Vlogbrothers’ Partners In Health
John Green and Hank Green, known as “the Vlogbrothers,” started a YouTube channel in 2007 called Brotherhood 2.0. It was a place for the two brothers to talk to each other through daily videos in hope of bonding. Over 10 years later, the Vlogbrothers have gained a 3-million-strong community based around learning and activism. The Green brothers also use their platform to put their own words into action. They host a Project For Awesome event each year that sends donations to charities are based on the number of viewers. Now, the Vlogbrothers’ Partners In Health partnership aims to increase access to maternal health care for women in Sierra Leone.

The Challenges in Sierra Leone

The situation in Sierra Leone has reached a crisis level. The country is in deep poverty with 60% of its citizens below the national poverty line. The beautiful terrain suffers from natural disasters and unpredictable weather patterns, which harms food production. The country struggles with health issues. There is limited access to even basic health care, a lack of clean drinking water and outbreaks of deadly diseases. A specific group that is suffering is mothers.

Sierra Leone is a deadly country for mothers to give birth. It has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world — over 300,000 mothers died from childbirth in 2015 alone. Sierra Leonean mothers die of easily preventable causes, such as hemorrhaging, lack of refrigeration for blood transfusions, unsanitary tools due to lack of clean water or lack of ambulances.

Green Brother’s Trip to Sierra Leone

In the video “The Only Psychiatric Hospital in Sierra Leone,” John Green discussed his journey to Sierra Leone’s only mental health hospital. This is a country with a population of over 7 million people. Green noted that there was no electricity, water or lighting within the hospital. The infrastructure was crumbling and the medicine cabinet had been close to empty for years. With the help of Partners In Health, a generator was able to provide the hospital with electricity, better infrastructure and hundreds of medicines for patients. Most patients that go into the psychiatric ward are now able to walk out and live healthy lives.

In 2019, John Green uploaded “Why We’re Donating 6,500,000.” In the video, he discussed the trip to Sierra Leone and told the story of a minimum wage health care worker called Ruth. Her job involves identifying women who are at high risk during pregnancy. While with Ruth, Green noticed her slip $2 in her patient’s pocket. She had wanted to make sure her child could eat that day. Green reminded his viewers that “It required far more sacrifice and compassion for Ruth to make that donation than it does for our [Hank and John’s] families to make this one.”

He went on to announce a Vlogbrothers’ Partners In Health five-year partnership. He outlined the plans to raise $25 million to supply health care facilities, workers and staff with adequate support. Green hopes that the Vlogbrothers’ Partners In Health work will decrease the odds of maternal death.

The Vlogbrothers Road to $25 million

Since 2007, the Vlogbrothers have hosted an annual Project For Awesome event. It is a 48-hour fundraising event where the money goes to “decreasing world suck.” The project has the potential to raise thousands of dollars toward the Vlogbrothers’ Partners In Health work. Additionally, its merch store gives over 90% of its proceeds to Partners In Health. The rest of the store’s profits goes toward paying artists and employees.

Still, the goal of $25 million comes across as impossible. However, John explained that “We’re already more than halfway there.” In addition to the Vlogbrothers’ Partners in Health $6.5 million donation, a group of donors offered to match up to $120,000 worth of donations each year. Green explains that to reach his target, the organization needs to raise a little over $1 million a year.

Partners In Health Creates Progress

Partners In Health has already begun important work. It employs over 450 Sierra Leonean citizens and provides food across the country. In 2019, it marked the third year in a row where no mother died from preventable pregnancy causes. Hospitals were able to have running electricity and water as well as establish a running ambulance. With more investment in health care, the numbers will only continue to improve. With focus, resources and dedication, Sierra Leone’s mothers have a better chance of surviving.

John Green noted in his video that the solution to maternal deaths is not a simple one. “It isn’t ambulances or clean water or electricity or more health care workers. It’s ambulances AND clean water AND electricity AND healthcare workers AND much more.” Green went on to say that “systemic issues demand systemic, long term solutions.” With the Vlogbrothers’ Partners in Health partnership, the future of Sierra Leone’s mothers looks brighter than ever. Anyone can help the cause by donating to the Vlogbrothers’ campaign or visiting its merch store.

