I still can't believe it but I wanted to say how incredible a person, Sharon Argwings-Kodhek, our Managing Trustee (Kenya), always will be remembered as. Sharon passed away after a long battle with Lupus, but not before she devoted herself to helping others, and so many others! This article explains her battle.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Normally the body's immune system makes proteins called antibodies, to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials, but in an autoimmune disorder like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues and directs attacks against itself causing primarily inflammation, pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function, internally and externally.
For most, lupus is a mild disease, for others, like Sharon, it can devastate. Yet despite everything, Sharon still found the time to give vital assistance to AVIF and our volunteers, establish lupus support groups and foundations and educate thousands. Through it all, she also brought up 2 incredible children, More and Amani.
I met Sharon 'virtually' in 2006 through a mutual friend and she instantly started to throw support my way, offering advice in how we could establish our network, providing support to volunteers, meeting them, offering orientations and much much more. AVIF has only grown into the global network it is because of the support and advice Sharon gave me all these years.
I will miss her so much. She was one of those special friends that you could always rely on regardless of the distance or months or years that go inbetween "catch-ups". I just can't believe yet that I won't be able to simply Skype her or send a text but I am so proud to have known her for even such a small part of her short life. Rest In Peace now, my friend and know that thanks to you, thousands can get the treatment they need, know that Amani, too, will grow up to be a strong, intelligent woman, almost as incredible as your son, almost as incredible as You xxx
"I’m an optimist. I believe in humanity’s ingenuity. Even on the path of the hard way, I think we’ll prevail. We’ll scramble and find solutions. Yet the cost will be far higher a decade or two from now than it would be if we started today. And the scars will run deeper, in species lost, in acidified seas, in forests chopped or burned down, in climate-created famines and pestilence, in wars and conflicts born of resource scarcity." Ramez Naam, Computer Scientist
This is a brilliant article that needs sharing. I've long been a believer that a negative "doomed for disaster" attitude to climate change will never inspire even the least apathetic of us. Fortunately we have evolution on our side and the inimitable human spirit for progress, discovery and of course innovation.
Here are three of many such innovations we should be proud of, but should also be using more of .. and Now!
".. with continued improvement in desalination technology, we can have access to water supplies many times larger than any projected human need."
Improvements in efficiency, such as Radial Deionization are greatly bringing down the cost. Don't forget the planet is 70% water. If we can crack that, everything else comes easy.
Consider the sun, "which strikes the Earth with roughly 5,000 times as much energy as we consume from all sources combined" as photons. "..that energy is so vast that solar panels on less than 0.3% of the Earth’s land area would supply many times more energy than humanity needs for the next few decades."
"On current pace, by 2025, solar power will be cheaper than electricity from coal or natural gas across the large majority of the planet, including China, India, and most of the developing world, where energy use is rising fastest". Solar power itself can rocket a developing country's economic development. SolarAid have been pushing this process for years but much more serious investment is needed at government level.
Deforestation MUST be halted too. Converting forest into farm and grazing land has many major hidden costs. "Since 1950, a full 60% of the world’s tropical rainforests have been destroyed". The planet’s forests are the world’s lungs. Look at the differences today between Kenya and northern Brazil! Forests ".. consume CO2 from the atmosphere, converting it into wood and leaf (around 3.7 trillion tons of CO2) — equivalent to nearly a century of human emissions. They emit a quarter of the oxygen that feeds all other animal life on earth, including humans. They provide a safe haven for millions of species found nowhere else. ..And, through a process called evapotranspiration, forests bring rain to areas downwind of them. Tropical rainforests alone produce around 20% of the world’s oxygen and 30% of the world’s fresh water. Human activity that damages them has wide reaching effects."
For population, the real deciding factor is education for more women. I posted in 2011 about the Brazilian women in the headlines as National Geographic's Cynthia Gorney highlighted their incredible ability to lower the entire country's fertility rate.
".. between 2050 and 2100, something almost unprecedented in the history of the world is likely to occur" writes Naam. "The world’s population is likely to plateau between 9 and 10 billion people. And after that, so long as wealth and education continue to rise, the world’s population is likely to drop."
So .. "On the one side, we have the pace at which we’re consuming finite resources and warming and polluting the planet — a trend with disastrous consequences should it continue unchecked. On the other side, we have our vigorous progress in innovating to tap more efficiently and cleanly into a truly enormous supply of fundamental natural resources the planet provides." I know which side I'm rooting for.
Hannah joins the Sadili Oval Academy in Lang'ata next month, on the edge of the Kibera slum area of Nairobi. Their latest newsletter is here highlighting all the incredible work they do, under the leadership of the fabulous Liz Odera (Dr).
The Academy does so much more than just sport. They recently help a Girls Power Sports Day empowering girls.
Sadili's Wishlist is long but anything you can help with please get in touch with us:
- basic sports supplies; shoes, balls, strings, grips, and general kitting.
- donations for building a greenhouse to increase the Academy's sustainable foodsource
- volunteers with expertise in staff training, marketing, online advertising, sports coaching (tennis, basketball, soccer, swimming and rugby), teaching (English, Math, Sciences, music, computer studies, art and reading), video and blog creation, event organisation......
Sadili "..continue to dream of a computer lab, complete with internet facilities, to improve learning for the children, and also give them a chance to feel that they are part of a bigger world." Please help if you can, even if its just sharing this with friends and family.
Apart from some isolated incidents which I won't acknowledge here I'm so happy Kenya held their head up high, despite admin problems and very long queues. Uchaguzi continues to feed clear data to us via the link here and from the IEPC site below.
Please keep communicating via text (SMS) message to 3002
or via Twitter with the hashtag: #uchaguzi
Wishing Peace, Love and Unity to all Kenyans x
Today is the most important day of the year for Tibetans; Losar the start of the New Year 2140 "Tashi-de-leh!!"
On the first day of New Year, Tibetans get up very early, take a bath with starwater (water left out overnight to be "cleansed by starlight"). They wear new clothes and worship the gods in their households, offering them special foods known as torma.
Tibetans then visit monasteries and shrines to make offerings and all the family members gather together to have special New Year meals with Kapse (a cake) and a warm alcoholic drink called chang. Houses are decorated with flour paintings of the sun and the moon. Offerings are made to the moon for a happy and prosperous life.
It is tradition that if you have important things to do then you must do them today. So Tashi sent us pictures of the children and hopes that they will have great result for this year.
Her students now total 74, most of them farmers and nomads. Tashi thanks our donors for their help which bought books, pens and supplies as well as cookies and food for Losar. They were treated with drinks of hot sweet tea to beat the cold. Weather in Nyemo over Winter is often bitterly cold winds and very dry. There is not so much celebration these days but quiet prayer and quality time spent with family.
- Our long-term volunteers Nick & Charlie literally MOVED to Kenya last week to set up a project centre in Kisumu with a US organisation. They will be a port of call for all future AVIF volunteers, acting as liaisons and sharing their wide knowledge of Kenya.
- I would also like to thank all donors for their support towards Amazonart's project work in Brazil, raising over £500 in the last few weeks on Justgiving. Various concerts are being held in both London, UK and in Brazil with proceeds going to bring music and workshops to the riberinho communities around the islands. Further info on the website. Obrigado a todos vocês!