Corporation. Conrad Hilton, born in 1887, was the founder of the chain that bears his name. After he became successful and well-know, he capitalized on his fame by promoting a "post-World War II philosophy of reconciliation and nonviolence." His will directed that his wealth be "eternally reinvested to alleviate human suffering throughout the world."

    You can visit the foundation's site to learn about all the programs it supports, including the annual Humanitarian Prize and Symposia. What captured my attention are the foundation's Safe Water Development programs:

    Mr. Hilton was a wealthy man, but you don't have to be wealthy to make a difference. A small contribution can help bring clean drinking water to the 1 in 6 people who can't now access it.

    Help the cause: Donate to Blue Planet Run Foundation.

  • Who is WHO?

    The World Health Organization, part of the United Nations, sets standards for global health. (See their Millennium Development Goals.) WHO provides leadership, direction, and training for worldwide health projects and monitor projects to make sure they meet minimum standards.

    Their website is filled with facts and statistics about just about every worldwide health issue imaginable, from tobacco to influenza to cholera.

    A pretty awesome organization. Check it out.

  • Appropedia: Wikipedia with a Social Conscience

    How many times have you had an argument with someone and turned to Wikipedia to find out which one of you actually had the facts correct? After 8 years of operation, the depth of information is staggering—13 million articles and over 75,000 contributors.

    Appropedia, like Wikipedia, lets anyone contribute or edit articles. Its goal is narrowly focused on collaborating to find solutions that can reduce poverty, increase sustainable living, and help people in developing countries. If you have ideas that you can contribute, consider submitting an article. If you are passionate about these topics and are a great editor, consider editing one of the many articles that are sitting in editorial limbo.

    The photo from Appropedia shows a set up that gets ethanol from organic sugar beets. The article it accompanies is an example of one of the 16,000 articles you can find in Appropedia.

    There are articles on diabetes, flooding, clean water, microfinance, innovative housing designs, sanitation, stadium light solar cookers, and more. Check it out!

    Read the Appropedia Misson & Vision statement.

  • Tshepang Means Have Hope

    A few months ago I met an incredible woman whose story I'd like to share with you.

    Imagine being between the ages of 12 and 18. (Maybe you already are, so that part's easy!) Now imagine you are also the oldest member of your household. That's right, living in a home with no parents AND responsible for your younger brothers and sisters. Sounds unimaginable. 

    But wait. There's more. Your home is a shack. You don't have a toilet or running water. No water, no electricity—You don't have a washing machine. You struggle to go to school but the chores to take care of your sisters and brothers make it difficult to do your homework. That and the dim candle light. This might even be your home in Roddepoort. (Photo courtegy of the Tshepang program.)

    That's the way it is for many children in South Africa in the Roodepoort slums. (Roodepoort is a city in South Africa.)

    The situation seems hopeless, doesn't it?

    In March 2005, in another part of town—a richer one with proper houses—Susan Rammekwa was unhappy with her job. She was a social worker and tired of a job that kept her in the office. She wanted to do more to reach people in need. So she quit her job.

    Susan ventured into the slums of Roodepoort to help its children. She set up a place that had water and electricity. She cashed in her pension to buy food for the children. She used her last pay cheque to get a stove. By the end of the first year, more than 80 children were going to Susan's program for a meal, to wash up, and to do their homework. She also taught the children life skills and encouraged them to play games and tell stories.

    She named the program Tshepang. That means "Have Hope." Here she is with her children.

  • The Most Dynamisante Woman

    Susan Rammekwa's work got noticed when she won the "Most Dynamisante Woman Award 2006", a South African award sponsored by Clarin. Dynamisante is French for "instigating." Indeed Ms. Rammekwa is someone who "brings about and initiates" change. The award came with a chunk of money that she used to expand the Tshepang program. T

    Ms. Rammekwa has seen changes in the children since the program began:

    "They used to fight a lot and were usually so dirty. Now they are so much more confident and play nicely together and are so good with their chores. I think all kids are like that, they just need someone to bring out their skills and build up their self-esteem."

    Tshepang hit a snag in 2008.

    The land Susan Rammekwa was using for the program got sold to a developer. The SEEtrust stepped in and helped Susan get new property. With more than 110 children in the program, the move provided an opportunity to expand.

    "Moving into our new property would help us have support groups for such families on a continuous basis. We would also be available whenever they need some material assistance even on weekends. Also we would help the children, by washing their clothes as support for the mother and older sibling. They would also be bathed at least twice a week at our house. Sometimes children go for many days without a bath."

    Susan wants to find a way to empower the children to become self sufficient. She says that is the only way any of them have hopes of breaking out of poverty. When I spoke with her a few months ago, she envisioned a business that the children could help with. Something that would teach them a skill and provide an income to the program. Her website mentions a bakery. When I spoke with her, she had just received a donation of sewing machines. Her Mom had agreed to teach sewing to the children. his is Susan Rammekwa, her Mother, and Tshepang staff.

