Category Archives: Children

Bill and Melinda Gates’ 15-Year Bet For a Better World

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Each January Bill and Melinda Gates release their Annual Letter. This year they are taking  a bet on the world’s future.

15 years ago the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was started and  there have been substantial improvements in global health and development since then because of its dedication to the world’s poorest people. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates believe even more can be done in the next 15 years.

More Children Will Live and More Diseases Will Be Eradicated

By 2030 Bill and Melinda Gates bet that fewer children will die from preventable disease and more preventable diseases will be eradicated, Africa will be able to feed itself, millions more will gain access to mobile banking and education will be improved by innovative software.

Today, one in 20 children die from preventable diseases. In 2030, Bill and Melinda Gates bet the number of child deaths will come down to one in 40 children. Decreasing that number will take political will from  the hardest hit countries with child mortality, new approaches and programs to keep children and newborns alive, vaccines, better health systems, and funding.

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Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself

It’s mind-boggling to know that Africa imports $50 billion dollars in food annually. Why? Because African farmers do not produce enough food currently to feed the continent. But due to its massive size and large agrarian societies Bill and Melinda Gates believe Africa will indeed be able to feed itself in 15 years . More training, better seeds, improved fertilizers, and crop rotations will lead to more yields across all of sub-Saharan Africa. That will lead to more money remaining in Africa for national and continent-wide improvements, such as increased funds to improve health systems or provide better training to farmers across the board.

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More People Will Have Access to Mobile Banking 

Currently there are 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a banking account. This means these people aren’t able to keep their assets safe and it proves difficult to borrow money and pay it back seamlessly. Bill and Melinda Gates believes that in 15 years hundreds of millions of people will gain access to a mobile bank account that will change their lives and the way they save, spend, and earn money.

Education Will Improve Due to Software 

While more girls are getting an education around the world there are still too many girls who are left out of school. By 2030 that gender gap in education will sharply close. It is important to educate girls for the following reasons:

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With innovative technology education will be  accessible to millions more helping them leave the cycle of poverty and to improve their lives.

Bill and Melinda Gates are calling on everyone to become Global Citizens and care about these issues. Read 2015 Gates Annual Letter: Our Big Bet for the Future at gatesletter.com.

5 Global Health Stories We’re Following This Year

2015 will be an interesting year in global health primarily because this is the year when the Millennium Development Goals should ideally be reached. Global health experts admit that many of the goals, for example MDG5, will not be reached globally even though some of them have already been reached on a country level.

Ethiopia effectively reached MDG4 along with Bangladesh, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania according to a 2013 report in the Guardian and UN data. Globally, the proportion of people having access to safe drinking water was reached in 2012. That is cause for celebration.

The overarching theme this year will be how the global health community will save more lives in low and middle-income countries in the best ways possible. This does not necessarily mean substantive goals, target dates, and data measurements will be scaled back. Rather, improved approaches to global health will be devised to streamline processes and programs.

While there are many global health stories that deserve following in great detail here are our top five picks for 2015.

1. The Effect of Ebola on Maternal Health: While Ebola is being fought in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia there must also be an enhanced emphasis on women who are pregnant and need to deliver their babies in a hospital setting. As it is, with low resources and crippled health systems in these three countries, women still need to be afforded quality care during pregnancy and delivery while health workers also care for those stricken with Ebola.

As the year goes on it is probable that key data will emerge from lessons learned during the Ebola response. According to Scientific American, the WHO, UNICEF, and Save the Children have already devised best practices and protocols for safe delivery.

2. Global Immunizations: This year we will watch the increase in rotavirus vaccine roll-outs across poor countries. Why? Diarrhea is one of the top three leading causes of deaths for children under five, and yet the rotavirus vaccine isn’t accessible in the volume of some the other vaccines. That said, rotavirus roll-outs have increased substantially since 2011. There is more good news. With increased GAVI funding, the rotavirus vaccine will be introduced in 30 countries this year.

