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Sesame Workshop Celebrates Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

Amie Batson, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Global Health, USAID

Tomorrow is the annual day when parents bring their sons and daughters to work. At USAID, the morning typically starts with all the kids and youth being “sworn in” by Administrator Shah as employees for the day.

In recognition of the Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday campaign, our friends at Sesame Workshop put together this great video. Sesame Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. In support of our new child survival campaign, Sesame Workshop pulled together footage from their programs in several countries. The educational programs showcase: vaccination campaigns, hand washing, malaria control, and HIV anti stigma efforts.

We encourage all workplaces to incorporate this educational video into your Take Your Child to Work Day activities. And, of course, we encourage everyone to find their 5th birthday or Age 5 photo an upload it to 5thBDay.usaid.gov.

USAID Holds Screening & Discussion on LGBT Human Rights

USAID’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Coordinating Committee hosted a screening last Friday of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s historic speech on LGBT Human Rights.

In her landmark speech made at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Secretary Clinton marked Human Rights Day 2011 by affirming that any definition of human rights must include sexual orientation and gender identity and that the Obama Administration would defend the human rights of LGBT people as part of the United States Government’s comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of American foreign policy.

In her speech, the Secretary stated, “Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do.”

She continued, by reminding the audience that, “progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, ‘How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?’ This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.”

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Tell USAID’s Story with Photos – Last Call

To celebrate Earth Day this year, USAID is hosting a photo contest to showcase the ways we are working to conserve the environment and mitigate climate change.

The contest is open to all, including USAID employees and interns; employees of NGOs and contractors; and representatives from universities, foundations and other organizations that partner with the Agency.

The deadline for photos is midnight, April 16, 2012.

Winning photos must:

  • Illustrate why and how USAID is engaged in the specific environmental project. Photos of people, animals, plants and landscapes that are relevant to programs are all eligible.
  • Include the date and location for the photograph as well as a brief description of what is happening in the image.
  • Be at least 300 dpi or larger (low resolution photos will not be considered).
  • Be in color (black and white photos will not be considered).
  • Submitted digitally, with jpg files preferred.

Each photographer can submit up to five images. Contest photos should not have been previously submitted to USAID for another purpose. Also, note that submitting a photo through this contest grants USAID full reproduction rights to the images, including use in official USAID print and online publications and inclusion in the USAID photo gallery.

Photos will be selected and announced in time for Earth Day.  See last year’s winning photos here.


White House Easter Prayer Breakfast: Gathering Leaders — and Partners

In his opening remarks to over one hundred Christian leaders at the White House Prayer Breakfast, President Obama said that “I’m even more grateful for the work that you do every day of the year — the compassion and the kindness that so many of you express through your various ministries.”

President Obama addresses the audience at the 3rd Annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. Photo Credit: USAID

Many of the ministries that the President referred to are focused outside of the U.S.  They are ministries, organizations and initiatives that partner with and complement the work of USAID.  From efforts to increase the bounty of agricultural work with Feed the Future, to helping provide medical care that helps children reach their fifth birthday with the Global Health Initiative to literally freeing persons chained into human trafficking together with our Counter Trafficking in Persons efforts, the leaders and their supporters strengthen and extend their own goals of the goals of USAID.

After the Prayer Breakfast, the religious leaders took part in a briefing that included hearing about the tremendous progress that has been achieved in the last few decades in child survival from USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health Amie Batson. In the past two decades child deaths have fallen dramatically, from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. In fact, the goal of ending preventable child deaths is possible –  if the world works together.  Along with strong country ownership, partnership with faith-based and community organizations will be critical to make this a reality.

This is where you can help!  In close collaboration with UNICEF, the United States is co-convening a Call to Action in June 2012 to set the course towards the end of preventable child deaths.  We need your help to raise awareness and drive collective action! If you’re interested in learning more and want to partner with us, please email:  FBCI@usaid.gov for more information.

Echoing the President’s remarks, thank you for you continued leadership, passion and dedication to helping the most vulnerable.  Together we can create a world where every child, no matter where he or she is born, has an equal opportunity to survive and grow.

 

Youth Shine at 5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative University

This past weekend I joined over 1,000 college students from 80 countries, and over 75 youth organizations, at the 5th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) held this year at George Washington University. For many, the highlight might have been Usher summing up his sentiment about why his foundation focuses on youth empowerment by singing Whitney Houston’s “I believe the Children are our Future” (while sharing the stage with President Clinton and Secretary Albright); or the closing conversation between Jon Stewart and President Clinton.

Dr. Nicole Goldin of USAID with youth at George Washington University while attending the 5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative University this weekend. Photo Credit: USAID

For me however, it was connecting and interacting with the participants – some I learned already have a USAID connection.   Like the members of the CGI annual meeting in New York every September, all participants must make a commitment to action in order to attend – and many of these student personal stories and commitments are extraordinary.

During the opening plenary panel, along with President Clinton, Secretary Albright, and Usher, an amazing young Afghan woman named Sadiqa Saleem inspired the crowd with her personal journey from refugee camps, to the US and back  home to educate the girls and young women of Afghanistan.  “We need a coalition of fathers [like hers] to fight for the education of their daughters….”  Along with her follow-women founder, they went from educating 36 girls in an abandoned building, to creating and running  the Oruj Learning Center which teaches nearly 3400 girls in 6 primary schools, as well as executes other womens’ education and youth leadership programs.

After the panel, I spoke with Sadiqa and she told me she worked as Manager of the professional development center under the USAID Afghanistan Higher Education Program  – and that’s where she got the ideas and increased skills to enable her to establish her colleges.

