Charity update 2024

For the past few years we've been sending money to small charities around the world. Here's how they're doing.

Charity update 2024
SOLA students in their new home in Rwanda.

For the past few years, we’ve donated a third of our subscription fees to small charities that are working under the radar to make a real difference. These donations are more than just a cherry on top—they’re an essential part of our circular news model: the news gets turned into subscriptions, which turn into action, which leads to more news about progress.

Our first donation was back in March 2018. We crowdsourced AU$1,500 for the Travelling Telescope, a married-couple team that drives around Kenya giving thousands of schoolchildren their first close-up views of the stars and planets. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was a start, and enough for two more schools to jump on board.

Since then, you've helped us support almost 50 charities, with an average donation of US$5,000. Each contribution results in the purchase of a tangible piece of equipment that helps these organisations grow their impact. From critical medical supplies in remote rural areas, to Kindles for classrooms and drones for conservation, your subscriptions have delivered resources directly into the hands of people who need them most.

Over the last few weeks we've been reaching out to previous charity partners for an update on how things are going. This edition highlights some of the progress that's been made.


Good news for people


Machines fortifying food for 400,000 people in Africa
In March 2023, we partnered with Sanku to purchase two dosifiers, small machines that add essential nutrients like vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, and iron to flour sold by local millers. The machines were installed at Lizhbrand Mills and Waberi Industries in Kenya and are now producing an average of 80 metric tonnes of fortified flour per month, reaching nearly 400,000 people daily. This organisation continues to do incredible work. Last year they hit a milestone of 1000 mills, giving over over ten million people access to fortified flour every day.

Preventing health problems before they occur will have more impact on young lives than any other health intervention.

Disability from clubfoot is declining in the Philippines
Clubfoot is one of the world's leading causes of disability, and Miracle Feet is on a mission to end it with a simple, low-cost treatment in 34 countries. In 2021, our donation of $5,000 covered the cost of 250 braces for kids in the Philippines. Today the organisation has enrolled its 5,000th child in the local program, and thanks to the organisation's work, clubfoot is now included in the Newborn Screening checklist in the Philippines. 

School attendance for girls in Uganda has increased
Menstruation is a key issue affecting school-aged girls in rural Uganda, especially the loss of schooling due to inadequate menstrual support. In August 2023, we partnered with School For Life to distribute 2,500 reusable menstrual hygiene kits through their Menstrual Hygiene Management program. They tell us the program has been a huge success! It's significantly reduced absenteeism, increased community acceptance of menstruation, and provided employment for the local women who make the kits.

60 babies were delivered safely in the rainforest of Myanmar
Sustain Myanmar is an incredible organisation that runs maternal care clinics in rural, war-torn regions of Myanmar. In May 2023, we teamed up with the Taylor Foundation to build and fit-out a rural birthing unit with ultrasound machines, medical supplies, and surgical equipment. Over the past year, the clinic has carried out 331 ultrasounds; assisted in 60 deliveries, 16 of which required C-sections due to complications; and administered treatment to three newborns for hepatitis B. Without this clinic, these interventions would likely have been impossible.

Civil war does not reduce the number of babies being born, it just makes it so much more difficult for mothers living in remote areas to get access to the care that they need.
Clockwise from top left: Lydia, the owner of Lizhbrand Mill in Kenya, a young girl who has completed treatment for clubfoot in the Philippines, the birthing unit in Myanmar, in-house tailoring for reusable menstruation kits in Uganda.

3D-printed stethoscopes and tourniquets in crisis zones
Glia is an open-source medical hardware company that provides high-quality, low-cost, 3D-printed medical devices for people in crisis zones. In 2019 we crowdsourced AU$8,000 to distribute stethoscopes to medical students in Gaza and provided tourniquets and training for paramedics. Over the past five years, the organisation has become a leader in crisis response, with teams on the frontlines in Kenya, Zambia, Ukraine, Guatemala, Uganda, and Gaza, where they are currently sending medical delegations and supplies every two weeks.

