May 20th, 2013 12:25 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This piece, by 1,000 Days Executive Director Lucy Martinez Sullivan, was originally posted on Future Fortified’s blog.
In my job as the executive director of 1,000 Days, I am an advocate for mothers and children around the world. But it wasn’t until I learned I was pregnant last year and then finally welcomed my first child, Beatrice, that I actually started living first-hand the 1,000 Days mission – to ensure that mothers and babies get the right nutrition, right from the start.
Being responsible for my little one’s own nutrition has been one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had. Knowing full well the impact that nutrition during Beatrice’s early years can have on the rest of her life has made my awareness of the 1,000 day “window of opportunity” take on a whole new meaning.
The funny thing is, the academic papers and rigorous studies I so frequently read haven’t necessarily been my guides since becoming a new mother – instead, it’s been my sister, other mums in my neighborhood, co-workers and mummy bloggers who’ve helped me figure out the answers to some seemingly basic questions: how to use a breast pump, how often should I breastfeed, and whether fruits are appropriate at 6 months.
Beatrice has grown tremendously – in both size and personality – during her first 6 months. I know that her healthy growth and start to life is due to my ability to eat right during my pregnancy, exclusively breastfeed her in her first 6 months, and recently start her on the right kinds of nutritious solid foods. Her new favorite foods include eggs and avocado, in addition to breast milk!
The right nutrition will be critical as Beatrice continues to grow and learn about the world around her and, luckily for me, the community of mothers that I am now a part of will help me along the way. And also along that way, we’ll not only nourish my daughter and her future, but our future as well.
Let’s make sure that mothers around the world have the information, resources and support they need to ensure that their children are eating healthy foods in the first part of life. Sign our petition and urge world leaders to make measurable commitments to end chronic malnutrition.
About the Author: Lucy Sullivan is the Executive Director of 1,000 Days, a non-profit organisation dedicated to targeted action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and young children during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to age 2, when better nutrition can have a lifelong impact on a child’s future and help break the cycle of poverty.
May 15th, 2013 12:12 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This week is Children’s Book Week which aims to instill a lifelong love of reading in children.
Our US intern Brittany Walters has tracked down six great books that tackle serious issues like HIV and globalisation, which can help young people develop an understanding of the world around them through storytelling. You can buy them all online too.
A coming of age story about Gabby, a young girl who signs up for an AIDS Walk in her city. She turns to her community to fundraise and is unstoppable on her journey to make a difference. Throughout the story, Gabby comes to terms with what AIDS is and why people come together to support causes that effect others.
This is a story about Rehema, a young girl who lives in Tanzania. When she was a baby, Rehema was infected with malaria, but because her parents were able to get treatment for her, she survived. In the book, Rehema describes what children in rich countries can do to help fight malaria.
Ithemba becomes more hopeful for his own parents with HIV when he commits to help his neighbour and best friend remember to take her ARVs regularly.
An excellent tool for parents, this book helps to create a platform in which to discuss pressing life issues, such as sickness, death, honesty and respect. Rachel is a 7-year-old girl in a small town in Africa that is struck by malaria. As tragedy hits her household, her special relationship with the Lion helps her cope and find inner strength through understanding grief, conflict, and truth.
This true story of a girl from Africa, written by her adoptive mother Hijltje Vink, and deals with the day to day social and emotional challenges of a child and family living with HIV. The book addresses the stigma of living with HIV and the importance of the ARV medication regime to “keep the dragon sleeping” and remain healthy.
In this whimsically drawn and thoughtfully told story, children learn what it means to be global by visiting the pyramids, eating sushi, celebrating Kwanzaa, and learning how to say “hello” in Swahili. The book is a conversation starter for parents and educators to teach children about the goodness in exploring, appreciating, and respecting other children’s traditions, religions, and values the world over.
Do you have a book you’d like to recommend? Share it with us in a comment below.
May 13th, 2013 4:19 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Our guest blogger today is the MTV Africa VJ, singer and activist from Tanzania, Vanessa Mdee. Writing as an ambassador for the GAVI Alliance, her post celebrates the recent news that the HPV vaccine to protect women and girls from cervical cancer is set to drop in price for 50 of the world’s poorest countries.
I’m trying to think of the first time my mother had ‘The Talk’ (yes the birds and the bees talk) with me. The talk that I’d heard my friends refer to as the most embarrassing moment of their lives, the talk that officially indicted you into teen-hood, the talk that signified your maturity – your parents decided you were old enough to speak of natural human interaction between a man and a woman. I’m still eagerly awaiting this talk.
