Thursday, June 30, 2005

AMREF Brings The Spotlight to African Self Help Efforts.

In case you have not heard, AMREF (The African Medical & Research Foundation - See Blog at May 17, 2005 ) has been awarded the 2005 Gates Award for Global Health.

The award, which is $1 Million, was presented at the Global Health Council's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 2005. Working on health issues for nearly 50 years, AMREF is recognized as one of the oldest and largest health organizations based in Africa and led by Africans.

Upon accepting the award, Miriam Were, Chair of AMREF's board, said

"It is particularly important that in this year-dubbed Africa Year due to increased focus on Africa--a deserving African organisation is honoured through this award and AMREF is delighted to be the first African organisation to win the Gates Award for Global Health. We accept the award on behalf of the communities and people across Africa with whom AMREF has worked for nearly 50 years and to whom we dedicate this award, along with our Founders, our Partners in AMREF National Offices as well as our staff, past and present. We see this award as a recognition of the determination of the people of Africa who continue working on the improvement of the quality of their lives and continuing to contribute to global well being. We deeply appreciated all those working with us from everywhere. Thank you."

Ms. Were's remarks are particularly poignant because it brings attention to "the determination of the people of Africa" to improve the quality of their lives. This is not to say that much generous assistance is received from partners outside of Africa, but Ms. Were's statement speaks against the concept that many westerners have that Africans are passively sitting and waiting for "handouts from the rest of the world."

This negative image of Africans is held by too many people in the west, even, unfortunately, among many members of the African Diaspora in the United States. African Americans who were born in the U.S. and have not had the opportunity to educate themselves regarding Africa, often accept the glib and inaccurate stereotypes of "Africans" that are too frequently portrayed in the western press.

The award of $1 Million to AMREF to continue their work indicates the awareness of the Gates Foundation - and the Global Health council, which administers the Gates Award - in recognizing the efforts being made by Africans in the area of solving global health problems.

AMREF was chosen from among the more than 85 nominees by a jury of individuals considered to be leaders in international public health leaders for its extraordinary efforts to improve the health of individuals in the developing world.

William H Gates Sr., Co-Chair of the Gates Foundation and father of the Microsoft billionaire, said of AMREF: "Being the voice of Africa is a challenge because Africa is many nations and many cultures. Being a voice for Africa is a daunting assignment. Of course, AMREF is more than a voice of Africa. It is deeds: acts of compassion, of intelligence, of purpose. They've learned how to truly improve health in Africa by asking Africans what needs to be done, and how best to do it."

As pointed out in an earlier post, AMREF was founded in 1957 as the Flying Doctors of East Africa. Initially it flew physicians and surgeons to perform emergency procedures in towns and villages with no access to hospitals. AMREF still airlifts doctors today, but it has greatly expanded its range of services.

The Nairobi-based not-for-profit organization has a staff of more than 600 physicians, nurses, researchers, nutritionists, and sanitation workers who help communities set up health systems to address many of the most serious challenges being addressed in Africa. And you can go to their web site to see their six priority areas for intervention.

Just two weeks after winning the $1 million Gates Award for Global Health, AMREF was awarded a $2.9 million grant from an American consultancy firm, the Accenture Foundation.

The award from the Accenture Foundation consists of $1.7 million in cash and $1.2 million in kind, to be used to implement a new electronic training program for nurses in Kenya.

According to AllAfrica.Com, "Accenture is a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company with a presence in 48 countries and a workforce exceeding 110,000 people. Last year, it had total revenues of over $13.5 billion."

It is also reported "The Accenture programme, which will run for five years, will have three phases. These will be design and programme planning, which will last three months, followed by a three-month pilot initiative serving 300 nurses at five regional training centres; a six-month rollout of the full solution to all regional training centres."

It seems as if AMREF is doing something right and getting recognition for it. And just as importantly, AMREF is bringing recognition to the "Self Help" efforts of Africans to improve the lives of Africans.

Visit the AMREF web site and take a look at what they are doing at what they are doing and how they are doing it. Maybe you could even drop them an email offering your support or asking what things you could don in combination with their efforts; because we have to keep in mind that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.


Additional Links

The Gates Foundation

The Accenture Foundation is on the Accenture web site at:

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

THE ZAMBIA SOCIETY TRUST : Efficient and Effective

The Zambia Society Trust gets straight to the point. At their website they tell you a number of things, but it is very easy to find out
Who They Are,
What They Have Done and
What They Plan To Do
This type of efficiency seems to typify the "Trust" as they refer to themselves, not wasting any words. And the efficiency of this organization pays off in effectiveness. Their programs are well defined and very "do-able" and their fund raising activities are uncomplicated and effective. They also keep their supporters informed with a portion of their web site called "Spotlight on Zambia" that contains news, information and important visibility functions like interviews with the U.K.'s Secretary of State for International Development.

Right from the start at the Trust's homepage in bold letters that you cannot miss, you learn that:
"The Zambia Society Trust is a British - registered charity devoted to the relief of poverty, disability and sickness, the promotion of good health and advancement of education in Zambia."

Look to the left, and they have their Mission Statement in Bold Letters:
"Our main objective is to raise £50,000 every year in order to help 3,000 out of the 550,000 orphans and children at risk in Zambia find homes with food, healthcare and schooling."

And to give you some perspective, they add:
"It costs about £15 for each child."


The organization grew out of the Zambia Society, a friendship group formed by people in the U.K. who had previously lived and worked in Zambia.

The Trust was formed at the suggestion of Vic Godfrey - The former Treasurer of the Society, Vic Godfrey suggested the formation of the Trust because the Society had accumulated reserve funds which could be used for "worthy causes" in Zambia.

On 27th November 1991, 11 members of the Society met in London and after the draft Constitution was approved by the Charity Commissioners, those present at the meeting became founder members of the Trust.

The Trust made its first 2 awards in April 1993; Harvest Help, an agricultural scheme on Lake Kariba, and a quadriplegic assistant at St. Frances Hospital being the recipients. Later, a grant was made to the hospital when a lorry with medical supplies was stolen. And more awards would follow.

In 1995 Dick Hobson's Tales of Zambia, was printed and raised £11,000 for the organization. And in 1998 Dr. Jessie Ridge provided the Ridge Bursary to help train Zambian doctors and health workers. Every year an annual golf day is held and currently generates about £5,000 each year. The funds raised by the annual golf day are used for specific orphan projects.


The Zambia Trust Society reports that there are about 700,000 orphans amongst a population of 10.5 million in Zambia. Many of the orphans' parents are said to have died from HIV/AIDS; but the great majority of the surviving children are not HIV infected.

The Trust places a high priority on assisting orphans to attend primary schools in their communities and to receive one nutritious meal a day when over-burdened families have difficulty in providing this.

Projects assisted in 2004 by the Zambia Society Trust are:

Chitsime Association, Misisi Township, Lusaka

A community based project assisted by the Catholic Parish of Kabwata, Lusaka. There is a community primary school for about 1000 pupils and a special needs school for 64, providing free education for pre-school to Grade 7. Grades 8 and 9 are planned.
85% of the children are orphans, most of whom live in Misisi shanty town with relatives or neighbours.

About 20 children from the streets live at the centre in modified containers, until a home can be found.

Alongside them are small income generating projects (making charcoal stoves, building, carpentry, homecraft, tie and dye, pressing oil seed (sunflower)

£ 2500 was awarded to this project.

Mpundu Mission, Kabwe

A Catholic centre where there are basic and secondary schools. Funds are used to pay school fees for orphans, also the poorest are given clothes.
£ 1,000 was awarded to this project.

St Francis' Hospital, Katete

This general hospital in the Eastern Province, administered jointly by the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Zambia, has an AIDS team responsible for health education, a community based home care system and an orphan support programme.
£ 1500 was awarded to this project.

There are Six other projects listed at this page in the web site

A total allocation was made in 2004 of £9500


JAMES CAIRNS, the current Chairman of the Trust has stated that the Trust is a small charity but with a clear focus and close links with small self-help groups in Zambia.

Making small grants totaling £15,000 per year, the Trust's objective is to

"raise £50,000 every year to help feed thousands of Zambia's orphans and vulnerable children find a home in the community, food and primary education".

