Author Archives: documama

SOS Children’s Villages in a #Relay4Kids

SOS Children’s Villages in a #Relay4Kids

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SOS Villages is in a #Relay4Kids

SOS Children’s Villages, Johnson & Johnson and the Huffington Post launch Relay for Kids – a virtual relay that will help provide shelter, food and medical care to children in crisis

Ethiopia is home to 5.4 million orphans and vulnerable children, as is evidenced along the streets of Addis Ababa, where it was not unusual to see groups of kids seeming to fend for themselves. I was there last summer on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project, and when we pulled into the SOS Village as one of our visits, it was strange to feel that these were the “lucky” orphans. This was the first time I had heard of the organization and was truly impressed. Technically the SOS Village kids are no longer orphans, they are taken in by their SOS Village to become part of a family and larger community. Founded in 1949 by an Austrian named Hermann Gmeiner, his vision for SOS Villages was to place children in a home where they would grow up with a mother, siblings and a community.

One of the house mothers in front of her SOS Village home where she cares for her 10 children.

One of the house mothers in front of her SOS Village home where she cares for her 10 children.

The village we visited that served 150 children consisted of 15 family houses each with a house-mother and two youth homes for kids ages 14-18.  The house mothers we visited stressed the importance of education to ensure the children would grow up to become self-sufficient adults.

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SOS Children’s Villages has grown to become the largest organization devoted to care for orphaned children and exists in over 130 countries with 545 villages worldwide. They also provide 24/7 emergency relief services for families and their children in places such as war-torn Syria. Beginning March 23rd SOS Villages have partnered in a virtual relay on Huffington Post to with stories that release funds when shared via social media.

Relay for Kids will take place from March 23 to April 24, 2015. Here’s how it works:

  • Every week, the Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood will feature three blogs that will focus on helping children in crisis. Relay for Kids blog participants include: Anne Geddes, world-renowned photographer; Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation; Anne Goddard, President and CEO of ChildFund International; and caregivers from SOS Children’s Villages who have worked with children affected by crisis in places like Syria and West Africa.
  • Blog posts shared via social media on the Huffington Post will trigger a $1 donation from Johnson & Johnson—up to $30,000*— to SOS Children’s Villages.
  • The virtual relay will conclude on April 24 with funds going to SOS Children’s Villages to help provide shelter, food and medical care to children living in crisis zones, such as Syria, Ukraine and West Africa.
  • In addition, people can upload a photo to Donate a Photo* and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 — up to $20,000** — for children in crisis.

 “Children worldwide are living in extreme poverty, witnessing horrific violence and suffering the long-term impact of deprivations. Without our support, these children are at heightened risk of exposure to trauma and exploitation,” said Lynn Croneberger, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages – USA. “Relay for Kids gives us the chance to make a difference in the lives of these children. Together we can raise awareness about children in crisis and give them the chance to enjoy the safe and healthy childhood they deserve.”

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Blogs must be shared between March 23 and April 24, on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr and Google+ via the Huffington Post’s social media icons. Each share will trigger a $1 donation up to $30,000. There are no limits on how many times you can share a post.

Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android, and users can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still receive a minimum donation.

“Johnson & Johnson has a long standing commitment to helping children around the world. Our partnership with SOS Children’s Villages is an extension of that commitment and has grown to include orphaned children, families in need, and youth striving for a productive adult life”, said Conrad Person, Director, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions. “Now, through the Relay for Kids, we can work together to create a community of support for the greatest of causes, our children.”

Learn more about SOS and how you can help children in crisis

The Origin Of Coffee

The Origin Of Coffee

 The Origin of Coffee

 

SAMSUNG CSCBefore my trip to Ethiopia last summer with the International Reporting Project I’d had no idea where coffee had originated. Imagine my thrill upon discovering that I was heading to the very birthplace of my favorite morning elixir.   Coffee, called Buna in Ethiopia, is central to the Ethiopian culture, and much to my delight, its intricate ritual of preparation takes place throughout the day in every possible setting.

The legend is that back around 800AD a young goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats had increased energy and would begin jumping around the field every time they had eaten from a certain tree.  Kaldi gathered the tiny fruits from one of the trees and brought them to the village elders. The elders tossed them in the fire due to the bitter taste of the fruits, dismissing the young Shepard and his claims, but when the smell of the coffee roasting in the fire wafted out, their interest was piqued. The roasted seeds left behind were taken out of the fire and placed into water to cool, creating the first drink of coffee.  Now we grind the roasted seeds from inside the fruits, which are what we refer to as the coffee beans, and millions of people worldwide consume coffee each day in all sorts of permutations.

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Look familiar?

“When you drink a cup of coffee ideas come marching in like an army”- Balzac

I fell madly in love with thick rich Ethiopian coffee while on our trip, and became enchanted by the ritual coffee preparation that I witnessed in factories, restaurants, homes, or on the sidewalk throughout our days.

North of Addis Ababa, exploring the islands of Lake Tana in Bahir Dar we passed wild coffee trees with branches of coffee fruit lining the paths, and again south of Addis, in the fields of Yetebon, coffee trees lines the fields. Ethiopia produces more coffee than any other African country, and coffee is its largest export. The climate is ideal for coffee growth, and most of the major coffee producing countries of the world lie in that same swath of tropical latitude.

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

The seeds, or fresh coffee beans are hand roasted over hot coals, and or fire, in wide flat roasting pans called baret metad, with what I perceived as a cathartic patience, until they are perfectly done.

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Trying my hand at roasting the beans

The coffee beans are crushed and then added to the hot water in the traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot called a Jebena. IMG_2879

Once the coffee boils up the long neck of the Jebena it is done. Popcorn is the traditional coffee ceremony snack accompaniment when the coffee is served.

SAMSUNG CSCI travelled to Ethiopia as a New Media Fellow with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.

Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Author in Riyadh

Like a shimmering oasis the city of Riyadh rises out of the sand.  Located in central Saudi Arabia the capital city is 250 miles from the nearest coast.  Although the Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by water, humans cannot drink saltwater.  Saltwater can be turned into drinking water through a process called desalination however, and desalination is increasingly used as global populations grow.

When my husband and I visited Riyadh in 2012, one gallon of water cost three times a gallon of gas.  We could see why.   The population of the city has grown from 100,000 to over five million in the past century. To supply this precious resource seven desalination plants work to provide about 70% of the potable water for the use of its inhabitants. Desalination is a costly process that takes high energy though, deep underground aquifers and scarce ground water provide the rest.  Our host told us that he had dug a well for a new home that he is building on the outskirts of the city.   When he said that they had to dig 500 feet down to reach water, my husband jokingly asked if they had stuck oil as well. Read the rest of this entry

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

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“Women make up half our entire population. When they’re held back, half the world’s potential goes unrealized. But when women and girls are empowered, we’re not just better by half. The world is twice as good.”

-Melinda Gates #BetterByHalf campaign

As we reach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and world leaders set forth a new set of global goals leading up to 2030, it has become increasingly clear that women and girls need to be at the center of development initiatives. Why women and girls? As Betsy Teutsch points out in her new book 100 under $100 One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women It has to do with what is referred to as The Girl Effect.  This refers to the fact that when you educate girls they tend to marry later, in turn give birth later, and are able to better contribute to the economy. Research has also shown that when women have economic power, more of those resources are invested back into her family than when men do. Women are also more likely to educate their own daughters. This means the next generation will also contribute more effectively to the nation’s economy. Read the rest of this entry