Tag Archives: UNICEF

Intent of the Day: Notice the Needs


 When I was a boy and I would see scary things
in the news, my mother would say to me,
“Look for the helpers.
You will always find people who are helping.”
-Fred Rogers

In a time that can feel so unsteady, it can also feel difficult to focus on anything beyond ourselves and what is right in front of us. Managing the chaos in our own homes or offices might be overwhelming enough, and we understand that, but sometimes the key to alleviating some of that anxiety is finding a place where we can help. We don’t have to or want to feel paralyzed. Instead, we want to notice the needs and get going, whether they are inside our home or somewhere still unknown to us. Our intent of the day is to notice the needs.

Here are some needs you might not know about that could use some helpers today:

  1. UNICEF and the work their doing for children around the world.
    Most of us are already familiar with the name, but did you know that UNICEF raises money and works on behalf of the rights of children in 190 countries and territories? This includes everything from education, healthcare to meeting basic human needs. How can you help? Of course, it takes funds to make all this happen you can certainly give. You can also give! Find out about giving or going with UNICEF here!
  2. Yoga Gives Back and the work their doing to help women in India build sustainable lives for the price of a yoga class.
    Yoga Gives Back is an LA organization that seeks to mobilize the yoga community to use their practice and their passion to help women on the other side of the world end the cycle of poverty and discrimination. Through sponsored yoga classes, you and your community can pass the goodness on to women whose lives may be forever changed.
  3. The ASPCA and their work to end animal cruelty and find a home for every homeless pet.
    The ASCPA does work for a group of individuals who can neither speak up for themselves nor do anything to repay you. Dealing with both cases of cruelty and homelessness, the ASPCA rescues, restores and relocates animals who deserve much better than they have known. This organization is looking for volunteers, for donations, for your story and even for you to add a pet to your family! Want to get connected? Here‘s how you can!


Have a Merry Intentional Holiday – an Intent Gift Guide!

Do they really need another silk tie? Or a generic gift card?
As you are doing your holiday shopping, we are excited to help include intent in your gift giving! Whether it be something for you or those you love, these mindful gifts are something we’d be proud to place under the tree.

If you’re wanting something pretty and personal:

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My Intent creates original jewelry featuring personalized words of intent.

Joy? Gratitude? You choose. We’re also happy to share our Intent discount code ‘INTENT20’ to receive 20% off your purchase!


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UNICEF’s I Believe in Zero to Save Children from Preventable Disease

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.50.25 AMMy Conversation with Caryl Stern, President US Fund for UNICEF When I was in college, I wrote my senior thesis on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.  I no longer know where that document is or even remember the details of that in-depth study that consumed my last year of college.  What has stayed with me forever, however, is the belief that children have the right to live, to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and deserve basic human rights.  I was also always inspired by the work of UNICEF, and for my first book, 100 Promises To My Baby, I donated 10% of my proceeds to their programs for children affected by HIV and AIDS. Thus, when I had the opportunity to hear Caryl Stern speak about her new book, I Believe In Zero, I was already convinced of her intent that no child should die from preventable causes.

Currently 18,000 children die every day of preventable causes – from things like unsafe drinking water, malnutrition, and lack of access to immunizations.  This is truly unacceptable, and we, as a global citizens, should not think it is ok. I have met many people doing incredible work for others, but Caryl Stern truly impacted me in a way few others have.  In fact, I was so moved by her book that I decided to buy several dozen books to gift to my daughter’s classmates.

In the book, Caryl shares through her own personal stories the plight of children around the world, as well as potential solutions to many of these problems.  The book is hopeful, inspirational, and yet very real, at the same time. I reached out to UNICEF to see if I could interview Caryl for my book, Living With Intent, as she is someone who embodies passion and purpose in a unique way.  I was honored to have a one-on-one conversation with her about 10 days ago in NYC to talk about her book, her family, her work and her intentions.

The US Fund for UNICEF is in a non-descript office building near Wall Street in NYC.  I was escorted up to a waiting room where, while waiting to be called into her office, I watched a staff meeting in a conference room enclosed by glass walls.  The staff at UNICEF seemed multi-cultural, relatively young, and animated from the peek I had into their meetings.  After a short wait, I headed to Caryl’s office and was welcomed by her friendly staff. In the first few minutes of meeting Caryl, I knew this woman is a both a force of energy and passion, but also incredibly warm and welcoming.   Her desk was full of papers and books, not messy or particularly neat, with photos on the shelves, including those of her two sons.  A packed suitcase stood on the floor by her desk, an obvious reminder that she is a woman who lives on the road (something she talks a lot about in the book – balancing her need to travel with being a mom.)

