Children at Mosebo Village, Ethiopia

Standing up for all Girls on International Day of the Girl

“It’s about time someone said it. Being born female in one of the world’s poorest countries means your life will be harder, simply because of your gender. Unlocking the full potential of girls and women wouldn’t just transform their own lives, or even their families’ – it could help end extreme poverty for good”. – ONE.org

Today, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl, a day declared by the United Nations in 2011 to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world.  It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere. Fast forward to today and the International Day of the Girl has become a global movement of hope, inspiration and advocacy to better the lives of half our planet who is being left behind.

Globally, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world and of that number, 130 million girls are currently not in school right now. This is a huge problem which has significant repercussions not only for girls but for the economy and well-being of society as a whole. Education is one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against extreme poverty – so it’s unacceptable that so many girls are still denied the chance to learn.

ONE, a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than eight million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, fully understands the power of girls and the way education can be used as a conduit to better not only their lives but society as a whole. ONE is a strong advocate for the rights of women and girls around the world and in honor of this year’s International Day of the Girl, one has released a new report titled “The Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education”.  

The report identities the ten toughest places in the world for a girl to get an education and has some tragic facts:

  • The top ten toughest countries are all fragile states and among the poorest in the world.
  • Nine out of ten toughest countries are in Africa.
  • Poverty is sexist. Within the toughest 10 countries, girls are 57% more likely than boys to be out of school at the primary level and 83% at the secondary level.
  • In the 10 toughest countries, half of the girls are married before their 18th birthday.
  • In South Sudan, 73% of girls don’t go to primary school.

Yet there is so much hope. Educating girls can change the world.  The ripple effect of educating one girl in a community is astounding. The math is simple and easy. So why aren’t more girls in school?

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The Global Emergency Response Coalition Aims to Fight Extreme Hunger

Three years ago I was on a trip of a lifetime. I joined a global team of journalists for a two-week reporting fellowship in Ethiopia where we covered the progress Ethiopia has made in newborn and maternal health. The trip was life-changing in so many ways. It opened my eyes to extreme poverty and hunger. I realized how much I take for granted: Access to electricity, running water, safe drinking water, food, health care, education and opportunity. The basic necessities that people need to survive.

I made a promise to myself as a global citizen and humanitarian that I will never turn a blind eye. I will continue to advocate and use my voice on my blog to bring awareness to issues happening around the world especially ones that are not covered as much by the press. 

 

On July 18th, eight of the world’s leading U.S.-based international relief organizations joined forces for the first time to launch a joint fundraising appeal, the Hunger Relief Fund, to the American public to respond to an unprecedented hunger crisis and to save millions of lives. The Global Emergency Response Coalition (GERC) was formed in response to starvation threatening more than 20 million people in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and neighboring countries.

The Global Emergency Response Coalition is comprised of CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision. Partners including BlackRock, Google, PepsiCo, Twitter and Visa are working with the Global Emergency Response Coalition to help raise awareness and funds during the two-week appeal. The PepsiCo Foundation and BlackRock also will each generously match donations up to $1 million.

Children in Turkana County, Kenya dig for water in a dried up riverbed. Photo credit: Save the Children

Tragically, children are impacted even more by the crisis. Over 1.4 million children in these countries are severely malnourished and at risk of death without immediate help. In 2011, we faced a similar multi-country food shortage crisis and the international community failed to act in time. Over 258,000 people died in Somalia alone in which over half were children. We cannot let this happen again. Although there has been some media coverage, public awareness of this global crisis is low and there is simply not enough funding to meet the level of urgent need our organizations are facing on the ground.  

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Gobi Bear Project

Defying the Odds: Saving the World’s Rarest Bear, the Gobi Bear

When you imagine bears in wild, images of majestic grizzly bears roaming the high mountain peaks of the Rockies often come to mind. Thriving with lush vegetation in the summer, fattening their bodies up in the fall, laying fast asleep during the long, cold winters, and coming out of hibernation at the first sign of spring, a bear’s life seems perfect for this postcard-worthy landscape. Yet, miraculously the grizzly bear also lives in one of the most surprising places on earth: The Gobi Desert.

During an inspiring interview with Doug Chadwick, wildlife biologist, journalist and author of the new book, “Tracking Gobi Grizzlies: Surviving Beyond the Back of Beyond”, I learned about the Gobi Bear Project in Mongolia and the amazing opportunity we have to save the world’s rarest bear from extinction. Here is the story.

