Friday, December 30, 2005

WATERPARTNERS INTERNATIONAL: Support Against The World's #1 Health Problem

More than 100,000 people in 146 communities have been helped by WaterPartners International (WPI) since 1990 to develop safe water supplies and to improve their sanitation systems. In addition to that, they have helped more than 100,000 people in Iraq through emergency relief efforts to gain access to safe water supplies.

All of WPI's projects are self-sustaining with organizational and financial structures in place to allow the partner communities to independently operate and maintain them. One way this has been done is through active local water committees that govern the operation of the water system, and another is through having users pay a water bill to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the water system.

WPI's Vision is stated as follows:

"We envision the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water. It is easy to take for granted ready access to a safe supply of drinking water. Yet, more than one billion people lack this most basic commodity. Creating accessible, safe water supplies in developing countries liberates people to live healthier, fuller, more productive lives."

With the goals of drawing attention to unsafe and inadequate water supplies as the world's number one health problem and raising funds to help fight this problem--one community at a time. WPI sees its Mission as:

"To Inspire people to act:"

To Inspire Donors "to provide consistent financial resources with a sense of solidarity for those in need of safe water"

To Inspire Staff and volunteers "to seek innovative and efficient solutions to meeting the global water supply needs of today and tomorrow"

To Inspire People in need of safe water "to take the lead in meeting their own needs
Together, these people form the "waterpartnership" that will allow us to realize our vision."

WPI says that it wants to develop high quality, sustainable water projects - "We use our expertise to foster high-quality, sustainable, community-level water supply projects. We promote innovative solutions that enable communities to take a leading role in solving their own water supply problems."

They also say that they want to enable donors to invest wisely - "We exist to create a global awareness of the water supply crisis and to help people respond. We carefully invest donors' funds in only the highest quality projects through locally-based water development organizations. We hold ourselves accountable to donors and to people who benefit from the projects they support."

WaterPartners states that it is hard for people in wealthy nations - who have access to clean water at the turn of the tap - to imagine that safe and adequate drinking water is still only a dream for more than one billion people in developing countries who must walk long distances to get the water (that is often contaminated) they need for drinking, cooking, and bathing. And at least 50% of the world's population lacks access to adequate sanitation. WPI wants to create projects that work to help communities achieve access to safe drinking water.

WaterPartners International challenges the traditional approach to assisting people in developing countries to obtain water by working with partner organizations of a high quality that have proven their ability to implement sustainable water projects. Through this method, they have helped the many thousand of people that are a part of their success stories in gaining access to safe water.

WaterPartners projects are funded through innovative methods that include: grants, loans or a combination of both. WPI states that the "idea of building community-based water supply projects through a combination of grants and loans is new to the water sector." And that, "until now, most water projects facilitated by other organizations offering assistance have been funded in their entirety by grants, even when the individuals served by the project have the means to share costs."

Recognizing the ability of poor people to help pay for their own water projects since WPI has follow that strategy since its first water project in 1990 in Honduras.

Before 2005, all of WaterPartners projects were grant projects, with the communities paying a portion of the capital cost of the water systems up front. The communities paid their portion up front.

WPI believes that "communities must share in the capital cost of the project if water and sanitation systems in developing countries are to continue functioning over the long term." They state that this not only increases the chances of the project being successful, but it also allows us to finance more projects in other communities. In addition to this, each household pays a user fee, which goes towards paying the operation and maintenance costs associated with the new water system.

This innovative concept of WPI is termed "WaterCredit." Under this program, credit is provided through existing water supply organizations and micro-credit organizations.

These organizations repay the loans with the funds generated by water fees mentioned above. These fees, by the way, are far less than the price paid by the world's poor to private water vendors. In this way, WaterCredit becomes a tool by which new funds can be generated for further loans for new water projects.

WaterCredit allows the communities to spread payments out over time through a loan. And it WaterPartners to help communities who can afford to pay the entire amount of their project's cost over time but not as one lump sum before construction begins. WaterPartners says that WaterCredit is "a true social entrepreneurial organization" by bringing to developing nations the concept of credit that is taken for granted in countries like the United States.

WPI has brought its support to communities in the following countries:

El Salvador
Kenya and
The Philippines

But we only have time to take a quick glance at two such projects.

In Kenya , WaterPartners is working in the Kisumu region which lies on the equator, and has a hot climate all year. Within Kisumu there are four ongoing rural projects. They are located in Chiga, Kumrango, Mahenya, and Mbeme. These four projects will serve a total of 7,800 people who badly need access to water.

While WaterPartners has projects in the regions of Tigray and Oromia of Ethiopia , it cites its project in Tigray as one of its success stories on its web site.

A very short summary of the Tigray story is a follows:

"WaterPartner's first major project in Tigray was completed in 2005. The project is serving 32,000 people in 76 communities and six schools. WaterPartners is currently working on a new water project in Samre which will serve 4,500 people.

Tigray is a region in northern Ethiopia that borders on Sudan. Unlike some of the regions in the higher elevations, temperatures in Tigray are usually quite high. Tigray is often one of the regions that is hardest hit by drought and crop failure. According to our partner organization, malnutrition is now serious to severe in the worst-affected areas."

While WPI is particularly proud of its efforts in Tigray, it has a lot more going on in Ethiopia .

In fact, WaterPartners International has a lot going on, Period!

See for yourself - WaterPartners International

WaterPartners International is also a Project Sponsor of Global Giving

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

TRICKLE UP PROGRAM : Creating A Flood Of Microenterprises

One place where I can usually find interesting players in the international NGO community is the Global Giving web site. Whenever I am not sure what I want to write about, I just take a look at their list of partners, and project sponsors and I never fail to find something that inspires me. Today, I found the "Trickle Up Program".

Trickle Up was founded in 1979 by two widely recognized workers in the field of international development - Mildred Robbins Leet and her late husband Glen Leet. The Leets, founded Trickle Up to help alleviate poverty and empower the poor because they recognized the limits of "trickle down" economics, because the huge sums of money given at top levels never seemed to find its way to the people who need it the most.

Trickle Up applies small amounts of money - combined with basic business training - directly to the poorest of the poor to help them initiate microenterprises.

The Leets began Trickle Up's first projects in Dominica (one of the Caribbean's poorest countries) with $1,000 of their own money. They traveled to Dominica and with the assistance of several local agencies, helped to launch ten businesses with ten $100 conditional grants. The first entrepreneurs started their own microenterprises. Some sold various items including eggs, building blocks, school uniforms, and jams and jellies. Through the use of business plans and reports provided Trickle Up, the entrepreneurs were able to carefully plan and track business expenses and earnings.

Almost 25 years later, some of these entrepreneurs are still in business today, and Trickle Up has helped the poorest people in 120 countries to start or expand over 135,000 businesses as a viable route out of poverty.

Trickle Up Program's mission is "to help the lowest income people worldwide take the first step up out of poverty, by providing conditional seed capital and business training essential to the launch of a small business". Since 1979, Trickle Up has started over 135,000 businesses in more than 120 countries. Currently, Trickle Up focuses its efforts in Cambodia, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, and Uganda and the United States.

Trickle Up has been working in Africa since 1979 and has helped in the launching or expansion of 46,417 businesses on the Continent. In 2004 (fiscal year) alone it launched 3,823 businesses. This was done through by working with 42 Coordinating Partner Agencies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda.

