Online Charitable Donation PlatformThe AmazonSmile Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. This program allows customers to enjoy the same Amazon online shopping experience as the traditional Amazon online shopping platform, but now with the option of donating 0.5% of eligible purchases to various charitable organizations. The AmazonSmile program charges no additional cost to either the charitable organization or the customer. The new foundation from Amazon or rather, the online, charitable donation platform, represents a positive, philanthropic step forward for the company. This initiative has the potential to reach millions of Amazon users and hopefully, even more of the world’s poor will benefit.

How it Works

Signing up for AmazonSmile is a highly intuitive process for customers. It is available on any web browser under the URL: smile.amazon.com and it can even be activated from the Amazon shopping application. One of the program’s main features is that customers can choose the specific nonprofit to which they want to donate. Moreover, the online, charitable donation platform offers more than 1 million charitable organizations to choose from.

The charities included in the program must pass an approval process to guarantee that the customers’ donations only fund reputable organizations. Organizations hold valid registry and remain in solid standing with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) (also known as a registered nonprofit). Only then are charitable organizations eligible to register on AmazonSmile. Additionally, foundations must be public and located in either the U.S. or Washington D.C.

Yet, after all of this information, an important question remains — why are some Amazon customers hesitant to use this program when shopping?

The Problems with AmazonSmile

Enabling AmazonSmile seems like a simple way to help others. However, the program has already received some criticism. Since the donation is only 0.5% of a customer’s eligible purchase order, a customer would have to spend $5,000 on Amazon to donate just $25 to the organization of their choice. When taking a closer look at consumer spending, it is clear that this purchase-to-donation ratio is not necessarily skewed in favor of Amazon’s online charitable donation platform (and thus, the charities). For example, in 2018 Amazon Prime members only spent an average of $1,400 on purchase orders. Moreover, the purchase order value (on average) for consumers who were not Amazon Prime members was even less, at $600.

In 2015, the AmazonSmile Foundation donated just less than $13 million to charitable organizations. Although this figure undoubtedly represents a substantial amount of money, the fact remains that the company’s contribution was still less than 0.5% of Amazon’s total retail sales for that same year. The program donated about 0.00012% of Amazon’s total retail sales in 2015. Given Amazon’s extreme level of success, many people criticize the program for its minuscule donations (in proportion to the company’s total retail sales).

A Silver Lining

Regardless of its flaws, the AmazonSmile Foundation holds the potential to provide a simple way to substantially give back to charitable organizations. For those who want to make small contributions, often — transitioning to AmazonSmile is an effective way to accomplish philanthropic, retail goals while making a positive impact in the fight against world poverty.

Danielle Wallman
Photo: Google Images

Poverty eradication in ItalyMany programs are working toward innovations in poverty eradication in Italy. These programs include an income program instated by the government, a fuel poverty program partnership between two companies and charities that provide assistance to the needy. Here are four facts about innovations in poverty eradication in Italy:

4 Facts About Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Italy

  1. Italy’s welfare program: In 2019, Italy introduced a €7 billion income welfare program to help reduce poverty. As of 2018, 5.1 million people in Italy lived in poverty. This program targets those people, as well as Italian citizens, EU citizens and legal residents living in Italy for 10 years or more. Households whose annual income is equal to or below €9,360 are eligible. Those eligible receive €780 a month, which can help pay for essentials such as grocery, rent and utilities. In the program, individuals who are able-bodied are also required to sign up for job placement and training programs. Employers who hire individuals taking part in the program receive financial incentives.
  2. Reducing fuel poverty: Fuel poverty is present in Italy, but so are programs to help tackle it. Fuel poverty is defined by the European Energy Poverty Observatory as “the inability to keep the home adequately warm at an affordable cost.” This affects more than 3.9 million Italians per year. A U.K.-based company called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partnered with an international organization, Ashoka, to reduce low-income families living in fuel poverty in Italy. The project relies on social innovators and entrepreneurs to find novel methods of tackling fuel poverty and reducing it in Italy.
  3. Food stamps: Italian programs for food assistance are giving out free meals and food stamps. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, many Italians are facing unemployment, and about one million are in need of food assistance. Programs such as the Ronda della Solidarieta charity, which offers free dinners twice a week in Rome to those in need, and the Nona Roma association, which drops off boxes filled with food necessities to low-income Roman families, are helping reduce the amount of people who go hungry. In 2020, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, delegated €400 million for food stamps.
  4. Charities: Charities for the homeless and low-income are attempting to provide resources such as food and health items to those in need. The COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for homeless Italians, as closed restaurants and bars provide less access for them to wash their hands. Similarly, it can be difficult to obtain food while social distancing, and homeless people are sometimes stopped by the police for not abiding by quarantine laws. The Community for St. Egidio is a charity that keeps their soup kitchen open, and they distribute 2,500 meals per week. They are also seeking donations for face masks, hand sanitizers and food. 

