My First Disaster

Kathryn Hearn | Marketing Communications Officer

Kathryn Hearn | Marketing Communications Officer

By: Kathryn Hearn

They say you never forget your first disaster. For me, it occurred this summer as I was part of the team from MAP International responding to the floods in Louisiana. Louisianans are no strangers to flooding conditions, but this flooding was unprecedented. Nothing could prepare me for what we were going to encounter. The destruction was widespread and heartbreaking. Continue reading

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Sir Richard Peto Receives CDC Foundation Hero Award

Dr. Judy Monroe

Dr. Judy Monroe

By Dr. Judy Monroe, president & CEO of the CDC Foundation

Did you know that cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the world today? Eighty percent of CVD deaths are the result of heart attacks and strokes, with more than three-quarters occurring in low-and middle-income countries. A significant number of those at highest risk for CVD events are without access to medications that could have immediate benefits. In addition, CVD places a significant economic and social burden on low- and middle-income countries. If current trends continue, related costs over the next decade could be as high as $3.6 trillion annually. Continue reading

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Join CARE’s Walk in Her Shoes to Help End Poverty for Women and Girls

Nicole Harris is the Media Relations Manager at CARE

Nicole Harris is the Media Relations Manager at CARE

By Nicole Harris, CARE Media Relations Manager

For more than 20 years of our 70-year history, CARE has been headquartered in Atlanta. From our bright orange building at the corner of Piedmont and Ellis St, we help provide women, girls and their families with the information, resources and skills needed to reach their full potential – and in turn to help their communities overcome poverty. Continue reading

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Helping Special Children Lead a Full Life

By Steve Stirling, President and CEO, MAP International

Living with a disability isn’t easy. As a child in Korea, I contracted polio and lost my ability to run and play like other children. But because I was later adopted by an American family, I received excellent health care and today live a full life. Continue reading

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Puerto Rico Needs Our Help to Stop Zika

By Dr. Judy Monroe

The Zika outbreak continues to rapidly spread across the Caribbean. If Zika were an earthquake, Puerto Rico would be the U.S. epicenter, while Florida and other at-risk states on the mainland would be developing fault lines. To help Puerto Rico bolster its response to Zika, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week declared a public health emergency at the request of the territory’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla. The public health emergency declaration shines a bright light on the needs in Puerto Rico. Continue reading

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South Sudan: We won’t give up on you

South Sudan Country Director, Fred McCray

South Sudan Country Director, Fred McCray

By Fred McCray, CARE Country Director in South Sudan

In all my 16 years as a humanitarian aid worker, I have never seen anything like the violence that besieged Juba, South Sudan, last month. It started on a Thursday night with small-arms gunfire that I thought would end quickly. Little did I know it was merely the start of a bloody five-day battle in the heart of South Sudan’s capital that would result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of newly displaced people and widespread panic throughout the city.

As aid workers, we prepare for moments like this, especially in a country like South Sudan, where the only thing predictable is the unpredictability that each day brings. All of our staff had stocks of food, water and fuel for just this type of violent outbreak, which could imprison them in their homes indefinitely.

After the gunfire exchange on Thursday, the city of Juba was tense. You could feel it in the air. As a precaution on Friday, I closed the office early so staff could collect any extra supplies and hunker down in the safety of their homes. It turned out to be a good decision, because the fighting resumed Friday night and escalated quickly. Outside the team house, I could hear gunfire, heavy tank artillery and helicopter gunships. I was fearful, not so much for my own safety as for my staff members. And it wasn’t just their physical safety that concerned me. I worried about their emotional safety, too, as they endured and navigated the escalating violence. We employed every method of technology in order to stay in touch as a team, constantly sharing security information, checking on one another’s safety and providing psychosocial support to one another.

Mercifully, Saturday brought a lull in the violence that served as a false sense of hope that the fighting had ended. On Sunday morning, Juba exploded into what seemed like full-blown war. I wasn’t worried as much about the military violence, because I knew we were not targets, but I was worried about the armed looting and chaos that most certainly would follow.

It was in this moment that I made my most grueling decision as a country director: to evacuate all international staff from South Sudan. Many other humanitarian actors were making the same decision. As the leader of more than 200 national staff, it was so difficult to look at them in the midst of violence and utter chaos and say, “I’m leaving.” But I found the risk simply too great for the international staff to stay.