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We will also look at the progress of the Ebola vaccine. GAVI has announced that it is ready to purchase a million doses of the vaccine as soon as the World Health Organization approves its use. Today, Johnson & Johnson announced that they have already begun clinical Ebola vaccine trials with volunteers in Africa.

3. Country Commitments to the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP): Last year saw the official adoption of the plan during last year’s World Health Assembly and the launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan in Johannesburg during the Partners Forum. Upon its launch there were already 40 commitments (PDF) to save more newborns globally. That said, this year we will also look for increased commitments, particularly country commitments, to the ENAP especially since 2.9 million newborns die every year due to largely preventable causes.

4. Scaling Up of Frontline Health Workers: Did you know there is a global shortage of 7.2 million frontline health workers? That key data has been widely shown by the lack of health workers in  Ebola stricken countries. It’s the lack of health workers that has made fighting Ebola harder than it should be and why many health workers outside of Africa have had to pick up the slack.

Scaling up health workers is a large expense, but it bears repeating that in order for countries to provide quality health care to their citizens there must first be enough health workers. Ethiopia is touted time and again as an excellent example of a poor country that effectively scaled health worker coverage across the country through a government-led effort. Other countries’ health ministers have traveled to Ethiopia to see best practices for scaling up their own frontline health force. The second step after key learnings, however, is making sure actions are taken besides pure lip service. In 2015 we will look at evidence from other low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that will introduce better national health worker programs.

5. Food Security in Conflict Areas: At the end of 2014, the World Food Programme said that it had suspended food aid to 1.7 million refugees in Syria due to a lack of donor funding. And previous to that, the WFP split vouchers in half to stretch funds according to the New York Times. Even though the World Food Programme received an emergency influx of funds after their voucher suspension announcement last month, it is never a good sign to see that there are not enough donor dollars to feed the world especially those who are living in conflict areas. Food security in not only conflict zones, but also in West Africa will be on our must-follow list this year.

Which global health stories are you following this year?

 UN Photo/Martine Perret

Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

1. Advocated for the Every Newborn Action Plan

We continued to help raise awareness about the importance of quality newborn care and the Every Newborn Action Plan.  We partnered with Save the Children and the Gates Foundation to raise awareness among parents about newborns and how they can be easily saved through easy interventions.  Read more our 2014 newborn health reporting.

2. Reported From Nicaragua

Our member, Jennifer Iacovelli, traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid America in March to see their water relief programs frist-hand. See all of her updates. We also hosted a Twitter chat while Jennifer and the team were in Nicaragua reaching two million people and garnering over 10 million actions.


3. Reported From Tanzania With PSI and Mandy Moore

We traveled to Tanzania with PSI and actress, singer, and humanitarian Mandy Moore to report on health worker programs. Read reports from PSI Impact: Team Orange: How PSI Reinforces Positive Reproductive Health Messaging Through Branding, Edutainment,  Meeting Blandina, and Health Systems Need Health Workers

Left to right: Health worker Mama Blandina, Jennifer James, Asia, a client of Blandina’s and her son, and  Mandy Moore.  Photo: Trevor Snapp.

4. Reported on the One Year Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines With World Vision

We covered the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines with World Vision USA with Social Good Mom member, Jeana Shandraw as well as their disaster relief since the superstorm ravaged the country last year. Read our reports from the World Vision blog.

5. Featured in Matterness: Fearless Leadership in a Social World

We were honored to be featured in Allison Fine’s newest book, Matterness: Fearless Leadership for a Social World.


6. Reported From South Africa During the Third Partners Forum

We attended and covered the Partners Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa and were happy to report on the official launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan.

7. Joined With New Partners

We joined with new partners: SOS Children’s Villages, Vaccine Ambassadors, and Midwives for Haiti and look forward to working with them more in 2015!

 


8.  Attended the Best Buys Panel with PSI in Washington, DC

Read our coverage at the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists: Are There Real Best Buys in Global Health?

