College Students Teach Health Ed

According to Peer Health Exchange statistics, one in four American teenagers is a binge-drinker, one in four smokes cigarettes, one in five sexually active teenage girls becomes pregnant each year, one in five teens experiences violence in a relationship and one in six is overweight or obese. Budget cuts have eliminated comprehensive health courses in many public high schools, leaving teenagers to face these health risks unprepared and alone. In 2003, Louise Davis and Katy Dion co-founded Peer Health Exchange to aid teenagers in high schools that lacked health education to make healthy decisions regarding sex, drugs, drinking and more issues that are growing concerns in the United States.

Peer Health Exchange trains college students in four urban areas (New York City, Boston, San Francisco Bay area and Chicago) and prepares them to teach one of twelve workshops. The college students travel to different schools in their city, holding workshops in the homeroom periods of ninth grade classes. The workshops are interactive and easy to comprehend for ninth graders and the benefits of the peer education are far-reaching.

In observing a session on sexual assault and rape, I noticed that the initial questions asked of the students revealed the underlying need for such a program. About 80 percent of the students responded “yes” when asked if sexual assault was ever the survivor’s fault. Over the course of an hour of acted-out scenarios and question-answer sessions with the group leaders, each student came to understand that this belief was unequivocally false. After the session, I asked Lloyd, a 14-year-old from the class who had answered “yes” to the question, what he learned from the class. He responded, “That rape is never the girl’s fault. You have to ask if it’s okay, and that if she doesn’t actually say ‘yes’, it means ‘no.’”


Reaching out to those in need

A team of college kids wakes up before sunrise to prepare for the day. Breakfast is served at a local church and then they’re off to work. Soon, you can hear the sound of hammers pounding on a roof; kids laughing as they run into each other’s linked arms, playing red rover; a relieved sigh as a client walks out of the thrift store with bags of free food and clothing. These are just a few sounds you would hear if you spent twelve weeks at Appalachian Outreach, an organization located in the Appalachian Mountains of Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Appalachian Outreach was founded in 1984 in association with Carson-Newman College. From its beginning as a home repair organization, it has expanded to serve people who are in need of food, clothing, linens and household items. An estimated 600 clients came in and out of Appalachian Outreach in June 2009.

In order to help these 600 clients plus the home repair clients, Appalachian Outreach hires college students to work for twelve weeks. Some students are from Tennessee’s Carson-Newman, and others come from states such as Illinois and Mississippi. Many of them work on home repair projects for the summer, including roofing, tiling and landscape.

Michelle Shackleford, then a Southern Missouri student who has since transferred to Carson-Newman student, didn’t know much about home repair but was excited to learn. She wanted to make an impact on someone’s life. “I was given more opportunities to love people as they are, as we were in their homes and spending more time with them, getting to know and love them as people,” Shackleford says.


15 Years

This photo essay was submitted by photographer Simon Sticker


Remembering Javier

I wanted to let NEED readers know that I was recently informed of some very sad news.

In NEED magazine issue 5 I wrote a story entitled “In the Crossfire” about an organization called Youth ALIVE! working with youth in Oakland, California. Yesterday, a member of the Youth ALIVE! staff contacted me and informed me that on August 31 of this year, Javier Carreto, one of the young men who was featured in the story, was shot and killed. I know next to nothing about the circumstances surrounding his murder, but I can tell you about meeting Javier.

Javier was the first young man I talked with in East Oakland. He was very eager to tell me everything that was on his mind. For every question I had, he had a thousand things to say. When he spoke, it seemed he felt surrounded by the constant violence that was part of the gangland mindset of youth around him. He was visibly frustrated with the insecurity he felt walking in the street and the tension that he felt at home. In spite of all that he dealt with, what Javier said to me showed he was an insightful young man who genuinely cared about those around him. He was eager to tell me about his new commitment to studying hard in school and the help that he received from Youth ALIVE!. Javier was proud of his GPA and the hope that he had through his education.