Trickle Up's efforts support and complement their partners' programs in a variety of areas including: community development, agriculture, conservation, women's empowerment, HIV/AIDS awareness, civic and nonformal education, and inclusion of people with disabilities. Trickle Up provides vital capitalization for sustainable farming, enterprises that conserve natural resources, and businesses that empower women economically and socially. The organization also assists families that have fallen victim to HIV/AIDS by helping them to cover medical costs. Additionally they give AIDS orphans tools for survival. By offering opportunities to people with disabilities Trickle Up opens a door for them to self-reliance.

Data collected by Trickle Up and published in its FY 2004 Report show:

78 percent of the Trickle Up entrepreneurs in Africa were women.

37 percent of the entrepreneurs were under the age of 27.

84 percent of the entrepreneurs considered their Trickle Up business as their primary source of income.

The best way to give you a clearer picture of what Trickle Up is doing is to give you examples. So, I have posted verbatim text from their web site regarding several of their projects. Below are stories from five different countries where Trickle Up is working.


"At 5:00 am, Adane Debekoye starts to pound the millet and other diverse ingredients, such as baobab fruit and pepper, which make up the locally popular cream drink. By 7:00 am, she is forming the ingredients into balls which customers then buy to mix with water and drink. Her busiest time of day is between 10:00 and 11:00 am, when people, especially women, are looking to supplement their morning meal and tide them over until lunch. Though she has been doing this for a long time, the Trickle Up grant has allowed her to work independently throughout the year. As Adane testified, "before the grant I had to take small credit from neighbors and family. Now I can work and resell at ease." In addition to independence and continuity of work, she is now able to buy more meat and rice for her family and better clothes. Trickle Up has also increased her "courage de travailler (courage to work)." In addition to ameliorating conditions within her family, with her profits she has slowly been able to diversify the products she sells - to onions and lemons, as well as put aside some money for savings. As the 'crème locale' helps nourish people in order to continue their busy lives, Trickle Up has helped nourish Adane's enterprise to self-sufficiency."

Burkina Faso
Agnes Yanogo and Françoise Ouedraogo

"Agnes and Françoise are two young women who live in an informal settlement area in the capital city of Ouagadougou. Their parents are too poor to pay housing costs in the city center where land prices and rents are high. A few years ago, they spent most of their time at home helping their mothers with various household tasks. After hearing about a training program at the local Centre de Formation de Jeunes Filles (Training Center for Young Women), they enrolled and studied their respective craft for three years -- Agnes learned to knit and Françoise learned to embroider. Because their parents are so poor, the women struggled to produce the crafts they were trained to create. Agnes, for example, would sometimes sell her old clothes in order to buy only a small amount of her most basic materials.

They heard about Trickle Up through GRADE, a Coordinating Partner Agency based in Ouagadougou. After participating in a talk on human rights and a motivational seminar on running a small business, Agnes and Françoise received their first grant and were able to buy all the necessary materials to get their activities going. Initially, they obtained clients through family relations, but in time passers-by and friends of clients were impressed by the quality of their work and started to place orders. GRADE also helps them sell their products by bringing samples to events attended by wealthy Burkinabé and expatriates. When Agnes sells her products, she takes out the price of yarn and cloth and then gives the profit to her mother to hold. When her father is unable to give the family any money, Agnes helps them buy food and other necessities. Françoise is also able to assist her family when times are difficult and both entrepreneurs are able to buy themselves new clothes and other goods they would never have been able to buy before. Grateful for the independence that the grant has already allowed them to attain, Agnes and Françoise dream of opening a large boutique so that they can devote their time to crafting instead of cooking and cleaning."


"Aïssa Moussa is a Peul woman living in Lamorde, an impoverished neighborhood on the periphery of the capital, Niamey. For the last ten years, Aïssa has gotten up early one morning each week to go to a rural area, to buy milk and butter from other Peul, who are traditionally cattle herders. The journey takes Aïssa the entire day, but she says it is well worth her time since she is able to sell the dairy products at a high price in Niamey.

When Aïssa received her Trickle Up grant early in 2002, her business had been faltering and she did not have enough money to buy as much milk and butter as she could carry each week. With the Trickle Up grant she bought a new pail and was able to buy more milk and butter and increase her profits. Aïssa says her business is doing well, especially during Ramaddan, when women prepare special meals and celebrate each night."


"Grace Kabatambuzi is a polio victim who has difficulty walking. She has a little stand along the main road, and has somebody carry all her stock to the stand every day at about 4:00 PM, when she starts selling. Grace was visited by the village committee of Kweterana Disabled Association, who selected her to receive the Trickle Up grant. She used it to buy groundnuts, beans, soda, tomatoes, soap, salt and paraffin. Since her brother is very ill, Grace uses part of her profit for his medical care. She lives with her mother and one child, conceived after rape. Because primary education is free in Uganda, her child is able to attend primary school. However, Grace still has to pay for books, pens, lunch and a school uniform-all of which she can afford, thanks to her business. Grace has also bought a goat and reinvested some of her profit in her business. In addition, she has received a loan of 10,000 Uganda shillings ($5.70) through a local savings and credit program. She keeps meticulous records of both her savings and her loan payments so she can track both. Grace's progress towards self-reliance, in spite of her disability, is inspiring."


"Once a day laborer for neighboring farmers, Duncan Mwangi Mukoga is now the proud owner of MM Glass Mart. Duncan first went into business for himself as a photographer, renting a camera from a friend. He soon expanded into making wooden frames to accompany the photos. When Duncan received funding from Trickle Up, he decided to respond to customers' demands to stock glass for the picture frames. He purchased glass sheets from Nairobi, shaped them in his workshop into frames, and soon expanded into windows, mirrors, and other custom orders. Duncan's customer base has grown ever since, his being the only glass shop in town. Before he started his own business, Duncan's family struggled to makes ends meet. Now, with the profits from MM Glass Mart, Duncan helps to support his parents and younger siblings with food and clothing, and he also saves regularly with the Mwicingiri group. If he can access a loan in the future, Duncan hopes to buy his own camera to increase his profit margins in the photography side of the business.

Now, these are five stories, Trickle Up has135,000. I'm not suggesting that you read all 135,000, but there is a lot more to learn by visiting their site.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

COMPUTERS FOR THE WORLD: A Great Initiative Of The Rotary Club

When I wrote my article yesterday about the Donors Of Computers To African Nations And Elsewhere , I wondered why I had never written about Computers for the World (c4w).

C4W is the Emerald City Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington along with the Garfield High School Interact Students and the Rotarians and Technology Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle. C4w is also one of the sponsoring groups for Computers For Uganda .

According to their web site, "Student participants are Rotaract and Interact members with technical, linguistic or leadership skills, and the determination to help those in need. Last year our program became a Rotary District 5030 Project. Just recently we have expanded the program to Ballard High School in Seattle, and are in the process of putting together a definitive arrangement for our program and its educational activities with Seattle Public School District. We have worked with many organizations to expand our programs. Organizations such as Group Health Cooperative, Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, United Airlines, Rotary Seattle Public Schools and many others have contributed to our program."