There is still a long way to go in eradicating poverty in Italy, and COVID-19 may worsen the plight of low-income families in Italy. However, it is still important to note these programs as they help families in need and create innovations in poverty eradication in Italy.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

Tzedakah
“Tzedakah” (pronounced suh-dack-uh) is the Hebrew word for “righteousness” or “justice.” The word relates to “tzaddik,” the name for a righteous Chasidic spiritual leader. Both words come from the Hebrew root word “tzedek,” meaning justice. Tzedakah is an ethical obligation that the Torah mandates, also known as a “mitzvah,” or law. Many Jews give tzedakah before Shabbat (the sabbath) and festivals (such as Purim and Shavuot). Its intention is to show the Jewish people’s determination to improve the world.

What Does it Mean to Do Tzedakah?

Though many Jews typically perform tzedakah by giving money, many Jews do volunteer work to pay their dues. Examples include volunteering at a soup kitchen, participating as a school field trip chaperone or visiting the elderly or sick. The Jewish sages of the Mishnah taught that every Jew has something to contribute, whether it be money, time or attention.

Jews who give money for tzedakah usually give it to organizations that help the poor, Jewish institutions and charities, humanitarian causes or Torah schools. The Shulchan Aruch (a legal code in Orthodox Judaism) gives some guidelines as to where donated money should go to first. For example, a Jew with a struggling family member should give money to them before they give it to an organization outside the family. Similarly, local charities and organizations take priority over ones that are farther away.

Many Jews give tzedakah in multiples of 18 because the Hebrew word “chai” (pronounced hai), meaning “life,” has a numerical value of 18. For example, one may give $18 to a Torah school or $360 to a local Jewish organization. Alternatively, they may volunteer at a school field trip for 540 minutes (9 hours).

The Pushke (Tzedakah Box)

Before the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples in 586 BC and 70 AD respectively, there was a designated chamber where people could deposit donation money in a box. Poor people would then enter the temple in a respectful manner and receive the money that people had left for them. The tradition of a tzedakah box persists in many Jewish homes today. Only now, instead of poor people entering strangers’ homes and taking the money themselves, Jews simply go to the charities they wish to support and drop off money there.

Jewish Charities Associated with Tzedakah

The following organizations are specifically Jewish or Israel-focused. Not all Jews donate to these charities, and there are many who donate to organizations that have nothing to do with Judaism. They also commonly give donations to schools, synagogues and halfway houses.

  • ALEH (founded in 2003) is an organization that has an association with Aleh Negev in Israel, a village that gives rehabilitation, medical care and education to disabled Israelis.
  • Yad Sarah in New York primarily gives home and healthcare services to the elderly and the disabled.
  • The LIBI Fund (founded in 1980) combines a body of donations to helps fund Israeli Defense Forces.
  • American Friends of Magen David Adom (founded in 1940) helps American Jews donate to Israel’s national emergency medical service.
  • Regional Bikur Cholim (founded in 2013) is a nonprofit organization from New York that gives food and care packages to people in need.
  • Yad Eliezer (founded in 1980) distributes care packages and food stamps to people living in poverty.

While not comprehensive, this list helps illustrate the many organizations that help Jews engage in tzedakah. Through these charitable contributions, Jewish people have the power to make significant progress in the fight against poverty in their communities and around the world.

Kia Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Social Activism by Musicians
Music continues to unite people all around the world despite social distance. With cities urging self-isolation, celebrities are stepping up through charity donations and virtual concert performances. Here are several ways social activism by musicians is making a difference.