The loss of Javier had a profound impact on those around him. I know the staff at Youth ALIVE! are taking this tragedy very hard, especially Javier’s former mentor, Fabian Martinez. Javier spoke very highly of Fabian. In the interview, Javier said, “For me, he’s much more than a friend; I can tell you that. He’s way more than a friend. I have his trust; I have everything. … And Fabian did change a lot of my life. He did, and even though I am still okay, he’s still here. And he told me, ‘even though I not still working with you, I’m always here for you.’ And I like that.” I met Javier for a day, but Fabian was there nearly every day of what would be the last few years of his life, helping him choose a different path and become a better person.




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Documenting Voluntourism (Part II of II)

In this episode, documentary producer Trent O'Donnell was sent to Nepal to capture the essence of a World Expeditions voluntourism trip. He joined 13 travelers on a trek into one of the most remote parts of Nepal. During their stay they refurbished the Saramthali school and repaired a retaining wall that were constantly threatened by the harsh climate of the Himalayas.
This is a story of traveling with a purpose and the effect it has on all people involved.

Positive Footprints - Nepal from WorldNomads on Vimeo.

Positive Footprints
Footprints Network
World Expeditions


Communities Given the Chance to Fly

A group of women opened a clinic in Kenya this year. The clinic belongs solely to those women, and the clinic serves approximately 20,000 Kenyans entirely under their direction.

After one of the women died of cholera, funeral services were provided for the family by an organization called Give Us Wings, which had worked with the women for a number of years to get the clinic off the ground. After speaking with the widower, the organization helped with funeral costs and paid for the coffin. If the family had paid for the coffin themselves, it would have depleted nearly all of their resources.

Because her mother was deceased, the daughter of the family would now have to spend hours each day collecting water, causing her grades in school to fall. Without education, she could not hope for a better future. Give Us Wings hired help for the family so that the children could stay in school and focus on their studies, relieving them of the burden of domestic duties.


Interviw with Jimmy Carter

Issue 01 | Dialogue
Interviewer: Matthew Pritchard
Photographs: The Carter Center

Former US President Jimmy Carter in Southern Ethiopia in 1997. Photo | Robert Grossman/The Carter Center

President Carter, what initially inspired you to become involved in humanitarian issues?

When I became a state senator, then later governor and ultimately president, I realized that all public officials have a great responsibility and duty to analyze the needs of the people that they have been elected to serve. When I was a state senator, we were still in the midst of 100 years of racial segregation in this country, based on the fact that we were supposed to have separate but equal facilities. I saw in my own early life the need for equality of treatment between black and white American citizens; that was the first introduction I had to alleviating suffering and discrimination and giving people some hope that their lives would be equal to others as citizens of this country.


An Antidote to Cynicism

David duChemin, a photographer based in Vancouver, submitted this story.

In a world of growing poverty it is easy to become cynical about efforts to help. In three years as a photographer serving the international humanitarian community I have often been asked whether the organizations I shoot for are doing the good work they claim to. I am by nature cynical and when I started this career I feared the work would only fuel that tendency. There are days on the field when it resurfaces, when the lack of resources and the over-worked field-staff make me angry at the world and cynical about a great many things, but it’s been a constant surprise to me that my work for groups like World Vision has been the antidote to my cynicism, and a source of hope to me.

My primary work for World Vision Canada is the Christmas Gift Catalogue. Responsible for raising millions of dollars each year, this catalogue has sent me to Malawi twice, Uganda twice, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and most recently Mongolia. The images we gather for this project are a long way from the distended bellies and flies around the eyes that were the mainstay of fundraising images several years ago; instead they reflect the hope and dignity of the children and families we work with, and the joy they experience when given a step up. These assignments are the highlights of my year.


