Eight-year old Grace is, according to her mother, “very tenderhearted and always has been.”
With an older brother with autism and other mental challenges, Grace has grown up aware that there are those in need of help. And when, at age 4, her father was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, it made that concept crystal clear. Her Dad had surgery, there were many months of chemo, there were times when Grace didn’t know if he would live.
As a military family separated from the support system of relatives, there was no real safety net to help when Grace’s Dad was diagnosed. On top of that, her family had just moved and a fourth child had just been born.
Grace’s mother, Brandy found a crisis Nursery near their home that could watch the three younger children for free during her husband’s treatments. Brandy, said thankfully, “they fussed over the kids, they did Grace’s hair…they made her feel safe and happy with all that was going on. (But) most of the kids there were not as lucky as ours. Most of the kids were there as the result of abuse and neglect… and that stuck with Grace.”
Since then, Grace has always wanted to help other children.
Last Spring Grace was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and wondered what kids less fortunate than she would do to treat it. She approached her mom and asked if she could do chores to earn money. When Brandy asked why, Grace piped up, “to do something nice for someone”.
As they talked more about Grace’s idea, Brandy remembered a story on CNN with Apolo Ohno speaking about his involvement with SeeYourImpact.org – the charities we work through, and how small gifts can make a big difference.
During the Olympics, Grace had been allowed to stay up late to watch Ohno race, and she became a huge fan. According to Grace, if Apolo says something is “ok,” then she knows it’s ok.
When Grace came to our website, she knew just what gift to choose. This past summer, the family had a mosquito problem, so Brandy had someone come and spray the house. Grace couldn’t understand why “we just made a call, but those kids get sick and die when they have the same problem.” She decided on a $10 insecticide-treated bednet to help protect someone from Malaria.
So Grace made a little bank out of a cardboard box for her birthday money. In November, on her birthday she got the $10 – and with the help of Brandy, she donated it on the website. On November 26th, just 10 days later, Grace received the photo of Fatmata.
Fatmata, a young girl in Sierra Leone, has a story of her own. She lives in a house with her mom and dad and two sisters, where they have no electricity. No running water for cooking or keeping clean. People in her community often see her barefoot and wearing old clothing.
Like Grace, Fatmata hopes for great things. Somedays, she can’t go to school, because her family can’t afford the fees. But she loves what she learns when she can go, especially math and social studies. And when she grows up, Fatmata wants to share what she’s learned with others, by being a teacher.
Thanks to Grace, Fatmata has a better chance of reaching that goal.
And although Grace still doesn’t completely understand why her family can call someone to take care of a mosquito problem, and others can’t, she “was excited that she got to potentially save another child’s life.”
So much so, that Grace spent her holiday vacation dog-sitting to earn money for another net.
We at SeeYourImpact.org were humbled when we heard Grace and Fatmata’s story. Every day, we have the special honor of helping people like Grace connect with people like Fatmata. Each person has their own challenges and battles, ones we don’t often hear about.
In the same way that Grace’s gift supports Fatmata’s future, Fatmata’s gift to Grace is showing her how to take her own challenges and use them to make an impact on her world.
Have you been inspired by watching a child give? Tell us your story. We’d love to share it with others.
Read more »
Zainab is a brilliant young girl from Sierra Leone who loves to go to and excels at school. Her schooling has been affected negatively by insufficient sleep due to the buzzing, mosquitoes’ bites and also bouts of the killer malaria disease.
Her parents are both school teachers and sometimes their salaries are not paid promptly by the government. This has introduced an extra economic strain on the family and as a result Zainab has had to, unfortunately, cope and sleep without a mosquito net. This has resulted in periodic bouts of malaria that have made her miss school for 1 – 2 weeks a few times a year.
Zainab was delighted to receive a net as this helps guarantee sleep and freedom from malaria. Now she will no longer have to miss school from malaria.
Find out more about providing mosquito nets to children in Sierra Leone! Click Here
Read more »
Sometimes, my research provides an amazing glimpse into the future. While educating myself on the awful effects of malaria in Sierra Leone, I came across new technology that might prevent the spread of malaria. As a malaria vaccine is still in development and insecticides endanger the environment the team from Intellectual Ventures went in another direction…
That’s right, I said it. Intellectual Ventures has developed a technology that literally zaps mosquitoes out of the sky.
Before I saw the video I couldn’t have imagine this, but the team who invented this is not your normal team. The Intellectual Ventures Lab is run by Nathan Myhrvold (who besides inventing machines that kills mosquitoes is a World Champion BBQer and studied under Stephen Hawking.) The neat thing about the team is that they aren’t working on any particular invention, they’re figuring out how to improve inventions.
Mr. Myhrvold presented his team’s invention recently at a TED talk.