9. Covered International Women’s Day and Advocated on the Hill with Oxfam America.

Every year Oxfam America joins with its Sisters on the Planet community to honor International Women’s Day. We were honored to be there and look forward to joining Oxfam America this year as well!

10. Partnered with UNESCO on #TeacherTuesday

UNESCO partnered with leading blogs around the world to highlight education and exceptional teachers. We were honored to work with UNESCO on their #TeacherTuesday effort.


11.  Reported on IntraHealth’s Work in Tanzania

IntraHealth is known for its effective health worker programs. It was a priviledge to report on its Voluntary Male Circumcision Program in rural Tanzania. Read the report from IntraHealth’s VITALS blog.


12. Worked with the International Reporting Project to Plan a Newborn Health Reporting Trip to Ethiopia

Newborn health has been an important topic over the past three years. Noted journalists traveled to Ethiopia to report on newborn and maternal health, reproductive health, and health workers. Two Social Good Moms members were a part of the reporting team. Read more on Journalists Travel to Ethiopia to Report on Newborn Health.

Our 7 Favorite #NGO Vine Videos of the Year

There were really powerful and poignant Vine videos that were published by NGOs, foundations, and nonprofits this year. Even though adding Vine into their social media repertoire hasn’t hit a tipping point within the nonprofit community yet, we still believe Vine is an effective medium to convey short, but impactful messages.

Here are our seven favorite Vine videos of the year — in no particular order.

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The Gates Foundation always works hard to push forth messaging about the lack of access to sanitation around the world. This Vine video was yet another way to tell people about the global toilet problem on a medium where there was a 639% increase in teen users last year.

UNICEF South Sudan

Seeing children in South Sudan enjoying their life in a safe space is enough to make anyone’s day especially now that the United Nations announced that they are reducing its peacekeeping force amid increased violence.

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To point a spotlight on the global water problem and the amount of time women spend collecting and carrying water every day, Hallie Tamez, the Associate Director of Major Gifts at WaterAid America carried a 40 pound jerrycan full of water throughout the streets of Manhattan in their #Steps4All campaign.

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UNICEF does a great job of using Vine! During the height of the #bringbackourgirls campaign, UNICEF created this video to show how important it is to keep this movement alive.

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We all know that vaccines work, but UNICEF showed us how they work in this quick stop motion Vine video. Diseases stay at bay when children are given vaccines, one of the most effective interventions against children under five deaths.

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It’s no wonder Ebola health workers were afforded Time magazine’s Person of the Year accolades. They put their lives at risk every day to save people who are infected with the highly infectious disease. In this campaign DFID showed the medics behind the masks who are working in Sierra Leone.

Save the Children

Allowing people to tell their own stories is ideal when we think about voices from the field. Save the Children gave a platform for these Syrian teenagers to tell their stories from the Zaatari refuge camp in Jordan.

What were your favorite Vine videos of the year? 

Our Top 10 Most Read Posts of 2014

Over the course of this year we have shared a great deal of global health news and information, reports from the field in Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and the Phillipines, and have broken down some of the most pressing global health documents. That said, some of our posts received many more reads than others. Here is the countdown of our top 10 most read posts in 2014. Not surprisingly, maternal health, issues facing women and girls and health workers were some of the most read topics this year.

10. How Ethiopia is Scaling Midwifery to Save More Newborns:


In Ethiopia there are 4.9 million pregnancies each year of which 84% take place in rural areas. Here in Ethiopia, where the vast majority of women deliver at home, only 32% of maternal, newborn and child health needs are being met by midwives according to the newly released State of Midwifery Report. That is troubling for a country that is making noticeable strides to save its women and children, including reaching Millennium Development Goal 4 last year. There is still scalable work to be done to save more Ethiopian mothers and their newborns. Read more.

9. Photos: B&W Historic Photos of Public Breastfeeding in the United States

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Long ago in Internet years (about seven years ago) I was a staunch breastfeeding advocate and researcher (still am!). Back then I wanted to get to the bottom of why nursing in public was such a big issue in the United States. So, I started digging in the photo archives of the Library of Congress for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours and discovered through black and white, historic photos that breastfeeding in public hasn’t always been a problem in the United States. Read more.