Kurdish Refugee & IDP Camps

I set out this summer to look at refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. What I found were Kurdish refugees and asylum seekers from Turkey, Syria and Iran, and internally displaced Kurds from Mosul. I saw everything from a youth group practicing traditional dance to a six-year-old boy that has been addicted to smoking for two years. But most of all, I experienced a wide range of people, living in hard situations, but with attitudes towards life that have left me deeply invested in the future of the people in these camps.

Makhmoor Refugee Camp

Makhmoor, home to around 11,000 Turkish refugees, was actually nicer than most villages that I have visited in the region. After a short drive through the dust-filled town of Makhmoor, about 45 minutes from Erbil, my translator, Leo, and I came upon the large security barriers that formed a maze before coming to the first guard. I promptly got yelled at for taking a photo of the UNHCR flag at the gate, which led to a traditional Kurdish yelling match in which I can never quite tell who is winning. Until, invariably, someone will turn to me and say "OK. Everything is OK."

After talking with the director, I met a camp representative in a large, mostly empty room -- a few couches, a hole in the wall for the air conditioner, and only two things on lined the wall: a UNHCR flag and a picture of the former PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. It is clear where the inhabitants’ allegiances lie.

The representative took us to visit the home of Siso Saleem, a 55-year-old father of eight. Sensing my surprise about the number of kids, he responded with, "We must have many children. Some to end up in Turkish prisons, some to join the PKK, some to be educated, and some to take care of the home."


Documenting Voluntourism (Part I of II)

The Positive Footprints initiative was created by World Nomads, a travel insurance company. World Nomad’s website explains, “We believe there is a moral obligation to give a little back to the communities in which we travel. The Footprints Network was founded as an online philanthropy project to do just that.” The Footprints Network raises money for community development projects which Positive Footprints documents.

In this episode, documentary producer Trent O'Donnell was sent to Kenya to capture the essence of a World Expeditions voluntourism trip. He headed into the heart of the country with 16 other travelers who built desks, refurbished classrooms and assisted in installing a new water tank.

This is a story of traveling with a purpose and the effect it has on all people involved.

Positive Footprints - Kenya from WorldNomads on Vimeo.

Positive Footprints
Footprints Network
World Expeditions


Ethiopia shakes down its Minnesota refugees

This is a cross-post from Twin Cities Daily Planet by Douglas McGill

Immigrants to Minnesota from eastern Ethiopia are being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom payments to support an Ethiopian security force that tortures and kills thousands of innocent Ethiopians.

Under an extortion scheme run by the Ethiopian army, soldiers in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia abduct men, women and teenage boys and girls, holding them without charge in one of scores of military jails in the region, which borders Somalia.

Knowing that many Ogaden families have relatives who live in Minnesota, the Ethiopian army tells the prisoners’ families that their loved ones can be freed upon payment of ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Hating to pay the money but having no other choice, the Minnesota refugees empty their personal bank accounts and pass the hat to raise ransoms to release their husbands, wives, sons, daughters and friends from overcrowded jails where torture, rape, beatings and killings are common.

Destruction of Villages

“It is a booming business for the Ethiopian army,” said Mohamed, a Minnesota school teacher who immigrated from the Ogaden in 1993. “It happens every day in the Ogaden, and every day someone in Minnesota is sending money.”

Mohamed and other Ogaden immigrants quoted in this story declined to give their full names for fear that their families and friends living in the Ogaden would be jailed, tortured or killed in retribution for their openness.

In recent years, one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises has unfolded silently in the Ogaden region, where a vicious counter-insurgency campaign by the Ethiopian government has wiped out scores of villages, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced tens of thousands or more to refugee camps in Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

About 5,000 Ogaden refugees have found their way to Minnesota, which has one of the largest refugee populations from the Ogaden crisis in the world. They Ogaden refugees in Minnesota are settled mainly in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Willmar, St. Cloud and Faribault.


Take a Break to Make a Difference

Taryn's forehead is marked with tika to celebrate Dashain.