C4w creates a platform for exchange among people by supplying information technology to the international Community. With this platform, they "provide for better learning, communication, and sharing of information and ideas that help people participate in the global community, while simultaneously letting students gain real world experiences in leadership, organization and international relations."

C4w is a multi-location project that:

"Takes donated used technology, (computers and peripherals) and reconditions, upgrades and networks by c4w volunteers (mainly Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors)

"Delivers and installs those computers in areas-in-need, primarily in the International Community.

"Simultaneously provides an international multi-cultural experience to the volunteer participants."

To "back-up" for a moment, I would like to explain what "Interact" is.
Interact is Rotary International's service club for young people between the ages of 14-18. While Interact clubs are self-governing and self-supporting they are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs, which provide support and guidance.

There is no specific formula for the various Interact club memberships, and they vary greatly. They can be single-gender or mixed gender. They can be large or small. The members can come from the student body of a single school or from two or more schools that are located in the same community.

Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects each year. One of these projects is directed at furtherintg international understanding and goodwill. The clubs also seek to a network of friendships between the Interactors in the U.S. clubs and those overseas. Another benefit from this process is that the Interactors develop leadership skills and learn the value of hard work.

Interactors often initiate the formation of Rotaract clubs.

The Rotaract clubs are Rotary-sponsored service clubs for young men and women between the ages 18 to 30. Usually community-based or based in a local university, the Rotaract are considered to be: "partners in service" with the Rotary Clubs and "key members of the Rotary family."

The reason I took a moment to discuss the Rotaract and Interact Clubs is because c4w participants are Rotaract and Interact Club members.

C4w has provided computers to the following countries and communities:

Dominican Republic
Fijian Island of Taveuni
Kathmandu, Nepal
Colima, Mexico
Gatchina, Russia
Maputo, Mozambique
Saratov and Balisov, Russia
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Nasugbu, Philippines
Basse and Georgetown, The Gambia
Lodz, Poland
San Ignacio Cayo, Belize
Salem, India
Navajo Reservation New Mexico
St. Petersburg, Russia
Masaka District, Uganda (This is the "Computers For Uganda Project) and
Tibilisi, Georgia

In 1999, a C4W team of student volunteers, led by a Rotarian and hosted in Mozambique by Rotarians spent about two weeks working on installing computers at two of that country's public universities. Mozambique had recently been classified as the world's fifth poorest country and the donation of the computers was a great benefit the students, faculty and administrators of the universities. A portion of the money was provided to c4w by the Rotary Club was a Matching Grant. The total grant expenditures were said to be US $20,000.

The students who worked on this project had to generate their own travel funds but were given "home-stay" support by the Maputo Rotary Club of Mozambique and also participated in a "cultural experience" that was a project of the project.

In February of 2001 three students from Garfield and Several University Rotary Club members sent 50 computers to Ethiopia and traveled there to set up additional computer training labs for women and children. Additionally Rotarians traveled to Ethiopia to deliver computers to the university in Addis Ababa.

In 2002 c4w worked in conjunction with GambiaHELP to send 70 computers to two schools in Gambia. Seven students from Garfield High School set up two computer labs at Armitage and Nasir Ahmadiyya Secondary schools in Gambia and trained the students and teachers how to maintain and network the computers. They also trained them on the programs that were installed on the net work. And, as in the other programs, the students engaged in cultural experiences and had the opportunity to share with Gambian families.

The local Seattle newspaper had this to say about c4w' Gambia project:

"The organization is currently working with the Gambian Secretary of State for Education to ensure ongoing computer instruction at both schools, and is considering options such as off-hours cyber-cafés to help the labs become financially viable. GambiaHELP is also looking at a follow-up project to install solar power at Nasir Ahmadiyya, where availability of electricity is often erratic."

Well, it looks like the folks in Seattle and the surrounding area are doing a lot more than I knew before. So, drop on by c4w's web site and take a look at the many computer donation projects that they have successfully completed - not only in Africa but in many other countries as well.


Saturday, December 24, 2005


This week I have written about the organizations that I have found that donate Medical Equipment and organizations that I have found that donate books and today I want to provide you with a list of organizations that provide computers to developing countries - particularly those in Africa.


Computer Aid International has already shipped over 45,000 PCs to more than 90 developing countries since its beginnings in 1998. Over 25,000 of those computers have gone to educational institutions and the rest have gone to community organizations working on problems such as HIV/Aids, environment, human rights, and primary healthcare.

A registered charity operating out of the UK, Computer Aid International was set-up in 1998 in response to the great need for quality and affordable access to computers from the developing world.

When businesses in the UK upgrade to newer and more powerful hardware for their IT demands Computer Aid International encourage them to donate their old PCs for re-use in schools and community organizations in the developing world.

To cover the cost of collecting, testing, refurbishing, and packing of a single computer Computer Aid International charges £39 plus shipping per PC. Once an organization has submitted their application, Computer Aid International provides them with an invoice for the full cost, including shipping.


World Computer Exchange (WCE) says that it "is an international educational nonprofit focused on helping the world's poorest youth to bridge the disturbing global divides in information, technology and understanding." They say that they keep donated computers "out of landfills" and give them "new life connecting youth to the Internet in developing countries."

WCE is the largest non-profit in North America that supplies tested used computers to schools and community organizations in developing countries.

Because of the success of its programs WCE is recognized by and works with UNESCO, UNDP, USAID, World Economic Forum, and Peace Corps Volunteers. They also have a global network of organizations and individuals to help them carry out their programs to which they refer as their "consortium of twenty Strategic Allies"

WCE has connected over a half million youth to the Internet, and they have approved implementation plans to connect another half million. The copies of the Partner's implementation plans for their projects can be seen at WEC's web site.


Computers For Uganda describes itself as a "non-profit organization which is a part of Emrald City Rotary's Computers for the World organization." But the most intriguing thing about this organization is that it is "made up of a group of high school students from Mount Si High School, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, and other local schools in the Puget Sound area of Washington State." I have always been impressed by this Great group of High School Kids out there Making A Difference.

These High Schoolers meet for nine months to learn about Uganda, collect computers, and refurbish them. But they also learn and practice troubleshooting potential installation problems and cable making, and to practice teaching techniques on using and maintaining the hardware.

For the past three years Computers for Uganda has sent its members to Uganda to deliver the computers. In 2003 they delivered 130 computers and in 2005 they took 140 computers to Uganda with them to be delivered to schools there.

One of the goals of the Computer for Uganda teams is to build a relationship with the schools in Uganda "that one day will grow into an electronic connected community." And while they are in Uganda they visit the former recipient schools, install computers and train the Ugandan students on the use of applications. And of course, the team members get to experience the local culture first hand during the three weeks that they are there.


Computers For Africa has been shipping refurbished used computers from Omaha Nebraska since 2000. They not only refurbish them, they networks them, and ship them ready-to-set-up to non-profit organizations in Africa.

Setting a priority for "the most disadvantaged groups, generally youth and women," Computers For Africa sends its best computers to organizations that help those segments of the recipient communities, as well as organizations that work for positive social development.

CFA donated over 900 computers to some 43 recipient organizations between 2002 - 2004 and says that they receive many of their referrals for recipients from organizations that have a "trusted track record" with them. However they do receive applications from non-profit organizations that are unknown to them. They also make it possible for organizations to make application over the Internet.