Now don’t be fooled, my mother knows all too well that I’m aware of physical interaction. Not because I told her but because she’s got that sixth sense like all mothers do. Besides, I am of age and slightly adventurous (for lack of a better word).
I gather I never put my parents in a place where they felt the need to have this conversation with me. I did after all grow up in a Muslim turned every Sunday church-going Roman Catholic home – where I obviously wasn’t having sex. My parents were right – not because I was holier than the next but the mere thought of them finding out crippled me. You see, growing up in an African home as exposed and worldly as my upbringing was, meant certain things were not discussed. This remains the case to date. My line of work has allowed me to converse intimately with young African women and girls, and their stories are similar. Sex talk is a no go.
When I started DynamitesMission – my awareness blog sponsored by UNAIDS and MTV’s Staying Alive – I wanted to lend my voice and extend my ear to the streets. I was learning about grassroots organisations and their efforts to educate their communities. I was moved and in turn spoke from my perspective – pretty layman but clear to other laymen.
A year in, I get a BBM from one of my best friends Michelle. It read, ‘ You’re trying to tell me that above all the heartache we take from these men, they also pass HPV (the virus that causes cervical cancer) to us?’ – I chuckled and said ‘ Yes Elle, they do – talk about short end of the stick’. Many women are unaware of cervical cancer and HPV, mostly about how exposed we are to the virus through our everyday interaction.
My first personal encounter with cervical cancer was in my early teens. My aunt was diagnosed with it at a very late stage and when her health deteriorated I remember wondering what she had done to deserve this and why the meds weren’t working. I kept asking my father – why she wasn’t getting better. Only to properly understand the severity as she passed away after being bed ridden for two weeks.
When a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer in Tanzania there is a 70% chance she will not survive. Experts agree that the low survival rate is due to late diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare provider. It wasn’t until I was approached by GAVI that I found out that there now is a vaccine and that if administered early (before young women become sexually active) then we can ensure a brighter future for our women and decrease the numbers of cervical cancer cases.
Young women need to be aware of these opportunities that can be availed but most importantly the knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer – I truly believe these formative years will define their sexual reproductive health and nurture a generation of healthier women. It starts with open communication about sex and sexual reproductive health.
2013 is the beginning of a dramatic shift in women’s health. A record low price for a HPV vaccine has been negotiated by GAVI for the 50+ countries eligible for GAVI support (including my home country, Tanzania), opening the door for millions of girls in the world’s poorest countries to be immunized against a devastating women’s cancer.
This not only is the beginning of a shift in the overall eradication of cervical cancer but a new dawn for young African women around the continent. An opportunity that myself and many other young African women did not have.
It breaks my heart to see lives cut short due to ailments. In Africa these losses happen often and deprive our societies. It’s about time proper healthcare is administered for all, especially the future generation. GAVI is making this possible by pioneering the administration of the HPV vaccine. Giving my younger sisters a chance – that’s one less killer to worry about.
Find out more about the great news on the price drop for HPV vaccines on the GAVI Alliance website.
May 7th, 2013 12:49 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
What happens when you provide creative young Africans with the tools to make their own electronic music? US University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hip-hop professors and artists Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid) and Pierce Freelon traveled to Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo to find out.
The Beat Making Lab, a project that builds youth-oriented music studios in cultural centers around the world, started as a college course in America. In the class, students are taught the practical, historical and entrepreneurial aspects of beat making. Stephen and Pierce soon realised that their project could have a more profound impact if applied to some of the world’s poorest places.
With the ultimate goal of empowering young musicians, the professors came up with a model to raise money for equipment, provide their expertise in a two-week programme, then leave the studios behind for sustainable community use. Since that moment of realisation, they’ve set up beat labs in some pretty interesting places: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Panama, and soon Fiji.
ONE intern Hannah got the chance to ask Pierce Freelon some questions about their Africa projects specifically, and learn more about how they’ve created a global do-it-yourself digital music community.
How does providing studio space and the tools and training to make beats and songs create a social impact?
When youth are engaged in something positive and productive, it has residual influence on the community. They are collaborating, growing and building something which strengthens solidarity, self-esteem and “pamoja”, a Kiswahili word that means “oneness”. They are also learning a new skillset. Our students are becoming fluent in software and technologies that will allow them to work as producers, engineers, mixers or technicians in recording studios or live settings. All of this creates positive social impact.
Why do you think it is important for African youth to learn how to make beats?
