Poop Into Fuel

One of the organizations that sends me frequent e-mails is Global Citizen. Today they sent me one with the title “Poop Into Fuel.” It was quite interesting and gave me the idea for this blog.

Along with many other developing countries, Uganda has lost much of its forests due to trees being cut to get fuel for cooking food. People (mostly girls and women) spend much of their time going to get the tree branches and carry them home on their backs. Likewise, they have problems with lack of sanitary facilities, especially when they have bowel movements.

A man whose name is Bosco Odyer developed a special system that converts poop (solid human waste) into fuel for Ugandan cooks. The finished product is somewhat like charcoal briquettes which cause almost zero odor and smoke when burned. Mr. Odyer is in the Kole District which is in the eastern part of Uganda. Water for People (which is in the first category of my HelpingWorldwide.org website) assisted him and some other people with similar goals.

National Geographic Magazine did a story about that in their December 2014 issue. The Gates Foundation is very interested in the subject. Eco-Fuel Africa is led by Sanga Moses and has similar goals and activities. Likewise, you can find more information through a Google search.

I am very fortunate that when my wife or I need to cook, it is only necessary to put the food on or into a stove and push some buttons. More than one billion people in the world do not have that opportunity.

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Queen of Katwe

When you think of pathways out of the most extreme poverty situations, chess is probably not one of them. However, the ability to rise from a slum community next to Kampala, Uganda by mastering chess is what made it possible for a girl there by the name of Phiona Mutesi, age 10, to attain a higher educational and living standard. Her father was dead, her mother tried to make a subsistence living by selling small amounts of produce, and no one in the family was literate or had enough money to go to school. However, a Christian mission program called Sports Outreach had program that included chess as well as soccer and other activities. (See www.sportsoutreach.net).

Almost no one believed that any girl could beat the boys and men in chess, but Phiona did. After considerable effort and disappointment, she went on to become her country’s leading chess champion. Then her story became a book in 2012 This year it was made into a movie by Walt Disney and other production companies. It was filmed in Uganda and South Africa.

I saw it last week and was very impressed. Hopefully you can see it too. Use Google for more information.

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The Huge Airplane Crashes You Probably Don’t Hear About

One of the biggest newsmakers is a major airplane crash. On March 8, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew mysteriously fell from the sky (probably deep into the Indian Ocean), and there were no survivors. No evidence of its whereabouts has been found more than a year later. The story dominated the news for many weeks, and millions of dollars were spent trying to find the wreckage. Fortunately, flying on a commercial airline is still one of the safest ways to travel.

The Boeing 777-200 plane (used on the that tragic flight) carries up to 265 people and is one of the most widely used big jets. Now think about the number “265” and multiply it by 100 so that we have 26,500. It is a significant figure in a way that you probably don’t realize.

Richard Sterns is the author of The Hole in Our Gospel (a book that I highly recommend). He notes that “Every day more than 26,500 children die of mostly preventable causes — the equivalent of 100 planes filled with children crashing.”

My favorite Bible is called “The Faith In Action Study Bible.” At the end, it has a section called “The World in the 21st Century.” On the page about the water and sanitation crisis, it notes “A child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease. This amounts to nearly 6,000 deaths, or the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing every day” (statistics from the World Health Organization, 2004).

My guess is that most of the children in the most impoverished parts of the world have never seen a large plane — much less than ride on it. However, they and their families have to deal with clean water and sanitation issues on a daily basis that I don’t have to deal with, while I can look above and see jet planes flying over me every day on their way to or from a nearby major airport.

I suggest that you think about some of these issues the next time you see a large airplane or get ready to travel on one. Hopefully some of the material on my website will give you ideas about what you can do to help. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

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The Malayka Angel

If you graduated from a top-rated college, then law school, and hold licenses to practice law in two states, helping Ugandan soldiers who were injured while fighting on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably not at the top of your priority list. However, that is what Tara Coughlin has been doing since 2007.

Military contractors working for the U.S. in the two major wars hired over 10,000 Ugandan fighters because that can be less costly than for American soldiers — especially when there are significant injuries or even deaths. The U.S. and the contractors are not inclined to pay benefits, and thus the injured and/or their families are left stranded. Getting death payments is also a challenge. Thus Ms. Coughlin has been providing a very useful service by handling many of their cases.

When she went to Uganda, she learned that there were many more needs — especially among the children. That got her interested in founding Malayka International. The word “Malayka” means angel in several African languages. It is volunteer-based and seeks to “provide vital medical support to orphans, vulnerable children, and adults.” It has helped thousands of impoverished people, and the number keeps increasing. See www.malayka.org

Tara Coughlin shows her Christian faith in her actions. You can also learn about her by entering her name and Macomb Daily Press into Google. While she may not make nearly as much money as other attorneys, she will have a great reward in heaven.