Online Concert Streaming

Musician friends Lucius and Courtney Barnett, joined together to raise money for Oxfam’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their 4-hour live performance streamed via Instagram was packed with new song debuts and famous cover remixes. Accompanied by individual performances from singers like Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson, the event raised more than $38,000.

Through his “Living Room Concert for America,” Elton John joined with musicians such as Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga to raise more than $10 million for Feeding America and the First Responders Children’s Foundation. The Lumineers also raised over $600,000 for MusiCares and the Colorado Restaurant Association through their live stream concert on May 8th.

Relief Efforts to Fight COVID-19

Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna has given $5 million in grants to organizations such as Direct Relief, the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization to help underprivileged communities fight COVID-19. Musician Dierks Bentley has also demonstrated interest in alleviating pain from the vulnerable communities. In 2019, Dierks Bentley performed at a benefit for the Troy Gentry Foundation, which works with families in need. Bentley has also worked with WE Day, Stand Up to Cancer, Amnesty International and the Children’s Miracle Network to raise awareness and provide financial support.

Donations Given to MusiCares

On June 29th, The Weeknd announced a $1,000,000 donation to support relief efforts. The donation will be split in half with $500,000 for MusiCares and the other half for the Scarborough Health Network, which aids front-line healthcare workers.

Dolly Parton, widely recognized for her philanthropic efforts, was named the MusiCares Person of the Year. She founded the Imagination Library in 1995, which gives kids one book per month until they reach kindergarten. To date, more than 100 million books have been provided through her literacy program. In 2016, she put together the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, which raised more than $13 million to be given to victims of the wildfires in Gatlinburg. Parton continued her strides in 2020, when she gave $1 million to fund research by Vanderbilt University Medical Center on a cure for COVID-19.

Taylor Swift is also known to lend a hand when she can, and in the face of the Coronavirus, she did just that. Swift supported her favorite record shop in Nashville by making a disclosed donation and giving three months of paid health insurance to the staffers. She has also donated to her fans in need and to Feeding America.

Looking Forward

While much still needs to be done in regards to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, social activism by musicians like these is bringing about change by providing relief to organizations and underserved communities. Through music, these musicians are making change by giving hope and comfort to the world in light of the pandemic.

Erica Fealtman
Photo: Flickr

Buengo Reduces Poverty
There are a few sounds die-hard baseball fans know well: the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the chorus of crunching sunflower seeds, the crack of a boiled peanut shell and spilling hot, salty water on the stadium floor. Unfortunately, people did not hear these familiar sounds and many others during the spring of 2020 as the global pandemic stretched to all four corners of the world. Concerts, festivals and graduation ceremonies experienced silence, but one thing rang true: spring cleaning. True to course, rusted pots and pans clattered inharmoniously as they found their new home in a garbage bag, tattered sweaters and last seasons boots ricocheted off closet floors and scooters rattled on the way out of the garage. An abundance of black and white trash bags with toys, household items and clothes lined the streets in the early spring days, landfill-bound. However, thanks to new-age technology, there is an alternate path for spring cleaners to take that can help eradicate global poverty: Buengo. Here is some information about how Buengo reduces poverty.

How Buengo Reduces Poverty and Benefits Charities

Buengo is a marketplace application that encourages users to take their second-hand clothes, gadgets and home goods to Buengo rather than the landfill. This application, which debuted on the App Store and Google Play in March 2018, not only reduces environmental waste but also helps the world’s poor. Items that people sell on Buengo go directly from the seller to the buyer’s hands. The money, however, takes a different route. When the seller markets an item, they choose a campaign or charity for the profit to go towards. All of these “good causes” are in the U.K., but they have a global influence.

One organization that benefits from how Buengo reduces poverty is Poverty Child, which helps children in Payatas, the Philippines reach their fullest potential through educational programs, therapeutic endeavors, promotion of general well-being and security provision. Another nonprofit that reaps from Buengo is The Origin Charity. This organization works with indigenous people in Ethiopia to educate, equip and train the next generation of leaders. The Origin Charity also teaches marketable skills to vulnerable women, who are often the sole providers of their families. Any U.K. based charity or nonprofit can register their organization. However, Buengo is working to expand its industry to other countries so that everyone can follow the company’s motto and “sell it for good.”

