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For 2011’s World AIDS Day, Peace Corps Burkina Faso’s Community Health and AIDS Taskforce (CHAT) designed a project that was funded by SPA grants integrating HIV/AIDS awareness murals and educational symposiums all across the country. Over 70 Peace Corps Volunteers participated reaching more than 50 communities and hundreds of target populations. I held several HIV/AIDS ‘ceremonies’ where different target populations of villagers pledged to spread awareness, practice safe sex and get tested by leaving their handprint on the wall after taking the pledge. This photo was taken at the clinic in my village (where the mural was painted) after the session that the local midwife and I ran with my 6th grade girls group.
– Peace Corps Health Volunteer Hayley Droppert
This week I am attending Opportunity Collaboration, a conference on poverty eradication. I love the goal of ending poverty.
The conference is structured as an unconference, something I’d only read about but never experienced. This morning, in this rather touchy-feely sort of way that is about a continent removed from my middle-aged comfort zone, we did an exercise outside on the soccer field to visually demonstrate privilege.
Last night’s sunset.
The exercise was not scientific but it was highly experiential. We all stood in a row on the goal line at one end of the soccer field. We were asked to step forward or backward, depending upon the question, with forward steps indicating privilege and backward steps representing the opposite (even now I struggle to pick the word that would best fist ta concept.)
As we went through the exercise very quickly the five white men in the group found themselves separated from and ahead of the women. As questions continued to come, further separation occurred. Ultimately, I found myself out front.
Out of 15 people, I found myself representing the most privileged population. Whether I am objectively in that group or not is beyond the point of the exercise. It worked to make me feel distinctly uncomfortable with my situation, recognizing that much of my success is not attributable to my hard work but to good fortune.
That perspective brought home some things in the context of poverty eradication. Having received much and having received it not due to merit alone but in large part due to my gender, the color of my skin, the place where I was born and even my religion, I owe a greater debt to others, especially those who are different than I am on these and other criteria.
Now the hard part: how do I go about giving back? How do I go about eliminating the cultural biases that favored me over black women, for instance?
Please feel free to comment below.
Even as ebola terrorizes West Africa and, by extension, the world, polio is on the ropes in Africa. Only Nigeria has never been able to eradicate the disease. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the last case of wild polio in Nigeria was in July, nearly three months ago. In other words, the last case of polio in Nigeria may have been the very last case of polio in Nigeria. There have been about a dozen cases of polio this year outside of Nigeria, but none since July.
The continent of Africa has not experienced a case of wild polio in nearly three months. The World Health Organization won’t declare Nigeria or the continent polio free until three years have passed, but it is worth celebrating the fact that we are now counting the days to that milestone!
Immunizations, however, must continue not only in Africa but around the globe. As we’ve seen in the U.S. with ebola, an infection is just a plane ride away. Hence the ongoing global effort to immunize every single child on the planet against polio until the virus is completely eradicated.
Rotary International has invited me to travel with a group of other Rotarians to Ethiopia; I leave on Halloween and will travel first to Addis Ababa; after a few days we’ll travel to remote villages. We’ll be participating in National Immunization Days there as the country seeks to immunize every child in the country against polio. This effort has proven effective in other countries, including India, where I visited for a similar trip in February (see my Forbes story here.)
On this trip to Ethiopia, we’ll be visiting some of the poorest communities I will have ever seen, even having visited poor villages in India, China, Mexico, Cambodia and Angola.
You Can Help!
The trip organizer, Ezra Teshome, has asked that all of us on the trip bring some things to share with the kids–besides polio vaccine. He’s specifically suggested we bring soccer balls.
Could you buy one soccer ball for me to take with me to Ethiopia? Here’s a link to a popular ball on Amazon that is “Amazon Prime” eligible so Prime customes pay no shipping and handling. I will purchase a pump for every ball I receive. Please send the balls so that they arrive to me by October 28, 2014 so I know how many pumps to buy.
My address is:
Your Mark on the World Center
48 West Broadway, #1903N
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Amazon will ask you for a phone number. Use 801-930-0588.
If you order a soccer ball, please shoot me an email so I’ll expect it, know who sent it and so I can get the corresponding pump!
Thank you for your consideration!
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
What if you could simultaneously reduce health care costs by 40 percent and increase a population’s life expectancy? You’d say you’d found the Fountain of Youth!