    What is the Tshepang Program Like for Children? Find out by reading about Bungani, Aretha, and the Molokwane family

  • 10,000 Girls

    Four percent of the girls in Kaolack, Senegal are enrolled in high school. Fewer are certain to graduate. Dr. Viola Vaughn wants to change all that with her organization, 10,000 Girls.

    Its mission is: "To offer education and employment opportunities for 10,000 Girls in rural Senegal, enabling them to develop as self-reliant and capable women, through a self-sustaining organization run by the girls themselves."

    Dr. Vaughn did not start out with this mission. She simply moved from the USA to Senegal with her family—her husband and her 5 grandchildren. She was homeschooling her grandchildren when a girl in the community asked Viola for help to finish third grade. That small start sowed the seed for the big goal.

    Find out more about Viola Vaughn and her amazing program by watching 10,000 Girls. You can view it online. Created by Adams Sie, it's one of the entrants in the My Hero Short Film Festival.

  • Have a hero? Got a video camera?

    Students from elementary school through college, get out your video cams! (Adults and pros can enter too.) Create a 10 minute or less DV of someone you admire. Enter it into the My Hero Short Film Festival. Make sure you first read the rules, guidelines, and information. Deadline: September 1, 2009.

    Check out some of my favorites from last year's festival:

    • Don't Give it All Away, a music video by Slater Jewell-Kemker. It was shown at the Environmental Youth G8 Summit in Japan. 1st Place, Music Video category. This film will motivate you to do something to save the planet!
    • PeaceMakers, a film by three elementary school students. 2nd Place, Elementary School category. Find out how to get along with other people!
    • Signs of Peace, produced by a Taft High School student. Honorable Mention, High School category. Learn clever ways to make peace signs!
  • Students Demand Garbage

    This story is from the United Nations Environment Programme.

    Early this year, a class of some 45 students in a suburban school in Pune, India, went home to their parents with one demand: Garbage. It was to be collected for a week, segregated meticulously and then carted off to school.

    Today, the school has a miniature worm composting (vermiculture) pit, a lush row of plants fed on what it churns out, scores of happy parents whose kitchen waste is regularly put to good use, and a clutch of students who stride about officiously after class hours to check if anybody has left behind any litter.

    The students' sense of environmental responsibility rubbed off at breakneck speed on their peers. They are part of the CLEAN-India campaign, a massive nationwide attempt to monitor and measure environmental degradation - and then spread the word that there's much to be done. The project is being implemented in 35 schools in and around India's capital plus others in 34 cities all over the country.

    The students also began scouring Pune's busiest highways, water bodies, public taps and civic water pipelines armed with monitoring kits, testing 14 parameters for water quality and marking off levels of physical, biological and chemical components.  Similar air-testing kits were used to monitor suspended particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The results from both monitoring exercises go to Development Alternatives' TARA laboratory on the outskirts of New Delhi, a modern research unit, packed with sophisticated equipment.

    The findings are always worrying. Water samples from household taps, groundwater sources, handpumps and even slum areas contained ammonia, bacterial contamination - coliform and nitrate values well above permissible norms.

    The students interact with decision makers and are catalysts for change. They will not rest until their voices are heard and remedial action is taken. From schools to communities, townships, districts, states and regions, a network of like-minded groups is created, fostering cooperation and community action.

    Find more inspiring stories like this, visit Youth Action Around the World. The photo is courtesy of The Official Blog of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

  • Got Junk? Got Talent? Enter the Eco Arts & Crafts Contest

    "Creativity, the Cornerstone to Improving the Environment"

    This quote from artist Nancy Martini, artist reflects her practice of trash into amazing art. Follow her lead and you might win the Eco Arts & Crafts Contest.

    Individuals, students, a class, an entire school, a family environment group. It doesn't matter any one or any group can enter. Just follow these rules:

    1. You must use discarded material or stuff that people think is discardable material in your art or craft project. The discarded stuff has to make up most of what you create.

    2. You have to get a password from the Green Education Network site so that you can submit a photo or web page URL or youtube URL of your proejct.

    There are one or two more rules, so be sure to visit Green Education Network site.

    Nancy Martini developed some amazing techniques to turn what you see on the table into that wonderful artwork of a woman. She calls this piece "Be Thankful." It's part of her collection "Lessons from the Dinner Table." You can see how she creates art by watching the YouTube video posted on her website.

    Get inspired! Recylce your trash into art! Take a look at the raw material Nancy Martini gathered.

    Be inspired by the art she created. 

  • A Gimmer of Hope for Ethiopia

    A Glimmer of Hope helps Ethiopians to leave poverty behind. I want to share an impressive story of one of their donors—Bob Gausman. He shows how individuals—like you— can make a big difference in the world. Bob Gausman at the inauguration of the school he funded. (Photo courtesy of A Glimmer of Hope Foundataion.)

    From A Glimmer of Hope . . .

    Nearly 40 years ago, a fresh-out-of-college Bob Gausman decided he wasn't ready for a "real job" so he joined the Peace Corp. He was sent to Ethiopia, a country he had barely heard of and knew even less about. Bob proceeded to spend two years in a rural village forming weavers' into cooperatives which were designed to help them operate more efficiently.