The Good of Buengo

How much “good” do nonprofits and charities receive? The answer is 95% of all sales. Buengo says that “This covers the cost of what goes on behind the scenes: development of Buengo, continual support for all Buengo users, operational costs and overheads. We’re essentially offering the same service as a charity shop, but online. In physical locations, the amount taken from sales can be as much as 20%, so when you support a cause through Buengo, more of your money actually goes to the charity.”

As one wades through the pool of shirts that they no longer wear and trips over pants one size too small, there is another option instead of throwing unused items away. Instead of tossing unworn clothing in a trash bin, downloading Buengo and giving it to a global cause could be a good option.

– Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities Giving Back During COVID-19
COVID-19 cases topped more than 6.1 million with over 373,000 deaths worldwide as of June 2, 2020. As most can imagine, a celebrity donation can take the COVID-19 fight to new heights and emboldens morale for benefitting communities around the world. During the pandemic, celebrities are pitching in for those at home and abroad. Here are five celebrities giving back during COVID-19.

5 Celebrities Giving Back During COVID-19

  1. Bismack Biyombo: The NBA star Bismack Biyombo donated over $1 million worth of medical equipment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The Congo is not a county where you can tell people to stay at home,” Biyombo told USA TODAY Sports. “The population is roughly 80 million and about 70% of the population lives in poverty. They’re depending on daily pay. You can’t say, ‘Listen, I want you to stay at home.’ How is that going to work?” This celebrity donation during COVID-19 provides approximately 10,000 medical masks and 780 hazmats suits to the nation. Biyombo is also working to get incubators for the neonatal intensive care units along with medical beds to those in the Congo. In addition to this celebrity donation during COVID-19, Biyombo and his parents meet with government officials, clinics and hospitals to distribute supplies and aim to get clean drinking water to this area.
  2. Rihanna: The pop singer donated nearly $1 million to underserved communities, from the U.S. to Malawi, through the Clara Lionel Foundation. This celebrity donation during COVID-19 goes to accomplish accelerating testing and care, mobilize resources, improve capacity, protective equipment for frontline health care workers, diagnostic labs and establishing and maintaining intensive care units in countries like Haiti and Malawi. Additionally, the donation aids in health care worker training, virus prevention and containment in countries on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. Distributing critical respiratory and medical supplies mobilized several on-the-ground partners including Direct Relief, Feeding America, Partners in Health, The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Funday and the International Rescue Committee.
  3. Cher: Cher is donating the proceeds of her newly released cover song, ABBA’s “Chiquitita,” to UNICEF to relieve efforts worldwide. The singer reported that she has long since admired the work UNICEF does, especially for young women. “Now more than ever it’s critical that we prioritize every child around the world as if they were our own,” she says to The Hollywood Reported. In addition to this celebrity donation, she created the foundation CherCares Pandemic Resources and Response Initiative with Dr. Irwin Redlender, the head of Columbia University’s Pandemic Resource and Response Center and co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund. CherCares Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative distributed $1 million to people that others chronically neglect and forgot about, and are often unable to receive services, such as Latinos and Native Americans.
  4. Shakira: Shakira donated thousands of N-95 respirator masks to Columbia to aid in the fight. The celebrity’s donation during COVID-19 already helped with over 11,000 cases of the virus in her home country. The mayor of Barranquilla tweeted the celeb, “One of the most beloved Barranquilleras in the world is @shakira, and she is also one of the people who most loves this city. Huge thank you for your contribution of thousands of N95 masks for our health care workers, and ventilators that will save lives.” Shakira retweeted stating, “Thanks to the Mayor’s team for helping us coordinate this effort, I hope that we will continue adding resources to protect our own!”
  5. Shawn Mendes: The Shawn Mendes Foundation gave $175,000 to the SickKids Foundation, a health care network dedicated to improving children’s wellness. This celebrity donation provides COVID-19 screening tools for children in the singer’s home town of Toronto. Any donations to The Shawn Mendes Foundation will go to SickKids and the World Health Organization (WHO).

These five celebrities giving back during COVID-19 have shown extreme generosity. This lavish relief inspires and equips those on the front lines to continue the fight.