Because Zambia is poverty ridden and debt burdened with an outstanding debt to the IMF of $4 Billion (Reduced down from $7 Billion after years of pressure and the Jubilee 2000 Campaign - However the debt service was left at its original rate and accumulates about $140-200 million in interest every year.). And when the IMF reduced the debt, it imposed conditions on Zambia that make that reduced debt even more difficult to repay. Forced to open its doors to foreign goods and to eliminate its subsidies for local industry the economy of Zambia has suffered so badly that among other things, "Schools deteriorate through lack of funds for basic needs such as textbooks, chalk and blackboards. Hospitals lack basic drugs and surgical supplies."

In addition to its other woes, Zambia has suffered the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with 20% of adult Zambians being infected. This is the primary cause for the large number of orphans in the country.

As stated earlier, the Trust is trying to increase support, especially to projects which help orphans receive primary education and at least one good meal a day, but living with related families.

In addition to initiating new projects, the Trust intends to continue the following efforts.

Bursaries for students to local colleges for accountancy, flour milling, medicine.

Medical awards
Specifically from the bursaries set up by mission doctor, Dr. Jessie Ridge, to provide books for medical students, support for doctors at rural hospital postings and training health workers.

Help given to Salvation Army Home for the Aged where the Trust has paid for an intensive care unit and annual treats for residents.

Mukinge Hospital
Borehole, water pump and fencing and toilets for an AIDS ward.

Football project
In 1994 the Trust provided football for schools and this was so popular it has become an annual obligation! Most schools in the country have now been reached.

The Trust has also established an exchange program between schools in the UK and Zambia. The Trust helps to foster links made by some English schools with Zambian counterparts who can visit England, whilst parties of English students go to Zambia.

The Zambia Society Trust is doing a lot with a little; and I only gave you a summary so go to their web site to see what a small group of people working efficiently and effectively can do.

Friday, June 24, 2005

LEAP: Leadership Through Business

In 2002, recognizing the fact that Africa continues to lag behind in the development of leadership institutes that had emerged over the last twenty years, Ndidi Olonkwo Nwuneli did something about it. She founded Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability & Professionalism (LEAP). In both developing and developed countries, there is widespread recognition that leadership skills are crucial for individual and organizational success and wealth creation.

Because the business community and youth in Africa had limited exposure to effective leadership skills, and the majority had received minimal coaching, Ndidi believed it was necessary to initiate LEAP so that African entrepreneurs and enterprising youth would benefit from leadership training programs.

LEAP Africa's mission is to inspire, empower and equip a new cadre of leaders in Africa, and in order to do this, it offers leadership training programmes and coaching services for young people, the business community and social entrepreneurs. It is Committed to equipping these groups with the skills, tools and support that they require to serve as change agents in society.

In addition to these efforts, LEAP also conducts research on leadership in Africa and provides leadership awards to youth.

Directing its efforts through projects for the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation in Rwanda, and the Harvard Business School, LEAP has focused on building its knowledge base, industry networks and experience.

Additionally, it has successfully launched its youth programme in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Enugu and programs for entrepreneurs in Enugu, Kano and Lagos.

LEAP says that it is unique because it ensures that its participants are immersed in a world-class and practical learning environment. Its curriculum consists of case studies, interactive exercises, games and breakout discussions, offered over a two-year period, which are designed to change mindsets and behaviour.

In addition to its programs, LEAP provides its participants through one-on-one coaching sessions in order to motivate and inspire them.

While LEAP works across Nigeria, it also has an Africa-wide orientation and has already contributed towards leadership development efforts in Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa.

LEAP says that between "January 2004 and December 2009, LEAP is committed to cultivating a culture of leadership, effectiveness, accountability and professionalism among at least 1,200 entrepreneurs who manage small and medium-sized enterprises and 1,500 youth leaders. This will ensure that more African businesses outlive their founders, and that more African youth lead positive change efforts in their communities."

In its youth program, LEAP recognizes that in order for individuals to acquire leadership skills, they need first hand experiences and long-term support. As a result, participants who are nominated for LEAP's youth programs are immersed in a range of interactive exercises, games, role play, and breakout discussions. In addition, LEAP provides a world-class and practical learning environment.

Through one-on-one coaching sessions LEAP monitors "change of mindsets and behaviour" of its beneficiaries, and provides its participants with access to information on a range of issues related to youth development and change leadership, among other things.

LEAP relies on nominations from faculty members, school administrators, religious and community organizations and non-profit organizations for its youth participants. It also welcomes peer nominations from other youth who serve as leaders in their local communities. Potential participants must demonstrate a strong interest and commitment to service, a passion for the ideals and values of LEAP Africa, and moral integrity.

LEAP's Business Leadership Programme is modeled after international best practices,and is designed to:

o Expose business owners to critical skills and tools for effective leadership in business

o Give them the unique opportunity to reflect on their current leadership abilities and to enhance their leadership and management skills

o Build a close community of business owners who will encourage and support each other to build successful and sustainable businesses

Some of the training topics are:
- the art and act of leadership, visioning and goal-setting, motivating and coaching people for peak performance and building world class Board of Directors.

LEAP collaborates with several banks in the nomination of participants for its Business Leadership programmes in Lagos , Benin and Kano respectively.

Additionally, in March, 2004, with funding from the Diageo Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and LEAP Africa launched the Trendsetters Social Entrepreneurs' Programme in Nigeria .

This programme was designed to identify and support the success of a select group of entrepreneurial Nigerians who have applied their talents to the creation of social and economic wealth, and has the following components:

o Leadership and Management training
o Opportunities to participate in domestic and international events and
o One-on-one coaching.

There is obviously much more to thes programs than I have given in this brief outline. But if I quoted there entire web site you would not have to go to:
to get the whole story.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

AUWMD: 150 Women Strong - VERY STRONG!

You have to Give these Ladies a Lot of Respect. The Association of Uganda Women Medical Doctors (AUWMD) was established in 1987 as a non-profit NGO with the purpose of improving the health status of the population of Uganda, especially, women, children and adolescents. All women doctors and female dentists working in Uganda whether Ugandans or not are eligible for Membership. Female medical students are welcome to join the Association as well.

With a membership of 150, AUWMD is taking on the problems in Uganda such as HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health Training, Women's Health, Gender Based Violence and Cancer of the Cervix just to name a few.

One of the organization's missions is to "build a strong professional Association of women medical doctors working in Uganda whose growing expertise will contribute to improvement of the quality of life of the disadvantaged groups, especially women, children, adolescents and the elderly, through advocacy, promotion of health rights and provision of quality health services."

HIV/AIDS education and training for community leaders and adolescents; career guidance in girls' schools; research, publication and dissemination of health-related information, and advocacy for women's health through workshops and seminars are some of the "enlightenment goals of the group.

The priority areas of concern for the association are still as follows:

High mortality amongst the target groups, from preventable diseases.
High mortality and morbidity from pregnant-related problems.
Inadequate resources allocated to reproductive health.
Inadequate health information conveyed to the communities.
Problems associated with adolescent sexual activities.

The strategies adopted for the next five year are:
- Awareness creation, advocacy and community mobilisation on priority health issues and programmes.
- Research, documentation and dissemination of information on the association's priority areas of concern.
- Close collaboration with government including implementation of activities under - - ---- Uganda's Health Sector Strategic Plan.
- Close collaboration with Development Partners and other NGOs and Civil Society Organisations working in Uganda's health sector.

Some of AUWMD's specific activities have been:

The Parents Project: November 2000 to May 2002 - Funded by the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE)

AUWMD says that "This project came out of a challenge identified durig implementation of the Adolescent Friendly Reproductive Health Services Project. Parents, community leaders and school administrators were lacking the knowledge and skills of dealing with adolescent health problems. The project activities include sensitisation sessions with local leaders, meeting with parents and school administrators in the Kawempe Division and the training of parents in adolescent sexuality, effective communication and counselling, growth and development, teenage pregnancy STIs etc. New materials have been developed for the training sessions."

Outreaches in Kyanja, KCC Kampala Nakawa Division: 1999 to Present
The project activities include identifying health problems faced by the people of Kyanja and discussing the priority health needs, discuss factors that contribute to the mentioned health problems and suggest possible solutions. The association is designing ways of providing sustainable health services for Kyanja

In addition to PPNNe, the AUWMD works closely with other partners who have similar interests e.g. The Population Secretariat, the Ministry of Health, and WHO, Uganda Women's Network. (UWONET). ISIS-WICCE, National Association of Women's Organisations of Uganda (NAWOU), Uganda Media Women Association (UMWA), Safe Motherhood project, Hope after Rape and Forum for African Women Educationalists-Ugandan Chapter (FAWE-U).

