Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good News, Not so Good News

We have had some very exciting news from one of our sewing centers.   The letter below is from Serigne Kandji, the cluster leader for the Millennium Village cluster in Potou, Senegal. The sewing center, Jigeen ca Waarwa, ("Women at Work") is in Leona. 

Girl working with tailor

Dear Judy,

Thank you once more for the great job you are doing to help alleviate poverty in Africa.  I just want to let you know that the sewing centre in Leona, Senegal, has now become autonomous. The committee is now capable of paying the tailor, the manager, meet the various expenses and remain with a profit. The initial fund has been totally spent, but the women have close to USD2,000 in their account.

The girls are learning well and we have plans of sending them to a training centre in Louga for a few days/weeks so that they can complete their training and get certificates. We will decide with the tailor when the right moment is. Once the training is complete, each of the girls will get a simple sewing machine on loan. I also personnally pledged to offer a machine as my contribution to what I see as a very noble cause.
With kind regards,

It is so encouraging to see one of our sewing centers become autonomous, which is the goal.  We hope we can help many more to reach this point. That's one reason we're so excited about the success of the GlobalGiving campaign to support the RockPads project at the Little Rock ECD sewing center.

Foyer Kuluje de Galbal
Unfortunately, everything does not always go so smoothly.  At our newest center, Kuludje ("Joy"), in Galbal, Niger,  it has been a very dry winter and food is extremely scarce.  

There are 23 students enrolled in the sewing and literacy program.  Most of the students are married women who are finding that with the drought, they don't have the time  for vocational training.  Trying to feed their families is a more urgent responsibility.  Also because of the drought, they don't have enough money to purchase the basic supplies needed for the program.

We have changed the class schedule so that the women can come in a little later.  Hopefully this will make it possible for more of them to attend.  We are still trying to come up with solutions for the financial challenges.  It is important for the success of the project that the women  purchase their own supplies, so we can't just donate supplies.

Why are we sharing this bad news with you? For three reasons:

  • We want all of our contributors to know that we are being completely open and transparent with you about how things are progressing with our various projects. We want to share all the news, not only the good news.  Eliminate Poverty Now values the trust you place in us to use your donation well.
  • We want to know any bad news ourselves, because otherwise how can we get better?
  • Finally, we realize what a great challenge we face. If eliminating extreme poverty were easy, it would have been eliminated a long time ago.

Hopefully, we will soon have better news to report from Galbal.


Pads for Peace Business Educates 2000 Kenyan Girls

Things have been going very well. Eliminate Poverty Now was successful in the GlobalGiving Challenge: more than 50 people have donated more than $4000. Based on our original budget, that was enough to pay for  sanitary pad kits for 160 girls in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

But wait - there's more: two fabric companies have offered to donate ALL THE FABRIC we need to manufacture the pads!  A.E. Nathan in New York is donating  all the fleece and flannel. Fabri-Quilt in Kansas City is donating all the nylon. Isn't that AMAZING?

And to top it off, Lilly Oyare - the founder and director of Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre, where parents are manufacturing and distributing the pads - has arranged for the donated fabric to be shipped to Kenya by the U.S. Ambassador!

What does all this mean? It means that instead of providing sanitary pad kits for 160 girls, we'll be able to supply kits to 216 girls!

We couldn't be more grateful for this outpouring of generosity.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Help Educate Kenyan Girls

Without access to sanitary pads, many girls and women in Africa miss school and work for a week out of every month.
Our Pads for Peace program is creating a sustainable business in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Women make soft, reusable sanitary pads. Eliminate Poverty Now donates them to girls. They can finish high school and lift themselves out of poverty. Working women buy pads so they can get to work, and feed their families.  

From now through December 31, Eliminate Poverty Now needs 50 people to each donate at least $10 at our GlobalGiving project page: Pads for Peace business educates 2000 Kenyan girls. If they do, we will be able to post ALL of the Eliminate Poverty Now projects at this important website! You can donate easily by clicking on the "give now" button.

Please encourage your friends to learn more about this program by going to, Search on Pads for Peace business educates 2000 Kenyan girls,” and donate $10 each. Or click on the button at the left.

