Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Last night, a bill was filed asking for a $1.3 billion increase in AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis funding for 2007 - a full $300 million more than the $1 billion increase ONE members urged for over the last two months. If the bill passes, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis funding would be $4.5 billion in 2007.
Of course, other organizations have done the same and credit should be given to them too for their efforts. I know for one that World Vision International has initiated similar moves for the same cause.
However, as they say, this is not a done deal yet until the bill is passed. Today, the House will vote on this and by February 5, the Senate will make their vote. We should all remain steadfast and continue to monitor developments.
For updates, log on to http://www.theONBlog.org
Monday, January 29, 2007
A Few Words From Bono
Posted by Virginia 12:00 PM Oct 13, 2006
As Product (RED) launches in America, opening a new front in the war against AIDS, a few words from Bono:
“Sometimes when I'm walking down the street a passer by will say "love your work on Africa Bono, great cause." Sometimes, they wish they hadn't. As I'm Irish, I love to talk to strangers. I love to talk about Africa. It can be hard to get away. . . Each time it makes me think we need to do much more to get the message across that this is not a 'cause,' this pandemic that we and so many others are working on. 5,500 Africans dying a day of AIDS, a preventable, treatable disease is not a cause. 5,500 Africans dying each day is an emergency.
Enter Product (RED). Red is a new idea we're launching to work alongside the growing ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History. Over the past year, almost 2 million Americans have joined ONE, in churches and chatrooms. . .on soccer pitches and movie sets. . .at NASCAR races and rock concerts. By 2008, we're aiming to have 5 million members – that's more than the National Rifle Association. Just think for a moment of what that kind of political firepower could achieve for the poorest of the poor. . .
Where ONE takes on the bigger, longer-term beast of changing policy and influencing government, (RED) is, I guess, about a more instant kind of gratification. If you buy a (RED) product from GAP, Motorola, Armani, Converse or Apple, they will give up to 50% of their profit to buy AIDS drugs for mothers and children in Africa. (RED) is the consumer battalion gathering in the shopping malls. You buy the jeans, phones, iPods, shoes, sunglasses, and someone - somebody's mother, father, daughter or son - will live instead of dying in the poorest part of the world. It’s a different kind of fashion statement.
You might think (RED) sounds too simple. But AIDS is no longer a death sentence. Just two pills a day will bring someone who is at death's door back to full health, back to a full life. Doctors call it 'the Lazarus effect'. I’ve seen it myself and I have to say that it’s nothing short of a miracle. These pills are available at any corner drugstore. They cost less than a dollar a day, but the poorest people in Africa earn less than a dollar a day.
They can’t afford them, and so they die. It's unnecessary. It's insane.
You might think it’s too difficult to get these drugs to the people who most need them. A couple of years ago when DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) lobbied President Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac to do more on AIDS we went to experts about this. From Bill and Melinda Gates, to Dr Paul Farmer working in the poorest places on the earth, to Dr Coutinho in his AIDS clinic in Uganda. Is it easy? No. Is it impossible? No. Can we do it? Absolutely. In 2001, there were 50,000 Africans taking ARVs. Now there are over one million people getting these life saving drugs thanks to President Bush's AIDS initiative, and thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
There are though still 4.3 million Africans without drugs, which is why 100% of (RED) money is going directly to the Global Fund to support the work they are doing. (RED) uses the power in your pocket to keep people alive. ONE uses the power of your voice to create a more just world where people can earn their own way out of poverty. This means tackling more than AIDS. It means fighting corruption. Insisting on good governance. Getting kids in school. Changing trade rules. Getting businesses to invest in Africa. Myself and Ali started a company called Edun – a fashion line that makes clothes in Africa – because so many Africans we met said what they wanted more than anything was a job.
All of this is ganging up on the same problem – the greatest health crisis in human history and the extreme poverty in which it thrives. The Number 1 question we get asked is, what can I do to help? From today, you can do one more thing than you could do yesterday. Shop (RED). And if you haven’t already, join the One campaign at one.org.
