March 22nd is World Water Day, a day to bring attention to the over 600 million people in the world without access to clean water. Access to clean water and sanitation are key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty, and women and girls are the most highly impacted when lacking those basic human necessities.
In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend most of their day walking miles to collect water for their families. Girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins due to lack of facilities. UNICEF reports that approximately 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day, most under the age of five.
Photo: Elizabeth Atalay
WaterAid is the leading international nonprofit in the clean water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and has called on Congress to oppose the proposed 28.7% cut to funding for the US Agency for International Development and Department of State, proposed in the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint. WaterAid states that this action is “out of line with America’s priorities, US moral leadership, national security interests, and the needs of poor and vulnerable people worldwide.” I stand with WaterAid in calling on Congress to fully fund international assistance.
The recently launched WaterAid #GirlStrong campaign takes aim at the inequalities faced disproportionately by women and girls who live without clean water and proper sanitation. Access to clean water opens up access to better health, and more time for education. It is estimated that somewhere around 260 billion dollars are lost from the global economy due to reduced productivity and health care costs from illnesses linked to lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and hygiene. Watch the video below to see more reasons why access to clean water needs to be a priority for all.
In Haiti I stocked up on heart shaped art pieces while on my recent trip to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line. The art of Haiti is beautiful, and the hearts depicted everywhere throughout are part of the reason that it resonated so much with me. Haitian art is heavily influenced by Vodou veves, or symbols, and the heart represents the goddess of love, Erzulie. These pieces make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts because when you purchase them you are helping to support Haitian artisans and their families. It is like giving twice, and you don’t have to travel to Haiti to find them since Macy’s partners with the Artisans and carries Heart of Haiti products online and in their stores.
While in Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow I had the opportunity to visit the FashionAble factory where I met women waving beautiful scarves and better lives. Since then FashionAble has branched out into leather goods and jewelry and I am in love with their new lines. Each piece gives back to those building a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Give your honey some honey! My father was a bee keeper so I grew up harvesting and eating honey on everything. Honey and Honey bees have a special place in my heart so when I saw that the February Roost Crate “Farmer’s market in a box” was dedicated to honey I had to order one as a gift to myself! A Roost Crate “you’re the Bee’s knees” box would also make a super sweet gift to your honey! If your sweetheart is a foodie you might just sign them up for one of the subscription options and keep the love flowing month after month!
(RED) always has fantastic partnerships and proceeds from (RED) products go to the fight against HIV/AIDS. My favorite this Valentine’s Day is the (RED) app! How cute are these emojis?!? A cute, simple gift to download on your Valentine’s phone.
I love this local Rhode Island company that gives back globally. They have partnered with (RED) for a collection of bracelets that benefit The Global Fund. Perfect for your Valentine!
ALEX AND ANIl contributes 20% of the purchase price of each Heart of Strength Charm sold, with a minimum contribution of $25,000 between January 2017 and December 2017 to Global Fund to fight AIDS with (RED)®.
There remain 16 countries in the world where 40% or more of their population does not have access to clean water – WaterAid
What many of us take for granted, clean, safe water to drink, cook with, bathe in, and with which to wash our clothes, is an expensive luxury to hundreds of millions of people around the world. The cost is not just monetary. Access to clean water and sanitation is a key element to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty. Women and girls are most effected by lack of access to water and sanitation. In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend much of their day walking miles to access clean water for their families. Those girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins if there are no private toilet facilities available. UNICEF reports that 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day. The most susceptible being children under the age of five. Access to clean water is a global humanitarian priority, and world wide awareness of water as a precious resource is needed to tackle the issue. Water is life.
“Clean, affordable drinking water is not a privilege: it’s a fundamental human right. This World Water Day, let’s celebrate the unprecedented progress that’s been made in helping more people than ever before gain access to clean water. But let’s also double down on our efforts so that everyone, everywhere can exercise their basic right to clean water by the year 2030.”-Sarina Prabasi, WaterAid America Chief Executive
Photo Credits: Elizabeth Atalay taken while on a New Media Fellowship trip to Ethiopia with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.
One could not help but notice all of the development as you drove through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While there on an International Reporting Project New Media Fellowship in 2014 evidence of the country’s rapid economic growth was displayed by the progress on the roads, buildings, railroads, and homes being built-in, and around the city. What I noticed most about the “progress”, aside from the Chinese companies working on the roads, were the archaic wooden frames being used as scaffolding on the construction projects. Piles of timber were stacked by the roadside, and carts piled with the thin poles of trees were pulled amidst the traffic often by small boys barely taller than their load.
I was told that the scaffolding was Eucalyptus wood. Compared to the safety standard steel beams that would typically be used for construction projects in Europe or the USA, the tall slim Eucalyptus trees framing construction projects seemed, well, flimsy, and downright unsafe. The amazing thing is that somehow it works! As cement buildings rise from the dusty streets of the city at a rapid pace, I can imagine this is the way construction has happened for many decades along the way.
The ubiquitous evergreen hardwood Eucalyptus trees used for scaffolding are not indigenous to Ethiopia. In the late 1890’s the ruling Emperor Menelik realized they needed quick-growing resources for construction of the “new city”, Addis Ababa. The Eucalyptus tree, or Gum Tree, which is native to Australia, was known to grow quickly and easily, so Emperor Menelik imported Eucalyptus from Australia to Ethiopia, where it has thrived (in its invasive and selfish way).
The Eucalyptus tree, it turns out, demands huge amounts of water and tends to obscure other plants nearby. In Ethiopia it has come to be known as “the selfish tree”, taking for itself all the water and land around it. With Ethiopia facing the worst draught it has seen for the past 50 years, I wonder about the impact of this resource being used to help build the country, while at the same time robbing precious water from the ground.
In travel one is constantly reminded that things we take for granted in one area of the world may not exist in others. “Safety precautions” are a big one, a reminder reinforced for me for example while watching a three-year old wield a machete in Borneo. While I stared in horror, mouth agape, the local adults went about their business unfazed. Or in New Zealand where they sent me abseiling down a 100 foot drop to “black water raft” the rapids through caves on an inner tube with a mere 1/2 hour tutorial under my belt. Again and again in various scenarios around the world I have thought, this would never fly back in the litigious, and bubble wrapped USA. In most areas in this world you operate at your own risk, and I find myself wondering about all the travel mishaps we’ve never heard about. In Ethiopia I worried for the construction workers working on the tethered timber scaffolding 10 stories off the ground. My hope being that the “selfish tree” will always come through to support them.
This post ran last month through a special collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™ and World Moms Blog to empower women everywhere to have safe and healthy pregnancies and babies. I traveled to Ethiopia in June of 2014 with the International Reporting Project on a New Media Fellowship to report on Newborn Health.
One of the newborns I met in Ethiopia. Photo: Elizabeth Atalay
I was met by the sweet smell of warmed milk and wrapped in a blanket of an almost stifling heat as I stepped into the ante-chamber of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Photo: Elizabeth Atalay
Through the glass, I could see tiny babies swathed in cloth under the glowing lights of their incubators. Here, in the largest NICU in the country, these fragile lives were living in a fragile system. Frequent power cuts often threatened the stability of the incubators, and thus, the lives of the precious babies whose well-being depended on them.
Here, in Ethiopia, a realization dawned on me. All of the technological innovations in the world do not matter if there is no power to run them. Continue reading on BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™.
A mom practicing Kangaroo Care with her premature twins. Photo Credit: Lindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development’.
A Mosebo Village Healthcare worker demonstrated how to properly wrap a baby for kangaroo care. Photo: Elizabeth Atalay