8. 5 Maternal Health Organizations to Support Now

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Every day 800 women die due to largely preventable causes during childbirth. That number is mentioned everywhere maternal health is mentioned and championed, but it always bears repeating. Until the drastic maternal mortality numbers decline the data must remain front and center. Mothers’ lives depend on us knowing the facts. Read more.

7. How  One Philanthropist Is Changing Lives for Indian’s Women and Girls

It’s been just over a week since philanthropist and advocate Indrani Goradia landed in India. She’s been many times before, her husband’s family is Indian and she is from Trinidad and Tobago, of Indian descent. But this is a different trip and fifty-plus years in the making.

Not long ago, gender-based violence was viewed as a private, domestic affair. Even in the United States, legal protections against violence toward women were not enacted until 20 years ago in 1994. Read more.

6. Traveling to Tanzania With PSI, IntraHealth, and Mandy Moore
Over the years I have had the distinct privilege of meeting health workers around the world from Ethiopia and Kenya to Tanzania and South Africa to India and Brazil. Health workers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are the unequivocal backbone of health systems that can oftentimes be severely taxed due to the overwhelming number of people who rely on them for care to the disarray of health systems’ frameworks coupled with a dismal lack of financial allocations to national health care. Read more.

5. Maternal Mortality in the United States: The Numbers May Surprise You

When we talk about sky-high maternal mortality rates we tend to look more closely at low-income countries like Afghanistan, Chad and Somalia that have the world’s highest maternal mortality rates in the world according to the World Bank. And, of course, sub-Saharan African countries need to desperately bring their numbers down. But when you look at rich, developed countries the United States has the highest maternal mortality rates among them and the rates are not declining. In fact, maternal mortality rates in the United States have doubled over the past 25 years. Read more.

4. Book Review: Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict in the World’s Deadliest Place

There has increasingly been more attention paid to conflict minerals – the minerals that are extracted from mainly developing countries – that are used to power the technology we all cannot live without. These minerals cause problems for a great many of us. We cannot go a day or even a few hours without our cell phones, tablets, and laptops even though we realize that the minerals inside of them most likely caused suffering for some African miner working to earn very little wages. Read more.

3. A Day in the Life of a Family Planning Health Worker

It took over an hour in notoriously congested Dar es Salaam traffic and gingerly moving through winding, narrow, dirt roads to visit Blandina Mpacha. Mama Blandina, as her community affectionately calls her, is a PSI health worker who teaches women, men, and whole families about the importance of family planning. This isn’t something new to her. Mama Blandina has been a family planning health worker for over twenty years and has seen the slow-going, but eventual change in attitudes toward spacing births. Read more.

2. How  One Philanthropist Is Changing Lives for Indian’s Women and Girls – Part II

Laxmi strode confidently into the hotel ballroom where we were holding the launch of Wajood – a project developed in partnership between Indrani’s Light Foundation and PSI India to stem gender based violence in Delhi.

She’s slight, dressed in skinny jeans and unmistakable in her confidence, her beauty and for the scars covering her face and arms. Read more.

And, the most read post is..

1. Why Don’t We Spend More Money at Home? Breaking Down False Notions About US Foreign Aid

foreignaid101-thumbnail_1_orig_c (1)Whenever I go to the Hill to advocate for continued and, more importantly, increased funding for foreign aid I always hear from staffers that their constituents perpetually call their congressperson’s or senator’s office telling them to stop spending money in other countries and use that money at home. What these concerned citizens and so many in the United States, do not understand is that the United States’ federal budget is so unimaginably huge, we spend less that 1 percent on foreign aid (from budget.house.gov). Read more.

Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

I met Jasmine and her son, Kent John, 7-months-old, on a sunny day at a free health clinic in Ormoc, a busy port city on Leyte island in the Philippines. At just 21-year-old Jasmine came to the clinic because Kent John had been experiencing a cough and fever for two weeks.