120 women in Afghanistan have access to micro-business support
In September 2020 we donated US$7,000 to Skateistan, an organisation that empowers kids by combining skateboarding with creative, arts-based education. They used the funds to set up a makerspace in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, but the program was paused in 2021 due to the Taliban takeover. Thanks to a local team, the organisation relaunched their work in 2022, including a tailoring program, complete with sewing machines and resources to help young women start micro-businesses. At the end of 2023, 120 women graduated from the program.

Afghan girls are continuing their education in Rwanda
SOLA is Afghanistan’s first and only boarding school for girls. In 2021, they evacuated 250 students and staff out of Kabul, days after the Taliban seized power. They set up campus in Rwanda but arrived with no educational resources. Thanks to you, we sent 60 Kindles to the school, which created an immediate access to reading materials and the technology allowed them to build an expansive library without the need for physical space. Two and a half years on, the students are continuing to flourish in Rwanda and on March 30, the school launched SOLAx, an online learning platform, accessible to any Afghan girl, anywhere on earth. To date, 700 students have registered.

35 young women in Mexico accessed online learning through COVID
In 2020 we read about Guadalupe Musalem Fund, a small charity from Oaxaca, Mexico that provides financial support, counselling and tutoring for young women from rural or indigenous communities. They were hit hard by the pandemic and the switch to online learning so we donated 35 tablets, one for each of the school’s scholarship recipients, so they could continue their education. Here’s what one of the students had to say when we reached out last week:

My name is Brenda Mariana, I am seventeen years old and studying fourth semester of High School. I am from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec in the State of Oaxaca. I am beneficiary of the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem scholarship. Being part of the group has been very important because we have received love, economic, psychological support, and help in many academic subjects. When we signed the contract to belong to this organisation we all received the tablet from your organisation. This was very exciting for me because I knew that it would be a priceless tool to use at school. Before I received the tablet, I had to walk a long distance to go to a small cafe where I could rent a computer and that was a little tiring and hard sometimes. Up to this day the tablet that you gave us has been very useful: I am able to do all my homeworks, the reports that I have to deliver to the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem and all the documents like the one I am writing now. 
Clockwise from top left - SOLA students, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, founder of SOLA welcomes a new student, one of the scholarship students at Fondo Guadalupe Musalem using her tablet and a zoom session for the students in Mexico.

More good news for people
Thanks to your support, we have also delivered: 100 solar-powered powerbanks to refugees in Bosnia, a mobile photography workshop for underprivileged kids in Turkey, solar panels for a rehabilitation centre for kids with special needs in Tanzania, two handheld ultrasound devices for medical teams in Yemen, two portable Glostavent Anaesthesia Machines in Mongolia, a solar energy system for a community health centre in Sierra Leone, five laptops to the Rural Communities Empowerment Centre in eastern Ghana, and 12 computers for two local libraries in Papua New Guinea, plus a satellite phone, 3 walkie-talkies, and a laptop computer to help provide free medical treatment for the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon. And, because we believe in the power of one person to make a difference, your subscriptions also helped an incredible teacher in Chad who set up a mobile school for nomad children, providing a much-needed opportunity for over 70 kids whose way of life is usually incompatible with formal education.

Leonard Gamaigue's mobile school in Chad.

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Two schools for young women need our help

Supporting the empowerment of women is one of the best ways to create a sustainable future. Two of our charity partners that are on the frontline of female education require additional resources.

Over the next few months, SOLA will welcome a new cohort in Rwanda and need an additional 35 Kindles to ensure that every student starts their educational journey on equal footing.

With previous cohorts already benefiting from this technology, equipping the new students similarly is critical for maintaining homogeneous access to digital learning resources across all students.

Likewise, Fondo Guadalupe Musalem is providing scholarships to 25 high school students and 15 university students who will study engineering, humanities and science. They are in need of computer equipment.

We can pledge $10,000, but we need an extra $8,000 to make sure both schools get the equipment they need. If you would like to help us make this happen, you can contribute with a one-off donation here.

