A Sister Fighting For Her Brother Gets Help From a Famous Musician


Veronica De La Cruz is a former CNN anchor who has put a career on hold to save her brother Eric. He was diagnosed five years ago with severe dilated cardiomyopathy meaning his heart cannot function normally.  Unfortunately for him he was faced with a lot of red tape. The different healthcare systems available in the US and in the state of Nevada where Eric is living didn’t help him much or even refused to support the cost of his treatment. Basically it is the story of someone who was dying because he had no money and bad insurance.

This spring his condition worsened and it became clear he would need a heart transplant. But Veronica learned that administrators at transplant hospitals were reluctant to admit Eric, requiring supplemental insurance. While fighting with the bureaucracy Veronica  started a grassroots movement on the net through twitter. She asked for donations to help Eric but also to push for healthcare reforms in the US.


Her efforts attracted the attention of Trent Reznor, frontman of Nine Inch Nails, who decided to start a campaign to help Eric pay his medical bills. With tour mates Jane’s Addiction he offered special deals for the remaining shows on their tour. In less than two weeks Reznor raised close to $900,000 lifting the financial pressure on Veronica De La Cruz and her family. Eric is now waiting for a heart transplant that will, hopefully, give him a new lease on life.

Update: Please RT, donate or go to this page where now other celebrities are spreading the word about #Eric. (Thanks e. nacino)

This story is touching because it shows how as a group we can make a difference. Just a reminder that this week is World Refugee Week and you can donate to the UNHCR. Even a small token will be helpful! Added to thousands of other donations it will show how a group can be powerful.

Young Refugees Find Hope in Sports Practice


Petar Ristic loves basketball. He used to be a member of the junior national basketball team of the former Yugoslavia. Now at age 40 he is a coach sharing his love of the game with kids. Last year he went on a trip to Southeast Bangladesh with his partner who is working for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.) What he found in the two camps he visited near the border with Myanmar took him aback.

In the Rohingya refugees camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong, despite the genuine efforts of the UNHCR team members, he was met with despair and boredom, especially coming from the children who make up half of the 28,000 Muslim refugees. Most of them were born in the camps. The lack of education and other opportunities gave them a lot of frustration.

Petar, known as Pero in the camps, knew he could help them because in his home country after the war, the children needed special attention. Through sports, he was able to teach them vital skills they needed to succeed in life. “Why not here?” he thought. He started a basketball program with 25 kids but couldn’t imagine the snowball effect he was about to create.

Fast forward one year later. Petar is now teaching table tennis, volleyball, basketball and football to 700 girls and boys of all ages, including disabled children. He has been hired by a NGO from which he gets sports equipments. Even the police of the camp can be found kicking the ball with the kids. By practicing organized sports, the children learn important life skills like working together and respecting each other. The sports field also provides a safe place for them to talk about their problems. Now they have hope and dreams. Via unhcr.org

Next week is World Refugee Week. You can donate to help the UNHCR provide better living conditions for refugees before they can find a new place to live. Petar Ristic is doing his part in Bangladesh. What can you do from your computer?

Bringing Hope To Uzbeks With Disabilities


In Uzbekistan, the disabled don’t have special ramps or access to buildings. It is very expensive to use a taxi able to accommodate a wheelchair. The lack of infrastructures designed for people with disability keeps them at home, hidden from the public. But a dynamic 50-year old woman wants to change that.

Zora Rahmatullaeva, herself wheelchair bound, is fighting to get fundamental rights for the Uzbek handicapped. She discovered how life was much easier for her when she took her first trip to the US in 2001. She could easily access public buildings, take elevators and use special toilets. Back in Uzbekistan, she thought, if she couldn’t move the red tape bureaucracy fast enough at least she could do something by herself.

Zora is the head of the National Association of Businesswomen with Disabilities of Uzbekistan. She encourages other women to get out of their home and start an activity. In Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, she also manages a club that has been proven very popular among women with disabilities. They come for the social interaction but mostly to get active. They are sewing and embroidering, they make breads and there are plans to open a greenhouse. The goal is to sell their production to add to their small income.

For Zora, the most important part of the plan is to empower these women who are used to be dependent on others. She wants them to be in charge. She teaches them leadership skills. That’s what freedom is about. Via tol.cz

Mama Lucy Is Helping Tanzania Fight Poverty


The Girl Effect is happening everywhere and especially in developing countries. Everyday I find new stories about women stepping up to the plate with courage and persistence to offer a better future to the next generation.

In Arusha, Tanzania, Lucy Kamptoni, aka Mama Lucy, was selling chickens, her main income. Knowing that the key to eradicate poverty in her country was education, in 2003 she took her savings and started a primary school, Sheperds Junior Academy. She rented land next to her home and with iron determination, grew the classes from 6 children to include by 2007 more than 300 students at 8 grade levels.

