Archive for the 'Vestergaard Frandsen' Category

Open Letter & Appeal to Charities in Bangladesh

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Image via AFP

Although not anywhere near as bad as Cyclone Sidr which hit Bangladesh in 2007, Cyclone Alia has already killed 100 over 200 people with many more displaced and without access to shelter or clean & safe drinking water. I want to help – but I might as well be back in my bed in Canada because that goal is so very far away.

I need a hero.

Nick Downie (Save the Children) On the Boat with Me

Nick Downie (2007)

I was able to help during Cyclone Sidr because of someone who is now a personal hero of mine. His name is Nick Downie. Back during Cyclone Sidr, he was working for Save the Children UK. In the midst of all this death and trauma, Nick saw the sincerity in my desire to help… and gave me the opportunity.

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Helping Kids with Save the Children

Thanks to him approximately 35 children at a Save the Children Safe Center were provided with blankets to sleep under in advance of the winter season that was quickly approaching. Without any homes or shelter, those blankets were the only way many of those children & families were able to stay warm that winter. I’m willing to help again and have even more to offer this time.

One LifeStraw = Clean Water For One Year

One LifeStraw = Clean Water For A Year

Thanks to Vestergaard-Frandsen I have 45 personal water purification units. These can turn water from any salt-free source (a pond, a river, a lake) and turn it into safe drinking water. I have 10 insecticide treated tarpaulins – useful as shelter and to keep disease spread by bugs away. I also have donations from over 22 different countries ready to be spent. But I have no means to help anyone just by myself.

I need a hero again.

Thus far, my friends at Save the Children are working up the various chains of command trying to see if I can team up again. No word yet – but I am hopeful. A friend at the American International School helped me network with the Deputy Country Director of Care Bangladesh. The Deputy Country Director thanked me for the offer – and then politely denied my request.

I am ready willing, and able to go to the field right away. I know it’s not going to be a glamorous experience. Last time I went, the “toilet” was nothing more than a hole in the ground and my “bed” was nothing more than two abandoned school desks put together. I don’t ask for much except the opportunity to get out there, help, and share the story with those interested in following along.

It’s disasters like Cyclone Alia that highlight a painful reality for me here in Bangladesh. Charities are more than happy for people like me to raise awareness & funds for them back home. But doing the same with them on the ground is a completely different reality – and the majority of charities haven’t given me the time of day to even consider the possibility.

Now more than ever, I need someone to help me so I can help others.

The Final Year?

I plan to make a new video in the next few days – which will be more of a vlog. In it I’ll be mentioning that, unless I can find a way to make my project financially sustainable, by this time next year I will (most likely) have to end this project.

With the exception of Vestergaard-Frandsen‘s help getting me to Kenya for a couple of weeks, all the expenses of this project (airfare, living expenses, equipment, etc) have been paid by my life savings and by borrowing from my family. I ran my life savings dry halfway through last year and, to keep going, I’ve been borrowing from family to do this project. My dad has been the biggest source of financial support but it looks like he’s planning to retire in about a year’s time.

It was two years ago – almost to the day – that I filed my withdrawal papers at Notre Dame. Back then, I never thought this project would for go on for so long. Now, I don’t want it to end. There are so many exciting ideas rolling around in my head. I’d need more than a year just to do even half the stuff I’m dreaming of. But honestly? Not many people have parents as supportive as mine. Even if I can only do this for another twelve months, I should still consider myself a lucky guy.

Over the next twelve months, I’m going to go ahead full-steam and I’m still accepting donations (which continue to be for the poor – not for my living expenses, equipment, or airfare). But, on top of it all, I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for ways to keep this project going into next year. So far, YouTube partnership money has been ridiculously small – not even enough to cover a single month’s expenses. But, I’m hoping if there is a will there will be a way. I mean, Matt Harding was able to get the support of a gum company to help him dance around the world – twice! Surely, there is a way for me to keep this journey of fighting global poverty going 🙂

Christmas Wish List

Santa sitting and waving

... Maybe Next Year

Santa’s not putting anything underneath the tree this year unfortunately. In fact, this past year, there have been no birthday presents, nothing for the holidays, and definitely no surprises. Between my parents helping me replace my busted external harddrive, helping provide the airline points so I could meet Hank and John in Texas, and helping me return to Bangladesh in the new year – they have been supporting me as much as they can.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things on my wish-list. In this blog post, I’ll list some of the things that would make a huge difference in this project. However this isn’t a ploy at Christmas-time cyberbegging because the most of the things on this list require a Christmas miracle (or two).

Click the jump for the list…

Continue reading ‘Christmas Wish List’

Thank You YouTube

For this year’s Project for Awesome, I decided to pull out all the stops and show you guys a lot of the stuff I’ve been doing but haven’t had the time to put into individual episodes or videos. I keep saying that this project is less about me and more about the community behind it – hopefully this latest video helps convey that.

And, yeah, this video does use copyrighted music by Coldplay (part of EMI Records). I did enough research into YouTube’s agreement with EMI Records and am fairly certain this video won’t be taken down. But, of course, I also had to forfeit any chance of earning any ad revenue and (as I later found out) any reasonable chance of having this video being featured or promoted. EMI can also reserve the right to take down this video, region lock it, or place ads on it where they can earn all the ad revenue from it (just like the Counting Crows & Universal Music have region locked my Cyclone Sidr video and take all the ad revenue from it).

But that’s cool. This was a kind of video I wanted to make for ages. I just never could find the right match of visuals and music until I heard “Life in Technicolor ii” by Coldplay.

What I Was Doing In Kenya

So what was I doing in Kenya? I had mentioned before that I had tagged along with Vestergaard-Frandsen. It turns out that the CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen decided to single-handedly create the world’s largest privately funded global health campaign.

It was so big, in fact, that even CNN decided to cover it:

The way I see it, the CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen basically packed his bags, liquidated a huge part of his personal savings, and went to Kenya to see how he could make a difference. Why does that sound familiar? 😉

I definitely feel a kinship with Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen – and his willingness to spend his own dime to do this is one of the many reasons I am proud to support these guys in whatever way I can.