    It was the start of what would become a lifelong passion for the country and its people and a crash course on the enormous challenges they face.

    In 2007, after a 30 year career in real estate appraisal, Bob happened to hear about another former Peace Corp volunteer who had gone back to Ethiopia and built a school. He knew right away that this was something he had to do as well."

    "There are five million eligible Ethiopian children who are going without education," Bob said."And many of those that do have access have to walk four or five miles a day."

    Bob knew that his life's savings would probably be enough to fund the construction of a school in a highly marginalized community so he began searching for a foundation to help him.

    "Fortunately, I stumbled across A Glimmer of Hope online and saw that they had already built hundreds of schools throughout Ethiopia. They were exactly what I was looking for," he said.

    Read the rest of his story . . .

  • Kickstart: The Tools to End Poverty

    KickStart designs and develops tools and technologies for small businesses. Their goal is to help individuals in developing countries start business that can improve their standard of living. One KickStart technology is a manually operated oilseed press. The press extracts oil from sesame and sunflower seeds. Besides selling the oil, the business owner can sell the pressed seed as a high-protein animal feed supplement.

    Jane Mathendu greatly increased her wages by buying a KickStart press and renting a shop in the town of Chuka, in Kenya.More people wanted to buy oil from her than she had seeds, so she started contracting local farmers to grow seeds. Read her entire story: JAMALI Cooking Oil. (Photo courtesy of KickStart.)

    Donate to KickStart: The Tools to End Poverty.

  • Health Care for Rural Ecuador: Dr. David Gaus

    We in the USA have be debating for decades whether to provide affordable health care to everyone. Really, it has been decades. Lots of talk, no action, and our poorest citizens are still without health care.

    During this time, David Gaus visited Quito, Ecuador and had a life changing experience that caused him to go to Tulane Meidal School . He returned to Ecuador after becoming a physician to dedicate his life to getting healthcare for the poor and rural people of Ecuador.

    Dr. Gaus started Andean Health with a goal of creating a self-sustaining health care facility.

    "Quality, Sustainable Healthcare for the World's Poor."

    Watch this video to learn where his services are and a little bit about the communities he serves.

    Over the next few weeks I'll feature stories of his patients. Most of them never had any hope of getting healthcare locally. Their stories are touching.

    Find out more about Dr. David Gaus and Andean Health

  • Rural Hospital Saves Lives of Premature Twins

    Rural hospitals are sometimes faced with giving care to patients who should be in a major hospital. That's exactly what happened to the Andean Health and Development hospital in Pedro Vicente Maldonado (PVM) when Fabiola arrived in labor with twins, 5 weeks before her due date.

    There was no time for Fabiola to travel from the country to Quito. The lives of her twin babies were in the hands of the PVM rural hosptial. Fabiola's babies were born without any major issues. Each was only 3 pounds. The rural hospital provided comprehensive neonatal care—antibiotics, intravenous fluids, phototherapy, aggressive feeding, and lots of TLC.

    Are you interested in helping the rural poor in Ecuador? Contact Andean Health and Development or donate to them.

  • What's it like to be a 12 year old in Yemen?

    In the past, I featured posts on what's it like to be a child in a variety of developing countries. I picked stories to tell the plight of children who have to walk miles a day to fetch water for their family. The need to fetch water pales in comparison to the plight of girls in Yemen. I read this story on Current. It was first featured on the Huffington Post.

    "A 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor to give birth, a local human rights organization said Saturday.

    Fawziya Abdullah Youssef died of severe bleeding on Friday while giving birth to a stillborn in the al-Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province, 140 miles (223 kilometers) west of the capital San'a.

    Child marriages are widespread in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, where tribal customs dominate society. More than a quarter of the country's females marry before age 15, according to a recent report by the Social Affairs Ministry.

    Youssef was only 11 when her father married her to a 24-year-old man who works as a farmer in Saudi Arabia, said Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of Siyaj human rights organization, which promotes the rights of children in Yemen."

    Why is this happening? Poverty and illiteracy. What can we do to end these abusive practices?

  • Help Madonna Spend Her Money!

    That's right, you can draw down Madonna's bank roll by donating to Raising Malawi. She'll match every dollar you donate.

    Why Malawi?

    "We choose Malawi because we refuse to turn our backs on those in dire need. In the fourth poorest country in the world, Malawians face an unfortunate combination of disease, drought, poverty and a lack of critical resources. Confronting these extreme problems on a daily basis exacts a great toll. And few bear the brunt greater than the country's women and children—particularly the 2,000,000 orphaned and vulnerable children."

  • "I would rather die making a difference."

    Asha Hagi Elmi Amin is a winner of the Global Citizen Award 2009 presented by the William J. Clinton Foundation. She is co-founder and chair of Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC) and a member of the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Amin has been deeply involved in the struggle for peace and reconciliation in her war-ravaged country and has worked tirelessly to carve out a role for women in economic and public life. Somali women were sidelined from any peace talks until the "Sixth Clan" was formed by Amin and her peers in 2000. Through the historic Sixth Clan, these daring women convinced the five male-dominated clans to accept a new role for women around the negotiating table. This became the first time that women were represented in a peace process in Somalia, and Amin has participated in the talks ever since. Amin was a 2005 Women and Public Policy Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a 2008 winner of the Right Livelihood Award.

