The Curious Autodidact

June 17, 2013

John Wood: Creating Room to Read

Filed under: book related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 3:23 pm

It is not that often I read a book and immediately buy hardcover copies for my friends, but John Wood’s book was just such a book.

I had read his previous book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World about his establishment of his nonprofit organization “Room to Read.”


Image result for google image "Room to Read"

This newest book “Creating Room to Read” details the continuation of his work and the hiccups along the way. Establishing libraries and access to books and education has rocked the world of many children and adults. His focus on education girls is so amazing and inspirational. Thus far his work have touched the lives of over 7 million children in Asia and Africa and over 15,000 libraries. Look out Carnegie!

Here is a visual representation of some of his organization’s work.

Many local giving circles have been established to help this important work and you will finish the book ready to roll up your sleeves to help him with his amazing mission to touch so many lives with words.

Here’s an array of photos of children making their way to school around the world—nothing short of amazing. Never take the yellow bus for granted again.


October 21, 2010

Women’s Basic Health in the Developing World

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 4:56 pm



Sometimes a movie or documentary can teach you something you knew nothing about and this is the finest use of the media. Enjoying a documentary, one that compels you to learn more, or take action, is even more enlightening.

Netflix has allowed many documentaries that may not have otherwise seen the light of day a new life in the hearts of viewers. Independent documentaries are often the most interesting and “A Walk to Beautiful” is a stunning story of Ethiopian women and introduces first-world viewers to the issue of obstetric fistula, a hole that forms between the vagina and the bladder or rectum during prolonged, obstructed labor. Women are left incontinent, some develop nerve damage in the feet and legs and most are shamed in their community because of their smell and disability.

Obstetric fistulas were virtually eradicated in the United States in 1895 and the first fistula hospital closed its doors in New York City in 1925.

This movie follows five Ethiopian women as they make their way to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and we watch as their lives change from one of utter ostracization to one of acceptance being around other women who have also been marginalized by her community.

You will meet the elderly and totally dedicated Australian British national Dr. Catherine Hamlin who founded the hospital in 1974 with her now deceased husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin. These services are supported by donations from the public and offered to the community without charge. You will see how the lives of these women are profoundly altered.

Less than six in two women in developing countries give birth with any trained midwife or doctor. In Ethiopia where this movie is filmed there are as estimated 100,000 women who suffer with untreated fistula, with over 9000 more women estimated to develop fistula annually.

According to the Fistula Foundation website “Because most fistula sufferers are young women—many still in their teens—they are likely to live with their condition for upwards of 25 years. By any estimate, there are at least two million women currently living with fistula throughout the developing world. The world capacity to treat fistula is estimated at 6,500 fistula repair surgeries per year.” This well produced documentary explains the shame and heartache involved with this all too common affliction, no one can watch this documentary without at least feeling more informed, if not driven to action. Hamlin Fistula Hospitals has initiated an expansion project to build five mini-fistula hospitals throughout Ethiopia. Tax Deductible Donations can be made The Fistula Foundation and mailed to: The Fistula Foundation, 1171 Homestead Road, Suite 265, Santa Clara, CA 95050. This is a marvelous movie to watch with friends or with your book group to raise awareness of this tragic condition.

After watching this film I was driven to read The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope that further fleshes out the story of the couple who founded this hospital in Ethiopia in the late 1950s. Although it seems obvious the book was patched together from stories told the John Little the co-author the story makes up for the writing and is well worth a read if you’ve never read anything about Ethiopian culture or about a couple so self-sacrificing for the needs of others. Watch the movie, read the book and make a donation to this important cause.


May 27, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Nicest Gift You Can Leave Those “left behind”

Filed under: end of life,helpful hints,money saving ideas,nonprofit — Honilima @ 1:31 am


Although we live in a death denying culture one of the nicest things that you can do is to complete this paperwork called PUTTING YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER that details your wishes upon death. Produced by the People’s Memorial Association, the oldest continually running funeral cooperative in the country, this details your most personal end of life wishes and details that your survivors will appreciate knowing. Please if you find this form helpful please take time to send them a small donation to keep their organization providing this information.

Years back a close friend of ours died. I had nagged my friends all to sign up with the local nonprofit funeral cooperative and what did we find? A filled out forms telling us what he hadn’t been able to tell us himself, his final wishes. We were obviously suffering a great loss but this forethought and consideration was such a gift to receive.

Funeral Consumer’s Alliance is a national organization that is a watch dog group over the funeral industry and their website has lots of helpful end of life information too. They keep a hawk’s eye on the ways the ever more corporate funeral world takes advantage of grieving families and works to support the various funeral cooperatives around the country many of which are run by dedicated volunteers.

November 16, 2009

Action Alert: from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 1:59 am

Image result for electronic frontier foundation :

“Revelations about the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) continue to emerge, and the news is not good for technology users or digital rights. Instead of concentrating on physical fakes and fraud, recently leaked draft documents suggest ACTA will create new global regulations over the Internet and DRM. The details of these new rules remain closed to the public. Write to your representatives now to demand that Congress bring transparency to this clandestine pact.”

You can click here to get to more information.

This is a solid established organization that is worth supporting and keep uping with their work. They bring up technological issues that may not otherwise be brought to your attention. Keep up the good work EFF.

October 22, 2009

Giving Without Taking Credit

Filed under: cool internet stuff,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 8:32 am

Giving Anonymously is a unique service allows you to send money to someone totally anonymously to help them in a hard time or to make a dream come true. Here’s what they say from their website:

“Our goal is to enable and encourage you to be your own charity, and for you to give anonymously to those around you in need.