AUMWD deserves a lot of credit for tackling some very tough problems. It is a glowing example of what people can do when they work together within their own communities and when they partner with like minded people from other areas.

I have only scratched the service here, you would do yourself a favor if you visited the AUMWD website and become inspired by what these 150 strong women have been doing. You can find their site at:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Afribike is a unique South African organization that is helping the rest of the world by helping Africa. It says that its mission is "to promote the use of non-motorized transport (bicycles, workcycles) as a means of poverty alleviation, job creation, education, sustainable development, and environmental protection."

Its Vision is to be an organization that will enable communities to leverage the potential of the bicycle through sustainable and replicable models.

Strategically, Afribike wants to act as an incubator to establish a franchise organization that will build up a small to medium franchising enterprise (SME) in Southern Africa and replicate its efforts throughout Africa.

The vast majority of South Africans; like the vast majority of most Africans; lack adequate transportation. The unavailability of affordable transportation many are forced to walk to their destinations, consuming time that could be spent generating income, gaining skills, or meeting household needs.

Afribike's integrated community bicycle infrastructure plan seeks to mobilize the working poor with bicycles and skills and make communities more 'bicycle friendly' through the provision of bicycle paths, signage, and service facilities.

Increasing the security of bicycles by providing low-cost chains and locks is another objective of Afribike along with advocating for the provisions for secure bicycle parking.
Afribike is getting some help in these areas from the University of Witswaterstrand and Dutch bicycle planning professionals who are in partnership with the South African organization.

In the rural areas, Afribike faces different challenges. Cost and access to cycling products and resources, are the major obstacles. By incubating local bicycle dealerships and setting up supply lines of low-cost and appropriate used and new bicycles, Afribike is solving the mobility problems of rural South Africans and creating local small enterprises and jobs in the process.

Before apartheid, bicycles were common in black areas, used by commuters, traders and health care workers, but today South Africa does not currently have a strong bicycle culture. Now, most cycling there is of a recreational nature and rates of cycling are very low with bicycle shops in low-income areas being almost nonexistent.

Many organizations and individuals have contributed to the development of Afribike. The name of the organization was first coined by the ITDP (Institute for Transport and Development Policy) based in New York. And was promoting bicycle transport in Africa.

The initial Afribike activities focused on the recycling of used bicycles from the USA and were largely driven by staff and volunteers working with the ITDP. In 1998 ITDP partnered with UK-based Re-cycle and elected to focus its activities on South Africa. Re-cycle had good access to used bicycles and the shipping costs from the UK were significantly lower than from the USA. Several containers were shipped to South Africa and the project established itself on a semi-permanent basis in downtown Johannesburg.

In 1999 the All Africa Games were held in Johannesburg and Afribike procured a
contract to provide the cleaning staff of the athlete's village with bicycles and did so successfully. Built on this success, additional projects were procured and the idea took root to set up micro bicycle retail enterprises housed in old shipping containers. Contracts to set up such enterprises in Ivory Park, a township near Midrand and in two areas in rural KwaZulu Natal were signed. By 2000 Afribike was registered in South Africa as an
Association Not for Gain and has since established itself as an independent
(South) African organization.

Each Afribike micro enterprise is managed by local operators who are trained by Afribike as bicycle mechanics. They also receive training in small business practice and operational procedures.

Apart from its retail function, the shop also functions as a mini resource center which can promote cycling locally through the establishment of local cycle clubs and organizing local cycle races. These clubs and races can then form a network which feeds into national and international cycling clubs and events.

Afribike says that bicycle transport "is the most successful form of sustainable transport in the world. Bicycle transport is non polluting, requires relatively little land space and uses renewable energy sources. Furthermore bicycles have proven a low cost efficient and effective mode of transport, especially in Asia and many parts of Europe. Bicycles also have significant health benefits by providing an easy way to exercise. Finally, bicycle transport is one of the safest modes of transport as very few people are killed by cyclists."

The organization also says that it focuses on Africa because the "transport system in Africa is generally very underdeveloped and this forms a major constraint on the development of the continent. More significant however, is the fact that most transport investments in Africa focus on promoting motorized transport. This is despite the fact that fewer than 1% of households in Africa have access to private motorized transport and that experiences in the developed world have shown that the almost universal use of motorized transport has enormous costs. The majority of Africans have to walk, which wastes a lot of time and severely limits their opportunities to participate in the economy. Bicycles are a low cost mode of transport which can drastically improve these people's mobility and can realistically be made accessible to most Africans."

To date "Afribike has recycled approximately 10,000 used bicycles which were imported from its partners in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany. The recycling of used bicycles which would otherwise end up on landfills in the developed world has two advantages: it reduces waste in the developed world and makes bicycle more affordable for low income users in Africa."

There is a lot more to be said about Afribike, and Afribike has a lot more to say, but since I am running out of space before this is no longer a "Short Article" I am going to direct you to their very well designed web site at:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

SOS CHILD SOLDIERS : Trying To Repair The Damage

A few days ago, I wrote about the Kids League Foundation operating a football league in Gulu in Northern Uganda. But the Kids League is not the only organization working to help the kids there. SOS Children started its Child Soldier Program in Gulu in 2002.

That SOS program targets Ugandan babies and children whose lives have been shattered by the ongoing civil war in Uganda. On their web site SOS says: "Over the last 15 years ten thousand children have been taken from home by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) around Gulu in northern Uganda, alone."

These children include former "Lord's Resistance Army" child soldiers, abandoned children born to mothers in captivity, abducted and sexually abused girls with their babies, AIDS orphans and children whose parents have been killed in the conflict.

One specific goal is to re-unite former child soldiers with their families and to help them come to terms with what they have been through. This involves helping communities to understand that the children themselves are not really to blame, even when they have committed atrocities.

The children in the program are provided with basic necessities, food, clothing, shelter in dormitories and tents and medical and psychological support. The children will be reunited with their families and receive ongoing assistance such as schooling, medical support and access to psychological help whenever it is possible. Orphans and children whose relatives cannot be found or whose community refuses to reintegrate them, receive long-term family based care in an SOS Children's community. Currently nine caregivers are living with 117 children in a temporary village in Gulu. Eventually a permanent community will be built as a long-term solution.

SOS Children first went into Uganda in the aftermath of the 1985 war, which had its greatest impact on the children in the Luwero Triangle. Setting up its first operation in Kakiri, a small village not far from the capital Kampala, SOS established a children's community for orphans, , as well as a kindergarten, a primary and secondary school and a medical center.

The second SOS Children's Village in Uganda was established in Entebbe in response to pressures from crises, not least of which was the growing Aids pandemic.

The need to come to the aid of children in Uganda is still very real. SOS reports that: "In just the last ten years, over two million children have died in wars and conflict. More than one million have been orphaned in the same period and more than six million have been permanently disabled or seriously injured."

In addition to its work in Uganda, SOS Children works around the world to help Child Soldiers and other children deeply scarred by conflict. They are also currently helping child soldiers in Sudan by providing family-tracing, counseling, education and support for child soldiers who are now trying to rebuild their lives since the end of hostilities in southern Sudan.

Since March of 2004 the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has been releasing hundreds of child soldiers as a result of the peace negotiations that led to the treaty of January 2005. Many of these children had been recruited by force to fight - sometimes at ages as young as 7 or 8.

SOS Children runs a community for orphans in Malakal where many of them arrived after their release seeking food and assistance in finding their families. In Malaakal SOS provides children with medical check-ups, food, clothes, shelter and vital counseling.

In addition to Uganda and Sudan SOS Children is also working hard to rebuild lives in Rwanda a decade after the massacre there.

The injuries to these children may never be undone, but take a look at what SOS Children is doing to help as much as it can. There web site for their Child Soldier Projects is:

Monday, June 20, 2005


Readers of this Blog know that I have talked about Plan before. On June 15th I wrote about the efforts of Plan to help folks in Haiti. Now I would like to say something about Plan's work in Niger.

Plan is also assisting locust plague victims in Niger. In 2004 the Tillabery region of Northern Niger suffered from locust plagues that decimated crops and further compounded the effects of the year's drought. They estimated that 3.5 million people will face food shortages this year in the Sahel region of West Africa, and the region was devastated last year by the "worst locust invasion in 15 years, resulting in vast destruction of staple crops due to be harvested, including maize, sorghum and millet."