But in July 2007, a hotel developer bought the land Mama Lucy was renting, planning to start construction in 2008. That meant the school would have to be shut down. Luckily for the students, around the same time, two Americans, Stacey Monk and Sanjay Patel in the midst of a trip, were volunteering at the school. When they learned about the situation, they were moved to help. They knew that their background in project management and corporate consulting could benefit the children.

Back in the US, they founded Epic Change (facebook page), a non-profit that loans money to organizations seeking to improve their communities. After raising tenth of thousands of dollars, they loaned the money to Mama Lucy and Sheperds Junior Academy was able to buy land and build new classrooms.

The added benefit of this loan is empowerment. Lead by Mama Lucy, the parents and the children are working hard to reimbourse the loan, giving them a sense of pride and ownership. Through the sales of gifts like postcards drawn by the students, everyday Shepherds is becoming more and more independent. Their motivation is backed by their academic scores. In November, the school participated in national exams for the first time.  Shepherds ranked #1 out of 117 participating schools in the Arusha district. Yeah! :)

From The Bottom to The Top


If you live in a poor region rich in minerals you will end up for sure scraping at the bottom of pits. And if you are a child doesn’t matter.

Manan Ansari is a 14-year old boy from Dhaurkola, a village from the mineral-rich state of Jharkhand in Eastern India. Born in a poor family with six siblings, Manan instead of going to school went to work along with his family in one of the illegal and unorganised mines of mica dug by the villagers. It was hard. ”My work required me to collect mica pieces from ten in the morning to six in the evening. Sometimes, I couldn’t get any for earning,” remembers Manan. ”We had to dig up pits and sometimes, those pieces used to pierce into open wounds which would later result in infections.”

Fortunately for Manan and his siblings, the BBA (Save Childhood Campaign), came to the rescue. The BBA is an Indian NGO founded by Kailash Satyarthi, a famous human rights activist, which frees child slaves and put them back in the educational system. When Manan was finally able to attend school, he excelled so much that he topped his high school class exams.

Now Manan himself helps fight child labor by giving speeches. This week, for example, he will head to Geneva where he will be able to tell firsthand about the situation of millions of children. He has been invited by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to talk about child labor to leaders from across the world. From the mica pits of Dhaurkola to the stage of Geneva it’s a long road that has been traveled by Manan Ansari. I bet he is far from finished. Via deccanherald.com

To learn more:


Kailash Satyarthi’s website

A Noble Hiker Inspired by a Hero


Some people go half a world away to fill their desire to help. Rory Fanning from Chicago, stayed in his home country and just walked from the east to the west coast. It took him 8 months and 2,700 miles to reach his goal.

The aim was noble. While training for the Army in Fort Lewis, he befriended Pat Tillman, the famous Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals football star who was later killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. The news of Tillman’s death deeply affected Rory. After he left the Army, working as a banker, he found our society greedy and selfish. Disillusioned, remembering his conversations with Tillman, he took action and decided to raise money for the foundation created by Tillman’s family after his death.

Rory Fanning decided to walk rather than run or use a bicycle. His philosophy? “The slower you go the more you take in.” This allowed him to meet many more people whom he high-fived, chatted with and sometimes moved, sprinkling Tillman’s “leadership through action” spirit along the road. Additionally, he raised $35,000 in his friend’s name.

Now Rory has new goals, new roads to travel. His next step? Ireland where he will walk and talk to more teens, more colleges students, more families, more detainees with whom he will share his experience.

To learn more:

Rory Fanning’ s facebook page and website where he chronicles his journey. A great read!

The Pat Tillman Foundation

Picture by AdventureRequired

Knowing Exactly What You Want


These days, football players seem to be doing more than football.

22-year old Myron Rolle, born in Houston, TX, is an oustanding athlete who was ranked number one high school prospect. He then helped Florida State University win many victories. Having just graduated he seems promised to a brilliant NFL carreer. Yes?

No, because the safety of FSU has other ambitions. He wants to become a neurosurgeon. Many would just be happy with a career as a football player or a doctor in their lifetime. Not Myron who has very specific goals far in the future. He has earned his bachelor degree in 2.5 years and will be heading soon to Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar, to earn a M.A. in medical anthropology.

What about his potential NFL carrer? Recruiters will have to wait as Myron put the emphasis on studies. Also, having just created a foundation bearing his name to support global health and education, he has already planned after retiring from the NFL to go back to the Bahamas, where his parents and three of his four brothers were born. There, he will open a free health services clinic on Exuma island.

His parents played an important role in creating an atmosphere of respect and drive. At home, the brothers learned to address everyone with “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” If a question was asked, no one would answer “what?” While driving, Myron’s father made sure to ask questions, so there was no idle time for their minds. Because his parents believed that an idle mind lead to trouble. Obviously they were right, as besides Myron, his brothers include a lawyer, a banker and a nursing student.