Their donors are banks, hospitals, universities, insurance companies, the military and other large organizations that dispose large quantities of used computers at one time. Organizations that operate on a for-profit basis are eligible to receive a tax deduction for its donation because of CFA's tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. Another source of computers for CFA are local refurbishers and resellers of hardware, who often receive more hardware than they can realistically use.

Also on their web site they have a FAQ page that actually tells you how they ship computers to Africa, and how you can too.


Techknowledgy wins my award for the most innovative name, but it is also a charitable organization dedicated to working with people in the developing countries of Africa in order to help them bridge the technology divide by teaching and passing on the knowledge about how to use it effectively. They support sustainable education programs through providing computer equipment along with instructions on their use and also access to the Internet.

Using previously owned computers Techknowledgy equips schools in a number of African countries. Once the computers are installed in the schools, the organization instructs them on how to maintain them and they also provide IT teaching programmes.

Techknowledgy has worked with more than twenty African schools and universities, technical training collages and women's training institutions in Ghana, and Tanzania. Additionally Techknowledgy pairs schools in the UK with African counterparts, giving students in both the UK and Africa the opportunity to communicate using email.


The First Thing I always have to say about the $100 Laptop is that they are not for sale to the general public. And if you go to their web site, the first thing at the top of their Home Page is the following notice:

"Please note that the $100 laptops-not yet in production-will not be available for sale. The laptops will only be distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives."

The reason I mention the $100 Laptop is to make people aware that these computers are available to the education systems of developing countries. And it is my understanding that Brazil has already contracted to buy a large number of them. This project is an attempt to "bridge the digital divide," not to provide an inexpensive computer to the citizens of the wealthier nations while those in the poorer nations get left further behind.

The project is the brainchild of the MIT Media Laboratory, which has created a new, non-profit association called One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to carry out the goal to develop a $100 laptop. The MIT Media Lab believes that this technology "could revolutionize how we educate the world's children."


Finally, I want to mention
TECHSOUP , which does not give away computers itself but has a "Slamming" (That's just a bit of U.S. urban inner city idiom meaning it's really, really good.) database on organizations that do give away computers. Techsoup's database contains computer donors that are mostly local to the U.S., but it does include donors such as African Computer Literacy Project in Accra, Ghana and the African Regional Centre for Computing in Kenya.

In addition to its database on computer donors it also provides information on:

Recycled Hardware
Free Downloads and
Other Software and Hardware Resources

For example at Techsoup you can learn how to become a participant in the Cisco Donation Program and receive their software at no cost, of discounted price if you are a registered non-profit organization.

Finally, there are plenty of tips and instructions on how being well versed in internet technology can benefit your non-profit organization.


Computer Aid International

World Computer Exchange

Computers For Uganda

Computers For Africa


$100 Laptop


Thursday, December 22, 2005


Before the year ends, I want to revisit those organizations that provide books and computers to recipients.

During the year, I wrote about seven organizations that provide books to developing countries. I do not doubt that there are more of these organizations and also there are many organizations that are not organized solely for this purposes but make book donations. So, while this article does not exhaust the list of donors of books, it might help the reader as a starting point if the reader is seeking such a donor.

Also, the organizations mentioned here have different missions and goals, and while they all seek to provide books to people and communities that might not otherwise have access to them, they all have different criteria and methods for doing what they do.

The very first organization featured in this blog was the Sudan-American Foundation For Education, Inc. (SAFE) . This organization was begun in 1985 by both Americans and Sudanese educators, business people, public officials and other concerned individuals who seek to acquire books and other educational materials that meet the specific needs identified by Sudanese librarians and educators so that efforts and resources are not wasted collecting and shipping resources that are not appropriate.

They try to maximize the use of donated services in order to reduce the expense of carrying out its project so as to maximize the effectiveness of the funds collected from the public and to make the operation as cost effective as possible.

SAFE has obtained donations of books, journals, and educational equipment and supplies worth more than $2.5 million and made 28 shipments of donated material to Sudan. The contents of those shipments were distributed to more than 40 universities, colleges and libraries.

According to the SAFE Website, the organization has delivered over 191,000 books and nearly 70,000 issues of scientific, medical, and scholarly journals and a variety of equipment (computers, CD-ROM drives and discs, typewriters, calculators) and supplies.


A Student Group at George Washington University, which calls itself " Books For Africa Student Organization " collects and sends college level books to various African communities for use in community libraries and educational centers. The group was organized in October 2002 and since its founding, Books For Africa Student Organization has collected and delivered over 35,000 volumes to the Continent.

They collect books not only from George Washington University but they have also gotten them from the campuses of Georgetown, George Mason, John Hopkins and James Madison Universities as well. In 2004 a chapter of the organization was even founded on at James Madison University and they hope to create additional chapters in the near future.

This highly motivated students organize two book drives each year, one in May and the other in December. They chose these times because that is when students have finished with their books for the semester at their University. This way the are able to collect books that students might otherwise discard at the end of each semester in order to reduce the weight of the luggage to be shipped home.

Books For Africa Student Organization also keeps a calendar of their book drives posted on their web site as well as a brief "How To" for campus book drives.


I have written about SABRE , a Cambridge, Massachusetts based organization twice this year for several reasons. One reason is because Sabre is very unique in that it provides its recipient partners with a choice of the books that they have in inventory in their warehouse. Another reason is because the books they offer are new. And thirdly, because they operate a highly efficient operation with a very small staff.

Sabre has been distributing books around the world since it was started Book Donation Program in 1986 and has now shipped over $200,000,000 worth of new books and other educational materials to more than 80 countries.

Since 2001 most of Sabre's book shipments have gone to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These books are usually new college- and professional-level titles, but it also has high school, elementary and pre-school materials as well.

Their "demand driven" program allows overseas partners to select the CD-ROMs and new, high quality and up-to-date books that they want from an inventory list that is sent to them electronically. The donors of the volumes to Sabre are publishers, and that is the reason for the quality condition of the books.

Sabre is not only a 501(c)(3) organization but it is also registered as a Private Voluntary Organization with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Sabre has also in active in distributing books in the Islamic world. They have attended Book Fairs in both Algeria and in Morocco.

The second article on SABRE focused on the efficiency of their operation and why their demand driven operation is a sound approach. In addition to its demand driven approach, it talked about its streamlined staff and its demand that its recipient partners take on certain responsibilities of the various projects to ensure the effectiveness of the operation.

In this second article, I suggested that Sabre could be used by organizations just starting to provide resources and aid to developing countries.


Better World Books has only been around since 2003, but since that time, they have collected over 600,000 books and funded the shipping of 500,000 books to Africa in partnership with Books For Africa.

This organization has done this by mobilizing approximately 300 university campuses to run books drives around the country. They target the books that students are unable to sell back to their campus bookstores. Natasha Harris, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for Better World Books says "Although these books are considered to be 'dead' or of 'no-value,' we know that there is a great deal that can be done with them in fighting against global illiteracy."

Better World Books helps to maximize the effectiveness of the campus book drives by providing the student groups conducting the drives with shipping materials such as: cartons, tape, shipping labels. They also provide them with marketing materials: posters, flyers and buttons. In addition to this, Better World Books offers guidance and advice to campus organizations in order to help make their book drives a success.
In addition to donating books to African communities, Better World Books has helped to build libraries in Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam as well as other Asian countries and they have also partnered with local libraries in the U.S. and Goodwill Industries.