My entire team supported that decision. Luckily, I was gone for only five days, working remotely from Nairobi. During that period, my dedicated staff ensured that CARE’s office was safe and secure, that information flowed to the appropriate people and, most importantly, that our life-saving work continued.

Now as we focus on scaling up our emergency response, we face even more challenges. There’s a saying in South Sudan that “easy things are not easily done.” That couldn’t ring more true. Aside from the unpredictable bouts of violence, the biggest challenge we face is lack of infrastructure. There’s no power grid, the rainy season renders the roads inaccessible and supplies are limited — all of which obstruct our ability to reach the people most desperately in need.

Yet we must march on. And we will. Working in a country like South Sudan, you have to be a passionate, dedicated problem-solver, and that’s just what every member of CARE South Sudan is. The staff’s commitment to the communities we serve keeps me going on those days when I could more easily give up. When the violence broke out in Juba, the staff in Unity State kept providing treatment to malnourished babies. Even though there is fighting in Eastern Equatoria, the staff wants to get back to work. They know the people in these communities, they know the depth of their needs, and they want to honor them by doing everything in their power to meet those needs. They inspire me daily.  

South Sudan is in a time of extreme uncertainty. In spite of that and the suffering they endure, however, the people here do not give up. They are survivors who kindle a lasting hope for a peaceful tomorrow. To honor them and their resilience is to keep that hope alive, powering through the chaos with the tools and services we know the people of South Sudan need — even when our work is fettered and “easy things are not easily done.”

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Lives at Stake: Seeing Zika Firsthand

Katie Pace, Marketing Communications Officer, MAP International

Katie Pace, Marketing Communications Officer, MAP International

By Katie Pace

When the members of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, planned their mission trip to the Dominican Republic they hoped to work on a building project and teach Vacation Bible School. But when they were able to take Medical Mission Packs from MAP International, they learned how they could save lives while protecting themselves from Zika at the same time.

According to The New York Times, travelers to the Dominican Republic lead in New York City positive Zika tests. Flying into the Dominican, the team was prepared with the best repellants from Sawyer to prevent the spread of the Zika virus back to the states.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 8.45.59 AM With athletes withdrawing from the Olympics over Zika concerns in Brazil, our team went on this trip with our eyes opened and prepared to protect ourselves and those we serve, personally I didn’t expect the amount of local panic over Zika in Santo Domingo. I had just returned from the mountains of Guatemala and there was little concern over the Zika virus, but the Dominican Republic was very different. With the Zika virus continuing to spread, the impact is personal for many. “We have already lost four babies in our congregation.” Said Pastor Maria Cristina Gregorio, of the Tabernacle Church of Salvation and Praise in the Santo Domingo area. “The virus is everywhere.”

Credit: MAP International

Working with a local Santo Domingo church, our team established a pop-up clinic in a community with limited access to healthcare. We saw 100 families, and more than 500 patients in a single day, treating everything from serious, life-threatening infections to colds. Foundation for Peace Medical Director, Dr. Cici Lugo, said, “It was such a blessing to have medicines from MAP. The quality was so good and we’ve never been able to treat so many people with what they truly needed.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 8.45.52 AM“I didn’t know that by partnering with MAP our mission trip would have so much more impact,” said Pastor Donna Marsh. “It took the impact of our mission trip to a new level entirely. We were able to really meet a need in the community because of the medicines we brought with us.”

The level of impact that we were able to have was seen in the faces of the local physicians treating patients with medicines they don’t always have access to. A number of young mothers brought their children into the clinic and suspected that their children had Zika, but due to limited testing resources in the Dominican Republic, the best we could do was offer them pain relievers and fever reducers for the symptoms.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 8.45.20 AMSince February, MAP International has provided over $119 million in relief to Zika infected regions and will continue to provide as much aid as possible. You can learn more at www.map.org/Zika.

To learn more about the potential risk areas in the Unites States, please visit the CDC.

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Young African Leaders Inspired to Take Lessons in Global Public Health Back Home

A delegation of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellows, representing 22 countries, visited The Task Force for Global Health on July 22 to learn about the organization’s work in Africa and better understand the role global public health plays in society.
YALI, which was launched in 2010 by President Barack Obama, seeks to equip the next generation of African leaders with the skills and connections needed to foster positive change in their countries.