    "“I know that one day I will be killed,” Hagi said. “I would rather die making a difference. I’m doing it for my daughters, for a new Somalia.”

  • A Piece on Peace: Eco Artist Creates Inspirational Art

    Nancy Martini creates works of art from recycled materials. You have to look very closely to see them. It may be hard to believe, but it's true. Visit this creative and ecological artist's website to find out how she creates her remarkable pieces. You'll never want to throw out anything again. This is one of her works, Invite Peace to the Table.

  • Humans are a Geological Force

    In their article Life Altering Planetary ExperienceDavid Suzuki and Faisal Moola point out:

    "... (W)e have become a geological force, the most prolific mammal on the planet, endowed with powerful technologies, impelled by an insatiable appetite for stuff, and supplied by a global economy. Taken together, our numbers, technology, consumption, and global economy have made us a new kind of force on the planet. For the first time, we must ask, “What is the collective impact of 6.8 billion human beings?” As we begin to answer that question, we are left with the extreme difficulty of responding to global threats that our own activity has caused."

    "Many people harbour an understandable tendency to deny the reality of the crisis in the biosphere. After all, how can puny humans have such a massive impact on this large planet? Some also maintain a conceit that we can manage our way out of the mess, increasingly with heroic interventions of technology. But we’ve learned from past technologies – nuclear power, DDT, CFCs – that we don’t know enough about how the world works to anticipate and minimize unexpected consequences."

    Find out more. Read the source.

  • The Art of Life: Dan Eldon In Africa

    Dan Eldon was stoned to death when he was only 22 years old. His photos were instrumental in getting the world to send aid to Somalia in the 1990's. The Art of Life is the winner of the My Hero Short Film Festival Eldon award. Watch it to learn more about Dan and see some of his photojournalism. It's guaranteed to inspire you.

    After his death, Dan's friends and family started the Creative Visions Foundation to support activists who "believe in the power of individuals to change our world for the better." (Photo of Dan Eldon from the Creative Visions Foundation.)

  • The Most Important Number on the Planet: 350

    350 parts per million (ppm) is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. But the atmosphere already has 390 ppm and the number increases each year. Glaciers are melting. Mosquitoes are spreading. And more. October 24 is International Day of Climate Action. Don't sit around waiting for politicians and businesses to do something. You can do something. Sign up for an action by going to

  • Girls in Malawi will get a school

    Madonna's charitable organization—Raising Malawi—just broke ground on the construction of the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls in the city of Lilongwe. To mark the start of this energetic project, Madonna planted a Moringa tree.

    From Raising Malawi . . .

    "The Raising Malawi Academy for Girls campus will include a Library and Administration building, Dining Hall, Gymnasium, Wellness Center, Sports Field, 30 Classrooms, 12 Dormitories and 18 Staff Houses on a 46 hectare site. Our design concept for the Academy will utilize cutting edge environmental analysis with appropriate technologies to achieve sustainability goals such as passive ventilation, and natural light. Most construction materials are sourced locally, such as Hydraform bricks, made from soil on site, avoiding the use of burned bricks which have been largely responsible for wide spread deforestation in Malawi."

  • Enough Energy to Melt 7 Million Tons of Glacier!

    Back in the 1960's, having the engergy capacity to melt glaciers was something to brag about. But today, with climate change, no oil company would use melting glaciers in their advertising campaign. This ad appeared in Life magazine in 1962.

    "The giant glacier has remained unmelted for centuries. Yet the petroleum energy Humble supplies -- if converted into heat -- could melt it at the rate of 80 tons each second. To meet the nation's growing energy needs for energy, Humble has applied science to nature's resources to become America's Leading Energy Company. Working wonders with oil through research Humble provides energy in many forms -- to help heat our homes, power our transportation, and to furnish industry with a great variety of versatile chemicals. Stop at a Humble station for new Enco Extra gasoline, and see why the "Happy Motoring" Sign is the World's First Choice!"

    Humble Oil (started in Humble, Texas) eventually became Exxon Mobil. Today it extracts enough oil to melt 914 tons per second.

    Find out more about the glacier in the photos: Mass Balance Measurements of the Taku Glacier.

  • Nothing Says "I Love You" Better Than a Cow

    Are you looking for something special to give that person you are dating or engaged to? Nothing impresses more than a cow. You can donate money to Send A Cow in your loved one's name. In turn, they purchase a cow in Africa and give that cow to a family in need. The family who gets the cow must give something back to their community—the cow's offspring, seeds resulting from increased crop production, or training. Families obtain financial independence while at the same time improve their neighbors' lives.

    Send a Cow says:

    • People expect to receive an average of 7 presents this Christmas
    • At least one present under the tree will be something people don’t need
    • 62% of people would happily give up a present for an ethical gift

    Visit their site today!

