Category Archives: Global awareness

Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

FullSizeRender-6I believe that is is human nature to want to help others when we can. Two of the biggest hurdles in giving to others are knowing who or what needs help, and then what we, within each of our personal constraints as individuals can do. We also each have our own personal causes and issues we care about. That is one of the reasons that I love sharing stories on my blog of people who make a difference in some way large or small, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. There are so many ways to give, and the book Simple Giving is a perfect guide to how we each can contribute in a positive way to this world.

The book was born from Jennifer’s blog and her Philanthropy Friday series. She began to see certain patterns in the types of philanthropy that she featured, and for the book  she breaks them down into six different giving models.

  1. Everyday acts of kindness that can be done everyday for little or no money. An example of this could be as simple as paying someone a compliment.
  2. A new approach to philanthropy which is setting a mindset of giving, even if that amount is small, as a way to make the world a better place.
  3. Shopping with a conscience which has become almost mainstream, consumers want to buy products that give back, are made in an environmentally friendly way, help others to earn a sustainable income, or all three.
  4.  Finding your passion and doing something about it. Start your own non-profit, advocate, be the change you want to see!
  5. Giving as business model, or social enterprise.
  6. Giving it forward means modeling good giving behavior and showing others the way forward.

In Simple Giving Jennifer details case studies for each giving model,  and then lays out a “how to” at the end of each chapter.

I found this book incredibly inspiring, and came away feeling like Simple Giving had given me tools to channel my own philanthropy in new ways. I also now have the desire to give this book to everyone I know as holiday gifts! I think a book like this makes a wonderful present, and just think that when the recipient is in turn inspired by the book it turns into a gift that keeps giving forward. It has been scientifically proven that when we give or help others we feel happier, and  Simple Giving offers each of us a place to start or place to grow our philanthropy in practical ways.

We are in luck that Simple Giving is out in time for holiday giving, and giving back! Get your copy here.

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Author Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and consultant. As Chief engagement officer of the Another Jennifer Writing Lab, Jennifer helps entrepreneurs , bloggers, and nonprofits tell their story. She is also the author of  the Another Jennifer blog, and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. She writes for Mom Bloggers For Social Good as part of the Global Team of 200 and is a regular contributor to World Moms Blog and HuffPost Divorce. Jennifer is also contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOOD, BlogHer, USAID Impact, Feed The Future and the PSI Impact Blog. She is based in Brunswick, Maine.



Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.20.53 PMThe style of our home décor leans toward Nomadic with pieces we have collected  from around the world on our travels that represent a meaningful trip or story. The beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets are no different, in them I see the history of an area of the world that I’ve been to and loved, woven with the hope and Path to Peace that each basket represents for the women of Rwanda.

In 1991 I spent six months living out of a backpack as I traveled overland through 16 African countries from Morocco down to Botswana. We camped in tents along the way, shopped for our food at village markets, and made our fire to cook over each night. As you can imagine it was a transformative experience. When people find out that my travels have taken me to over 60 countries around the globe they often ask which one was my favorite. An impossible question in this diverse and magnificent world of ours, rich with its variety of cultures and topography. When I am pressed to choose just one area, Central Africa is the region that pops into my mind each time. We went Gorilla Trekking on the border of Uganda and Rwanda, a phenomenal experience in itself, and it was just one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. It was not just the picturesque stepped farms carved into verdant mountains, and the surrounding lush landscape. It was the people, the villages, their arts, and culture that captured some part of me.

I was heart-broken and horrified just a few years later when I heard about the tribal massacres that swept Rwanda in a brutal killing spree that took the lives of almost a million people over the course of just three months. It seemed impossible that an area that had been so warm and inviting, had felt so safe, could erupt in such a violent way. I mourned for Rwanda and volunteered to go back to help, but they really only needed medical volunteers.  This left me feeling useless and frustrated at my lack of valuable skills that could help in any recovery.  The tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis had turned into an ethnic slaughter where neighbor killed neighbor in one of the worst genocides in human history.

The violence left many Rwandan women as the sole providers for their families. Husbands, fathers and sons had been killed or jailed for committing unspeakable atrocities. In the aftermath of such horror I am always amazed by the resilience of the human spirit, that of women in particular. Despite fresh wounds, both mental and physical, the women of Rwanda began to come together through the tradition of weaving as a way to rebuild and reconcile.