The Task Force's Carla Johnson (left) discusses her work on trachoma elimination with Dr. Alemseged Woretaw (right), a technical advisor in Ethiopia's Ministry of Health and a YALI fellow

The Task Force’s Carla Johnson (left) discusses her work on trachoma elimination with Dr. Alemseged Woretaw (right), a technical advisor in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and a YALI fellow

Task Force Senior Business Analyst Juneka Rembert, MS, who helped organize the visit, said The Task Force and the YALI program share the common goal of building capacity in African countries. “The Task Force also wants to foster long-lasting relationships with leaders in countries where our global health work has a direct impact,” she said.

During their time at The Task Force, the young leaders learned about Task Force programs to eliminate neglected tropical diseases, increase access to vaccines, and strengthen health systems. The young leaders had opportunities to network with Task Force staff members and were encouraged to apply the lessons they learned at The Task Force to help improve public health in their countries.

Chaikhwa Lobatse, a registered nurse in Botswana, was inspired by The Task Force’s work to help countries improve their abilities to detect and respond to disease outbreaks.
“Today’s visit has taught me a lot about field epidemiology,” said Lobate. “My country doesn’t have a field epidemiology training program. I’m going to go to my Ministry of Health and advocate for an FETP.”

She added that she plans to stay connected with her new friends at The Task Force and continue collaborating on issues of global public health.

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CDC at 70: Seven Decades of Protecting America and The World

By Judy Monroe

Anniversaries offer a time to reflect on the past and look toward the future. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) celebrated its 70th anniversary. As part of this commemoration (7 Decades of Firsts), former CDC directors gathered with staff and retirees to reflect on the agency’ past successes and challenges while considering CDC’s next phase in protecting Americans health, safety and security. Continue reading

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Yemen: ‘It was raining rockets’

By Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

“It was 7 a.m. and I was having breakfast with my mother-in law and four of my daughters,” said Hammama, recounting what began as a seemingly ordinary day in Yemen.

Only things are not ordinary in Yemen, and on that day, extraordinary events changed Hammama’s life forever.

“We heard the aircraft hovering low overhead and airstrikes in the surrounding area, but that was a sound we had gotten used to. We didn’t think we would be a target. Then all of a sudden, we felt a violent explosion as a bomb hit part of our home. The entire house shook. Shattered glass sliced the leg of my 7-year-old daughter and the scalp of my teenage daughter. My husband, son and 10-year-old daughter were asleep in another room where the airstrike hit directly. They must have died instantly.

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes.

This is a common story for families from Sa’dah, a district in Yemen near the Saudi Arabian border that over the past year has become a frontline for airstrikes and ground-fighting. As CARE’s emergency communications manager, I recently spent three weeks in the country collecting such horror stories.

Of my recent deployments – I went to Nepal after the earthquake last year, to South Sudan, and I’ve been to the Middle East three times in the last year to get an update on CARE’s work with Syrian refugees there – Yemen hit me hardest. The country now has some of the largest humanitarian needs in the world. Just a year since this conflict escalated, 21.2 million people– 82% of the population– are in need of some sort of assistance.

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes. Credit:CARE

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes.
Credit:CARE

Many families from Sa’dah have fled violence several times, depleting their life savings in a sometimes empty search for safety. People have lost their homes, their family members and their livelihoods. And now they are dependent on aid.

“We fled with much of our village to a nearby cave in the mountain for safety,” said Houda, who also is from Sa’dah. “Our home was destroyed, and the violence was so heavy we could only leave the cave to cook, so we decided to sell our goats to have enough money to get to a safer place. It cost 50,000 Yemeni rial (US$200) to reach Sana’a, where we stayed in a school for four months with other displaced families.”

Houda was pregnant when she fled. During the 150-mile journey to Sana’a, she began to bleed. With no access to medical care, she lost her baby.

In spite of such unspeakable pain and loss, people like Hammama and Houda kindle hope. They patch together the pieces of their lives the war has not ripped from them. And they are getting help to survive during this impossible time.

CARE, for example, offers emergency cash assistance to families like Hammama’s and Houda’s so that they can buy food and pay rent for the temporary homes they have found.

“I’ve cried so many tears,” said Houda. “Sometimes I look at my children and I just cry. But I find my hope in God and I must go on for them. I just hope the war will finally stop. Life will be ok if the war stops.”

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