Friday, November 1, 2019

Friends,

As we approach the end of 2019, I'm sure many of you are organizing your charitable giving.

Please feel free to share your favorite organizations with those of us who are interested in focusing on some new or additional worthy organizations this year.

I generally divide my donations between classical music radio, public television (PBS), and health related organizations like Doctors without Borders.  Am open to new ideas if you have any.

With thanks and best wishes for the holiday season,


Deborah


Friday, August 16, 2019

Friends, I came across this dated 'note home' from way back in 2006, when I was managing a large HIV prevention project in Papua New Guinea.  I had no idea it was hanging out in my laptop documents.  It's an interesting snapshot of the life of a health project manager in a challenging developing country.  Thought you might it an interesting read.  I've removed names of project implementing organization and colleagues.

Sunday 2 July 2006

4:30 am.  Have gone back to that initial schedule, up at 4:30 am, ready for bed by 8:30 pm. 

Had visit from project managers in Melbourne. They start in June to do the wrap up and final report for this 6 year project.  The NHASP project has been conducting surveillance, STI treatment, voluntary counseling and testing, development of information and education materials, design and delivery of HIV related trainings, and through my project urgent intervention at high risk settings in PNG for the past 5.5 years. While the High Risk Setting project will be tendered out for private management to keep it going strong, all of the other activities are being turned over to the National AIDS Council and the Department of Health (which barely functions). So there is high intensity transition planning underway.  AusAID overall is not happy with the NHASP project, but recognizes what’s been accomplished.  NHASP staff, my challenging team mates who are burnt out, cynical and territorial, are nonetheless deeply worried that the good work they’ve accomplished may dwindle away.  We are trying to house all of the trainings in a training institute that hopefully will have the capacity to keep them going.  About 65 trainings are conducted monthly, including basic HIV/AIDS, care and counseling, voluntary testing and counseling, behavior change communication, and theatre and drama. So the project wrap up is going on around this ‘working against the clock’ transition planning.

The Melbourne person here to assist wrap up seems to think it fine to make insulting remarks about Americans in my presence.  I’m glad that I’ve met other Australians who aren’t as rude as the ones on this project! The ACIL person, who has done her best to manage the troubled project in a fair and supportive manner to everyone, has thrown up her hands and taken another job.  Wise move, I think.  I gave her a heads up about problems with how national staff were being treated by expat staff.  She met with the national staff and learned several things that were serious and needed to be addressed.  Some attitude and operational shifts have occurred as a result, and I’m hoping they will last through the end of the year, when NHASP is formally done. 

While they were here, I negotiated a change whereby L, my esteemed and altogether splendid colleague, will assume leadership of this national program (we talk about capacity building, but there is a lot of skepticism that Papua New Guineans can actually handle leadership roles) in August.  The project has grown tremendously in the past few months at most of the 34 sites, and I believe that it has taken root and will be sustained by local communities. It seems to be an ideal time for national leadership, and I think that L is up to the task.  He is happy and a bit anxious; we’ll spend the next few weeks engaged in a handover and planning the support he needs to succeed.  

I’ve been offered a consultancy with SAGRIC in the Education Sector, organizing HIV/AIDS trainings for teachers and curriculum development.  Have been approached by Save the Children to manage a project. Got a call from World Vision in Australia about taking on a new project here next year if they get the Asia Development Bank tender.  I’m not ready to make any decisions yet.  Have learned over the past three months that there are many things to love about this country, the people in particular.  But not sure that I want to live here all of the time.  In Port Moresby at least, there is the constant security stress.  Driving is a big stressor as well; there are always people and dogs in the roads, and the public motor vehicle (taxi vans) drivers have a tendency to dart out without warning.  It’s a bit like driving in New York City, constant vigilance required.  So want to wait and see if FHI contacts me about the China job, and also see whether World Vision can offer me work in both PNG and other Pacific countries so that I could be based in Australia or Indonesia and work here part of the time.

