Tag Archive for 'Malaria'

The Rise of the Middle Man in Fundraising

On January 20th, Henry Green was born to John & Sarah Green. Henry’s parents, the generous spirits that they are, asked their friends, family, and well-wishers to forgo the standard deluge of baby presents. Instead, they asked people to make a donation to help fight malaria through Malaria No More.

Malaria No More is one of the world’s leading charities fighting malaria in Africa. For exactly $10, they can protect an entire sleeping site from malaria for up to five years. As of the writing of this post, donations on behalf of Henry Green are now enough to protect over 250 sleeping sites (or an estimated 1,000 people).

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, of the 250 sleeping sites that Malaria No More could be helping with this donation, only 231 sleeping sites will be served. That’s an estimated 75 people (most likely much more) that won’t be (but should be) sleeping under a mosquito net.

Find out more after the jump…

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Food for Thought

This year the banks and financial institutions receiving bailout money decided to hand out over $18 billion dollars in US Taxpayer Money in bonuses. Here’s some food for thought:

$18 Billion Dollars is twice the amount allotted for the mass transit stimulus package. That money would be used to shore up America’s roads and bridges – and help make sure that tragedies like the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota never happens again.

$18 billion dollars is also 12 times the amount needed to provide every man, woman, and child in Africa a long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito net that would protect them from malaria for 5 years or more.

Whether or not you think this is a convenient time to be worried about fighting global poverty, let’s never again say there isn’t enough money.

Using YouTube with a Purpose

I titled this video “Using YouTube with a Purpose” because, really, this couldn’t have been done without the help of a little website called YouTube and the community that is part of it (in particular the Nerdfighter community). From the donors Hank and Pat – both of whom are YouTubers – to the musicians who lent their music for free in this video such as Jamison Young, Brad Sucks, and Josh Woodward. And, here in Bangladesh, if Rick Davis never found my videos on YouTube – I would have never thought to make this trip nor would I have been able to meet the amazing children in this rural village.

If you notice in this video, I use a clip from one of my sadder videos – The Hard Lessons of Aid Work. That’s because, even though I don’t talk much about it in this video, I did learn a lot from this experience. I now have a better understanding about why big name charities need to have large overhead and infrastructure. I also have a better understanding of how help can sometimes come with a risk and how even trying to help can sometimes have it its pros and cons.

All that plus some photos from the field after the jump.

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Some Things Heal, Some Things Don’t

“So what did the doc say?” asked Rick as he put down his book and I re-entered his car. Rick had driven me to the doctor’s office so I could find out what the results were of my malaria test. “Well, I don’t have malaria” I said unsurprised. “So the doctor gave me some antibiotics to take for the next six days” I said as I held up the pack of 12 pills the doctor had given me.

I was happy to get this all sorted out and – hopefully – start to get better. But, I couldn’t also help but feel a bit sad. Literally, a five minute walk from the doctor’s office was my aunt’s apartment (the one that owns the European Standard School). Not only did this aunt not give me a place to stay while I sorted these medical issues out; but also, despite knowing how sick I was, they didn’t even bother to call to see how I’m doing.

My other aunt (the one who wistfully said “we’ll see” when I asked for a ride to the doctor’s office – but never got back to me) never even bothered to call back to see if I eventually did make it to the doctor. And my uncle who owns his own newspaper and his well-to-do children? Well, lets just say that I wouldn’t count on any of them to even bother showing up to my funeral.

I know this is all may come off as a bit melodramatic. Normally, I wouldn’t think about such issues. Normally, I’d be focusing on my project and my work here in Bangladesh. But, ever since I’ve been sick, I haven’t got much work done. And the lack of support I’ve been getting from most of my family here has kind of shaken me up. Fortunately, the kindness of strangers and the support I have back home means this project is in no danger anytime soon :)

Tested for Malaria – WTF?!?

Of all the diseases I thought the doctor might do a blood test on – typhoid, cholera, measles, or mumps – he decides to test me for malaria. I guess that’s because, given my symptoms, if its not malaria – whatever I have can probably treated with antibiotics.

Test results come in at 5 pm – I’ll let you guys know what happens. I’m not that worried…

World Malaria Day

Did you know that one day’s worth of Pentagon spending ($1.5 Billion US Dollars) would be enough to protect every man, woman, and child in Africa from malaria for five years? Don’t take my word for it – Dr. Jeffrey Sachs was the one who did the math on that. We can create a world free from malaria. It is never been easier to achieve and the need has never been more pressing.

