Mosebo village Ethiopia

Be the Change

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I’m honored that my Shot@Life post “Blogust: Reaching Firsts and Making a Difference” is live today on the United Nations Foundation’s website. Blogust is a month-long digital dialogue, bringing more than 25 of the most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life champions (me!) together to help change the world through their words and imagery throughout the month of August. For every comment and/or social media share, Walgreens will donate one life-saving vaccine to a child in need around the world.

Since Blogust began August 1, readers have made over 30,000 comments and social media shares providing over 30,000 vaccines to children around the world who need it most.  I encourage my readers to help out by checking out my post here and either commenting or sharing via social media the post. Please note that you must comment or share the post on the UN Foundation’s website (not my website thirdeyemom) for it to count for providing a vaccine.

I have written extensively about the power of life-saving vaccines to save children’s lives around the world. We know that vaccines are the most cost-effective way to save lives and we can erase some of these awful figures:

One in five children lack access to the life-saving immunizations that keep children healthy. In fact, approximately 1.5 million children in developing countries die each year of a preventable disease like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. Put another way, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.

 

Here is a snippet of my post today…..

Mosebo village Ethiopia

Me with the children of Mosebo village.

#Blogust: Reaching Firsts and Making a Difference

We all remember the firsts: those monumental moments that shape your life and those around you. The moments that take your breath away. The first word. The first step. The first “I love you”. The first day of school. The first kiss. The first goodbye. Firsts that impact our journeys down the long and sinuous path of life.

For me, the most defining firsts of my life have surprisingly taken place in adulthood. The first time I looked into my soul mate’s eyes. The first time I cradled my brand new son. The first time I climbed a 18,000 foot peak. The first time I boarded a plane for a global volunteer trip alone. However, by far the most powerful first was the first time I realized that I had a voice and could use it.

I was half way around the world, hiking the Annapurna Trek in Nepal with my dad. It was the culmination of years of traveling, hiking and following my wanderlust. As I arrived at the first village, there were brilliantly colorful prayer flags swaying in the wind, the smell of burning incense and the distant bells jingling from the mule trains and Buddhist prayer wheels. I saw a woman sitting upon a stoop, shoeless and weathered from years of hard labor in the fields.

She held an old prayer book in her hand and hummed in a language I couldn’t understand. She could not have been much older than me yet our lives were worlds apart. She remained in that spot the entire day, quietly singing, smiling to the passersby and never once opening that book. Her poverty was apparent and like most Nepalese women she most likely never learned to read or write. She and her family lived without electricity, running water, toilets, education, health care or materialistic goods. Yet somehow she survived.

At that moment I wondered about fate and destiny. How could it be that this woman’s life was so incredibly different than my own? That I was there, in a tiny, rural village carrying on my back more than this woman might possibly ever have in her lifetime. I realized my own opportunities and that I had a voice. I could make a difference and even if small, I could help change the world.

I returned home a different person and from that point on, my life has been filled with life-changing firsts. My first blog post. My first international volunteer trip. My first fundraiser to build a school in Nepal. My first meeting on Capitol Hill as an advocate for Shot@Life. My first social good post. My first philanthropic blogging trip to India, and most recently my first trip as a reporting fellow to Ethiopia where I wrote about maternal and newborn health. Each and every new first has somehow worked to create a chain reaction of more firsts that together have lead me down a life changing journey I never dreamed possible. Firsts that take my breath away.

What I’ve realized throughout it all, is how simple it can be to give back and make a difference in the world. With #Blogust, you can too. A comment or a share via social media provides one vaccine to a child who needs it most. You will be part of the change and help a child fulfill their dreams and live to see their own firsts.

 To read more click here.

Remember all comments and/or social media shares must be on the UN Foundation Shot@Life’s website on my original post. These are the comments and shares that will provide a life-saving vaccine thanks to Walgreens.

You can like my post here but please place your comments on the post here.

Thank you all so much for your amazing support! I could not continue to write this blog without such fabulous readers. I truly appreciate it.

Be the change….

 

Remember to please comment here (not below) to provide a life-saving vaccine to a child in the developing world. Save a life. Be the change. Thank you with all my heart! Nicole

 

SOCIAL GOOD

Happy First Birthday Shot@Life!