  • The Perfect Gift for the Cruisers on Your Christmas List: The Other Face of Haiti

    Do you have friends or relatives on your Christmas gift list who enjoy vacations on cruise ships? The New York Times recently featured a story on a Royal Caribbean cruise that stops at the Labadie Beach Resort in northern Haiti. If you know anyone who is planning on a Caribbean cruise with that or another cruise line, get them a copy of Tracy Kidder's book "Mountains Beyond Mountains." The book follows the life of Dr. Paul Farmer—a great champion of health care for the poor. He also founded Partners In Health. Your cruising friends will have a chance to learn about the side a Haiti that they will never see from the cruise ship.

    You are your gift recipients can help Partners in Health break the cycle of poverty and disease by donating to them.

    More on Partners In Health in Haiti.

    More on HIV in the Caribbean.

  • Peaceful Eating in the New Year

    Ingredients for Peace is a cookbook with recipes from peace advocates around the world including Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Mairead Maguire, President José Ramos-Horta, Rigoberta Menchù Tum, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams and Jody Williams.

    "Ingredients for Peace is dedicated to all who work for peace in the belief that some day, all people will live in a world of peace, justice and equality, where they will be able to share their favorite meals with family and friends everyday - and not just dream about it."

    Proceeds from sales of the book will support the work of the
    Nobel Women's Initiative and the ongoing work to ban landmines and cluster bombs.

  • Japanese Whalers Ram Sea Shepherd Ship Ady Gil

    This article is from the Sea Shepherd website:

    In an unprovoked attack captured on film, the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and caused catastrophic damage to the Sea Shepherd trimaran Ady Gil.

    Six crew crewmembers, four from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from the Netherlands were immediately rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. None of the crew Ady Gil crew were injured.

    The Ady Gil is believed to be sinking and chances of salvage are very grim.

    According to eyewitness Captain Chuck Swift on the Bob Barker, the attack happened while the vessels were dead in the water. The Shonan Maru No. 2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off. According to Captain Swift, the vessel does not look like it will be saved.

    “The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently,” said Captain Paul Watson. “If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken. We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating.”

    Captain Paul Watson onboard the Steve Irwin is racing towards the area at 16 knots but still remains some five hundred miles to the north. The Bob Barker has temporarily stopped the pursuit of the Nisshin Maru to rescue the crew of the Ady Gil. The Japanese ships initially refused to acknowledge the May Day distress of the Ady Gil, but ultimately did acknowledge the call. Despite acknowledging the call, they did not offer to assist the Ady Gil or the Bob Barker in any way.

    The incident took place at 64 Degrees and 03 Minutes South and 143 Degrees and 09 Minutes East.

    Until this morning the Japanese were completely unaware of the existence of the Bob Barker. This newest addition to the Sea Shepherd fleet left Mauritius off the coast of Africa on December 18th and was able to advance along the ice edge from the West as the Japanese were busy worrying about the advance of the Steve Irwin from the North.

    “This is a substantial loss for our organization,” said Captain Watson. “The Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, represents a loss of almost two million dollars. However the loss of a single whale is of more importance to us and we will not lose the Ady Gil in vain. This blow simply strengthens our resolve, it does not weaken our spirit.”

    The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is requesting that the Australian government send a naval vessel to restore the peace in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. We have 77 crew from 16 nations on three vessels, six of them were on the Ady Gil. Of these, 21 are Australian citizens: 16 Australians on the Steve Irwin and five on the Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd believes that the Australian government has a responsibility to protect the lives of Australian citizens working to defend whales from illegal Japanese whaling activities.

    “Australia needs to send a naval vessel down here as soon as possible to protect both the whales and the Australian citizens working to defend these whales,” said Steve Irwin Chief Cook Laura Dakin of Canberra. “This is Australian Antarctic Territorial waters and I see the Japanese whalers doing whatever they want with impunity down here without a single Australian government vessel anywhere to be found. Peter Garrett, I have one question for you: Where the bloody hell are you?

    Visit the Sea Shepherd website to see a complete set of photos that document this sinking. Then donate money to help them with their cause.

  • Update on Haiti from Partners in Health

    Read this update from Partners in Health about the situation in Hait and help in any way that you can.

    Over the past 18 hours, Partners In Health staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH's Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with Zanmi Lasante leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH's coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at Zanmi Lasante's sites.

    We have already begun to implement a two-part strategy to address the immediate need for emergency medical care in Port-au-Prince. First, we are organizing the logistics to get the medical staff and supplies needed for setting up field hospital sites in Port-au-Prince where we can triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities. To do this, we are creating a supply chain through the Dominican Republic. Second, we are ensuring that our facilities in the Central Plateau are ready to serve the flow of patients from Port-au-Prince. Operating and procedure rooms are staffed, supplied, and equipped for surgeries and we have converted a church in Cange into a large triage area. Already our sites in Cange and Hinche are reporting a steady flow of people coming with medical needs from the capital city. In the days that come we will need to make sure our pharmacies and supplies stay stocked and our staff continue to be able to respond.

