Category Archives: Global awareness

The Kampala Children’s Center For Hope & Wellness

The Kampala Children’s Center For Hope & Wellness
From http://www.kampalahope.org

From http://www.kampalahope.org

The DeCesare family could never have imagined how greatly their lives would be impacted when they agreed to host kids from Uganda on tour with the Destiny Aftrica choir last year.   By the end of their stay the family had fallen in love, and gained new insights into how different the kids lives back home in Uganda were.  Today they find themselves spearheading an effort to raise $70,000.00 to establish a medical center for the kids at their home in the Kampala Children’s Center.   The members of the Destiny Africa choir were all orphans adopted into a unique village called the Kampala Children’s Center.

The DeCesare’s mission began when they heard the news that one of the children in the choir, Martine, had died unnecessarily from preventable causes back home in Uganda. She simply could not get the healthcare she needed or be transported to a medical facility quickly enough to be saved.  This was a heartbreaking event that highlighted the fact that clearly a community filled with so many children needed access to medical care on hand. The Kampala Children’s Center also serves as a school to the broader surrounding villages and their children. In Uganda, Malaria, respiratory infections, and diarrhea are the primary causes of death among children. The highest percentage of kids who die from these causes are under the age of five. This is an area of the world where more than 940,000 Ugandans have HIV/AIDS, leaving more than 1.2 million children who have lost one or both parents to this disease. The value of a quality medical facility providing much-needed health services to the Kampala Children’s Centre, and its surrounding communities, can not be emphasized enough.

The DeCesare’s quickly assembled a team of volunteers and set their goal to raise $70,000 by June of 2014 so that construction on the medical facility could begin right away.  As of today, through fundraising efforts and tickets sold to an upcoming Gala Event on May 15, 2014 at The Newport Yachting Center, ground on the facility has been broken, and they are a third of the way to their fundraising goal.  They are a truly incredible couple, dynamically talented, and a testament to what can be achieved by just two people when they set their mind to it.

DeCesare Collage

The Kampala Children’s Center was founded by Arnold Muwonge and his wife after initially taking in several local children who had been left orphans by the AIDs epidemic in Uganda.  When more and more kids began to show up on their doorstep needing food and shelter, he knew that he had to establish a place for them. Children are adopted by the Kampala Children’s Center to live in group homes on campus with a den mother.  In this way they become part of the greater family of the center.  The Destiny Africa choir began with the children routinely singing with their den mothers, and coming to realize that others might want to hear their music too. Through music, dance and the art of choir the kids share their story of hope and the ability to change lives. Through their musical tour  the Destiny Africa children have captured the hearts of many along the way. This is how they came into the DeCesare’s life, impacting a change to their lives for sure.

 The rebel war in northen Uganda left over 1.5 million displaced people. Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS claims the lives of thousands, leaving many children orphaned and struggling for survival. Desperate poverty traps many living in the city centre slums. Children are suffering from malnutrition and are left vulnerable to child labour and violent physical and sexual abuse. These are the children we are reaching out to help.-Kampala Children’s Center

If you would like to be part of this incredible project to improve the lives of children who have been through so much, here are some ways you can help:

Click here to buy tickets to the event in Newport Rhode Islandhopectr copy
Click here to donate to the Kampala Children’s Center For hope & Wellness
Click here to learn more and see the beautiful website Nick DeCesare built

You can contact Leah DeCesare through the Mother’s Circle contact page or through the Kampala Hope contact page with any questions.

The Kampala Children’s Centre from Nick DeCesare on Vimeo.

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

As we close in on 2015 the Millennium Development Goals will hit their deadline. USAID has just launched the Global Development Lab, which takes MDG # 8, to  Develop A Global Partnership For Development, into the next set of goals to be reached by 2030. USAID has partnered with 32 companies and organizations to reach the mission:

To discover, test, and scale breakthrough development innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper in support of U.S. foreign policy and development goals and to accelerate the transformation of USAID as the world’s premier development agency.-USAID Global Development Lab Mission Statement

I am excited to see the amazing partners involved, including my neighbors Plan, and Nike, as well as some of my other favorites, Save The Children, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University (my husband’s an alum). The lab launched Thursday April 3rd,  and I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs a collaboration of this magnitude is sure to bring! Watch the video below to find out what it’s all about.

