Archive for the 'Service' Category

National Volunteer Week 2010

April 18-24, 2010 is National Volunteer Week in the U.S. organized by Points of Light Foundation to celebrate “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities across the nation.”

Find out about more about events at HandsOn Network.

Volunteer opportunities can be found at 1-800

Get inspired and share stories, videos and photos here.

India’s Dying Beaches

I almost feel as though I am in Pondicherry.  The vicarious excitement and stress of trying to keep up with the sudden barrage of media stories and activities initiated by NDTV’s coverage of “The Death of India’s Beaches” has my adrenelin pumping as I try and support our colleagues at PondyCAN.

On 28 May, 2009, Probir Banerjee, PondyCAN’s President, was interviewed by Prannoy Roy of NDTV, fulfilling a promise Roy made months before to take up the issue of coastal erosion.  Realizing the magnitude of the problem, Roy initiated a state-by-state coverage of the issue in a series called “India’s Dying Beaches.”

Continue reading ‘India’s Dying Beaches’

Vote for Goonj’s Cloth Sanitary Napkin Project

June 7, 2009

Update:  Goonj is one of three winners in the Designing for Better Health category of the Changemakers Innovation Awards, getting US$ 5,000.  Congratulations Goonj!


What started out as a small initiative (“…a voice, an effort”) of a group of friends going door-to-door in their apartment complexes to collect pieces of clothing to give to the needy in the streets of New Delhi has become a social movement involving hundreds of volunteers and the distribution of over 20,000 kilograms of material in 20 states in India.  (Last year, Goonj celebrated its 10 year anniversary.)

During his visits to impoverished rural areas throughout India, Anshu Gupta, the founder and director of Goonj, came across a hidden problem facing women five days a month.  Many women did not have enough cloth in their homes to use during their menstrual cycles.  Some had to resort to using ash, straw, or sand, living with the livestock for that period of time.  Others shared the same piece of cloth which never saw the light of day to get properly cleaned and sanitized.

Continue reading ‘Vote for Goonj’s Cloth Sanitary Napkin Project’

Unsung Heroes: Krishnan Profile on IBNLive


Earlier this year, Mark and I met with two editors at CNN-IBN to give them suggestions of people to profile for a series on the “real heroes” of India. One of the people we recommended was Krishnan, in Madurai. CNN-IBN’s report and video are now up on IBNLive.

Krishnan serves the “uncared” – the elderly, destitute, mentally unstable – providing wholesome, good food and clean water three times a day, baths, haircuts, and clean clothing. It costs Krishnan Rs. 8,000 (approximately US$ 200) a day to provide these services for 200 people – US$1 per day per person. Krishnan operates through a registered NGO (with tax exemption under section 80G of the Indian Income Tax Code) called Akshaya Trust. This year, after 5 years of unstinted service, Akshaya Trust plans to set up a residential home on the outskirts of Madurai for 200 people for an estimated cost of Rs. 95 lakhs (US$ 238,000).  We are glad to know that the donations that have come in to Akshaya Trust from the CNN-IBN story will go towards the continued care for the “uncared” of Madurai.

Shown below are some pictures of Krishnan’s clients, taken during our “ride-along” with Krishnan in January 2005.

krishnan1.jpg krishnan3.jpg krishnan4.jpg krishnan5.jpg krishnan6.jpg

Krishnan may be contacted here:

9, West 1st Main Street,
Doak Nagar Extn.,
Madurai – 625 010.
Ph: +91-452-4353439, 2587104
Cell: +91-98433 19933


Tech Awards Call for Nominations – deadline 24 March 2008

It’s that time again – The Tech Museum is putting out a global call for nominations for the Tech Awards, which recognize technologies that benefit humanity.  Those of you who know small NGOs around the world doing great work – please nominate them.  I am always disappointed to find so many winners from the “developed” world.  While Sumitomo Chemical deserves recognition and acclaim for inventing a cost-effective technology for long-lasting mosquito nets, does it really need the award money?  And all the individuals and organizations from the U.S. and Canada who have won – again, most of these people are well connected, informed, and networked – they have the means and ability to get funding from multiple sources.  Let’s nominate those for whom this award will have tremendous impact.

Tech Museum Awarding $250,000 in Cash Prizes

Global Call For Nominations of Innovators Using Technology to Benefit Humanity

Nomination Deadline: March 24, 2008

The Tech Museum Awards is a unique and prestigious program that honors and awards innovators from around the world who use technology to benefit humanity in the categories of:

  • Education
  • Equality
  • Economic Development
  • Environment
  • Health

Reward those making a difference and nominate today. A simple nomination form can be found at Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged. Individuals, nonprofit organizations, and companies are all eligible. Program details, including judging criteria, can be found at The Tech Museum Awards website listed above.

Each year, 25 Laureates are honored at a gala dinner, invited to participate in press and media coverage, and introduced to a network of influential advisors. An inspirational and unforgettable event, the black-tie celebration will be held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on November 12, 2008. One Laureate in each category will be granted a $50,000 cash prize.

Gillian Caldwell of WITNESS, 2003 Laureate in the Equality category and cash prize recipient, called The Tech Museum Awards”…a truly remarkable program that has given WITNESS acclaim for using technology to document human rights abuses. I was deeply honored to be recognized along with 24 other innovators from around the world who are working to improve human life through technology. The exposure generated from receiving this award and the $50,000 cash prize will surely lead to expanded services, awareness, and improved solutions for ending violations of human rights.

Change the World – Application Deadline 3 December 2007

Echoing Green

I’ve posted a version of this on the ProPoor Blog as well as the CharityFocus Blog, but wanted to post it here as well because I personally know lots of you who fit this mold.  Go ahead – do it – change the world.


  • Do you have an incredible, new idea that could change your community, country, or world?
  • Are you an entrepreneur who won’t rest until your idea has been brought to life? Or a leader who has recently started an organization to do just that?

If so, apply for an Echoing Green Fellowship. You could receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and support to launch a new organization that turns your innovative idea for social change into action.Follow in the footsteps of the founders of Teach For America, City Year, and over 400 other social change organizations and apply online by December 3, 2007.

Watch the video:

Find out whether you qualify:

Apply online:

Questions? Contact us at

Tech Laureate Venture Network Showcase – 7 November 2007

The Tech Museum Awards is an international Awards program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity.

For the first year since its inception in 2001, I will miss the Tech Laureate Venture Network (TLVN) Showcase – an opportunity for individuals, philanthropists, businesses and nonprofit leaders to meet the 25 Tech Laureates chosen each year for having developed successful ways to use technology to benefit people around the world.  The awards are given to five winners in each of the following categories:  Economic Development, Education, Equality, Environment, and Health.  Some are individuals, like our friends Brij Kothari (who founded PlanetRead and BookBox) and Ashok Gadgil (who founded waterhealth and with whom Mark and I worked on fuel-efficient cookstoves in Darfur), others are nonprofits, like Benetech (a two-time winner), Video Volunteers and Institute for OneWorld Health, and still others are for-profit corporations, like MBA Polymers, SELCO Solar Light Pvt. Ltd., and Seawater Greenhouse Ltd.

The TLVN will be held this year on November 7, from 8:30am to 11:00am at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center (not the Tech Museum, where it has been held in the past), 150 West San Carlos Street.  There is no fee but admission is by invitation only.  If you’d like to go, email Amanda Reilly: areilly at thetech dot org by October 31.

If you can’t make it, you might want to check out this year’s winners here:


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