This week is Global Immunization Week a time set aside to celebrate and advocate the importance of providing global vaccines to save lives of children around the world. I have been an active member and advocate for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign for the last year and a half and have been continually inspired by how easy and simple it is to save lives.

Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable death. Yet we can change this tragic reality. We know that 1 in 5 children in the developing world do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Yet we have the tools and resources to prevent 1.5 million deaths each year – the equivalent to the number of children entering kindergarten in the US each year –  by providing vaccines. For the mere cost of a week’s worth of coffee – $20 – you can give a child a lifetime of immunity from a deadly disease and save a life. It is easy. Simple. And it saves lives.

Your voice, your time and your support can change a child’s life forever. 

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Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/UN Foundation

As a Shot@Life Champion I’ve had the opportunity to use my voice by learning all about the importance of global vaccines and sharing this information as an advocate through social media, my blog and directly with my members of Congress. I’ve visited Washington DC three times to learn more about global vaccines and advocacy. I’ve also lobbied with my members of Congress both here in Minnesota as well as on Capital Hill. Finally, I’ve held two local fundraising events at my home in which together with my friends we have raised over $2,800 which has helped vaccinate 140 children for life. It has been a year to remember and I feel proud that I’ve been able to make a difference in the world.

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First Shot@Life party during Global Immunization Week. April 2012.

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My children and me wearing our Shot@Life t-shirts during Global Immunization Week.

Some people ask why do I care? Why do I spend so much of my time devoted to other children half way around the world, children I will never meet?

Simple. I am a mother too and I want to help give every mother the same opportunity to having a healthy child and an opportunity to reach those precious milestones in a child’s life that stay forever in your heart.

Like my daughter’s last day at preschool.  

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I want to give every child the Shot@Life they deserve. 

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Women getting her child immunized in Mozambique. Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/UN Foundation.

Please help spread the word about Shot@Life and the importance of global immunizations. Here are some ways you can help out:

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Global Mom Relay: Connecting moms around the world

Today is not only International Women’s Day but also the launch of an amazing initiative put together by some of the most influential players in journalism, social good, business and the non profit world to create the Global Mom Relay, a 60 day relay connecting mother’s around the world.

Here is the press release on the event and what you can do to help. It is going to be an amazing 60 days so be sure to follow along!

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“Global Mom Relay” Connects Moms Everywhere through the Power of Social Media to Help Women and Children

Arianna Huffington, Elizabeth Gore, Jennifer Lopez, Lynda Lopez and other leading voices join global “virtual relay” to help improve the health and well-being of mothers and children worldwide

Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2013) – Mothers around the globe are mobilizing their voices and their social networks as one of the most powerful forces for positive change for women and children in today’s world.  Starting tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, moms and their friends will come together as part of a groundbreaking series of online conversations to share advice, stories, and inspiration about motherhood as part of the Global Mom Relay, a first-of-its-kind virtual relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.

Created by the United Nations FoundationJohnson & JohnsonBabyCenterThe Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Mom Relay combines the power of moms with the power of social media to raise awareness and raise funds to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children worldwide. This “virtual relay” brings together 60 days of online conversations, rallying networks of people around the world to join in the relay by commenting, sharing stories, making donations and taking action.  It  represents a movement of people who refuse to sit by in the face of startling statistics about women’s and children’s health: nearly 7 million children under the age of 5 will die from preventable diseases each year and every two minutes, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy. The Global Mom Relay will connect people to take action and change these statistics.

According to BabyCenter.com, 75 percent of moms say they have used social media to promote a charitable cause, and 82 percent would be more likely to do so if they knew their contribution could result in a donation to support families in need.

