The 2015 Gates Annual Letter: The Biggest Bet for the Future

Last night, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released the highly anticipated 2015 Annual Letter outlining their hopes and dreams for the future. As a social good advocate and blogger, I greatly admire Bill and Melinda’s amazing work at making the world a better place for the people who suffer the deepest in the world due to poverty, hunger, lack of health care and education. The Gates are amazing advocates for the millions of voiceless people around the world and their work has already made an enormous impact in saving lives. Their annual letter is a key report that highlights where they are heading and I always am eager to read it.

Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

This year’s annual letter is extremely hopeful. Inside the letter, Gates is making a big bet for the next 15 years predicting that the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history thanks to amazing breakthroughs in health, farming, banking, and education. Gates is envisioning huge advancements in the following key areas that will improve the lives of millions:

  • Half as many kids will die, far fewer women will die in childbirth, and people will live healthier lives because we’ll beat many of the diseases that sicken the poor.
  • Africa will be able to feed itself.
  • Mobile banking will help the poor radically transform their lives.
  • Better software will help all kids, no matter where they live, receive a world class education.
Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD
Seventh Generation

Toxin Freedom Fighters: Standing Up For Safer Chemicals

Disclaimer: This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program and campaign by Seventh Generation to raise awareness and demand change to the Toxic Substances Control Act by April 30, 2014. All the research for this post was provided by Seventh Generation but all the views below are my own. 

As a mom, advocate and someone who cares deeply about our planet, I have joined an exciting new campaign sponsored by Seventh Generation, a leading producer and distributor of environmentally-safe household products, to raise awareness about the hundreds of toxic chemicals in our products that are hurting our families and our world.

Toxic chemicals are a great concern of mine. I take pride in the fact that I read product labels carefully and always try to buy environmentally friendly and safe products to use in my home. This applies to every product I by: Food, household products and toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and soap.  I honestly thought I was doing a good job by keeping nasty, toxic chemicals out of my body, my families bodies and the environment.

Yet like most consumers, I was wrong. I was unaware that of the 85,000 synthetic chemicals introduced into the American market since the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976, only a mere 10% of them have required testing by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Therefore, that means thousands of synthetic chemicals are currently being used in our products that we have no idea whether or not they are safe to our bodies and our planet.

Child Labor, Marriage, Education and Survival Conservation/Environment Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD

Global Impact launches Women and Girls Fund

Last week Global Impact, a leader in global philanthropy, launched the Women & Girls Fund in partnership with four of the best-in-the-business charities to help improve the lives of women and girls around the world. The Women & Girls Fund is unique in that it harnesses together four of the most respected charities in the field, CARE, World Vision, Plan and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), to help change the world by investing in women and girls.

The plight of women and girls around the world is heartbreaking. Of roughly one billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty, the majority of them are women.  I have written tirelessly about the struggles of women and girls because it is a cause I am truly passionate about.

Photo courtesy of CARE.

Photo courtesy of CARE.

Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD Women and Girls

WaterAid Providing Taps and Toilets for Madagascar’s children

Close your eyes for a minute and picture Madagascar. What do you see? I see miles upon miles of pristine beaches, lush green tropical forests, exotic flora and fauna and brilliant blue sea. Madagascar, an island nation of 22 million people off the southeastern coast of Africa is home to several exotic species, 90% of which are unique to the country. Because of its isolation from other landmasses, most of Madagascar’s mammals, half its birds, and the majority of its plants exist nowhere else on earth.

This former French colony who gained their independence in 1960 is also home to a lesser, more ugly reality: Poverty. According to the World Bank, 69% of the population of Madagascar lives below the national poverty line threshold of one dollar per day (2011 statistic). With poverty brings hunger, malnutrition, disease, hardship and also lack of services such as access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Although running water, electricity and sanitation are provided by the government, sadly these services do not reach all the people. Based on 2010 estimates only 34% of the rural population have access to an improved water source (World Bank).  Sanitation fared worse: 79% of the urban and 88% of the rural population live with unimproved sanitation services (2010 estimates from the CIA World Factbook).

Not having safe drinking water or adequate sanitation is a major hurdle in receiving an education. In a country with only 64.5% literacy rates, education is a key to lifting people out of poverty yet what child, especially a girl, would want to go to school without a toilet?

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Last week WaterAid launched an exciting summer campaign to help provide proper sanitation and safe drinking water to Madagascar’s children. Over the next couple of months, WaterAid aims to reach 12,000 children in 31 schools by providing 150 taps and 100 toilets in Madagascar. What is so wonderful about this campaign is that all summer long you can follow the stories and updates of the children who will be impacted as well as the progress of the construction through the celebration on September 19th when the children return to school with taps and toilets for the very first time.  

Project Sekoly: Improving School Water and Sanitation in Madagascar

In Madagascar only 41% of the population has access to safe water and 11% to sanitation. We’ve been working here since 1999 and have helped more than 177,000 gain access to safe water and 145,000 to sanitation.  – WaterAid
Tsimahavaobe primary school in the town of Morondava is one of many schools in Madagascar with no toilets, no supply of safe water, and nowhere for pupils to wash their hands. We are asking supporters to join Project Sekoly, to help fund sustainable water and sanitation facilities for desperately poor schools in Madagascar. Your support will ultimately result in the poorest children in Madagascar staying healthy, gaining a better education and having the opportunity to achieve their potential. – WaterAid
What you can do?

Over the next few weeks you can follow the story as children in Madagascar get the water and sanitation they need to keep them healthy enough to build their dreams.

Follow their story on Twitter at the hashtag #buildfutures

About WaterAid:
WaterAid was founded in 1981 and works tirelessly to provide clean water and sanitation for Africa, Asia and Central America. Since its inception, WaterAid has dramatically changed lives and has worked closely together with local organizations, communities and individuals, to employ affordable and locally appropriate solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to people in developing countries

Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises Humanitarian Poverty SOCIAL GOOD

In the Background: Life in a Delhi Slum

Behind the beautiful, lavish parts of Delhi always lies the most abject poverty imaginable. I have read several books on the slums of India and thought I’d know what to expect when I saw them in person. Yet nothing I’d ever seen in all my years of travel could have prepared me for the stark reality of desperation, misery and despair of walking through a real live slum in the heart of India’s capital.


Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises Poverty SOCIAL GOOD