Posts Tagged ‘positive’

Photo by Kit Carson.

Her neighbors told her that she should leave her baby girl to die.

What was believed to be a severe reaction to a vaccine left her three-month-old child with little to no control of her extremities and frequent body tremors. Her firstborn could barely breast-feed and refused the inexpensive powder formula she had.

She prayed and prayed that God would send someone to correct her daughter’s physical problems, but no Cambodian doctor would commit to long-term oversight of her care. Ten months later, she had developed a system to slowly but surely breast-feed a child whose tongue seemed to have a mind of its own.

Photo by Courtney Cain.

Then a university student from America studying occupational therapy came to her home. The student was referred to her by her local pastor and a couple who operated an orphanage nearby. She started doing weekly exercises with her daughter to improve her mobility. Soon, she started to move her head from side to side and reach for her toys, something that was impossible before.

But that wasn’t enough. The Pediasure drink that she gave her was effective, but would cost three times the mother’s monthly pay. There were other hospitals she could go to, but the transportation and medical costs were too extensive.

A year later, she wasn’t producing enough milk for her baby and options were running out. She weighed less than a pound more than her birth weight. Thankfully one week, the couple said they were able to help arrange a hospital visit so she could have some long-term care. But with such corrupt practices in Cambodia, quality care was a long shot.

Photo by Kit Carson.

When the couple left that night, they paused outside. After a few minutes, they came back into the house because they said they had an urge to pray for her daughter again. The next morning, the baby woke up, saw the powder formula and reached for it, craving it and crying all at once. For the first time in her short yet painstaking life, she was drinking regularly. It was a miracle!

The hospital visit was arranged and the doctors were able to provide a specialized nipple that would be easier for her to feed from. They educated the mother on how to better care for her child. Doctors told her she will never fully recover from what the vaccine did, but she was on her way to living a functional, healthy life.

Photo by Laura Kebede.

Seven months later, she went from 2 lbs to 15 lbs and could focus her eyes on her mother, reach for her when she needed help and was much more aware of her surroundings. One mother’s faith and some help from a few people made the difference between life and death for one baby girl.

Follow the original story:

1. “The Baby”

2. “A Small Plea for Martha”

3. “An update about Martha”

4. “Praise to God for Martha’s recovery”

5. “So far in 2012”


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I dare you to NOT be inspired by Charity:Water‘s video below.



As stated in the title to this post, over the past 5 years, Charity:Water has drilled wells to bring clean water to over 2 million people, in 19 countries.

To raise this money, individuals like YOU ran marathons and lemonade stands, and gave up birthday gifts and hard-earned money. By doing so, these game-changers are counted among those who are more blessed because they gave rather than received. And actually, I would argue that these people who spent their time and treasure to support this cause received MORE than what a typical taker could ever even hope to imagine.

For more information on the water issues, click here for information from the United Nations.

Will you be a part of the EPIC story Charity:Water is participating in, by partnering with them this September?

There’s actually more in it for YOU than you can believe.

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“I think there’s a revolution going on – an economic one, a technical one and a social one. And the heart of it is that for the first time in 150 years, an individual has leverage. An individual can reach way outside what they used to think they could do.” – Seth Godin

Since my freshman or sophomore year in college (2006/2007), I’ve attended a leadership conference called the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. But because I’m busy developing this entrepreneurial venture through my master’s program at the Missouri School of Journalism, I was unable to make it this year. I did, however, come across an AWESOME pre-Summit interview.

The guy above with the cool glasses, wearing a men’s suit accompanied by socks made for 12-year-old girls (he explains this in the video) is Seth Godin — best selling author and “America’s Greatest Marketer,” according to American Way Magazine. One of his most popular books, is Purple Cow — a book about “remarkable products and services.” You might have heard of it. If not, go ahead and look it up.

The video above is a four-minute’ish clip of an interview with Seth just hours before he hops on the Summit stage for his half-hour talk, with 142 slides — all images, no text. You’ve gotta watch the clip, but here’s another stand-out quote from the marketing guru:

“It’s about you deciding what important, because if you’ve got the means of production – the laptop, the access to the world – and you wanna stand up and lead, you can. I guess my goal – my job – is to help people understand that they can pick themselves. They don’t need to wait to get picked.”  

