May 26, 2010 § Leave a Comment
On Monday, May 24th, HBO Documentary Films and (RED), in association with Anonymous Content, presented their new documentary, The Lazarus Effect.
Airing on HBO, Channel 4 (UK), and YouTube, the “30-minute documentary follows the story of HIV positive people in Africa who were at death’s door and in as little as 40 days undergo a remarkable transformation to health, when they gain access to the 2 lifesaving pills that cost around 40 cents a day.”
Antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment, that can cost upwards of $10,000 per year for a patient in the United States, now costs roughly $140 per year in Africa. Given that many Africans live below the poverty threshold of $2 per day, these drugs are provided for free, mostly by the Global Fund and the U.S. AIDS initiative, PEPFAR, as they have been since 2003.
Before 2003, there was no “Lazarus effect.” HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. As Constance Mudenda, supervisor of the Kanyama clinic (and 2 others) in Lusaka, Zambia, says in the film, “All I know is that I’d go for the test, and sit back and wait for death.” While all three of her children had succumbed to the disease, she and her husband had never been tested (both now know they are HIV-positive and receive free ARVs). From the viewpoint of the doctors, the situation was wrenching. Dr. Mannasseh Phiri, who works with Constance, explains that the drugs were “so expensive, and we watched people die because they couldn’t afford the mediation. Can you imagine how desperate that is for the provider of the medication?”
Really. 40 cents per day. And 3 months. That’s all it takes for 11-year-old Bwalya Liteta to go from weighing 24 pounds and looking like she’s 6 and missing school, to playing with her friends and ranking at the top of her class, to go from lethargy to life. Today, there are 3 billion more just like her, alive and thriving because of 2 pills a day. But this is a lifelong commitment, on behalf of the patients receiving the drugs and organizations funding them.
Take 30 minutes of your time to watch and hear the good news about just what $0.40 per day can do. Or, if you have only a minute, check out Bono and Penelope Cruz and Orlando Bloom, to name a few, tell you what you get for $0.40, in the (RED) The Lazarus Effect Campaign: 40 cents = 2 lifesaving pills.
We need more of this kind of thing, more of what’s working.
May 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Last night, the White House hosted it’s second State Dinner, this time for President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and his wife, first lady Margarita Zavalos. Unlike the President’s first State Dinner, this one appears to have gone off without incident (though I did read that the Salahis scheduled a drive-by, just as the invited guests were arriving, supposedly on their way to dinner at a nearby restaurant).
First lady Michelle Obama and her staff thoughtfully arranged all aspects of the dinner, including the entertainment, which featured the duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, rhythmic guitarists from Mexico City. If you’ve never heard them play their acoustic guitars (although the word “play” does not quite live up to what they do with their instruments), then you need to have a listen. Here are two of their songs that I particularly like:
Hanuman (from their 2009 album, 11:11 – scroll down to see them performing this song on The Tonight Show)
Tamacun (from their 2006 self-title album – sample the song on Pandora.com)
The pair is touring in the United States through May, then heading to Europe, before returning to the States for additional dates in August. Visit their website for tour dates. Quite simply, if you like acoustic guitar, then you’ll agree, this pair is fantastic.
And, I can’t help myself, I’ve got to mention this week’s Glee. There were so many “moments.” Neil Patrick Harris, guest-starring as Will Schuster’s high school nemesis, Bryan Ryan, belting out Aerosmith’s “Dream On” alongside Matthew Morrison. A mall flash-mob version of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance,” headlined by Artie (Kevin McHale). Then there was “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, sung by Idina Menzel (rival glee club leader, Shelby Cororan) and Lea Michele (Rachel Berry) – this week we learned that Shelby is Rachel’s mother. I’ve yet to manage to get through Les Mis without crying, and, I have to admit, I didn’t make it through this performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” either. If you missed the episode, you can catch it online.
So much entertainment, so little time…
May 7, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In honor of all women, and mothers in particular, there’s a campaign you need to know about. Women ONE2ONE.
Created by the inspiring people at ONE.org, the campaign is “aimed at saving the lives and increasing the opportunity of women who live in extreme poverty. As mediators, connectors and advocates we believe in the power of women to make this change.”
On the Mother’s Day, to raise awareness and help reach their goal of having 1 million women join the effort to combat extreme poverty and preventable disease, ONE.org has partnered with SMITH Magazine to launch an initiative encouraging women to write brief but meaningful messages for their mothers. It’s called “Six Words on Why Moms Matter.”
Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a novel in six words. His offering — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — is the inspiration for the wildly popular SIX-WORD MEMOIR™ project from SMITH Magazine.
ONE has partnered with SMITH Magazine to launch Women ONE2ONE’s Six Words on Why Moms Matter campaign in honor of your mother and moms around the globe and to help raise awareness of the importance of mothers and the struggles many are facing every day.
Go ahead. Join the over 7,000 women who’ve already done so. Write your six words. Then send them to your mother. It will make her day. In fact, it will make your day too.
May 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I think I have just become a raving fan of a fantastic online tool … Animoto. Many of you may already be aware of it. As is the case with far too many technology-related products and services, I am not an early adopter. When I do finally get on to something I think is terrific, my friends generally smile somewhat kindly, then roll their eyes. But I may not be too terribly late to this one. Yes, it has been written about in just about every major publication in America (which I learned when I checked out their press coverage in “the buzz”). But still, I thought a few of you might be like me. So …
What is Animoto? In their own words, they help you to:
Turn your photos and videos into pure amazing.
Animoto automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and shockingly easy.
And, yes, their basic service really is free. You can upload your own photos, video, and music, or use their stock collections, and add text, to produce a 30-second video clip. If you don’t like the end result, you can easily edit your selections, and Animoto will create a new video. You can email the video, post it to your blog or Facebook page, and send it out via Twitter.
To show you just how easy it is, here’s a link to a video clip titled Travel I that I created in only a few minutes using their stock Travel photographs and a lovely song from their Music Lounge, “To Show You My Love” by Mike Schmid.
As with Skype, you can pay a subscription fee to upgrade your account, allowing you to create longer videos or to access their professional package (if you’re a real estate broker or photographer, for example). They also offer a free pro package for not-for-profits and a program for education.
Sign-up is a breeze. And they send you an email as soon as your video is ready to be viewed, generally less than 5 minutes after you’ve completed the creation process.
Now, really. Seriously … simple.