Wednesday, August 31, 2005

MEDWORLD : Twice Blest

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a Medical College, and that Medical College has a hospital, and that hospital has one dynamic medical supplies donation program called MEDWorld.

MEDWorld is a non-profit volunteer organization created by UNC physicians, medical students and hospital staff and was designed to collect and recycle unused medical supplies that would otherwise be discarded. The founders were "looking for an opportunity to do community service on a global scale while improving staff morale and reducing hospital waste." The materials that are collected are sent to developing nations where they are a great benefit to those clinics and hospitals serving the poor.

MEDWorld's program is earth friendly, as it is an environmentally responsible alternative for hospitals to re-use disposable recyclable material in order to bring health services to those who desperately need it.

The materials "rescued" by MEDWorld are still valuable, even though they may not be used in the United States because of regulatory requirements; procedural excess or technological changes to which the materials do not conform. And because those materials are put to use where they are needed, the program has a dual benefit, both to the donor and to the recipient. (If I may digress, that reminds me of what Shakespeare said about the quality of mercy being "twice blest." - "It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.")

Anyway, leaving Shakespeare behind, the Co-Founder and Director of MEDWorld, Georgine Lamvu, MD states on their web site:

"Every year UNC hospitals throw away thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment and supplies in order to keep up with the changing technology and the highest standard of medical care which we are privileged to have in the United States. Meanwhile, in many impoverished countries people are dying due to the lack of basic medical supplies, some of which we routinely throw away. In keeping up with the UNC tradition of providing the best medical care, we created MEDWorld as a means of extending this care to people who desperately need it in many areas of the world. MEDWorld is a program that was designed to help people in need and to help us pay attention to and improve the way we practice medicine."

The most common items collected by the organization are gloves, gauze and wound supplies, syringes, foleys and foley bags, sutures, and hygienic supplies. But the list of collected materials is very long and contains everything from Airway masks to Delivery kits to Toys, Vacuum pumps and Wheelchairs

The donated materials are collected by nurses and other hospital staff who identify reusable disposed material and place it in MEDWorld collection bins located throughout the hospital. Only those re-usable items that have been opened but NOT used or have been contaminated by reasons other than patient contact are acceptable for collection. The hospital volunteers are trained, according to the hospitals' guidelines, to identify what can be recovered and what should be discarded.

Once the material has been collected it is the hospital it is then taken to the MEDWorld warehouse, sorted, inventoried and packaged in boxes. Each box of material is labeled with the MEDWorld disclaimer and the address of the receiving charity. These boxes are then donated to the recipient charities who must pay for all shipping and transportation costs.

The recipient charity or individual must focus on global health through any one of several types of non-profit activities. They must also make assurances that the donated material is used for care of appropriate populations and not used for sale and that the supplies have been adequately sterilized prior to their use. Also, the recipient must provide feedback on the use of the supplies through photographs or written documentation.

MEDWorld also sends supplies abroad through various other methods.

They send materials with resident physicians and medical students traveling to developing countries to provide medical care to the poor.

They provide material to Global Links, which is a non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh, PA, that specializes in collecting recycled surplus medical equipment from over 50 hospitals throughout the United States and sends it health care organizations servicing the needy in over 40 countries, including the United States.

They also furnish material to Operation Renewed Hope -a program directed by Pastor Jan Milton in conjunction with the United States Airforce and which sends these materials to over 30 countries around the world.

The organization relies heavily on volunteers. These volunteers are required to commit to 5-10hrs/month for a year's time. Once in the program, the volunteers undergo training in MEDWorld's operational procedures. This training includes methods of collection and warehouse operations. They must also complete UNC Hospital's volunteer training program in Universal Precautions Training. In return for their assistance, volunteers get to shadow hospital physicians in clinical care or research and possibly to participate in overseas medical missions. This is a great experience for an aspiring physician, nurse or other health care professional.

MEDWorld also relies on the support of locally and nationally know individuals such as Dean Smith, the Men's Basketball Coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1961-1997 (Basketball is a pretty big thing in North Carolina and throughout the US); and Elaine Marshall, the Secretary of State for the State of North Carolina.

Community organizations lend a hand as well, and some of them are pretty big hands, such as Wal-Mart, the Duke University Gleaning Program at Duke University Hospital, Old Dominion (shipping company) and Yellow Freight (shipping company).

Needless to say that MEDWorld is supported by the UNC Health Care system and operates out of UNC Hospitals. There are also UNC institutional supporters, such as: UNC Central Distribution, UNC Sterile Processing, the UNC Staff Council and the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

MEDWorld often brings home the idea that we waste while others want. Its web site quotes the non-profit organization Global Links in making its appeal for support in its efforts by posting on its web site:
"For people in developing countries, basic medical supplies are luxuries that are simply not available or not affordable. Doctors and nurses must constantly make do - washing and reusing "disposable" gloves and syringes, or substituting inappropriate materials such as fishing line or sewing thread for suture- or patients must go without needed care. In many countries patients must bring their own supplies, even acquire their own medicines, before treatment can be given."

And then MEDWorld adds its own observation that: "On the other extreme, American hospitals such as ours, discard tons of unused medical supplies in the interest of optimal surgical management and protection from litigation."

MEDWorld donates equipment to clinics and hospitals in need throughout the world, regardless of religious or political beliefs and affiliations. It states that it provides equipment to individual physicians, medical students and hospital staff who are planning to dedicate their time to provide healthcare to people in under-served areas, as long as they have the ability to re-sterilize supplies that need to be sterile.

And in addition to its primary mission MEDWorld provides UNC hospitals with updates on the amount of hospital waste and ways of decreasing cost of disposal, thereby giving the hospital another effective management tool. Also, MEDWorld returns hospital items that have been wrongfully disposed, increasing the cost effectiveness of the hospital's operations.

MEDWorld has provided materials to almost twenty countries in the developing world and twelve of those countries are in Africa or the Caribbean.

Well, I can see by the clock on the wall that my time is up, and so is my word count; so I must close here after giving THREE CHEERS to MEDWorld. But you can continue to learn about MEDWorld, and those fabulous UNC physicians and other health care professionals at Chapel Hill by going to the following link.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Back in the early 1980's Father Godfrey Nzamujo believed that the level of development in Africa was grossly insufficient and sought to do something about it. He formed a small group to address this problem and to restore dignity to the African people. This effort became the Songhai Center named after the famed 15th-century Malian empire.

The Songhai Center, headquartered in Benin, is a center for training, production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices. Those associated with it seek to augment the standard of living of Africa's populations by the creating viable agricultural enterprises using the following methods:

- Making use of local resources, traditional and modern methods;

- Blending traditional and modern agricultural practices;

- Teaching and employing effective management;

- Encouraging individual and communal responsibility and initiatives;

- Maintaining channels for, and respecting, diverse opinions.

Songhai seeks to foster "an environment of creativity and innovation and as a result, reestablish a stable African society." Inspired by "the Timbuctu effect," which was the impact of that ancient city on the many cultures that came together there to trade. Songhai believes that pride progress and effective results will be accomplished by there efforts "clearly emphasizing all the advantages Africa offers." And that "Citizens can therefore benefit from globalization rather than be excluded from it or solely bear the weight of its effects."

Believing that for agriculture to become a viable force of development, "it must be extensive and holistic, going beyond purely agricultural knowledge… and include education in management, organization, and planning." In order to accomplish this, Songhai engages in several activities that support and enhance agricultural production.

The Songhai generates income from the sale of its own products and it also receives grants from various partners. It is the hope of the organization that one day it will attain complete financial independence. But in the mean time, it has received funding from: USAID, the Songhai Support Group (of California), UNDP , HCR, (Agencies of the United Nations), the RABOBANK Foundation of The Netherlands, the Spanish Foundation - Accion Verapaz, SID (Society for International Development),IDRC (International Development Research Centre),Coopération Française of France and several others.

Songhai has more than 400 students in 18-month training programs in its centers located in Porto Novo, Savalou, Parakou, and Kinwedji. Also over 250 farms, managed by the young people trained in Benin, have been established in all the regions if the country. These farms are brought together under a network involving local coordinating units.

In addition to the 400 regular students, more than 300 other individuals of various backgrounds take part each year in short-term training programs.