Gobi Bear Project

The Gobi Bear, a rare grizzly bear that lives in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Photo credit: Joe Riis

The situation:

Thousands of miles away, in one of last remaining wild places on earth lies a remote section of the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia. The Gobi Desert is the world’s fifth largest desert spanning from the southern third of Mongolia on into northern and northwestern China.  In one of the most unusual habitats in the world lives a miracle: The world’s rarest bear, the Gobi Bear.

Fewer than three dozen Gobi bears remain in the world, living in one of the harshest places on earth. The extreme temperatures range from 120 degrees in the summer to a bone-chilling -40 F in the winter. There is less than 2-8 inches of rainfall a year. The landscape is almost like being on the moon with large, windswept valleys, high mountain peaks and scatterings of low vegetation. Yet somehow, there are Gobi Bears. The fact that these large, rare creatures actually exist is a shock in itself. In fact, no one actually knew that Gobi Bears existed until 1943. Today, little is still known about the world’s rarest bear whose very existence is on the edge of extinction.

Gobi Bear Project

Big Bawa among the Phragmites grasses at the oasis where he was radio-collared. Photo: Joe Riis

A little history on Mongolia

Mongolia’s history is as long and vast as its rugged, expansive land, dating all the way back to the 3rd century BC. This landlocked country known as “The Land of Blue Skies”, lies between China and Russia, and its immense, dramatic landscape has the lowest human population density on the planet with a magnitude of uninhabited land. Mongolia’s 3 million inhabitants are mostly nomadic and hold a deep connection to the environment and nature. Mongolia remains one of the few places in the world where nomadic culture is still the main way of life for its people.

For centuries, Mongolians have lived nomadically and their main income has been based on agriculture and livestock. Yet Mongolia also lies on a jackpot of mineral wealth: There are vast amounts of copper, coal, gold, and other valuable minerals laying beneath the massive, barren landscapes of Mongolia. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to devastating economic cutbacks in Mongolia pushing the country into a deep recession. The Mongolian economy slowly picked up from an increase mining exports however the mining boom has dwindled again due to a sharp decline in the price of commodities over the past couple of years. Despite this fact the pressure to open up new wild lands to mining remains and with mining comes a price:  Roads and new mines must be built which could endanger animal habitats and the environment.

Thankfully, the Mongolian Government has protected key Gobi Bear habitat by creating the “Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area” which sits adjacent to three large Mongolian National Parks. However, the economic temptation of increasing mining is a huge threat. Existing gold, copper and coal mines are not far from either Protected Areas. The question becomes what will the Mongolian Government do.

National Geographic Gobi Desert

Map credit: Maggie Smith – National Geographic Staff. Sources: T. McCARTHY, ET AL, URSUS; TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES

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World Bicycle Relief Zambia

The Bicycle as a vehicle of global change

“I’ve seen some of the highest performance bicycles in the world, but I believe the most powerful bicycle is the one in the hands of a girl fighting for her education, or a mother striving to feed her family.”  – F.K. Day, Founder of World Bicycle Relief

It is hard to believe that something as simple as a bicycle can be a vehicle of dramatic change, enabling people to go to the market to sell their products and for children to go to school.  As a tool for development, a simple bicycle can mean not just transportation but employment—even access to education and healthcare.  Bicycles can change people’s lives and lift them out of poverty. Yet access to bicycles can prove daunting especially for people living in the developing world.

For many people in the developing world, walking is their primary mode of transportation. Add the challenge of distance and seemingly simple tasks of going to school, visiting the clinic, or delivering goods to market become difficult and sometimes impossible. With no choice but to walk, meeting everyday needs is a struggle against time and fatigue.

Mobilizing people through the power of the bicycle is the mantra behind the non-profit organization World Bicycle Relief who designs, manufactures and distributes high quality bicycles that withstand the challenging terrain and conditions in rural communities.  Entrepreneurs use the bikes to increase productivity and profits. Students with bikes attend class more regularly and academic performance dramatically improves. And, health care workers with bikes visit more patients, more often, providing better, more consistent care.

World Bicycle Relief also promotes local economies and long-term sustainability by assembling bicycles in Africa and training over 1,200 field mechanics. Since 2005, World Bicycle Relief has delivered over 300,000 bicycles and is making an enormous impact in people’s lives.

World Bicycle Relief Zambia

Ethel, a student in Zambia, begins her nine kilometer ride to school. Before receiving her Buffalo Bicycle from World Bicycle Relief, it took Ethel 2 hours to walk to school. After doing chores for several hours at home and then walking to school, she often arrived tired and had to take a nap during class. Now, she arrives on time and ready to learn. Ethel aspires to become a nurse and give back to her community.