I think it’s important for all youth, everywhere, to have creative outlets to express themselves. That’s why we partner with vibrant cultural institutions around the world – they already get this fundamental point. Kids that have creative and constructive outlets are better off than those that don’t. It doesn’t have to be beat making. It could be painting, choir, break dancing, skateboarding, football, etc. As long as they’re passionate about it, something good will come out of them investing in it.
How did you come up with the idea of taking your Beat Making Lab to Africa? What was your inspiration for this new initiative?
When I was asked to co-teach the class, I was intrigued by the prospects of building a community music studio and taking the resources of the university to a place where the entrepreneurship and skills could serve a larger purpose than giving college students three credit hours.
Are Africans using music as a way to promote social change? What kinds of issues and emotions are they trying to communicate?
The same kinds of issues and emotions that youth everywhere try to communicate. Our students write about festivals, war, love, health, their families, friends, favorite dances. Some of our Congolese students rapped about conflict, politics and change in their verses, because many of them are living in situations where those topics are a daily issue. Meanwhile our Senegalese students, tended to focus more on friends, family and health, because that was a part of their daily experience.
They are producing all kinds of music: dancehall, reggae, hip hop, EDM, R&B, etc.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with taking your Beat Making Lab from the States to Africa?
Electricity was a big issue in Goma. The power grid fluctuated and was not reliably consistent. We also struggled with providing enough resources to all of the students who wanted to participate. We were only able to work with about 16 to 20 students, but there were more than 100 who applied.
In Senegal, our biggest challenge was providing transportation for our students from their homes to the studio and back. We want our kids to have easy access to the resources we provide but sometimes it’s hard when the youth are so spread out.
How do you pick who takes your class in Africa? Is it a first-come, first-served sign up? Are there any prerequisites?
There are no prerequisites. That’s one of the beautiful things about our programme. All you need is a willingness to work hard. We rely on our partnering institutions to select the students. We ask them to select six to 12 diverse and creative youth. No previous musical experience is required, only the desire to learn.
How do your African students share their songs and continue to create an impact after you leave?
Internet is notoriously slow in Congo. I’m talking slower than your grandmother’s dial-up. So, sharing songs over the internet has been challenging with our students there. We’re working on moving to a cloud-based data transfer system, so tracks can be uploaded pieces at a time, without having to start over if the lights go out.
We’ve also considered a snail mail system, where they can ship hard drives full of their beats and sessions to a place with better bandwidth for upload. Email and Facebook, which require less bandwidth, have been more usable. Several of the students have continued to publish blogs, and other writings, leading to fairly substantial opportunities for them to share their stories.
As far as continuing to create impact, our studios and equipment remain in Dakar and Goma and the kids have continued to write songs and collaborate with local musicians in the community. It’s been great.
Can you tell us a little bit about your own musical backgrounds?
Apple Juice Kid is a drummer, DJ and music producer who has produced for Wale, Azealia Banks, Camp Lo and Mos Def. I am the frontman of a hip hop and jazz quartet called The Beast.
Our Fijian Beat Making Lab starts in May and we’re excited about working with a group of students at the Oceania Centre there. After that, we hope to get the funding to continue our work. If you’re interesting in learning more, want to bring a beat making lab you your community or want to contribute to the cause, hit us up here.
What is the biggest lesson you hope your students take away from your beat making class/workshop?
Follow your passions and work hard. Only you can tell your story.
Apr 26th, 2013 5:51 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Ricardo Cortés Lastra is a Member of the European Parliament, and Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Group. He is an active member of the Development Committee where he acts as the Coordinator for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats. He is also part of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
This week we are celebrating World Immunization Week. What better occasion to look back on progress made, but also to look at challenges for scaling up and improving child health?
Every day 19,000 children die, mainly of preventable diseases, although the world has made progress over the last 25 years. A 40% reduction in child deaths from 12 million in 1990 to 6.2 million in 2011 demonstrates our ability to implement effective programs that have the power to save thousands of lives.
Nevertheless, most of these 6.2 million child deaths could be prevented through the provision of an integrated program of high-impact, low-cost interventions, especially focusing on maternal and child health during the first thousand days, from conception until the age of two.
This essential service package includes interventions such as pre- and post- natal check-ups, immunizations, promoting exclusive breastfeeding for six months and timely introduction of adequate complementary foods, access to treatment for basic childhood disease, and improved sanitation. If these interventions, which have been shown to be affordable and effective in reducing child mortality, are delivered at scale they could have the power to save millions of lives.