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“After the genocide, which tore the ethnic communities of Rwanda apart, the country was looking for a positive symbol that all sides could endorse. Beautiful baskets had been part of Rwanda’s culture for centuries. Their craft and artistry were celebrated by all sides and across the ethnic divide. When the Rwanda Path to Peace program began, the basket became the symbol that all Rwandans could embrace. And as women from formerly warring tribes came together to weave, the Path to Peace program became a vital tool to foster reconciliation.”

In 2005 Macy’s launched the Path to Peace Program. Willa Shalit, an American Artist, Activist and Social Entrepreneur, had introduced Macy’s executives to the beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets. Macy’s Partnered with the women of Rwanda in one of the very first “trade not aid” programs where all parties in the business model would benefit from its success.

This week Macy’s will celebrate 10 years of the Rwanda Path to Peace program. It is the longest running program of this kind, and over the years has transformed thousands of women’s lives, and in turn, those of their families and communities. I have come to realize that there are ways to help despite my lack of medical knowledge, and one of those is through my purchasing power. By choosing to spend my consumer dollars on products that I know come from socially responsible sources and are beneficial to others and our world. The hand-woven Rwandan baskets from the Macy’s Path to Peace program represent that idea that sometimes simple actions can collectively make a big impact in the lives of others.

Join me at the 10 year celebration tomorrow in New York!

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.04.42 AMI am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Social Good Fellowship & #GlobalGoals

Social Good Fellowship & #GlobalGoals

share-globalgoalsI am thrilled to be in New York City as a United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow this week during the historic adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. This opportunity comes through my advocacy efforts with the Shot@Life campaign to help all children around the world get access to life saving vaccines.

This new set of Global Goals continues the mission of the Millennium Development Goals that had been set in the year 2000 and expired this year. The seventeen goals are archingly broad and ambitious, but through the success of the Millennium Development Goals it is clear that with the right dedication, funding, and collaboration true progress can be made. Global poverty and under five mortality were cut in half over the past fifteen years. The world needs to maintain that momentum and learn from mistakes made along the way to do better. We have many of the solutions to pressing issues, often access to those resources is a barrier to the most remote populations. Environmental disasters and man-made conflicts hold back progress, and in many cases erase it. Experts believe that we can reverse damage to the environment if we act swiftly, and avoid worsening and more frequent natural disasters by doing so. Man made conflicts are as old as time, strong positive world leaders need to step in and take charge. When I think of the world working together towards the Sustainable Development Goals I think of Carl Sagan, and The Pale Blue Dot.

The United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellowship is designed to provide Fellows with the latest information on pressing global issues and then explore their intersection with technology. Fellows will have access to leading experts, policymakers, and opinion leaders over the course of the Social Good Fellowship. Fellows will also attend the Social Good Summit which brings together world leaders, experts, grass-roots advocates and new media and technology around creating a better world.

I am looking forward to delving deeper into the Global Goals this week as I learn more through the Social Good Fellowship, and organizations lay out their plans for working towards these goals. I remain hopeful that between today’s leadership and the next generation we will rise to the challenge of achieving these lofty goals, and leave the world a better place for generations to come.


#Blogust 2015 & Words That Matter

#Blogust 2015 & Words That Matter

photo for quoteRecently the African continent celebrated its first year with no new Polio cases on record. That milestone signifies that the world is getting closer to the once impossible to imagine goal, of eradicating Polio from the world entirely, for good. Africa’s accomplishment means that vaccine programs have worked, and now the global community is down to two remaining Polio-endemic countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are getting close, but our work is not done. As long as Polio is out there in this ever shrinking world, it remains a threat to us all. Meanwhile, 1.5 million children still die unnecessarily every year from vaccine preventable diseases.

The United Nations Foundation Shot@life campaign is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are needed most.

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

As a reader and a writer, I am a natural logophile, a lover of words. Joining the Blogust’15 team this year I am thrilled that we are using words as our currency to help provide vaccines for those children around the world who need them most. As we each share our meaningful words and quotes I hope you become inspired. Inspired to action, to make a difference in the world. 

Never underestimate the power of words. Words have the ability to heal. They can pierce. Powerful worlds can start a revolution. A quote can become a mantra that guides you forward, or helps you to make sense of your world.

 Just think of those moments in your life when a passing remark crushed you, or another moment perhaps, when one made you soar.

