Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for December, 2012

Health Care Not Health Profit

Dear Gabriel,

Increase the eligibility age for Medicare to 67? Is Congress completely crazy?

We should be reducing the Medicare eligibility age, not increasing it. Healthcare costs when you reach 65 are greater than at any other time of your life. The notion that it’s good fiscal policy to wait a couple of years until the cost of treatment for many people will become more expensive due to delayed diagnoses and treatment is wrongheaded and cynical.

In fact, a small incremental increase in the payroll tax (currently just 1.49%) could cover everyone, young and old. That’s the direction Congress should take, and it’s exactly what we are fighting for in California.

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At California OneCare, we’re educating and advocating for a single, public, not-for-profit health-insurance plan that will cover all Californians and be a model for the nation. Our programs educate and empower people on a personal, grassroots level because we believe that person-to-person contact is the only way to achieve lasting change with this complex issue. Check out our media page for more information.

Your support is appreciated by us and, yes, by economists:

Last week, more than 100 economists emphatically endorsed a national single-payer, Medicare-for-All system in the U.S. that covers all ages as the most humane and fiscally-responsible way to run a health care system: http://econ4.org/statement-on-healthcare

Your continued support and your donation at this time will enable California OneCare to expand outreach, organizing and advocacy in 2013.

Please mail a tax-deductible contribution today to California OneCare Education Fund, P.O. Box 5116, Novato, CA 94948. Or go to http://californiaonecare.org/donate/ today and make a contribution.

With your help, we will win!

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Yours in health care justice,

Andrew McGuire

Executive Director, California OneCare Campaign

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So Their Eyes May See

What better way to end this year than by giving a gift that is a life changer for someone in need?

A gift to Seva today is more than a year-end donation… it is a Gift of Hope for a better tomorrow.

Twelve year old Reshmi lives in Bangladesh with her mother and father. About a year and a half ago, Reshmi began to lose her vision in both eyes. As her vision got worse she dropped out of school. Reshmi became depressed as she grew completely dependent on others. She even stopped wanting to play with her friends.

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Reshmi’s parents became increasingly worried about their daughter’s ability to lead a normal life. As Reshmi lost her eyesight, she needed someone to care for her throughout the day.

In October, Reshmi’s mother brought her to a Seva eye camp made possible by donors who generously responded to Seva’s World Sight Day campaign, and by matching funds from Focusing Philanthropy.

Reshmi was examined and Seva’s local team of expert surgeons restored her vision in both eyes – removing the pediatric cataracts which had been causing her blindness.

Reshmi (pictured here with her mother the day after her surgery) tells Seva how very excited she is to return to school. Her mother, once full of worry, is now filled with happiness knowing that Reshmi will return to her studies and be able to succeed in life! Not only will Reshmi’s life return to normal now, but so will the lives of her entire family.

This is just one of so many incredible stories. This year, 85,000 cataract and sight saving surgeries were performed by Seva. Over 1,000,000 people received eye care services. All of this was made possible by generous supporters like you.

Your support today will change a life forever.

We thank you for your year-end support and wish you and yours a very peaceful and joyous New Year!

Jack Blanks
Executive Director
Seva Foundation

Working Hand-In-Hand

Dear Gabriel,

What would you do if your income was suddenly gone – and at the same time every single store raised its prices?

In Mauritania, many families’ crops died in the fields; then, because food was scarce, food prices skyrocketed. In Senegal, a poor harvest forced some farmers to eat their seeds simply to survive – leaving them with little left to plant.

It’s a story that repeats across the Sahel region of West Africa and around the world: when crops die, food prices go up. Families are faced with the terrible decision to sell or eat whatever they have simply to survive – even though selling their goats, plows and other resources will make rebuilding or weathering the next crisis even harder.

To make a difference in a disaster like this, we need to be there before it strikes and stay long after other groups leave. That’s what Oxfam supporters make possible – not only helping families access emergency food and water, but also restoring wells, providing veterinary support for livestock, supporting women-run small businesses and more – all to create lasting change.

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Before the year ends, we need compassionate people like you to stand with us and be counted – without you, none of this happens. Can you help now?

Your gift of $50 today will help families build a life free of poverty, hunger and injustice from the Sahel to Haiti and beyond. Please donate now.

As an Oxfam supporter, you understand that a long-term commitment is key to saving lives when the toughest times hit and righting the wrong of hunger and poverty in the first place. You get why we have to be in this fight for the long haul.

You want to fight root causes – not just symptoms. When emergency aid is what’s needed, you’re there to help. But you know that the root causes of hunger are poverty and injustice. Together, we work to empower communities, giving people the information, tools, training and help they need to change their situation – for the next harvest and the next generation.

