Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WORLD CHALLENGE 2006: Pass It On - Quickly

I wished that I had seen the announcement for World Challenge 2006 earlier. But I didn't. I wish I had seen it earlier because the deadline for nominations for their U.S.$20,000.00 grant award is June 4, 2006 at 5:00 (GMT)

So, what is World Challenge 2006?

In their own words:

"World Challenge 2006, brought to you by BBC World and Newsweek, in association with Shell (Oil Company), aims to find individuals or groups from around the world who have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level…

I*"World Challenge 2006 is all about global involvement, casting a net for ideas from individuals or groups deserving recognition."*I

The program aims to find projects that make a real difference to local communities.

The competition is geared towards "finding individuals or groups from around the world who have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level. We want to hear from our viewers and readers about the entrepreneurs who are making a difference without costing the earth. It could be you or someone you know."

They have been building up to this competition since March by airing of a series of 12 vignettes featuring the previous twelve finalists, and those vignettes were repeated during subsequent three months period on BBC World. The featured case studies also appeared in Newsweek Magazine in a special advertising series sponsored by Shell. I'm sorry that I missed all of these promotions, but hey, since the nominations are to be emailed, there is still time - particularly since the nomination entails a statement of no more than 250 words describing why the project deserves to win the US$20,000 prize.

World Challenge 2006 is looking for nominations for innovative projects or ideas that demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit working for the benefit of the community whilst adopting a responsible approach to the environment.

Particularly, the are looking for

"o A project that shows initiative, the innovative use of technology or an invention.

o Small business projects that increase investment into the local community.

o Projects that take a responsible approach to the environment in which they are operating.

You should take note that in addition to the requirement that the statement should not be more than 250 words, there are other requirements as well.

o The nominations
must be filled out in English and all the sections of the nomination form completed.
must be e-mailed via the facility on
must be received no later than 5pm (GMT) 04 June 2006.

Also, no supplementary information will be considered after receipt of the nomination so don't send in pictures of your pet goldfish or your girlfriend.

For information on the voting process and the selection process and other useful information, you can go to the Entry Rules .

At the World Challenge 2006 web site, you can also find links to a
Nomination Form

Discussion Board

Competition Timeline

Judges Panel and a list of the

2005 Winners .

So, spread the word, about World Challenge 2006 and maybe it is not a bad idea to tell folks to be on the lookout for World Challenge 2007 for next year.

Friday, May 26, 2006

UCONNECT: Using A Strategy For Leapfrogging

Uconnect is a project of Mission Mobile Education and its objective is:

"the advancement of public education in Uganda, using Information and Computer Technology (ICT) for education, to improve the quality and efficiency of communications through the provision of necessary hardware (as computers, fax/modems and printers) and software (as word processing, communications-Internet, electronic mail and web browsers), and the training of teachers and managers in the use of communications software, especially electronic mail (e-mail), and the World Wide Web, for education, health, agriculture and other sectors."

I know that that is a mouthful, so I will shorten it for you. Uconnect (which is short for "Uganda Connect" seeks to improve the quality of life in Uganda by using computers to enhance education. (my apologies to Uconnect if I left out some critical element.)

In addition to education, the organization plans to work towards "the relief of poverty, sickness and distress by the provision of such funds and equipment."

What started out as a computer literacy project has now grown into the Uganda Connectivity Project through the use of the Internet and the use of recycled PCs for connectivity.

Some years before the project began, Daniel Stern had discussed with the Minister of Education the idea of "leapfrogging" Uganda's educational processes through the, use of computer technology. Later while listening to a forum speaker at the ITU's Internet Days in Geneva, Spring 1995, Stern developed the conviction that the Internet was the missing piece to the puzzle of using computers for Uganda's education.

There is a much fuller account of Uconnect's early days and the inspiration of Daniel Stern, but I will leave it to the reader to look into that further at History

Uconnect is doing some important work and it is worth a visit to their web site just to see what is going on. But also, there are two very interesting and worthwhile papers at their web site.

The first paper is: "Guide to Improving Internet Access in Africa with Wireless Technologies" by Mike Jensen.

And the other is: "Upcountry HF E-mail Network As an Early Component of a Developing Country's Information Infrastructure" by Daniel Stern.

Uconnect has a score of sponsors including Nokia, Microsoft, Epson and Logitech, just to name a very few of them. Here is a link to the full list of sponsors .