Not only is the machine capable of zapping mosquitoes out of the sky it can also identify what specific insect it is and whether it is a male or female (malaria carrier) mosquito. The best part? The device is built out of common consumer electronics. Mr. Mhyrvold went on to take the demonstration one step further. Displaying a map of Madagascar he showed how over time certain areas are more susceptible to malaria. Since mosquitoes breed in pools of water malaria outbreaks occur more regularly in rainy seasons. Using the mapping feature it’s possible to use the laser to set up perimeters around areas most likely to have outbreaks and in particular protect those (particularly in malaria clinics) from getting bitten again and further spreading the disease.
After watching the video it really made me think, what incredible solutions are out there that we haven’t explored because they seemed too outrageous. It’s people like Nathan Myhrvold and his team at Intellectual Ventures Lab that remind us that sometimes the solution may be outside the box. Particularly in the world of non-profit and philanthropy it’s important that we stay inspired and never stop exploring or inventing.
Can you think of an out of the box idea that changed how you think about a problem?
Read more »
The Bad News? Malaria is a killer. The Good News? Malaria is preventable and curable.
You won’t hear about malaria occurring in the United States as it was virtually eradicated here in the middle of the last century. Which means that many of us are unfamiliar with its terrible effects. The elimination of the disease in the United States was hailed as a miracle for mankind, saving millions of lives. However, the story didn’t end on that happy note. The early problem solvers ran out of solutions and in some cases time. In places where malaria had nearly been eliminated it came storming back. The disease was not destroyed and today malaria continues to kill all over the world. Remember the good news up top, don’t worry…it’s coming.
The parasite and the mosquito.
Malaria is caused by a species of the plasmodium that’s spread through populations by infected mosquitos. This parasite is equally devastating as it is debilitating. Children infected with malaria miss school and can be mentally impaired for life by the parasite. However, the good news is that we can do something. There are two ways to deal with the problem;
1. Prevention -Stopping the mosquitos
2. Treatment – Curing/Vaccinating for the disease.
I was curious to learn about both treatment and prevention of malaria. It seems that the key to stopping malaria is not any one thing but rather a combination of elements. As currently, there is no effective malaria vaccine, the World Health Organization suggests that malaria nets be used as an effective method of prevention. Nets are normally treated with an insecticide, such as permethrin, which increases the effectiveness of the net by killing mosquitos that pass through holes. After spending a lot of time researching it seems to me that the use of insecticides is probably not a long term solution due to the threat of environmental damage and in the future we will see different approaches such as Nathan Mhyrvold’s Intellectual Ventures mosquito zapping laser beams. (we’ll deal with this more later)
I found that prevention stood out as the first step in stopping the cycle of malaria. At SeeYourImpact we have partnered with Door of Hope out of Sierra Leone, a group we mentioned in our last post. Door of Hope works towards the prevention of malaria. By providing mosquito nets and proper nutrition for children we can stop malaria.
Do you know of any innovative organizations that are working to stop malaria?
Read more »
Every new partner that becomes part of the SeeYourImpact network provides an opportunity for us to learn, explore new cultures, discover creative solutions to difficult problems and engage with people creating change. We recently partnered with a group named Door of Hope, a member of the DevelopAfrica network. It’s been fascinating and sometimes simply devastating to learn about the history of Sierra Leone where Door of Hope is based.
The Republic of Sierra Leone was founded in the 1971 ten years after independence was declared from the United Kingdom. Sierra Leone’s rich cultural history precedes that by thousands of years however. A country of fifteen ethnic groups and many religions Sierra Leone has historically been devoid of major ethnic divisions and religious divisions. However, the ability of Sierra Leone to bring together various ethnic groups and religion peacefully could not stop warring political factions from destroying the country.
A Country Torn Apart by War
In 1991 a Civil War which would last the better part of a decade began. The war wreaked havoc on Sierra Leone’s people leaving an estimated 75,000 dead. Infrastructure was destroyed and Sierra Leone quickly became one of the poorest countries in the world. After the Civil War ended in 2002 Sierra Leone began the long slow process of healing. Today the country is steadily rebuilding and growing. Despite this growth Sierra Leone ranks as the third lowest country on the Human Development Index and seventh lowest on the Human Poverty Index. Noted for it’s considerable education achievements and entrepreneurial skills before the Civil War, Sierra Leone is now fighting a different battle now, to keep students healthy and in classrooms.
The future of Sierra Leone
Door of Hope was founded by an elementary school teacher, Joshua Sandy, who noticed that students (particularly girls) in ill health were dropping out an a high rate. Joshua knew that the future of Sierra Leone resides within the children and he decided to do something about it. With meager resources he brought together like-minded community members to help meet the health, nutritional, and educational needs of vulnerable and under served children. Their mission “to build communities where all would have equal opportunity to live a dignified life and have access to available resources that will make them the best they can be.” Today Door of Hope provides the opportunity to change a life through a simple gift. Healthy students are a vital part of the future of Sierra Leone
Has someone in your community brought together resources to solve a problem? How did they do it?
Read more »