In listening to my recorded interview with her, I realize I was really nervous, chatting for about 10 minutes about my intent before even letting to her speak!  Once she spoke, I was put at ease by her friendliness, and became totally relaxed. Caryl begins her narrative sharing two powerful personal family stories.  In 1939, her mother and uncle boarded a ship as children to escape from Austria during the Nazi invasion.  An unknown woman, whose name they will never know, made sure they boarded that ship safely to escape the horror that could have killed them.   Through her mother’s story, Caryl knows the power that even one person has to save another’s life. That same year, her grandfather boarded the SS St. Louis on a journey that became known as the Voyage of the Damned because Cuban and US authorities denied entrance to the passengers (mostly Jews) saying that they had fraudulent paperwork.

The ship was sent back to Europe, and most on board perished from Nazi persecution.  Her grandfather, one of the few survivors of that journey, taught her “what happens when the world turns its back, ignores the facts, and allows innocent people to die.” In I Believe In Zero, Caryl shares her travels to witness the plight of children around the world, and the work that UNICEF is doing to alleviate their suffering.  From the rainforests of Brazil to Mozambique, Darfur, Bangladesh, and post earthquake Haiti (just to name a few), she shares intimate moments, putting names and faces to the mothers and children whose lives seem so unjustly marred by war, famine, ecological devastation and disease.  But the power of her stories are in the details and emotions she has witnessed – from holding the hand of a woman whose child is dying of tetanus (a preventable disease) in Sierra Leone to sharing an apple with a woman in the desert during the food shortage in Kenya, just 48 hours after Caryl excitedly (and nervously) meets Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Its Caryl’s ability to make everything personal that I realize makes her so authentic and relatable.  During the talk I attended, a young boy asked her, “What is the most difficult part of your job?”  I expected her to answer with a story about witnessing famine, the death of an infant, or meeting children of war, but instead she replied that it was being separated from her two sons.  In the book, she shares the story of being at a refugee camp in Darfur, and getting a phone call from her son in NYC who needs help with his English homework.  Any mom can relate to this feeling.  As a mom, Caryl is constantly figuring out the balance of serving both her children and the world! During the interview, when I applaud Caryl’s belief the no child should die of preventable causes, she responds that her hope is that others will adopt this intent to make it a rallying cry of their own – that it is the ones who stand on her shoulders who will convince others that no child should die of preventable causes and do something about it.  As she speaks, I am reminded once again of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and how the mandates in that charter need constant re-affirmation, communication, and action.

I am inspired that there are people like Caryl Stern who are leading a global community of individuals who truly believe that we can help one another. I strongly recommend Caryl’s book, I Believe In Zero.  It is entertaining, hopeful, and a first step to educating oneself about issues affecting our children.  Caryl has generously donated profits of the book US Fund for UNICEF.  I also encourage you to check out www.unicef-usa.org to learn about the programs and important work that UNICEF is doing daily to help children around the world.

11-Year-Old Nada Al-Ahdal Narrowly Escaped Child Marriage – Here’s What She Has to Say

Nada Al-Ahdal is an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who recently risked everything to run away from home and seek refuge with her uncle after learning about her parents’ intentions to marry her off to a much older man. Nada knew that her teenage aunt, trapped in an arranged marriage and abused by her husband, had committed suicide to escape her fate. Nada did not want to be forced down the same path.

“I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion?” Nada says in a video posted on YouTube. “I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.”

Thank goodness Nada has an older relative there to take her in and stand up for her, but many girls her age are not as lucky. The World Health Organization reports that 39,000 girls around the world are forced into child marriage every day. “Child marriage” is defined as marriage before 18 years of age, but many are even younger when they are forced into matrimony. The many dangers girls face in early marriages include premature pregnancy, maternal mortality (girls under 15 are five times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than older women), infant mortality, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, and more.

The best defense against practices like this, which endanger women and make our global community weaker, is education. We must raise our voices and empower women to change their communities.

Here are several resources working against child marriage and in support of women and children everywhere:

California Teen Building Brighter Future for Tanzanian Villagers

*This is guest blogger Jessica Chang, with Volunteer Ventures. Chang is a former broadcast reporter who is passionate about inspiring people to volunteer while traveling.

It’s hard to believe she’s only 16. While most 16-year-olds are focused on getting their driver’s license, Lily Gordon is focused on beating hunger in Tanzania. When I visited her family home in Berkeley, CA I immediately knew she was no ordinary teenager. As her father answered the door, Lily was in the kitchen cooking a delicious chicken dinner for her parents and the Go Inspire Go volunteer crew.

Lily’s compassion developed at an early age. She showed signs of social awareness even at 10-years-old. After learning about Africa and hearing about the starving children in Tanzania from a classmate, she wanted to help. For her 11thbirthday, instead of presents, she asked her friends to donate money to help build a water pipe for a Tanzanian school.

“The idea of getting 25 more puzzles didn’t seem as enchanting as the idea of being able to give kids water,” said Lily. She and her friends raised nearly $2,000 – more than Lily had ever imagined. When she was 12 – another milestone – Lily’s first visit to Tanzania. She was struck by the beauty of the country – but even more so – the inner beauty of the people.

“Being really immersed in the culture and seeing the people, I guess it made me want to help even more, just because I felt really connected to them and I felt they gave so much to me and were so welcoming to me even though they had so much less than me,” Lily said.

