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  • 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 . . .

  • Madagascar: Not Just a Movie

    Madagascar is a country located off the southeastern coast of Africa. It's the fourth largest island in the world. The animated film of the same name doesn't tell you that most schools in Madagascar don't have running water. Children get ill all the time because of poor sanitation. When they get sick, they can't attend school. Then they don't do well in school.

    There is a big initiative now to provide enough materials to enable children to wash their hands at least once a day. How many times a day do you get to wash your hands? Imagine not having the water to wash them even once.

    For more details, see: Madagascar: Education Hampered By Lack of Clean Water.

  • Help Solve the Global Water Crisis

    Digging wells, providing people with water filters, and installing pumps mark the success of any water project. But that's actually where success begins. Water quality has to be maintained. Pumps require maintenance. People need to learn to use the pump correctly, without modifying the way it works. (Photo is of Ahmadiyaa School Girls, Sierra Leone. Safer Future Youth Development Project.)

    The Peer Water Exchange (PMX) need volunteers to visit projects to see whether the project is still effective. PMX needs to know whether water systems are still operating and that the local community is using it. Find out how you can visit a project and report back. They need volunteers who are willing to talk with locals in the community and take photos or video. By volunteering, you'll be part of the solution for the global water crisis.

    Find out more.

  • Eisha's Story: Thanks from Kalembo Secondary School

    Eisha Shaban, Head Girl from Kalembo Secondary School in Tanzania, sends her thanks to Blue Planet Run Foundation for getting clean water to her school:

    "We students of Kalembo Secondary school, we send our greetings of thanks to Blue Planet Run Foundation (BPRF), all our fellow Schools from USA, and all others who in one way or another have made us accessing Clean and safe water in our school. The bore hole you have build for us has reduced several problems we have been facing for more than 6 years now. Among the problems we have been facing include:

    * Loosing several periods due to long distance moving to collect some water
    * Drinking unsafe water for our health as we were fetching from local dug wells
    * School building construction was also tough as we traveled the same distance in order to get water for the work
    * The same wells we used to collect some water we were sharing with animals like pigs and dogs

    Your assistance has made us free from above problems. We are now ensured with good health and improving our academic performance as most of our time will be used in academic issues.
    Thank you very much for considering our need."

    This is the new pump at Kalembo Secondary School in Tanzania, East Africa.

  • Stumped for Christmas Gift Ideas? Adopt a School

    If you can't think of a gift for someone, that's a sure sign that they either don't need or want anything, or you don't really know them that well. If that's the case, the perfect gift is to help someone else out in the name of your gift recipient.

    There are many places in the world where home isn't the most comfortable place to be because of the lack of running water, sanitation, electricity, and adequate food. Touch Africa's mission is to make school a better place than home, and "to provide self sustaining achievable projects which, will ultimately change childrens' lives."

    I personally think that home should be as good as school, too. But in many countries the first achievable goal is to improve the schools. Education can empower people with the skills to improve their lives economically.

    So give it up for Adopt a School. Make a donation in the name of that person for whom your are stumped for gift ideas. Contact Elise Fish to find out more: elise@touchafrica.info.

    More about the program (from the Touch Africa website):

    Adopt a School

    The concept of making school a better place than home is an incredibly easy thing to do. With this there will be a natural migration to school with attendance increasing and more children potentially realizing their short term dreams and finishing Grade 12. The simple ways of Making School a better place than home are:

    1. Providing Electricity – Access to Educational TV , Warmth
    2. Providing comfortable Infrastructure- Desks , Chairs
    3. Providing decent ablutions – Home does not have running water
    4. Providing Sporting Facilities – This makes School a cool place to hang around
    5. Container Kitchens and Vegetable Gardens – They have to be self sufficient and this has been very successful in our Storms River Project.

    Adopting a school is all about taking ownership and focusing on changing lives. Its measurable and sustainable.

    The Storms River School is in need of a Grade R Class as well as a Day Care Facility which will also require the provision of additional ablution facilities. This project has been adopted by WRN (World Relief Now) thanks to the tireless work of Mr Steve Huff.

    The monies raised will ensure the construction of ablution facilities as well as a Grade R and Creche facilities.

    We are now looking for donors to adopt the school to provide equipment and furnishings. Get Involved and make your pledge.

  • A Schoolhouse in Peru

    These Andean children are looking through a window into their schoolhouse. I'm inside; they are not. Seems like it should be the other way around, but this particular day is not a school day. It is an extremely rainy day. Just a few miles from here, the trail ascends to a 15,000 foot pass where it's snowing fiercely. Our guide doesn't want us to cross in those conditions. He negotiated with the small village to let our group of adventure travelers use the one-room schoolhouse until the weather breaks. For the children, this is a novelty.

    I saw a lot of children while hiking in the Peruvian Andes. Most of them were also hiking, but they were hiking to school. Some people live within the bounds of a small village, but many families are isolated, quite distant from the school. The children I saw seemed to enjoy hiking several miles—big wide smiles on their faces. But perhaps they were smiling because I and my companions were an odd-looking group of tall people with hiking sticks, funny hats, and big boots.

    Peru education attendance:

    • Ages 6 - 11: 92% ages 6-11
    • Ages 12-16: 66%
    • Literacy--96% in urban areas, 80% in rural areas.
  • Disrupting a School Day in Cambodia

    I just finished a picnic lunch in the countryside outside Siem Reap. I am sitting under a tree next to a Buddhist temple. Two sad, dirt covered dogs gaze at me while a puppy jumps playfully at the table hoping for some scraps. He gets them. My guide says, “There’s a school a short walk away. Let’s visit the classroom.”

    If I tried to pop into a classroom in the USA unannounced, I’d likely be arrested. So I am a little concerned. I say, “Are you sure we can just walk into a classroom?” He says, “Yes. They will love it.” So we walk on.

    As I approach the school yard, I notice that some children are outside, some inside. I hear excited murmurs. When we get to the classroom I don’t see a teacher anywhere. To my surprise, there are children seated at the desks.

     

    We enter and most of the children jump up and run towards us. They see cameras and want photos taken. Many keep flashing peace signs, so much so that it makes it difficult to get a good shot without having fingers in front of someone’s face. There is so much movement, it’s also difficult to focus. Clearly this is the highlight of their day.

    A few children sit at their place, looking shy and reserved. I take one of the shy girl’s photos. She smiles when I show her image to her. Other children surround me so they too can see her image. Now everyone wants to see their image in my camera.

    This goes on for at least ten minutes before the teacher arrives. We wish her a good day and leave, the children waving at us as we make a quiet getaway.

    There are schools all over the countryside. Most, but not all, children attend. It’s easy to see who attends by the fact the children wear uniforms. As I walk through other parts of this rural area, I see children who appear to be school age, but are helping tend livestock or work in the fields. The literacy rate in rural areas is about 74% compared to urban areas, which is about 90%.