As I said, this is an emergency. And in these dangerous times, how we in the West respond is an opportunity to show what we stand for, as well as what we stand against. If we're successful, we will not only transform millions of people's lives, we'll transform the way these people see us ... and in turn, the world in which we live."
Friday, January 26, 2007
Having read about a 5-year old who donated to charity the $200 she and her friends collected for her birthday was indeed very touching.
In the UNICEF website, it featured an article about a competition that encouraged the youth's creativity and awareness about poverty. Two boys from Finland won the first prize of $200 for the school they built, which included virtual post-it notes featuring content from the UNICEF Voices of Youth website. There were almost 1,000 teens who joined the World Fit for Children competition.
Parents and cause-oriented organizations who make the youth aware of the realities of life and encourage them to get involved in civic activities should really be given credit and recognized for their efforts. With proper guidance, the youth can be moulded into being productive members of society. As it had been said so often, "The youth is the future of a nation."
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger, poverty, and disease – and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa – and because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years.
"I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty.
"When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look – and tonight we need only look above to the gallery."
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sometimes when I saw her at nights, I could see the weariness in her body as she walked by and I felt a bit sad. Some years back, she was featured by a nationwide tv channel, not because she sells the product, but because she was able to support her family doing this. I vaguely recall whether it was said that she was given exclusive right by the Yakult company to sell their product this way, but she is the only one I've ever seen doing this. And after what seems like 20 years or more, she still does the same thing, now even extending her responsibility to supporting her granchildren. It made me wonder why her children, who are now parents themselves haven't taken her place doing this...but then again, maybe they have and are selling them in other areas.
Filipinos are clannish. Though it may be good to have close family ties, it does have the disadvantage of families sometimes abusing it and being dependent on relatives for support even when they should already be supporting themselves. This is the typical case of the Yakult vendor.
But this also shows a typical Filipina mother from the olden days who uncomplainingly and tirelessly makes sacrifices to find a dignified job to be able to support her children. There are few like her these days that I see on the streets working like she does. I have so much admiration for people like her. But I can see that she's getting old and weary, and I wish she can have a little rest from walking all day everyday just to support her extended family. She certainly deserves it after all these years of hard work and sacrifices.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The news a few days ago that car seatbelts for kids failed safety standards was really worrisome. Despite this news, I thought that putting on seatbelts on kids whenever they're in the car is still certainly better than not at all. It was a relief today to read that the news magazine retracted their story on unsafe seatbelts for infants. But then again, it has left a question in many people's minds just how safe they are on the road even with these seatbelts on.
One should always be conscious of road safety when travelling on the road. There's nothing like defensive and safe driving. I found some helpful driving tips that also made me aware of my faults when driving on the road. And after going through an experience of getting harrassed on the road by two men, I can only be thankful that they probably weren't real criminals but just hotheads who weren't happy that I didn't allow them to carelessly overtake me on the road.
> Don’t forget the basics: Buckle your seatbelt, limit loose objects in your car and lock your doors.
> Be cautions at intersections. Intersections can be risky because there are a lot of distractions: turning cars, pedestrians and red-light runners.
> Steer clear of erratic drivers. Let a tailgater pass you.
> Drive cautiously. Keep your eyes on the road. Talking on a cell phone or reading a map can distract you and lead to an accident. Keep in mind that a distracted driver might also be near you.
> Be alert near parked cars. Someone could open a car door or pull out in front of you.
> Don’t drive sleep-deprived. Sleep is not a matter of willpower, but a biological need. If you become drowsy, pull off the road and get some rest.
> When passing another car, get past the driver’s blind spot as quickly and safely as possible.
> Don't overspeed, especially with children on board.
> Know your brakes. Most cars have antilock brakes, which require a driver to apply a firm and continuous pressure on the pedal.
> Leave about 1 car length between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead when stopping at an intersection. In stormy weather, leave extra space between you and the car ahead.
> Don’t drive through water. A small amount of water can disable a vehicle in seconds.
> Always check the traffic light ahead. Go through a yellow light only if it is unsafe to stop.