    Currently, our greatest need is financial support. Haiti is facing a crisis worse than it has seen in years, and it is a country that has faced years of crisis, both natural disaster and otherwise. The country is in need of millions of dollars right now to meet the needs of the communities hardest hit by the earthquake. Our facilities are strategically placed just two hours outside of Port-au-Prince and will inevitably absorb the flow of patients out of the city. In addition, we need cash on-hand to quickly procure emergency medical supplies, basic living necessities, as well as transportation and logistics support for the tens of thousands of people that will be seeking care at mobile field hospitals in the capital city. Any and all support that will help us respond to the immediate needs and continue our mission of strengthening the public health system in Haiti is greatly appreciated. Help us stand up for Haiti now.

    If you are not in a position to make a financial contribution, you can help us raise awareness of the earthquake tragedy. Please alert your friends to the situation and direct them to for updates and ways to help.

  • Relief to Haiti

    Partners in Health has been working in Haiti for many years. Because of that, they've been able to step in and help out with Haiti, being some of the first on the scene. This is the latest update. If you are unfamiliar with PIH, check them out. They are an amazing organization, started by Dr. Paul Farmer. Mountains Beyond Mountains tells the story of Paul Farmer's interest in Haiti and how he came to start Partners in Health. The people of Haiti were in desperate conditions BEFORE the earthquake.

    Ophelia Dhal, the Executive Director of PIH says:

    "Since Tuesday evening, PIH staff has been working around the clock to bring relief to the people of Haiti who are suffering immensely in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake. You have seen the images on the news, read the updates on the web, and responded in a profoundly generous way to our calls for help - we are indebted to you for your quick mobilization and generous contributions.

    Our team, because of our deep roots in Haiti, was able to be among the first to respond with emergency medical services. Since the first days, our staff has stepped up to take on the challenge of serving the most vulnerable in Port-au-Prince and of providing comprehensive care ranging from basic primary care to complicated surgical services at our sites in the Central Plateau and Artibonite Valley. Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer wrote yesterday, "We find that years of investment in building a strong local partner organization mean that we are again in the position of responding effectively to a natural disaster. We are very proud of our team."

    All of this work-our years of investment and our ability to respond is made possible because of people like you who do not become paralyzed in the face of suffering but rather stand up and help serve.

    Yesterday, Dr. Farmer arrived in Port-au-Prince to check in with our team and to meet with Government and UN officials. Since his visit, we have already seen the tide begin to change - this morning, the PIH/Zanmi Lasante team was designated by the World Health Organization to serve as the coordinators of the public hospital, Hopital de l' Universite d'Etat d'Haiti (HUEH), where thousands are suffering in need of medicines and surgeries. In this new role, we will be supporting the administration and staff and recruiting other NGOs to help restore services, particularly triage, nursing, and surgical, at the city's central hospital. Our priority is to increase stock of medicines and supplies, ensure steadily functioning operating rooms, and guarantee sufficient medical staff is available, particularly for nursing care to help with post-op recovery, iv management, and other care that has had to be self managed over the past three days.

    With supply chains in place and flights arriving more consistently in Port-au-Prince since the air traffic control has been reinstated, today has already been a turning point in our ability to respond to the enormity of the devastation and really get the field hospitals and public hospitals up and running. We have two planes of surgeons and surgical supplies arriving within hours, we have fuel on its way to Haiti through the DR, and we are reallocating supplies from our ten sites to where they are needed most on a regular basis.

    It is clear to us all that relief for Haiti must rely on our collective immediate response and our sustained long-term commitment to building back better. Our approach to health care delivery in resource-poor settings-partnering with the public sector, employing locally, and investing for the long-term-is a key part of the solution for Haiti now and in the future. We hope that you will continue to stand with Haiti now and in the months and years to come.

    Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis."

  • The Boys of Terezin Need Your Help

    The Boys of Terezin is a documentary file project that chronicles the lives of a group of young boys (aged 12 to 15) who published a magazine—Vedem (We Lead). What's extraordinary is that they undertook this activity while imprisoned by the Nazis in the Terezin concentration camp during World War II. The boys wrote, edited, and illustrated more than 800 pages worth of content, all in secret.

    Most of the boys were killed by the Nazis. A few survived. One of the boys hid the manuscript. Some of it survives today. After all these years, several of the surviving boys are still alive, and very old.

    Music of Remembrance commissioned John Sharify to produce and direct a documentary about Vedem and the boys interned at Terezin. The film features interviews with the six remaining survivors – now spread across four continents. Mr. Sharify is the winner of several Edward R. Murrow and Emmy Awards. Although the documentary is in progress, it needs much more funding to finish.

    This is your chance to be a filmmaker! Any donation—from small to enormous—is needed. If you are able to give a lot of money, you'll get your name on the film as one of its sponsors. If you give a little money, you'll be able to take pride in the fact that you helped bring this story to light. Music of Remembrance intends to have a premiere of the film in Seattle, to show it on public TV, and to enter the documentary in film festivals.

    John Sharify is a class act; he'll do justice to this story. Music of Remembrance has over a decade of experience of producing musical concerts, CDs, and commissioning new works. MOR's mission is to preserve the musical legacy of Holocaust musicians. MOR has a stellar track record in getting things done.

