Pitching his Cause


When you go to the ballpark to catch a baseball game, one of the most common sight of America’s favorite pastime is the beerguy. He goes up and down selling his drinks helping the fans cool down a little. In Chicago, that’s exactly Adam Carter’s job. He is there at Wrigley stadium and The Cell. White Sox or Cubs doesn’t matter and he has been doing this job for more than 15 years. But what happens when the season is over?

Adam doesn’t stay much in Chicago. He heads to underdeveloped countries and give away his profits. He started doing this in 2003 and has been going to a different place every year since. Don’t think that he is just a disorganised lunatic. Quite the opposite.

Born and raised in Chicago, Adam holds an Anthropology degree from the University of Michigan and a Masters degree in International Development from George Washington University in DC. In between those two degrees, Adam traveled extensively around the world and was profoundly affected by the poverty he found himself face-to-face with. Then he wondered, as a simple beerguy what he could do.

Through his non profit Cause & Affect, Adam raises money during the baseball season. Then he chooses a specific place he wants to support and through his contacts he finds a well run non profit that needs funds. He usually by-passes the big NGO and heads directly to the place he has chosen. There, collaborating with the non profit chosen earlier, he helps them by giving the much needed funds he raised. He also give a hand with his own time, trying to understand the best ways to fight poverty.

Throughout the years, Adam has assisted local projects in countries such as Brazil, Cambodia and Colombia and spent last off-season in West Africa, where he helped under-equipped schools, under-funded health clinics and local children’s organizations in seven countries. That’s what I call stepping up to the plate :)

A Crusader for Local Vegetables


Mary Abukutsa-Onyango has a passion for indigenous African vegetables. Mary is a Kenyan horticultural scientist and she knows what she is talking about. For many years local plants all over Africa have been pushed away and replaced by exotic plants like spinach or cabbage. The great majority of Kenyans think that those plants are native and better for health.

Mary, who is a professor at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, has tried to reverse this trend and reintroduce the original plants in the food chain. Why?  Because they are richer in vital nutrients and micro-nutrients, with medicinal and other agronomic properties superior to exotic vegetables. They are also good for the family table and for generating income.  The species tested include cowpeas, vegetable amaranth, spider plant, African nightshade, jute mallow and the African kale.

So Mary is on a crusade to teach her fellow Africans and especially Kenyans. Over 60% of the rural communities in Western Kenya are poor, resulting in malnutrition and poor health among many rural households. She is fighting a tough battle because those indigenous vegetables are spurned by the well-fed as food only for the poor, and by the poor themselves as alternatives only in times of extreme hunger.

Finally, her efforts were recently met with success when  the spiderplant, African nightshade and vegetable amaranth, among others, started being sold in Nairobi supermarkets and restaurants. Moreover, last June, Mary won an award for her work.

Part of her success results from being one of a growing team of innovative scientists given fellowships by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), a fantastic program aimed at boosting the female talent pool supporting Africa’s women farmers.

But Mary soldiers on. A latest victory? Having the Kenyan Health Ministry advising hospitals to include African indigenous vegetables in the diet of HIV-positive patients.

Via irinnews.org – Picture by Mike Goldwater

I Will Fundraise for You


I am always surprised by the capability of children to take action and fight for a cause and that’s the reason I feature a lot of them on igiveyou.net. They take their responsability very seriously and their persistence deserves our respect. I think I could post only about them if I wished, as I find such cases in high numbers through the net, one of them being Fergus Walker.

Fergus is an 11-year-old from New Zealand. He happens to have several friends diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder known to be an inherited disease of the secretory glands, including the glands that make mucus and sweat.  It is a rare disease although it is more common among nations in the Western world. It is a life-shortening disease and so far there is no cure for it.

All of this made Fergus mull different plans and finally approach his teachers at Point View Primary School in Auckland, to ask for their help with a fundraising campaign. Because what was bothering Fergus is that there is no real government funding towards research for finding a cure to help is friends. Starting a fundraising campaign was a way for him to show how much he cared for them

His selfless attitude quickly spread among his peers and paid off when his efforts turned into a school-wide campaign, with the student school council arranging meetings to plan the best ways to raise money. With the help of the teachers the school community planned a series of fundraisers and Fergus delivered himself a speech to introduce the genetic disease to younger students.

But the 6th grader is not done yet. His has many more ideas to bring awareness about cystic fibrosis in New Zealand. Why? because a close family friend, Tayler, was diagnosed with the disease and Fergus wants to be able to do whatever he can to help find a cure for his friend. Via times.co.nz

The Unexpected Value of a Painting


This post was written by Nilima Achwal, pictured above, a Kiva Fellow working in Bolivia. You can find her original story on Kiva’s blog.

On my second day in La Paz, I braved the high altitude and made my way to Calle Sagarnaga, the main tourist shopping street. As I trudged up the slippery cobbled street, a skinny middle-aged man carrying a folder easily kept pace beside me and urged me to take a look at his paintings. Since I only needed an excuse to stop climbing, I stopped, and the man started sifting through painting after painting of indigenous women wearing a myriad of hats and shawls and pointing out the corresponding figures on the street. I soon learned that his name was Jorge and he wanted to give me an introductory course on indigenous Bolivian dress. “See that woman there?” He asked excitedly, “She’s single. You can tell by the color of her shawl. She’s also originally from Cochabamba, not La Paz. ” In a span of five minutes, the vendor had given me a proud summary of the dress and customs of some indigenous groups of three different Bolivian cities.