> When making a left turn from a stop, allow enough time to safely clear an intersection
> Don't change lanes in an intersection. Be in the correct lane well before you need to make a turn.
> Avoid making sudden moves or lane changes, or you will risk confusing other drivers. Use your turn signal well in advance to alert other drivers.
> When the light at an intersection turns green, always check for other road users before proceeding forward.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The Blind Girl
There was a blind girl who hated herself because of her blindness. Not only did she hate herself but she hated everyone else, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend. One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, "Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?" The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her that simply said. "Just take care of my eyes dear."
This is sometimes how the human brain changes when our status changes. Some forget what life was like before and even fewer remember who to thank for always being there even when times were painfully unbearable.
Life Is a Gift
Today before you think of saying an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.
Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
Before you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to God for a companion.
Today before you complain about life - Think of someone who went too early to heaven.
Before you complain about your children - Think of someone who desires children but they're barren.
Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn't clean or sweep - Think of the people who are living in the streets.
Before whining about the distance you drive - Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.
And when you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.
Before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another - Remember that not one of us are without sin and we all answer to one maker.
And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and thank God you're alive and still around.
Life is a gift, live it, enjoy it, celebrate it, and fulfill it.
RELISH THE MOMENT, IT WON'T COME AROUND AGAIN.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Sometimes it's also good to just watch and appreciate the beauty around us, that despite all the hardships and suffering, there are still many things that can make us smile and feel good about.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Some years back, a new Senior Vice President hired by the former bank I worked for openly showed his surprise at how small the salaries were of the rank and file. He said his tax deduction was already the salary of some rank and file, or not even. Until a salary standardization was effected bankwide just weeks ago, the same thought crossed my mind when I was hired 4 years ago and actually observed how the pioneer employees in the company were complaining about their salaries and struggling to make both ends meet.
But their problem is not even a speck of what people are going through in nations like Kenya or those living in the very depressed areas here. I've actually seen street people or scavengers at night standing by and waiting for those large black plastic bags from fastfood restaurants to be brought out for garbage trucks to pick up later. If they were lucky, they didn't have to fight with others for the leftovers.
Sometimes as I take a bite from the daily chocolate bar that I always indulge in, the thought about how these people are surviving crosses my mind. The chocolote bar is almost $1 that I spend after lunch everyday. And I wonder how many of us would really be willing to set aside a little bit of what we have for the less fortunate.
I've seen a growing consciousness in many to help in one way or another, be it in donating, starting fund-raising campaigns, calling on their government representtatives to take action, or just sharing their experiences and encouraging others to get involved.
The list of charitable organizations in my blogroll is growing longer. It's good to know that people care enough to want to make a difference.
Tags: charity donate
Friday, January 12, 2007
Early today, I received an e-mail from my sister from Cochabamba, Bolivia. She has been living there for more than 1o years now as a missionary. She asked us to pray for the Bolivians who can't seem to solve their political, social and cultural problems. There is still no dialogue among politicians, civic groups, coccaine farmers, and other conflicting groups. People are fighting using axes, canes, etc. Violence is just everywhere.
Though my sister assured us she was doing ok and that they just stay indoors and monitor develpments on tv, we of course still worry about her condition there. I hope all the violence ends soon and a compromise is made among the conflicting groups to resolve their differences.
Meanwhile, David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition sent news that a Ceasefire Agreement was forged in Khartoum. Sudan's President Bashir committed to the follwing:
> A 60-day ceasefire with an international peace summit to be held before March 15, 2007.
> Sudan's cooperation to work with the African Union and United Nations on the deployment of a hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur.
> Ensuring "zero tolerance" policies for gender-based violence in Darfur.
> Free access for humanitarian aid workers and journalists.
It will certainly be good to hear news that peace has finally prevailed not just in Darfur, but also in Bolivia and other countries with so much violence going on.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Subject: Take Action - Save A Billion Dollars
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 17:19:54 -0500
From: "Virginia Simmons" Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
To: "Virginia Simmons"
Tomorrow, the ONE Campaign is launching a major action to save a billion dollars for the fight against global poverty. Please consider sharing the below information and action with your readers.
