Tag Archive for 'ascovime'

Vote Dr. Bwelle for CNN’s Hero Of The Year!

A while back Dr. Bwelle was nominated as a CNN Hero with a possibility of being selected as one of the top 10 Heroes and potentially even a shot of being voted CNN Hero of the Year. Well, we are very excited to announce that Dr. Bwelle earned a place as one of CNN’s top 10 Heroes and is currently in the running for Hero of the Year!  As one of the top 10, Dr. Bwelle and Ascovime have been awarded $50,000 and if he ends up being chosen as the Hero of the Year he will receive an additional donation of  $250,000. This would be an enormous help for Ascovime which runs on YOUR donations and part of Dr. Bwelle’s humble salary. This is a wonderful opportunity for Ascovime (and Dr. Bwelle) to get the recognition and the support that it needs to deliver free healthcare to rural populations in Cameroon.

Here’s where you can help – the Hero of the Year is chosen by caring individuals like you. All you have to do is go to this site: http://heroes.cnn.com/ and vote for Dr. Bwelle. Better yet, set this webpage as one of your homepages to remind you to vote daily.  You don’t have to sign up for anything and again you can vote every single day(from multiple accounts and from Facebook)! This is a perfect way to give a tiny amount of your time to make a huge difference and it won’t cost a thing so please, take a moment every day to vote for Dr. Bwelle and, if you feel so inclined, tell your friends and family to vote too! Results will be posted as soon as voting ends. Thank you so much!

Ascovime: The Mobile Hospital

For those that aren’t familiar, ASCOVIME is a small, grassroots volunteer organization committed to fighting illiteracy and disease in Cameroon and eventually greater Africa. The mission of Ascovime is simple: provide free medical care and education supplies to marginalized, destitute populations in the rainforests of Africa.

There are two major facets to Ascovime’s efforts: medicine and education.

Medicine

Every Friday during dry season in Cameroon, Ascovime loads up a hired or borrowed van with a team of volunteers and medical supplies, and hits the road. The team heads for some of the poorest and remote villages in the country where people may have never seen a doctor before. They set up a makeshift “hospital” and first provide locals with personal consultations, then prescribe treatments, and even surgeries under primitive conditions – all of this at no charge.

Education

During the fall months, Ascovime again loads up vans with volunteers, but this time with mostly educational supplies and materials.  Books, pencils, chalk, notebooks, backpacks, and anything that can help a teacher or a student to get a better education is distributed for free by Ascovime.  Currently, Ascovime is leading a project to give more children the opportunity of secondary education by providing educational passports required to enter high school.

In 2010, I volunteered in Cameroon with the team and was blown away by the experience.  When I returned to New England, I recognized the need to get the word out about Ascovime’s efforts to the North American public.  I decided to establish Ascovime.org and AscovimeUSA, help those who wanted to volunteer, improve press exposure, and assist with fundraising and logistical efforts.  As one example, check out the NPR story on Dr. Bwelle, the founder of Ascovime. This is an honest, volunteer-only organization where 100% of donations go directly to those in need of medical care or educational supplies.  If you’d like to volunteer, help in any capacity, or make a generous donation, please visit http://ascovime.org/donate.

-Mike

Mike Ursiny is a third-year medical student at the University of Vermont as well as a Visiting Scientist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Urology. His current research interests include dietary influences on kidney stone formation, healthcare funding decision analysis, and medical device innovation.

Introduction!

For those of you who don’t know me (I’m guessing everyone!) my name is Chantal Mendes and I wanted to introduce myself as I am just starting to get involved with this project on the multimedia end. A little bit about me: I graduated in 2010 with a B.S. in Print Journalism from Boston University and have had experience working for newspapers, blogs, and grant projects with USAID. I’m currently taking classes at Harvard to satisfy my pre-med requirements so that I can apply to medical school next year. In between studying and trying to have a life outside of Chemistry, I am hoping to use my experience with social media to reach out and get more people involved with this amazing project so definitely expect to be hearing a lot more from me over the next few weeks!

-Chantal

PS I’m hoping to make a blog post every week to keep you all updated on what’s going on as well as let you know what you can do to help/get involved yourselves. Even something as simple as visiting our Facebook page (coming soon!) is greatly appreciated. A little bit of effort really does go a long way in making a difference.

100 Donors and $5000!

Today, Ascovime has achieved two major milestones  with one big donation: 100 donors and over $5000 raised.  This is a nice goal and is a testament to the grassroots nature of this small organization.  Everyone out there is chipping in a little bit and helping get much needed healthcare and educational supplies to those in rural parts of Cameroon.

Continue reading ‘100 Donors and $5000!’

Making a Difference in Cool Way

The mission of Ascovime is to provide rural populations in Cameroon with healthcare and educational supplies, all free of charge.  Ascovime functions to achieve this goal in a rather unique way compared to other humanitarian organizations – all members contribute on a volunteer basis, so all the money raised goes directly to those who really need it.  With this model comes the need for great grassroots efforts from all over the world.

Cool Students in Yaounde

Continue reading ‘Making a Difference in Cool Way’

How Ascovime Operates

If you’re wondering how Ascovime does its work on the ground, this video pretty well encapsulates it.  The scenery, music, makeshift equipment and transport, and a jovial attitude are all represented in this fine work.  Credit to TristanChampion for putting this video together.

Building an Empire Through Third World Exploitation

Exploitation of the poor is a long standing tradition among empires throughout history.  From the Roman empire to that of Imperial Japan prior to World War II, killing and enslaving peoples in order to steal natural resources has been common practice.  And today is no different.