Luckily located very close to the clinic, Jasmine takes her son to the clinic for his regular immunizations and goes anytime Kent John is ill. Sometimes she has to wait for two hours before being seen by Glenda B. Serato, the health clinic’s nurse.

“I am confident with my baby’s health because I can access free immunizations and medicine,” Jasmine says through translation.

The mothers I spoke to including Jasmine mention always coming to the clinic for their children’s  immunizations even though many live deep in the rural areas where rice and sugar fields are abundant and access to health services are not.

“The mothers are educated now,” Serato confirms. “It is very rare that mothers don’t get their children vaccinated.”

During Typhoon Haiyan that devastated much of Leyte island, Jasmine was five months pregnant, but was able to deliver her first child, Kent John, via C-section at a public hospital. Now, she is taking oral contraceptives to space her children with her husband, who drives a motorcycle for a living.

Continue reading Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

5 Maternal Health Organizations to Support Now

Every day 800 women die due to largely preventable causes during childbirth. That number is mentioned everywhere maternal health is mentioned and championed, but it always bears repeating. Until the drastic maternal mortality numbers decline the data must remain front and center. Mothers’ lives depend on us knowing the facts.

Over the past few decades maternal health numbers have effectively decreased by 47 percent, but we still have a long way to go especially in sub-Saharan Africa where most maternal deaths occur.

Large, international NGOs and governments have put their influence and resources behind saving more mothers’ lives. But, this is a big world in which we live where there are many women who still do not have access to quality prenatal health care and who must resort to delivering their babies at home which can often be fatal for them and their newborns. Some expecting mothers, especially in the poorest sub-Saharan African countries, do not have any other choice but to deliver at home due to a lack of access to health workers and proximity to a health facility.

There are countless organizations that are working diligently to ease the burden on expecting mothers in low-resource settings and are striving to save more lives. While decreasing the number of maternal deaths may seem like a Sisyphean task in the short term, there are organizations that save mothers’ lives every day! Every life matters even if the data points don’t show significant change quickly enough.

Here are five organizations we think are doing phenomenal maternal health care work and that deserve to be supported especially during this giving season.

  1. [This campaign has ended] The Safe Delivery App is a groundbreaking mobile training tool, which can save mothers and newborns in Africa during pregnancy and childbirth. The app is developed by Maternity Foundation in cooperation with leading scientists from University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark.The app aims to improve the quality of maternal and neonatal care in developing countries by teaching birth attendants in hard-to-reach areas how to manage normal and complicated deliveries through animated clinical instruction films.They are raising $100,000 to scale the app. Donate to their campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-safe-delivery-app-a-life-saving-mobile-app.
  2. Jacaranda Health is a social enterprise and operates as a 501(c)3 in the US.  Their mission is to transform maternal health care in East Africa and make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women and newborns. “Jacaranda Health aims to provide respectful, patient-centered, kind and high-quality care during pregnancy and childbirth,” says Amie Newman, Jacaranda Health’s Director of Communication and Development.That’s why we love their work! Donate at jacarandahealth.org/our-approach/jacarandas-model/donate.
  3. Every Mother Counts has teamed up with CrowdRise to raise essential funds to save more mothers’ lives in the seven countries, including the United States, where they work on maternal health care and prevention of maternal deaths.
    Every Mother Counts was launched with the intention to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Donate at www.crowdrise.com/EveryMotherCounts-Tower.
  4. Midwives for Haiti: When we hear about mothers who die during childbirth they most likely succumb to hemorrhaging (bleeding to death). This is particularly sad because hemorrhaging, in most cases, is preventable. In low-resource settings, however, hemorrhaging takes the lives of countless women and it doesn’t have to happen. Midwives for Haiti has put together a program that specifically addresses postnatal care. Many women who delivered at Hospital Ste. Therese in Haiti where they work, either received no postnatal care or were sent home four hours after delivery. That is highly unacceptable and deadly.Donate at midwivesforhaiti.org/projectpostnatal.html.
  5. [This campaign has ended] Zero Mothers Die is a global partnership initiative that is equipping pregnant women in developing countries with unique mobile phones to give them access to healthy pregnancy information and healthcare that could be just a phone call away during emergencies. Their aim is to bring mobile technology solutions to pregnant women to empower them with information and enable them to seek care when they need it most.Donate at www.indiegogo.com/projects/zero-mothers-die-mobile-phones-for-pregnant-women.