What they lacked the most was food – a devastating part of their existence Lily witnessed first hand at the hospital. “Malnutrition is just part of existence there almost. The bloated bellies, they’re all very small for their age.”

Lily learned that bread is imported to villages from big cities several hours away, but it’s often rotten by the time it arrives. She came up with an idea that would save lives. When she returned home to California, she poured her heart – and her time – into fundraising and learning how to build a brick oven to empower the villagers to make their own bread. The next year, she returned to Tanzania with this mission to build a new future with the villagers. The brick oven now feeds 200 orphans.

Last summer – Lily’s third trip – Lily, her family and her friends also built a rainwater harvest system to make clean water for the orphans. This summer, she plans to teach the villagers how to make their own smaller adobe ovens and a community garden to become self-sustaining.

“I feel like everyone needs to find something that really provides them with fulfillment and for me, this was it,” Lily commented. I’m so lucky I found it when I was young, but I feel like if anyone got the joy that I received from just being with these people, working together to do what we could, then there’s no way they would’ve turned down the opportunity.”

She’s half my age, but she’s already embarked on a life lesson, that I only realized a couple of years ago. I was privileged enough to volunteer in Jakarta, Indonesia, working with orphans and impoverished children on a digital photo project. Through the camera lens, they revealed a side of Jakarta – and of themselves – that broke through the language barrier. They showed me the slums in which they grew up – filled with tin-roofed shacks and mountains of trash. They showed me photos of their families, friends and the important people in their lives. They showed me their aspirations and hopes for a better future.

Like Lily, my life has been transformed because of this volunteer experience and the people I met. And you, too, can give while taking your own journey to other parts of the world. Leaving your comfort zone and putting your own needs on the back burner to building a brick oven for a village in Tanzania, or teaching English to children in Thailand or cleaning up the earthquake-ravaged neighborhoods of Haiti, can open your eyes and your heart to a wealth of appreciation of your own life and your loved ones.

** Log onto www.volunteerventures.wordpress.com to follow GIG contributor Jessica Chang’s blog on her own volunteer travel experiences to Thailand and Vietnam.

Challenges for charity

 Sometimes even when ones own life has it’s challenges you just feel compelled to push the boundaries and challenge oneself to step outside the box and into the challenge zone for others.

And so it is that at 53 years old I am running a half marathon in October to raise funds for unicef and then in March trekking in the Himalaya to the home of the Dalai Lama to raise funds for The White Ribbon Alliance for safe motherhood. Its appalling that in this day and age women are still dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth.

Using the medium of Twitter I have encouraged a few others to join me and together we shall share in the challenges both physical, emotional and spiritual as we trek in the the glorious Himalaya.

Of course the whole purpose is to raise the profile of the work of both organisations I am supporting and to raise much needed funding.

If you feel you are about to donate please do so :

for unicef: http://www.justgiving.com/jogalloway1

for the White Ribbon Alliance: http://www.justgiving/jogalloway2


Blessings and many thanks x


Risk of Child Trafficking Increases in Aftermath of Haiti Earthquake

Haiti has already been a trading ground in the past for traffickers, and the natural calamity is making the situation even worse now. Unicef adviser Jean Luc Legrand has reported that children have gone missing from hospitals, and we have started seeing the first evidence of trafficking. Trafficking networks are springing into action, taking advantage of the weakness of local authorities and relief coordination to kidnap children and get them out of the country.

It is clear that orphans are at risk of being separated from their family, and the well-meaning moves by Westerners to adopt the children could be considered abuse. Some efforts have been made by welfare groups to call for an immediate moratorium on new adoptions until sustained efforts can been made to trace and reunite children with their families.

When you see any child who has lost his or her family on the news, your natural instinct is to want to go and pick the child up. Of course, sometimes international adoption is the right solution for a child, but far more often it is not. Children who have started growing up in a community and lost their parents still have some inner security from knowing their environment.

Even though Westerners may find it a worthy cause to provide a lending hand to raise an orphan child, when the child turns 15 and is in enormous need of signpost for his identity, it would be difficult for him to undergo the trauma once again. It’s not abuse in the sense of mistreatment, but it’s abusive in the sense of making a permanent break.

The best option is to provide a loving environment that is culturally local where children can feel secure.

We as a social human race need to understand that children can be happy in their original habitat and with their families.

The most important message about children, whether they are orphaned or not, is the fact they desperately need our help at this point of time. Please help us prevent children from being sold into adoption. You can go to www.troniefoundation.org for more info on today’s slaves.

Global Poitics Meets Public Health

Recently, the Wall Street Journal showcased the polio eradication effort in Afghanistan where it’s more than just a process of disseminating vaccines.  It requires dealing with local tribal leaders, overcoming challenging security issues, and working within the tense political climate pervading parts of Afghanistan.  Global politics meets public health meets diplomacy, you could say.  Or simply put, it’s ‘vaccination diplomacy.’


To read the full article and see the photospread, click on the following URL:



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