Congress is set to pass a continuing resolution, which will keep funding at 2006 levels throughout all of 2007, and means HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis programs will not receive a billion dollars in increased funding for the new year.
(More info: http://action.one.org/blog/comments.jsp?blog_entry_KEY=329&t= )
Thankfully, there is still a limited amount of funds available for the 2007 budget, and our leaders in Congress are tasked with doling out these funds. Senators Durbin and Brownback and Representatives Lee and Shays have drafted "Dear Colleague" letters urging congressional leadership to use as much of the money as possible to fund these critical programs. (You can contact me for copies of the House and Senate letters.)
The more senators and representatives who sign these "Dear Colleague" letters, the more likely congressional leadership will decide to give a large portion of the funding back.
Please urge your readers to contact their representatives today using our take action page.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me.
Online Organizing Coordinator
The ONE Campaign
P.S. You may find this recent UPI article helpful: http://www.upi.com/HealthBusiness/view.php?StoryID=20070105-080807-6311r
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I found this very touching story of a Cambodian woman who died of Aids. It's very sad that so many continue to suffer as she did. But her life story is an inspiration for people and organizations like World Hope International to strive even harder to give abused women and children hope for survival and a chance at a better life.
When I watched the video, I couldn't help recalling my sister's story many years ago. The city where she lived while she was still working in a bank was once known for its many red district areas. She passed many apartments with grilled windows as she walked home every night.
One night, a child, maybe not even a teenager, called out to her from the second floor of one of those grilled apartment windows. The child said,"Please help me." My sister must have been so scared that very moment because she told me the story when she came home for a visit weeks later still sounding scared. I remember asking her what she did and she answered that she rushed home scared. Stories of police corruption and violence were really common then, some were even said to be the "protectors" or handlers of these children and women. No, she wasn't able to do a thing about it. At that time and place, her own life would have been in danger. I'm sure she never forgot that night.
I can only be thankful now that the place has improved so much. People can walk home more safely at night and less children roam around so much at very late hours. The place is far from what it once looked and used to be, especially at nights. It took political will and a god-fearing leader to get this done over the years. But there is still so much work to be done. Many from everywhere in the world still suffer from the same fate as the Cambodian woman.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Today I also remembered Matt Damon's e-mail to ONE members. He spoke of the teenage girl from Africa who dreamed of one day becoming a nurse that inspired him to help the people there.
Because of their dreams, people were motivated to do something to make their dreams become a reality.
As I pondered over this, I realized that my friend had once told me in one of our sentimental talks, that it was ok to dream because it gives us hope and can sometimes make us feel good. He encouraged me to describe my dreams, where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. He knew me well. It was something I didn't want to discuss. I felt they were too far from coming true and pointless to dwell on.
- > a healthy family
- > my children coming home safely everyday from school
- > a good job and getting promoted to a higher position
- > a cooperative and supportive staff in my division
- > being able to share a bit of what I have because I know there are others who need it more and will somehow benefit from it
- > my parents
- > friends who are there for me when I need them
- > good and sad memories of a friend who emotionally called me his guardian angel and gave me all the moral and emotional support whenever I needed them
- > coming home safely everyday from work
- > meeting new friends
- > finally learning to open up a bit more
- > the sun shining
- > the little sampaguita girl who said "salamat po" (thank you) with a smile
and so many little things that we don't realize make our lives better.
I look forward to a better and more fruitul year ahead. More importantly, I hope to be able to take action on decisions I have made and make them happen. It will be a hard step to make as I will be taking the road less travelled so to speak, at least for me.
My wish for everyone this New Year...peace, love and happiness
My special wish for the less fortunate who at this moment are suffering from hunger, war or oppression...a chance for a better life
My wish for charitable and cause-oriented groups like ONE, World Vision, World Hope International, many others...more success and more support from people who can help make this world a better place to live in
My wish for myself...courage and strength to make that bold step forward.
Have a Happy New Year!