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This is My Normal

Nairobi, Kenya is one of the largest cities in the eastern half of Africa and has over four million people. I have not been there, but my younger son has five times. I also know other people who have visited it or have connections there.

Everything I have heard about Nairobi suggests that it is a city of great contrasts. Those who are more fortunate live in gated communities with armed guards. They can make purchases at shopping centers as good as any in the U.S. or Canada. The city’s airport is the hub for several major airlines. Major corporations have offices there, and many non-profits do as well. Being the capital of Kenya adds greatly to its importance.

On the other hand, Nairobi includes Kibera — the largest slum in eastern Africa. It has a population of over 2.5 million people crowded into an area of about two square miles — roughly the size of New York City’s Central Park. Most houses are made of rusty metal with little or no space between them. It’s not unusual for ten people to live in a 10 foot by 10 foot space. Only about 20% have electricity, and far less have running water and sanitation. The term “flying toilets” refers to using plastic bags for human waste and throwing them wherever. As you might expect, that leads to a lot of illness and disease. There are no governmental hospitals or clinics. Education is very limited. Only about 50% of the people are employed, and crime is rampant. Many women are raped.

The good news is that at least some things are improving in Kibera. BBC reported major progress on February 23, 2015 (which you can find with a Google search). One example is the “PeePoo.” It is a special treated bag in which people can relieve themselves for one-time use and then allows urea to decompose the waste into fertilizer for agriculture. See www.peepoople.com

Life In Abundance International (described in the “General Humanitarian Organizations” category of this website) produced the “This Is My Normal” DVD. You can order it from them and learn more about challenges in Kibera. Let us look forward to the day when “this is my normal” will become much better than it is now.

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This Soap Could Stop the Spread of Malaria

Malaria killed approximately 438,000 people in 2015, and 90% of the fatalities were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many different techniques, including anti-malaria medications and bed nets, have been tried with varying success.

An organization in New York City called Global Citizen (formerly Global Poverty Project) publicizes various efforts to help improve health conditions and other challenges in the developing world. One of their recent stories carried the same title as this blog.

Faso Soap is the name of the product. It is inexpensive and can be widely used across Africa. CNN did a special report about it that you can read online. Doctors Without Borders is helping to promote it.

I hope that by giving a little more publicity to Faso Soap (which you can learn more about by doing a Google search), it might be possible to help save some people from serious illness and death.

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Ugandan People Are Sending E-mails

It has been more than a decade since a friend helped me establish this website, and it has multiplied in both numbers since then. As stated on my home page, my purpose is “to bring together information to help in the most impoverished places on the planet,” and then I add that my desire to serve Jesus Christ is an even greater motivation.

One can ask “What do you mean by ‘the most impoverished places,’ and ‘Where are they?'” I refer to the United Nations definition which sets extreme poverty as being under $2.75 daily (as measured in U.S. dollars). Depending on whom you ask, there are between 125 and 150 developing countries. That includes virtually all of Africa.

I have never been to Uganda or anywhere else in Africa. However, my impression is that they share most of the problems of other countries on the continent. What is a bit unusual, however, is that I have had more e-mail from Uganda than any other country outside the United States. Often they tell the same kind of dilemma: lack of clean water, sanitation, food, ineffective use of land, educational challenges, lack of equal opportunity for women and girls, health issues, and many more. As a Christian, that also includes helping people learn about Jesus Christ. The main way I try to help is providing information. I do not provide financial assistance (other to my church and its related mission activities) except in very rare instances where I personally am somehow involved or personally know the individual.

In the past three years, I have had at least 100 e-mails from Uganda. Most have come from a man named Clement, and I have been able to provide some information for him. Last week I heard from a man named Edwin who is in Kampala (the capital city). I also have some Ugandan friends who live near me and have their own personal projects for helping in their home country.

The biggest concern I have is that every community in every developing country have a champion.

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Unexpected Tanzanian Connections

Unless you know that Mt. Kilimanjaro is the largest mountain in Africa and is located there, have followed Jane Goodall’s studies about chimpanzee behavior, or know that the country has some big game preserves, you probably don’t know much about Tanzania. You might not know that Tanzania covers more land than Egypt, has a population of over 47 million people, and its largest city — Dar es Salaam — has over 3.4 million people.

Of special interest to me is the fact that the vast majority of the people in Tanzania are impoverished with annual incomes of only $520 — as measured in U.S. dollars (according to the Operation World reference book). Most people are impoverished farmers seeking to improve their lives. AIDS has hit the country very hard. So has lack of medical care, clean water, sanitation, improved food supply, and many of the other things described on this HelpingWorldwide website.