    For more information, contact Music of Remembrance at (206) 365-7770 or donate online.

    A Poem from Vedem

    We are all children, little ones
    Playing with a colored ball.
    We cry easily with ruddy cheeks
    And then, with glowing faces
    We look at a silvery world,
    At green hillsides,
    At life. We look ahead.
    –Hanus Hachenburg (b. 1929, perished Auschwitz)

  • Engineers Without Borders

    The 12,000 plus members of Engineers Without Borders have worked on more than 300 projects in over 45 developing countries. Their mission is to "help create a more stable and prosperous world by addressing people's basic human needs by providing necessities such as clean water, power, sanitation and education."

    EWB takes on projects that are proposed by a community. It's a grassroots approach that ensures projects are needed by a community and have commitment from community members.

    Engineers Bring Better Health to Rural Communities describes a project they took on recently in Honduras to bring clean water to a rural village. Their website describes many more projects.

    If you are an engineer, you can get involved with their projects. If you are not, you can donate to help fund projects.

  • Stop Japan From Killing Week: Children & Mercury

    Dolphin meat is incredibly high in mercury—toxic levels high. Knowing this, the fishermen shown in The Cove (see yesterday's post) convinced the local school to serve dolphin for the school lunches. The kids have to eat the lunch; they can't bring their own. These fishermen not only don't care about the dolphins but they also don't care about the kids getting dosed with Mercury. They do care about making money. (Photo courtesy of The Cove.)

    You'd think the fishermen would have learned about the dangers of mercury, given Japan's history with Minamata disease (the result of mercury poisoning). That disaster took the Japanese government 12 years to recognize. In the meantime thousands of people were affected.

    Note: Two courageous members of the school board protested serving the dolphin meat out of concern for the children. Since the release of the film, the school stopped serving dolphin.

    See The Japanese Government is Poisoning its Own Citizens.

    What can you do?

    Follow these suggestions from Take Part:

    1. Send a letter to our leaders, urging them to address this issue
    2. Share the petition with your friends, especially those living in Japan
    3. Expose the secret in Taiji by posting the "Secret is Out" widget on your own blog, MySpace or Facebook page
    4. Text DOLPHIN to 44144, and sign the letter straight from your phone
    5. Join the Facebook Cause and share the petition with your friends online
  • Stop Japan From Killing Week: Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless It's Fast

    The Cove documentary (see Stop Japan From Killing: Motivation) has one interview in it where an official claims that dolphins are slaughtered humanely, meaning quickly by severing the spine. The footage in the documentary seems to indicate otherwise. My question: Can there be humane killing? So it's okay to kill if you are quick, but not if you are slow?

    A brutal massacre that goes on from October through April is simply not humane. They slit the throats and harpoon bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales, spotted dolphins, and Risso's dolphins. Why? Tradition. A tradition the Japanese claim to be proud of. Doesn't seem like anything to be proud of.

    This Keep Out Danger sign was put up to keep prying eyes from see the killing cove in Japan. Photo courtesy of The Cove.

    What can you do? Follow these suggestions from Save the Dolphins:

    1. Write the Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, and tell him you will not purchase any Japanese products or visit Japan until they stop killing and capturing dolphins and whales or "Click Here to compose and send your message" directly to the Japanese Prime minister Yasuo Fukuda.

    2. Do not participate in any captive swim-with dolphin programs.

    3. Do not support or visit any marine park, zoo, or amusement park that has captive dolphins and whales.

    Get the The Cove Secret is Out. widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)

  • Stop Japan From Killing Week: Don't Swim With Dolphins

    One of the incentives for the Japanese slaughter of dolphins is that some of the dolphins they catch can be sold for as much as $100,000 to "Swim With Dolphins" attractions.

    Read the World Society for the Protection of Animals excellent article "What's Wrong With Swimming WIth Dolphins?"

    Here's one excerpt from that article:

    "Perhaps the most damaging aspect of the SWTD industry is the misconception it perpetuates among the general public. SWTD programs present themselves as "educational" and "eco-friendly". They market themselves to people who love dolphins, care about conservation and are looking for a tangible way to express this interest. What SWTD participants don't realize is that by patronizing these programs, they are not only contributing to this expanding, profit-driven industry, but they are ensuring that dolphins will continue to be captured from the wild and suffer in captivity."

    Make no mistake . . . swim with dolphin programs are about making money. A single dolphin can bring in millions a year; it's an industry worth over a billion dollars. You might be thinking that not every dolphin comes from Japan and is part of the slaughter machine.

    What about dolphins born in captivity?

    The Cove website provides a great answer to this question:

    "It is the same question slave owners asked about children born into slavery."

  • Stop Japan From Killing Week: "It is a bloodbath"

    "It is a bloodbath, cruel and barbaric. Each year, the idyllic and peaceful setting of the village of Taiji in southern Japan is shattered by almost unspeakable cruelty as indreible pain and ultimate death is inflicted on defenseless dolphins." Paul Watson, president and founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    What can you do?