Realizing the suffering this could cause in the second poorest country in the world, Plan has been working in Niger since 1996. Currently, at the requests from local and national government they are working to improve food security in 11 villages in the Tillabery Region. In these villages there are working with approximately 3,111 families, but focusing on providing relief nutrition to approximately 7,000 children.

In partnership with local organizations, Plan will begin emergency food relief operations will begin as soon as feasible. The local organizations that will partner with Plan in this project are women's groups, school management committees and the government.

Plan intends to distribute micronutrients (vitamins - Okay, so I had to go to the dictionary to look up "micronutrients) to primary school children through schools and health centers in order to supplement protein, iron, zinc and other vitamins to children.

Lunch meals will be prepared and served daily at school by community volunteers organized and assisted by Plan. In this way, the organization hopes to encourage families to keep their children at school as well as providing urgently needed food supplements to the children.

Mobile cooking demonstrations will provide nutrition education and help families to identify moderate malnourished children and set up a reference system for severely malnourished children.

Plan is working closely with the development committees in each village, which are responsible for the management and storage of cereals. And as mentioned before, Plan is also working closely with the villages' women's groups that will be responsible for the preparation of meals for primary schools.

All of these efforts will be further coordinated with local district authorities, the World Food Program and other UN agencies.

In addition to the assistance being provided to the victims of the locust plague, Plan is assistance with well development in Niger. Plan's web site states "The Sahelian-Saharan region of Africa is one of the driest regions in the world with Niger the driest country in the area, with only 800mm of rainfall a year and only one permanent river."

With only around 43% of the population having access to potable water (and only about 36% in the rural areas) the shortage of water is a major obstacle for development in Niger. Quite often the sources of available safe water is a great distance from peoples' homes and "women and girls spend hours collecting water for their families every day." Plan says that families often have to choose between sending their daughters to school and sending them to fetch their vital water supplies.

Because open wells are the main source of water in rural areas the water is often contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

Plan has initiated a project that aims to ensure access to clean water for 1,300 people in Doukou Sarou village in Tillabery Region, where the organization says there is currently no local source of clean water.

The project will include:

- Drilling a borehole and constructing a hand-pump in Doukou Sarou Village
- Electing and training a Water Management Committee to represent community members and to oversee the project and the future maintenance of the water point
- Selecting and training a pump monitor who will be responsible for maintaining the water point
- Training committee members to organize hygiene education training sessions
- Organization of public awareness sessions
on health and hygiene, including street theatre and musical

The local community will be involved in this project from the beginning through a Local Development Committee that will oversee the process. Plan also believes that involving local people in the "hygiene training sessions, will help to bring a sense of community ownership to the project and ensure its future success."

A type of pump was chosen for the well that will make the project sustainable because the communities can easily maintain it. A small fee will be charged the community members for the use of the well. These fees will create a fund to pay the pump monitor and any technicians required, and also to purchase any spare parts required in the future.

More details on Plans projects in Niger can be found at:

Friday, June 17, 2005


The Kids League Foundation is an independent UK charity that focuses on what Americans call "Soccer" and the rest of the entire world calls "Football!"

The Kids League Foundation says that it "uses sport and sports related activities to bring diverse communities together to promote health, education and life skills with individuals and organisations in the UK, Africa and elsewhere and through the creation of youth leaders and ambassadors, we work to educate and inform the global citizens of tomorrow,"

That quite a mouthful, but these guys "put their money where there mouth is" raising funds to organize youth football teams and leagues in Uganda.

"It is an organisation formed out of the experience and needs of the work in Uganda but seeks to work bilaterally to meet its mission." States the Kids League Foundation web site.

The Kids League's efforts in Gulu started in June of 2004 with funding provided by UNICEF, Stanbic Bank and MTN - the leading Telecommunications Company in Uganda (to be honest, I had to look MTN up in Google).

Kids League Gulu has 6 Junior and 6 Senior Football Teams as well as 4 Senior Girls Netball Teams that compete in a regular league. In addition to this they are running leagues in 4 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps in northern Uganda.

In Gulu, where there are approximately 20,000 children who come to the town centers at night to sleep with out fear of being abducted by the Lords Resistance Army, The Kids League says they have finally given the kids something "to smile about."

Because of the success of TKL Gulu, the United Nations arm for the welfare of children, - UNICEF - has requested that TKL start up a league in Kitgum District as well. Again, with the help of UNICEF and Stanbic Bank, TKL Kitgum is launching in 2005, with Football and Netball leagues in Kitgum Town.

Also in 2005 TKL will launch a league in Arua. Funds for this league will be coming from UPHOLD, which is a USAID funded effort and Stanbic Bank will support the effort in Arua as commercial sponsor. The Arua project, which will also be sponsored by Celtel and General Machinery will take on an educational focus by raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and encouraging children to attend school and become role models in their communities.

There will be 3 footballs league in Arua with school outreach programs as well to encourage children to be active, while concentrating on their studies.

The Kids League hopes to have 36 districts in Uganda participating in the Leagues programs within 10 years; and is planning to have all 56 districts engaged eventually.

TKL says that hopefully its model from Kampala Kids League, which is a fully sustainable voluntary organization, will be reproduced in all districts.

TKL says thast the benefits of the kids league are:

"Through sport, tribal, religious and socio-economic differences disappear and PEACE BUILDING occurs naturally."

Because sport has the power of mobilizing communities in order to help deliver health and education messages to children, friends and family, TKL is more than sports.

TKL has already successfully partnered with the World Health Organization in 7 districts in Uganda to immunize children from measles. It also intends to spread the word on:
Youth Friendly AIDS Education
Universal Primary Education
Encourage Birth Registration
Rights of the Child (Human Rights)
Conflict Resolution / Peace Building

They are even requesting that other organizations like yours can give them input on messages you would like to spread.

The Kids League provides children with an opportunity to PLAY and have fun, after living through years of war and violent conflict

Because The Kids League depends on parents and community members to volunteer their time, "(p)arents and children often report that the time they spend together on the field has long-lasting effects off the field. Parent-child dialogue opens up and parents start to take an interest in the extra-curricular activities of their children."

The Kids League says that it "invests heavily in developing local talent and ensuring that there are trained coaches and referees who are specially trained to cater to the needs of the child athlete."

With its emphasis on COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION, TKL believes that because it relies heavily on local District volunteers who bring a wealth of diversity and experience to the league, it is helping to bring a communities together for a common goal and also provides an opportunity for people to learn about the various organizations and schools in their communities.

Travel to TKL's web site at

and learn a lot more about what this great organization is doing, and who knows, maybe even we Yanks can learn to call it "FOOTBALL! "

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Sometimes these children are abandoned by their parents acting out of economic necessity, sometimes they are orphaned because of HIV/AIDS, but whatever the reason, the sight of children begging and trying to scratch out a living in a big city is heart wrenching.

In some cities these children are so commonplace that they go unnoticed to the other city dwellers.

SOS Children among its many other projects has specific programs for "Street Children." And while the efforts of SOS are worldwide, I am only going to focus on their projects in Zambia and Kenya. For additional information on their other projects please visit their home web page at:

SOS Street Children Zambia

According to the SOS web site, in Zambia
o over 30% of all children under the age of 15 are orphans
o 80% of the people in rural areas live below the poverty line
o half a million young children are living on the streets, with no one to look after them

Declaring its intent to reduce the hardships of life being suffered by the young of Zambia,
SOS Children points out that it opened its first community for orphaned children in Lusaka in 1999. That community houses almost 200 boys and girls today.

While rescuing and nurturing nearly 200 children is a huge effort, there are still so many more boys and girls living on the cities streets.

In an effort to widen its impact SOS Children has also "recently established an outreach project aimed specifically at helping the thousands of children that are still condemned to scratching a living from the town's streets" .

This outreach project involved SOS Children setting up two centers; a Social Center and a Medical Center. According to their web site:

The Social Center encourages street children - often as young as six years old - to 'drop in'. They are provided with food, and information on HIV/Aids, hygiene, health services, education and training. Currently some 800 children are being helped in this way each year."