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So, I recently came across this article from Mental Floss — “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix” — and found it pretty cool. It’s called “Whiz Kids” and outlines several of the most influential inventions from youngsters.

After developing the ear warming devices at age 15, Chester Greenwood got a patent for his "ear-mufflers" when he was just 18-years-old.

Not sure about you, but I had no clue that such widely-used inventions like earmuffs, braille and the currently in-development algae mobile were the inventions of teenagers. It cheesy to say, but it really does seem that you’re never too young to shape generations and change the world, for good.

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Below is a story from my roommate and friend, Danelle.

Danelle is a twenty-year-old nursing student at the University of Missouri who spent a summer immersed in a culture entirely different from her own. She was born in Columbia, Missouri, grew up in Quito, Ecuador and is now wrapping up a Ugandan adventure.

At the not-so-ripe age of 20 (about to be a junior in Mizzou’s nursing program), she’s done more things and worked in a more hectic environment than most of us could imagine. She’s also had the opportunity to get to know children, young women and entire families who it seems she would have nothing in common with. Yet, despite their differences — language, upbringing, culture, and the like — she’s built meaningful connections with many. Here is one of her Facebook updates:

Danelle with some of the children she's been spending time with in Mbarara, Uganda. Photography: Danelle Douce

“Monday through Friday I have a “program” with the three older girls who live here at the house. I teach English and mathematics, it has been interesting coming up with my own lesson plans for three girls at three very different levels. Thursdays are our “fun” days; this Thursday we made flower clips, and it has given me such joy and satisfaction to see the girls wearing them in their hair every day since! I have also been separately, daily, tutoring Asia, the girl who I met in Enciche. Sometimes two other girls from the community come as well. Asia has so impressed me with her faithfulness to come.

The first day she came, I was surprised to see her, yes, I had told her she was invited, but I had no idea if she’d actually follow through or not. We sat outside leaning against the house watching the boys play soccer while she told me her story.

She’s had a hard hard life. Her mother died when she was young and she was abused and abandoned by her father. A man came and promised to take care of her and protect her and so she decided to love him. Two months after she told him she was pregnant he left her and went to Kampala, the capital. She hasn’t heard from him since. Asia has a precious little girl named Shina, who is now one and half years old. Asia is 17. The second time we met, she brought a schedule she had written for us to follow; it was so sweet, and her enthusiasm is so encouraging to me! The next day she brought me a mandazi (one of my favorite treats), cassava, and sambosas, all small bread like snacks. She asked me if I wanted to come visit her house and so we made a plan for her to come by the compound on Friday and then we could walk together from there. When I talked to David and Esther — my “parents” in Uganda — about it they advised me that it was a bad idea for me to walk with just Asia alone, as it wasn’t the safest of places. Asia showed up on Friday to meet me, 15 minutes early, and I told her I wouldn’t be able to visit her home that day.

She didn’t understand at all, and I was so frustrated that that something like my skin color was keeping me from following through on my word to Asia.

She was so disappointed, as was I. I ran inside to call David and persuade him that I would be just fine and to let me go, but I came across Joseph in the living room instead. Joseph is a 23 year old Ugandan who is also currently volunteering here at Joy of a Child. I asked him if he’d be willing to walk with us and he said it was no problem! I ran back outside to tell Asia, but she said she didn’t want to take me anymore. She wanted to wait and ask David for permission. She was crying and I kept asking her what was wrong and she said “Well, it’s just that, sometimes when I have things in my mind and they don’t work out how I was thinking, it just brings tears to my eyes.” I felt so bad, because she was so genuine. It took me a while to convince her to still take me.

The walk was pleasant, and only about 15 minutes. It did feel very rural and I was glad for Joseph’s presence after all. We arrived at her house, a tiny two room brick/mud building. She was one of the best hosts I’ve ever had the privileged to visit.