Then came the question that  I dreaded: “Where are you from?” Ever since I arrived in La Paz, I have been inundated by anti-American rhetoric, like the highway barriers that read “Yankees Go Home; El Alto Se Respeta [expletive]” (El Alto respects itself) repeatedly over the several kilometer stretch of road that passes right in front of the AgroCapital office, in the suburb of El Alto. The American ambassador in Bolivia was kicked out just last fall. In addition, I fully expected the price of his paintings to miraculously increase three-fold as soon as I answered that question. But taken in by this man’s sincere interest, I answered quietly, “Los Estados Unidos.”

Then came: “Are you just travelling or are you here for social work?”

“Social work,” I answered.

Jorge flashed me a toothless grin and looked me in the eye. “Gracias.”

It touched me that a stranger to whom I had nothing to offer was grateful for my work. In turn, I asked him about his work. He has painted his entire life. “Lo hago por cariño,” he explained—I do it out of love. Love for his people, his culture, and his country. His intense appreciation of the beauty of his heritage carries him through day after day of hard work and absolute economic uncertainty.

I decide to buy a small, colorful painting, and he charges me 15 bolivianos, or slightly more than two dollars. After assuring me that he has change, I hand him a 100 boliviano bill (14 dollars), or more than even the average-income Bolivian makes in an entire day of work. Before I realize what is happening, he tells me to wait one moment with his folder, and he has disappeared down the steep, crowded street to go get change.

I mentally kick myself. I only blame myself for letting him run away with my bill. My logical mind tells me not to waste my time and to give those fourteen dollars up for lost. But something keeps me rooted to my spot. He told me to watch his paintings. I have a responsibility to wait for him and make sure nothing happens to his work.

I wait. Three minutes, five minutes. I feel like an idiot; a lost-looking foreigner just standing on the side of a crowded street. By the time ten minutes pass, I am ready to shed my idealism and leave.

Jorge, in his bright red shirt, comes striding up the hill, pushing through tourists and vendors, eighty-five bolivianos in hand. He happily scurries up and hands me enough money to pay for eighty-five bus rides within the city of La Paz.

It’s the pride he takes in his work that inspires and energizes me. It’s the respect for other human beings (and their money) that this pride demands of him. This is not an isolated incident; I’ve seen this deep pride in many vendors and Kiva entrepreneurs in Bolivia. It’s rare for anyone to change her prices much in La Paz—the product is worth what it’s worth. Similarly, the value of her work is non-negotiable.

I feel safer and more comfortable here than I have in any other developing country, and it’s because, as a loan officer explained to me once, “Bolivians think you’re the same as them.”

Kiva is a wonderful non profit specializing in microlending. If you haven’t done so please consider becoming a lender. Need more motivation? Check out the Kiva song!

Understanding the Power of Leverage


Dylan Mahalingam from New Hampshire is a teen with a mission: to spread the word about the United Nations eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and mobilise his peers into working on these goals.

It was after the 2004 tsunami  that Dylan decided to help. He fundraised $900 and the money was sent to Chennai, India, to help replace fishing boats and nets for a poor community. Collaborating with different kids on several more projects on the net, he noticed that they were not aware about the MDGs but as soon as they understood the eight goals, they wanted to do something about it.

So Dylan created a non profit, Lil’ MDGs, a collaborative effort to benefit various causes around the world. With his friends they raised funds and resources to build a dormitory for a school in Tibet and a computer center, library, and a mobile hospital in India. They provided school supplies for students in many countries and a playground for a school serving AIDS orphans in Uganda. Working with American soldiers, Lil’ MDGs mobilized children in America to send school supplies for students in various schools in Iraq. The non profit also collected and donated over 9000 books to a library serving disadvantaged youth in Washington, D.C.

You might wonder how Dylan, now 14, is handling studies, playing time and his non profit? His secret, something he learned right at the beginning of his fundraising efforts, is collaboration. 20 children from five countries volunteer approximately 15 hours a week to Lil’ MDGs. These 20 children, including Dylan, meet online weekly. Besides this, approximately 1300 children from 15 countries volunteer around 15 hours a month. Add to that thousands of kids participating to a specific project and you get an idea of the powerful leverage behind Dylan.

Knowing that one can achieve more through collaboration, what is your leverage power?

Lil’ MDG’s

Dylan’s facebook page

(Dylan was nominated by Angela Hughes. Thank you Angela! You too can nominate anyone you think is remarkable and inspiring. Send your mail to jp [at] igiveyou.net)

Can You Go a Little Greener?

by on June 19, 2009
in Awareness, Malaysia


Lu Chen Pin, 37, runs his own software development business but what makes him stand out is his emphasis on protecting the environment and the fact that he decided to go eco-friendly as much as he could. Quietly he is following this motto, “first reduce, then reuse and recycle.”

Reducing can be a very simple gesture like turning off the tap water when brushing his teeth or not using the air-conditioning while driving in the morning. It also means for him doing less fancy shopping. A more stricter step has been for Lu to decide not to drive his car every second Sunday of the month. He has even stopped drinking iced coffees from Starbucks because the Seattle company uses plastic cups.

True to his motto, before he quit drinking iced beverages, he used to keep those plastic cups to “reuse” them as pen holders. In Lu’s office, files are kept in plastic wrappers that came through his junk mail. Cardboard boxes are now storage containers. Hence he lengthen the lifespan of things. But Lu goes a step further. he calls himself an eco-warrior. While driving if he sees someone dumping trash out of the car window, he takes pictures, especially of their plate number and post them on his facebook page.

Lu is a real green crusader. He has planted trees in a nearby forest and has a special strategy to convince his community into changing its habits. He tells five friends to do an environmental act and ask them to each get five friends to do the same act, such as plant trees or stop using plastic bags. The snowball effect is possible but Lu remains cautiously optimistic.

I think Lu Chen Pin’s efforts are fantastic. They look like a small drop in the ocean but, to quote Mother Theresa, the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Via thestar.com.my

Can you turn off  the tap when brushing your teeth? Can you do more?

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.

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

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