Songhai aspires to promote an agricultural, entrepreneurial spirit in young Africans by developing and transmitting the human values capable of bringing about behavioral changes. Songhai believes that "Through this training, the students can then become agents of their own development. The final goal is to train a new breed of leaders capable not only of conceiving and carrying out entrepreneurial activities, but of equally blending individual and communal interests."

At Songhai, there are 3 levels of training. In Level 1, Students are trained in techniques of agricultural production, in agro-industry and in management of agricultural enterprises through the Songhai production workshops. In Level 2, the students continue training and collaborate in creation and management of an agricultural enterprise. Level 3 aims at empowering African executives so that, beyond their personal businesses, they may also become entrepreneurs in development. There is much more to these three levels of training, but I have just given the briefest of overviews.

Skills are taught in modules grouped into workshops in sequences of three months. This includes, among other things:
- Animal Production
- Fish farming
- Feed Mill - which is food processing, agricultural mechanics, marketing of agricultural products, and human development

Songhai says that the training is "a continuous process made up of successive stages. It involves progressively bringing the recipients (be they school drop-outs, current farmers, or executives) to a given level by sharing knowledge, expertise, and the ability to motivate others. The end result of this process is the establishment of profitable businesses and centers of excellence, which attract both local farmers and development agents and engender genuine socio-economic dynamics in rural areas."

In addition to training and production Songhai conducts permanent research into new varieties and species of both plants and animals, and into new techniques of production. They also conduct research into energy, the environment and mechanization. Because this research is conducted directly in the production workshops, it is termed "grassroots research."

The three fundamental principles of training at Songhai are:

- to create the desire in youth, underprivileged groups, and women to participate in entrepreneurial activities and in so doing empower themselves.
- to teach them values, which will lead to a change of attitude will thus make them agents of their own development. And
- to improve trainees' skills in the areas of analysis and socio-economic awareness, coordination, leadership, organization and management of sustainable community development activities.

As a by-product of their training and research, Songhai has developed products to enhance farming capabilities. Two such products are the Palmist Press and a Cassava Grater with a Metal Drum. I will let you go to the web site to discover why these developments are important. These products are offered for sale by Songhai and the income generated by those sales are an important part of its revenues.

There are many things going on at the Songhai Center that I will not be able to discuss here, but I cannot complete this article without mentioning the telecenters.

Believing that the new technologies of information and communication constitute a vital element in the improvement in the quality of their social, economic, and intellectual lives Africans. Songhai has established The Beninois Network Of Community Tele-Services. Community telecenters are being established Porto-Novo, Savalou and Parakou - the larger cities where Songhai sites exist. And these telecenters are integrated into the overall activities of Songhai.

The objectives of the telecenters are:

- To increase the level of knowledge in each community by giving the citizens the means of procuring and exchanging information relevant to their socio-economic and professional activities.

- To create within the Songhai community a culture of sharing information and experiences both internal and external.

- To train the target groups (grassroots communities, pupils, entrepreneurs, health workers, businessmen, students, etc.) to appropriate and utilize the new technologies of information and communication.

- To facilitate the acquisition and exchange of experiences among farmers and other members of the rural community. And

- To share technical results and experience gained by Songhai with other development actors on the continent through the new technologies in information and communication

Partnering with IDRC, (The International Development Research Center) Songhai has been able to create a network of these telecenters.

I could go on and on about the telecenters and the rest of Songhai's programs, but I must bring this article to a close. (Alas, so much to say and so little time to say it.) Believe me, folks, I have not even mentioned one third of the good things that are taking place at the Songhai Center. Here is the web site address: it is in both French and English. Go by there and take a look at an African organization on the move.

Monday, August 29, 2005

RAINBO: A Broad Spectrum

Rainbo (which is an acronym for Research, Action and Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women) is aptly named. Just as a rainbow in the sky covers a broad spectrum in the sky, so does Rainbo cover a broad spectrum of issues relating to the quality of life for Africans.

Because I am writing about this organization on my Blog, you probably have a strong suspicion that it is an NGO that works to improve the quality of life for Africans. But to be specific, Rainbo defines itself as "African led international non-governmental organisation working on issues of women's empowerment, gender, reproductive health, sexual autonomy and freedom from violence as central components of the African development agenda."

And although it has a specific focus on working to eliminate the practice of Female Circumcision / Female Genital Mutilation (FC/FGM, it has worked in many other areas as well.

The attack against FC/FGM has been conducted through facilitating women's self-empowerment and accelerating social change; and this has been approached through two main programmatic areas:

- The first area is the Integrated Initiative Against FGM and it includes their Small Grants Project.

Since its inception RAINBO has worked against FGM and has succeeded in redefining and repositioning FC/FGM in a human rights context, by showing it to be a gender based violation of the rights of women. Because of its constant work in this area, Rainbo has gained the reputation as the lead technical agency in the field of FC/FGM.

Rainbo launched The Integrated Initiative Against FGM in 2003 and this program focuses on using technical tools and assistance to provide direct support in the form of training, consultations and technical assistance to international donor and technical agencies, as well as African governments and NGO's. Multimedia interactive training CD-ROM on design, monitoring and evaluation of FC/FGM interventions are some of the development of tools included in their arsenal. Additionally, Rainbo is developing a web-based center that provides news, key facts and other information regarding FC/FGM, as well as successful projects, updates and recent advances in the struggle. And through their collaboration with the INTACT research network, they are involved in the publication of research findings. Rainbo also is instrumental in the publication of these findings in scientific journals as well.

Under its Small Grants Project, Rainbo extends direct grants to organizations with projects focusing on FC/FGM in Africa. Seventy-six organizations in 20 African countries have been awarded a total of over $850,000 by Rainbo since 1995. Priority is given to smaller organizations that promote innovative and effective approaches which facilitate women and girls' self empowerment and involve the community. The enhancement of organizational capacity is also a goal of the Small Grants Project with an eye towards maximizing impact or providing support through a South-to-South technical assistance scheme.

- The second program area is Amanitare, which is the African Partnership for the Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights of Women and Girls (SRHR)

Launched in the year 2000, Amanitare is a ten-year initiative to create a consolidated African voice to improve the status of African Women & Girls by promoting and protecting their sexual and reproductive health and rights. To date the program has 51 partners in 18 African countries.

Focusing on advocacy through Amanitare, Rainbo aims to:

- Build a network of partners and give support to partners through exchange and advancement of ideas, information and practical skills around issues of SRHR.

- Advocate for regional SRHR policy reform and the implementation of progressive SRHR provisions established in international and regional agreements and ensure they are addressed as part of the Millennium Development Goals and NEPAD

- Impact international policy by bringing a consolidated African women's voice to the UN and other global policy negotiations and highlighting African perspectives in international dialogues around women's rights and gender equity.

Rainbo used to have an African Immigrant Program, but that program has been spun off into an independent organization named: Sauti Yetu Center for African Women (SYCAW).

SYCAW became independent in 2004 as a not for profit organization linking social justice activism with academic scholarship to promote and protect the rights of African women and girls.

Working within the global women's, human rights, and social justice movements, SYCAW works on women's rights as an advocacy organization. SYCAW's web site at: says that their work and programs "have evolved in response to the evidence that women's rights, an empowered community, and access to integrated services are inextricably linked if we are to improve the lives of women and girls." Sauti Yetu means "Our Voice" in Swahili.

I will have to devote an entire article on SYCAW in order to do justice to the work that they carry out, but I wanted to mention them here so that you would know about this "spin-off" from the work began by Rainbo.

Another example of the broad spectrum of Rainbo is the fact that it is concerned with Capacity-Building for African Community-Based Organizations.

One of the organizations which Rainbo assists is Nah We Yone. Nah We Yone means "It belongs to us" in the Krio language; and the organization was created to proactively respond to the absence of culturally informed programs and services for distressed peoples from the various communities within the African Diaspora. These programs and services are offered to facilitate adjustment within the United States ands are carried out by providing psychological and social support, including the provision of pertinent information, the strengthening of community ties, wellness activities, and crisis intervention for adults, children and families.

Nah We Yone, Inc. has an active membership of about 50 people, and over 400 supporting members within the NY metropolitan area, as well as across the U.S. and abroad. Nah We Yone can be found at: http:// and its site is also hosted by Rainbo.