The Global Mom Relay will take place from March 8 to May 8, 2013.  Here is how it works:

  • Each day, a mother, expert, celebrity, or advocate will use a blog post, video, or online interview to discuss motherhood and inspirational moms and to highlight important issues and causes. Readers and viewers will be asked to share that day’s post and to donate to the featured cause. That day’s Global Mom Relay contributor will then “pass the baton” to the next day’s relay participant. Participants lending their voice include:  Lisa Belkin, Barbara Bush, Randi Zuckerberg, Dr. Harvey Karp, Reema Nanavaty, Rocky Dawuni, Ann Geddes, and Bobbie Thomas.
  • Each time a person shares a relay post on Twitter, Facebook or Email, or donates $5 or more as part of the relay, a $5 donation (up to $8,000 per day or $500,000 total) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to one of four innovative efforts that are helping women and children lead healthy and happy lives – Girl Upthe Global Alliance for Clean Cookstovesthe Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), and the Shot@Life campaign.
  • The global discussion will culminate on May 8 in honor of Mother’s Day with Mom+Social, a one-day global summit held at the 92YTriBeCa in New York City.  The summit will connect mothers to each other, worldwide experts, and leaders to inspire action that leverages the unique power of social media to improve the lives of families, of communities, and our world.

The Global Mom Relay will include perspectives from its co-chairs, Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group; Elizabeth Gorethe United Nations Foundation’s Resident Entrepreneur; Jennifer Lopez, Actress, Singer, and Co-Founder of the Lopez Family FoundationLynda Lopez, Journalist and Co-Founder of the Lopez Family Foundation; and Sharon D’Agostino, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship for Johnson & Johnson.

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“Moms are often the glue that holds humanity together. At home, in their neighborhoods, at work, and online, moms are working hard to support each other and our communities,” said Elizabeth Gore. “The Global Mom Relay will unleash this passion and help moms pay it forward to change lives around the world.”

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“My sister Lynda and I had children around the same time and both feel strongly about helping other mothers who are in need so that they have the chance to experience a healthy start as a new mom,” said Jennifer Lopez. “It is an honor to be part of this important global conversation and I hope others will join us.”

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“As a journalist, I know the power of the voice to inspire others and create change,” said Lynda Lopez. “As a mother, I also know the unique power of a mom and her voice to help her children, family, and community. The beauty of the Global Mom Relay is that a mother anywhere can use her voice to share these stories of motherhood to help improve the lives of women and children everywhere.”

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“A mother’s love is the most powerful force on Earth and wherever she lives, a mom wants nothing more than the health and safety of her children,” said Sharon D’Agostino. “During this celebration of millions of moms around the world, we are excited to help unite and empower them to improve the lives of other women and their children.”

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The Global Mom Relay is in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. Healthy families promote healthy communities and a healthier world. By learning and taking action online through the Global Mom Relay, moms and other participants will help mothers like them around the world.

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The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, a member of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Global Mom Relay, a global conversation among mothers and their friends to create change. From March 8, International Women’s Day, to May 8, in honor of Mother’s Day, today’s leading global and local voices will discuss the importance of strengthening the health of mothers and children around the world. Each time a person shares a relay post on Facebook, Twitter or Email, or donates $5 or more as part of the relay, a $5 donation (up to $8,000 per day or $500,000 total) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to one of four initiatives that are helping women and children lead healthy and happy lives – Girl Up, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), and the Shot@Life campaign. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org/globalmomrelawww.unfoundation.org/globalmomrelay.

SOCIAL GOOD

What it means to become a global advocate

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All 100+ Shot@Life Champions who left their families behind to travel to our nation’s capital in February to advocate for the millions of parents who don’t have access to life-saving vaccines.

My dear friend Jennifer Burden, mother, wife, advocate and founder of World Mom’s Blog, wrote a beautiful piece today as part of the Shot@Life’s 28 Days of Impact Campaign about her advocacy and recent trip to Uganda as part of Shot@Life delegation.

Please on link below to read her heartfelt post and learn more about the work we are doing for Shot@Life.

Click here to read: Uganda, Shot@Life, Capitol Hill, Champs & Mohammad!

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Jen in Uganda.

Jen came into my life over a year ago through my WordPress blog. As a mother of two young girls living in the suburbs of New Jersey, Jen wanted a way to open up others to  global motherhood and our shared experiences. She had searched the net over and over and found tons of blogs on motherhood yet there were no blogs at all on what it is like to be a global mother. For all mothers, no matter where you live in the world, have a special bond. We may have different lives, cultures and parenting techniques, but we are all mothers. Hence came the dream of starting World Moms Blog, a volunteer-lead blog using mothers from around the world to tell their stories and share their voices.