In its "Fall 2004 Newsletter" Books For Africa recognized Better World Books as its largest single donor for Fiscal Year 2005 with cash donations totaling $67,100 as well as helping Books For Africa collect 10 million books, a goal that was reached in October 2004.


In its Mission Statement, Books For Africa says that it has "A simple name for a simple organization with a simple mission." That mission, it goes on to state is to: "collect, sort, ship and distribute books to children in Africa." Period.

With the help of volunteers they collect books donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals and organizations. They then sort and pack those books that are carefully examined and found to be age and subject appropriate.

Books For Africa does not just send a few books at a time; they send enough books for a whole class to use. And the books that they send are good books.

Anybody that has tried to carry out a book project that involves the collection and shipping of books learns quickly that the difficulty is in the shipping. Books, especially in large numbers, are heavy, and they have to be shipped IN something. It is not easy to get large numbers of books from point A to point B without considerable effort and expense. Books For Africa makes it clear that shipping is the program's largest expense.

Books For Africa ships their books in containers that are paid for by public contributions. And at the approximate cost of 38 U.S. cents to ship a book from a United States port to Africa, a lot of public contributions are needed.

The effectiveness of Books For Africa in getting these contributions is attested to by the fact that it has shipped more than 10 million books to Africa since 1988.

Their web site states that to date: "Books For Africa has shipped books to the countries of Botswana, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe." The web site even has a map for their visitors to visualize the countries that have received their donated books.


Book Aid International was founded in 1954 by Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly as the Ranfurly Library Service. Her husband was at that time Governor General of the Bahamas. During Lady Ranfurly's travels she became aware of the desperate shortage of books for children in the Bahamas. As a result of this experience, she instituted a process that brought donated book to that the Bahamian children. She began by asking her friends and contacts to send surplus books from the UK. These books were then re-distributed to schools and libraries that needed them. When Lady Ranfurly returned to the UK in the early 1960s she was asked by the then Colonial Secretary, Lord Boyd, to continue her efforts and indeed expand them to other parts of the developing world.

Today, in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Palestine, Book Aid International is hard at work providing over half a million books and journals each year to libraries, hospitals, refugee camps and schools. This is because Lady Ranfurly's organization believes that books are the basic tools of literacy and education. And they are trying to get books to the millions of children and adults across the developing world do not have access to them.

The bulk of the work of Book Aid International is in support of rural and urban libraries that provide free access to everyone. Partnering with libraries, Book Aid International helps them to develop their pivotal role in the community.

Currently, for the three-year period of 2004 - 2006, Book Aid International has set new goals for itself and restructured the organisation to meet them. These areas in which it has set these goals (to paraphrase) are:

- Increase access to Books and Information
- Gain wider support for the Book Chain
- Increase the effectiveness of its Partnerships in working to achieve common goals
- Enhance Reading Promotion by more effectively reaching out to readers
- Promote Advocacy by increasing books and information for development
- Measuring Outcomes and Impact to enhance the role of evidence
- Enhance the Training and Learning of partners
- Continue Internal Development

Eighteen 18 sub-Saharan African countries are aided by Book Aid International.


CODE was founded in 1959 as "Books for Developing Countries" it changed its name once more before becoming "CODE" in 1982. By 1970 it had become a registered charitable organization under the name "Overseas Book Centre" (OBC)

By the time it was renamed CODE, the organization was shipping more than 20 tons of books each year to 85 countries. And in that same year, it expanded the items shipped to pencils, audio-visual equipment and typewriters.

A Canadian charitable organization with over 40 years in experience in promoting education and literacy in the developing world, CODE seems to have a formula for success.

Having been awarded the UNESCO International Prize for Literacy in 1987 and the Government of Canada's Literacy Innovation Award in 1999, in addition to many other awards, it is clear that CODE's value to the global community has been recognized.

CODE's Vision is "To support a sustainable literate environment in the developing world." And its Mission Statement is "Enabling people to learn by developing partnerships that provide resources for learning, promote awareness and understanding, and encourage self-reliance."



GWU - Books For Africa Student Organization



Better World Books

Books For Africa

Book Aid International


Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I have been trying to write this article for quite some time, but I keep getting sidetracked by finding new exciting organizations that I can’t wait to write about. This article is about organizations about which I have already written, but I am grouping them in a category to make it easier for them to find through Internet searches.

This category of NGOs is defined as those that donate medical supplies and equipment to hospitals, clinics and other health care providers in Africa and elsewhere.

International Medical Equipment Collaborative is the first of these a non-profit organization that I featured in my blog.

It was established in 1995 by IMEC's President, Thomas Keefe to distribute medical equipment, supplies and support services to doctors, nurses and clinicians working in clinics and orphanages in impoverished, underserved locations worldwide.

In addition to their health professionals they have volunteers who include Project Coordinators, Furniture Repairpersons, Electronics Repairpersons, Donation Pickup Drivers, Donation Pickup Assistants, Equipment Cleaners, Equipment Packers, Equipment Repairpersons, Linen Repairpersons, Medical Supplies Packers, Workshop Donations Organizers and Office Assistants.

Since its founding, IMEC has grown to a very large network of individuals with backgrounds in either healthcare or international cooperation. Doctors, nurses, medical technicians and others assist in IMEC’s acquisition, testing, reconditioning and training related to their projects. As a result, sixty countries have received equipment and supplies from IMEC. In addition to their projects in Africa, they serve people in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Republics.


In late August of 2005 I wrote about MedShare . 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

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 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. This organization is funded by support from individuals, foundations, religious groups, civic organizations and corporations. And while it 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.

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.


MEDWorld is a program located at the University of North Carolina Medical College hospital at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This program was initiated by UNC physicians, medical students and hospital staff and was designed to collect and recycle unused medical supplies that would otherwise be discarded at the UNC Medical College Hospital. The founders said that they were "looking for an opportunity to do community service on a global scale while improving staff morale and reducing hospital waste." So, the materials that are collected are sent to developing nations where they are a great benefit to those clinics and hospitals serving the poor.

Their web site states: "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."

MEDWorld's program is also earth friendly in that 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 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

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.

They also send materials abroad with resident physicians and medical students traveling to developing countries to provide medical care to the poor as well as through various other methods.


REMEDY (Recovered Medical Equipment For The Developing World) was founded in 1991 by William H. Rosenblatt, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology at Yale University School of Medicine. This organization is comprised of a group of health care professionals and others who promote the nationwide practice of recovery of open-but-unused surgical supplies. Their end goal has been to provide international medical relief while reducing solid medical waste from US hospitals.

The Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT has a recovery program that served as the pilot project for REMEDY that was the subject of studies conducted by Dr. Rosenblatt in collaboration with Dr. David Silverman. The study of these two doctors demonstrated the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, environmental ramifications, and usefulness of supplies recovered through the REMEDY program.

As of June 2004, the REMEDY at Yale program alone had donated over 30 tons of medical supplies! And they estimate that at least $200 million worth of supplies could be recovered from U.S. hospitals each year (just from operating rooms alone)! If these recovered supplies were sent to the developing world, they would increase the amount of that medical aid to those countries by 50%.

