North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Perhaps not news, but newsworthy

With the continuing story of Syria possibly descending into civil war (the only entity exalting and calling for war is Al-qaeda), the equation of what does it take to make the West choose sides and intervene or not remains a mystery.

So, let's move on to a subject that is newsworthy, though most of the time is not news. Here are four organizations around the world working to better the lives of people. There are, of course, hundreds more - humanitarian and religious efforts that toil in obscurity, and perhaps even more than a few who do so without well-thought through plans. But for the main, they have one thing in common - they don't make the news that often, yet by and large, help heal and care for humanity in need.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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Two major emerging countries (India and China) have, probably by no coincidence, large foundation programs. On January 13, 2012, India marked one-year without detecting a single case of wild poliovirus; a major success for polio eradication and for child health. Here vaccination teams prepare for a day of work

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this organization is that the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda, have made it their new focus to give away the billions they have received from their world changing emergence of computers and software. Of the 15 guiding principles for this foundation that has now given away billions, the following 5 are highlighted:

Guiding Principle #9: We must be humble and mindful in our actions and words. We seek and heed the counsel of outside voices.
Guiding Principle #10: We treat our grantees as valued partners, and we treat the ultimate beneficiaries of our work with respect.
Guiding Principle #11: Delivering results with the resources we have been given is of the utmost importance—and we seek and share information about those results.
Guiding Principle #12: We demand ethical behavior of ourselves.
Guiding Principle #13: We treat each other as valued colleagues.

The foundation to date has, with its large resources, made significant impact in "health problems that have a major impact in developing countries but get too little attention and funding. Where proven tools exist, we support sustainable ways to improve their delivery. Where they don’t, we invest in research and development of new interventions, such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. Our work in infectious diseases focuses on developing ways to fight and prevent enteric and diarrheal diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and neglected and other infectious diseases. We also work on integrated health solutions for family planning, nutrition, maternal, neonatal and child health, tobacco control and vaccine-preventable diseases. "

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Linda Venczel, senior program officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Yang Xiaoming, general manager of China National Biotech Group sign the cooperation agreement in Beijing on June 10, 2011 regarding polio eradication. The foundation also works on HIV/AIDs programs in China

Medecins Sans frontieres

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. MSF also reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols. In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize.

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The availability of clean water in Juba, South Sudan, is still scarce. Here, women wash clothes and dishes in the White Nile, and very likely, the yellow containers are to haul drinking water. Properly-designed wells delivering clean drinking water are the priority

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In India, MSF works on a complex disease called Kala Azar. Symptoms of kala azar include fever, loss of appetite, enlarged spleen and liver, and anemia. Infection occurs when the kala azar parasite is transmitted through the bite of a sand fly. Symptoms usually appear around two weeks after the bite. Here a hospital ward treats young victims

Danish Demining Group

This group made the news a few weeks ago, when two of their workers in Somalia were rescued after being held as hostages for three months. The organization is funded mainly by Western democracies, and currently works in 10 countries around the world where mines have been sown in past conflicts:
South/Central Somalia and Puntland
Sri Lanka
South Sudan

Sri Lanka still littered with mines from a decades long civil war

Their work is centered on a community approach, and most 95% of its employees are local, with a few technical experts for training. Their principles are based on a "Value Compass" established by the Danish Refugee Council:
* Humanitarian approach - people´s right to a life with dignity takes precedence over politics and principles
* Respect - for the equal rights of human beings
* Independence and neutrality - in regard to our surroundings
* Inclusion - of the people we work to help
* Honesty and transparency - for all beneficiaries, donors, partners and others

Working to clear land with the advice of Afghan elders

Heifer Project International

This well known organization seems to be particularly easy for young children to relate to, as small animals are at the heart of the program designed for families. Of the five cornerstones of the organization, two stand out.

Sustainability and Self-Reliance, and Passing on the Gift.

"Passing on the gift" is fundamental to Heifer's entire approach. As people share the offspring of their animals – along with their knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe. "Passing on the Gift" creates a living cycle of sustainability that develops community and enhances self-esteem by allowing project partners to become donors.

Heifer Project International is the outgrowth of one man with a vision and a practical method of implementation that did not require inordinate financial underwriting. Born a native of Ohio in 1893, Dan West, a life-long Brethren graduated from Manchester College in 1917 and spent the next two years as a conscientious objector during World War I. After working for the Emergency Peace Campaign in 1936 he traveled to Spain in order to serve as a relief worker following the Spanish Civil War. His vision was based on Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Based in Little Rock Arkansas, the organization has helped more than 13.6 million families (71 million people) in more than 125 countries.

Bees from Heifer International help struggling families earn income through the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen. Beehives require almost no space, and once established, are inexpensive to maintain. As bees search for nectar, they pollinate plants. Placed strategically, beehives can as much as double some fruit and vegetable yields. In this way, a beehive can be a boon to a whole village. Although most Heifer partners keep bees as a supplement to family income, beekeeping can be a family's livelihood.

Salajan Sergiu Constantin, 5, feeds alfalfa recently cut from a nearby field to the family cow Mandruta on the family farm in the village of Giurtelecul Simleului, Romania. "Every day I bring fresh grass or the cow will get sick." Photo by David Snyder, courtesy of Heifer International June 2009

Newsworthy, not necessarily news.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

If only we heard more of these newsworthy stories and perhaps less of the "news"...