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Walk. Run. Bike. for Social Good

As an avid runner, I was thrilled when I first heard of a new app called Charity Miles.  Charity Miles has partnered with a lot of fantastic non-profit organizations and allows you to donate your miles after a run, walk or bike ride to one of their partner charities. All you have to do is download the free app, hit start, and you are on your way to doing good while you work out. Brilliant isn’t it?

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This month, Charity Miles has partnered with the UN Foundation who I am honored to work with as an advocate and volunteer. Together the UN Foundation and Charity Miles is running a #VDay10k Campaign where people can exercise for a good cause using the Charity Miles app. How does it work? Simple.

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Giving Tuesday: Giving Back the Give

Today is the first ever Giving Tuesday, a day across the country dedicated to giving back. Launched by the creative minds of the UN Foundation, Unilever Corp. and United Way, what started simply as a great idea turned into a mass event involving over 4,000 organizations in all 50 states.

It is the hope that Giving Tuesday starts a new national day of giving via the collective power of charities, families, businesses and individuals who will transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.  Judging by the media, it is looking like the first Giving Tuesday will be a great success and only continue to grow in years to come.

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Be the Change

I recently subscribed to the WordPress Daily Prompts to see what kind of inspiration I could find on expanding my writing. I briefly read the prompts but never wrote one until today when I saw one that struck a chord in my heart. I read it and I filled with joy and excitement. I felt like the words were talking exactly to me.

“What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world”. 

I read these words and thought, isn’t this why I am writing my blog in the first place? To use my voice to share my experiences of what I’ve seen in the world, what I’ve learned and most importantly of all, how we can all give back?

I have talked about my voice time and time again in my blog. But today I’d like to share with you what I’m hoping to change in the world with my blog.

SOCIAL GOOD

World Pneumonia Day 2012

Today is World Pneumonia Day. Did you know that pneumonia is the biggest threat to children worldwide and that we have a vaccine available that can prevent it?

Were you aware that every 20 seconds a child dies from pneumonia, a largely preventable and treatable disease?

Here are some facts on pneumonia and the devastating impact this treatable disease has on child survival. (Source: Action: Global Health Advocacy Partnership):

“Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of 5, causing nearly 1.3 million child deaths each year.  Developing countries, and particularly the poorest children within them, are the hardest hit, accounting for 99% of childhood deaths due to pneumonia.

We know how to prevent these deaths. In fact, investments in protecting, preventing, and treating children have led to significant gains in reducing under-five deaths. Although pneumonia kills nearly twice as many children each year than both HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, global funding for pneumonia is significantly lower than funding for HIV/AIDS and malaria control. This silent killer is still responsible for one out of every five child deaths, despite having the tools to prevent and treat it.”

Although much progress has been made towards fighting devastating diseases that has improved child mortality rates across the globe, we aren’t finished yet. The fact that a child is dying every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable death such as pneumonia is unexcusable and unacceptable.

We have the technology and the knowledge to save lives.

Now we need to convince the government to follow through on the promises and commitments made to fund and support programs such as GAVI (that provides vaccines to children in the developing world) and to Front Line Health Care Workers, who are often the only medical attention children will receive.

How can I take ACTION?

  • Write a letter to your government.
  • Meet with your member of Congress or Parliament.
  • Raise awareness in your community.
  • Express your opinion in your local newspaper.
  • Produce a video or write a blog (like I am doing here).
  • Participate in community events.
  • Only have a few minutes? Sign a pledge to end preventable child deaths with World Vision, or A Promise Renewed!

Learn more at www.action.org.

My kids and me advocating for Shot@Life last spring.

This post was written on behalf of my advocacy for RESULTS, Shot@Life and ONE. I am meeting with my Congressman next Monday and will be sure to remind him to support funding for Child Survival. With less than 1% of our budget spent on foreign aid, there is a lot to be done. However, I am confident we will make the right decisions and help save lives.  No child shouldn’t be able to celebrate their fifth birthday because they are too poor.

 

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The Gift of Giving

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―  Winston Churchill

I have always had a strong desire to give back. I acknowledge that my life on this earth is a minor blimp in time, a moment passed by the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. A piece of me has always wanted to leave a footprint behind. Make a difference and touch people’s lives.

Why do I feel so compelled to give back and spend endless hours fulfilling this desire and dream?