REMEDY became committed to teaching and promoting the recovery of surplus operating room supplies and developed a "comprehensive In-service Teaching Packet with information needed to start a standardized recovery program based on the REMEDY model, applicable to any surgical procedure in any hospital in the U.S. Proven recovery protocols were designed to be quickly adapted to the everyday operating room or critical care routine".

The Teaching Packet is distributed free of charge to any hospital that requests it. They say: "Rather than reinvent the wheel, REMEDY suggests turning to the huge network of U.S.-based non-profit medical charities to form partnerships."

REMEDY is also committed to cooperation with other charitable organizations engaged in similar activities. And they want organizations providing health care services, supplies and equipment to developing countries to know that by working together, we can more efficiently and reliably respond to those in need.


As all of these organizations tell us, 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'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.

If you have a need for medical equipment and supplies, consider reading more about one of these organizations.

International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC)




Tuesday, December 20, 2005

VENTURE STRATEGIES : For Health and Development

Quick quiz. What are the United Nations' 8 Millennium Development Goals ? If you don't know you may want to assess your commitment to improving the Quality of Life in he global community. Okay, so maybe that was cruel of me to pop that on you like that. So here is an easier question. What is the 5th Millennium Development Goal? Now if you think that is a hard question it means that you didn't even go to the link I gave you above to see what the eight goals are. Well, if you didn't look and don't know what the 5th goal is, I'll tell you. It's to: "Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio."

While this problem has diminished somewhat, there is still a long ways to go. For centuries people have talked about reducing maternal mortality, but very few people have concerned themselves with doing anything about it. Let me take a point of privilege and tell you a true story. My father was a rural physician in Virginia from the early 1930s until the 1980s. I once told me that when he was a medical student in the 1920s the popular wisdom was that was a new mother should be confined to her bed for several days after delivery because so many of them dropped dead when they got out of bed. The keepers of the common wisdom finally figured out that the women were dropping dead because they had been confined to their beds for days after a delivery - and this allowed blood clots to form. These clots found their way to the heart, or other vital organ once these new mothers got out of bed and their cardiovascular systems began efficiently pumping the clot to a lethal position. My father used to say: "Modern medicine may be the best we have, but it still is not perfect."

There is a lot more to do to improve the health of new mothers and reducing maternal mortality. One organization that is doing something about it is Venture Strategies For Health and Development. This is a nonprofit organization that was created to improve the health of low-income people in resource-poor settings. Venture Strategies strives to do this by making use of existing market forces around the world.

In their Mission Statement they say that they are a unique nonprofit organization that combines scientific evidence about tractable problems in health with opportunities inherent in existing market forces around the world. They use "business approaches to find ways to help large numbers of low income people."

It is their belief that they are also "redefining how a U.S. nonprofit working internationally should function, and what it should be able to achieve by leveraging donor funds."

Because government health services in developing countries too often do not have the ability to reach most of their low-income populations. Because of this, these poorer people must pay for a higher percentage of the cost of their health care out of their own pockets. And in many instances, when the people have the ability to pay something, the needed products are not available to them at affordable prices.

Working globally with medical leaders, government officials and pharmaceutical manufacturers Venture Strategies is trying to find ways to make high quality, low cost, off-patent products available to low income people through market distribution systems.

They do not look for these solutions to health problems only in the area of pharmaceuticals. For example, they have launched an initiative to reduce respiratory disease by developing markets for cleaner burning stoves for home use, and "setting up monitoring mechanisms as an important step in moving forward to ensure cleaner air for families who cook indoors in resource-poor settings."

The organization's web site says that to qualify as a venture strategy, "a project must have reasonable odds of achieving helpful systemic change in one or more developing countries on a significant scale in the near term, using opportunities offered by existing market structures. In doing this, a venture strategy is creating, implementing and/or expediting a selected lever on change."

Their Operating Principles are stated as follows:

"We focus on opportunities for achieving sustainable systemic change.
Scale and cost effectiveness are of overriding importance.
We concentrate on barriers to progress that can be reduced soon.
Our work is organized around a scientific evidence base.
Prices for the poor must not contain costs in the U.S. or Europe.
We are committed to staying administratively compact.

Because of their innovative work Venture Strategies has recently won a Global Giving Competition prize for social entrepreneurship for their work in Africa with misoprostol - which brings us back to the issue of maternal health.

According to an article in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2005) "Controlling postpartum hemorrhage after births in Tanzania"a copy of which is posted on Venture Strategies web site: "Globally, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) accounts for a quarter of all maternal mortality, and in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa the proportion is even higher (Burkina Faso, 59%; Ivory Coast, 37%; Guinea, 43%). The high prevalence of anemia among women in developing countries predisposes them to PPH, and even a modest blood loss can be life threatening." (Footnotes are contained in the article as it appears at it site, but are omitted here.)

I know that sounds very technical, but to put it in layman's terms, a lot of women are dying in developing nations due to postpartum hemorrhaging.

According to the article, a drug known as "Misoprostol" is a proven uterotonic increasingly used in obstetrical and gynecological practice, including the control of PPH. It is also relative easy to administer, "is inexpensive, easy to store, stable in field
conditions, and it has an excellent safety profile."

In spite of this, according to the article misoprostol as an underused technology to reduce maternal mortality even though misoprostol is the only option currently available to
prevent or treat PPH where a trained health professional is not present. Venture Strategies intends to change that by making misoprostol more available in developing countries.

At the Global Giving site for this Venture Strategies project in Nigeria, it says that:

"Each year twice as many women die in childbirth as people who died in the 2004 tsunami. 99% of these deaths are in developing countries and hemorrhage is the most common cause worldwide. Bleeding can be controlled in a clinic but our projects are the first to show traditional midwives can save lives in a woman's home, where most births take place, and this is where most maternal deaths occur in the developing world - - well beyond reach of hospitals and government health services."

Venture Strategies sponsors "clinical demonstration studies with traditional midwives; co-sponsor government policy meetings; organize drug approval applications; work with manufacturers of misoprostol in China, Egypt and India, and work with distributors."

It goes on to say: Nigeria [has] been unable to lower maternal deaths to meet the UN 2015 goal of 75% reduction. With this drug, traditional midwives get their first effective technology and see the first large-scale decline in mortality.

Finally there is a poignant message from the Project Leader , who states:
"My eldest daughter died of post-partum hemorrhage four years ago. In this project we are saving women's lives with misoprostol. If we had had this earlier, we would have saved her life too." - Margaum, Traditional midwife in our Tanzanian study

There is much to be done in this area; but it looks like Venture Strategies has rolled up its sleeves and is doing something about it.

Venture Strategies

Global Giving

Monday, December 19, 2005

MACERUDET A Story Worth Reading About

I recently received a message from a friend of mine in Uganda who asked if I would consider writing about an organization with which he is associated. I had not previously heard about the organization and was happy to take a look at their web site.

When I went to the site, my first reaction was "Gee, this is a pretty small organization, I am not sure how much I can say about it." But the more I read, the more I came to understand that the Mmanze Centre For Rural Development and Training -(MACERUDET) is just the type of organization I should be writing about.

MACERUDET is a community-based NGO that was founded in 1987 by a group of local people in the area of Mmanze Parish, Masulita Sub county in the Wakeso District of Uganda. After the Bush War that took place in the area from 1981 to 1986 the social infrastructures and agricultural sectors were left devastated. So, "the community organized themselves to address these problems and causes through self help initiatives."