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

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Searching for food pantry donations to add to my shopping cart, I realized that as much as some of the the food I’d choose would fill bellies, it might not provide much actual nutrition. I had to switch modes from trying to find pantry items with shelf life, to pantry items with nutritious value.  Hunger and nutrition go hand in hand, but are really two separate elements of the same problem. Nutrition has been found to be especially critical during the period through pre-natal care up to a child’s second birthday when human development is most rapid.  

March is  National Nutrition Month, and the 1,000 Days Partnership organized an online #March4Nutrition to raise awareness about the critical role of nutrition in the 1,000 day window from a woman’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.  Healthy mothers have healthy babies, who in turn grow up to be healthy mothers who have healthy babies themselves.  The impact of good nutrition early in life can not be stressed enough. Good nutrition has long reaching positive impact that carries through into the child’s future.  When a children grow up to lead healthy and productive lives, families,  communities, and ultimately countries are positively impacted, and can break the cycle of poverty.

Leading scientists, economists and health experts agree that improving nutrition during the critical 1,000 day window is one of the best investments we can make to achieve lasting progress in global health and development.-www.Thousanddays.org

This months campaign broke down the 1,000 day period into stages, highlighting important aspects at each point.

  • Pre-Pregnancy to Birth: During pregnancy not getting proper nutrition can have a detrimental effect on the healthy growth and development of the child.  This increases the risk of death as  a newborn and make the baby more likely to suffer from cognitive delays or physical defects, and possibly chronic health problems later in life.
  • Infancy, Birth To Six Months: Great emphasis is put on the importance of breastfeeding during this time period, and the need to support mothers to do so. According to The World Health Organization breast milk, which is readily available and affordable, is the ideal food for a newborn. It provides both nutrients and antibodies that can help protect infants from common illnesses.
  • Toddlerhood, Six months To Two Years Old: At this stage continuing breastfeeding if possible, and adding in nutritious foods, plenty of water, and maintaining good hygiene can have life long health benefits.

Malnutrition is a global issue, and the leading cause of death of young children throughout the world. It happens here too, according to my local food bank 1 in 3 customers they serve will be children.  Having learned what I did this month throughout the #March4Nutrition, as I finished my shopping the other day I was sure to add in protein like Peanut butter, tuna fish, and beans. I chose whole grain products and canned fruits, and vegetables. Although I’m aware it is just a drop in the bucket, I believe every child deserves a chance to grow to their full potential. Raising awareness and donating what I can is how I can put my beliefs into action.

 Learn more by following the #March4Nutrition hashtag with @The1,000DaysPartnership if you believe that every child, everywhere, deserves the right nutrition to grow, learn and thrive.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

 

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

 seventh generation

Sign this petition to #FightToxins in our products!

This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with a Seventh Generation awareness campaign about toxins in our everyday products, and how we can change that.  As always all opinions are my own.

I rummaged through my cabinets the other day grabbed all of the plastic cups my kids drink out of and all of those plastic take out food containers I was saving to re-use, and threw them into the recycling bin. In the car I had been listening to a report on NPR about the BPA safety controversy. First it was supposed to be dangerous, now “they” are saying it’s safe…..Any plastics I had purchased were supposedly BPA free to begin with, but on the radio experts said any plastic food containers may still contain harmful elements. One quote from the story impacted me in particular. The show host, referring to plastics, had said something like ” We speculate about what is causing the rise in cancer, and I wonder if the answer has not been right in front of us all along.”  I realized I had been following the various reports that BPA is harmful or not, but that comment on the radio made me re-think who I am counting to deliver the data. As a mom I decided it’s not worth the risk. These are my children, to companies they are just a statistic. It should not be that way, and we should be able to count on our government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, to keep products on the market safe.

I have always been careful about the cleaning products that I use in my home, we have four kids, a dog, well water, and a septic tank. This puts us in delicate balance with our environment and it’s impact on our health.  Seventh Generation products are some of the ones I’ve been using for years to safely keep things clean. I’ve always liked the idea reflected in the company name, that what we do today lays the path for the next seven generations to come.  I am thrilled to support the companies’ efforts to help pass new reform on the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, that would help the Environmental Protection Agency to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals present in our everyday products currently on the market.  One of the problems is that the TSCA has not been changed since 1976. This has allowed companies to add chemicals to our products that are known to cause cancer or cause serious health side-effects.  Even worse there are more than 80,000 chemicals available in the United States that have never been fully tested for their toxic effects on our health and environment!

