Indian Healthcare
Private healthcare has grown in prominence in India, constituting 93 percent of all hospitals and 85 percentof doctors today. The government clinics are sparse, leaving Indians no choice but to seek private healthcare. With no real government regulations, many private practices are taking advantage of the poor, uneducated or illiterate patients, and especially women. By providing expensive treatments that are not necessary, many are left in atrocious debts and physical pain.

Oxfam personnel in India have obtained substantial evidence on these abuses committed against Indian women at these private clinics and hospitals. Doctors have coerced thousands of women to get unnecessary hysterectomies when they come in for treatment for stomachaches or abdominal problems. Akhil Bhartiya Grhak Panchayat, a local NGO in Dausa, has found that almost 70 percent of the women who have gone to the clinics, which the NGO obtained information from, have had hysterectomies performed on them. The investigation also revealed that many of these women were less than 29 years old.

Besides hysterectomies, many women were also tricked into having cesarean surgeries instead of a natural delivery. A cesarean operation can cost about four times as much as a normal delivery.  In addition to the cost of the operation, the doctors would then charge for consultation and hospital beds. These unwarranted procedures leave the women deeply in debt, and sometimes in worse physical shape and unable to work.

These unnecessary treatments for financial gains are unethical and a violation of human rights. Oxfam urges the Indian government to regulate the private healthcare sector and work towards developing an affordable healthcare system for everyone in India. Oxfam is working to end this exploitation of women in need of health services.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: Guardian

Photo: Time


The State of the Union Speech is made interactive on President Obama’s site. An extensive use of charts and data run simultaneously alongside the video of his speech.

At about 45 minutes into the speech he speaks of impoverished areas of the world, and addresses why it is important to eradicate extreme poverty, “Not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do.” He pledges to reduce and eliminate some of the fundamental health concerns that affect developing nations.

As he presses that the need to save children all over the world from preventable death, a statistic displays that, “since the 1960s child mortality rates around the world have declined by 70 percent. Compared to 20 years ago, we’re saving 4.4 million more children every year.”

Then he reiterates a “promise of an AIDS-free generation,” and insists that it is possible. Another message then shows, “The U.S. directly supported life-saving HIV antiretroviral treatment for nearly 5.1 million men, women and children worldwide.”

The State of the Union speech is made interactive even more by asking viewers to “get involved” and tell Obama what passage of the speech is most meaningful to them. A full transcript of the speech is laid out, any area can be highlighted with a click and then a comments window pops up to send him feedback.

Give your citizen’s response.

– Mary Purcell





North of Lake Kivu in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, civil strife has caused thousands of refugees to flee to the Bulengo Camp. Home to about 45,000, Bulengo has been given the remodeling of a lifetime thanks to the hard work of Oxfam volunteers. Over a six week period, a basic yet high-functioning water filtration system has been set up that provides enough clean water for the entire camp.

The entire system is comprised of hundreds of meters of piping. Water is pumped directly from Lake Kivu and sent to large tanks. Within these tanks, the water is filtered and chlorinated to prevent diseases such as cholera. The tanks can hold up to 70,000 liters (approximately 18,492 gallons) each and are filled twice a day.

An amazing aspect of this system, aside from the fact that it provides the most basic need to thousands, is that the system is managed by the refugees. They maintain the pipes and check the chlorination process to ensure everything runs smoothly from the lake to the lips of thirsty refugees. The best job, however, is that of the young children who run to the taps in the camp to freely fill up their buckets and bottles.

Oxfam shows that through providing basic building materials, it is possible to greatly impact more than 45,000 people. It is proven through successful aid work that developing countries do not need the most modern technology; they do not only require a constant stream of millions of dollars but also the time and creativity of those willing to go out to these countries and help. In a matter of just six weeks, thousands of lives have instantly changed. There was no need for excessive donors, elongated presentations or even extensive research on how to solve the problem. Six weeks, plastic pipes and plastic bottles was all it took to get clean water from lake to lips.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:Oxfam International

Brain Drain
The encouraging news is that, overall, African students who study abroad are returning to Africa for many reasons. The “Brain Drain”, when students go elsewhere to study and never return, has been a serious problem all over the continent with students attending universities in the United States and Europe and staying there to work.