Breanna Bonner
Photo: Flickr

bestselling authors who give back
To be a bestselling author, you must have quite an expansive imagination. The following four bestselling authors, however, imagine a world not afflicted by poverty as they give their time and money from book and movie royalties toward helping the world’s poor.

Sylvia Day’s Day it Forward

Japanese-American romance author Sylvia Day is no stranger to the bestseller’s list, as she has received the distinction of being the number one bestseller in over 20 countries worldwide. Day has published dozens of romance novels in dozens of languages around the globe, but perhaps her biggest accomplishment is her charity work.

Day’s charitable works have a wide scope, ranging from engaging with other romance writers in her Daylight Scholarship and Romance Writers of America programs, to orphans in Ohio and overseas troops in her One Way Farm and Troops Ongoing Project charities respectively.

One of Day’s more interesting approaches to charity has her readers and fans sending her short essays describing which charities are important to them or why it is important for others to help out said charity. Day’s program, aptly named Day it Forward, has reached an eclectic group of charities including the Red Panda Network — a nonprofit dedicated to eco-conservation, sustainable livelihoods and alleviating poverty in Nepal. Day it Forward has also contributed to United for Puerto Rico, Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, and many more since its inception in 2015.

Dave Eggers and the VAD Foundation

The next writer on the list of bestselling authors who give back is the man responsible for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the literary magazine McSweeney’s, Dave Eggers. Eggers is a spokesman and co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation that works to educate the war-ridden regions in South Sudan.

Eggers and Valentino created the VAD Foundation after Valentino — a community college student known for his enchanting public speeches and work for the Southern Sudanese communities — asked Eggers to help him write his autobiography. Valentino thought his story “could convey to the world the realities of what had happened in the civil war in South Sedan, and its effect on the people there.”

The duo decided that the proceeds from the book, ‘What Is the What,’ would go to South Sudanese communities to help recover from the war, including Valentino’s home village of Marial Bai. They founded the Marial Bai Secondary School as part of the VAD Foundation, and the structure was the first fully-operational high school in the entire region.

Since the school is independent of the Sudanese government, poor funding and budget concerns leave the school unaffected, and the school consistently ranks as one of the best schools in the country, thanks to the charitable efforts of Eggers and Valentino. Due to the success of the Marlai Bai Secondary School, the South Sudanese government has granted the VAD Foundation a new campus, which will soon be transformed into the Alok Girls’ Academy.

John Green’s Project for Awesome and The Foundation to Decrease World Suck

John Green, author of the heart-wrenching tale ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ certainly gave his fans reasons for tears in his story about two cancer patients falling in love, but fret not, because Green’s Project for Awesome (P4A) only promises happy tears.

Project for Awesome operates similarly to Sylvia Day’s Day it Forward mentioned above in that he asks fans to tell him and his board which charities mean the most to them and allows the P4A community to have some say in which charities receive donations. According to Green’s website, P4A occurs annually on the second Friday and Saturday in December and “thousands of people post videos about and advocating for charities that decrease the overall level of world suck.”

The P4a raises money for Green’s foundation, The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, and acts as an aggregate nonprofit, donating its proceeds to other nonprofits and charities. P4A, a 100 percent volunteer operation raised over $2 million last year, with the proceeds going to a whole slew of charities ranging form Save the Children, Against Malaria Foundation, Ultimate Peace, The Ocean Cleanup and many, many more.

Isabel Allende Foundation

Isabel Allende, the prolific Chilean writer, recipient of Chile’s National Literature Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama founded the Isabel Allende Foundation to pay respects to her late daughter Paula Frias.

Frias spent most of her short life volunteering in poor communities in Venezuela and Spain before her untimely death due to a rare blood disorder that Allende says “nowadays should not be fatal,” but she received negligent treatment in the hospital. After an epiphany Allende had while on a trip to India grieving for her lost daughter, she decided to create a charity devoted to helping empower women, girls and immigrants.

The Isabel Allende Foundation, like most of the programs headed by the rest of our list of bestselling authors who give back acts as an aggregate organization, giving grants and donations to other nonprofit organizations headquartered in her native Chile and now home of California. The grants range from $1,000 to $80,000 and fund a wide range of programs such as the Global Fund for Women to Kids in Need of Defense.

Although our list of bestselling authors who give back can’t quite write out global poverty entirely, their charitable efforts and nonprofit foundations are certainly a step in the right direction.

– Nick Hodges
Photo: Google