Dan Buettner, author of the New York Times bestseller Blue Zones, did it. No, he didn’t actually find the Fountain of Youth, he says he reduced health care costs by 40 percent and extended the life expectancy of the people living in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Partnering with AARP in 2009, he implemented the lifestyle lessons he’d learned from hundreds of centenarians around the world who were discovered living in “Blue Zones,” communities with unusually high numbers of people over 100.
Buettner explains the multifaceted approach to extending life, noting, “There’s no silver bullet to keep death and the diseases of old age at bay but instead it’s silver buckshot.”
“The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments nudge them into moving without thinking about it,” he adds.
After the success of that pilot program, Buettner partnered with Healthways and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to expand the Blue Zones Project to 17 cities in California and Iowa, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. Next stop: millions.
On October 9, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Buettner and Wellmark EVP Laura Jackson will join me for a live discussion about the expansion of the program and the early results. Tune in right here then to watch the interview live.
More about Blue Zones:
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
New York Times best-selling author and National Geographic Fellow has delivered more than 3,000 speeches to audiences worldwide. His TED Talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed over 2 million times and his New York Times Sunday Magazine article, “The Island Where People Forget to Die” was the second most popular article of 2012. Dan has Keynoted speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, TEDMED and many more nationally renowned conferences. He has been featured twice on Oprah and has received an Emmy award for television production.
In 2009, Dan and his partner, AARP, applied principles of The Blue Zones to Albert Lea, Minnesota and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs by some 40%. He’s currently working with Healthways to implement the Blue Zones Project in 17 cities throughout America.
More about Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield:
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Laura joined Wellmark in 2002, and served as the senior vice president of Human Resources.
In the fall of 2008, she led the development of an expanded strategy to collaboratively build a sustainable health care system in Iowa and South Dakota. This ultimately means that the average increase in health care costs for our members will be equal to the Consumer Price Index, a standard measure of inflation. As a result, she was appointed to executive vice president, Health Care Strategy and Policy.
Another major component of Jackson’s responsibility is the Blue Zones Project™ announced in September of 2011, as a cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative launched by Governor Branstad in August of 2011. The Blue Zones Project™ seeks to help all Iowans live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease and higher quality of life by applying the learnings from the New York Times bestselling book, “The Blue Zones — Lessons for Living Longer, from the People Who’ve Live the Longest.” This project brings common elements into our everyday environment through a series of small evidenced-based changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Currently, as Executive Vice President, Health Care Innovation & Business Development, Laura is responsible for sales, marketing, public relations, management and compensation of the provider network, pharmacy, health and care management, wellness, and health care sustainability and strategy. The combination of responsibilities under Laura’s leadership allows complete integration and collaboration to ensure holistic solutions are applied to meet customer needs.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Jane Wales, CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum, is leading an effort to apply the Silicon Valley model of venture philanthropy and impact investing to developing markets, especially Africa and Brazil.
Wales explained, “The new generation of North American philanthropists made their wealth at a young age. They are known for their combination of risk appetite and business acumen. These knowledge-hungry change agents are often emblematic of the Silicon Valley culture, where young billionaires like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, eBay EBAY -2.49%’s Jeff Skoll, Paypal’s Peter Thiel have been as focused, engaged and results-oriented in their philanthropy and they were in building their tech-based businesses. Many, including eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Google cofounder Larry Page, employ market solutions like “impact investing” to address social and environmental problems.”
To extend these lessons in Africa and Brazil, the Global Philanthropy Forum has established the African Philanthropy Forum and the Brazil Philanthropy Forum, networks of high net-worth individuals who “will make grants and investments in the societies in which they live and their wealth was made.”
On October 9, 2014 at noon Eastern, Wales will join me for a live discussion about her work to bring Silicon Valley style philanthropy to the developing world. Tune in here to watch the interview live.
More about the Global Philanthropy Forum:
A project of the World Affairs Council of Northern California, the Global Philanthropy Forum aims to build a community of donors and social investors committed to international causes, and to inform, enable and enhance the strategic nature of their work. Through match-making , an annual conference and ongoing programs, GPF connects donors to issues ripe for intervention; to effective strategies; to one another; and to emblematic agents of change from around the world. By building, and continually refreshing a lasting learning community, the GPF seeks to expand the number of philanthropists who will be strategic in pursuit of international causes.