Myron Rolle’s website

Women Find Their Collective Power


Subhadra Khaperde is an activist from the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. She helps people solve problems. In villages from the Khargone district where she is based, Subhadra noticed than more and more women were complaining about their health and about their husbands behavior. These families belonged to the Bhil tribe, one of the most ancient in India, but where alcohol is regarded as a “holy spirit”. Alcoholism among men was rampant, especially since they could buy it at illegal liquor stores run by the local mafia. Drinking sprees lead to sexual abuse and also husbands not being able to work for days. This situation gave another burden to the women who had to feed their families.

Subhadra, helped by health doctors collected data, discovering that most women suffered from reproductive health problems. Taking action, she gathered hundreds of women to an informal meeting in the village of Akya. There she painstakingly explained that medication would not solve their problems. Social customs had to change. Women answered that they were powerless in front of this kind of change. Guided by Subhadra, their own analysis concluded that the men had to be involved which was not possible because of the abundance of alcohol.

Subhadra passed their conclusions to male activists who conducted workshops exclusively with the men. They admitted that alcohol was the main problem. Before the illicit liquor stores appeared and the lack of reaction from the authorities, they had to brew their own alcohol using the flowers of the mahua tree. It was a time-consuming task and could be undertaken only occasionally. To reduce the consomption of alcohol the solution was obvious.

On a sunny afternoon, hundreds of men and women gathered in front of the illegal liquor shop of Okhla. They confiscated the alcohol and closed the shop. Similar actions were taken in various villages. The local mafia boss was not amused. Hearing that another operation would take place in Pandutalav, he came down with his henchmen, ready to crackdown on villagers. When he saw thousands of determined men and women, he fled. The illegal liquor store was shut down and the keys were handed to the police.

There is always an answer to a problem. Finding it always starts with trusting your ability to do so. Subhadra Khaperde empowered the women in her community, giving them the confidence to stand up and take action. Via oneworld.net

A blog about the Bhil tribes

How Passionate Are You?


Passion doesn’t always mean ambitious projects to save the world. 

Last year, Dorothy Aho retired from Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake, MN. During her 35-year career she was recognized as great teacher who inspired students. She loved children and was always looking for ways to lift them up.

Just before her retirement, five years ago, she wanted to change the after school activity and decided to create a charity-based program. Teens in Community Service, or TICS, was born. Combining her desire to help others and her experience in making blankets, Dorothy felt she could teach some valuable lessons. Kids joining the program learned to cut and sew small blankets which were then donated to children who needed them.

This act of helping, of giving selflessly is a skill that must be learned at a very young age, insists Dorothy, because it will become natural throughout your life. With the TICS program students feel they are making a real difference in the world. Kids in need receive warm and beautiful blankets. But Dorothy says she herself benefits from the project because she can meet and interact with children and give back to her community.

Ready to save the world one blanket at a time? Through a simple project you can also help your community. What skill do you have you could share for a few hours a week? Even though you feel like you have more important things to do, the simple fact of helping selflessly will come back to you in amazing ways! Try and let me know. ;)

By the way, you would think that Dorothy is now enjoying her retirement. You would be wrong. She couldn’t quit teaching ‘cold turkey’. She is now a substitute teacher. Via savagepacer.com (Picture: Josh Chase)

Caroline Is a Resilient Woman


Caroline Ngoena was born in the Central Africa Republic 39 years ago. She lives in the town of Paoua in the northwestern part of the country where its inhabitants are under tremendous pressure. Because of infighting between rebels and government troops she had to flee 3 times her home since 2003. She left all her possessions behind which means that she had to rebuild her life from scratch.

But her most-prized possessions are not her jewelry or her dresses. Caroline Ngoena is a pig breeder and these animals are her livelihood. A single mother of 7, she has to feed her family and by breeding the pigs she can make an income. She is also active in the community and takes action to have a better life. But how do you do that when your village is under the threat of rebels? Here is what she says:

When shooting starts, you run into the house and pick up what you can: a bowl, a plate, some flour. You put everything on your head, a child on your back, and run, looking right and left, scared of seeing someone with a gun. When you get into the bush you look for tall grass or a large tree where you can rest, take the child off your back to feed him, because you’ve run a long way. After a while you go to find firewood.”

Caroline is a wise woman, who, like many Africans, is willing and hardworking. Far from self pity, she would like people to understand her plight. “Today we are here, tomorrow we could be somewhere else, we could be displaced all over again. I want peace and if there is peace the country can develop. There is no development now because there is no security or peace. In Central Africa, people are fighting for nothing. If they [the rebels and the government] were in front of me I would tell them I want peace, that’s all, peace.”

Who will listen?

Via irinnews and hdptcar

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