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Do you remember hearing about the toxic water contamination in Charleston, West Virginia not too long ago? One of the scariest things about the coverage on that story was that I kept hearing them say..”such and such chemical was also found but it’s safety has never been tested before so we can’t say if it is safe or not.” Yeesh, I thought, It would take me a long time to trust that water again! Exposure to toxic chemicals, even in small amounts has been scientifically linked to health risks like cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. Don’t you think that true meaningful chemical reform should be put in place to protect the most vulnerable among us; the kids, pregnant mothers, and communities directly exposed to these toxic chemicals? It should also require that the public has access to all information regarding chemical safety levels, allow states to protect their residents, and have the EPA take swift action within specific timetables. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children’s products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.

Since 1976 scientists have linked exposure to toxic chemicals to many health risks. There is growing recognition in the scientific community that exposure to even low doses of certain chemicals, particularly in the womb or during early childhood, can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, and that multiple chemicals can act together to harm human health. Some toxic chemicals can even persist in the environment, for decades sometimes, building up in the food chain and in our bodies. Cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and other reproductive problems are all associated, to some degree, with exposure to toxic chemicals in animals or humans.”-Natural Resources Defense Council

I don’t think we should sit by and wait for others to do the right thing for our families, we need to demand that Congress reevaluate the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time since 1976.

We can help make a change! Seventh Generation is working to push a reform on TSCA which would have all of these chemicals studied and evaluated. Join the movement to protect our kids and future generations to come.

visit www.fighttoxins.com to sign the petition that will be presented to congress on April, 30th 2014.

You can follow the hashtag #FightToxins to stay up to date in the campaign.

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

All information on the TSCA and images provided by Seventh Generation

A Call For #Water4all On #WorldWaterDay 2014

A Call For #Water4all On #WorldWaterDay 2014
Image provided by WaterAid

Image provided by WaterAid

The irony was not lost on me. I knew as I sipped the cool glass of water that this was not a luxury shared by most back at home.   Here I sat in a café in New York City meeting with Water Aid representatives, discussing clean water, and sanitation in developing countries. Meanwhile, there was a water ban going on in my own hometown. Deadly E. Coli bacteria had been detected in the public water source. Stores had already run out of bottled water, families had to boil their water for use, and the town was in crisis.  As a mom I felt guilty enough being away from home for a conference for several days, and now this!   There is nothing like an interruption to what you take for granted  to make you appreciate it more.

Everybody has a #WaterStory, and as a traveler I have many.  Water is an issue I have had to think about often on visits to developing countries. When you scoop your drinking water out of a river to drink, with floaties swirling around, despite the iodine tablet you put in to make it potable, it makes you think.  When visiting villages in Borneo I too used the village river to bathe in, to wash my clothes, and to drink from. In the Sahara I felt what is was to be parched by the lack of water, and in the Congo I carried 20 lb. Jerry cans to and from the local spring to gather fresh water for use. Sure I got sick a few times along the way, but I always had the proper medication I needed with me when I did.  According to the UN around 90% of sewage in the developing world is discharged untreated into rivers, some of those same rivers I bathed in and drank from I’m sure.

Doing laundry in the river  Photo taken by the author

Doing laundry in the river
Photo taken by the author

The fact is that according to #WaterAid 768 million people in the world today do not have access to safe drinking water.  That is roughly 1 in 10 people in the world who do not have access to clean water with which to cook, wash or to drink. Water is something that runs abundant where I live, that is so taken for granted,  yet is worth more than gold to those who don’t have it. Water is Life after all.

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. 

Here are some water facts shared by WaterAid to think about:

  • 97.5% of the earth’s water is saltwater. If the world’s water fitted into a bucket, only one teaspoonful would be drinkable.
  •   For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, $4 is returned. (WHO)
  • While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. (World Water Council)
  •  The average North American uses 400 liters of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking. The average person in the developing world uses only 10 liters every day.  (WSSCC))
My #CheerstoH2O Selfie

My #CheerstoH2O Selfie

Saturday March 22nd is World Water Day! Let’s come together to take action. You can use your voice to tell congress to support the Paul Simon Water for the World Act. Or upload photos of you drinking water with the hashtag #CheerstoH20 , do you like mine? You can also use Facebook or twitter to share the message of #Water4all or share your #waterstory.

Water Aid works side-by side with local communities to ignite monumental change by giving them the tools that they need to break down barriers and make water and toilets an accessible reality for everyone in their community. WaterAid has helped 19.2 million people reach safe water since 1981. Learn more about how we make it happen! - www.wateraid.org

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global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.