Jane Wales is CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Affairs Council; vice president of the Aspen Institute; and host of the nationally-syndicated National Public Radio interview show It’s Your World.
Previously, Ms. Wales served in the Clinton Administration as special assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council. She simultaneously served as Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where her office was responsible both for advancing sustainable economic development through science and technology cooperation and for developing U.S. policy for securing advanced weapons materials in the former Soviet Union. In the Carter Administration, Ms. Wales served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.
In the philanthropic sector, Ms. Wales chaired the international security programs at the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the W. Alton Jones Foundation, and she directed the Project on World Security at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. From 2007 to 2008, she served as acting CEO of The Elders, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and founded by Nelson Mandela. In 2008, Ms. Wales also chaired the Poverty Alleviation Track for the Clinton Global Initiative.
The Social Venture Network recently recognized four social entrepreneurs with its annual Innovation Awards. Your Mark on the World will profile each of the four in the coming weeks.
Craig Wichner doesn’t mince words, “The current agricultural system in the US is like the dead parrot from the Monty Python skit: It’s obviously not working. That big ag practices are causing social and environmental harm is well known, yet we continue to plow money into it anyway. It’s time for a new model.”
Craig is the cofounder and Managing Director of Farmland LP, one of the four companies winning the SVN Innovation Awards. Farmland LP buys conventional farmland and converts it to organic farmland. In the process, the company says, the land becomes more productive and therefore more profitable–to say nothing of being better for people and planet.
Craig explains the opportunity this way, “Sustainable agriculture is a team sport: What the soil needs in terms of biological diversity to remain healthy is well matched to a multi-tenant real estate model with investor appeal. This is the innovation that will allow organic to scale.”
“Farmland, at $2.4 trillion is as large as other classes of commercial real estate and has only 1% institutional ownership. It’s ripe for disruption,” he adds.
On October 9, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Craig will join me for a live discussion about his work and the award. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Farmland LP:
Farmland LP acquires conventional farmland and adds value to it by converting it to certified organic farmland. Our sustainable land management system of rotating crop and pasture works with nature and farmers to make land more productive, yielding better long-term returns for investors while doing what’s best for people and the environment. In fact, scientific studies prove that organic farmland is more profitable than conventional farmland because of higher yields and less overhead. Our real estate model makes high quality farmland accessible to farmers, increasing the capacity for locally grown, sustainably produced organic food.
Mr. Wichner directs Farmland LP’s investment program, overseeing property acquisitions, leases and sales, and manages the business affairs of VF Holdings and its sponsored funds. A seasoned executive with 25 years of experience building companies and managing his family’s real estate portfolio, Mr. Wichner steers the business strategy for Farmland LP, named a 2014 “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company magazine. Mr. Wichner’s previous experience includes being part of the start-up team of Depotech, which developed and currently produces an FDA-approved treatment for metastatic brain cancer (now part of Sigma-Tau Therapeutic), and CEO of Kindmark which developed and sold automated employee charitable contribution programs for Fortune 500 Companies such as GM, EDS and Charles Schwab. Mr. Wichner received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with a minor in Economics, from the University of California, San Diego, in 1992, earning Provost’s Honors and performing graduate-level research on HIV/AIDS as an undergraduate. Mr. Wichner is also a co-founder and Managing Director of Vitality Farms and serves on the board of BN Ranch, Bill Niman’s successor company to Niman Ranch, Inc. As a child, Mr. Wichner spent summers farm, where he milked cows and tended crops, chickens and horses, wrangled cattle and built two barns.
Francesca Escoto has a bigger-than-life personality and she is passionate about social entrepreneurship.
On October 20, 2014 at noon Eastern, she will join me for a live discussion about social entrepreneurship. Tune in here then.
Francesca’s Startups for Social Impact:
Startups For Social Impact and its sister company, Innovation Lab, equip entrepreneurs who fight disease and poverty. SSI promotes success stories from the field, and creates community for social entrepreneurs. Innovation Lab provides coaching and mentoring to help these businesses achieve sustainability and scale their impact. We focus on heart-based yet measurable metrics, cost management, and scaling.
Francesca was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, in between poverty and affluence, in a country where government corruption made generational entrepreneurship the tool for family sustainability.