    Follow these suggestions from Sea Shepherd and then visit their website for more suggestions and information:

    In order to spread the news about what is happening in Japan, we need to get media coverage from your local media (TV, NEWSPAPERS AND RADIO):
    • Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers
    • Call TV and radio stations to ask them to cover this important news
    • Refer your local broadcast and cable TV stations to Sea Shepherd to get a free copy of our Susan Sarandon "Save the Dolphins" Public Service Announcement (PSA)
    • You can offer the Sea Shepherd telephone number 360-370-5650, so the media can contact us for interviews with Sea Shepherd president and founder, Captain Paul Watson.

  • Give This Iceberg a Name!

    In this satellite image released by Commonwealth of Australia, a 97-kilometer (60 mile) long iceberg known as B9B, right, crashes into the Mertz Glacier Tongue, left, in the Australian Antarctic Territory on Feb. 20, 2010. The collision created a new 78-kilometer (48 mile) long iceberg.

    Two icebergs are now drifting off Antarctica's coast. One of them is 23 years old and is named B9B. The other just came into existence because B9B smacked into the Mertz Glacier and broke off a chunk. Any ideas for names of this second iceberg? We can't let this chunk of ice have as dull a name as its companion B9B?

    B9B is 97 kilometers long, which puts it at the size of the country of Luxembourg. Hop on it, declare yourself the ice king or queen, and you can stand ruler over any penguins and seals that jump on.

    This second iceberg (Ms. Newberg, perhaps?) is 78 kilometers long. How big is that? It holds about a fifth of the water usage of the world!

    For the full story:
    2 Huge Icebergs Let Loose Off Antarctica's Coast

  • Cove Alert: Save Japan Dolphins

    The Cove is an nominee for best documentary in the upcoming Academy Awards. I received this message from Ric Barry who heads up the campaign to save the dolphins. Donate to the cause. Watch the awards ceremony.

    From Ric Barry:

    This is a heads-up that our work, as featured in the blockbuster documentary The Cove, will be coming up at the Academy Awards telecast this weekend!

    You can watch us vie for the Best Documentary Award on Sunday night March 7th at 8pm Eastern Time (US). The event will also be streaming live online at:

    We are beyond excited about what this means to the Save Japan Dolphins Campaign! More than ONE BILLION people are expected to view the Oscars. And the Oscars are the most-watched television show in Japan!

    We need to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to:

    * ramp up efforts around the world to press Japan to end the slaughter and stop all sales of poisoned dolphin meat;
    * get hundreds of thousands of people in Japan to go see the subtitled version of The Cove. (An Oscar win could ensure that The Cove opens in more theaters, with greater media coverage and pubic impact);
    * increase our monitoring of the cove in Taiji, and bring over journalists, celebrities, and members of the public to stand firm against the dolphin killing.

    Please give us as generous a contribution as you are able.

    I hope you can help me translate the powerful message of The Cove into an end of the dolphin killing in Japan.

    Your donations make it possible for me to get back to Japan, and for us to reach out to the hundreds of media outlets that will be focused on the Oscars next Sunday.

    You probably won’t see me on the red carpet next Sunday, and I’ve never owned a tuxedo. But I will be there in the auditorium, waiting for that white envelope to be opened for Best Documentary, and knowing what it could mean for the dolphins and people of Japan.

    Even if we don’t win, the publicity from being nominated has been huge.

    But we do need funds to get our message out to the media, and we need follow-up to get the Japanese version of The Cove movie out in Japan, where it will do the most good.

    Please donate and support our efforts to save the dolphins.

    I’ve witnessed people in Japan watch this film and learn of our efforts for the first time, and many are as shocked as we are. Most have no idea that the killing is even happening and don’t support it continuing. These people hold the hope for building internal pressure in Japan to stop the slaughter.

    Thanks for being part of our historic campaign, for watching and keeping fingers crossed on March 7th, and mostly for your constant help for the dolphins!

    Ric O’Barry
    Campaign Director
    Save Japan Dolphins

    P.S. Give what you can today! All of our travel and organizing costs money.

    P.P.S. Learn more by going to our blog at

  • What Happened to Sunny California?

    I am about to start my third year of living in the Santa Cruz mountains that border San Jose. On April 1 I awoke to snow. It was 32 degrees F. Brrr!

    At 2700 feet elevation, I've come to expect one or two short-lived snowfalls in January. April is typically warm, pleasant, and sunny. Two weeks ago I finished planting spring wildflowers, hanging wasp traps to catch queens when they awake, and moving the outdoor furniture to the porch. Time will tell whether the snow and cold spring temperatures will affect the flowers or kill off the wasps before they have a chance to fly into the traps I set.

  • Looking for Girls Who Have Aspirations in Computing

    The National Center for Women & Information Technology is looking for high school women who are interested in computing to apply for the Aspiration in Computing Award. There are U.S. National and Regional competitions. Apply now. The deadline is April 12. Don't be shy!!! They need applicants.

    If your high school has lame (or no) computing offerings, and you are interested, apply anyway. Maybe you have ideas for how to get your high school up-to-speed in the 21st century.

    The NCWIT site says:

    "The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both a national and local "affiliate" competitions to generate support and visibility for women's participation in communities nationwide."