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Our Continued Common Struggle – World Tuberculosis Day 2012

Last year on this blog, I wrote about why the United States and Eastern Europe and Eurasia need to work together to fight against multi-drug resistant (MDR) – tuberculosis (TB) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) –TB. In the world of modern travel, these diseases are a plane ride away from our shores.

As we commemorate World Tuberculosis Day this year, Eastern Europe and Eurasia continue to have the highest rates of MDR-TB and XDR- TB in the world.  Of the 27 countries with a high burden of M/XDR-TB, 10 are in the Europe/Eurasia region.  MDR-TB is a national security interest and a global health interest for the region and for the world.

Tuberculosis is largely curable but also potentially deadly. It exacts an enormous personal and economic toll, often striking people in their most economically productive years.  Diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB are more complicated and expensive.  MDR-TB for example requires 24 months of treatment vs. 6 months for drug-susceptible TB and the treatment is more than 260 times more expensive.  As a result, M/XDR-TB constitute major risks to effective TB control.

Europe and Eurasia are of particular concern because they have shown the world’s highest rates of MDR-TB.  A 2011 USAID-funded survey in Minsk, Belarus found the highest MDR-TB rates recorded to date.  Prior to that, one region in Russia and Baku, Azerbaijan had the highest recorded rates.

The picture of TB in the region is unique, fueled by inadequate diagnostics, poor compliance with treatment and insufficient infection control. The growth of HIV/AIDS further contributes to TB rates.  In addition, TB programs historically have been implemented in a silo fashion separate from the rest of the health care systems, and drug regimens have been improperly prescribed and/or incompletely followed by patients.

In response to alarming new rates of MDR-TB USAID, working in collaboration with national TB programs and the Global Fund, has invested strategically and targeted areas where it can have the highest impact: strengthening surveillance systems, improving the quality of data collection and monitoring, strengthening laboratories, improving infection control, strengthening treatment services,  bolstering drug management practices, and improving policies and protocols.

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Global Waters – World Water Day Edition

USAID’s water team just published a new edition of their Global Waters Magazine in celebration of World Water Day.

You can view it in the interactive e-zine version below or download Global Waters as a PDF  (5.1MB), great for smaller screens, tablets or handhelds, or for printing.

Peace, Recovery, and Development in Northern Uganda

Northern Uganda experienced one of Africa’s longest running conflicts from 1987 through 2007. The Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized communities, and abducted tens of thousands of children to train as child soldiers. The conflict exacted severe economic losses, leading to mass displacement of people, a breakdown in infrastructure, and severely weakened governance and social structures. In the years since 2007, Northern Uganda has rebounded from the shadow of conflict to become relatively peaceful and stable. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 95 percent of the 1.8 million people living in Internally Displaced Persons camps at the height of the conflict have returned to their homes.

While nearly everyone in the region has experienced loss and continues to face challenges, the process of reintegrating into society has been particularly difficult for young people who were abducted and pressed into service by the LRA. Several international and community-based organizations introduced vocational training programs to provide former abductees with skills to help them become self-reliant and reintegrate into their communities.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) identified and trained, vulnerable youth and provided them employment opportunities to make furniture for schools that were being rehabilitated by USG and other donor programs. The restored schools and housing for teachers have encouraged a large number of children to enroll.

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USAID In the News

Weekly Briefing (3/12/2012 – 3/16/2012)

March 14: A recent study highlighted in Federal Computer Week magazine showed that USAID was one of three federal agencies currently in full compliance with the White House transparency recommendations issued in March 2011. Under the Administration’s Open Government Directive released in December 2009, agencies developed open government plans in April 2010. Many of the agencies updated those plans in mid-2010 and again in 2011 and are now preparing for a third round of updates.

March 14: The White House Blog published An Alliance for Global Development written by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and DFID Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell. The blog discussed the official state visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the unique partnership the two countries share on global development.

March 14: Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg joined Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney to discuss the on-going humanitarian crisis in Sudan and South Sudan. The Associated PressVoice of America, and The Washington Post covered the hearing, among other major outlets.

March 15: The Oregonian (Portland, OR)  reports that 20 international students from Latin America will soon be heading home after receiving two years of academic and technical studies at a local college. The students were selected to participate in the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) program, an initiative funded by USAID. SEED scholarships provide training to youth and community leaders from economically disadvantaged and historically underserved populations, including women and ethnic/Indigenous groups, to become key leaders in their countries’ development.

USAID’s FrontLines – April/May 2012

frontlines banner graphic

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines, to learn more about the Agency’s work with partnerships and in the countries that make up the Latin America and Caribbean region.

The Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) is the brainchild of an Armenian-American diaspora-led organization, which launched its efforts in 2003 to strengthen the eye-care system and reduce preventable blindness in Armenia. In 2004, USAID and AECP joined forces. Through the partnership, USAID/Armenia helped AECP scale up its programs, which complemented the mission’s health care goals for the country. For part of that effort, AECP brought in a mobile eye hospital, which made stops in 90 percent of Armenia’s communities to provide eye exams and necessary treatments. Pictured: a man receives an eye exam. Photo credit: AECP

Some highlights:

  • Soap. Water. Tippy Tap. After answering nature’s call, some Senegalese wash up in ways both inventive and resourceful.
  • What is proving good for economic growth in post-war Sri Lanka is also providing a positive communal experience for people from all sides of the two-decades-long conflict.

Subscribe to FrontLines for an email reminder when the latest issue is posted online.

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