She invited us in; she had one bed, one chair, and a container with plates and cups. She had two wooden statues for decoration. I could tell that she had cleaned and prepared for my visit. She didn’t have a dresser, but a suitcase for her and Shina’s clothes. I felt convicted, as I’ve been getting tired of living out of a suitcase just for four weeks!! She had prepared a meal and served us matooke with nut sauce and a glass of water (I knew I probably shouldn’t have drank it, but I didn’t care, I wanted to be a good guest). We sat and chatted and she showed me some pictures she had of her friends.

I love Asia so much. She isn’t just this girl who I’m reaching out to, she’s my friend.”

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If you are like me, you have probably never heard of the Homeless World Cup.  It turns out, it is exactly what it sounds like; a worldwide soccer tournament featuring teams comprised of homeless people.  It is a program dedicated to including the homeless and marginalized into society through sport. And it changes lives.

At least 70 percent of the players participating in the program change their lives. Meaning they get jobs and contribute to society.  This happens through the organization’s “homeless-to-work” model and it worked for Lisa Wrightsman.

Wrightsman was featured in an article from the Sacramento Bee.  According to the article Wrightsman was a soccer standout at Sacramento State and was semipro when she dropped out of school and became addicted to drugs, which led to homelessness and eventually jail.

Through the Volunteers of America (VOA), Wrightsman learned about the Homeless World Cup.  She played on the VOA men’s team, the Mohawks and was named most valuable player at the national tournament, earning her a spot to represent the United States in Brazil at last year’s Homeless World Cup.

This year, Wrightsman has a full-time job and is also coaching the United States women’s team that will be competing at the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup has more than 70 grassroots organizations around the country in support of its “global change makers” initiative.

This is a program that truly changes lives for the better. It finds a place for the down-and-out, the less thought of.

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Refugees United founders. Photography Media Storm

(From left to right) Refugees United founders Christopher and David Mikkelsen, and goodwill ambassador, Mads Mikkelsen. Photography by Rick Gershon, MediaStorm

One day, two Danish brothers met a young Afghan man — a refugee — who was searching for his family after being torn apart by human traffickers.

After several days of making phone calls and pulling strings, David and Christopher Mikkelsen helped reunite this young man with one of the people he loved most: his brother.

They hadn’t seen each other for six years.

On that day, the Mikkelsen brothers had an idea: why not create a simple, easy-to-use, web-based tool to help reconnect displaced refugees with their displaced family members?

So, they did. Thus, the foundation of Refugees United.

It is a story like this that reinvigorates me and reminds me of the power of inspiration. When people get inspired — get revved up about something — and then convert that inspiration into action, beautiful things happen.

And we’re reminded that life is epic.

Following the lives of four refugees and how separation from loved ones has shaped their existence, “Lost and Found: The Story of Refugees United” is a journey into the hardships so many families must endure as they seek to reconnect. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/clients/lost-and-found-for-refugees-united

This story in the box above is one of the most awe-inspiring, empowering stories of hope I’ve seen in a long time. The storytelling and production quality are creative, crisp and beautifully executed. And the writing is great. Not only do you hear the journeys of men and women separated from their families, but you hear of their reconnection because of the powerful piece of technology developed by Refugees United.

Furthermore, this multimedia piece also interweaves the heartbeat behind the organization through interviews with the Mikkelsen brothers. Props to Rick Gershon, staff cinematographer for MediaStorm, a multimedia production studio founded by fellow Missouri School of Journalism student — now alum — Brian Storm.

An African Family.

After losing both parents, a young African man assumes the "Father" role to his siblings. Photography by Rick Gershon, MediaStorm.

You should visit its website, but here’s a little blurb from the “About Us” page: “Refugees United has developed a web platform and mobile tools that drastically streamline the family tracing process for both NGOs and individuals.

This digital infrastructure not only fosters greater collaboration and promotes unhindered sharing of information among Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) agencies, but it also gives refugees the ability to become directly involved [my bold] in their search for missing family via an anonymous, safe forum; easily accessible tools; and an ever-expanding, user-driven family finding network.”

Visit this page to see how you can share and support the work of Refugees United and be part of the glue that holds families together.

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