Tag Archives: ONE.org

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.

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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.

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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 One.org #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.

To #EndEbola The World Needs To Be #UnitedAgainstEbola

To #EndEbola The World Needs To Be #UnitedAgainstEbola
Still frame from the ONE Campaign video Ebola: Waiting

Still frame from the ONE Campaign video Ebola: Waiting

One of the cruelties of Ebola is that is goes against the very core of our human nature, the instinct to care for others. Like the NPR Story about the infant, still young enough to nurse, left in a box at the clinic where her mother had just died from Ebola. The baby had tested negative so far, so of course the group of nurses took turns caring for the baby. How could you not?  Ultimately the baby became sick and died, as did most of the caregivers, the nurses.

Tragic stories like this have been playing out in West Africa for far to long. Ebola is stoppable. We have seen it done. We need to get it done. Nigeria serves as a great example where a swift local response with in place medical, and vaccine infrastructure helped to halt the spread. Due to a concerted effort and funding to eradicate Polio from the region, Nigeria already had the necessary health care infrastructure to be able to contain and manage the Ebola outbreak when it hit. According to Dr. Chris Elias,  president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, previously done modeling studies based on experience with where and how Polio spread in the country, risk areas for Ebola were readily identifiable. Meanwhile countries with weak  health care systems were vulnerable to the outbreak.  Frontline healthcare workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have been tirelessly devoting themselves to the crisis from the beginning, but thousands of lives could have been saved if the world responded more quickly with the necessary funds and medical resources critical to reduce the spread.

“every day we continue to wait – for funding to reach the ground, for nurses and doctors to be deployed, for the shattered medical services to be rebuilt – more people die.”- ONECampaign

What we know is that though it’s lethal, the Ebola virus is relatively short-lived as viruses go, and transmittable only through contact with infected bodily fluids.  This means that although it can be spread quickly, once contained, the number of new infections come down quickly as well. Liberia has been the hardest hit country with an estimated 3,000 deaths from the disease, but according to the World Health Organization we are beginning to see the number of cases there decline.  Girls and women have been disproportionately impacted since traditionally they are the caretakers in their communities as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf explained via video feed to attendees of the ONE Girls and Women AYA Summit several weeks ago.   According to a story in the Associated Press by Jonathan Paye-Layleh on ABC news  today she has set a goal of Liberia being Ebola free by December 25th by doubling their efforts.

World leaders need to commit the resources to get it done. Our best chance to #EndEbola is if the world is #UnitedAgainsEbola. Two organizations working towards that very goal released videos last week to highlight this point.

ONE Campaign encourages us to take action by putting pressure on our government leaders to do so by signing this petition.

You can Find out here if the countries that have made promises to Ebola have delivered to help #ENDEBOLA.

Africa Responds  focuses on how African countries are #UnitedAgainstEbola and how local organizations have been working on the ground since the beginning of the crisis to get help to those who need it.

It is our human nature to care for others, and you can do just that through donations to help get the resources where they need to go, or by using  your voice and signing the petition to let government leaders know you care. What the world can not afford to do is sit by any longer and do nothing. We can #EndEbola when we become #UnitedAgainsEbola. Let’s get it done!

During UN General Assembly week in September I attended a roundtable on the Ebola crisis with ONE Campaign, The Gates Foundation, and Save The Children. In October at the One Girls and Women AYA Summit a discussion with a panel of experts  on Ebola including a physician from the front lines in Liberia accompanied the video address by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The Alex & Ani #NewBeginnings Charm Bangle In Partnership With ONE

The Alex & Ani #NewBeginnings Charm Bangle In Partnership With ONE
The Alex & Ani New Beginnings Charm Bangle

The Alex & Ani New Beginnings Charm Bangle

 “The 8-sided sun represents the universal law that life’s outcomes are a reflection of your efforts and power as an individual. You have limitless opportunity to positively lead and affect others, to empower yourself to shine brighter than yesterday, to let your passions spark action. Embrace the energy of this powerful charm and create your own new beginning.”-Alex & Ani

I love everything about the New Beginnings charm bangle that Alex & Ani Charity By Design has released in partnership with ONE.  I love the design, the message behind it, and the ideals that a percentage of the proceeds go to support.   After all, life is really a series of New Beginnings; each new day brings us new possibilities, and change is the one constant we can depend on.  As a mother I often feel that as soon as I’ve mastered one stage of parenting, it’s time to move on to the next. Each stage brings new gifts and new challenges, and I suppose that has kept my husband and I on our toes. In the meantime we try to truly appreciate each stage knowing that it is fleeting. So as my children grow, my own identity shifts as well. I am no longer the mother of babies all consumed with their care, now as a mother of school age children,  I have broadened my energy towards not just positively influencing my own children, but the world beyond. This has opened up exciting New Beginnings for me, returning to my documentary background in a new digital platform by founding documama.org. This phase of new beginnings for my work life, is exhilarating, I’ve loved getting back to the global issues that spark my passion.