In many ways, this voluntary non-profit group reaches out to displaced Sierra Leonean refugees and asylees , including detainees, and offers "counseling and crisis services, jobs and skills development, information sharing, and referrals to emergency social services; such as food, clothing, and car fare." It also has a youth summer camp, hosts a monthly brunch to help the clients of Nah We Yone to network and help intergrate into their new surroundings. In addition to this, and among their many other programs, they have a detention visitors program to provide contact to the "outside world" to those individuals who flee violence and persecution in their own countries only to find themselves "locked up" in U.S. detention centers for months while their asylum cases work their ways through the lengthy bureaucratic INS process.

There is a lot more I would like to say about Nah We Yone, and I hope to one day. And there is a lot more I could say about the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, but this article is about Rainbo. And I could say a whole lot more about them. But in holding to my promise to keep these articles brief, I must ask you to go to the web sites of these fine organizations to learn more about what they do. And after you read about them, spread the word so that folks will help them carry out their important work. Rainbo's office is in London, while Nah We Yone and Sauti Yetu Center for African Women are in New York. So, if you are in their areas, pay them a visit, to see how you can help.

The links to the sites for Nah We Yone and the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women are in the article above, and the link for Rainbo is: . You owe it to yourself to check them out.

Friday, August 26, 2005


"Sharing Can Make a World of Difference" is the motto of MedShare International, a nonprofit organization based in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia.

MedShare collects medical surplus that is vitally needed in other countries worldwide. It sorts, evaluates, classifies, labels and then redistributes these supplies to the recipient healthcare institutions and medical teams. It also supports local organizations concerned with health services.

MedShare was founded in late 1998, and since that time it has shipped millions and millions of dollars worth of unused medical supplies to economically developing countries. As I have said in another article, this sharing of surplus medical supplies provides U.S. hospitals with an environmentally sound alternative to sending much needed medical to trash dumps while providing them to hospitals and clinics in the developing world that can use them.

MedShare carefully tailors each shipment of supplies to meet the need, as articulated by the recipient health care organization, in order to ensure that the donated material, equipment and supplies conform to the level of medical sophistication and infrastructure of the economically developing country where the recipient is located. The reason for this care is that there can be a drastic difference between the technical environments of the donor and the recipient. Once the supplies are delivered, MedShare "maintains an ongoing dialogue with recipients, to ensure that materials shipped will be useful and effective." One example of this is that biomedical equipment, (which is evaluated and often repaired by MedShare's workshop) is only shipped to hospitals that have the technology, training and resources to use and maintain the item.

MedShare's web site says that while the U. S. government regulations require hospitals in the United States to discard "more than $6.25 billion worth of unused medical supplies and equipment each year" thousands of patients in economically developing nations go without medical care for lack of this same material. This ranges from ranging from "sutures, syringes and sterile gloves to medical equipment like stethoscopes, pulse oximeters, ophthalmoscopes, electrosurgical units, anesthesia units, infant incubators and even hospital beds."

And while this equipment may seem "outdated" for a "state-of-the-art" U.S. hospital it is still very much useful in providing routine, or even acute, care.

MedShare gets its donated items by collecting, on a weekly basis, supplies and equipment from 14 hospitals and outpatient centers in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan area. Additionally, more than 50 hospitals around the country partner with MedShare in order to grow its network of donors. Also, most of the major hospital supply companies in the Atlanta area donate supplies as well. In most cases these supplies would be discarded due to industry regulations and most likely end up in landfills or incinerators, but in all cases, they are still useable.
MedShare is funded by support from individuals, foundations, religious groups, civic organizations and corporations. And while MedShare currently receives no federal support, it is registered with USAID as a Private Volunteer Organization. Many of the foundations, schools, individuals, religious groups, civic organizations and corporations that fund MedShare also sponsor medical mission teams and shipments of 40-foot cargo containers of supplies. However, sometimes the recipient institution pays for the shipping costs. Non-profits organizations often provide operation support as well as shipping, medical supplies and equipment. Additionally MedShare receives inkind donations and it relies heavily on volunteers. The volunteers (which MedShare says are the "lifeblood" of the organization) are students, professionals and retirees. They come from churches, civic and special needs groups. Health care professionals and bio-medical engineers also volunteer. MendSend says that it can even use the assistance of children over ten if they are accompanied by an adult.

The organization distributes its donations based on the degree of need, appropriateness of request, ability of institution to handle the logistics of the donation. All of the recipients, of course, serve the poor who would not otherwise have access to quality medical supplies. MedShare also requires the presence of a partner organization t in the local area to monitor the use and effectiveness of the donated supplies.

The hospitals that receive donations from MedShare are required to complete and return detailed evaluation forms so that MedShare can evaluate the impact of its donations. In addition to the forms supplied by the recipients, and other forms of measurement, MedShare receives reports from independent evaluators in order to evaluate its impact.

MedShare has operations around the world, even the United States, but a short list of some of the countries in Africa and the Caribbean that have received help from this very efficient organization includes: Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Haiti and Jamaica.

There is so much to talk about with MedShare, and so little time to do it. So, I am going to rely on you, dear reader, to go to MedShare's web site, read it and then give some thought to how you can help them help others. You can find there web site here: MedShare

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

eRIDERS: A Wealth Of Technical Expertise

What if you wanted needed to put a population density map for central Kenya into a grant proposal that you wanted to submit for funding? And what if you had no idea how to get such a thing free, or at a reasonable cost, from the Internet?

Most NGOs have a wealth of expertise and knowledge, but often they do not have the technical skills to fully utilize the Internet or computer technology. Now, there is a place where you can go for help. This help is eRiders, a network of computer savvy individuals and organizations that offer their services to non-profit organizations in order to make them "more effective, efficient and innovative through the use of all forms of technology. "

According to their web site an eRider is "part trainer, part management consultant, part computer expert." Often making visits to the organization they serve, these people provide consulting and assistance with technology strategy development and provide advice and information by phone and e-mail.

The eRider network also provides training materials and resources that can be accessed through their web site.

But this network is two sided. While the site offers a place where non-profit organizations can go to obtain technical service and training, it also acts as a recruiting station for those with the technical expertise to volunteer their services and/or to start their own assistance programs.

To the technical experts that may wish to become "eRiders" they offer the follow advice for starting a program:

"The ingredients of a good eRiding program are:

* an identified need for technology support for NGOs in your community,
* a well though out plan,
* strong donor or revenue generation scheme,
* committed, well trained and diverse team and
* a lot of energy."

And they tell these would-be eRiders that:

"In the eRiding resources section on this site you can find materials on the assessment, development, implementation and evaluation phases of an eRiding program."

The eRiders have taught people in the non-profit organizations everything from how to take a computer apart (in a Computer Anatomy class), to how to use ICT to attract volunteers.

At one page titled "For NGOs - group" there is a list of links that will take the reader to various resources on the web. For example, there are links to:

There is the "Benton Strategic Communication Toolkit" that "offers valuable tips and tools for eRiders and nonprofits to develop effective communication strategies. The research is based on best practices and lessons learned by nonprofits about the impact, successes, failures and struggles in using strategic communications."

"Database, Software and Technology Use" provides "Information and tips about databases for nonprofits."

The "Non-Profit Resource Center," which is said to have "a wealth of information for nonprofit organizations. … (Y)ou can find a list of links to websites of interest to nonprofits, and virtually everything you need to know about how to form, manage and maintain a nonprofit organization.

"Tips to Build Your E-mail Address Database By: Michael F. Murphy." This site says that it explains how to create a successful e-mail marketing campaign if you do not have a substantial e-mail database. And it also includes "tips to cost effectively build your e-mail address database and increase your donor participation and retention rates."

Plus, there are many more. Additionally, there are comments to each of these links that provide the reader with the opinions of people who have tried the advice and services offered at these links.

Remember, I began this article with a mention of being able to obtain a population density map of a certain area of Kenya. Well, under eRider's "Cool Tools" page, there is a link to numerous GIS sites (Global Information Systems) that provide mapping information from everything to topography, to aerial photography to city maps and property boundaries. And many of these sites have tutorials on how to use them.

At the Cool Tools site, this explanation of GIS maps is given. "Simply put, a GIS combines layers of information about a place to give you a better understanding of that place. What layers of information you combine depends on your purpose-finding the best location for a new store, analyzing environmental damage, viewing similar crimes in a city to detect a pattern, and so on." Pretty handy tool, I'd say.