Good news for the planet


Esther and Koba are doing well
Back in March, we donated to our friends at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone to help fund the rehabilitation of two orphaned baby chimpanzees that were rescued from dire situations. Baby Esther and Koba are still in their quarantine period at the sanctuary and are undergoing regular health checks, but we're happy to report they are gaining weight and have bonded with their surrogate mama, Hawa. Although they have a long way to go before they can lead a fully-integrated life in one of the semi-wild enclosures at Tacugama, they have started forest visits to learn their very first chimp skill: climbing!

Clockwise from top left: Esther learning to climb, Esther with her caregiver Hawa, a routine health check at Tacugama and Koba, the other orphaned chimp who was rescued after he was found tied to a rope outside the house of a bushmeat-seller.

Tracking technology is protecting elephants in Zambia
Smart Parks is an impactful organisation that uses open-source technology to track and protect wildlife around the world. In December 2022, we helped fund the development of a new sensor called ElephantEdge, which has super-low power needs and uses high-end satellite connectivity to track orphaned elephants that have been reintroduced into the wild. What an investment! After 18 months, ElephantEdge is one of the organisation's strongest devices, protecting elephants in remote places like Kafue in Zambia. The team has created a range of technology, with over 1,000 devices currently in the field.

Community rangers protected a biodiversity hotspot in Cameroon
The Thin Green Line empowers community wildlife rangers to protect their forests and ecosystems. In February 2021, we helped them equip 30 community rangers in SouthWest region of Cameroon with GPS technology, camera traps, smartphones, and camping equipment to aid patrols around some of the world's oldest rainforests and to monitor the critically-endangered Cross River gorilla population. This organisation continues to do great work. In the past ten months, it's provided over 700 rangers with new uniform items and another 500 rangers with equipment in locations all around the world.

Two communities in Peru can combat forest fires this summer
Acción Andina is a grassroots initiative working across five countries in South America to restore Andean ecosystems. Since 2018, they've planted almost 10 million native trees! Their approach unites tens of thousands of people in Indigenous communities to protect and restore the region's native forests and ecosystems. At the start of this year we sent them US$6,000 to kit out two community forest fire brigades in Calca and Urubamba in Peru. The resources will help locals during the high-risk months of August and September.

Clockwise from top left: Big Life rangers, Kenya, in their new uniforms from Thin Green Line, the ElephantEdge sensor, a community working group for Acción Andina and some essential tools for the upcoming fire season.

Research to protect the endangered hawksbill turtle in Costa Rica
The Costa Rican Alliance for Sea Turtle Conservation & Science is a small nonprofit studying and protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica. They collect data on sea turtle activities, conduct nightly patrols to prevent poaching, and carry out capacity-building activities for local communities. Their founder, Christine Figgner, says the team has been busy preparing for the upcoming hawksbill season by testing out the drone and satellite transmitters we sent them. The drone will help them run aerial surveys over suspected sea turtle hotspots, while the transmitters will give them insightful data about where hawksbill turtles travel between laying clutches of eggs and when they have finished nesting. 

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Testing out a satellite transmitter on a female hawksbill turtle in Costa Rica.

More good news for the planet
You also helped us give a drone to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe in Brazil to aid their surveillance of deforestation, provided a machine to help refugees in Algeria turn plastic trash into buttons and jewellery to sell, and helped install a professional audio-visual setup in the headquarters of Gorongosa National Park, one of the most amazing conservation success stories in Africa. You also sent vital equipment like computers, phones, and drones to The Akashinga, an all-female team of anti-poaching rangers in Zimbabwe, as well as 10 water pump bikes to farmers in Mozambique to give them access to irrigation for their fields.

Green Pedal delivers water pump bikes to farmers in Mozambique.

These are a lot of small (and not so small) steps in the right direction, which you helped make happen. Thank you.

Our partners are working on the frontlines of crisis zones, conservation, healthcare, education, and social justice. Each one has their own story of ingenuity and resilience, highlighting the power of showing up and taking action. However, the reason we don't know the names of most of these organisations is that the media spotlight rarely reaches ground level.

One of the best ways to support the work of these incredible organisations is with your attention. If there are any that call out to you, clink on the link to their website and start following them on social media. We'll continue finding and sharing these kinds of stories, thank you for making it possible.

We resume normal programming next week. With love,

Amy


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