Nursing and midwifery students crowd around to observe as midwives help a woman deliver a baby. (Photo: Jenny Asarnow)
Erin Curtiss is a midwife in Seattle. She is 34 years old, has sharp blue eyes and a raunchy sense of humor. She lives with her two young sons and her girlfriend.
Erin, who runs her own home birth business, recently learned of an American nonprofit organization called Midwives for Haiti. She found it on Facebook.
She traveled to a little city called Hinche, in Haiti’s Central Plateau. She came to volunteer at the public hospital, where patients are crammed into long rooms with no electricity, and where the windows and doors are open to the air – and the mosquitoes and flies and lizards that come through.
Back home, Erin only deals with uncomplicated pregnancies, but here, women have extremely high blood pressure, anemia, even cholera. These are the sickest patients she has ever seen, and the hospital staff doesn’t seem to have enough time for anyone.
Erin came here mostly to train midwives, but now that she sees how much needs to get done, she wants to do more. So she makes a generous offer. She’ll work the night shift, when there are fewer midwives on staff.
The United Nations announced this week that they would team up with Linkin Park to provide electricity to the 2.6 billion people that have no or only limited access to electricity. In order to heat their homes, cook for their children etc. many of them have to use dung, kerosene, petroleum and other substances which may present a health risk.
One of the aims of the new "Power the World" campaign is to raise awareness. You might have noticed that I've started a series of articles all dealing with this issue during my "Power the World" week.
Another way to reach this aim is, of course, to get #PowertheWorld trending on Twitter. As this is most successful if many people tweet this at the same time, I've decided to organize a little flash mob! Date and Time:
The flash mob starts tomorrow (Saturday, November 12) at:
11am (CST) USA
12am (EST) USA
5pm (GMT) UK
6pm (CET/MEZ) Central Europe (Germany)
7pm (EET) (Greece)
2am (JST) (Sunday: Japan)
4am (AEDT)(Sunday: Australia)
1. I couldn't include every single country in this list, but I guess the list is an orientation, so that you can calculate the time for yourself
2. I know that the time is quite late/early for Japan and Australia, but firstly, this time includes the most countries, and secondly, we count on you to join us as soon as you've woken up.
3. Please share this information on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LPN, the Linkin Park fansites (LPL, LPT, LPA, MSC, LL, CBN, etc.)
What to do:
Students in the village of Tahipur in Bihar used kerosene lanterns for studying.
When we hear the word innovation, we often think of new technologies or silver bullet solutions — like hydrogen fuel cells or a cure for cancer. To be sure, breakthroughs are vital: antibiotics and vaccines, for example, transformed global health. But as we’ve argued in Fixes, some of the greatest advances come from taking old ideas or technologies and making them accessible to millions of people who are underserved.
One area where this is desperately needed is access to electricity. In the age of the iPad, it’s easy to forget that roughly a quarter of the world’s population — about a billion and a half people (pdf) — still lack electricity. This isn’t just an inconvenience; it takes a severe toll on economic life, education and health. It’s estimated that two million people die prematurely each year as a result of pulmonary diseases caused by the indoor burning of fuels for cooking and light. Close to half are children who die of pneumonia.
In vast stretches of the developing world, after the sun sets, everything goes dark. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 70 percent of the population lack electricity. However, no country has more citizens living without power than India, where more than 400 million people, the vast majority of them villagers, have no electricity. The place that remains most in darkness is Bihar, India’s poorest state, which has more than 80 million people, 85 percent of whom live in households with no grid connection. Because Bihar has nowhere near the capacity to meet its current power demands, even those few with connections receive electricity sporadically and often at odd hours, like between 3:00 a.m and 6:00 a.m., when it is of little use.
This is why I’m writing today about a small but fast-growing off-grid electricity company based in Bihar called Husk Power Systems. It has created a system to turn rice husks into electricity that is reliable, eco-friendly and affordable for families that can spend only $2 a month for power. The company has 65 power units that serve a total of 30,000 households and is currently installing new systems at the rate of two to three per week.
Bringing sustainable light to communities off the grid