The Medical Center gives a full range of health services to about 2000 people every month, and welcomes the many street children that appear at its door. It also helps families already being supported by the Social Center. The main diseases treated are respiratory infections, malaria and stomach disorders. Voluntary HIV/Aids testing is also available."

The Social Center also provides support to families whose children are at risk of becoming street children. Through this outreach program over 300 children have been able to return to school. Older children are also being provided vocational training.

Despite the great efforts of SOS in Zambia, in their appeal for assistance they state, "(T)he number (of children) we have reached so far is still only a tiny fraction of the thousands who need our services."

SOS Children: Street Children in Kenya

SOS says that in Kenya "life is short and dirty for street Children."

Ravaged by poverty, war and globalisation, approximately 250,000 people are homeless in Nairobil, the country's capital. And it is the children who are condemned to suffer the worst of it.

Some work, but many beg to obtain the basic necessities for life. "They polish shoes, wash windscreens, pick pockets and beg. Most of them take drugs when they can, are malnourished and are sick."

SOS Children's Villages first established its project in Nairobi in 1973 and has grown "considerably" since then. In partnership with Unilever, SOS recently launched a program called "Give a Child a Good Start." Give a Child a Good Start in order to carry out its objective of feeding the homeless recently organized a "street breakfast" that was attended by over 400 children. Also I partnership with Unilever, SOS has helped to refurbish a children's hostel in one of Nairobi's poorest districts, Ngara.

There is great difficulty in rescuing and rehabilitating street children. They tend to be very independent and sometimes resistant to being integrated into a society that is foreign to them. About this SOS says: "A tolerant step by step approach is essential. And gradually, as the children are relieved of the day to day pressures of managing their own survival, they become increasingly keen to learn and take part in social activities."

I have written about SOS Children before, and I will write about them some more, because there is a lot that they are doing to help children, not only in Africa, but all over the world. If you read this Blog, you must have some concern for the poor of the world and for those who suffer among us. So, if you want to learn more about what SOS is doing for Street Children at, go to:

And if you want to learn more about SOS Children's other projects, visit their web site at:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

PLAN Helping To Pull Things Together In Haiti

In Haiti, the only French-speaking Republic in the Americas, an organization that was begun in 1937 to help children orphaned by the Spanish Civil war is hard at work making a difference in the lives of people who suffer from conflict, disease and natural disaster.

Plan, originally named "Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain" has several ongoing projects in Haiti, all of which are geared to face the "poor health and housing conditions in urban areas, low incomes, bad farming conditions, lack of access to clean, safe water and poor access to health and education facilities in rural areas."

One of the projects supported by Plan is Girls first in Haiti. Girls First, is helping parents to better educate their children and gives girls and young mothers the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and information necessary to face life's challenges

Partnering with a local organisation, Voluntariat pour le Developpement des Jeunes (VDH) Plan is working with adolescent girls and young mothers in Haiti to make sure they are equipped with all the information and knowledge necessary to face adult life's challenges.

Girls First has a four point approach the achieve its goals. These are:

Responsible sexuality - participants acquire knowledge on how to prevent AIDS and STDs, problems inherent to early pregnancies and responsible sexual conduct

Leadership and life skills - the girls learn about negotiation, conflict resolution, gender equity and how to communicate with their parents and other community members

Rights of the child and gender equity - they learn about the rights of the child and gender equity

Business skills - they learn about the local market opportunities, possible income generating activities, small business and how to manage their personal finance

In addition to the four points listed above, the program also seeks to foster contact and the exchange of ideas and experiences between the participants in order to enhance their confidence and to also create an exchange of acquired knowledge.

One additional benefit of the program will be that a study will be made in collaboration with the participants in order to identify the improvements that were made and to provide suggestions to local government bodies and civil society organizations on how to strengthen the services that are offered to girls, young mothers and the various communities.

According to the design when the project ends in two years, the participants will contribute to develop educational materials for local schools. These resources will also be posted on the project's Internet web site.

Through another program sponsored by Plan children and parents in a small town in north-west Haiti are leaning new ways to communicate, because of a half-hour radio program "Our Own Voice."

Designed, produced and aired by 25 boys and girls Our Own Voice is broadcast every Sunday afternoon from Fort Liberté, through Radio Gama. The children write the news stories, play songs and recite poems which touch on the issues that they feel are important to them. Radio Netherlands provides the training in radio techniques and the Panos Institute teaches the children journalism.

Our Own Voice is a community resource and a local favorite on Sunday afternoon. The program is not only informative, but it is attributed with helping parents and children attain higher levels of communication within their families.

When Tropical Storm Jeanne hit Haiti in October of 2004 Plan was quick to step up and assist with disaster relief. Working closely with the United Nations Development Program to co-ordinate and help with all the relief efforts, Plan was appointed as a member of the Water and Sanitation group "after assessment of the pressing needs in the city of Gonaïves." Plan is also worked with Oxfam to distribute treated water in Gonaïves.

PLAN is a UK registered charity with programs and projects in many other countries and their Home Page can be found at:

The Portal web page for their projects in Haiti is:

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


SOS has projects helping more than 48,000 African Children orphaned by AIDS in more than twenty African countries, and is growing as rapidly as its resources allow it. This help consists of practical help, food, medicine and love.

SOS Children has developed a strategy for AIDS orphans in Africa that does not move children from their familiar background but works to strengthen their communities so that they can support them.

SOS Children started its HIV/AIDS programs in four countries of Central and West Africa. These countries are Burundi, Rwanda, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Approximately 1,300 children have been registered in these countries. The children, mostly AIDS orphans and those living with one or both parents in terminal phase comprise the bulk of the persons serviced in these countries by the HIV/AIDS programs.

Initially the focus of these programs is on medical assistance, payment of school fees, donations of clothes and foods, regular visits to the patients, as well as activities of information, education and communication.

More recently, programs were begun in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria.

Planning of the follow-up stages of these current programs was begun in May 2004.

The SOS HIV-AIDS orphan programme is targeting vulnerable families and communities, with the hope of helping them "improve their capacities of protecting themselves and of taking care of their children." One of the major goals is the prevention of child abandonment, which is one of the principal causes of mortality and of family disintergration in Central and West Africa related to HIV/AIDS.

SOS also promotes a community development program, which will be based on partnership and resource seeking to finance its actions. This is done in parallel with the HIV-AIDS orphan program. The countries in which the programs are located have identified target groups and done small-scale income generating projects with them. Examples of some of these income-generating projects include field projects, livestock projects and the training of women and young women in sewing, cooking and other domestic skills.

SOS feels that it is essential to work with the community in equal partnership in these programs and to come up with lasting solutions capable of ensuring independence and autonomy.

Unfortunately, many of those affected with HIV/AIDS are the parents of young children. And when parents start to develop full-blown AIDS, they cannot work, and need to be cared for. This burden often falls upon the children because the situation is so bad that no adults are able to help. Not only do the children suffer the pain of seeing their parents become weaker and weaker but they must also find the means to care for themselves and their parents.

While historically the main model for orphan-care has been by the provision of an entirely new home, SOS Children has tried to be innovative in order to avoid separating the children from their family and wider community. SOS believes that "admission of children in an SOS Children's Village should not be foreseen unless the 'SOS family' is the best place to correspond to the children's needs". This is keeping with its "prevention of child abandonment" strategic initiative, and its "international participation and partnership" initiative, which are its primary directives.

Some of the innovative projects aimed at supporting the communities in their efforts to hold together are the:

Social and Medical Clinic for Street Children in Lusaka, Zambia

In Zambia, where HIV/AIDS have led to around 75,000 homeless African children, SOS Children is supporting a project in Lusaka to support about 1,000 street children. SOS Children will provide mobile education facilities and give street children the social center access for shelter, education and also training in vocational skills. The social center will also provide hot nutritional food, washing facilities and clean clothes.

Heaven of Hope Programme, Mamelodi, South Africa

By some accounts, 10% of the population of South Africa will be orphans by 2010. SOS Children is working In Mamelodi Township SOS Children is working to support 2,000 children through education, practical and emotional support to child and grandparent led families.

Family Carer Programme, Mbabane, Swaziland

Sidvwashini and Msunduza townships have an HIV/AIDS infection rate among the adult population that exceeds 25%. There, SOS Children is supporting a program that is helping child and grandparent headed families to stay together in a traditional community structure to prevent child abandonment.

