A Gift In the Spirit of Giving

With the holiday season upon us, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Between holiday parties and gift shopping, we often forget those in our communities and around the world who may be left without gifts or life necessities such as clean water this holiday season and in the new year. In December 2005 (the latest available census Canada data), Canadians spent $36.8 billion on shopping in the month of December, or $845 per average consumer (http://www42.statcan.ca/smr08/2006/smr08_069_2006-eng.htm).

As we often rush to the mall to find the perfect gift, we rarely expand our creativity beyond things we can wrap. Though not as flashy as a traditional gift basket, a goat can provide a family and their community with a source of nourishment and income. More beautiful than a bouquet of flowers are the yearly blossoms and fruit of a mango tree. As we fill out glasses with festive drink, we must remember those who cannot afford to fill theirs with clean water. These are just a few of the gift ideas made available through Plan Canada to help those in need.

During this holiday season, and festive occasions throughout the year, think outside the gift box and purchase gifts at the store that never goes out of style: charity

Here are a few organizations with charitable gift ideas:

Plan Canada: http://plancanada.ca/
http://plancanada.ca/giftsofhope/default.asp?WT.mc_id=QFY12_DM_GOHACATLEG

Unicef: https://secure3.convio.net/uncfca/site/Ecommerce?store_id=1201&s_src=UNC_Google_EN&s_locale=en_CA&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=SEM_PAID_Gifts

World Vision: https://catalogue.worldvision.ca/Gifts/Forms/Home.aspx?mc=4260188&lang=en&gclid=CN-Vzs_Ipa0CFYHrKgoddj0p6A

Global Giving: http://www.globalgiving.org/holiday-gift-guide/?rf=twtr&utm_campaign=retail&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=2011-12-06-12-28-00

CKi: http://www.challengedkids.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=58

Canada Helps: http://www.canadahelps.org/GiftCards/CharityGiftCardAlt.aspx

Oxfam: http://www.oxfamunwrapped.ca/

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

from CKi

give thoughtfully, receive thankfully 

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WHO Launches Online Tool to Help Combat Malnutrition

The World Health Organization has launched eLENA — e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions — as an online tool to help combat global malnutrition. This web-based initiative provides guidance for life saving nutrition interventions to assist governments and healthcare provides fighting malnutrition.

The library has aims to address the most prevalent types of malnutrition: overweight, obesity, under-nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Billions of people are globally affected by malnutrition on a daily basis. Thousands of scientific research papers have been combed through to bring the most pertinent and up-to-date information to help prevent this enormous non-communicable disease burden.

You can explore eLENA at http://www.who.int/elena/en/

Lets solve malnutrition, in our lifetime.

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

Equal Rights for Disabled People in Developing Countries to Safe Water& Accessible Toilets

Using a dirty washroom can be a real challenge. This is the kind of defy I face when I travel and work overseas. Each time, I think I am a lucky girl, imaging what it would be like if I were disabled!

Disabled people represent the largest socially excluded group across the world. In many cases, they live without access to basic toilets, thus exacerbating poverty and lack of dignity. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the world’s first report on disability, showing that over a billion people—15% of the world’s population—are disabled, a large majority of whom living in developing countries.

Interestingly, disabled people have historically been excluded from development work and research. One of the best examples is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/). How can we impact significantly the different facets of global poverty, if there is not a specific focus on the poorest of the poor—i.e. the disabled.

Disability is less about health and far more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare, and malnutrition can all lead to disabling conditions. For this reason, the WHO report puts safe water and sanitation at the centre of helping to prevent disability and poverty.

Accessible toilets enable disabled people to be independent and lead healthier, more dignified lives. Simple adaptations can make a world of difference, allowing a disabled person to use a latrine rather than needing to defecate in the open. This would help to put an end to poor health and debilitating diarrhea.

WaterAid (http://www.wateraid.org/) is committed to ensuring access for all and breaking down the barriers that face disabled people.

To read more about the different initiatives undertaken by WaterAid and how simple ideas and technology can change lives and re-establish a person in society, go to:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/barbara-frost/un-persons-with-disabilities-_b_1125699.html

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

‘International Girls’ Day’ Gets A Final Push

We are almost there! The resolution was adopted by consensus at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and will go to the full Assembly for adoption the week of December 19th.

Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been a long standing supporter of an international day dedicated to girls. She said it would help bring to light the issues of girls before governments, media, and educational institutions. “Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues.”

Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies, a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger, and disease compared to her brothers. She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career. In many developing countries 1 out of 7 girls marries before age 15, resulting in them having to drop out of school before they have a chance to receive the education they deserve.

Girls themselves first raised the crucial issue of the need to recognize their rights at a UN gender summit in 2009. Since then girls have lobbied for this day, with the support and guidance of Plan. This idea was reinforced through the amazing ‘Because I am a Girl’ Plan campaign (http://becauseiamagirl.ca/).

Focusing on women and girls can have the greatest impact in alleviating poverty impact on the most vulnerable. This is well established in the Plan report “State of the World’s Girls 2009: Girls in the global economy’”
(http://plan-international.org/girls/resources/girls-in-the-global-economy-2009.php) as well as through the work done by OXFAM for whom ending global poverty begins with women’s rights (http://www.oxfam.ca/).

To read more about this great news, go to:

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/international-day-of-the-girl-child-gets-a-final-push

The tranquil revolution is underway!