– Danielle Beatty
Photo: Flickr

Auction Raised Money to Fight AIDS
Even as the world enters a new decade, AIDS remains a serious epidemic. It is a widespread and deadly disease that mostly affects poor countries. There are many organizations that work to fight this harsh truth, including one called (RED). In December 2019, the “PAINT (RED) SAVE LIVES” auction raised money to fight AIDS.

About (RED)

Bono and Bobby Shiver founded (RED) in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shiver. (RED) works to raise money to help the fight against AIDS, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. It does this by partnering with leading brands to make and sell (RED) products, identifiable by their actual red coloring, and sending all of the money to HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Every company that (RED) partners with offers a different type of red-colored product. Johnson & Johnson sells special (BAND-AID) RED bandages. Twenty cents from each sale goes to the fight against AIDS. Stella Luna sells red sneakers and chain sandals to contribute to the cause, while Vilebrequin sells T-shirts, swim trunks and beach bags. Bank of America has a web page where people can donate to (RED). Bank of America matches donations.

The Auction

The “PAINT (RED) SAVE LIVES” auction took place in December 2019. It was an art auction that featured red paintings from 30 different artists. Twenty-five murals in 25 cities around the world served as advertisements for the event.

Bidding for the auction closed on December 17, 2019. Fifty percent of the proceeds from every sale went to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The sales contributed to the Global Fund reaching its goal of earning $14 billion by the end of that year. It is hoped that these proceeds will contribute to saving 16 million lives in AIDS-prone countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Impact

The “PAINT (RED) SAVE LIVES” auction raised money to fight AIDS. The proceeds that it earned were the latest in a long line of accomplishments by (RED). The organization has raised more than $600 million since its founding and sent money to numerous AIDS organizations in sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to these organizations and donations, 24 million people with HIV have access to medicine.

(RED) is aware that medicine is not the sole solution to the AIDS epidemic. Its funding has also helped with other initiatives. The organization is helping condoms become available to prevent the spread of HIV. It is also aiding in the development of new medications and medical procedures to reduce the risk further. Thanks to new testing procedures, 79 percent of people with HIV now know that they have it, allowing them to receive treatment sooner and live longer. Furthermore, 82 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women are receiving antiretroviral treatment to prevent passing AIDS to their children. The organization is providing funding to make sure that adolescents receive education about AIDS and its risks.

The AIDS epidemic remains a big problem, especially for poor areas like sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 400 babies are born with HIV each day and one teenager suffers infection every three minutes. AIDS continues to kill more people than any other disease. The “PAINT (RED) SAVE LIVES” auction raised money to fight AIDS, and the funds are helping to eradicate AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Five Billionaires' Projects
Nearly every person within the first 10 of the world’s highest net-worth individuals has a foundation in their name. These examples of philanthropy are often staples to a financier’s portfolio as reinvestment of wealth back into the nation or communities that helped fund his or her growth. In that sense, philanthropy is also a way to promote one’s image and associate one’s brand with a cause. Many investors have chosen to reinvest their wealth into the countries which groomed them such as Carlos Slim Helú and Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, but there are many people who have started foundations that reach beyond borders to better those who are worse off. Several billionaires’ projects are actively changing downtrodden communities by eliminating hunger, eradicating malaria and bringing access to education and sanitation in otherwise distraught regions. Here are five billionaires’ projects that have changed the world.