All right, so you don't think you can take on this type of computer wizardry on your own. Well, don't forget the other side of the eRider equation. There are eRider geeks out there looking to help non-profits in need of computer training. These eRiders are all over the world and you can search for their expert help in any number of ways: By Alphabetic Order, By Country, By Organization, By Specialty or By Skill. Additionally the eRider site allows you to search for people, organizations, projects or statistics.

As I said, eRider experts are all over the world, but and in Africa you can find these experts in: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

So now, you have no excuse, visit eRiders and see what ITC doors are opening up for you at:

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

THE AFRICA CENTRE: "The Heart of Africa in the Heart of London."

If you are ever in London, you may want to go and visit The Africa Centre, which is located at 38 King Street in Covent Garden. The Africa Centre aims to promote positive awareness about Africa, and to help to empower the African Diaspora in the UK, and to support Africa's development aspirations. Their motto is: "The Heart of Africa in the Heart of London."

Established in 1961, The Africa Centre is an independent charity that has for over 40 years, been a cultural and educational center for Africans in London. It was developed to create greater awareness among British and other European people about developments in Africa and its Diaspora as well.

In 1964 by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia, formally opened the Centre. And during its four-decade history, the Centre has hosted leading African artists, writers, politicians and musicians who have met or performed there. It has been a place Africans could be "a source of inspiration to one another," and share their visions of Africa with British people.

In addition to being great resource to Africans, the African Centre has enriched the cultural life of Britain.

For many years, the Centre has been both a home away from home for the members of the African community in Britain. And the Centre's web site says that its new mission since 2000 has been to be "a flagship for Africa in Europe promoting the aspirations of Africa and its Diaspora; in particular to promote cultural, economic and socio-political initiatives in Britain and the rest of Europe that assist in the development of Africa." And a crucial part of its mission will be to promote programs that will strengthen African economies.

Another important aspect to the African Centre is the Contemporary Africa Database. The Database is a participatory online project, designed to provide easily accessible and current information concerning prominent Africans, African organisations, and dates in the African calendar. This database has been growing continuously since its inception.

The Database is maintained by a small group of researchers at the Africa Centre who aim to promote positive awareness about Africa and to help to empower the African Diaspora in the UK while supporting the development aspirations found on the Continent. Currently the Database has 11,248 records in the People section, and 2,326 records in the Institutions section.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Database will provide this information, on African people, organisations and history, on one easily accessible site and presented in three sections:

This is billed as "A Who's Who of prominent Africans now living or who have died since 1950, in all fields of expertise, for example artists, political luminaries, scientists, business-people etc. This part of the Database is currently online.

Institution Africa
The Africa Centre says that the directory of African institutions includes governments, pan-African bodies, non-governmental organisations, and significant businesses. This segment of the Database is also currently online.

Chronology Africa
This segment presents a chronology of important events and dates in the contemporary African calendar. These include: political events, festivals, birthdays and commemorations. Chronology Africa is scheduled to be on line this year.

The aim of the people working on the Database is to publicise it as widely as possible, and to accept help from, and work with, all who are interested in order to enrich the information. Finally they want it to become a "skills database of Africans inside and outside the continent."

Individuals included in the "People," section are those who are born in Africa or have acquired African nationality, and are either living, or have died since 1950. Also, these individuals must have left a considerable legacy.

Organizations that are included in the Database must be active, have a physical presence in Africa and must not be a subsidiary of a non-African organization.

There are several categories and subcategories in the Database for each of the segments a few quick clicks of the mouse and you will see that you can search by Categories or Countries, and there is also a "New" section as well as a section on the institutions most visited. If you search by countries, institutions are listed alphabetically and individuals are placed under one of eight major heading: Arts, Business, Education (including Academia & Research), Media, Religion, Society, Politics & Governance and Sports.

The Contemporary Africa Database is a useful tool and I would encourage anyone to take a look at it to see if it can benefit you. It is located on the web at

And the Africa Centre can be found at:

But if you ever find yourself in London's Covent Garden, stroll on over to 38 King Street and see what interesting things are going on at the Africa Centre.

Monday, August 22, 2005

CAROLINA FOR KIBERA: Setting An Example For Virginia

I must admit that I was quite surprised when I came across the web site of Carolina for Kibera, Inc. (CFK), because this was the second student organization that I had found in the state of North Carolina, that has a very dynamic program in Africa. And my friends at the University of Virginia had led me to believe that there was very little of interest going on at the Universities down there. (The other program in North Carolina, that I wrote about on July 5, 2005 is Project Bokonon at Wake Forrest University.)

CFK is a non-profit 501(c)(3) international non-governmental organization housed at the University Center for International Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).

While CFK is housed at the Center for International Studies at UNC,it is not formally connected with the University. It is supported by private donations and grants from the Ford Foundation , the American Jewish World Service and RAINBO .

Its three main projects are a youth sports association, a girls' center, and medical clinic in the heavily populated Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.

With only 5 paid staffers, CFK is virtually an all-volunteer effort run by young Kenyans and Americans and its primary mission is to prevent ethno-religious violence by using sports to promote youth leadership, ethnic and gender cooperation, and community development. Additionally, the organization works to improve basic healthcare and education in Kibera.

Participatory development is the cornerstone of the philosophy of CFK. It is relying on community driven development to solve the problems of poverty of the communities it serves. CFK believes that while "concerned outsiders can help by mobilizing communities, advising, networking, and providing resources" it is the knowledge possessed by the community and the motivation of the stakeholders that are ultimately necessary to solve the problems such as those that exist in Kibera.

CFK is a non-profit corporation that has established partnerships with a number of U.S.-based organizations and universities and acts as the umbrella for the three Kenya based organizations that it serves. The three organizations are the Binti Pamoja Center (Binti Pamoja means "Daughters United"), the Tabitha Medical Clinic and the Youth Sports Association. Each of these three organizations is led by residents of Kibera and is independent of each other and autonomous. There is, however, is a high degree of collaboration between the three organizations.

The Tabitha Medical Clinic is located in Kibera and specializes in maternal health. However, according to CFK's web site, the clinic also offers primary care, curative, preventive, and counseling services. All of these services are provided to the residents of Kibera on a sliding-fee scale. The Clinic receives supplementary medicine and supplies from its non-profit partners Stop Hunger Now and the University of North Carolina's MedWorld . The Clinic also receives help from volunteer medical students and faculty from UNC and Duke Medical Schools (Duke is another University in North Carolina).

The Clinic, which is one of the only clinics in Kibera that offers in-patient and outpatient care 24/7, was founded by, and named for, the late Tabitha Atieno Festo, a certified nurse, used a $26 donation to raise the funds needed to start the Clinic by selling vegetables for six months in 2000. Tabitha also received some funds from a women's merry-go-round. Tabitha Atieno Festo died in Nairobi in December of 2004.

In January 2003, when the U.S. Embassy in Kenya delivered laboratory equipment as part of its Ambassador's Self-Help Fund and Tabitha Clinic began developing an in-house lab. In early 2005, the lab became fully operational when it was able to purchase a binocular microscope. This not only tripled the number of tests that could be done at the lab, but improved the quality of services offered. Among other things, the lab carries out tests for Typhoid, Malaria, and HIV at no cost.

With the help of ten trained community health workers, the clinic is also providing Home-Based Care to twenty families that are living with HIV/AIDS. This involves free treatment of opportunistic infections as well as food and clothing for the patients.

The Binti Pamoja Center is a reproductive health and women's rights center for girls13 to 18 years of age in Kibera.
The Center was established in June 2002 by two college students, Emily Verellen and Karen Austrian, who met while attending in the School for International Training's Kenya: Development, Health and Society program in the spring of 2001. The Binti Pamoja Center "uses photography, drama, writing, and group discussion to explore the issues that young women face in Kibera, such as violence against women, rape, prostitution, HIV/AIDS and other STDs, FC/FGM, poverty, sexual abuse, unequal access to education, lack of reproductive health care and information, and stifling domestic responsibilities." The Center also hosts monthly speakers and sponsors field trips. It has also initiated a community drama group, a newsletter, community service projects, family events, and an HIV/AIDS peer education program.

CFK's Youth Sports Association is used to promote youth leadership, community development, and ethno-religious cooperation. A committee of male and female youth representatives from Kibera's 11 villages advises the Association regarding organizational decisions. Sportsendeavors, Inc provides sports equipment.