The principal objective of MACERUDET is to contribute towards the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the social infrastructures and agricultural sectors that were devastated by that war. By 1993 the organization was officially registered with the National Ngo of Uganda.

The issues faced by the people in the area served by MACERUDET are complex. And MACERUDET takes an integrated community-based approach to these issues. They include:

Community-based healthcare
Promotion of culture
Women's rights
Youth and child rights
Capacity building
Training and education
Sustainable agricultural development
Functional adult literacy education
Rural savings and credit program and
Lobbying and advocacy

All of these many efforts are aimed to enhance and promote the human resources capacity building along with the synergy of providing a comprehensive approach to sustainable development.

MACERUDET is particularly proud of its program to promote and protect the rights of the girl child and to extending girls' access to, retention and completion of, basic education in the poor rural communities of Uganda
Through the generosity of individuals, families, companies, communities and organizations, support for girls through Primary and Secondary Education and beyond has been marshaled and resources provided to enable them as young Educated women to lead the regeneration of their communities.

MACERUDET says that its vision and mission regarding the Girl Child is so that each and every child is educated, protected, respected, valued and grows up to turn the tide of poverty. The organization states that: "In a world where girls have least access to education, MACERUDET'S mission is to empower communities in rural areas to fulfill their aspirations to:
Enroll and keep every girl in school.
Place the protection of the girl child at the centre of community life.
Tackle the threat and impact of HIV/AIDS.
Enable young women to lead change.
Support rural communities to demand their rights and services.
Share lessons widely to multiply the benefits.

MACERUDET's Primary Education program is designed to meet the problem that arises due to many factors. Because of the lack of money in many families, they are often unable to meet the costs of educating every child in family regardless of gender of the child. But because the perception among many families is that an educated boy is more likely to find paid work than an educated girl - and also the possibility that a girl is likely to marry and take her skill and labour to her husband's family the decision is often made to educate sons rather than daughters.

MACERUDET's Primary education program respects the constraints families face and work in partnership with parents, guardians, families, communities and girl child advocates to provide the necessary materials and resources to enable girls attend school. These materials and resources include:

School uniforms
Shoes and bags
Medical care
School lunch
Tuition fees

Having these items also builds a girls self-esteem in addition to being necessary for school attendance. MACERUDET says that they help each of the girls "walk to school with pride in her appearance and sit in her classroom feeling confident about the way she looks and can participate fully in the educational process with pens, pencils and exercise books for her personal use."

Social support provided by trained school counselors complement the wider benefits of the program and also provide role models in the community.

In Uganda, where unemployment rates can be as high as 95% among young people, education does not guarantee a job. Because of this, MACERUDET supports young women in achieving economic independence by training them to become entrepreneurs in both the social and business sectors. This also affords them the freedom to make choices in their lives. In order to foster this independence, MACERUDET intends to initiate the APENTAGON BUSINESS AND SAVING / CREDIT SCHEME to finance business ventures that these women choose.

MACERUDET says that its Ultimate Goal is to Catalyse the regeneration of rural communities. And it believes that the education of girls is vital for this to take place. Working hand in hand with the girls who are supported by the sponsorship program as they leave school the organization wants them to become Young Change Makers.

They also state: We shall establish a sponsored girls as a support system for rural girls and young women and as a frame work for their activism. Our success and evolution will be to demonstrate the potential of rural girls and young women to lead change. We shall therefore provide training opportunities channeling resources, including finance and support them to step up to local , national and international platforms and challenge the world to invest in girls access to education and young women's leadership.

MACERUDET is truly an organization of a group of people who intend to help themselves, help others and help their Community. It is an inspirational story, and you can read more about them at: MACERUDET

Friday, December 16, 2005


Readers ask me if I have difficulty find material for my articles, and I always tell them that I doubt that I will ever run about of wonderful organizations to write about on this blog.

Case in point - yesterday I wrote and article about the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology and in doing so, I had to do some quick research on one of their partners, Helen Keller International (HKI). Well, wouldn't you know it, HKI has programs in 16 different countries in Africa. Those countries are:

Burkina Faso
Côte d'Ivoire
Democratic Republic of Congo
Sierra Leone
South Africa
Tanzania and

For some reason, I had not even considered writing about Helen Keller International. Was it because I did not know about all that they do? Yup! That is exactly the reason. I knew that Helen Keller International was very active in the U.S. - so, what did I think the word "International" was there for? Decoration? My apologies to HKI for my ignorance on the matter, and now here goes.

Headquartered in New York City, Helen Keller International is among the oldest international nonprofit organizations devoted to fighting and treating preventable blindness and malnutrition. Founded in 1915, this organization now has programs in 26 countries around the world.

One of HKI's methods is to build local capacity through the establishment of sustainable programs, and providing s scientific and technical assistance and data to governments and international, regional, national and local organizations around the world in this effort.

Working with the medical community and governmental and non-governmental agencies, HKI works to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged by battling malnutrition, cataract, trachoma, river blindness (onchocerciasis) and refractive error.

The ultimate goal of all HKI programs is to reduce suffering of those without access to needed health or vision care and ultimately, to help lift people from poverty.

All of this began in 1915 when a wealthy New York wine merchant by the name of George Kessler almost went down with the Lusitania when it was sank by a German U-boat in the early stages of WWI. Kessler survived the tragedy, but was hospitalized in England briefly where he met Sir Arthur Pearson, a blind English newspaper publisher. Sir Arthur told Kessler about a center he had founded to help soldiers blinded in the war. Later that year, Kessler, along with his wife, Cora organized the British, French, Belgian Permanent Blind Relief War Fund in Paris.

The Kesslers enlisted the aid of the then 35 years old (but nevertheless famous) Helen Keller.

Since then - according to its web site, "HKI has grown into an organization that helps millions of people all over the world."

HKI has an Africa Regional Office that provides guidance for all the activities in the 16 country offices. The Regional Office also provides oversight for multi-country initiatives and is instrumental in the implementation of those initiatives.

One such example of a multi-country initiative the program designed to ensure sustained vitamin A supplementation (known as - "VAS") in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

In February of 2005, HKI and UNICEF signed a global Memorandum of Understanding to serve as a framework for joint efforts to combat malnutrition, including elimination of vitamin A deficiency and other micronutrient deficiencies, and to combat blindness.

It is the hope of HKI that this program, which is funded in part by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) will:

Support country-driven plans that are well-coordinated with all partners to achieve high coverage of semi-annual, preventative high-dose VAS to children 6-59 months of age as NIDs phase out.

Use semi-annual VAS as a platform for an integrated package of low-cost, high-impact, setting-specific child survival interventions.

Build developing country capacity, in particular leading to budgetary allocations, that will allow vitamin A programs to be mainstreamed into country/government policies and programs.

Improve monitoring systems for VAS and strengthen health systems

As I stated earlier, HKI has programs in 16 African nations, and I cannot discuss them all in this article, nor can I discuss any of them with any depth. I can only give you the briefest of outlines here, and then you can decide where you want to start first in learning the rest of the story.