Investing in child health not only saves lives, it also makes sense economically. Because some of the most effective interventions are cheap to deliver and are implemented early in a child’s life, they have a very high return on investment (as the amount spent on the child will be very small when spread out over a child’s life). For example, encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for six months costs very little, but can reduce a child’s chance of death from diarrhea and pneumonia by more than half. Providing micronutrient supplements or fortified foods to children can reduce anaemia, which improves a child’s physical and cognitive development and allows the child to reach his or her full potential. It is estimated that maternal and newborn mortality costs countries nearly $15 billion in lost productivity. Countries with high levels of under-nutrition lose 2-3% of their GDP each year.
We know what works, and many countries have successfully reduced maternal and child mortality, as well as under-nutrition. Brazil managed to reduce stunting from 36.1% to 7% over a 20- year period by investing in an integrated programme (the largest cash transfer programme in the world), which included cash transfers to poor families with children on the condition they had their children vaccinated, participated in growth monitoring, and sent their children to school.
However, despite evidence that we know what interventions are effective, many countries are still struggling. Interventions that tackle only one aspect of health cannot effectively tackle child mortality. For instance, delivering improved nutrition alone will not improve a child’s nutritional status if they are constantly contracting diseases from poor sanitation.
We must scale up our support to global initiatives, such as the GAVI Alliance, that have shown their effectiveness. The GAVI Alliance helps strengthen routine health systems as well as increasing access to life saving vaccines in poor countries. In a complementary approach, we must invest in integrated health sector programs, especially while promoting free health care at the point of use for essential services.
If integrated, coordinated programs are implemented in an effective way, they will reach as much of the population as possible, including the poorest and hardest to reach. Again, Brazil is a good example, reducing stunting in the poorest segment of society from 59% to 11%. Interventions must reach the entire population, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to effectively reduce child mortality and under-nutrition.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring about a substantial decline in child mortality and improve child survival, thus breaking intergenerational cycles and helping to enable all people to reach their full potential. We need to show the political will necessary to ensure every child reaches his or her fifth birthday.
Mar 8th, 2013 9:14 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
To celebrate International Women’s Day we’ve picked some of our favourite images and matched them up with facts to show why investing in women and girls is so important here at ONE.
Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing this post with your friends and family.
And make sure you tell the women and girls in your life that they are awesome.
Education: United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990; UNESCO Education Statistics; UNICEF, Millennium Development Goals: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Agriculture: IFAD (2001) Assessment of Rural Poverty: Western and Central Africa; The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies; USAID, Women in Development: Country Snapshot: Kenya and Agriculture & Micro-enterprise
Employment: Phil Borges (2007) Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World. New York; World Bank (2008) Doing Business: Women in Africa; United Nations Development Programme
Politics: D. Dollar, R. Fisman and R. Gatti, Are Women Really the ‘Fairer’ Sex? Corruption and Women in Government, Policy Research Report on Gender and Development Working Paper Series No. 4; Africa Progress Report (2012) Jobs, Justice and Equity – Seizing Opportunities in Times of Global Change
Sep 27th, 2012 10:25 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
In this blog post, former UK Prime Minister and newly appointed UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown explains how activists can help provide every child in the world with a decent education through a new UN initiative, Education First.
Education, we all know, is the foundation of a better life –- not just for the individual concerned, but for whole communities, whole societies, whole economies. Yet 61 million children around the world do not go to primary school. That’s 61 million young people denied their chance to learn, grow and prosper. And denied their right to hope.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked me to become his Special Envoy for Global Education. In this role I will be rallying support from governments, businesses, NGOs, foundations, schools – but I also want support from you.
There is hope for the 61 million children out of school. There is hope because this is not a complex problem to solve – we know how to build schools, how to train teachers. We just need the force of our will to make it happen.
Watch our video to find out why I believe there is reason to be hopeful. Add your voice to our campaign now -– visit www.educationenvoy.org and sign up.
Sep 14th, 2012 11:06 AM UTC
By Erin Hohlfelder
Every year, I look forward to September because it brings with it a few of my favorite things: cooler weather, pumpkin- and cinnamon-flavored everything, the return of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football team, and my own birthday. This year, September has also brought one of the nerdiest of joys a girl could hope for: a shiny new data set bearing great news about the progress we’ve made in global health. In this case, UNICEF and its partners released today a report showing that the world has yet again made incredible headway in reducing the number of preventable child deaths around the world. Specifically, an estimated 6.9 million children died before the age of five in 2011, down from 12 million in 1990 and 8.2 million in 2005. Viewed another way, the rate of decline in the under-five mortality rate has nearly doubled in the last two decades, accelerating from 1.8% globally in the 1990s to 3.2% globally in the 2000s.