Thursday we narrowly averted a lock out of our building, which we share with the National AIDS Council Secretariat.  Seems the rent hadn’t been paid for 3 months.  Check had been written, but no one felt motivated to deliver it to the landlord.  The NACS staff were all at a budget retreat, so our team leader stepped in and organized the check handover with 2 hours to spare.  The lock out was planned for 4:06 pm…interesting time choice. Maybe that six minutes was for vacating the building.

Friday we had the monthly HRSS meeting, with about 30 people attending from the various sites.  The B youth advisers were there, and also the F consultant who has conducted the behavior change trainings and follow-up monitoring missions.  Having several advisers in country is trying; they all criticize one another’s work and mine too, no doubt, behind my back.  Strong women too easily turn into bitchy women. I also invited a young American who is organizing a group of national volunteers to do HIV prevention, and is wisely researching who is doing what already to make sure the new volunteers support and complement and don’t interfere with activities underway. Right approach, and as a result people want to work with him.   After two months of effort (and complaints to the Melbourne managers) I was finally able to get all of the provincial HRSS coordinators on contracts with medical care for themselves and their families.  

Yesterday we had a launch of a new Tingim Laip site at Hagwa, one of the settlement villages near where I live. The people there have migrated from many different locations, so the dancing that accompanied the launch represented several groups. A launch is a big celebratory event that typically includes speeches from dignitaries (and I get to be a dignitary), music provided by a local band of young people (who often sing HIV songs they have written), entertainment, light refreshment (fresh fruit, beet and lettuce sandwiches), and a formal launch moment (a ball is kicked, or thrown). The island dances resembled a simpler version of Hawaiian hula dancing.  Transgender community members were incorporated into the talent and the drama group presentations, which were great.  The youth volunteers were all wearing the tee shirts and baseball caps that I recently approved a grant for.  They have organized a sports tournament and lots of HIV education for the village youth.  Several people from other local villages trying to start up HRSS sites attended to get ideas for their launches.  National EM TV, which I seem to appear on a lot lately without wanting to, was there filming.  Every time I am asked to speak on camera, I replace myself with a national coworker who can represent this project at least as well as I can and who is a far more appropriate spokesperson for a PNG program than an American expat.

In the month of July we have the youth advisers traveling and conducting two more youth workshops and a meeting with Save the Children, the consultant finishing up the draft procedures manual and final report and giving a debrief to NACS and NHASP staff, and the M&E consultant coming back for two weeks to continue to strengthen our monitoring and evaluation procedures.  There are many exciting things happening on the ground in this project that quantitative indicators simply can’t measure.  This month we hope to hire a new HRSS coordinator for Oro Province, to work with the Higaturu Oil Palm company, and also a regional facilitator to support L by concentrating on helping the 5 military barracks sites and the private industry sites (Lihir, Porgera and Oktedi mines) that are still struggling.  

At end of month we will plan a launch for the Tingim Laip (think of life) logo.  The initial brainstorming suggests that we may organize a Run for Life at various sites simultaneously.  The FHI consultant is attached to the idea of launching helium balloons from the parliament house, one for every known person who has died of AIDS in PNG.  Interesting and strong visual, could perhaps start the run at Parliament House after balloons are released. We also need to start the planning for the annual symposium and strategic planning event in October.  

Weather has changed.  We’re in the dusty, windy season now. Hills are starting to brown.  People are lighting fires everywhere.  People from the Highlands have a tradition of slash and burn agriculture; they seasonally torch their gardens.  So living here in Moresby, they torch their yards.  Often smoke rises up into my apartment from little crackling fires down below in the neighborhood.  Sometimes it’s hard to drive down streets because smoke blocks out the view.  Although I haven’t regularly smoked cigarettes since my early 20’s, the smell of smoke always makes me want a cigarette. 