We know there are countless organizations that are working with mothers to keep them alive before, during, and after childbirth, but we can’t mention them all. Please list other maternal health organizations in the comments.

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

How Mother’s Loving Support Encourages Breastfeeding in Zambia

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Mutinta Roni Maimbo

Mother’s Loving Support is a non-profit volunteer organisation borne out of the founder’s desire to encourage and support women as they breast feed their babies while continuing to work outside the home.

In Zambia, breastfeeding a child is a socially accepted and encouraged step with the coming of a child, but many women in urban areas slowly transition to formula or other substitutes as the child grows or as they end their maternity leave to go back to work. Typically this happens at three months postpartum, though some women are able to extend their maternity leave in order to spend more time with their babies and nurse them for longer. When the time comes, many difficult decisions are made, one of them being how a mother can continue nursing while she goes to work?

Employment law does not have a specific allowance for nursing mothers, but at the discretion of the employers, mothers can take an hour each day to breastfeed their children, with many women able to go home during lunch hour to nurse. However, others face challenges in taking this time to nurse and this prevents them from providing breast milk for their children, thus transitioning them to substitutes earlier than is recommended. In addition, if women have not had an easy time breastfeeding, they are likely to stop at this stage.

Continue reading How Mother’s Loving Support Encourages Breastfeeding in Zambia

7 Facts About Premature Births You Might Not Have Known

Photo: A premature baby is shown in the postnatal ward at Cama Hospital, a major hospital for women and children, in Mumbai, India. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Premature births are now the number one killer of babies globally. Of the 6.3 million children under five who died last year, 1.1 million of them died due to complications from premature births. Most of these deaths occured within the first month of life, according to new research published in The Lancet.

“This marks a turning of the tide, a transition from infections to neonatal conditions, especially those related to premature births, and this will require entirely different medical and public health approaches,” says Joy Lawn, M.D., Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a member of the research team and a long-term advisor to Save the Children. “The success we’ve seen in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases demonstrates that we can also be successful if we invest in prevention and care for preterm birth.”

Today is the the fourth World Prematurity Day, a global awareness campaign that focuses on the number of newborns that die every year and ways in which we can help those numbers decline. With heightened attention on premature births it is only a matter of time before global prematurity rates improve just as the overall child mortality statistics have improved steadily since 1990.

Continue reading 7 Facts About Premature Births You Might Not Have Known

New homes recreate shattered lives in the Philippines

This post was originally published on the World Vision USA blog.

At everyone’s most basic level, we all want somewhere to lay our head every night. Filipinos living in the path of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan’s early morning storm surge and over 300km/hour winds lost everything within a 30-minute span, including their homes, and many, sadly, lost loved ones.

Those tracking the storm before it hit on November 8, 2013 projected that Typhoon Haiyan would reach the islands by 9 AM, but it sped up and reached landfall around 5 AM, just as everyone was sleeping. No one knew Haiyan would be as powerful as it was.

New homes recreate shattered lives | World Vision Blog
Photo: Jeana Shandraw/SurfandSunshine.com

After the storm, entire families were relegated to living in tents until temporary shelter kits could be delivered. Some live in makeshift and patchwork homes built from scraps even today, and some still do not have homes to call their own a year after Haiyan. And yet, there are some families who have been given the keys to a new home, one that was creatively designed to withstand high winds, rain, and – yes – even typhoons.

Continue reading New homes recreate shattered lives in the Philippines