Tag Archive for 'Vestergaard Frandsen'

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’

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.

Cow Sh*t to Clean Water: The Reasons & Science Behind It

I didn’t drink purified cow feces to be sensationalist. I also don’t consider myself a stunt man. This quick video up on my secondary channel on YouTube shows some of the reasons why I did this particular experiment and some of the science behind why I was at virtually no risk in doing it.

Cow Sh*t to Clean Water

Thomas Hansen and the LifeStraw Family

FACT: Over 1.1 billion people (that’s more than 1 in every 6 human beings) don’t have access to safe drinking water. So what does that mean? Do they go thirsty? More often than not, it means getting water from contaminated sources of water. That includes rivers which, in the developing world, often are contaminated because it contains waste from farm animals upstream.

That can change – and all it would take is $1.66 per person, per year. The LifeStraw Family is a product I learned about during my recent trip to Kenya. I tagged along with Vestergaard Frandsen which, in addition to helping me come to Kenya, was giving away thousands of these water filters to rural villagers in Kakamega. I have a lot of respect for Vestergaard Frandsen but even I was a bit skeptical at the claims they made about the LifeStraw Family.

First, they claim that the LifeStraw Family uses nanotechnology to filter water down to 25 nanometers. Not only does it meet US EPA guidelines as a microbiological filter but, they claim – it exceeds them. Not even their smaller LifeStraw Personal water purifier (which I use and carry with me) is that advanced. And, unlike the LifeStraw Personal, this product is supposed to last 3 years for a family of five. All for a total cost of $25.

It sounded like BS. Oddly enough, while their claims do hold up, a lot of BS was involved in the making of this latest video.

Moooooo

For the more academic approach to testing this product, please check out these test results from a study by the University of Arizona. As always, Vestergaard Frandsen which did pay for my trip to Kenya, did not do so with the requirement that I endorse their products. If I got sick from this test, this would have been a very different video.

What Was My Emotional High Point?

All this talk about emotional toll has me wondering about what my emotional high points have been during this project. One of them has definitely been being able to make a meaningful difference in the life of one family over an extended period of time.

But, believe it or not, something actually edges that out as my emotional high point.

I actually hadn’t talked about it yet because I’m trying to leave as few spoilers on this site as possible for those who mostly follow my work through YouTube. So, if you want to be surprised when you watch my videos – don’t read the rest of this post. :)

It’s after the jump.

Continue reading ‘What Was My Emotional High Point?’