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

ALARM: Corporate Giants Target Developing Countries

We all know that diabetes, obesity, and heart disease rates are soaring in developed countries. One major cause is related to the high consumption of processed foods and lack of physical activity. What you perhaps don’t know is the fact that multinational corporations are finding new ways of selling processed food to the poor.

As affluent western markets reach their saturation point, global food and drink firms like Nestle, Unilever, SABMiller, and Coca-Cola have been opening up new frontiers among people living on $2 a day in low- and middle-income countries. The world’s poor have become their vehicle for growth.

To achieve their business objectives, they deploy innovative strategies to target and reach the poor, even in the most remote areas. One of their slogans emphasizes the fact that they bring the kind of choices that the rich have enjoyed for years. Who can resist this argument when we know the attraction of the American and European lifestyle amongst people living in developing countries.  We know that highly processed food and drink are a vector for related lifestyle diseases in the USA and Europe; the impact will be more dramatic in developing countries.

As diets and lifestyles in developing countries change, their patterns of disease are following those seen in industrialized countries just as quickly. But for poor countries there is a double whammy: they will be faced with the non-communicable disease that result from caloric over-consumption before they can deal with hunger and malnutrition. The double burden is having a devastating impact on both economic growth and health care budgets.

Are food producers moving developing countries toward a model of society where the hole in one’s belly is filled with cheap, low-nutrient, empty-calorie foods to satisfy one’s hunger while neglecting to meet the body’s long-term nutritional needs?

In the food market, is the appeal of fortified foods greater to the consumers than fresh food?

Are human lives worthy of disregard in the pursuit of profit?

To read more about this important issue through the example of South Africa and the radical action plans that must  be put in place, go to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/nov/23/corporate-giants-target-developing-countries

To create positive changes within the current food system we must value tradition and culture around food, emphasize diversity in food, and see cooking as culinary art.  This mission of change needs to start at the school level with the young generation.

CKi is taking steps in this direction.   

Sowing the Seeds of Food Security

Another great initiative in South Africa, similar to what Cki is trying to achieve through its new project in the Chorkor community, Accra, Ghana:

Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) is a non-profit organization based in Cape Town that creates learning gardens as part of their Organic Classroom Program, in partnerships with schools in South Africa’s poorest communities.

Founded in 2002, SEED trains teachers to design, plant, and nurture a garden according to permaculture principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture), which encourage a sustainable approach to agriculture modelled after an ecosystem. Teachers are using organic vegetable gardens to help children learn about science, geography, health, and economics—and to unlearn hunger. Produce from the gardens is used in the school’s cafeteria or sent home in parcels with the students for their families.

SEED website: http://www.seed.org.za/   
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SEED/152379438141624

 is not alone…

Greenpop is working in an environment similar to the Chorkor community, where homes are crammed next to one another, the earth is more sand than soil, and strong winds often blow. This organization is a tree-planting social enterprise that is beautifying these areas, starting with the schools. They start with hardier indigenous trees and if they survive, they come back with fruit trees that can produce 20-100 kg of fruits each in a season, helping to increase food diversity. Children are assigned a tree to look after and must each bring in 2L (1 gal) of gray water—recycled from the bath or sink—to water their tree every 2 days. It is gaining attention from media and corporate sponsors for its gung-ho attitude toward mobilizing volunteers for tree-planting days—largely from among Cape Town’s privileged youth. They also partner with larger companies that can tick their corporate social responsibility box when their employees get involved in tree-planting initiatives.

Greenpop website: http://www.greenpop.org/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GreenpopTreevolution

To learn more about these great initiatives, read this article published in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/business/global/28iht-RBOG-CAPE28.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

A Sweet and Orange Solution for Vitamin Deficiency – Developing Countries Take Action Against Lifestyle Diseases

As announced this year by the UN, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension are largely “forgotten” issue in developing countries. These countries show a higher prevalence of such ailments when compared to developed countries (80% of cases are in the developing world). Experts say that this will be the epidemic facing developing nations in the 21st century, greater than HIV in the 20th century, if trends are not combated in the near future.

In their feature, the BBC World Service program talks about the Botswana initiative to show the reality of NCDs in the developing world and the proactive action plan being put in place by schools to reverse the current trends. The aim is to increase awareness in children and youth about the importance of healthy eating, active lifestyle, and health benefit of specific foods. Scientists have discovered that upon introducing African families to the orange sweet potatoes, as an alternative to the white or pale yellow sweet potato typically grown in Africa, Vitamin A intake in women and children doubled. Vitamin A is essential in preventing blindness and supporting the immune system. A deficiency of this essential nutrient is very prevalent in Africa, causing many children to go blind prior to starting school, as well as increasing their susceptibility to diarrhea and respiratory illnesses. These are just some of the key points highlighted in this short presentation.

To learn more about this terrific proactive initiative, go to:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00lrkcb/Health_Check_30_11_2011/

Our organization, Cki is taking part in the youth awareness movement with its project in Ghana where we have set up a school garden club. The children are already growing a large variety of vegetable and we will soon start an education program on the importance of food diversity, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyle.

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

The orange sweet potato is common in North America and is much higher in Vitamin D than it's white or pale yellow cousin that is normally grown in Africa. However, families in Africa who were given this orange sweet potato to grow were able to significantly increase their Vitamin D intake, protecting themselves from blindness and strengthening their immune system