Knowing what it was like to go without, but with a taste for having it all, Francesca came to the USA and has made the most of all this country has to offer. An engineering degree, graduate courses in IT and business administration, various ventures, stay-at-home mom, even a short stint as missionary.
Today, she lives with her husband and three daughters in Tampa, FL, and runs her two companies Startups For Social Impact and Innovation Lab. Her personal goal is to serve God and serve people, through coaching and teaching entrepreneurs.
The Social Venture Network recently recognized four social entrepreneurs with its annual Innovation Awards. Your Mark on the World will profile each of the four in the coming weeks.
Sustaintech makes stoves for Indian street vendors that use less firewood for cooking, thereby emitting less smoke and reducing carbon emissions and deforestation.
Founder Svati Bhogle explains, “Sustaintech has improved the financial situation of 2000 food vendors while saving 470 hectares of forest (or 63 million kcals) while growing at 126 % p.a in sales and 81 % p.a in volumes during 2010-13.”
She adds, “Each stove in its lifetime will save 2-3 hectares of forests, 230 million Indians derive their sustenance from forests.”
She further noted, “Sustaintech enables positive health impacts and increases productive life span of cooks and street food vendors: With the current levels of smoke inhalation the productive life of the cook is over before he/she reaches the age of 45. So cleaner, safer stoves contribute to the well being of families.”
On October 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Svati will join me for a live discussion about the stoves and their impact. Tune in here then to watch live.
More about the SVN Innovation Awards:
SVN’s Innovation Awards celebrate entrepreneurs whose ventures are solving social and environmental problems. We’re accepting applications for the 2014 Awards from February 7th until May 9th. Applicants should make sure their organizations meet the following basic guidelines:
- The applicant can demonstrate innovation and impact in solving social or environmental problems
- The organization has been operational for at least one year, and no more than ten years
- The organization has generated at least $250,000 in revenue during the past year
More about Sustaintech:
Sustaintech works towards sustainable use of energy and improves the financial situation of Below Poverty Line populations
The energy crisis in India is growing with high import dependency.The cost of firewood has doubled in the last 4-5 years in India. In rural India 57% households are energy poor vs. 22% who are income poor. Sustaintech believes that energy interventions can mitigate poverty.
With its vision for a cleaner, greener, richer world where people are extensively using the PYRO range of fuel efficient wood burning stoves, Sustaintech aims to improve profitability & comfort of street food operations with good environmental benefits. Profits will allow investments in health care, education, nutrition etc. and will ensure a better quality of life with the next generation surely out of poverty
We at Sustaintech believe that with a correct and rigorous analysis of customer needs, implementation of user friendly consumer & financial products and good processes, change is inevitable
Svati Bhogle has a long track record of work in the area of renewable energy for rural applications. After completing the masters degree in chemical engineering from IIT Bombay she pursued her passion for technology / energy for development at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology. She was initially involved in R & D for the development of fuel efficient biomass based products for a variety of applications. She then moved TIDE as its Secretary and Chief Executive, to apply the research work to rural areas. She has been associated with TIDE for about 15 years now and has worked on more than 100 projects involving technology development, adaptation and dissemination. She has worked with the tea industry in south India for energy conservation in tea factories. She has also developed grass root entrepreneurship models with innovative technology and demonstrated sustainable livelihoods through energy and water access. About three years ago, she and other promoters spun off Sustaintech India Pvt. Ltd. (SIPL) for rapid adoption of biomass energy technologies in rural and semi urban areas. She is a guest faculty at IIT Bombay and has offered a masters course on Technology and Development in Practice.
She received the Ashden Energy Champion Award in the International Category in 2008 on behalf of TIDE. Other recognitions include Ashoka Fellowship, TED India Fellowship and the Environment Award by the Govt. of Karnataka 2012, the National Award for Women’s Empowerment through Science and Technology for 2011. Her work has been documented by UNDP Asia regional office as best practices in energy access to the poor.
The Hult Prize, arguably the most prestigious student business competition of any sort, awards student social entrepreneurs with a $1 million prize from the Hult Family presented by President Bill Clinton at the the Clinton Global Initiative. There were six finalists named, including WiCare, which develops affordable medical devices for use worldwide.
The final judges for the prize included Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Danielle Zurovcik (left) and Dr. Gita Mody (right) monitor the Wound-Pump on one of their patients during the phase I field study at University Central Hospital ofKigali (CHUK) in Kigali, Rwanda.