Taryn Lilliston was an American college student who was unsure what direction she wanted to take with her education. Instead of pursuing classes, she decided to take a break from college and pursue the world. Taryn found the Global Volunteer Network (GVN) by looking for an opportunity to give back. GVN is a relatively new non-governmental organization (NGO), launched in December 2000, whose vision is to connect people with communities in need.


Alternative Wedding Gifts

Couples can create their own registry that describes the causes they support.

Gift-giving is intended as a means of celebration, so why does shopping often feel like a chore? This act of generosity often gets bogged down by expectations, guess-work and price tags. Thankfully, there is an alternative solution and you don't even have to go searching very far. Changing The Present is a nonprofit website that serves as a resource for socially responsible gifts. Their site allows individuals to search for a meaningful cause of their choice and allows them to make a donation on another's behalf. Shoppers can browse an online catalogue for a gift that is sure to make a real difference in the world, leaving both the giver and the receiver feeling satisfied. Whether a contribution is made towards women's rights, world health or any other cause, it redefines the sense of purpose that comes with gift-giving.


The Power of Education

This photo essay was submitted by photographer Amiran White.

I first visited Shanti Bhavan in the south of India at the end of 2008 and have made several trips back. Shanti Bhavan, which means ‘Haven of Peace,’ is a residential school in south India. The free school offers the best education possible to children from India's lowest caste, the dalits, enabling the students to dream of becoming doctors and astronauts rather than the rag-picker and cleaner jobs they would have been destined for.

The project began with one man, Dr. Abraham George, and his belief that education can change people’s lives more than anything else. Through his dedication and that of the teachers, they have kept the doors open for 10 years, but recent financial difficulties have halted the intake of any more students.

I was taken with the children’s openness and conviction that anything is possible. They aspire to give back to their communities. It’s a brilliant model for how we can help from the ground up, a model that could be taken not just throughout India but to any country, giving everyone the power of education — something that can be given and never taken away.


Education Foundation in Numan, Nigeria

Pepe Wonosikou, founder of the Numan School Project, enjoys some time with a young student in Numan, Nigeria.

The Numan School Project is an organization working to furnish schools in Numan, Nigeria with the tools necessary to provide a quality education to students. Founded in 2007 by 32-year-old Numan native Pepe Wonosikou, the organization aims to accommodate over 200 students with everything they need for a proper learning environment. These needs include plumbing, windows, doors, desks, chairs, books, blackboards, and uniforms (to name a few).

NEED caught up with Pepe Wonosikou for a conversation about Numan, Nigeria and the hopes she has for her project.

Q: How long did you live in Nigeria, and why did you leave it?

A: I moved to the United States in 1991. My father moved here to pursue his graduate studies at Luther Seminary.


Peace in the Northside Zone

Efforts to abolish inner-city violence in Harlem, New York, astounded scientists studying the effects of the Harlem Children’s Zone Project on children’s test scores. The project’s comprehensive approach to preventing violence includes parenting workshops, charter schools, afterschool care and an obesity program designed to improve children’s health. Its results are significant compared with other approaches taken to reduce child violence in inner-city areas. The Harlem Children’s Zone website boasts, “This past spring, 100 percent of the third-graders at HCZ Promise Academy II scored at or above grade level in the statewide math tests. A few blocks away, 97 percent of the Promise Academy I third-graders were at or above grade level.”

The city of Minneapolis identified youth violence in North Minneapolis as a public health issue in 2008, and its test score disparities between white and black students are second in the nation. To mirror the effects of the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Peace Foundation and the NorthWay Community Trust formed a collaboration called The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). “We are building a movement to end local violence at the ground level with permanent solutions. NAZ is the antidote to violence by creating a community of achievement,” says Michelle Martin, co-chair of the steering committee. NAZ plans to combine the strength of local organizations and families to provide children in the “zone” with structure and stability in every aspect of their lives.