If my energy holds up, I’ll travel to Lae this month for a workshop on better integrating peer education and HRSS activities into the Provincial AIDS Councils (the PACS). It’s a slow, tedious conversation that’s been going on for a couple of months.  Not sure this workshop will accomplish anything, but it’s what AusAID wants us to do.  I also plan to take a holiday weekend trip to Madang, which everyone says is the most beautiful spot in PNG.  We have a very strong site there, so on Monday, the holiday, I’ll probably visit the site.  

Am helping the NACS Deputy Director organize his poster presentation for the Toronto AIDS conference. Have arranged for some of the PNG staff who are going to stay where I’m staying, so we can get to know Toronto together.  The 18 year of son of the wonderful women I am supposed to facilitate workshops with in Toronto has just died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage. Awful time for her, and she has cancelled her plans to come to Toronto from the UK.  So we are hoping to fund the attendance of an experienced Stepping Stones facilitator from Africa to do the workshops with me.  Am waiting to hear what will happen with that.  It would be a big lost opportunity to cancel the workshops.  I’m prepared to facilitate them with whomever wants to help, but A must make the final calls and she is absorbed in grieving at the moment.

Am organizing give aways of the few household things I bought here...television, radio, kitchen stuff, sheets and towels.  Most will go to J, the lovely young woman who enriches my life through her weekly cleaning visits.  She has a real quandary at the moment.  In traditional Highlands tradition, her parents have, without talking to her, agreed that she will marry a man she has never met, who apparently has a good job, his own car, and the ability to give them a good bride price (which they will keep…J won’t get it).   Jis very much in love with W and they plan to marry.  He has a good job but not his own car.  J is deeply upset.  Yesterday I invited her to come to the launch to take her mind off of this difficult situation for a few hours.  She and W plan to talk with her parents today.  The parents have already accepted a down payment on the bride price, but fortunately haven’t yet spent it.  So there is hope.  I gave her a ring that is worth more than the down payment, in the hope that perhaps her mother will be content with that while W organizes some money for the parents.  J is ready to run away, but W wants to treat her parents with respect and try to negotiate with them.  I hope that she will be allowed to marry the man her heart desires.  

Probably this will be my last note home for this trip, simply because July is packed to the brim with activities and will go by in a flash.  Thanks to all of you who have shared this adventure by taking the time to read the notes.  Life is such an interesting adventure, wherever we choose to live it. 



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Important information for those of you who travel
A strain of malaria resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines has become dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia, scientists have warned.
Using genomic surveillance to track the spread of drug-resistant malaria, the scientists found that the strain, known as KEL1/PLA1, has also evolved and picked up new genetic mutations that may make it yet more resistant.
A similar resistance to a long-time front-line malaria drug, chloroquine, contributed to millions of deaths across Africa in the 1980s.
Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it is caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia.
The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ.
Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 2013.
The latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.


KATHMANDU/NEW YORK, 18 July 2019 (UNICEF) - Heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides across three countries in South Asia – Nepal, India, and Bangladesh – have killed at least 93 children, and put the lives of millions more at risk. UNICEF estimates that more than 12 million people, including about five million children, have been affected.

In India, more than ten million people have been affected across Assam, Bihar, parts of Uttar Pradesh and other north-eastern states, including more than 4.3 million children. As the situation develops these numbers are only likely to increase. 

In Assam alone, almost 2,000 schools have been damaged by floodwaters. Whilst parts of the country have been suffering from heavy rainfall and flooding, other parts are still reeling from the aftermath of severe heat and water deficit, affecting almost half of the country.

Inundation has caused contamination of drinking water across the two states. The situation is made worse as the community is forced to defecate in the open. As the water recedes, new challenges will emerge. Structural damages of houses and schools are expected to be very high, rendering them inhabitable.

Seeds India is providing relief to some areas and welcomes donations.  https://www.seedsindia.org


Monday, June 17, 2019

Friends,

As we approach the end of 2019's second quarter, I want to add two opportunities for charitable giving in Southeast Asia, based on my friend and colleague Kim Heang's useful recommendation to include this region  

These will be my last charitable giving postings for awhile.....I'll add a few more before the end of the tax year.  I may add additional posts about my work through the year, depending on where I find myself and what is happening there.   