In keeping with CFK's philosophy that everything must be earned and that nothing is free, the youth give back to their communities in return for the opportunity to play sports. Towards this end, the youth engage in projects like garbage clean-ups and youth-led public service initiatives. The Association members must also agree to adhere to CFK's Fairplay Code.

In addition to the athletic activities the Association also promotes additional projects, such as initiating a Community Library that will help to further its core goals.

Well, my dear readers, you get the picture about Carolina For Kibera, but, as always, there is much more to this story than is contained in this brief article.

For example they have a program entitled "Taka ni Pato" ("Trash is Cash") that is a collaborative effort within four large community-based organizations in Kibera to build the capacity for effective, environmentally-friendly, and profitable community-managed solid waste management systems in selected informal settlements in Nairobi.

So, I encourage you to visit their web site and find out more about what the folks at Carolina are up to with their projects in support of Africa.

Carolina For Kibera can be found by clicking the link below:
Carolina for Kibera

Friday, August 19, 2005

THE WECHIAU LIGHTING INITIATIVE : An Inspiring Story Of Partnership

When I began writing this article, I had in mind that I was going to write about Light Up The World (LUTW), an international NGO dedicated to ** but as I researched the facts for this article it struck me that it is important to let people about LUTW, it is also important to talk about the types of partnerships that LUTW and others enter into to achieve some of the necessary work that needs to be done around the world. So with a note in my computer to re-visit LUTW and write another article about their good works I want to tell you about a wonderful and effective partnership.

A full day's journey north of Accra, Ghana and along the banks of the Black Volta River is Ghana's Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary. This area is not only home to the huge river mammals because there are also 17 schools, seven schools and two health clinics located in the 40 kilometres long reserve.

In an effort to maintain an undisturbed grazing habitat for the hippos and to minimize their conflict with humans, the villagers have moved all of their farms and fishing camps two kilometres from the river. You have to give the people of these communities a great deal of respect for making such a sacrifice and disrupting their own economy in order to preserve the environment.

This significant commitment of the people of the Wechiau communities to the sustainable development of their region did not go unnoticed by The Calgary Zoo Conservation Fund. The Calgary Zoo Conservation Fund (which has been financially supporting this unique community-protected conservation project from its inception in 1996) has joined forces with the Nature Conservation Research Centre in Accra, Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. (a "leader in the Canadian renewable energy industry") and LUTW to initiate the Wechiau Lighting Initiative.

This project was designed to provide 550 solar powered lighting units to the 10,000 people living near the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary in Ghana by April of this year. The solar powered lighting units are replacing kerosene-fueled lamps, which are dirty, dangerous and expensive to operate.

John Keating CEO of Canadian Hydro said: "we believe in a balanced approach to conservation and development." And this is why he said that they "support the significant commitment demonstrated by the people of the Wechiau communities to the sustainable development of their region. We believe everyone should have access to clean, safe and affordable lighting. Currently, many people in third world countries, including Ghana, use crude kerosene-fueled lamps, which are dangerous, dirty and expensive. Half the people at Wechiau are children who need safe lighting to encourage literacy. There is great enthusiasm in Ghana for the project and a strong desire to move forward."

Because this sanctuary houses one of two populations of hippos in West Africa, where the animals are near extinction the Calgary Zoo Conservation Fund and the Nature Conservation Research Centre recognized the importance of helping the local communities to maintain a viable way of life that will allow them to respect the habitat of the hippos. Also, although the people of the Wechiau area are protecting the environment at a cost to themselves, "they are creating other opportunities for their community, including the increasingly popular trend of eco-tourism."

LUTW takes an innovative approach to the design and fabrication of clean, simple and safe lighting systems for third world communities, using solar power and this is the first of a three-phases project. Energy sources for LUTW's home lighting projects have included Person Powered Pedal Generators, Pico Hydro, Pico Wind Turbines and Solar Photovoltaic and they will apply the most appropriate solution given the overall needs of the community, the available budget and type of installation that is most suitable given other conditions.

LUTW will provide onsite expertise in installation training, micro credit and local business development to the 22 communities associated with the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. The outcome of the project is to supply and install a LUTW system in each housing compound, as well as, schools and health posts in the project area.

The Calgary Zoo says tat this project is a "community initiative and will ultimately be managed by local citizens who will benefit by protecting this unique resource."

The NCRC, in addition to providing project management and logistical support for the lighting project with the Calgary Zoo, will undertake an umbrella education program for the 22 Wechiau communities. And commitments are in place to provide funding to support this project.

In July of this year Canadian Hydro reported that the Trial Phase of the Initiative was a success. The project, which started in February of 2005, was able to improve and refine the installation design by mid summer. This phase also created greater awareness about the lighting initiative among the intended recipient communities. Installing at least one lighting system within each of the 16 Sanctuary communities was decided to be a good way to achieve this.

At each of the meetings to provide the basic information about the process of purchasing a solar powered lighting system, efforts were made to strengthen the support for the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary.

While the recipients were required to pay the equivalent of $10 US for the system, one of the 10 units installed by late April was donated to the clinic in the community of Dornye, free of charge.

The First Phase of the Lighting Initiative began in July with a shipment of 275 batteries arriving and the shipment of 240 units from Calgary clearing customs in Accra.

Also, in July the Initiative had reached the level of 85% of it fundraising goal. One hundred and fifty individuals and corporations donated $105,000, which was enough funding to pay for 465 of the 550. Fundraising will continue until the end of December, and then a final shipment of lighting units will be sent to Wechiau in January 2006.

LUTW states on its web site that: "Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. is Canada's premier independent developer of EcoLogoTM certified low impact renewable energy. Publicly listed since 1990, the company owns and operates thirteen green power facilities. Wind generated electricity accounts for three sites and hydroelectric power, ten sites. Canadian Hydro's first biomass plant is now nearing completion. Canadian Hydro supports a portfolio approach that embraces all forms of renewable energy, including biomass, wind and run of river hydro."

When you combine Responsible Corporate Global Citizenship, committed, NGO innovators in the area of sustainable energy, dedicated Environmentalists and a community willing to make a commitment and sacrifice to secure their own future, you have a Partnership that is worthy of recognition and emulation.

Drop in on the LUTW's web site for the Wechiau Lighting Initiative. It can be found at:
Light Up The World's Project Page

Canadian Hrdro Developers, Inc. also has a web page on the project at:
Canadian Hrdro Developers, Inc.'s Project Page

The Calgary Zoo has a site on the project at:
The Calgary Zoo's Project Page

Thursday, August 18, 2005

ONEWORLD: Leveraging Power Through ICT

OneWorld describes itself on its website as "the world's favourite and fastest-growing civil society network online." And this is more than an empty boast. The organization supports people's media in order to help build a more just global society.

OneWorld has been involved in many innovative projects and programs, such as creating a tool for activism which was demonstrated at the G8 summit in Edinburgh which allowed persons attending the rally to use their mobile phones to send short video messages to OneWorld that were then posted on the website for the world to see.

They have also engaged in a project that was piloted in Kenya where mobile phones were used to share local knowledge such as important employment information and information about HIV/AIDS.

Within the OneWorld network is "OneWorld Africa," which figures in to OneWorld goal of "Bringing together a network of people and groups working for human rights and sustainable development from across the globe." And to date, they have approximately 1,500 partners. At their "Partners" web page, one can search by "Area of Work" and "Country/ region" for the various partners. This makes the OneWorld network an excellent portal for research on the numerous organizations that are involved in human rights and sustainable development.

For example, when I entered "Children" for the "Area of Work" and "East Africa" as the "Country/ region" the search engine returned the following 31 organizations without giving me any clutter whatsoever.

Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement
Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust
African Regional Youth Initiative
Assitej Zambia
Child Rights Information and Documentation Centre
Children in Distress - Kitwe
Children in Need Network
Christian Council of Mozambique
CINDI Kansenshi (Children in Distress)
Combined Harare Residents Association
Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations
Faith Orphange Foundation
Fatumatu Zehara Aid Organization
Haggai Philanthropy Centre Uganda
Harvest of Hope Self-Help Community Center
Kadoma Writers Association
Kenya AIDS Intervention/Prevention Project Group
Neglected Orphans and Widows Ministries
Nkana Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Foundation
Non-governmental Organisations Coordinating Committee (NGOCC)
Southern African Research and Documentation Centre
Story Workshop Educational Trust
STRAIGHT TALK c/c Kenya Association of Professional Counsellors
The Humanitus Foundation
The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe
United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Network
Women For Change
Women of Uganda Network
Youth Net and Counselling
ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries

In addition to being able to select "Africa" generally, you can also specifically select Central, East, North, Southern or West Africa. Additionally, one can browse by "organization name" using the alphabetical index on the page.

Under the "In Depth News" section, on can also select news by the various region of Africa as well as using Keyword and Topic. I entered a keyword of "AIDS" and a topic of "Children" and requested articles in English from East Africa from January 1, 2005 to June 30, 2005 and the search engine returned three stories: one from Kenya, one from Uganda and the third from Ethiopia.

Alternatively, one can search within the "Full Coverage" Regional sections for news from a particular country. Clicking on the link to Malawi at "Full Coverage East Africa" page took me to a list comprised of eight web pages containing over one hundred stories, stretching back to 1998.

OneWorld says that it has over two million indexed documents and partner pages in its archives that can be accessed through their "In-Depth Section," so, there is a pretty good chance that you will find what you are looking for within the context of human rights and sustainable development. The topical areas are listed in the following manner:

Agriculture, Aid, Capacity Building, Children...
Business, Consumption, Debt, Trade...
Animals, Climate Change, Genetics, Pollution...
AIDS/HIV, Disease, Narcotics, Nutrition...
Human rights
Disability, Gender, Indigenous Rights, Social Exclusion...
Information and Media
Culture, ICT, Media, Science...
Activism, Democracy, Globalisation, Justice...
War and Peace
Conflict, Nuclear Arms, Security, Terrorism...

Finally, (not that this is all there is, but this is all I am going to write about it, because I think you should discover some of their gems for yourselves) they have "Topic Guides" that have many sub-headings such as:


And sub-sub headings such as:

Community Radio
Women's Empowerment
Farmers and Fisherfolk
Refugee Education

And many, many more.

So, like I said, I am going to let you discover the rest of the wonderful things to be found at this site (although it will probably take many months - if not years - to discover them all.).

The home of the web site is found at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ITDG SUDAN: Small Is Beautiful

Folks familiar with sustainable development know about the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG). Founded in 1966 by the "radical" economist, Dr. E.F. Schumacher, ITDG has been spreading its philosophy of "Small is Beautiful" around the world since that time while it instituted projects to "demonstrate and advocate the sustainable use of technology to reduce poverty in developing countries."

But ITDG is so large; I am going to have to write about it in more than one article.

Today's article is about ITDG Sudan and before I go much further, I should let you know that ITDG will soon be changing its name to "Practical Action'. But in this article, I am going to still use the old name, "ITDG."

Since its founding on the belief that the philosophy of "Small is Beautiful' could bring real and sustainable improvements to people's lives ITDG has been committed to poverty reduction, environmental conservation and technology choice.

ITDG's work in Sudan is aimed at "improving the livelihoods of poor communities in selected areas of the country through building the capacity of small-scale producers and their institutions." And its been doing that every since since1974 when it first came to the country to set up a motorised ferro-cement boat building project in the city of Juba, in the southern area of the nation. There was a great need for local river transport along the upper reaches of the Nile and the Sudan Council of Churches and Christian Aid had asked for ITDG's help in addressing this problem.

In 1987 ITDG was again invited to lend its efforts in Sudan when Oxfam asked it to give technical input into the Kebkabiya smallholders programme in North Darfur. Its experiences in Sudan led to a decision by ITDG to extend its operations in that country and a permanent "ITDG Sudan" office was opened in December of 1992. A year later ITDG developed an integrated technology programme in eastern Sudan that worked with agroprocessing, manufacturing, transport and building materials.

Currently, ITDG Sudan is operating in eastern Sudan in Kassala and Gedarif States, and in western Sudan in North Darfur State.

While paying particular attention to disadvantaged sections of the community such as poor families, households headed by women, the disabled or other marginalised groups ITDG Sudan organizes its work around a range of technologies and policy research strategies with a focus on the socio-economic implications of introducing "new" technologies.

The organization does this by working closely with beneficiary communities and applying a participatory methodology in assessing the communities' needs and also monitoring the progress of and the impact upon those communities while developing and transferring technologies.

ITDG Sudan is also very mindful of the fact that it wants its projects to remain "environmentally friendly, gender sensitive and contribute to the overall sustainable livelihoods of the poor communities with which it works."

Harsh environments, limited economic opportunities, lack of access to basic services and civil war contribute to the extreme poverty that faces the communities targeted by ITDG Sudan. But the ITDG's staff tackles the problems - often at the risk of their own personal safety.

Because of the conflict in Darfur, ITDG has had to focus on helping the people of that region cope with the emergency as well as build for the future. And it has been reported that he violence in Darfur has done great damage to their projects.

ITDG is a registered charity in Sudan and has its main office in Khartoum while it operates two field office; one in the east and the other in the west.

There is another major problem in Sudan, and that is the availability of water to the poor in Khartoum state. During the last two decades, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and rural- urban migrants have greatly inflated the population in Khartoum State. The number of individuals has risen from 3.5 million to 7 million people in that time. The influx of this population has created informal settlements on the outskirts of the city and even deep into rural areas of the state. These settlements have also absorbed some of the urban poor who could not afford to housing within the city.

Most of the people living in these informal settlements suffer severe poverty caused by lack of education, skills, job opportunities and access to basic services. Research into the conditions in these communities showed that households rate potable water as a top priority for improvement of living conditions before addressing access to employment, education, health facilities, environmental sanitation and other issues.

This study led ITDG to participate in an international research project funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), called Better Access to Water in Informal Settlements. This project was conducted in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, as well as in Sudan during 2003 and 2004. The goal of this research is to "raise the well-being of the poor in informal urban settlements through cost-effective improved water supply services by identifying and testing constraints, opportunities and strategies that can enable small waterproviding enterprises to deliver an acceptable water service to poor urban consumers."

One of the outcomes of this study was the reaffirmation of the importance of the Small Water Enterprises (SWE), which are basically water carts.

The SWEs Vendors are the cheapest means for water distribution at household level and ITDG believes that NGOs could help the problem of accessing water for the poor by helping the governmental authorities design and implement programs that could improve this availability of this resource to the poor.

Here the matter rises to a level that requires a more through discussion than I can provide in this article. But, if you read ITDG Sudan's web site where this study and its resulting findings are discussed, it will give you a very good idea about what ITDG has been saying all along that "Small is Beautiful" when it is taken within the context of sustainable development and appropriate technology. Plus there are descriptions of other very interesting projects as well.

Take the time and read the material, you'll be glad that you did. It can be found at:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

U.S. Govt. has site on Proposal Writing.

Yesterday I wrote a short article about The Foundation Center's online course on proposal writing. As a result, a reader has directed me to a similar site that is maintained by the United States Government.

At a web site entitled: "Developing And Writing Grant Proposals" Uncle Sam gives some pointers to non-profits on how to ask it for money. But in looking over the site, it seems that the advice can be applied to many other situations than seeking funding from Washington, D.C.

The short tutorial is divided into two parts. Part One is on "Developing a Grant Proposal" and Part Two is on "Writing the Grant Proposal." The suggestion in the beginning of the tutorial that "Individuals without prior grant proposal writing experience may find it useful to attend a grantsmanship workshop," is not helpful to those readers who are in areas where such workshops are difficult to find; but there are plenty of helpful tips in the tutorial to make it worth while reading for anyone interested in developing a funding proposal.

The initial steps suggested in Part One of the tutorial are set out in a very logical manner, and raises some issues that are not always addressed in online tutorials. Those ideas are:

- Preparation

- Developing Ideas for the Proposal

- Community Support

- Identification of a Funding Resource and

- Getting Organized to Write the Proposal

This site also suggests that the applicant have a review process for the application. A disinterested third party can be asked to review the document (or better yet, its draft) for clarity, ease of reading and logic. This person could look for unwarranted assumptions by the applicant and inappropriate language.

Finally, the site recommends that the proposal writer be mindful of neatness and mailing the proposal early enough to insure a prompt arrival before the deadline with a cover letter to make certain that the recipient is fully aware of the nature of the proposal.