As of late, more and more students are returning to their home countries because of the growing number of opportunities for young businessmen and women to make a profit and a difference. The changing trend is not to be strictly attributed to a sense of duty. Instead, business sense and entrepreneurship fuel the change. A greater retention of the best-educated scholars could lead to new businesses, job creation, social change and a higher level of government efficiency- all changes that would be welcomed throughout many sub-Saharan countries.

As seen in many international aid programs, the most successful projects are those in which the local community is invested and involved. The growing return rate of students aids the “local” aspect and also leads to business growth as well.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source:Voice of America
Photo: CAFWD

Shyamola Begum And Her Two Daughters
A story of poverty reduction in Bangladesh has come in second place in an annual U.N. Development Programme Competition. The purpose of the competition was to capture the result of transformative development in a story. “These stories highlight UNDP’s critical work on poverty reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery and the environment and sustainable development,” said UNDP chief Helen Clark.

The story involves Shyamola Begum of Dhaka and how she managed to support herself and her two children after her husband left her. Shyamola’s situation is not uncommon in Dhaka. Every year, tens of thousands of women are left by their husbands who have given up hope in the face of poverty and lack of employment opportunities. However, after receiving an entrepreneur grant of roughly $30 from the UK’s Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction fund, Shyamola was able to open a tea stall. In just a few months, she had more than doubled her investment.

“Until I became destitute, I had never imagined I could run a business, that I could do accounts, that I could be successful,” said Shyamola.

Her success is also not uncommon. Over the past five years, 55,000 families like Shyamola’s all across Bangladesh have received similar assistance from UPPR, the largest urban poverty reduction initiative in Bangladesh. Over the past decade, Bangladesh’s poverty has decreased by half, 90 percent of young girls are enrolled in schools and child mortality has gone down by 60 percent.

Regarding the UNDP stories, Clark said, “They remind us that people are and always will be the center of UNDP’s work.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: The Daily StarUNDP




Sometimes we just want to know who is doing what to help those less fortunate, especially what celebrities are doing. Those special individuals who have tremendous wealth and are compelled to give some away in recognition of their good fortune, and in stark contrast to those who have so very little.

The site Look to the Stars lists celebrities and all their philanthropic contributions. The top 7 celebrities who are helping the world’s poor are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who together give to 27 charities and in 2006 alone gave away $8 million. Bono is next on the list, not only contributing to 14 specifically humanitarian groups but actively creating organizations, concerts, programs, strategies and even clothing to reduce poverty. Then, Bill Clinton follows with contributions to 13 organizations, but primarily focuses on the foundation he created in his name to help with humanitarian causes. Rock legend and well-known philanthropist Annie Lennox donates to 11 related charities, principally Amnesty International and Greenpeace. George Clooney not only contributes to 10 poverty groups but also created his own campaign specifically to help those suffering in Darfur – Not On Our Watch. The seventh leading celebrity actively addressing poverty issues is musician John Legend, supporting 7 related campaigns and starting his own with partner Jeffrey Sachs – the Poverty Action Tour, trying to educate and inspire U.S. university students to get involved in the cause.

Top charities being supported by celebrities to assist the world’s poor are UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam, Entertainment Industry Foundation, Comic Relief, Soles4Souls, Artists for Peace and Justice, ONE Campaign, Sport Relief, (RED).

Interestingly, Bono was compelled to start his charitable work after seeing The Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979, and John Legend immediately took action after reading The End of Poverty by Earth Institute, director Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Look To The Stars
Photo: Hollywoodnose


Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may finally be on its way. With nearly four million people killed since the outbreak of the war in 1998, the DRC is one of the deadliest countries on earth.