NAZ became operational on the ground in 2009. Liaisons are canvassing door-to-door to obtain basic geographic information and to find out where specific services are needed. The team also invites families to join NAZ Connect, a web tool that will be up and running in October 2009. By enrolling in NAZ Connect, resources can be targeted to specific families, holding the systems serving and educating the community accountable for positive outcomes.

Education is a critical area of the program because fewer and fewer children from North Minneapolis are going to college. Sondra Samuels, president of the Peace Foundation, co-chairs the education team. With over 40 education institutions in the area willing to participate, Samuels is confident that children in a multitude of programs will receive aid. Participating schools won’t need to be located in the Northside zone but will need to have a significant population of students from the Northside in their system.


NEED Concert Raises $5,000 for Street Kids

Film Crew & Sound: Lisa Walker, Mark Hentges, Zach Nelson, Lance Lundstrom, Chase Hentges, Nate Peterson

NEED’s first-ever music event proved an event worth repeating. The concert brought together NEED readers, music lovers and 12 bands. This unique night of music yielded nearly $5,000 in donations to help street kids in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Although inclement weather resulted in a last-minute venue change from Peavey Plaza to Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, turnout and energy remained high. Undeterred, Twin Cities musicians performed back-to-back sets of acoustic and a cappella music. The Hell’s Kitchen staff was extremely accommodating in allowing all the musical acts onto their stage and housing the large crowd that attended.

The eclectic sounds of the evening ranged from the soulful vocals of Sounds of Blackness to Wookiefoot’s Mark Murphy’s quirky acoustics. Along with raising awareness and donations for street kids, the event provided a great opportunity for local musicians to get their music heard by a spirited audience.

Those who attended had a chance to pick up free copies of NEED magazine and to donate to the Nurani Insani School for Street Kids. To add to the atmosphere, children from Youth Performance Company dressed as street children. Following a bagpiper as he paraded around downtown, the children handed out flyers for the event and then milled around Hell’s Kitchen accepting donations in cups. Hell’s Kitchen served a beverage called “Jakarta River Water.” A portion of the drink’s sales were donated to the Nurani Insani school.

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Online donations to the Nurani Insani school will be accepted until September 22.
>> more info about the event, the Nurani Insani school and how to donate

Please check back for upcoming events. We’d love to see you there!

Friends get together do to good

“I believe everyone is generous and wants to help those that are less fortunate, but life often gets in the way and we don’t end up volunteering,” says the founder of Volunteer Club, Lisa Swayne Proud. This is the reason why Swayne Proud started the first Volunteer Club.

It works much like a book club in that each month, a different person organizes where the group will volunteer, and then emails the group with the details. “The beauty is that when you are not coordinating, all you have to do is show up for a few hours once a month. Plus, it’s an opportunity to hang out with your friends and have some fun,” says Swayne Proud.

Yet showing up for just a few hours can really add up. Swayne Proud estimates that her Club has volunteered almost 300 hours as a group. Three hundred hours may sound like a lot, but to break that down that number, a group of seven friends can easily accomplish it by working less than two hours a month for two years. Now just think about how many hours there would be if there were a couple hundred Volunteer Clubs; soup kitchens wouldn’t know what to do with themselves!

Start you own Volunteer Club today, and join the effect!
Volunteer Club


A Bike and a Mission

Photographer Gustavo Fernandez and his 2003 Harley Davidson FatBoy are riding across 5,000 miles of the United States with a program he created called The HOG for Kids Project. Fernandez designed The HOG for Kids Project to raise awareness and collect donations for the children of the Dominican Republic.

Through a partnership with Children International, Fernandez is taking his office on the road. This is the second year of his annual project. This summer he is photographing families all over the country on his journey from California to New York for the price of $100 to cover ride costs and bills. In addition to the base amount, he asks the families for a $264 one-year commitment to sponsor a child in his homeland, the Dominican Republic.