While you are visiting Uconnect, take a look at the Internet Society link . There you will find a feast of links to sites relative to assisting organizations in coming into the Internet age.

You can pass up Uconnect 's site if you want to, but it will be your loss.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

PHYSICIANS FOR PEACE: Close To Home - All Over The World

Today I am going to write about an organization that is close to home, literally and figuratively. Physicians for Peace is an international, humanitarian, non-profit, medical education organization dedicated to building peace and international friendships in developing nations with unmet medical needs and scarce resources through:

Its chief goals are:
- Medical education and training,
- Clinical care, and
- Donating medical supplies.

Physicians for Peace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, private organization of volunteers from diverse cultures that encourages financial and in-kind contributions to underwrite its mission-based work. The reason it is close to home is because they are located near where I live, as well as making an effort to do good works.

Physicians for Peace calls itself an international, humanitarian, non-profit, medical education organization dedicated to building peace and international friendships in developing nations with unmet medical needs and scarce resources and it does this by carrying out its three chief goals.

The organization was established by Dr. Charles E. Horton, Sr., an internationally acclaimed humanitarian and renowned plastic surgeon from Norfolk, Virginia in the US. In the early 1980s he wanted to create a private, volunteer, non-political, non-sectarian organization with respect and compassion for members of all nations. The organization was established as a legal entity in 1989.

More than 90% of the world's disease burden is found in developing nations and yet they have only 10% of the medical resources. This organization exerts great effort to try to reverse this inequity. Focusing exclusively on long term, sustainable, replicable medical education and training, Physicians for Peace sends teams of medical volunteers including physicians, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants and other healthcare professionals to places where their teaching and healing skills are needed most, including the Middle East, Central America, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and beyond.

Their web site says: "Operating in areas of profound need and scarce resources, Physicians for Peace works diligently to provide unwavering commitment to recruit top-notch volunteers to build the strongest possible relationships with in-country colleagues and execute programs with measurable outcomes. Through the hard work of staff, selfless volunteerism of health professionals, invaluable gifts-in-kind provided by corporations and charitable contributions of individuals, Physicians for Peace goes where medical training assistance is needed, affecting health concerns in those areas and, ultimately, improving the health and lives of the population. …"

"Since the early 1980's, Physicians for Peace has sent teams of medical volunteers, including physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals, on medical missions to places where their healing skills are needed - Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Our teams have united doctors from Iran and Iraq, Turkey and Greece, Palestine and Israel, the Philippines and Japan.

"Staying anywhere from one to six weeks, Physicians for Peace teams have trained local medical professionals in host countries while also treating injuries, reshaping eye sockets, correcting urinary and genital defects and fitting prosthetics, among others. Physicians for Peace has repaired burn scars, clubfeet and cleft palates. We have done open-heart surgery, screened and treated diabetes and performed a range of cancer therapies. We have brought modern aspects of pediatric and family health care to people in villages where such care had never before been available.

Physicians for Peace have a

- Burn Care Program
- Dental Program
- Eye Bank & Eyeglass Distribution
- ODU Student Exchange Program
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Pediatric Ophthalmology Program
- Philippines Project
- Walking Free Program (designed to help amputees) and the
- Women & Children's Health Initiative

I am not going to try to describe all of these programs, but if you visit their web site and look first under "Missions" and then under "Programs" there is plenty of information to be found.

Also, if you want to know what African nations you can find Physicians for Peace's good works, how about: Angola - Benin - Botswana - Burkina Faso - Burundi - Cameroon - Cape Verde - Central African Republic - Chad - Comoros - Congo, Democratic Republic of the - Congo, Republic of - Cote d'Ivoire - Djibouti - Equatorial Guinea - Eritrea - Ethiopia - Gabon - Gambia, The - Ghana - Guinea - Guinea-Bissau - Kenya - Lesotho - Liberia - Madagascar - Malawi - Mali - Mauritania - Mauritius - Mozambique - Namibia - Niger - Nigeria - Rwanda - Sao Tome and Principe - Senegal - Seychelles - Sierra Leone - Somalia - South Africa - Sudan - Swaziland - Tanzania - Togo - Uganda - Zambia - Zimbabwe

Well, I could write a lot more about Physicians for Peace (as you long time readers know) but I have been given strong hints that my articles run too long, and one reader even said that the articles were "tedious." So, I am going to end it here and ask you to visit the web site of this great organization - Physicians for Peace .