Although some kind of comfort and lull may have briefly calmed the residents of the DRC, the recent attack in November by the M23 rebel group had taken over the provincial capital of Goma. Following the attack, a series of riots and chaos erupted around the city, concerning peacemakers and leaders and raising serious questions about the stability in Congo.

There has been a U.N. report that the M23 rebel group was supported by Rwanda, but President Kagame denied the accusation to CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. In their interview together, Kagame told Amanpour, “It’s a big ‘no’ on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility, but what I am accepting is that people can work together to find a solution to this problem that affects Rwanda [and] also affects the Congo.”

Congo’s conflict has seriously threatened development. Considered as the deadliest and one of the poorest countries in the world, the emphasis on peace has become a key to the leaders and peacemakers of the DRC and other nations.

Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon stated, “Peace is really now at our reach in the whole of the DRC. If M23 rebels did not have external support to come and destabilize both territories, by now, we would have had peace and security in the whole of the DRC.”

While peace cannot be obtained overnight, Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon is currently striving for peace by pursuing further diplomacy at the United Nations, in the United States and in Washington, D.C.

Jada Chin

Source: CNN

mozambique flood
Heavy rains last month have caused a destructive flood in the southern part of Mozambique. The forecast predicts more heavy rain and a high risk of continued flooding. On February 11, the U.N. Emergency Humanitarian Fund has allocated $5 million to distribute life-saving resources and assistance to more than 150,000 people displaced by the flood.

The flood during this rainy season has killed 150 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and crops. The funds from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will be used to provide essentials such as food and shelter, medical care, and water and sanitation.

The large scale of the disaster calls for more aid and funding, however. OCHA has announced that $10 million has been allocated for the emergency in a news release. For now, $2.3 million will be distributed to the World Food Program, over $1 million to UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration and $820,000 to a joint UNICEF/U.N. Population Fund/WHO project.

This allocation is only the first step. CERF aims to solicit $30.6 million from the international community to continue the flood relief efforts, ensuring a quick recovery.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: UN
Photo: Business Recorder

Kids in war-torn Darfur playing soccer with a ball made from crumpled trash bags, encircled with twine was the catalyst for Tim Jahnigen’s invention of the indestructible soccer ball.  His compassion for these kids who had suffered so much, but still had the spirit to play and thrive, compelled him to create a ball that would never wear out, never deflate, and never need a pump. His idea remained in the concept stage until Sting provided the support necessary to start the One World Futbol Project.

With Sting promoting the indestructible soccer ball, soon Chevrolet came on as the founding financial sponsor for the project, and now these supper soccer balls are distributed around the world. Through the group’s  “Buy One, Give One” program, for every ball purchased they will donate another to an organization working with disadvantaged communities, including refugee camps, conflict zones, disaster areas, and inner cities. Overall, 100 organizations help to distribute balls in 120 countries – a symbol for kindness, caring, and compassion that does make us all One World.

– Mary Purcell

Source: You Tube

agroforestry- big
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has presented a new guide for governments and NGOs to promote agroforestry, a farming practice that benefits both the farmers and the environment, ensuring food security in a sustainable way. Agroforestry involves planting trees with crop or livestock rearing, integrating agricultural and forestry technologies, which results in a more effective and sustainable use of land.

The FAO has suggested that agroforestry could alleviate poverty and urges countries to promote this practice. The nature of agroforestry requires coordination between various government sectors from development to agriculture and forestry. Because of the complex nature of methods of this practice, policies and legal constraints often inhibit it. In its guide, the FAO illustrates how agroforestry can be incorporated into policies, accommodating various specific environments.

The FAO guide advocates for raising awareness of the benefits of agroforestry, creating incentives, and reforming regulations that restrict or impede the practice. Using Costa Rica as an example of a success story, the FAO guide reveals how the country has planted more than 3.5 million trees on farms in less than a decade.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: UN
Photo: World Agroforestry