WiCare founder Danielle Zurovcik of MIT explained, “Truly global medical devices are hard-to-find. WiCare aims to change that.”
She went on to say, “We feel that WiCare has a competitive advantage as a start-up focused in the global marketplace. We do not have to change our long-standing corporate culture to shift into the global setting, as the global aspect is in the foundation and core of our business.”
Danielle will join me on October 9, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern (due to technical issues at Google we’ll start about 5:15) to talk about their high impact work and the recognition they have received as finalists. Tune in here then to watch the interview.
More about the Hult Prize:
Hult Prize remains as the world’s largest student competition around impact and start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from universities worldwide. Since 2011, Hult Prize Challenge has evolved from being the worlds largest crowd-sourcing competition for social entrepreneurship, to an international movement and now, after 5 years, the competition is a driver of global industries. The Hult Prize Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. It encourages the world’s brightest business minds to compete in teams to solve the planet’s biggest challenges with innovative ideas for sustainable start-up enterprises.
More about WiCare:
WiCare develops innovative medical devices that are clinically effective and affordable worldwide. We find cutting-edge solutions to complex problems through smart design. This approach yields results that improve healthcare and clinical outcomes in all markets, from world-class hospitals in the United States to rural clinics in the developing world. Our first device, the Wound-Pump, provides a negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) solution that will help to heal the millions of open wounds around the world, including diabetic ulcers, bed sores, burns and trauma.
Danielle Zurovcik is currently Founder and CEO of WiCare, for which she invented and developed an inexpensive, negative pressure wound therapy device, the Wound-Pump. She supported the Wound-Pump clinical applications during the Earthquake Relief Effort in Haiti and a phase I clinical trial in Rwanda. She graduated in August 2012 from MIT with her PhD in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan. Prior to her PhD, she received an MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State, Schreyer Honors College, with minors in Engineering Entrepreneurship, Engineering Leadership Development, Product Realization and Engineering Mechanics. She has received awards, including the: CAMTech Innovation Award, MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship, Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fund Fellowship, MIT Graduate Women of Excellence Award, and World Technology Award for Health & Medicine.
This is a guest post from Gabriela D. Acosta, the community manager for the University of Southern California’s MSW programs.
Around the world, suicide is a major public health problem and is the leading cause of death for young people. Every 40 seconds the world loses someone to suicide. Worldwide, nearly 1 million people succumb to suicide each year, a number that exceeds deaths from war and homicide combined. The first step to comprehensive prevention is two-fold: education and early-intervention work.
Education is one of the most important tools available to eradicate the stigma of mental illness and reduce the global suicide level. The USC Masters of Social Work program is doing its part by building the 100 Voices for Suicide prevention collaboration with more than 45 leading voices in the suicide prevention field who have contributed guest posts, podcast interviews, PSAs, and resources to help raise awareness in honor of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. By working together to help eliminate the stigma, we can help people to feel more empowered to seek support when they need it.
Early intervention work is also a critical component in suicide prevention. We all have our battles, but no one should have to fight them alone. For this reason, we have also initiated the You Matter campaign to help spread positive mental health through acts of caring. It’s always a good time to reach out and remind someone that you care, show someone that you appreciate them, or perform a random act of human kindness.
We urge you to take 30 seconds today to reach out and tell someone why they matter to you. Download a You Matter Care Card from our blog and say the things you think, but always forget to say: http://bit.ly/YouMatterBecause
Need inspiration? Read our post on 60 Ways to Use a Care Card.
What is the You Matter Campaign?
The USC School of Social Work is sponsoring the You Matter campaign to facilitate human connection and promote positive mental health. Use the You Matter Care Cards as expressions of appreciation or simply to tell someone you care.
We challenge you to take this opportunity to perform as many random acts of kindness as you can. Best of all, it’s free and simply reaching out could have an impact on someone’s life.
Seeking “You Matter” Ambassadors:
Volunteer Ambassadors would help to spread the word about the You Matter campaign in their community. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming an ambassador for this campaign, please have them reach out to the USC School of Social Work Community Manager, Gaby Acosta firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and remember, #youmatter!
Gabriela D. Acosta is the community manager for the University of Southern California’s MSW programs, one of the most innovative and dynamic social work graduate programs online. She is passionate about social justice, community organizing and leadership development. Find us on Twitter @MSWatUSC