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February, 2017
  • A Seva-supported surgeon and her assistant at Lumbini Eye Institute remove a patient's blinding cataract.

Charlie's Short Takes

  • The new support that The Life You Can Save received from donors during December has been very gratifying. While our primary mission is to support our recommended nonprofits and to spread the word about effective giving, it is critical that we obtain funds for our own operating expenses in order to do this work.

Charity Voices

  • In Cambodia, tourism is booming and the economy growing, but the turmoil of the Khmer Rouge regime and the effects of genocide have left deep scars. For all its progress, there is also persistent poverty, corruption and deficiencies in the health care system, notably in eye care. 90% of blindness in Cambodia is avoidable. The cataract backlog is estimated at 80,000 with a further 20,000 people developing cataract every year. With only 35 eye surgeons for 15 million people, the vast majority of people may never be treated.  Enter Fred Hollows Foundation, the leading eye health NGO in Cambodia.    

    Read more
  • In Nepal, like much of the world, the surgical profession has traditionally been male-dominated. Women face cultural and financial obstacles that make the road to becoming a surgeon much harder than for their male colleagues.

    In order to overcome these barriers, Seva has actively identified and recruited promising female medical students and has supported their residency training in ophthalmology.  

    Read more
  • Myanmar is the fourth fastest-growing mobile market in the world, with the majority of phones being smartphones with social media apps. At PSI-Myanmar, we use targeted advertising on social media, especially Facebook, and meaningful metrics to achieve measurable impact. We share five lessons we’ve learned along the way.

    Read more

Highlights from Our Blog

  • by Charlie Bresler
    I received this email from Anthony Kalulu, a farmer I know in Uganda, who has developed a farmers' cooperative with 300 farmers that have been living in extreme poverty.  He also comes from extreme poverty. The email speaks for itself.

    Hi Charlie,

    Hope you are fine.

    We have now finished providing fertilizers to most of our farmers, and we will be through with all of them by the end of February. I just wanted to share with you a few photos from the farmers that have received the fertilizers. Please see photos attached.

    Overall, 2016 proved to be the driest year across East Africa, and most of our farmers did not harvest any food during both planting seasons of the year. Most regions received little or no rain during both seasons. So we are hoping that, if it rains in 2017, the organic fertilizers that we are providing to our farmers will greatly help them improve their harvest for all crops, not just ginger.

    This year, marketing of our farmers' ginger produce is not going to be much of a challenge. Most of the farmers are going to replant the ginger because 2017 will be their only second planting season since they started last year. The surplus fresh ginger--which will not be replanted--shall be easily sold at 3 local municipal markets in our region, and we have already talked to buyers.

    Marketing will only become a strong challenge in 2018, and that's when we need to start making value-added ginger products (such as ginger-based beverages) to bridge up the volatility of markets for fresh produce. We will also need to add more crops (specifically fruit crops like carrots; beetroot; lemons) that can go together with ginger in producing value-added products like as fruit juice. The inclusion of more crops (in the process of value-addition) will also help our farmers diversify their income prospects.

    With ginger, our current working model is that, when a farmer receives 20kg or 100kg of ginger from our project in Year 1, they repay by simply passing on the SAME amount of ginger to a new farmer in Year 2. But because our farmers have been affected with a lengthy drought in 2016, we will let our current farmers replant their harvest, and then pass on the ginger rhizomes to new farmers in 2018.

    Meanwhile, we are also closely following all of Trump's actions, from the immigration travel ban to the media blackout at the EPA and other agencies, and it is hard to imagine how 4 years could roll out--if his very first week in office has caused chaos worldwide.

    Please see attached photos from a few of our farmers that have received the fertilizers.

    Greetings to Diana and the family.

    Kind regards,

Team Picks

  • My pick this month is a bit unusual because it's a new addressing system. What's wrong with the old one? Well, 75% of the world doesn't have an adequate addressing system in the same way that you and I have an address. That's about 4 billion people!

    This matters for all sorts of reasons, and not just Amazon deliveries! In the developing world, a lack of adequate addressing can affect goods, service and even international aid.

    The people at what3words have divided the whole globe into 3x3m squares (even the oceans!) and given each one a name made from 3 words. Have a look at the web site or app to see where you are right now. Alternatively, pop over and tell me about it. I'll be in my favourite coffee shop, which is at bike.match.firms!

    --Nick Hopkinson, Director of Development
  • Here's my pick of an inspirational tune (en dos idiomas!) for when times seem tough. Do you have a favorite song? Share it with me and I'll create a playlist for the next newsletter." 

    Llamil Silman, Chief Technology Officer
  • I'm glad I started out the New Year with Emily Esfahani Smith's The Power of Meaning. How can you not love a book that begins with Canadian Sufi darvishes? Smith thoughtfully deconstructs the meaning of meaning and neatly splits it into four pillars: belonging, purpose, storytelling, transcendence. (I finally realized why I am addicted to "Sliding Doors" like thought experiments). You can even go on her site and check out your pillar of meaning. 

    --Neela Saldanha, Social Media Manager
  • In a short video, Michael Zimmermann, Executive Director of IGN (one of our recommended nonprofits), gives a nice nutshell explanation of iodine deficiency and the cost-effectiveness of salt iodization: $100 can cover a year of iodized salt for 10,000 children or ensure healthy development for a child through iodine for two years. He also notes that 50% of donations come from individual donors--your gift matters!
The Life You Can Save is a 501(c)(3) - an official non-profit registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service. Donations to The Life You Can Save are tax-deductible to individuals filing taxes in the U.S.
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