You know the power of working with local communities. Instead of telling people what to do, we listen to their ideas. Then, together, we provide the resources and work hand-in-hand with local partners to improve their communities together.

You want charities to be careful with your money. We design all our programs to be efficient and effective, and we constantly measure results. In the years since Haiti’s devastating earthquake, as international aid slowed, Oxfam has carefully identified where we can do the most good – and focused on the critical need to boost rice agriculture so farmers can make a living and help the country better feed itself.

img_savinglivesAnd finally, when you know you can make a big difference, you don’t stand on the sidelines. There are families going hungry, mothers struggling to serve their children even flour and water. In a world as rich as ours, we all know this is wrong. And we know that together, we can do what’s right.

We need to raise $2.6 million by midnight on December 31. Can you help?

Your gift will help fight poverty, end hunger, stop injustice and change lives. I hope you’ll make a generous commitment to Oxfam before the end of the year.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
President
Oxfam America

Whatever It Takes

Dear Gabriel,

EOY-2012-COBIn the midst of violent conflict in Syria, food shortages in West Africa and terrible floods in Pakistan… there are children.

Thousands of innocent, helpless children who are in very real danger.

UNICEF is determined to save these children, so we’re announcing an ambitious goal of raising $1 million by December 31. Because without an immediate influx of additional relief, many of these children will not make it.

Please donate now – and help rush critical treatments, clean water and vaccinations to the world’s most vulnerable children. 100% of your gift is tax-deductible.

I believe every one of these children is a reason to support UNICEF’s far-reaching, lifesaving work – and I know you do, too. But in case you need a few more, here are my top six:

1. You can trust UNICEF. Founded in 1946, UNICEF has helped save more children than any other organization. UNICEF takes the best ideas from around the world and puts them to work for the world’s most vulnerable children.

2. Your money will be used wisely. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF spends 90.5 cents of every dollar we receive on programs for children. Only 6.6 cents goes to fundraising, and 2.9 cents to administration.

3. Your money will make a difference. Since 1990, UNICEF’s work has helped cut the number of preventable child deaths by one-third. How?

Immunizations – When you support UNICEF, you help provide immunizations for more than half of the world’s children. In 2011 alone, UNICEF procured 2.5 billion doses of vaccine for children in 103 countries.

Clean water – Since 1990, 1.8 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water thanks to UNICEF and its deliveries of water purification supplies.

Nutrition – When famine strikes, UNICEF is the No. 1 provider of ready-to-eat therapeutic food for children.

4. UNICEF goes to the ends of the earth to help children – literally. On the ground in 190 countries and territories, in the world’s most challenging situations, UNICEF is there helping children. Over the past 30 years, UNICEF has helped create the world’s farthest-reaching supply network, capable of delivering even temperature-sensitive vaccines to the most remote locations. UNICEF goes places that no other relief organization can reach.

5. UNICEF will do whatever it takes to save a child. The organization’s unparalleled access and expertise mean that THIS is the group that can get things done where no one else can. UNICEF has actually stopped wars so children could be vaccinated. UNICEF works with government leaders, civic figures, celebrities, corporations, campus groups, churches, teachers and people just like you – anyone willing to help advocate for the survival and well-being of every child.

6. It doesn’t take much to save a child. Some of the most important treatments for curing children of disease, suffering and death cost pennies. Millions of children die of diarrhea every year, and the oral rehydration salts that can save them cost just 8 cents a packet. Malnutrition contributes to half of ALL child deaths, and the fortified nut paste and micronutrients needed to save them cost less than a dollar a day.

Please don’t wait; the clock is ticking for the world’s most vulnerable children. Donate today to rush real, lifesaving relief. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible.

On behalf of the world’s children, thank you.

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

The Plum Tree

The Plum Tree
by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
24 December, 2012

“. . . deserves a bright spotlight on the literary stage . . .”

0758278438.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Seventeen-year-old Christine Bolz works as a domestic for the Bauermans in a small German Village.

Christine and the Bauerman’s son, Isaac, have just revealed their love for one another when the world is turned upside down. It is 1938. Christine and her mother are banned from working for the Jewish family. Everyone is threatened, suspected or arrested by the Nazi regime. How do Christine, Isaac and their families fare when the worst that can happen happens?

Author Ellen Marie Wiseman’s provocative and realistic images of a small German village are exquisite. One can almost taste, smell, and see the surroundings and hear the voices of the characters as they speak to one another and to themselves.

When Christine is told she can no longer see Isaac, her reactions are described as, “Now, the sparse room reflected the way she felt, bone-cold and empty as a cave, the cool drafts of the coming winter already making their way through the invisible crevices in the fieldstone and mortar walls and the undetectable cracks in the thick, dry timber.”