More on the SOS Children AIDS ORPHANS PROJECT can be found at:

Monday, June 13, 2005


In 2000, David Jiranek began a photographic workshop in Rwanda where children using disposable cameras photographed the world around them. This project was inspired by Rosamond Carr, an American woman who had lived in Rwanda for over 50 years and who had founded the Imbabazi Orphanage there.

Initially, the children's pictures were developed locally and displayed on the orphanage walls. The children also put them into photo albums.

In 2001, the children were invited by the US Embassy to exhibit their work in the capital, Kigali. There, the pictures were sold and all the proceeds went towards the children's education.

Also, in 2001, one of the children, 8 year old Jacqueline, won First Prize in the Portraiture Division in the Camera Arts Magazine Photo Contest. Additionally, the project has "won Honorable Mention in an international competition featuring professional and non-professional photographers from around the world."

The children continue to photograph with donated cameras and exhibits are being proposed across the US.

The founder, David Jiranek, was a Broadway producer, a writer, a photographer and had a passion for photography, for adventure and for working with disadvantaged children.

In 2000 David traveled to Rwanda to document in photographs the aftermath of the genocide that took place there. After he began taking pictures, he befriended the children of the Imbabazi Orphanage, which had been founded by Rosamond Halsey Carr in 1994, and taught them how to take pictures.

David's photography experiment with the children of the orphanage produced a great number of "astonishingly beautiful images created by the children which became the basis for this photography exhibition and others shown in Rwanda's capital city in 2002 and at various galleries in the U.S., including the Freida and Roy Furnam Gallery at Lincoln Center in New York in June 2003."

According to the web site, the children's work is "traveling around the US and abroad in an exhibition that provides a unique look at Rwanda and at the lives of the children affected by the genocide, ten years later. It encourages the viewer to experience the life of a country that is in the process of rebuilding, of looking towards a hopeful future - through the eyes of children ."

A list of past exhibits can be found at:

At the organization's web site, David is quoted as saying, "I want people around the world to see these kids less as victims, which they of course are, but more as a possibility. When you get a hug and smile from Frederick (a boy who lost both his arms) and think about the horror he has experienced, you know that by giving yourself to his spirit, even for a moment, the world can be just a little bit better for it."

David died in an accident in August 2003 at age 45.

UNICEF, in its publication "The State of The World's Children" recognized THROUGH THE EYES OF CHILDREN in their 2003 publication and said: "Through the process of learning photography, young people can develop and broaden their confidence and self-esteem as they acquire vocational skills and a new perspective on their lives."

THROUGH THE EYES OF CHILDREN also raises funds by selling prints of the children's photos. They make available a 13" x 19" exhibit print of the donor's choice with a donation of $100. With a donation of $1,000, the donor receives an edition of 13 prints taken by all of the participating children.

It's a wonderful experience to take a trip through the exhibits at their web site and to read about the strength of the human spirit. And the wonder of youth. So, please take a look at the site ofTHROUGH THE EYES OF CHILDREN at:

Through the Eyes of Children was brought to our attention by Blake H. Schmidt of "The World Through My Eyes" which is a very similar project in Mozambique. We thank Blake for his help and suggest that you also visit the site of "The World Through My Eyes" at

Thursday, June 09, 2005

UCCF: A Lot Of Love From Texas

The Uganda Children's Charity Foundation (UCCF) works to provide orphaned and other disadvantaged children in Uganda education and care that will enable them to become self-sufficient, assume leadership roles, and have a positive impact on Ugandan society.

Their mission, as stated on their web site is "to provide education, food, shelter, clothing and medical care to AIDS-related Ugandan orphans to nurture their mental, physical and emotional growth and well being."

UCCF was founded in 1995 by Alexis Hefley after she had lived and worked with AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in the capital city of Kampala for 18 months.

She first went to Uganda in 1993 at the invitation of the Uganda's First Lady Janet Museveni. While there Ms. Hefley became aware of the overwhelming need for international humanitarian assistance for the country's AIDS victims and orphan.

In 1994 she headed up a successful fundraising tour of the "Children of Uganda" dance troupe. It was the first such tour for the troupe and after that, Ms. Hefley started UCCF, as a U.S. 501(c) (3) non-profit and Ugandan nongovernmental organization NGO with offices in Dallas, Texas and Kampala, Uganda.

UCCF hopes that the outcomes of its efforts will be:

1. Increase global awareness of HIV/AIDS and its impact on children
2. Provide funds for education, food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for Ugandan HIV/AIDS related orphans
3. Provide United States education scholarships and support for selected students who will serve as cultural ambassadors and to prepare them to assume future leadership positions in Uganda
4. Develop systems to track children's education and growth
5. Define expectations of program recipients
6. Nurture relationships with sponsors

Alexis Hefley is the Executive Director and she appears to have a strong Board behind her. The members of the Board come mainly from the Dallas Texas and have a wide range of corporate, non-profit, NGO and academic backgrounds. The identification of each Board Member is published on its web site - as they should be, because together they depict an ideal example of board composition.

UCCF has many projects and the tragedy of AID related orphans gets a lot of its attention. One way they do this is by supporting community-based organizations in Uganda that serve the needs of AIDS related orphans. Among their many other programs, they have an outreach program for HIV positive mothers and they provide scholarships to Ugandan students through efforts based in the U.S.

One of the projects that caught this writer's eye was Phillip's House. Because Uganda has been so hard hit by the AIDS pandemic large numbers of children are suffering greatly. While traditionally, Ugandan families took care of the children of deceased relatives, the number of children orphaned by AIDS is overwhelming that social system.

Handicapped children in particular along with young adults who require special care are very often overlooked or disregarded in the struggle to address the effects of the context of the greater disaster.

To provide for a small number of these children, and through the donation of a sponsor family whose brother was with Downe's Syndrome, UCCF established "Phillip's House" in 2002. Phillip's House is a residence for eleven abandoned and handicapped children who have lived through a struggle to receive education and therapy. The story about Phillips is well worth the short time it takes to read about it at:

UCCF has a fund raising project involving the marketing "Children of Uganda Merchandise." This merchandise consists of CD's, t-shirts, and key chains from the Children of Uganda dance troupe that now tours the U.S. and around the world every year. This merchandise can even be ordered from UCCF's web site through an online process or by downloading an order form that can be mailed to the organization.

The Children of Uganda troupe has toured the US biennially since 1996 and billed as the Tour Of Light on UCCF's web site. The children perform through dance and song, and in so doing, tell the stories and history, the legends and beliefs of various East African cultures.

The Tour Of Light will be coming to the United States for a five-month tour in 2006.

UCCF appears to be a well organized Foundation with effective programs. And I think that anyone interested in taking a look at a "Text Book Example" of what an effective organization should look like, they should go to UCCF's site at:

And when you go there, be patient and wait for the introduction to load, it's worth the wait as well.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

SOS Children's Village Of Liberia

SOS Children established its first community in Liberia in a district of the capital Monrovia known as Matadi in 1981. One hundred and fifty children live in the fifteen family houses that comprise the community. There is also a youth house for the older boys.

A second charity Village opened in 2000 in Juah Town in Bassah county in northern Liberia. The village has six family houses, a kindergarten and a primary and secondary school but had to be evacuated in May 2003 because of the fighting and the children and staff moved to the village in Monrovia. Both the school and the kindergarten remain closed.

In 1984, a primary and secondary school was established next to the children's community in Matadi because of the shortage of schools in the area. Local children as well as the members of the SOS community attend this school. In addition to the school, local children can also attend kindergarten that was established at the SOS village. The kindergarten has a capacity for over 100 children.

In Monrovia a short term emergency relief program was established by SOS at its at its Children's site in Monrovia in June 2003 for over 7000 refugees who had fled the fighting. This program provided food and temporary shelter for the refugees. SOS also set up an emergency medical center, which provides supplementary feeding programs for undernourished children as well as medical care.

SOS Children Villages looks after children worldwide who have lost their parents: through war, famine, disease or poverty. It also cares for street children, AIDS orphans, child soldiers and other children in dire circumstances.

They build their children's communities in the poorest and most vulnerable areas where the orphaned children are, and that often makes them best placed to sort out emergency help with other problems when they strike.

Defining itself as a "long term" charity, SOS Children is the world's largest "orphan and abandoned children" charity. It supports over 50,000 children in four hundred and thirty one villages around the world. They also help nearly half a million children by working with almost a thousand schools, skills training centers, social support programs and medical centers.