Please remember that you are welcome to add your own charitable giving suggestions in the comments if you know of other health and social protection work that merits support.

6.    Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF)

How/why it was created: CCF was founded by Scott Neeson, former President of 20thCentury Fox International and head of Sony Pictures International’s marketing operations.  During a 2003 sabbatical he visited Phnom Penh and there saw many children living and working on the Steung Meanchey garbage dump, a waste site that spans approximately 100 acres.  Moved by so much poverty in such a toxic environment, he resigned from his US job and created CCF, an NGO that has continued to evolve over time.  You can see photos of the Steung Meanchey dump here: http://www.karlgrobl.com/Photojournalism/Stung%20Meanchey/page1.htm.

CCF’s two guiding pillars are Education and Leadership. The Education Program is the driving force behind all operations, to provide a pathway out of poverty for students and their families. The Leadership Program ensures that students graduate with a strong sense of social justice and a commitment to making a better future for themselves, their communities and country. Through linked child protection, career and life skills, and community outreach programs, CCF helps families escape debt, educate children, and develop job skills for parents and older children.

I applied to become a CCF volunteer while working in Cambodia for a six-month period, based on the organization’s excellent reputation; however, given my lack of national language (Khmer) fluency, the organization didn’t have a role where I could be useful.  But I have watched their good work with keen interest.

Reputation and results:  CCF works with several partners to leverage and enhance results and impact.  See https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/get-involved/partner/.

The organization’s annual and financial reports can be found at: https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/important-documents/.

For more information about CCF, visit: https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org.

How to give:  Click the blue DONATE button in the right upper corner of the website.

7.    Support Lao Children

How/why it was created:  The Montpelier Foundation is a UK based registered charity (registration number 1139851). Its mission is to eradicate poverty for all children in Northern Laos. A key program is Support Lao Children, founded by Andrew Brown, an Australian living in Luang Prabang.  who became aware of the Suan Luang orphanage and initially began to provide individual food support twice weekly.  Over time and with the help of donors, he set up Support Lao Children to improve the lives of the children in three residential institutions in Northern Lao – Luang Prabang, Suan Luang and Numbuk.

The organization now supports over 4,000 children across the three orphanages (please note that not all children residing in these three centers have lost both parents.  Some are placed there by very poor parents who cannot afford to care for them.) The Lao government is supportive and provides a small amount of money for school supplies and food, however the three centers rely primarily on donor support.

I learned about the Luang Prabang orphanage from an Australian colleague with whom I worked in Papua New Guinea, added myself to their mailing list, and have followed communications from committed volunteers who have worked there, with the institutions operating at times on a shoestring budget but with great commitment and determination.

Reputation and results:  Support Lao Children provides:
  1. nutritious meals with meat, fish and eggs
  2. water filtration systems to provide clean drinking water
  3. medical and dental support that includes weekly visits to the orphanages and emergency assistance
  4. scholarships to enable as many residents as possible to attend college.

For more information, visit: http://www.supportlaochildren.com.  

Montpelier Foundation’s financial reports are posted on its website: http://montpelierfoundation.org.uk/index.php/annual-accounts/.

How to give: To donate, click on this link:  https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/montpelierfoundation


You will see the Montpelier Foundation’s name on the payment page if you make a donation to Support Lao Children.  All funds donated into this account are exclusively for the orphanages. Donations can also be made by bank transfer; you can contact Andrew Brown directly at andrew@supportlaochildren.com for these details.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Friends,

Here are two more charitable giving opportunities for your consideration.

