Published 12 July 2007
Bio , Darfur , Service
Tags: Ashok Gadgil, blog, blogging, CHF, Christie Galitsky, Darfur, Darfur Cookstove Project, efficient, fuel, humanitarian, humanitarianism, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LBL, LBNL, Mark Jacobs, NGO, North Darfur, refugee, refugee camp, South Darfur, Spanish Red Cross, stove, stovers, Sudan, United Nations, UNOCHA, USAID, visa, Yoo-Mi Lee
What a nice surprise to see that the current issue of Newsweek magazine (July 16, 2007 issue) carries a very nice story on the Ashok Gadgil’s Berkeley National Laboratory Darfur Cookstove Project, entitled “Flames of Hope.”
Yoo-Mi and I had the privilege to work in Darfur, Sudan in November and December of 2005 as part of Ashok’s four-person team doing the initial field research which would enable us to design a fuel efficient cookstove for Darfurians living in the refugee camps. Ashok and LBNL scientist Christie Galitsky conducted the research in the camps of South Darfur; Yoo-Mi and I did the same in the North Darfur camps.
Continue reading ‘Flames of Hope’
Published 31 May 2007
Environment , Friends , India , Service
Tags: Anshu Gupta, cloth, clothing, Delhi, fabric, Goonj, Meenakshi Gupta, NGO, poverty, sanitary napkin
A gift of cloth is a traditional gesture of goodwill in India. The weave of the yarns symbolize the entwinement of our lives, and the act of giving stands as an acknowledgment of our fundamental unity.
It is only natural, then, that Anshu Gupta would make clothing the poor his life’s mission. Few people I know are as instinctively empathetic or take the oneness of humanity as a basic, everyday operating instruction, rather than a kind of esoteric philosophy. Anshu understands the metaphor of the weave in an intuitive, visceral way; and as a consequence, he thinks broadly, creatively, and incisively about the suffering of others.
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If you want inspiration, look no further than India, where thousands-upon-thousands of small NGOs are working to improve the lives of people in small villages and major metros alike. Just don’t expect to find them on the web.
Many of the people doing the most amazing work are doing so in tiny organizations, driven by a passion for service, rather than any great love of actually running an NGO. For these people, admionistration is a necessary burden, not an end-in-itself. Too frequently, they do not have the skills, resources, or understanding to harness the power of the web. The loss is ours, as well as theirs.
But there are solutions — and you can be a part of the process!
Continue reading ‘Help Small Indian NGOs Find an Audience on the Web’
In December, we spent a few days in the beautiful village of Alampoondi, in rural Tamil Nadu, visiting the Gandhi Rural Rehabilitation Centre. GRRC runs a variety of educational, medical, and livelihood programs for physically and mentally challenged adults and children in the villages near Alampoondi in central Tamil Nadu. They now have a shiny new web presence, thanks to volunteers at CharityFocus!
Visit the new website at www.grrc.org.in.
And if you are in the market for excellent handloomed cottons, consider buying from GRRC’s excellent artisans. I just had three great new kurtas made from their wonderful fabrics — you should too!
It has been more than four years since I was last in Kolkata, a city I recall with extreme fondness from my first visit. There are, indeed, many good reason to love Kolkata. The name of one of them is Rosalie Giffoniello, and in 2002 we had come to Kolkata specifically to meet her.
Rosalie runs an NGO called Empower the Children, which addresses developmental, educational, nutritional, and shelter needs for some of Kolkata’s most vulnerable children – the physically and mentally disabled and the economically disadvantaged. For two weeks in the fall of 2002, we worked with her in orphanages and non-formal schools during the days, and helped her with capacity-building late into the nights. For five blessed days, the West Indies came to Kolkata’s fabled Eden Gardens Cricket Grounds for a test against India, and each of those afternoons, our butts were in the stands for the two afternoon sessions – a brief respite from our work, which also taught us a fair amount about Indian popular culture.
So for the past four years I have been telling people, “Kolkata has a reputation as a shit-hole, but really, it is a wonderful city.”
How disappointing, then, to turn up here and discover that, indeed, Kolkata is a shit-hole after all.
Continue reading ‘Kolkata’