After experiencing extreme desolation and deprivation, Christine’s senses are overwhelmed. “It surprised her, and she had to catch her breath before she choked on the joy of something so simple and delicious.”

Everything is out of control. Christine is soon faced with life and death decisions on a daily basis. What she decides to do (or not do) has rippling effects on everyone she cares for. In some respects, as is often true in war; even the illusion of choice and routine provides a sense of comfort and solace.

Christine makes the mental note about her mother. “But she knew why her mother had gotten up. Her household was the one thing she could control… the only way she knew how to deal with her unpredictable life.” The Plum Tree is itself, graciously laced with uncertainty and an air of unknowing what will befall the families and who will or will not survive (physically and/or emotionally).

There are portions of this novel that will remind readers’ of Schindler’s List, the difference being that few in this story are saved. There are no heroes, only survivors.

Although nothing is held back in chronicling the gruesomeness of the Holocaust, the bombing of Germany, and the suffering that millions endured, The Plum Tree also exudes a sense of faith in one’s family, truth and humanity.

Its attention to historical detail is to be appreciated, yet these details do not trump the core of the tale, which is both a story about enduring love and the suffering unleashed by Hitler’s mania.

Read complete review and others at the New York Journal of Books.

CARE For All

Dear Gabriel,

CARE_EOY_HolidayThere’s a magical feeling to the end of each year, regardless of how it is celebrated. Here at CARE, with staff in 84 countries, there are many celebrations taking place at this time of year.

I am sure I will be hearing about some of my colleagues enjoying doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and injera bread Christmas feasts in Ethiopia, or Christmas Eve gatherings with cinnamon and clove spiced hot chocolate, in addition to peneton – a special kind of fruit cake – in Peru. In Nepal, the Diwali celebration has already brought together Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, who string their streets and homes with lights and oil lamps, their beautiful Festival of Lights brightening the dark winter.

These celebrations share a common spirit – one of peace, hope, and unity. It’s a message that reminds me why so many of us dedicate ourselves to this work, whether as full time staff, financial supporters, or volunteers.

As you make your plans to celebrate the holidays, I hope you think of yourself as part of a worldwide CARE family. If you can, take a moment from the hectic holiday preparations to reflect on the lives touched by the generosity of CARE’s donors.

It is because of the support of our donors that thousands of Ethiopians have clean water and nutritious food for their holiday feast; that women in rural Peru can afford to get their small businesses off the ground; that farmers in Nepal learned to grow stronger, better crops.

No matter what you celebrate, or which traditions you follow, happy holidays from the CARE family to yours.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Keep Girls Strong

Dear Gabriel,

A baby girl comes into this world brimming with potential – ready to grow, live, and dream.

But too often, society will get in her way, stacking up a mountain of challenges in front of her.

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Sometimes it starts right away by robbing her of her health because of a lack of food or clean water. Sometimes it comes later – when her family cannot afford to send her to school or her local school refuses to allow girls to attend. Before she is twelve, she may even be forced to marry a man twice her age.

For over 60 years, CARE has been addressing the underlying causes of poverty and attacking the obstacles that stand between girls and their ability to realize their full potential.

With your help, we can meet a girl’s basic need for food, water, and a place to live. We can build schools and help communities realize that girls belong in the classroom, not at the altar.

Together, we can help women fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams and watch women lift up their families, and entire communities, out of poverty.

That’s what works… but only when people like you commit to pitching in. Every bit will help rush urgently-needed support to the girls and families who need it – and until December 31st, your gift will be matched. Make a gift now!

That’s right – when you donate before December 31st, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million. This amazing opportunity could not come at a better time.

In many parts of the world, educating and empowering girls is a deadly serious matter. A few months ago, just days before the first International Day of the Girl, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head because of her outspoken advocacy for the rights of girls to go to school. Miraculously, she survived and from her recovery room refused to abandon the belief that girls deserve a fair chance in this world – the kind of chance they get when they go to school.

When girls are willing to show such amazing courage, we must step up to act as safeguards – we must stand strong in the fight to win girls’ right to dream, learn, and grow.

CARE has not only helped build schools for girls in the region Malala calls home – our field staff also partnered with local organizations to rebuild over 40 schools for girls in the country of Pakistan. CARE supports youth activities like sporting events and youth forums. Globally, our education work focuses on girls between the ages of 10 and 14, when they are making the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.

Around the world, we are fighting poverty in many different ways – through repairing community wells, creating village savings and loan associations to help poor communities start small businesses, managing crises, and so much more. When I think about the path to a brighter future, I firmly believe that working with girls is the key to our success.

Please help keep girls strong. Every gift matters – please give today and help us meet our goal of $1 million by December 31st. Every dollar will be matched.

Thank you for everything you do.

Sincerely,

Tolli Love
Vice President, CARE

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