All photos credited to World Bicycle Relief

World Bicycle Relief Zambia

Ethel lives with her aunt, uncle and cousins and often rides her cousin to school on the back of her bicycle. The rear rack on the Buffalo Bicycle is designed to carry 220 lbs and can accommodate more than one person. Ethel and her cousin are on a track to graduate from high school on time.  Photo credit: World Bicycle Relief

And now…

World Bicycle Relief Zambia

World Bicycle Relief’s 2012 Education Report highlighted a 28% increase in attendance and a 59% increase in academic performance for students with Buffalo Bicycles. Through BEEP (Bicycles for Educational Empowerment), World Bicycle Relief has delivered over 90,000 bicycles.

On July 11, 2016,  World Bicycle Relief presented the Trailblazer Award to Dr. Leszek Sibilski, former Olympic cyclist, global development thought leader and advocate for bicycles. The annual Trailblazer Award honors an individual who has challenged conventional thinking around the complex issues of poverty, social justice and access while illuminating a new path forward with innovative and bold ideas that have the power to transform millions of lives. Dr. Sibilski has done just that with his tireless work promoting the bicycle as a tool of great change for people around the world.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski received the Trailblazer Award presented by World Bicycle Relief. Dr. Sibilski is joined onstage by Dave Neiswander, President of World Bicycle Relief.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski received the Trailblazer Award presented by World Bicycle Relief. Dr. Sibilski is joined onstage by Dave Neiswander, President of World Bicycle Relief.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski addresses the audience at the Trailblazer Award ceremony on how the bicycle can be a powerful agent of change and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into shared prosperity.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski addresses the audience at the Trailblazer Award ceremony on how the bicycle can be a powerful agent of change and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into shared prosperity.

Here are some of the words that Dr. Sibilski shared with the audience while accepting the Trailblazer Award:

Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

Kurandza: One woman’s quest to #FeedMozambique

Meet Elisabetta Colabianchi, Founder of Kurandza, a non-profit social enterprise that invests in the future of women in Mozambique. I have featured her work and organization before on my blog and include their products under my Gifts that Give Back Guide. Kurandza uses education, entrepreneurship and sustainable development programs to help create opportunity and change for women and their communities. A devastating two-year drought in Mozambique has caused widespread hunger inspiring Elisabetta to shift gears and focus on hunger relief. Here is her heartwarming story. 

Percina and Elisabetta. Photo credit: Nicole Anderson of Sorella Muse Photography

Percina and Elisabetta, two wonderful friends who met in a village in Mozambique while Elisabetta was a Peace Corps volunteer. Photo credit: Nicole Anderson of Sorella Muse Photography

“Kurandza: To Love”: Written by Elisabetta Colabianchi, Founder and Designer, Kurandza

I’d known there was a hunger crisis in Mozambique, but what really got to me was hearing that HIV positive mothers were faced with choosing between letting their children starve or nursing their children past the recommended time despite the risk of passing on HIV.

Prior to founding my non-profit organization, Kurandza, which means “to love” in the local Changana language, I lived in Mozambique as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years. While there, I worked at a rural hospital counseling mothers on the prevention of HIV transmission to their babies, and had successfully prevented the transmission to hundreds of children.

At first, I thought that maybe the mothers who continued to nurse despite the risk were doing this because they forgot their training. Or I thought perhaps I hadn’t taught them very well after all.

But when I counseled one of these mothers over the phone last month from my home, now living thousands of miles away in California, I realized she knew exactly what she was doing, and that it hurt her to do so. She knew that by continuing to nurse her child past the recommended time, she was putting her baby at risk to contract HIV. She knew that when a child contracts the HIV virus, it often leads to mortality.

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Humanity Unified

Humanity Unified International launches first fundraiser to help Rwandan Women

Do you ever feel like the connections we make in life sometimes seems like fate? The more I work in this tiny niche of social good travel bloggers, the more amazed I am by the incredible friendships and network I’ve made online. I’ve met countless inspiring bloggers and humanitarians online through blogging and social media. One such person is Maria Russo, founder of the award-wining online media platform for travel and social good, The Culture-ist and the non-profit Humanity Unified InternationalIt all happened because I follow her on Instagram where I noticed the amazing photographs her organization was posting on women and girls in Rwanda.