SOS Children's Home Office is in the UK and its web site is found at:

SOS Children's Village Of Liberia's web page can be found at:

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

ASAP: Helping People To Help Themselves

It could be said that "A Self-Help Assistance Program" (ASAP) is a labor of love. Elizabeth Bara and Tom Arsenault, met and married as Peace Corps volunteers in Swaziland in 1990. Later they founded ASAP in 1992 in the U.S. to help people in Africa who want to help themselves. In 1994 they returned to Africa themselves to continue their efforts. They say they wanted "to see if two people with a dream of making a difference could succeed in the unknown world of international development work."

Working in Zimbabwe for over 10 years, ASAP is now an established and reputable International Private Voluntary Organization.

Since they started ASAP, they have been operating in Zimbabwe, with what they call "a combination of successes and 'learning experiences'". But ASAP continues to thrive and grow. In their fiscal year ending in September 2002, they had an operating budge of over a half a million dollars (U.S).

Being a U.S. organization, ASAP's umbrella operation in Zimbabwe is CHILD (the Community Holistic Initiative for Local Development). CHILD encompasses all individual projects implemented within each community by ASAP. Working in partnership with rural communities, ASAP, through CHILD has been assisting people in their efforts to improve their own lives. They work with in partnership with the economically active poor and with communities that take the initiative to try to resolve problems and pool their limited resources.

The efforts have resulted in some long-term and lasting improvements.

ASAP has been recognized as an internationally recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) even though it reports to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. One unique feature about ASAP as a "small" organization is that it has posted its tax report on the Internet. If you go to their web site, there is a link to their Form 990, which all non-profit organizations regulated by the U.S. are required to file with the government.

But even though it is a "small" organization, it sees its efforts as contributing to the worldwide effort to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

ASAP says that what it is doing is "Development Work" and that is different from Relief Work." They explain this by stating: "While relief work is critical in times of emergency, long-term, grass roots development is the only kind of assistance that is truly sustainable."

The purpose of ASAP, according to their web site, is "to help people in their efforts to improve their own lives."

ASAP believes that long-lasting improvements in an area can only be achieved when those living within the community identify the problems as well as the solutions. ASAP sees its contribution as assisting disadvantaged communities to access resources needed to address the problems they have identified. It is the people who receive the benefits from the ASAP projects that actually do the work. This is truly a Self-Help Project.

Vocational skills training to build school desks, training in savings and lending clubs, and improvement of teaching skills are some of the projects of assistance that ASAP has provided to various communities.

With a staff of over 25 full-time citizen employees in Zimbabwe ASAP projects are truly making their nation a better place. ASAP believes that this is something that can never be achieved by "outsiders".

Knowing that it is important to keep its administrative costs low, ASAP's administrative and fund raising expenses together make up re less that 10% of the annual budget. And this can be checked by reviewing their tax form that is posted on their web site in PDF format. They will also make audited financial statements available upon written request.

ASAP sees it goals in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which are:

GOAL 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015

GOAL 2: To achieve universal primary education

GOAL 3: To promote gender equality and empower women

GOAL 4: To reduce child mortality

GOAL 5: To improve maternal health

GOAL 6: To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

GOAL 7: To ensure environmental sustainability

GOAL 8: To develop a Global Partnership for Development

ASAP is a small engine with a whole lot of steam. If you go to their web site at:
you will see what I mean.

Monday, June 06, 2005

ACTION FOR CHILDREN IN CONFLICT Here Are Two Of Their Great Programs

In 2000 Action For Children In Conflict (AfC) started its Action for Child-Mothers in Sierra Leone. This program works with child-mothers, the most vulnerable victims of the civil war that raged for ten years in Sierra Leone. Helping girls that were captured, sometimes as young as 12, and abused in every manner (physically, sexually, psychologically) by rebel troops, this project seeks to enable this group of girls to recover from the damage inflicted on them during the war. Counseling is provided, along with basic education and skills training to help them rebuild their lives.

Designated by the UN in 2000 as the "world's poorest country," Sierra Leone was devastated by a war, but is now in the process of rebuilding itself. Millions have lost their homes and loved ones, but the young girls who were captured and impregnated during their most formative years, are among those who have suffered the most.

AfC is trying to help these girls to overcome these barriers of emotion trauma and lack of education and begin to reconstruct their lives by teaching them skills in order to provide for themselves and their babies.

One of the programs that raised funds for Action for Child-Mothers was Sierra Leone Day 2004 in the UK. Funds raised were used to provide counseling, teach basic literacy and numeracy and trades skills to 250 girls around the country. The girls choose the trade skill they wish to learn and receive six months of training. Some of the skills include: tailoring, tailoring, gara tie-dye and batik; hairdressing; office skills and maternity and child health. In the alternative, they may choose formal education as well.

All of the girls are given business training in order to help them employ their skills effectively and to their best benefit.


Another horror of the civil war in Sierra Leone was the use of amputation as a weapon of terror by both factions. This practice left hundreds of people trying to survive with only one arm or one leg. Many of the victims were young men who, although they were not involved in the conflict, were targeted in order to prevent them fighting for the other side.

The war has ended but a group of boys and young men and boys who suffered amputations have banded together to form the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club (SLASC). This club has over 30 team members and is recognized by the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) as the unofficial Amputee Football Team of Sierra Leone. AfC's web site states : "All players have one leg apart from the goalkeeper who only has one arm (to make it fair!)." They practiced and play every week, which, according to AFC, helps heal the wounds of their trauma and facilitates their reintegration into the community.

The team was originally formed when the players all lived in the Freetown Amputee Camp. However, this camp is being scaled down (as the Government wants the land back) and many amputees are being repatriated to the provinces. While there are still approximately 30 members in the Club; after repatriation programs removed some of them, only 20 members still live in Freetown. The players in Freetown practice twice a week, but those outside of town have difficulty finding transportation.

SLASC is a non-Governmental, non-profit organization that aims to foster hope for war-amputees that "all is not lost" despite living with disability. The Club was introduced to AfC when Dee Malchow, a single leg amputee from the USA came to Sierra Leone on a mission trip in January 2001.

In 2002 AfC began providing support, training, equipment and logistics to the Club. And in 2003, brought them to the UK for 14 days in the month of August in order to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Sierra Leone.

AfC is also assisting with transportation costs for those who live outside of Freetown to come to the city for practice. AfC hopes, at some point to establish associate clubs in the provinces.

One of the aims of the project is to raise sufficient funding and awareness so that AfC can run skills training for the amputee community as a whole as well as for the SLASC. This is because while some of the amputees attend school, many others make a living from petty trading.

AfC also has projects in Tanzania as well as in Ireland and the UK.

A trip to their web site to get more details about what they are doing is well worth the effort. You can find them at:

Friday, June 03, 2005

AFRICA EDUCATIONAL TRUST: "Education is the key."

In its web site AET states: "Working closely with African communities to provide access to school materials and tuition. We recognise a great desire by the people of Africa to progress independently and not just to be led, with many young people keen to learn, acquire, and utilise new skills to help rebuild their countries after years of civil war. AET focuses on supporting basic literacy skills in helping to rebuild and utilise schools, with ongoing assessment and monitoring for improvement. We also support young people studying developmental subjects such as education, health and agriculture, which provide an essential grounding for the rehabilitation in some of Africa's countries, amongst its own people and communities. "

AET was founded in 1958 by Reverend Michael Scott (1907-1983) who was, a legendary figure, in the support of the anti-apartheid struggle and independence movements in Africa. Dr. Scott believed that peace and justice were inseparable and he spent his life struggling against injustice wherever he saw it, and he had a firm belief that "Education is the key to development of a people."

Originally part of The Africa Bureau, AET later split off to become the Educational Trust, while the rest of The Africa Bureau became the Publications Trust, which is no longer in existence.

During the 1970's and 80's, AET's helped exiles and refugees in the UK fleeing the effects of apartheid in their African homelands. AET helped these refugees to receive the qualifications and skills needed to reform and develop their home countries when they returned.

Today however, refugee support is only around 25% of their work with the remaining 75% being done on the African continent, with offices in Somalia, Somaliland and Southern Sudan. But the main Office is still in London.

Since 1993 AET has diversified and changed its primary emphasis to education in Africa - And more specifically to education in areas of conflict and civil war where educational institutions have been destroyed.