5 Billionaires’ Projects that Have Changed the World

  1. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Former CEO of Microsoft and his wife, Bill and Melinda Gates, started The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1997. The goal of the organization is to make the world a better place by investing in research and actions that negate issues plaguing impoverished countries. Best known for its efforts to annihilate polio in India and malaria globally, other fiscal investments include refugee care, female education and economic invigoration (mobile money accounts). The foundation has a focus on sustainable change which in turn builds on itself to make a brighter future for the globe with a total investment of $3.9 million in global programs in 2018.
  2. Students Rebuild (Bezos Family Foundation): Jeff Bezos­—the well-known Amazon CEO—had the greatest global net worth for 2018 and 2019, surpassing Bill Gates. Although the Bezos Family Foundation primarily caters to local U.S. concerns relating to education, its Students Rebuild program takes a more global focus, involving students from all over the world to help solve planet-wide problems. Each year, the Bezos Family Foundation pledges a gift to a particular charity in response to a form of art shared by participants, usually K-12 students. In 2019, it raised money and awareness for world hunger by asking kids to submit creatively presented recipes. Students Rebuild is an organization that brings kids into today’s problems while helping fund the action-makers who are bringing about change.
  3. Bloomberg Philanthropies: Michael Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City and a democratic presidential nominee, but he did not earn his billions through public service. As a founder and primary funder of Bloomberg LP in 1981, he earned billions of dollars through his financial data-services firm. The Bloomberg family started Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has a diverse profile of charitable investments, ranging from environmental overhauls to global health. Bloomberg’s global impact focuses on data collection and management. Its investments primarily go into the education and growth of a field, working in over 480 cities in 120 countries. Previously, Bloomberg partnered with the King Baudouin Foundation to create Equal Footing, an online portal that tracks philanthropy efforts in Africa. Currently, it is reinvesting $120 million over the next four years to expand and intensify its data for health initiative.
  4. Larry Ellison Foundation: Larry Ellison is a technology entrepreneur who co-founded the software firm Oracle in 1977. The Larry Ellison Foundation manages financials regarding education, agriculture and global conservation efforts. Previous investments were targeted towards polio eradication and currently center around wildlife conservation and agricultural sustainability. For example, the Larry Ellison Foundation financed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which reaches over 100 million children in 72 countries per year after beginning in 2013. Larry Ellison is currently supporting the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in Africa and has been since 2012. This institute works with governing bodies and leading reformers in several African countries to create sustainable change across Africa.
  5. Howard G. Buffet Foundation: Howard G. Buffet is the son of Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Beginning in 1999, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation hopes to help jump-start change locally and globally in three focus areas: food security, conflict mitigation and public safety. Although these issues all overlap depending on the region of focus, by investing in research and implementation, this billionaire project incentivizes a strong basis for growth to develop from. Unlike the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Howard G. Buffet foundation’s foreign focus lie in the western hemisphere, primarily in Columbia and Mexico. Focusing on these areas in part aims to reduce mass migration from these southern countries to the U.S. The Buffet foundation relies on the values of individual rights, community ties and equality which leads to government-aided investment in small-holder farms and sustainable practices developed on American soil. In 2018, the Howard F Buffet Foundation invested a total of $11 million in all program sectors.

There are several billionaires’ projects that have changed the world up to this point as they have aided in the near eradication of polio, rigorously kicked malaria into surrender and implemented millions of research projects to bring the world closer to eliminating global strife. As these groups continue to grow and invest, one can expect that great positive change can occur.

 – Kayla Brown
Photo: Flickr

Kenya's Breast Milk Bank

In April 2019, Kenya’s Ministry of Health launched Kenya’s first breast milk bank at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi. Given Nairobi’s high neonatal death rate of 38 deaths per every 1,000 live-births, the Ministry launched the bank as a pilot to test if it could reduce the neonatal mortality rate. 

Background

Kenya’s breast milk bank serves infants who are premature, malnourished, underweight or orphans that do not have access to their mother’s breast milk. PATH, like several other global health organizations, cites human milk as the greatest tool for child survival. Breast milk contains a dense number of nutrients and antibodies critical to human development. Therefore, PATH estimates that if children had access to universal breast milk, breast milk could save about 823,000 children’s lives under the age of 5.

Human milk banks are an alternative to ensuring that infants have consistent access to breast milk. At the time of the bank launch, Kenya’s Ministry of Health stated that if the bank was successful, the Ministry would open several more banks in the country. Here are 5 facts about Kenya’s breast milk bank.