In Part Two of the tutorial, the web site discusses the actual writing of the proposal and it is much longer than Part One.

Here, the tutorial discusses:

The Eight Basic Components of a Proposal which are:
(1) The proposal summary (an outline of the project goals);
(2) The introduction of the organization;
(3) The problem statement (or needs assessment);
(4) The project objectives;
(5) The project methods or design;
(6) The project evaluation;
(7) Future funding; and
(8) The project budget

This list is then followed with an overview of the individual components. There are very useful tips in each of the itemized components such as making sure that there is a brief biography of board members and key staff members, and that mention of the organization's successes with other grantors should be made in the introduction of the organization.

Stating that the needs assessment is a key element of the proposal this site urges the proposal writer to be as clear and as concise as possible and to well document the statement of the problem to be addressed with supporting data.

Many of the references in this site are particular to proposal writers who are seeking funds from the U.S. Government, but there is enough in this tutorial for everyone, if no more than a Very Useful Checklist to have as you go through your proposal writing process.

Take a look at:


In 1990 the late Dr. Jonathan Mann assembled other volunteer physicians and founded Doctors of the World (Now Doctors of the World-USA - DOW). Not just a non-profit organization concerned with health issues, DOW is "an international health and human rights organization working where health is diminished or endangered by violations of human rights and civil liberties."

With the help of its local partners around the world, DOW reaches out to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in the communities in which they serve. They address pressing health issues and build long-term solutions.

The areas of health issues upon which this organization focuses are:

- Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS

- Orphans and Vulnerable Children

- Women's health

- Survivors of gross human rights abuses

DOW is working on TB and HIV in four regions of the world. In the 14 years since its inception, this organization has developed expertise in strengthening health systems to combat these diseases, which they characterize as "the twin pandemics." And in approaching these diseases, DOW utilizing a rights-based approach explained above.

Women's health is a critical and neglected issue in all of the regions of the world where DOW works. With a commitment to lowering maternal and infant mortality rates, expanding access to health care for women, providing education and services addressing reproductive health, and empowering women to advocate for appropriate health services for themselves and their communities, DOW makes this one of its major focuses.

Regarding Children with Special Needs, DOW's web site states:
"Among the excluded populations served by DOW projects, children remain the most vulnerable and in need of assistance. Doctors of the World-USA is working to restore and protect the basic rights of particularly vulnerable groups of children with special needs: children with disabilities, street children, and children in institutions or separated from their families."

DOW's longest running project (the Human Rights Clinic) because it has always felt the call to addresses the needs of survivors of torture and other gross human rights abuses. In this project, volunteer health care providers aid these survivors of torture within the asylum system by providing clinical examinations and testifying on their behalf. This effort was recently expanded to serve survivors of human trafficking.

Conducting its own projects in over 25 countries, DOW also works within a network of 12 Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World delegations that operate in over 90 countries.

DOW says that it has a Unique Commitment to Health and Human Rights in that its Mission is stating as supporting:

- The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health…

- The right to equality before the law…

- The right to be free from torture…

Mobilizing a network of health care providers to promote and protect basic human rights and civil liberties around the world, DOW works in areas where health is diminished or endangered because those rights and civil liberties are denied.

In these areas, DOW volunteers and their affiliates provide much needed health care services and train local community members how to continue the health care indefinitely into the future.

In addition to these services DOW advocates for the communities that they serve.

Doctors of the World is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization and receives from many Major supporters including: USAID, the Open Society Institute, MAC Aids Foundation, Gruner+Jahr USA, AOL/Time Warner and UNICEF.

The support by these contributors is well founded, as in 2002 DOW volunteer physicians donated over 1,500 hours in health service, over 1,100 of were abroad.

Doctors of the World is autonomous and nonsectarian. It is part of an international network, comprising twelve independent volunteer health services delegations worldwide which strive to provide health care to the world's most vulnerable populations. It is a U.S. affiliate of Médecins du Monde and is a member in good standing of Interaction, the major umbrella group for relief and development organizations in the United States.

In keeping with its theme of "Making Health a Human Right," Doctors of the World participated major conference on "Lessons Learned From Rights Based Approaches to Health" at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in June of 2005. There, DOW representatives spoke on lessons learned from DOW's children's health projects and on the health provider's role in documenting evidence of torture.

DOW has projects in India, Iran, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Nepal, Romania, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam, so there is plenty that could be highlighted in this article. But I am going to take just a few lines to discuss DOW's efforts in Kenya.

In Kenya, DOW focuses on HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care, and Treatment and on TB

With approximately 60% of the more than 40 million people globally living residing in sub-Saharan Africa, that places an inordinate number of HIV/AIDS victims living where health systems are weak and access to treatment is minimal.

DOW is working with the Kapenguria District Hospital in the West Pokot District of Kenya to expand and enhance HIV prevention, care, and treatment in the hospital, health centers, and surrounding communities. The West Pokot District is an underserved area of Kenya with a very high rate of HIV infection.

DOW made a Needs Assessment in the area and developed partnerships with local stakeholders and other international institutions working in the area and created a multi-year program plan. After that, they established a field presence at the Kapenguria District Hospital.

A HIV resource database was developed by DOW to share with local partners Kenyan partners in both the public health and NGO sectors.

Priority areas were developed for provider within the context of a whole-site training program at Kapenguria District Hospital. Therein, they focused on an overview of HIV/AIDS issues such as intake, confidentiality, patient diet, preventing and treating opportunistic infections, and counseling.

DOW intends to build the capacity of the district hospital and health centers so as to provide HIV treatment and support services. While doing this, DOW also intends to build the local capacity to provide community-based HIV education for those at risk and provide support to those who are HIV-positive.

There is a lot more to learn about Doctors Of The World, and it can be found at:

Monday, August 15, 2005

THE FOUNDATION CENTER: Help Online For Proposal Writing

I receive copies of proposals by email from various organizations asking me to give my opinion on them. And quite often the proposals I receive are not very convincing.

Many non-profit organizations do not have the funds to hire a proposal writer and the regular staffs of many operational organizations often do not have the time to devote to learning how to produce a quality proposal.

While many funding agencies recognize that lack of proposal writing skills does not necessarily mean that the organization sending in the "less than convincing proposal" is not capable of successfully conducting a program, but a proposal must be clear, complete and get its point across.

There is an organization that has a site online that can be helpful to the small non-profit that needs some assistance in proposal writing. The Foundation Center has posted a brief outline of what a proposal should contain. This is not meant to be a compete tutorial on proposal writing, but it should provide the "new comer" to proposal writing with an idea of what an adequate proposal should contain.

The site contains such basic information as stressing the need for gathering the necessary background information for your proposal. Now, this may seem obvious to the veteran proposal writer, but many readers would be surprised at how many proposals go to potential donors with no data to backup what is being asserted.

The Foundation Center's short and simple tutorial takes the reader through a step-by-step process from the Executive Summary to the Conclusion.

As I said before, this is not an exhaustive course, but if you feel that you are "lost at sea" when it comes to preparing a proposal for a funding request, I would recommend your taking a look at the Foundation Center's Short Course on Proposal Writing. It can be found at:


The two types of stories that I like to tell the most are those about single individuals with vision, compassion and commitment and those about young people making the world a better place. And this story has both.

The story is about a 21 year old college student named George Srour who went to Kampala, Uganda with the United Nations World Food Programme for an internship in the summer of 2004. While he was in Kampala, he discovered Meeting Point Kampala in the slums of the city - an orphanage that accommodates almost one thousand children, many of whom are "Double Orphans" (those who have lost both their parents to AIDS) and are infected themselves.

While visiting the orphanage, George noticed that the learning center was in terrible condition. It was made of bamboo-and-timber and it had to be rebuilt several times a year because it reportedly would gets eaten away by ants. When he learned that a permanent school building made of durable material could be built for only $8,000, he undertook to raise the money.

Returning to his studies at (the College of William and Mary) in the autumn of 2004, George approached the administration about conducting a campus fund raising, and they agreed.

He called his project "Christmas in Kampala" and went to work raising funds. A web site was posted on the college's online newspaper called the Dog Street Journal. (An online newspaper, which, by the way, George had founded.) The web site asked students to donate $5.00 to symbolically "adopt" an orphan..