The money collected will go through Children International to where the greatest needs are in the Dominican Republic, or according to Fernandez, “just having the resources to get kids educated, access to textbooks, and qualified teachers.” In a country where 42 percent of the population is below the poverty line, his work goes a long way.


(Product) red | pt. 2 of 2

While still a young venture, (RED) is already making a tangible difference in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Positive feedback about (RED)'s efforts has reached their headquarters in Los Angeles, sometimes through surprising avenues. Smith recounts a meeting with executives from Gap in which she was told about how a man from Ghana waited outside a Gap store in southern California, asking if he could meet some of the employees. The man explained that he had lost eight family members to AIDS and knows of several more that are ill, and because of (RED), he has hope for their lives.

Home based care for people living with HIV and AIDS in Rwanda. photo | courtesy of the Global Fund/John Rae


(Product) red | pt. 1 of 2

Bobby Shriver and Bono launch (PRODUCT)RED: Motorola phone.
photo | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Issue 02 | Cooperation
Writer: Liz Werner

For decades the business world has been summed up by the simple phrase, “It’s a jungle out there.” One doesn’t need an MBA degree to understand the truth of this old adage. However, instead of seeing a cut-throat, bottomline motivation for the almighty dollar, we should all rub our eyes and adjust our vision for something new. (PRODUCT)RED combines innovation with a profound sense of humanity into a business brand that is not only making money, but is also committed to fight AIDS in Africa.

(PRODUCT)RED, more commonly referred to as (RED), is the creation of Bono, lead singer of U2, and Bobby Shriver, chairman of Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA). The two co-founded (RED) to engage businesses and consumers in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Companies who have become partners designate certain items as (RED) products. They then direct a portion of the profits from those products to the Global Fund, which invests the money into AIDS programs in Africa.



This photo essay was submitted by photographerKiran Ambwani

Last year, 20 Canadian and 12 Nepalese women embarked on a powerful and meaningful journey: a trek for peace and development in Nepal. The project, organized by the Center for International Studies and Cooperation and Uniterra, was an initiative to communicate the reality, the dreams and the hopes of the Nepalese women. These mountain women face poverty, disease, and lack of access to basic resources, along with gender and caste discrimination. Their voices are often unheard and they are excluded from decision-making processes. For 20 years in Nepal, the Center for International Studies along with its local partner organizations has encouraged women's participation in community development.

In the midst of western Nepal's stark beauty, cultural heritage and diversity, I witnessed a grinding, hopeless poverty and dependence. However, I was pleased to discover that women teachers, health care workers, healers, human rights activists, community leaders, reporters, and managers of women’s cooperatives, are conduits of social change. These inspirational women are the future of Nepal as it emerges from 11 years of conflict and decades of monarchy, offering hope of dignity, equality, wealth distribution, and access to basic resources. Achieving gender equality and empowering women is of utmost necessity for building healthier, better educated, more peaceful and prosperous societies.


"Save the World" Challenge Images

Art workshops with street children. A moment for them to have a childhood instead of working or begging
photo | Jodie Fried
organization | The Anganwadi Project

A brilliant young student in Matopeni, Nairobi.
photo | Mark William Mann
organization | The 1010 Project

A young girl from a rural school in Cambodia
photo | Heather Jean Starbuck
organization | Operation Lyhou

Submit to the "Save The World" Challenge


Healing Invisible Wounds

When the people of a country experience a traumatic event, the aid that is needed usually consists of tangible items: food, water, shelter, health care and so forth. However, Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman believe that treating the psychological scars of war warrants the same attention as treating the physical ones. “The way we’re wired, people get over physical torture pretty quickly. But mental torture — unless they’ve got appropriate treatment — they don’t get over it,” says Stephen, co-founder of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation.

Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman’s son, Peter, was 25 years old when he was killed during the September 11 terrorist attacks. After his death, Peter’s parents sought a way to do something in his memory that would help people. The idea of aiding those who had survived acts of terrorism dawned on Elizabeth when saw a broadcast on “Nightline” about torture, terrorism and mass violence. “Peter was killed because of terrorism. If we could help people who had survived, it would be a perfect way to honor him,” she says.