Donations can be in honor of someone. A Red Cross survey found that 79% of Americans would rather get a charitable donation in their  name than a gift they would not use!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Millennium Promise Cites Sama Women's Garden

Dear Friends,

Do you remember the Sama Women's Cooperative Garden Eliminate Poverty Now funded? Millennium Promise cites it in their Thanksgiving message. Read more about it here:

Dear Friends,

In the Millennium Village of Tiby (Mali), the Sama Cooperative Garden does more than provide food. By teaching new skills, the garden enables women to earn an income, support their families, and participate in the community's economic development.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for your continued support of Millennium Promise. Due in no small part to supporters like you, gardens and businesses like this are changing lives all across the Millennium Villages.

As you give thanks this week, please know that your generosity is deeply appreciated and is making a lasting impact on more than 500,000 lives in sub-Saharan Africa. The enclosed video demonstrates how your support has helped thousands realize their full potential.

Click to View Video

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff at Millennium Promise, I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday.

Peter Neidecker
CEO, Millennium Promise

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jeff Sachs' Deficit Reduction Strategy

Cuts to government spending are inevitable. The question is what to cut. Most Americans think we spend a fortune on foreign aid and should slash it. Actually we spend about $25 billion a year on foreign aid, less than 1% of our $3.5 trillion annual budget. The fortune is spent on the military -- $700 billion annually, more than the rest of the world spends on defense combined!

Jeff Sachs dancing at Sauri Millenium Village

Jeff Sachs, noted economist, educator, author and founder of the Millennium Villages Project (one of Eliminate Poverty Now's partners) offers a strategy to cut $175 billion annually in spending (that's $1.75 trillion over 10 years which is what the Congressional Committee on Deficit Reduction is trying to find) and does it by being penny-wise and pound-wise at the same time.

Here's a link to this important article which appeared in the Huffington Post.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Important reading

Why do we focus on economic opportunity and education especially for girls and women? Learn the hard facts in the new World Bank Development Report 2012.

It focuses on the importance of gender equality in economic development.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Creating Change

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 13 at 1:15 pm MDT, John is being interviewed about Eliminate Poverty Now on KDNK radio in Carbondale, CO. KDNK broadcasts locally on 88.1 FM Carbondale, 88.3 FM Aspen, 88.5 FM Basalt and Redstone, 93.5 FM Leadville and 94.9 FM Thomasville. Or you
can listen live by clicking (You may need to download Winamp or ITunes in advance to be able to listen live.)

And on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:30 pm, John will be speaking about Eliminate Poverty Now and giving a slideshow of his photographs of Africa, at Third Street Center in Carbondale. His will be the first in the Creating Change series sponsored by the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH).

Thanks so much to all the wonderful people at CCAH - especially Ro Mead, Jane Hart and Ruth Hollowell - for spreading the word about our work to provide economic opportunity and education in sub-Saharan Africa, especially for girls and women.

Don't miss it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our newest project - a bit like Heifer, a bit like Kiva - 100% Eliminate Poverty Now

So much is happening these days at Eliminate Poverty Now.

Our latest project is Women's Embouche (generally translated as animal fattening) in the village cluster of Libore, Niger. The project was suggested by the women you see pictured here.

Embouche is a proven income generator, and traditionally a women's activity in this part of the world, so it's right in line with our focus on providing women with agricultural entrepreneurial opportunities.

Here's how it works: Eliminate Poverty Now will lend twenty women the funds to purchase three sheep each: a ram and two ewes. These sheep tend to twin, so after the breeding season each woman will hopefully have four lambs. She will sell the original sheep to repay the loan, and the four lambs will form the basis for her new flock. In Niger, there is a local demand for lamb, especially at certain holidays, which will provide income for the women.

Participants will be required to apply for these loans and to commit some of their own funds. Agricultural and veterinary support, as well as loan administration, will be handled by the ngo LIBO, our partner in Libore, whose staff has experience in these areas. As the loans are repaid, the money will be lent out to others who will each purchase three sheep, creating a revolving fund which we hope will change the lives of women for years to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

So said Humphrey Bogart to Claude Rains at the end of the movie Casablanca. And that’s how Judy and I felt at the end of yesterday’s Skype conversation with the Songhai Center.