In the past decade while my website has been online, I have had numerous inquiries about finding things. As often as possible, I try to respond (as long as the inquiries are in English).

Four months ago, I heard from a Tanzanian pastor (Rev. Alabasha Hume) who has been in Minneapolis for nearly two decades. He added that another pastor from Tanzania (Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Kigwilna) has been living in the Atlanta area and elsewhere in the U.S. for about that long. Together they are trying to help get a clinic they established just outside of Dar es Salaam outfitted with medical supplies and wanted me to help provide some advice. I suggested that they go to the “Medical Supplies and Medical Technologies” category of my website and see which organization or organizations might be of most help. I also added that I am more familiar with World Medical Relief (www.worldmedicalrelief.org) in Detroit than any other. After some additional contacts, they decided to apply for two 40-foot containers of medical supplies from WMR. They came here so that on June 12, 2015, I could take them and two other people there to make the arrangements to get the supplies and then to a nearby place to arrange for shipping. The first of the two containers is expected to sail within a month.

Although I know many other African people, I don’t recall meeting anyone from Tanzania before. When I started with my website, I had no idea that I would be hearing from anyone there — much less meeting them in person. Now I am happy to say that has become a reality. I don’t expect to ever go to Tanzania, but at least I feel that the medical supplies that I helped arrange to go there will make difference. To learn more about what my Tanzanian friends and their colleagues are doing, go to www.lia-tanzania.org (LIA stands for Love In Action.)

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Unique Teams in the 2016 Summer Olympics

In only a short time from now, much of the world’s attention will be focused on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Athletes representing nearly all of the world’s countries will be there in various competitions. Many of them have been practicing for most of their lives.

The August 1, 2016 issue of TIME Magazine has a very interesting six-page article. It is titled “The Longest Run,” and subtitled “The First Team of Refugee Olympians Will Be Competing for the Dignity of All.” The story is about how a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of refugees (mostly in Eastern Africa, but also in Syria), have been able to be accepted into a unique category of refugee Olympians. Many fled their homelands (especially in South Sudan — the world’s newest country) and literally ran as fast as they could into Ethiopia and more so into Kenya (where there were and still are refugee camps). Many lost family members. That they were even able to survive is amazing.

It seems nothing less than a miracle whereby ten men and women from four countries (Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan) will be what TIME calls “Team Refugee.”

Given their brief training, often lack of appropriate clothing and shoes, and other things taken for granted by most of their competitors, it is not likely that any will go home with an Olympic medal. However, by simply being in Rio, their stories are likely to be told to wider audiences and provide inspiration for many others. As the Apostle Paul said in the New Testament, “Run the race which is before you.”

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Villages Need Schools and You Can Help

Like virtually every other developing country, Uganda is in desperate need of improved education at all levels. Although it has some excellent schools and universities, most of them are in urban areas. Yet most of its population are impoverished farm families or individuals using simple tools on small plots of land.

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri was born and raised in rural southwest Uganda. Despite extreme poverty, his parents knew that education was the key to an improved future for their children. They allowed Jackson’s two older sisters to go to school, but father felt that Jackson needed to stay on the farm. One day at age five, he sneaked off and followed them to school. His father caught him. Jackson expected a beating, but his father allowed him to stay in school on one condition: that he never fail a course. Jackson kept that promise by graduating at the top of his class for each grade level before getting a scholarship to the country’s top university. Again he did very well and got scholarships for additional studies at Columbia University in New York City and Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Next he took a fundraising position at Michigan State University.

Despite becoming part of the American middle class, Jackson did not forget his roots as he began making plans for improved education, especially for AIDS orphans and their grandmothers, and other programs and facilities in his home community. Thus the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project began (www.nyakaschool.org), and Jackson left his M.S.U position to become its full-time director. His fascinating autobiography is A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka.

I personally know Jackson and am glad to endorse what he and colleagues are doing. At the same time, there are many other equally deserving educational needs all over the world. Last year I met another very impressive Ugandan man at a Christian medical missions conference who earned his doctorate in Global Health and Wholeness at an American seminary. His name is Dr. Ronald Kaluya, and he is doing great things in education and other fields. His website is www.ugandaccs.org

We may not all be able to go on mission trips to places like Uganda and elsewhere in the developing world, but finding organizations that help with educational needs is major way to assist. The “General Humanitarian Organizations” category of this website includes Compassion International and several other excellent ones. Most charge donors approximately one dollar per day to providing schooling. It certainly is a good investment.

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