4.     Outreach Moldova

How/why it was created:  Outreach Moldova is an Irish NGO (non-profit organization) that has been working in Moldova since 2000 to improve medical, nutritional and personal care conditions in a residential institution for girls and women with disabilities in the town of Hincesti (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hînceşti). Professional staff provide medical assistance & support services to residents with special needs and terminal illnesses.  Services include ‘round the clock medical care, financial coverage of hospital stays and surgery costs, rehab services, education/art/physical activities, social education, and advocacy to address the stigma associated with disability in the country.  Many of the children and adult women being supported by Outreach Moldova have spent their entire lives in institutional care; all have been abandoned or orphaned.

Outreach Moldova is also building a few community based homes for adult women with moderate disabilities. Community based homes are a new model of care in Moldova.

Reputation and results:  I met and interviewed Suzanne O'Connell, MD, founder and president, during a child protection work visit to Moldova in 2017. She invited me to visit the residential institution being supported by this NGO. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow it but members of our work team gave high praise for the work the NGO does on behalf of residents, many of whom are severely disabled.  And the way Suzie spoke with deep affection for the children and young women she knows so well moved me deeply.  

Moldova’s government and infrastructure are poorly resourced to provide any services for women and children with disabilities.  Outreach Moldova is unique in terms of its strong dedication to residents with disabilities at Hincesti, as well as the type of community housing it is building with the hope that over time the government will be better positioned to assume funding responsibility for maintaining these housing services.

For more information, visit www.outreachmoldova.org.

How to give: Click on the gold ‘Donate Now’ button in the banner at the top of the web page.

5. International Organization for Migration in Ethiopia (IOM)

This is a special, urgent request from the IOM for its humanitarian support for refugees in Ethiopia.  The appeal is dated May 31, 2019.

"Mass internal displacement throughout Ethiopia due to consecutive years of drought and conflict have left nearly 9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The IOM is appealing to the international community for USD 50 million to continue offering lifesaving assistance to 1.5 million people in need.



Today’s request by IOM is part of the comprehensive inter-agency 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Ethiopia, which aims to raise USD 1.3. billion to support 8.3 million people. Half-way through the year, less than one-third of the HRP has been funded.

The second largest refugee hosting country in Africa, Ethiopia is hosting some 900,000 refugees primarily from South Sudan and Somalia and elsewhere, with additional refugees continuing to arrive. Transportation of newly arrived refugees from border entry points remains critical, as well as the provision of shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihood support.

Funds received from this year’s appeal will allow IOM to offer shelter, non-food items, WASH assistance, protection, mental health and psychosocial support to affected populations. It will also allow IOM to continue its work in cluster coordination, as well as managing its Rapid Response Fund and Displacement Tracking Matrix.

Resources for ensuring durable solutions through community stabilization, conflict resolution and peace building, and durable shelter initiatives are also prioritized in the 2019 response plan."

You can download IOM’s detailed 2019 Emergency and Recovery Appeal for Ethiopia at https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/appeal-2019-iom-ethiopia.pdf.

For more information on how to give to the Ethiopia appeal, please contact Alemayehu Seifeselassie in the Addis Ababa office, Email:
salemayehu@iom.int.




Friday, June 7, 2019

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting!

So many times through the years, friends who have listened to my descriptions of challenging global health or social protection situations I’ve witnessed around the world have expressed a desire to help, coupled with a wish that there were more avenues for individuals or families to contribute in ways that can accommodate budgets of all sizes.

Opportunities to provide direct assistance to worthy organizations do exist, and I thought it might be useful to publicize a few for friends who may find this information helpful in expanding the concept of social action beyond your immediate communities to a wider, global community.

I have chosen to list a few organizations with which I have direct experience. Some of the recommended organizations are based in just one country, and others are implementing programs in multiple countries.  Naturally I can’t guarantee how these organizations will put your donations to use, so please remember that this information is based on my personal experience and not on any formal or legal vetting process.

I'll continue to add additional organizations over time and you are most welcome to add your suggestions too in the comments.  Please feel free to share the blog with your personal networks if you wish.

Here are a few organizations to get the ball rolling....