A young girl in Rwanda. Photo by Arielle Lozada

A young girl in Rwanda. Photo by Arielle Lozada

I commented on the photos and began a relationship online that resulted in an interview  and a post on her and her husband Anthony’s work as the founders of Humanity Unified and Humanity Unified International. I was instantly drawn to Maria and Anthony’s passion for making the world a better place by starting at the grassroots level by improving the lives of women and girls in Rwanda.

The more I work in social good and advocacy, the more I understand how these kinds of programs work. It is a proven that investing in women makes a tremendous amount of sense and investing wisely in programs that provide training, education, health and sustainable agricultural practices is even better. Women invest 90% of their income back into their families while men invest approximately 30 percent (UNAC).

On a personal level, like everyone I am bombarded with requests for donations every day thus I choose my charities wisely. It is a arduous task since I would love to donate to every single cause I write about or hear but obviously I have to pick and choose which causes are most important to me. I donate locally to help our schools and families living in poverty, and I also donate quite a bit abroad.

The more I travel and witness the impact of poverty on women and girls and the additional barriers they face in creating a better life, the more I desire to give them opportunities to create a better one. I also prefer to create sustainable change, not just a band-aid approach that won’t fix the problem. This is why I love the work that Humanity Unified is doing so much. 100% of my investment will go towards empowering women and creating sustainable change.

I will never meet the woman who I am supporting but in my heart I will know that far away, in Rwanda my donation has helped change her  life. That is an incredible feeling! Whether it be vaccines for a child in Nigeria, a clean birth kit for $20 for an expectant mom in Laos or $100 to provide training for a woman in Rwanda, I’ve made a difference.

Even using my words to spread awareness by writing this post has helped and that is free.

Photo by Arnelle Lozada

Photo by Arnelle Lozada

This week, Humanity Unified International launched their first fundraiser on Generosity by Indiegogo to develop funding for their project in Rwanda. Here are some details on the campaign and how you can help.

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USAID-funded project Saving Maternity Homes in Ghana

Saving Maternity Homes in Ghana

Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD Women and Girls
Children of Mosebo Village

Poverty is Sexist: How you can make a difference in the lives of women and girls

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Goodbye Malaria

Save a Life in your Sleep: Goodbye Malaria

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”.‐ African proverb

The figures are staggering. According to the World Health Organization: “About 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and an estimated 438,000 malaria deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths. In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death. More than two-thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group. In 2015, about 305,000 African children died before their fifth birthdays” making malaria the leading killer of children in Africa. (Source: WHO 2015 statistics).

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.54.32 PM

Although these figures are frightening, what is even more shocking is that these deaths are entirely preventable. Per the World Health Organization, “Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 60% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2000”. This is amazing progress that brings hope that we will be able to wipe malaria off the face of the earth forever.

Eradicating malaria is the dream of South African-based Goodbye Malaria, an organization  I interviewed the last week to learn how a team of African entrepreneurs, predominantly women sprayers and socially minded businesses, are coming together to “save a life in your sleep” and eradicate malaria in their lifetime. Here’s their story.

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Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

My Walk with the Maasai

“In the Book of Life, the answers aren’t in the back.” – Charles M. Schultz

Setting off on foot through the heart and soul of Maasai culture has always been a dream of mine. I had first heard of the Maasai people when I was volunteering for a week in Morocco. I was speaking with a fellow volunteer – a young American woman- who confessed her favorite travel stories in her life occurred when she visited the Maasai. Her embellished images of warrior men in black and women dressed in brightly colored clothing while drinking cow’s blood under the moonlight sky in the bush were what first intrigued me. Was it true that a people like this still lived on earth and still practiced their long-held traditions and cultures?

Years later, when I began my work as a social good blogger, I began to learn more about the Maasai people and the threat against their way of life. Some of the things I had believed to be true long ago were more or less myths yet other traditions both good and bad continued until this day. It wasn’t until I set out on foot with my english-speaking Maasai guide, Jacobo, in the Mkuru Training Camp near Arusha, Tanzania that I would discover for myself what the Maasai people were truly like and what challenges remained.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Jacobo leads the way and I follow along for the next four hours on foot, touring a small part of the Maasai community.

“Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t”. -Pete Seeger

I was thankful that I had Jacobo, the Camp Manager, who was born and raised in the community, to lead the way. He was exactly as I envisioned a Maasai warrior to be: Tall, elegantly thin, muscular and generously kind. He has faced some criticism from the community by integrating too much with Western culture yet overall his work and passion for his tribe outshines a few negative viewpoints. Although he is also the camp driver, speaks English, and is the face of the camp with all foreigners, he has retained his culture even down to what he eats.