I think of the mantras that play in my head to this day, simple phrases that my parents planted that have grown into beliefs. 

Pictured here with my brother and parents...the authors of my subconscious.

Pictured here with my brother and parents…the authors of my subconscious.


“There is no such thing as “can’t.”


“Everybody needs somebody to love.”

All these seemingly innocuous mid-conversation sentences stuck for some reason above all the others, I can’t tell you why. I can only tell you that I know that some of my words spoken to my own children will stick in the same way, and I pray that I get it right. That the positive messages stick, and grow.

Words are powerful. This month during Blogust lets use our words to give all children the chance to grow up and pass on their own words of wisdom. Immunization is one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths around the world, and to give every child a shot at a healthy life.

During @ShotAtLife’s #Blogust, every time you comment, like or share a post, 1 vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000). Take action now. It is that simple to make an impact, one word, one click, one share.

Every 20 seconds one child dies from a vaccine preventable disease. Other ways that you can help are to:

Take action to support Global Vaccine funding by telling congress you care

Become a part of the movement to prevent unnecessary childhood deaths by becoming a Shot@Life Champion.

Donate to save lives. It only takes $1.00 to vaccinate a child against a debilitating disease.

Light is Life; #ElectrifyAfrica

Light is Life; #ElectrifyAfrica
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In rural Ethiopia a pregnant girl waits to give birth with her mother and baby brother by her side.

As I entered the antechamber of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I was engulfed by the smell of heated milk and enfolded in a blanket of warmth. The tiniest babies I’d ever seen lay in light box incubators just beyond the glass door. Illuminated by the heating lamps that kept them alive, tiny newborns looked like glowworms swathed in cotton cocoons, brand new eyes blinked at the warm lights. A sign on the wall from 2010 read “This department has been furnished by the Republic of Turkey.” Fragile lives being kept alive in a fragile system.


A mother and her newborn at a hospital in Hawassa, Ethiopia


In 2013 this very hospital, the largest, and most advance public hospital in the capital city of Ethiopia, was left without power for seven hours. Blackouts in the city are frequent due to lack of reliable power. Time and again as I’ve learned and written about global health and development the common thread of energy poverty has woven its way through the narratives.  Lack of access to electricity limits the reach of advances in global health, potential economic development, and constrains the lives of people, trapping millions in extreme poverty.


As I learned on my trip to Ethiopia last year to report on newborn health, many women there still birth at home. Most homes in rural areas are without electricity. Giving birth at home, often without a skilled health worker is dangerous enough. Giving birth at home during the night without power to light the way, is plain treacherous. In too many cases, light is life.


Mother and daughter at a birthing clinic.

Mother and daughter at a birthing clinic.

Through my advocacy for global vaccines I became aware that one of the biggest challenges in getting vaccines to those who need them most is the cold chain storage along the way necessary for the vaccines to remain effective. In clinics where power outages are frequent and refrigerators where the vaccines are kept lose power on a regular basis, life saving vaccines go to waste.

Several years ago one of my fellow contributors at World Moms Blog , Alison Fraser, launched a non-profit called Mom2MomAfrica to help furnish school supplies to students in Tanzania. She came to realize that the students she worked with did not have electricity to be able to do school work at home, and needed to add a lighting solution to the plan to ensure real academic progress.

The factors that lead to extreme poverty are so layered and complex, but one thing is clear. Without energy true progress can not be made.

The facts about energy poverty on the African continent are startling .

  • 7 out of 10 people living in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity.
  • 30% of health centers and over a third of primary schools in Africa have to function with no electricity at all.
  • 8 out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa heart their homes and cook food using open fires. Inhalation of the smoke and fumes produced from burning traditional fuels results in over four million deaths per year, mainly among women and children. That is more deaths than from malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.

Congress has the opportunity right now to pass a bill that would help bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa for the very first time, at no cost to US tax payers. You can help. You can sign the Electrify Africa Act Petition and let your members of congress know that you care.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.04.09 AMThis post was written as part of the #LightForLight campaign where all this month photobloggers will be sharing their favorite light filled images and encouraging readers to sign the Electrify Africa Act Petition.

Coming up tomorrow, our friends at Our Collective are posting a photo essay! Be sure to check it out! 


I traveled to Ethiopia last June on a Fellowship with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.