1. Kiva.org

 How/why it was created: Kiva is a non-profit organization that was created to provide access to capital for individual entrepreneurs, currently in 80 countries. Per the website, more than 2.5 million people have collectively raised over $1 billion through this process, with the help of more than 1.5 million lenders.  Kiva has earned a 4 out of 4 star rating on the Charity Navigator.

How it works: A borrower applies for a loan. The loan goes through an underwriting and approval process.  Kiva has field partners and trustees who help to vet borrowers before they apply for loans on the website. The due diligence process is described on the website. The loan is posted to Kiva for lenders to support.  It is possible to borrow up to $10,000 at 0% interest. Individual lenders ‘crowdfund’* the loan in increments of $25 or more and can see who other lenders are.  Loans are made through a secure Kiva lender account. When fundraising is complete, Kiva provides the loan and borrower begins to repay the loan.  Lenders can then use the repaid money to fund new loans, donate the money, or withdraw the money.

Reputation and results:  Kiva loans have a history of 97%; this fluctuates slightly and you can find the current repayment rate at any time on the kiva website. Borrowers receive support for many things, including individual small businesses, craft cooperatives, loans for school tuition. See frequently asked questions at https://www.kiva.org/about/howfor more detail.

I have chatted with staff at Kiva about their vetting process and am comfortable with their standards.

How to give: Go to kiva.org and click on the blue box that says ‘start lending’.  

2Mother of Peace Community Zimbabwe

 How why/it was created:  Mother of Peace Community, Zimbabwe is a UK based charitable organization that raises funds to support an orphanage providing up to 60 children at a time with a home.  Children live in groups of 10 to 12 in houses with a house mother for each group. There is also a creche (daycare center) for children under 5 years of age as well as a health clinic and a chapel where daily services are held on the property. 

The orphanage was founded in 1994 by Jean Cornneck, RN, along with Lise and Derek van der Syde, Norman and Sybil Mac Donald in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe which left many children orphaned.  Jean’s sister Stella later joined her as the number of small children deposited with her or abandoned at the side of roads and then brought to her continued to grow. MOPC was formed in 2004 to raise funds for the orphanage.  The Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA has been a strong supporter for the orphanage for many years, as has a private donor based in Europe.  

I met Jean in Oakland, CA years ago.  We spent time together putting our feet in the water at the shore in the city of Alameda, and we shopped together for shoes that would fit her generously sized feet.

Reputation and results: Over time the orphanage has grown a large garden, acquired some livestock, and organized a water source to be as self-supporting as possible.  Many children who died of HIV/AIDS in the arms of Mother Jean and her caring staff, especially in the early years before ART was available for children in Zimbabwe, are lovingly buried on the property.  

A detailed history of the orphanage and its supporters can be found on the MOPC website, http://www.motherofpeace.org.uk.

How to give: See ‘How You Can Help’ on the MOPC home webpage.  

3. Hesperian Foundation

How/why it was created: Hesperian produces and shares easy-to-understand health information for people worldwide. The not for profit foundation’s work began in the 1970s in Ajoya, Mexico, where a group of volunteers worked with villagers to create a simple manual of medically accurate information, presented in a culturally appropriate way, to address community health needs.  The Hesperian Foundation was established to publish this manual in 1973 as Donde No Hay Doctor.  In 1977, Hesperian published the English language version Where There is No Doctor, now the most widely used health book in the world and translated into more than 80 languages.

Reputation and results:  Over time, Hesperian has published 20 titles that address community health, women’s health, the needs of women and children with disabilities, community support for people living with HIV and helping children live with HIV, and environmental health. It was re-named Hesperian Health Guides in 2011 to better communicate the spirit of the work and a new digital resource center was also launched in 2011, as an extension of the foundation’s open copyright policy.  Having a digital platform enables users everywhere to culturally customize and download book content.  

I have provided editorial review for two of Hesperian's books and have respect for the foundation's inclusive development process and the quality of their products. 

For more information about the Hesperian Foundation, visit https://hesperian.org/about/.