While they support education and development for the whole of Africa AET has many operational projects in Southern Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia.

In southern Sudan and Somaliland, AET provides developmental aid for locally appropriate educational systems to be set in place.

Believing that e education is the key component for the rehabilitation of Africa and its people AET is persistent in its provision of this type of assistance.

Focusing specifically on education in Africa, AET runs a diverse and comprehensive range of projects in support of the right to a basic education for children and young people. Most of these projects are in Africa and many of them are designed to especially help young girls and women who are often excluded from school. The disabled also are targeted by AET for educational programs because they are often socially marginalized. And children who have been forced to take up arms as soldiers in violent conflict are another category that receives the benefits of AET

Working closely with African communities and local officials, AET employs local staff for its projects in Africa and utilizes the knowledge and expertise of its UK personnel for participation in workshops and training.

For example, in Somalia, where 3/4 of children have no school to go to, AET supports the Somali Education and Awareness for the Disabled (SEAD).

SEAD will provide increased access to education for 1600 disabled people across Somalia by distributing vouchers for courses in basic literacy and numeracy and / or skills training. In addition, the project will improve public awareness about disability in Somalia through establishing regional disability forums that will meet the needs and rights of disabled people in Somaliland and Puntland. Disabled people will be involved in writing radio programmes and short reading booklets about their experiences, needs and rights as disabled people in Somalia. Programmes will be broadcast via the BBC Somali World Service and booklets will be published and made available through community / school reading rooms across the region.

In addition to its educational functions AET carries out research studies to increase knowledge and awareness about Africa and African people. One such project was to map out the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers living in the Learning Skills Council - London North area, to establish the issues they face and the priority areas for service improvement. They have also done research into the barriers to employment of Refugees in London as well as looking into the Education, Training and Employment Needs of Refugees in London.

AET assesses and monitors schools for improvement and development by working with UNICEF in Africa.

This is done with the aim of improving the quality of teaching in primary schools in Southern Sudan. The work has included :
1) The Collection of baseline information on over 1,000 schools including information on pupil numbers, teachers, gender, facilities and the quality of teaching;
2) The training of headteachers in organization and management skills and the supply of materials to help them manage their schools; and
3) The training of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA's) so that they become more actively involved in decision making in their children's schools.

Among its many projects AET:

- provides basic skills for those who have been left illiterate and inumerate through the Somali Educational Incentives for Girls and Young Men (SEIGYM) that has helped over 4,500 young urban men and women so far living across Somaliland and Puntland.

- combats female exclusion and rural isolation through Women's Village Education (WOVE) , which began in 1999 and has helped 1,200 rural dwelling women and girls so far. And AET plans to expand this program sot that it will help 4,000 rural women and girls across four regions of Somalilan.

- offers distance teaching to overcome common accessibility problems with its Somali Distance Education for Literacy (SOMDEL) which delivers basic literacy training in partnership with BBC World Service utilizing radio broadcasts. In support of this program, AET delivers tutorials and distributes study packs to an estimated 10,000 learners across Somaliland, Puntland and of Southern Somalia.

- provides training of Primary School Teachers in southern Sudan through a distance teaching programme funded by UNICEF and also providing organisational and management support for staff at the Institute of Development, Environment and Agricultural Skills (IDEAS) in Yambio, Southern Sudan.

The list goes on, but I am going to cut it short here so you will have to go to their site at

so you can read about more of the wonderful things AET is doing.

AET became a U.K. registered charity in 1958 (No: 313139).

Thursday, June 02, 2005


In 1979, businessman Ron Post was struck by a television report of a dying Cambodian refugee girl, wondering what he would do if she were his own child. Moved by what he saw, Post organized a group of 28 medical volunteers to care for the survivors of Cambodia's Killing Fields.

While it may sound like it only provides medical treatement, in more than 25 years Northwest Medical Teams has sent more than 1,200 volunteer teams to respond to disasters, provide medical attention, refurbish orphanages, construct clinics, and care for children. They travel around the globe to bring medical aid and humanitarian relief to thousands of people in need.

Locally, dozens of volunteers serve in our warehouse by sorting medicines and repackaging supplies. Others assist with office work or participate in our Speakers Bureau program. This organization clocksmore than 90,000 donated volunteer hours each year. With such a high volume of volunteer time Northwest Medical Teams is able to keep its administrative costs low and deliver its critically needed services to more than 1.5 million people annually.

Northwest Medical Teams sends many different types of medical teams to numerous countries to assist their international partners in long-term development projects, while providing a wide range of health care, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief to thousands of victims of crisis.

Northwest Medical Teams distributes humanitarian aid such as medicines, supplies and other goods to people in more than 50 developing countries as well as in the Pacific Northwest. And they help developing countries create and sustain preventative healthcare programs and work on water and other health-related construction projects.

The organization has a 15-member board of directors, responsible for its governance as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit humanitarian aid organization incorporated in the state of Oregon. It has its administrative headquarters in Portland, Ore., with additional offices in Washington state and California.

Northwest Medical Teams operates more than 150 volunteer teams who provide local and international humanitarian aid each year, and those volunteers are recruited by a staff of over 60, who also provide logistical support for the operations.

As a religious Christian based organization its mission is to demonstrate their faith to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty. And while it is a religious based organization it offers humanitarian aid to people in need regardless of their religious background, affiliation or experience. And aid recipients are not asked to participate in faith-based activities in order to received medical care or supplies.

Operating with an annual budget of $99 million in 2004-05 it is a much larger organization than any other been featured on this Blog to date. And in December 2003, Forbes magazine picked Northwest Medical Teams to be placed among its "Gold Star list" charities. This is a list of 10 charities that, according to Forbes Magazine, "shine and are worthy of consideration." Northwest Medical Teams has been recognized as being exceptional by other monitors familiar with the non-profit industry.

Northwest Medical Teams states that it "multiplies every dollar given by more than 85 times. For example, a $100 donation helps send $8,500 worth of humanitarian aid and supplies to people in need. Ninety-six percent of all donations go directly to our programs and services, with only 1% of all donations funding administrative costs."

With such a high percentage of its donated funds going to its programs, it is easy to see why it is so often recognized.

Northwest Medical Teams' African programs are located primarily in East, Central and West Africa, where there are chronic overwhelming needs. Communities with little or no access to health services are targeted for the organization's humanitarian aid and community development programs.

On the African continent, Northwest Medical Teams partners with local agencies, assisting in training healthcare providers; community health development work; HIV/AIDS prevention, education and care; surgical care; and clinic construction. This year they intend to send six volunteer medical teams to provide healthcare services to local communities and train local doctors and healthcare workers.

Among the aid and health care provided the organization's volunteer surgical teams perform plastic (cleft lip/palate), ophthalmology (cataracts), ENT (ear, nose and throat), and orthopedic surgeries. Their physical therapist teams provide infant stimulation/massage on neglected orphans while their optometry teams give eye exams and donate glasses for needy people. They also provide health services in the areas of Primary Care, OB/GYN, Pediatric, Orthopedic and Specialty Care. Their medical teams work in remote clinics, mountain villages, and other places where routine care and assessment are normally not available. And in some developing countries, Northwest Medical Teams volunteers provide emergency medical services (EMS) training to medical instructors.

Northwest Medical Teams works in other countries in addition to those it helps in Africa. The list include: Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Mexico, Moldova, Peru, Romania, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam

Wokring in all of these countries, they helped more than 2.6 million people in 2004. Since 1979 they have shipped and distributed $600 million in medical aid to 240 recipient partners in over 100 countries.

Additionally Northwest Medical Teams operates Mobile Dental Clinics in 27 Pacific Northwest counties in the U.S.

In the African nation of Burkina Faso they have projects to improve food security and farm production, and to provide wells, hygiene education, HIV/AIDS education and care, literacy, reforestation, and micro-credit loans.

They have responded to the drought situation in Ethiopia in collaboration with the Ethiopian community in Seattle and the Ethiopia Kale Heywet Church. Besides deploying teams, Northwest Medical Teams will send at least one medical supply shipment to Ethiopia.

Additionally, Northwest Medical Teams is sending teams of medical volunteers to provide care for thousands of families camped in makeshift housing near the capital city of Monrovia, Liberia.

There is a lot more that can be said about this fine organization, but to get more information it is best that you visit their web site at:

because there is so much more I have not had the time to tell you.