The American empire, built of collusion between the military, corporations, government, banks, and intelligence agencies, has managed to do the same as many empires of the past.  In the 1960s and 70s, our America was responsible for several assassinations as well as other orchestrated coups in order to install leaders that would be receptive to our interests in the region.  Today, we do this in the Middle East and Africa, with Cameroon being no exception.

Back in 2000, a corporate coalition led by Exxon Mobil started a project to build an oil pipeline from southern Chad through Cameroon to the Atlantic Ocean.   Continue reading ‘Building an Empire Through Third World Exploitation’

Keeping Malarial Mosquitoes Off Your Back

I don’t like mosquitoes.  They buzz in your ear, suck at your blood, and worst of all are carriers of malaria in tropical parts of the world.  Since no one likes malaria either, the name of the game is avoiding mosquitoes altogether.  My previous post talked about all the various prophylactic medications you can take, but there are other things you can do to lower the chances of an intimate rendezvous with a mosquito.  After all, it’s really just a game of statistics.

Buy Spray – The malarial mosquitoes are often a little bigger and a little nastier – so buy a bugspray that is also a little more potent.  You definitely want a spray with 5%-35% DEET.  DEET is the good stuff when it comes to insect repellent.

Wear Long Sleeves – I showed up in Africa like a complete rookie.  Logically (I thought) the weather would be hot and tropical, so I brought t-shirts and shorts.  Wrong.  I ended up wearing my one long-sleeve shirt and one pair of pants almost everyday.  Because of me, Americans must have an interesting fashion reputation in Yaounde. Anyway, I was constantly sweaty, but I left without malaria.  You should also wear light colors because mosquitoes are less attracted.

Mosquito Nets – You should have them.  None of the Cameroonians had them, and I also did have one, but it’s highly recommended. Rather be safe than sorry.  The nets should also be sprayed with either pyrethrum, which comes from chrysanthemums, or permethrin, its synthetic twin.  They’re basically just insecticides to create one additional layer of deterrence.

Indoors – Mosquitoes are active in the evening and night.  Be sure to shut windows later in the day and check the screens for major holes.  Prior to entering sleeping quarters, it’s also wise to spray the room with some insecticide to kill any loitering bugs.

The reality is that avoiding mosquito bites is nearly impossible, especially since the African ones I encountered were silent and bit you without causing a commotion. However, if you combine the ability of prophylactic meds and basic prevention techniques, you should be close to 99% safe.  And if you get malaria, it’s treatable and you’ll probably be fine.  Happy travels!

This is Africa: Headlamp Surgery

Practicing medicine in the jungles of Africa requires a certain flexibility that is hard to imagine here in the U.S. or western Europe.  However, thanks to the existence of youtube, we can see the challenges that face doctors in remote places all over the world.

This particular video brings back memories of the surgical marathon that went on in Maboye, Cameroon last summer. Dr. Bwelle slept about 8 hours for an entire 48 hour period and at one point the generator went out mid-operation.  Dr. Bwelle had us all turn our headlamps on to light the surgical field and on we continued as the generator was repaired.  That’s the way it goes in Africa.

Donations: Putting Your Money to Work

Many large nonprofit humanitarian organizations are fortunate enough to receive donations that cover their costs as well as pay employee salaries. While this is great for the organization, it isn’t necessarily ideal for donors because a major portion of your gift is paying for prime Manhattan office space or the CEOs salary.

One common metric used to evaluate nonprofits is called the program ratio, which is the percentage of an organization’s total expenditures that is devoted to programs and services. If as an organization you spend $80 to buy food for resettled refugees, and then pay people $20 to to hand it out – your program service ratio is 80% ($80 / ($80 + $20)). While not a perfect measuring stick, the program ratio is a decent gauge for the efficiency of a charity or non-profit.
Smaller organizations tend to have higher program ratios than larger organizations because larger nonprofits require a greater level of organization and administration. Let’s take a look at some examples of how some donations were used:

American Red Cross

In 2009, the American Red Cross took in about $3.3 billion. That year they spent a total of $3.4 billion in all: $1.7 billion (50%) on salaries and compensation, $600 million (12%) on “other expenses,” and the other $1.1 billion (33%) directly on programs. If you count salaries of employees as program expenses then their ratio was a very handsome 91%, but if you don’t, the ratio drops to about 33%. (Form 990)

MSF

MSF Financials

Medecins sans Frontiers, or Doctors without Borders, is an apolitical organization that seeks solely to provide medical care to those in dire need, not only those who are in need on the news. Although they are a smaller organization, their finances are more focused on the end beneficiary rather than the middle man. They took in $143 million in 2009, spent a total of $145 million: $112 million on programs (77%), $13 million on salaries and compensation (9%), $18 million on fundraising (13%), and $2.2 million on management and general (1.5%). Any way you look at it, at least 77% of the donations go directly to those in need. (Form 990)

Ascovime USA

Ascovime is small and entirely composed of volunteers so we have no administrative costs or salaries to pay out. In fact, Dr. Bwelle spends most of his salary to keep Ascovime going. 97% of donations go directly to program costs and Paypal gets their 3% cut, so ideally send a check to cut out that middle man. (Donate here) 

I’m not advocating for or against making a charitable donation, but merely trying to present what happens to the impact of your donation as the receiving organization increases with size.  Next time you consider making a donation to any organization, think about giving to smaller, local organizations because they will use more of your money to directly help the cause, whatever it may be.

Further reading