Elizabeth Atalay and Alex & Ani Founder Carolyn Rafaelian

Elizabeth Atalay and Alex & Ani Founder Carolyn Rafaelian

Like many other Rhode Islanders I have been cheering Alex & Ani on from the sidelines since the first store opened in Newport.  At a time when job prospects in Rhode Island faltered, giving us one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, Alex & Ani has managed to thrive and grow. Not only did the company add much-needed jobs to the economy, but the positive energy philosophy it espoused brought hope to the state as well.  In the spirit of New Beginnings, Carolyn Rafaelian had breathed new life into the family jewelry business, the Rhode Island economy, and singularly launched the charm bangle frenzy that has gone viral. Along with my love of their meaningful designs, one of my favorite aspects of Alex & Ani all along has been their Charity By Design commitment.  Through Charity By Design Non-Profits are supported in their mission to make the world a better place, and consumers are given the opportunity to use their purchasing power for social good. A portion of the proceeds for Charity By Design Bracelets goes directly to the organizations that they represent.

IMG_2317One of the first things I did upon launching documama.org was to become a ONE Moms community partner. I have since participated in grassroots campaigns on nutrition, immunization programs, energy, and foreign aid with ONE. ONE Campaign has been cultivating new beginnings for millions around the world in the quest to end extreme poverty and preventable disease through advocacy, and action for decades.  These actions have global impact both large and small. From the new beginnings of one tiny baby who will go on to survive due to health programs funded by the G-8 pledge ONE secured in 2005, or the massive impact the newly passed Electrify Africa Act will have on the lives of 50 million people gaining electricity for the first time. As a ONE Moms Community partner, and a Rhode Islander enamored by the Alex & Ani commitment to social good, I knew collaboration between the two would be a perfect match.

One of my favorite things is to connect amazing people and see what magic happens, so I connected the two organizations a couple of years ago in hopes of exactly that.  The New Beginnings charm bangle is the result of that collaboration, so to me it feels like a dream come true. The hope and possibility of new beginnings are what both ONE and Alex & Ani support on a daily basis, and the dynamic teams of ONE and Alex & Ani Charity By Design came up with a talisman so powerful and beautiful, that it sold out in the first two weeks it hit the stores.   The poignant message of the New Beginnings charm bangle not only symbolizes the positive energy of the wearer, but the positive energy put forth into the world when it is purchased.  Soon my New Beginnings charm bangle will be glinting in the African sun as it dangles from my wrist. As I embark on my International Reporting Project New Media fellowship trip to Ethiopia, it will be there to remind me:

“You have limitless opportunity to positively lead and affect others, to empower yourself to shine brighter than yesterday, to let your passions spark action. Embrace the energy of this powerful charm and create your own new beginning.”-Alex & Ani

(RED), U2 & Bank of America Soup Up Super Bowl Sunday

(RED), U2 & Bank of America Soup Up Super Bowl Sunday

The Super Bowl is all about the commercials for me.

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During this Sunday’s game my favorite was the commercial featuring U2 performing their new song, “Invisible”. You can download that song from iTunes, for free, and in doing so you will be helping out in the fight agains HIV/AIDS.  From 6pm EST Sunday, until 11:59pm EST Monday, every time the track is downloaded, anywhere in the world, Bank of America will donate $1 to the Global Fund to help end mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This Super Bowl Sunday, was an incredible moment in the fight to end AIDS as the new partnership between (RED), U2, and Bank of America launched. Check it out & download the song :

Every single dollar raised will go to the Global Fund to provide life-saving HIV/AIDS treatment, testing and prevention services to tens of millions of people in the world’s poorest countries. Over the next two years the partnership between (RED), U2 and Bank of America will mean more than $10 million for the Global Fund. 

#(RED) Hot Gift List

#(RED) Hot Gift List

This holiday season (RED) products make a red hot gift list while offering a great way to really make an impact with your purchasing power. When you choose a (RED) product proceeds go directly to The Global Fund where 100% of that money is used to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

These are fabulous finds you would want to give anyway because (RED) partners with the world’s most iconic brands to produce super cool products, that happen to save lives. Here are a few of my favorites:

(RED) Hot Gifts! Read the rest of this entry