Sure, you could give money to us and expect us to find those in need. But then your neighbor who lost his job and now can’t pay the bills or adequately feed his family, will not be helped.

Our Motto: We are not the ‘charity’ you are! Look around your community, your neighbors, friends and family. Do you see anyone in need? If so, give to them. You can give anonymously. We’ll send them a check, and you’ll get an email with a voice file of them thanking you. But they won’t know who you are! How cool is this!”

July 29, 2009

One Person Can Make a Difference at any Age

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 2:01 am

In the category of “get up and do something” come these two stories of philanthropy sure to inspire. One a young five year old girl, Phoebe in San Francisco and the other Carol Schillios a middle-aged lady in Edmonds. Both are giving of their life energy to make a difference, both of whom have gotten great publicity through the use of new media and video.

Take a look at these two and reach into your creativity pocket and come up with a small thing you can do to make a difference in someone else’s life.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.”Margaret Meade

June 30, 2009

Pick of the Podcasts

Oversharing The editors of Webster’s New World Dictionary chose the verb ‘overshare’ as their word of the year in 2008. Why are we increasingly compelled to share mundane details of our lives online? We talk with Hal Niedzviecki, author of “The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors.

Atul Gawande on Health Care Costs in McAllen, Texas. This town on the Mexican border, has the lowest household income in the United States and health care costs in McAllen are nearly the nation’s highest — almost double the national average. Surgeon-journalist Atul Gawande went to McAllen to figure out why. What he found was doctors systematically milking the system — running up fees with a philosophy that put wealth before health.

Matt Flannery of talking on the Seattle Channel about his micro-lending work.

Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg and associate editor at The Washington Post talks on the Diane Rehm show June 9th’s eleven o’clock hour about his book “Annie’s Ghosts” (Hyperion). This journalist’s memoir tries to understand why his mother never revealed she had a sister. It’s a story of family secrets, deception and how the mentally ill were once treated in America.

June 10, 2009

Just what is “Green Burial”

Filed under: environmental ideas,helpful hints,nonprofit — Honilima @ 7:26 am

What is Green Burial?

Green burial – caring for the dead without the use of toxins and materials that are not biodegradable – has been receiving much attention lately, though it’s hardly a new phenomenon. Returning to the earth in little more than a shroud is what most of humanity has done for thousands of years until the advent of the modern “deathcare” industry. In a typical green cemetery, burial density is normally one-tenth of that of conventional cemetery. And because embalming, metal caskets, vaults and conventional markers are prohibited, green burial can also offer cost savings. Unfortunately, it also has much potential as a marketing ploy.

Do I Need a “Green Cemetery” to Have a Green Burial?

Not necessarily. There are several steps you can take to be “greener,” even in a conventional cemetery:

  • If you have your own rural land, check your local zoning laws for any rules on home burial. It’s allowed in most states
  • Forego embalming. It’s never routinely required by law for funerals, and we’ve never heard of any cemetery requiring it for burial
  • Select a wood casket or a cardboard box or a shroud for burial. There are no laws requiring particular types of caskets. You might encounter resistance from the funeral director or cemetery, but stand your ground.
  • If you can’t find a cemetery that will let you skip the vault, pick a concrete grave box that has an open bottom to let the body come in contact with the earth. Or, invert a concrete grave liner and use the lid for something else. Folks in Vermont and New York may refuse to use a vault on religious grounds, though there may be an additional charge for special maintenance of the grave.

The Green Burial Council (GBC) is a new nonprofit organization founded to encourage sustainable end-of-life rituals, and in some instances, to use the burial process to accomplish land conservation. The Center has developed the first certifiable standards for greener good-byes. One set is for Natural Burial Grounds, which are cemeteries required to follow ethical and ecologically sound practices. And another is for Conservation Burial Grounds, which adhere to these same practices, but in addition, involve an established conservation partner and further a legitimate conservation purpose. The Council will also be listing on its site conventional cemeteries and funeral service providers around the country willing to accommodate green burial.

February 4, 2009

Almost Endless Educational Potential On-line

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,money saving ideas,nonprofit — Honilima @ 1:08 am

Academic Earth

Although we missed the boat when it comes to utilizing the television to its highest potential as a teaching tool it looks like it is coming to life on the Internet. The latest site worth your attention is Academic Earth

Perhaps you weren’t able to attend one of these fine Universities:

* Berkeley
* Harvard
* Princeton
* Stanford
* Yale

Well even if you did you can now log on-line and see and hear selected lectures and watch the videos of the classroom.

Readers may be interested in hearing Yale’s professor Amy Hungerford’s lecture on Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, Edward P. Jones’s Known World or Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping. You can attend one class lecture or stay for the whole course The American Novel since 1945. Or you can surf over to Stanford and listen to Guy Kawasaki’s lecture on Passion vs. Money or the other more than 300 business lectures on-line. Is there a science topic you’d always wished to have explained to you? Well this is your site, if you don’t grasp it listening the first time, hit a button and you can hear it again or let it settle in your mind and listen again next week.

The site is organized by: University, Topics, and even Top Rated Instructors.

Now the only issue is how to find time to listen to all these lectures that are now available without subscription, to all internet users with a fast connection, and time to watch.

This site unleashes some of the educational potential of the Internet and will likely be one you will enjoy again and again.

Miles and Miles of Knowledge in the library and on-line too

Miles and Miles of Knowledge in the library and on-line too

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