In this latest episode I go into further detail about some of the mosquito nets I distributed in episode one. I also show excerpts of my interview with a Catholic Priest who got infected with malaria 38 times (twice of which was cerebral malaria). This is the same footage I was trying to mail out of the country for use by an advocacy organization based in Switzerland. Incidentally, I was finally able to send that footage to Switzerland afterall. I was able to give the tape to one of my uncles who was flying to Singapore. He then mailed it to Switzerland from there. Take that evil Draconian export laws of Bangladesh!

Mosquito Killed by PermaNet

I also go into more detail about the PermaNets donated to me by Vestergaard-Frandsen. I’ve talked about PermaNets before and I can’t recommend them enough. These nets do work. The PermaNet over my bed has scrapped up against splinters and nails – but it hasn’t ripped. These nets are also treated with a long-lasting insecticide which is harmless to humans but kill mosquitos when they come into contact with the net. The reason the insecticide is long-lasting is because it is manufactured into the net in a way that won’t wash away. Rather, it will stay at an effective concentration level for years.

This World Malaria Day why not consider donating a PermaNet? You don’t even need to give me a dime to do so. Just check the recommended charities section of this site for a list of charities that distirbute PermaNets. And, as always, I was not paid or required to endorse any of the companies that I talk about (including Vestergaard-Frandsen).

“No Good Deed…” – The Trouble of Raising Awareness in Bangladesh

As soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew something was wrong. I was in a DHL shipping office in Dhaka City. Just outside was a dusty back-alley full of the pungent aroma that can only be caused by the mixture of open sewers and rotting garbage. Inside, however, was an office that wouldn’t seem out of place in any major modern city – complete with porcelain white walls, fancy computers, and various scanning equipment. The contrast was quite surreal. It was only the look on the DHL guy’s face that reminded me just exactly where I was.

“Umm…. what is this?” he asked as he picked up and examined what I had just put on the counter. Now, I was the one with a confused look. Even across the counter, I could still see the object – clearly labeled: ‘SONY DV Tape’.

“It’s a tape”
I answered.

“A tape of what?”
the DHL guy asked. Taken somewhat aback by the question, I answered, “an interview”.

“An interview of what?”
the DHL guy asked. This exchange continued back and forth in ever increasing personal questions (what’s it for? why are you sending this? what’s it going to be used for?) until finally the DHL guy said “Sorry, we can’t ship this”. In hindsight, I probably would have got hassled less if I had been asking to ship a pound of cocaine and a loaded gun. Because, in this small South Asian country, one of the most controlled and restricted items for export is video footage.

For the average visitor to this country, Bangladesh seems like a fairly open country. Most people can come off a plane, go through customs, and vacation in places like Cox’s Bazar (the world’s longest unbroken beach) with relatively little hassle (and take their tourist videos back home with them). But, for those trying to make a difference here – whether it be helping the poor or raising awareness about poverty – the government of Bangladesh makes it as hard as possible. The only reason I’ve been able to do what I’m doing without interference – for the most part – is because I’ve been able to be small scale enough to stay under the radar.

But this was one of those times I had bumped into some hurdles. It all started with my recent trip to Jalchatra, Bangladesh where I encountered a Catholic priest who got infected by malaria. He got infected not once, not twice… but nearly forty times during an eleven year period. Two of those infections were cerebral malaria – a disease so dangerous it can cause death in just under a week. I interviewed him on camera (which I’ll put on YouTube in the future) but I also thought this might be footage worth sharing on a global scale for World Malaria Day this coming April. A contact of mine in Switzerland, was more than willing to take a copy of the raw footage and use it as part of their global awareness campaign.

Unfortunately, getting this footage to him is proving to be next to impossible. Unless I can pass this tape onto someone who is flying out of the country (so they can put it in their carry-on as tourist footage) than this tape will never reach Switzerland. I’d like to say that this problem is just an unintended consequence of a draconian law. But, in reality, it’s footage like this that the Bangladesh government wishes to stop. Journalists and aid workers are among the most scrutinized people in the country. While poverty in Bangladesh is no secret, some of the regions with the most suffering (such as the Chittagong Hill-Tracts, where this priest was repeatedly infected by malaria) are closed off to foreigners without express written permission.

This also isn’t the first time I’ve run into trouble with customs while trying to do my independent aid work. In one of my YouTube videos, I briefly touch upon the fact that some of my aid items were being held in customs despite being legal items of shipment. I eventually was able to retrieve these items after giving over $100 USD in bribes (aka “commissions” as the bureaucrats call them). The more time I spend on the ground in Bangladesh, the more I am convinced that ending poverty not only requires mobilizing governments abroad into action – but also ending the intentional immobilization caused by the local governments right here in the developing world.