These beliefs and values grew over time, slowly forming, changing and molding through the years as I traveled more and begin to see the world and scratch my head in disbelief.

The first time I saw extreme poverty was when I was six years old.

I grew up in a leafy suburb, not living extravegantly but having everything a young child needed. Love, affection and a world to explore. We had a nice home with a beautiful acre of forest surrounding it. A loving family of five with a mother who stayed home to raise the kids, volunteer at school, serve a family meal each night and be there to help us, comfort us and guide us when we needed. This was my reality. A wonderful reality and a beautiful, memorable childhood.

Yet, a family trip through inner Mexico in the late 1970s opened my eyes. Opened my eyes to how good we had it back in Minnesota and how hard other people had it around the world. We drove by comfortably in our station wagon while glancing out the windows. Then we saw how people lived. In flimsy, filthy shacks along the steep mountainous road. One hard rain and it was gone. One mistep and you were hit by a car. That image has remained in the back of my mind for over 30 years and it won’t go away.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve been blessed with more than I can possibly imagine. I went to college, studied abroad, pursued a career and followed my dreams of seeing the world. I’ve been to places that I never imagined possible from the southern tip of Patagonia to the mountains of Nepal. Yet in the depths of my heart, I am constantly reminded of the inequities and injustice in life each time I travel.  I can no longer turn blindly away from what I’ve seen. I’ve realized that travel is a gift and when you receive one, you must give something back in return.

Hence, I’ve dedicated my life to the gift of giving back.  

I give my time…

Volunteering with Javiar at a nursing home in Costa Rica.

I give my mind…

Advocating for UN Foundation Shot@Life with my children.

I give my heart…

Volunteering with under-privileged children in Guatemala.

I give my soul…

Before going to Nepal to follow my dreams of hiking the Himalayas, I raised enough money to build a reading center as a gift in return.

I give myself…

Nothing is more important than my family. I give my love, my life and my time to them.

There could be no better thing in this world to give than to get.

This post is in response to Giving Tuesday. To learn more about Giving Tuesday, click here.

SOCIAL GOOD

A new way to give back: Giving Tuesday

As an avid world traveler, advocate and global volunteer I’ve often found myself having a difficult time coming to terms with the inequities and injustice in the world. Often times, when I return from a trip abroad I find myself feeling a deep sadness and guilt about how much the “haves” truly have in this world and how much the “have-nots” are left out. Even in the United States, one of the richest, most prosperous countries in the world, we have a huge imbalance between rich and poor that continues to grow.

Volunteering with my little friends in Guatemala who were in an after-school program to help them with school and feed them a much-needed snack.

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The Child Survival Call to Action

Over the last month or so, my work as a Shot@Life Advocate for the UN Foundation’s campaign at vaccinating children in the world’s poorest countries has lead me to become active working with another impressive global advocacy group called Results.  Results is a grassroots organization lead mainly by a huge group of volunteer advocates who share one main goal:  An end to poverty around the world.  Their mission is “to create the public and political will to end poverty by empowering individuals to exercise their personal and political power for change”.

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We are the world. We are the children.

Why I support Shot@Life…..the children. 

By supporting and fundraising for Shot@Life, with the help of my friends we have raised over $1500 and counting which will be enough funds to vaccinate 72 children in developing countries for life. 

I am not finished.  There is still much work to be done and more money to be raised. 

I won’t give up.  

I have miles to walk before I sleep.

The number of children dying around the world due to lack of life-saving vaccines is equivalent to the half of the children in the United States entering Kindergarten this fall.

We are going to change this fact.

Here is a priceless video of Sophia’s practicing her song for yesterday’s preschool concert.  Click on link below to view.

We are the world.  We are the children.

We are the world.  We are the children.

We are the ones who make a brighter day so let’s keep giving.

There’s a choice we’re making.  We’re saving our own lives.

It’s true, we’ll make a brighter day just you and me.

Stay tuned….this wraps up my series for the UN Global Immunization Week and the launch of Shot@Life.  I will still be working hard to advocate and raise money and awareness for this amazing program.  It has been quite an experience.  I’m heading back to my regular posts ASAP.  Thanks for your continued support and comments!  Nicole

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