Friday, May 05, 2006

AID WORKERS NETWORK: To keep you from having to reinvent the wheel

Aid Workers Network asks: "How many times have you reinvented the wheel?" And then they go on to help people working to relieve suffering from having to do just that. They explain what they are trying to do in the following way:

"When working in relief and development projects, we often face situations others have encountered before us. Sometimes we ask around and consult a few colleagues for their opinions and advice. Other times we "jump in at the deep end" and do as best we can under the circumstances.

"Aid Workers Network links relief and development field staff to share support, ideas and best practice. This web site is being developed by a team of experienced aid workers to provide a comprehensive resource for busy field workers needing practical advice and proven resources to help with their current work."

This organization must be making sense because they currently have 5605 members in 157 countries.

Aid Workers Network believes that it is a learning community of aid workers and it exists to "provide mutual support and practical advice based on experience."

"The Aid Workers Network is a place to ask questions and find answers. This happens at the Aid Workers Forum and through the weekly email bulletin, Aid Workers Exchange.

One strength of the network is that if the forum does not answer your question today, it can put you in touch with colleagues whom you can consult directly.

Their ambition is for to be a comprehensive "one-stop-shop" for field workers needing advice or resources to help with their current work. The web site provides links to other online resources which have been recommended by fellow field workers, as well as publishing original content where none exists elsewhere."

They say that some exchanges in their forum will in due course be edited to become new content for web pages. This is done to allow for easy reference. They also adapt existing documents to make the content more accessible to field workers needing quick reference, especially if they are using a slow connection.

The network is run by aid workers for aid workers. It is maintained by volunteers and membership is free. It depends on active contributions from a wide variety of aid workers and your contributions are welcome.

Begun in May of 2002 the project is still evolving and its web site says that it is still currently in a pilot stage. Because of this, they are still testing different options, to discover which best suit the practical needs of aid workers in the field and they welcome all feedback on making the network and the website as useful as possible.

Aids Workers Network acknowledges the financial support that it has received from Joel G Joffe Charitable Foundation, Oxfam, Save the Children and British Red Cross; and Aid Workers Network is registered in the UK as a not-for-profit company, number 04723251

In its organizational structure, Aid Workers Network is led by an Advisory Panel which guides a team of volunteer Authors and Facilitators who are work on the website.

Some of the features found at the web site are:
- Aid Workers Exchange
- Forum
- Advice Pages
- The Lighter Side
- About the Network

In addition to discussion forums specific to work being done in various African countries there are also discussion forums that are specific to projects in countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

Just to give you an idea of what type of information can be found at Aid Workers Network, consider the following, in addition to the forums there are Q&A sections on the following topics:

- Retirement, Bribes, Unconventional aid ...
- Child trafficking, Donor visits, Disability ...
- Health insurance, Sexual abuse, Sustainability ...
- Roundabout pumps, Civil society, Monitoring contractors ...
- Staff salaries, Gender and emergency assistance, Evaluation criteria for HIV/AIDS e- ucation ...
- Accountability, Fisheries, Street Kids ...
- Water committees, Poverty reduction, Old folks home ...
- Volunteering, Peacebuilding M&E, Documentation ...
- Staff evaluations, TBA documentation, Women's participation ...
- Building synergy, Education projects, Fundraising courses ...
- Capacity building, Logistics software, Irrigation advice, Ambulances, HIV initiatives, Emergency strategies
- Ambulances, HIV initiatives, Emergency strategies, Participatory monitoring, DDR, Contracts
- Participatory Monitoring, DDR, Contracts, Fundraising databases, MED in insecure camps, Managing from a distance
- Fundraising databases, MED in insecure camps, Managing from a distance, Conflict resolution, Labeling goods, Short-term gains

There are also informative articles on such topics as:

- Financial Management by Alex Jacobs
- Beneficiary Rights - Essential, Not Optional by Erik Johnson
- 3 Steps to Computer Virus Protection by Paul Currion
- Keeping Track of Fuel Use by Mark Butler
- Preventing a Vehicle Roll-Over by Mick Farmer
- Disability Equality in Practice by Alison Harris and Sue Enfield
- Addressing Demands for Programme Inclusion by Steven G. Loyst

There is a lot of information to be found at the Aid Workers Network. Join, Participate, Learn and Help. It is well worth the time.

Aid Workers Network