To put it in perspective, one billion people (one-sixth of the world’s population) have experienced torture, terrorism or mass violence through civil war, ethnic cleansing or genocide. The psychological wounds of war are debilitating to entire populations. If left untreated, the mental trauma can prevent people from working, caring for their families, and leading productive lives. Stephen stresses that the cycle of traumatic depression has to be stopped because it can perpetuate for generations. “The abused becomes the abusers,” he says.

The Peter C. Alderman Foundation consists of various initiatives. In one key program, doctors from post-conflict countries are trained in methods to treat victimized populations. Another component of the foundation are its nine clinics around the world, the first of which opened in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2005.


Ugandan child mothers get a second chance

This is a cross-post from World Vision U.S. by Simon Peter Esaku, World Vision Uganda, and Rachael Boyer

Franka, 17, sits with her baby, Sharon, in front of the Pader Girls Academy. Photo | Simon Peter Esaku/World Vision

She was born at the Kalongo Hospital in northern Uganda in 1992. Fifteen years later, Franka Aneno was back in the same ward, this time to deliver her own child — a baby girl named Sharon.

What Franka had thought was only a little adventure with a boyfriend became a life-changing situation. “When my mother found out I was pregnant, she whipped me,” Franka recalls. Then, adding insult to injury, Franka’s head teacher expelled her from school.

After her baby was born, Franka lived at home with her mother and 10-year-old sister, helping grow food and caring for baby Sharon. A Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, killed Franka’s father in 2003.

Franka's ray of hope

When her baby was about a year old, Franka found out about a program that might help her continue her education. It gave her a reason to hope. “In April [2008], I applied for World Vision to give me a scholarship to learn vocational skills in Pader Girls Academy,” says Franka. “My application was successful, and I reported to the academy in August.”

With Sharon securely wrapped to Franka’s back, the young mother explains, “I am learning tailoring and knitting, and I will complete my course in May this year.”

Mountain Climbers Support the Fight Against AIDS

This article was cross-posted from (BLOG)RED.

(RED) was created by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with the world's most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT)RED-branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT)RED product sold is given to The Global Fund, to invest in African AIDS programs, with an emphasis on women and children. Members of the (RED) community are doing amazing things to inspire friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to take action and exercise the power of (RED). Here’s one story that takes the concept of shouting (RED) from the mountain top to a whole new level….


Teen Reporters are No Rookies

“From WNYC, this is Radio Rookies — true stories from New York City teenagers.” So begins “Growing Up, Getting By,” the hour-long special commemorating the tenth year of the Radio Rookies program at New York Public Radio. Since Marianne McCune started the program with a small workshop in 1999, Radio Rookies has been working with teenagers throughout the metro area, combining training in basic radio reporting techniques with a chance to tell their stories. Radio Rookies moves throughout the five boroughs of New York City, working in partnership with organizations such as The Next Generation Center (Bronx), the High School for Global Citizenship (Brooklyn) and Project Hospitality (Staten Island).

According to Kaari Pitkin, the program’s senior producer, McCune began the program with the goal of combining radio diaries with arts education for teenagers. Pitkin explains that an integral part of the Radio Rookies program is their willingness to work with kids from all educational backgrounds and walks of life. As such, the kids “come to the program with a huge range of skills and tools, and interests and curiosities, and strengths and weaknesses.” The most important attribute a teenager can bring to the table, however, is bravery; as McCune explains on “Growing Up, Getting By,” “You have to be courageous to be a Radio Rookie. … They dare to tell some of the most difficult stories: stories they are right in the middle of, whether or not they want to be.” Indeed, topics of Rookie stories include homosexuality, illegal immigration, and the ease with which teens can buy guns. They also explore some of the universal aspects of growing up, such as gossip, bullying and young love.