We set off shortly after lunch in windy, dry weather. I had hoped the weather would be better but at least it wasn’t raining or boiling hot. I followed behind Jacobo, pen and paper in hand and asked him as many questions as I could about his way of life.

Mkuru Training Camp Arusha Tanzania

Welcome to the bush

Mkuru Training Camp Arusha Tanzania

The Maasai are among the best known ethnic groups in Africa due to their distinctive customs and dress. As nomadic pastoralists, they traditionally herded their cattle on seasonal rotations across the open savanna of Kenya and Tanzania yet new laws instituted by the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments ended their traditions and forced many into camps where they have suffered poverty, malnutrition, lack of education and economic opportunities to survive. It is an all too common story with native cultures across the world and today many governments and NGOs are doing their best to preserve and protect these tribes from disappearing off the face of the earth.

Mkuru Training Camp Maasai Tanzania

The grounds of the Mkuru Training Camp Maasai in Tanzania

As we walked, Jacobo pointed out the dried up river beds and the sparse vegetation. Most of the crops (maize and potatoes are the of the primary crops grown in the area) had already been harvested and the long barren months of the dry season had begun. One of the main problems for the Maasai community is malnutrition especially in children. The diet is basically meat, goat’s milk and grains with little or no fruit or vegetables. Although the camp has tried to alleviate malnutrition by providing meals at school, many Maasai hesitate to send their children because they are needed to herd the livestock (boys began herding as young as five years old), tend the house, fetch water and cook (the main responsibility of the girls). Despite the building of new schools in the community, attendance is very low and frequently dropping especially for girls.

The Maasai have a very unique social structure that is central to their culture. The head of society is the warrior class made up of boys and men, and status relates to age. A young boy starts out as a herder at the age of five and once he reaches puberty, he is set aside with the boys who will be soon circumcised and become junior warriors called “morani”. The morani range from 13-18 years of age and after circumcision remain in isolation and are dressed in black until they are healed. Once they reach maturity and have sufficient strength they become a full fledge warrior, dress in colorful clothing, and are in charge of protecting the community. They no longer kill a lion with a spear since that tradition has become illegal (by the government) but they are trained to fight.

Mkuru Training Camp Arusha Tanzania

Jacobo on left with his four brothers who have just been circumcised and wear black until they are ready to become moranis.

Maasai women and girls are traditionally in charge of the home and all work associated with family life such as fetching water, cooking and cleaning, making clothing and watching the very young children. Maasai women are known for their amazing beadwork and brilliant clothing. (I had written a great post about Maasai beading here)

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Jacobo’s mother

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Maasai beadwork has been integrated into the Mkuru community to empower women and give them economic opportunities to sell their work.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

A gorgeous Maasai beaded ankle bracelet.

Jacobo gave me a tour of his family boma, traditional mud huts made out of mud, dried cow dung and branches. Since the Maasai can have more than one wife, the entire family of husband, wives and children typically live together in a compound of 3-5 bomas depending on wealth. Each compound is surrounded by an open circle and fence made of thorny branches, where the livestock sleep safely at night, away from predators. The bomas are extremely basic with no electricity, no running water and oftentimes unsafe charcoal cookstoves are used inside the hut. The smoke from cooking turns the ceiling black with soot and you can imagine how bad it is for the family to inhale the fumes.

http://thirdeyemom.com/2015/10/25/learning-the-art-of-making-maasai-jewelry-in-tanzania/

Entering the Jacobo’s family home (the fence for livestock is on the left hand side of the photo).

http://thirdeyemom.com/2015/10/25/learning-the-art-of-making-maasai-jewelry-in-tanzania/

Jacobo’s extended family.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

One of the bomas.

 Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

A child peeks out and smiles. His face is covered in ash from the cookstove.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Since there is no electricity inside, the bomas are very dark. I tried my best to capture what they are like inside. You can see the cookstove on the far back righthand side of the photo.

Non-profit organizations such as Solar Sister (who I climbed Kilimanjaro with) are working hard to provide clean, safe cookstoves throughout the world. The benefits are immense and life-saving but sadly they have not reached the millions of people like in this community who need them. Not only are clean cookstoves healthier and safer, they also save ridiculous amounts of money which can be used on other essential things like education, farming, and crops.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

The ceiling of the boma is black from the charcoal cookstove inside.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

An up close look at the thorny fence and corral for the livestock.