5 Facts About Kenya’s Breast Milk Bank

  1. The Pumwani Maternity Hospital: The Technical Working Group selected Pumwani Maternity Hospital to host Kenya’s first breast milk bank because the hospital promotes kangaroo mother care– skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding–as part of its neonatal program. The hospital’s neonatal program caters specifically to preterm, underweight and malnourished infants.
  2. Mothers as Primary Milk Donors: Lactating managers from the Pumwani Maternity Hospital select mothers with more milk than their infant requires to donate it to the milk bank. The managers require mothers who agree to donate to undergo health and lifestyle screenings in order to ensure that they are viable candidates. The screenings include health and lifestyle questionnaires and laboratory blood tests. If lab workers identify alcohol, tobacco and drugs, HIV, Hepatitis B or C or Syphilis in a mother’s blood test, they will disqualify her from donating milk.
  3. Storing and Pasteurizing Donor Mother’s Milk: Mothers at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital donate their milk both naturally and with an electric pump. The hospital stores every mother’s milk separately in batches that contain codes for every mother. Once every batch volume reaches capacity, the hospital pasteurizes the batches to kill any bacteria or viruses in the milk.
  4. The Ministry of Health and Kenya’s Newborn Care Guidelines: Given that Kenyan infants now have access to breast milk due to Pumwani Maternity Hospital’s milk bank, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has added donated human milk to Kenya’s newborn care guidelines. These guidelines help to ensure that Kenyan infants receive the growth-development benefits from breast milk in order to increase their chances of survival.
  5. The Milk Bank’s Impact: As of October 2019, after six months since the MOH launched the bank, the Pumwani Maternity Hospital has delivered nutrient-rich breast milk from over 400 donors to 75 infants.

As stated in these 5 facts about Kenya’s breast milk bank, Kenya’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital is impacting the lives of numerous vulnerable infants. The Ministry of Health looks toward the hospital impacting an increasing number of infants and significantly reducing Kenya’s neonatal mortality rate.

– Niyat Ogbazghi
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities are Donating
The Amazon rainforest fires of late 2019 are some of the worst to occur since 2010 with an increase in deforestation rates as a primary cause. Celebrities are donating to the Amazon, pledging money to organizations like the Rainforest Alliance, Amazon Watch and Rainforest trust. Many celebrities are donating to help the Amazon so that the indigenous peoples that live there can continue to do so. Other celebrities are raising awareness about the role politics is playing in the Amazon fires.

The Situation

The Amazon rainforest covers much of northwestern Brazil and extends into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries. It is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is notable for its extensive biodiversity. It is also home to nearly one million indigenous peoples consisting of over 400 tribes, each with their own language, culture and territory. These people rely on their land for everything, from food to shelter to medicine, which is why the fires are so devastating to them.

 The anti-indigenous government of Jair Bolsonaro is a root cause of the fires. Bolsonaro normalizes, incites and empowers violence against the environment of the Amazon rainforest and against the tribes who live there. Bolsonaro pledged to increase agricultural activity in the Amazon by opening it to logging, industrial-scale agriculture, ranching and mining.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron tweeted “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” Along with urging other world leaders to help on social media, Macron threatened to scrap a huge trade deal between the European Union and South America, putting pressure on Bolsonaro to take action.

Alongside the destruction and devastation, celebrities have begun to raise funds and awareness to help put a stop to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Celebrities Donating to the Amazon

Many celebrities are donating monetarily to provide aid. Vanessa Hudgens donated to the Amazon Conservation Team to try to proactively help and Violette Beane gave to multiple organizations while urging her fans to donate if they could and share information if they could not.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental initiative, Earth Alliance, pledged $5 million to Amazon relief. People widely know DiCaprio for his work as an actor, but also for his work to end climate change. Earth Alliance created an emergency fund specifically for the preservation of the Amazon. The money pledged will be going to five local organizations.

In addition to donating, many celebrities are then nominating other celebrities to do the same. Lana Condor of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” donated and then nominated co-stars Janel Parris and Noah Centineo to do so as well. Zoey Deutch donated to the Rainforest Alliance and called on Camila Mendes to do the same. After donating, Mendes nominated “Riverdale” co-star, Charles Melton to give.

“Umbrella Academy” star, Robert Sheehan, went one step further with his donation to the Rainforest Alliance by making it a monthly donation. He also plans to follow the Rainforest Alliance’s 30-day sustainability challenge.

One does not have to be a celebrity to provide aid to the Amazon fires, though. Donating is something anyone can do. The Rainforest Alliance is redirecting 100 percent of its donations to the frontline organizations in Brazil that work to protect the indigenous people. Rainforest Action Network works in Brazil’s Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory supporting the Munduruku people’s campaign to create a recognized territory and monitor the area for illegal logging and mining activity. Other organizations include, but are not limited to Rainforest Foundation U.S., Amazon Watch, Earth Alliance, Amazon Conservation Team and World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

– Darci Flatley
Photo: Flickr