Based in Benin, the Songhai Center is a best in class agricultural training center dedicated to the development of “agricultural entrepreneurs.” The Center admits talented young men and women, provides 18 months of training in agricultural best practices and gives them a helping

hand in starting up their own businesses. When we visited the center last February, it seemed like a perfect fit with our objectives to promote economic development and educational opportunity in Africa, especially for women.

We are in discussion with the Songhai Center to create a $100,000 pool of funds to help women graduates start up their own agricultural ventures. Eliminate Poverty Now will provide the funds. The Songhai Center will screen business proposals submitted by the women, select those with the greatest promise, and handle program administration. Awards will be in the form of low interest loans to be repaid over the course of 1-3 years depending on the business plan. As such, the $100,000 becomes a revolving fund that will benefit a generation of enterprising African women.

Details will be finalized over the next several weeks and we hope to formally announce the program this fall. We are truly excited by the possibilities and delighted to partner with such an outstanding organization.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ours is the featured "Pledge of the Week"!

More good news: Eliminate Poverty Now's pledge to invest $100,000 over 5 years to promote economic development and educational opportunity in Africa, especially for women has been featured as the pledge of the week at the MDG pledges website. Please check it out - and consider making a pledge of your own to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

John always says they're the most important goals nobody's ever heard of. Prove him wrong!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recent News Coverage

The New Jersey Jewish News recently published a very nice article about the work Eliana Arian and Adar Netef are doing for Eliminate Poverty Now. Please check it out at:

And thanks to son Brian for passing along the link to this Time Magazine article about the Great Green Wall of the Sahara. The article doesn't mention his name, but it's all about the work Dov Pasternak, our great friend and founder of Farmers of the Future, is doing in Senegal.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sowing the Seeds of Africa’s Green Revolution

Eliminate Poverty Now recently received a major gift from the Brach Family Charitable Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of the Brach family and others, we're moving full speed ahead with the launch of Farmers of the Future, one of Eliminate Poverty Now's Top priorities.

The goal of the program is to teach modern agricultural concepts to children in primary school. It’s one part classroom learning, one part 4-H Club and one part Junior Achievement. Working together with our partners – Pencils for Kids and Dov Pasternak, the father of the FOF concept – the program’s launch is slated for October 1st, 2011, the beginning of the new school year.

We kicked off development of the classroom material during our visit to Niger in February.

A team of local technical experts and pedagogues is now collaborating to create illustrated pamphlets on 6 different subjects: from growing vegetables and trees to raising animals to managing a small farm for profit. Material will be completed by late summer, in time to begin training teachers in September.

If you click here, you can see the entire Tree Nursery booklet.

Two additional pilot schools are being added to the initial site at Gueriguinde which we visited in February.

“Mini-farms” are being created adjacent to the two schools so students can practice first hand what they learn in class. One of the two schools didn’t have a large enough yard for the mini-farm so the village leaders just agreed to give the school a 3-acre parcel a few hundred yards down the road. Wells are being dug, concrete water reservoirs will be poured and tree nursery and sheep enclosures will be built so the farms are ready for business come October.

To manage all the details of the start-up we have hired our first employee, Ibrahim Ali. Ibrahim will serve as Project Administrator with broad responsibilities to insure the launch stays on time and on budget.

Planning activities for FOF pilot sites installation























Ecole centre

Geo-physics study




Construction of reservoir


Installation of drip irrigation equipment


Nursery Set-up


Construction of sheep fattening


Galbal School

Fencing and cleaning site


Well construction


Construction of reservoir


Installation of drip irrigation equipment


Nursery installation


Construction of sheep fattening



Construction of sheep fattening


Setting up watering hose for Nursery


protecting wire for electric pump


He will also be responsible for carefully monitoring the program’s performance during the first pilot year so we quickly identify what’s working, what’s not, and course correct wherever needed.

Finally, we’ve started to explore opening a handful of pilot schools in the original Millennium Village Cluster in Sauri Kenya. Piloting in Kenya would bring the program to the English speaking side of the continent. The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) is active in 10 countries in Africa. So if the MVP gets excited about the program’s potential, it could provide access to several additional countries on the continent.

Through Farmers of the Future our goal is to help sow the seeds of Africa’s Green Revolution. And we’re on target for an October 1st launch.