To my relief, I was well received by my Maasai friends who gladly gave me a tour of their bomas for a very small fee. I also purchased some beautiful handmade jewelry from Jacobo’s mother, a couple of bracelets and a necklace that I love to this day.

As we headed out to see more of the vast area, we ran into Jacobo’s dad, a retired warrior. I found that many of the men have a pretty luxurious life compared to the women. No longer truly in need of a warrior class to protect them against invaders, the men usually have plenty of leisure time to sit around and talk while the women did all the work.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Jacobo’s dad

Jacobo brought me to a special place that once a year the morani and warriors go for a few months to eat meat. Tradition holds that morani and warriors must remain strong and be the best fed of all. Therefore, every year they head up to the forest where they eat goat meat for two-three months. The women stay at home.

As we neared the camp, I could see women walking their donkeys with yellow plastic jugs. I asked Jacobo where they were going and he told me about the well. A few years ago,the camp dug a well which is open from 5-7 pm every day. Before the well, women and girls would spend hours each day fetching water so the new well has made a significant impact on their lives.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

The women at the well

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

I thought about how such simple things as water are so easily taken for granted in the developed world. All I have to do is turn on the facet and out it comes, in plentiful supply. Seeing the well in person was a reminder how millions and millions of people around the world live. With little or no access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”. – Kahlil Gibran

Once we returned to camp, I was exhausted. It was quite an eye-opening day. I had a quiet dinner with Camila and the other European camp volunteer and they told me some of the more difficult stories about the camp. That female genital mutilation (FGM) is rampant in Tanzania despite it being banned and illegal by the government. That the process is horrifying and the young girl is cut with unsanitary knives and left to lay and bleed alone for months inside the boma. That Jacobo lost his first wife in childbirth because she was unable to deliver her baby safely after her the trauma caused by FGM. And the list goes on.

It was hard for me to reconcile my beliefs on how as a world we should intervene. Despite the belief that we should respect certain cultures and traditions that have been held since the beginning of mankind, it does not make them right or justifiable. Sadly change is difficult but not impossible.

Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

View outside my tent that night

Want to learn more? Here are some excellent articles:

“In Tanzania, Maasai women who reject FGM are refused as Brides” via Reuters

“Maasai in Tanzania: World Fame but Empty Stomachs” via the Guardian

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

WaterAid – Tanzania (Fact: 14 million people in Tanzania have no choice but to drink dirty water from unsafe sources).

 

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Indian girl

Day of the Girl 2015

Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” -United Nations Resolution 66/170

Today, October 11, is the Day of the Girl, a day that just two years ago was declared by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world.  It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere. Fast forward two years and the Day of the Girl has become a global movement of hope, inspiration and advocacy to better the lives of half our planet who is being left behind.

Indian girlSo why girls? 

As girls, we experience inequality in every aspect of our lives. There are a billion reasons why we need the Day of the Girl, but let’s start with just a dozen (all are linked to their source. Just double click on statistic and you can read it in full):

*Source:  Day of the Girl 

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#BeHerd: 96 Elephants are Killed in Africa Every Day

Did you know that 96 elephants are killed in Africa every single day? Over 30,000 African elephants die each year as a result of poaching. 

I knew that the poaching and killing of elephants for their tusks was a problem however I never fully understood the enormity and magnitude of the issue until I listened to an amazing podcast on NPR’s “Fresh Air” called  “GPS Trackers In Elephant Tusks Reveal Ivory Smuggling Route” (8/12/2015). It is a story that kept me at the edge of my seat for the entire hour and led me to read the full story in National Geographic (September 2015) by journalist Bryan Christy called How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa”. It is a fabulous, eye-opening account on how armed groups help fund operations by smuggling elephant ivory and how Christy developed fake tusks with hidden GPS trackers to track them down.

I love elephants and was fortunate enough to have seen them in the wild in South Africa on a safari (Check out my post: “Into the Wild My First Safari”). They are beautiful, majestic creatures. The thought that they are being killed simply for their tusks is horrible and something that must be stopped. However, it is not as easy as it seems.
South Africa SafariIMG_0255

This month, the Wildlife Conservation Society has launched a new campaign called 96 Elephants to bring awareness and take a stand on the fact that 96 elephants are killed in Africa every day.  Founded in 1895, The Wildlife Conservation Society has the clear mission to save wildlife and wild places across the globe. In 2012, poachers killed approximately 35,000 elephants in Africa for their tusks. 96 elephants are killed in Africa every day for their tusks.

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