In an open letter addressed to the college community, George wrote:

"Each day, (the children) cram themselves into a bamboo-built school house for their lessons. Pointing to a large hole in the wall, the school master mentioned to me the dire need for a well-constructed school house, built of concrete and durable materials. When I inquired about the cost, she said the plans they had drawn up for this would cost approximately $8,000."

His letter went on to say that he wanted to present the orphans "with some of the school essentials they are critically in need of, including uniforms, books, crayons, geometry sets, paper, etc." George wanted to present the orphans with these gifts as a surprise during a visit on Christmas Day 2004.

Christmas in Kampala exceeded its fundraising goals by raising almost five times what was hoped for. George was overwhelmed by the response. William and Mary students, faculty members and staff contributed to the fund, as did members of George's hometown church in Indianapolis, Indiana. George had spent four weeks of his previous summer's internship in at the World Food Programme's Rome office before proceeding on to Kampala, and his former co-workers in Rome raised over $4,000. It is reported that many of those in Rome contributed money that had previously been intended to be used to buy Christmas gifts for traditional gift giving. An additional $10,000 was donated by members of the Key Club International, a high school service program. Incredibly, $500 of the money donated from the Key Club came from members in Jamaica who had suffered devastating hurricanes that year.

The fundraising was so effective that when George and two of his friends made their surprise Christmas Day visit, they not only had the money needed for the building of the new learning center and to provide the students with much needed supplies, they had planned a wonderful Christmas dinner for all of the approximately 1,000 orphans and school faculty at Meeting Point Kampala - a dinner where the students were amazed that they got to eat not only chicken, but meat also.

When George left Kampala after that visit, the students all stood in front of the old weather beaten learning center, with its cracks between the timbers and tin roof and sang a song a song for their new friend. The words of the song were: "Bye-bye embawo," which means "bye-bye timber." That was their way of saying that they knew that their new school building would soon be replacing the old wooden one.

The children of Meeting Point singing "Bye-bye embawo"
Photo Credit - George Srour

George Srour's story has gotten plenty of attention in the U.S. and he was awarded a The Simon Fellowship For Noble Purpose, which comes with a check for $40,000. George says that he will use the Fellowship funds to continue his work helping the needy.

George told one reporter "Originally I thought this would be a one and done sort of project." But after he saw how much people wanted to get involved in helping others he felt that it would be a waste to not make use of that enthusiasm.

George writes that Christmas in Kampala will take place this year and he is in the process of looking for new institutions in Kampala that are in need of assistance that he can help with the $40,000 that he received as a William E. Simon Fellow.

Now - tell me, folks, have you heard many stories better than this one? George Srour does not yet have a formal non-profit organization, and the funds for Christmas in Kampala were raised through the College of William and Mary which is itself a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. I will post the addresses for this year's web sites when I receive them, but if you would like to look at the web sites for Christmas in Kampala - 2004 the links are below along with a link to the William E. Simon Fellowship announcement of George's award.

The new Meeting Point Learning Center going up

Oh, and if you are a non-profit organization in Kampala working with orphans, or know of one, post your comments at the end of the article and let George know what you are doing.

Christmas in Kampala 2004

The Simon Fellowship For Noble Purpose - 2005 Fellows

Friday, August 12, 2005

OURMEDIA : Allowing You To Enhance The Effectiveness Of Your Web Presence

Have you ever wished you could speak to your online audience? Or have you ever wanted to show them pictures or a video of your projects. Perhaps you would like for them to see a video of the construction of the school that your organization is building. Or perhaps you would like to give a walking tour of a community you would like to help.

A picture is worth a thousand words and the spoken word can carry much more emotion than text. But quite often the expense of making audio, graphic or video files available to your audience is beyond your organization's budget.

Well, help is here, is an online community that allows you to share visual and audio files with the World Wide Web.

Ourmedia is free, but you must also register and obtain a free Internet Archive Account, which will store your files. There are instructions on the Ourmedia web site on how to obtain the Internet Archive Account.

I have not fully explored the Ourmedia site but I did sample some of the audio and video blogs that are there. One of the "Audio Bloggers" on Ourmedia is "Raised Voices." This group has posted quite a few testimonies of individuals on current social issues. One of the testimonials is titled "Raised Voices: HIV/AIDS" and addresses the G8 and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Ourmedia lets you publish Text, Images, Interactive, Audio, Video and Mixed files. So, drop by Ourmedia, put on your "thinking cap" and think about how Ourmedia might help your Organization get its message out.

You can find Ourmedia at:

SAT: Responding To AIDS With Competence

BEven though the Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) was established in 1990, it was known as the 'Southern African AIDS Training Programme until 2003. Prior to 2003 it was a project of the Canadian Public Health Association's Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). But since that time it has held Trust status as an independent regional organization.

SAT is a regional initiative that supports community responses to HIV and AIDS through in-depth partnerships with community groups in southern Africa and wider networking, skills exchange and lesson sharing throughout the region and internationally.

Our overall goal is to build the competence of communities to develop and manage effective, appropriate and sustainable responses to the multiple challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.

It's Regional Secretariat and Zimbabwe Program Office are located in Harare, Zimbabwe; but it also has smaller decentralized offices in Lilongwe in Malawi, Maputo in Mozambique, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Lusaka in Zambia.

Their funding and skills building activities support the capacity development of its partners and their programs in order to create more effective, sustainable and comprehensive community responses to HIV and AIDS.

Even though SAT is no longer a project of CIDAm, it still delivers a large regional project for that organization. But now it has an expanded portfolio of other work funded by a growing number of new resource provider partners.

SAT's vision is to be the leading CBO/NGO support provider in southern Africa. In this way, it believes that it can ensure HIV and AIDS competent communities.

It states that its mission is to work directly and through its partners to increase the HIV and AIDS competence of communities in southern Africa. By increasing community competence, HIV infection can be reduced and the support and care of HIV and AIDS victims will be improved. Additionally competent communities can help to ensure adequate impact mitigation measures and address the underlying factors that make communities and individuals vulnerable. Competent communities can also work more efficiently towards the sustainability of these achievements.

SAT intends to prove and promote the empowering nature and relevance of "south-to-south" skills exchange and lesson sharing. They also intend to work in such as manner as to become known and respected for efficacy and accountability in grants management, integrating monitoring and evaluation into capacity building relationships, and ensuring linkages between financial resources and ongoing technical support. All this while they become a leader in capacity building of CBOs and NGOs.

SAT believes that it's achievements and lessons will offer a model to encourage and inform practice in the broad field of development, not only HIV and AIDS, across southern Africa and globally. And they are fundamentally committed to promoting a co-operative, co-ordinated and non-competitive environment for the response to HIV and AIDS.

Their core values, adapted from the 15th March 2004 draft of the "Code of Good Practice for NGOs responding to HIV/AIDS" focus on

- Valuing human life
- Preventing and alleviating human suffering
- Respecting the dignity of all people
- Respecting diversity and promoting the equality of all people without distinction of any kind, such as race, ethnicity, colour, sex, gender, sexual orientation, HIV status, language, religion, political or other opinion
- Promoting the greater involvement of people living with HIV and AIDS
- Promoting gender equality
- Meeting the needs of children affected by HIV and AIDS, including their need for psychosocial support
- Supporting community values that encourage respect for others and a willingness to work together to find solutions, in the spirit of compassion and mutual support
- Assisting CBOs/NGOs to develop more comprehensive community responses
- Addressing social and economic inequalities and fostering social justice.

SAT is organized into Teams and Units that carry out its mission. In addition to two Management Teams (a 'Strategic' Management team and a 'Business' Management team)

There is a Finance and Administration Team a Country Programmes Team and a Good Practice Team. You can read about the roles and functions of each of the teams at SAT's web site.

The organization works on a national level and on a regional level. On the National Level, it operates programs in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. On the national level the work has three main components:

Capacity development partnerships with CBOs and NGOs

SAT's School Without Walls


On the Regional Level, SAT has:

Regional School Without Walls

Capacity development with regional organizations

Operations research

All of these programs, both on the national and regional levels have a lot of components and a lot of detail. And as you know that my goal is to write "Brief" articles about the various organizations, I am going to leave it to you, dear reader to go to the Southern African AIDS Trust's web site at: to learn more about this effective organization.