HKI began working with partners in Burkina Faso in 1996 to address issues of nutrition and eye care. In the nine years since then they have expanded their activities to include:
Technical assistance to the Ministry of Health Nutrition Directorate regarding nutrition issues. This initiate is carried out with support from the Micronutrient Initiative and is working to develop alternative strategies to ensure adequate vitamin A supplementation of all children aged 6-59 months. There are other areas of technical assistance as well.
Food fortification, which is another strategy employed to control vitamin A deficiency, as per the National Plan of Action for Nutrition.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato programs. This is a program carried out with support from the McKnight Fund to improve the vitamin A intakes of women and children through the production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Other programs include:
School health
Onchocerciasis control
Lymphatic Filariasis control
Trachoma control
Integrated school gardening

And you can vist the Burkina Faso web site to read more about them.

In Zimbabwe HKI is conducting activities for vitamin A supplementation. A recent UNICEF surveillance indicated that coverage of VAS in 10 districts is only 10%, and UNICEF and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have developed a new strategy to implement district-level child health days. HKI is working with UNICEF and the MoH to plan and support these child health days.


HKI has been in Morocco since 1986 and is now in partnership with the government after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in June of 2000. HKI says that it conducts "integrated health and socioeconomic development projects that address:

Trachoma Control
Vision Care

The organization says that it "uses a participatory approach focusing on trachoma, blindness, and malnutrition through education, development, conflict resolution, poverty reduction, and technical reinforcement of government staff."

This is just the briefest of statements about the work of Helen Keller International in Africa. I hope that you take the time to read more about them and spread the word. The gift of sight is precious and the work that Helen Keller International does is invaluable.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

KCCO: In The Eye Of The Storm

There is a lot that needs to be done in improving the delivery of eye care services in Africa, and the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) is in the thick of it.

While partnering with numerous organizations and initiatives the KCCO is on the scene delivering health care where it is needed.

Because the United Nations set a series of goal in its Vision 2020 plan, there is a raised level of awareness about eye care and health, particularly for people living in developing countries.

In Africa a shortage of trained personnel and the absence of an effective and efficient system to deliver eye care services, particularly for cataract surgery has caught the attention of several concerned groups.

According to the web site of The British Columbia Centre for Epidemiologic & International Ophthalmology a "report prepared by an international consultation group (April 2000) recommended the creation of the East African College of Ophthalmology to improve the infrastructure and to standardize training among the four universities currently training ophthalmologists in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. The report also emphasized the need for personnel trained in community based approaches to eye care delivery." At the time there were no strong programmes in community ophthalmology in East Africa. Among the four universities training ophthalmologists in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda was Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC). And due to its location in a non-urban setting it was thought to be particularly well-placed to initiate such a programme. In addition to its non-urban location, the presence of a pre-existing community-based rehabilitation project and a history of interest in outreach and training, and ongoing community-based eye work made it attractive as well.

As a consequence the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology was enlisted in this effort with the goals of

1 building the capacity of KCMC/Tumaini University to become a recognised centre for community ophthalmology and prevention of blindness; and

2 building the capacity of eye care professionals and others to implement prevention of blindness activities throughout the entire eastern Africa (Egypt to South Africa) region.

Tanzanian staff were hired and trained at all technical levels to become experienced in community ophthalmology and take on increasing responsibilities, "thus strengthening the infrastructure to sustain a high-quality, internationally recognized centre devoted to community ophthalmology."

KCCO has been so successful that in 2005 it was the subject of a case study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (BJO-Online) where it was reported that the KCCO had performed 1165 cataract surgeries in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. The KCCO attributed its success to the following:

(1) The programmes in the community and at the hospital are closely linked so that they increase capacity together;

(2) KCCO conducts patient friendly programmes in a one-stop service context;

(3) The team of professionals performing the examinations includes eye workers with a sufficient level of skill to provide treatment and decide who can reasonably benefit from an operation so that patients are not needlessly put through the process of being transported and referred;

(4) Population distribution determines the sites for visits to a community and the visits ae conducted according to a regular schedule.

KCCO also partners with the The International Resource Centre for the Prevention of Blindness. This organization, among other things, operates to provide information and educational resources for eye health workers worldwide. And it is said that they are "Improving access to reliable information for health workers in resource-poor countries is potentially the single most cost-effective and achievable strategy for sustainable improvement in health care." They publish the Community Eye Health Journal, which they distribute free of charge to more than 15,000 eye health workers around the world. They develop teaching and education materials on blinding eye disease and related topics and distribute key texts, videos, slide sets and manuals for prevention of blindness.

There is a lot more I could say about The International Resource Centre for the Prevention of Blindness, but this article is about KCCO, and I must move on. However, I would like to note that they are "a division of the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), which is a research, training and information centre supporting Vision 2020. ICEH is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine."

Another partner of KCCO is Helen Keller International. Helen Keller International - Tanzania was established in 1984, and it was HKI's first office in Africa.

HKI-Tanzania was set up to provide primary eye care services in central Tanzania. And the HKI-Tanzania web site states that: "Pioneering efforts were made in the field of trachoma, and the Kongwa field office was the cradle for the WHO-endorsed S.A.F.E. strategy for trachoma."

HKI states that it is working with the Kilimanjaro Centre of Community Ophthalmology, in two regions in northern and central Tanzania to develop VISION 2020 programs for their region. "Regional Task Forces have been set up in both regions consisting of all eye care partners in the region. In both regions, HKI is working with partners to increase cataract surgery rates. The blindness rate due to cataract is 50% in Tanzania. The eye care program in the country is characterized by a large backlog of cataract cases, unequal distribution of ophthalmologists and cataract surgeons between urban and rural areas, inadequate performance of surgeons, poor coordination among prevention of blindness organizations (governmental and nongovernmental), inadequate program management, and an inability to reach out and mobilize communities where eye care services are most needed. Both the northern and central regions are investigating how to reach out to the communities through the creation of a region-wide direct referral site program and how to develop a sustainability plan with the regional hospital, including financial and organizational sustainability to institutionalize eye care services."

HKI is doing a lot more than I have talked about here, and HKI-Tanzania is doing a lot more in Tanzania than I have talked about here, but you do not want me to try to post a book at this log site, so I have to move on.

Another partner of KCCO is Seva, whose founder won the 2006 TED Prize. Seva says that the activities of the KCCO include:

"Development of community-based programmes and hospital based programmes to improve cataract recognition and referral by existing primary care and community based rehabilitation workers

"Creation of strategies to improve uptake of cataract surgery by women

"Investigation of innovative methods which have been used elsewhere to improve uptake (such as collaboration with traditional healers and training school children).

"Recognition and referral of children with vision loss through training of teachers and others

"School screening for refraction through collaboration with ophthalmic medical assistants

"Expansion of trachoma programmes (SAFE strategy) in collaboration with the

"International Trachoma Initiative (ITI)

"Expansion or implementation of vitamin A programmes

"Development of a programme to improve the efficiency and management of current outpatient and outreach activities
"Training in community ophthalmology to ophthalmologists and ophthalmology residents, particularly those from the East Africa region.

'Training courses for allied eye health personnel in community ophthalmology and eye health."

If eye care is of interest to you, KCCO provides a very inspirational story. And you can read more about them and the other organizations that I mentioned in the article at the cites below.


The British Columbia Centre for Epidemiologic & International Ophthalmology

The International Resource Centre for the Prevention of Blindness

HKI - Tanzania