Children at Dukawuya Special Primary School, Nigeria
This decline is not coincidental. Over the course of the last decade—and particularly in the last few years—world leaders have devoted increasing attention and resources to improving child health. We’ve seen historic increases in the delivery of cost-effective interventions including bednets to protect against malaria, routine immunization, antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and nutritious foods and micronutrients. Affected country governments and their health workers have become better at diagnosing and treating pneumonia and diarrhea. And scientists have developed new tools, including vaccines to fight rotavirus and pneumococcal, aimed directly at two of the biggest killers of kids in the developing world. Global ONE members have lent their voices to a global choir campaigning on these issues, supporting important mechanisms like the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund, and bilateral programs providing other critical health services. The report out today shows that these collective investments have driven real, life-saving change in communities and countries around the world.
It is of course a a strange experience, though, to write a blog celebrating a decline in deaths when the report also clearly highlights that so many children—more than 19,000 every day—continue to die from entirely preventable causes. And we should not allow global progress to distract us from a number of concerning regional and local trends. Child mortality is increasingly concentrated in two regions, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and in 5 countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and China. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 9 children still dies before the age of 5, and in many countries around the world, positive national trends mask troubling inequities. UNICEF’s report shows that children born into the poorest fifth of households are nearly twice as likely to die as those born into the richest fifth of households, and that children born into households where the mother has no education are nearly three times as likely to die as those born into households where the mother has received secondary education.
These data points are worrisome. Yet another data set within the report should give us hope: 9 low-income countries—Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, and Rwanda—have reduced their under-five mortality rates by 60% or more since 1990. That incredibly exciting degree of progress achieved by these 9 diverse countries with limited resources shows us what is possible when the appropriate political will, scale up of services, and financial commitments are applied together in support of children’s health. This September, my birthday wish is that we could continue to learn from these 9 countries, applying what lessons they can teach us and extending those lessons into the toughest-to-reach communities, so that together we can ensure that in the future every child can celebrate a happy and healthy fifth birthday.
Sep 7th, 2012 4:39 PM UTC
By Lauren Pfeifer
My grandmother was an English teacher, a poet and a lover of books. She gave me The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Little Women, Where the Sidewalk Ends and My Antonia.
She turned me into a voracious reader, but the books she gave me were part of a much more essential gift: the ability to read. Literacy is not to be taken for granted. An estimated 130 million boys and girls living in developing countries, aged 15 to 24, are unable to read.
While progress has been made putting children in primary school over the past 20 years, much more must be done to ensure that all children receive the education and tools they need to grow into literate and thriving adults.
A quality education is the basis for a healthier, more prosperous life. The Global Partnership for Education (which you might remember from our blog posts late last year) is helping to close the gap in children’s education in developing countries.
Today, on the eve of International Literacy Day, the Global Partnership is launching the Reading Changed My Life Photo and Video contest. From today through November 7th, share a picture or record a short video that illustrates how reading has changed your life, or the life of someone you know.
Submit your entries through the website, The Global Partnership Facebook page, or on Twitter by tweeting @GPforEducation with hashtag #readingcontest and including your name, your country and how reading changed your life.
On November 7, 2012, vote for your favorite entries. The top 5 photos and top 5 videos will win e-readers and be eligible to win photo and video equipment.
The gift of reading touches us all on a very personal level, and I know our members have some great stories to share. So go to www.readingchangedmylife.org to submit your story, or that of someone you know.
May 12th, 2011 10:00 PM UTC
By Emily Alpert
Driving down a bumpy and barely navigable road in Malawi, we arrived at the Mawango School, greeted by tons of school children with beaming smiles.
“Look at those round cheeks, beautiful smiles,” remarked Florence from the Ministry of Education who joined ONE’s site visit. “The children are happy because they have taken their porridge.” At this school feeding program, run by the World Food Programme, the 777 students at Mawango are guaranteed a bowl of porridge made from a corn-soya blend, sweetened with sugar and fortified with essential nutrients.
Girls and orphaned boys also get a monthly take-home ration conditioned on 80% attendance. Some of this food is grown by Malawian farmers and delivered by the WFP through their Purchase for Progress program. So the WFP is helping to feed the undernourished, helping to keep kids -– especially girls -– in school, and improve the livelihoods of Malawian small-scale maize farmers.
Photos by Morgana Wingard
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.