Creating Jobs While Helping the Environment

planting seeds

Mr. Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister of Ghana, has announced that 26.6 million tree seedlings of various species will be grown over 49 acres of land all over the country this year. This event will create an estimated 12,600 jobs for youth as well as 160,000 metric tons of food crops.  Minister Woyongo has spoken of the severe poverty situation in the rural parts of northern Ghana and supports tree growing as a means of providing good income to many families.

Minster Woyongo commended VSO, a six month volunteer exchange program that promotes volunteering to fight global poverty and disadvantage, for including tree growing and environmental protection in its programs.  He urged the youth who had been trained through this exchange program to teach and encourage basic school pupils in positive environmental practices to work hard and inculcate a lasting sense of awareness of environmental protection in the young people.

Mr. Amidu Tanko, country director of VSO, said the volunteers teach and also work in the communities involved.  VSO was launched on the theme, “Education and Climate Change, Securing the Livelihood of Future Generations.”  It seeks to bring the youth from Ghana and the United Kingdom together and give them the opportunity to do practical work in communities in the two countries, creating a healthier and stronger society.


Bikes to the Rescue

World Bicycle Relief distributes its first of 50,000 bikes to children in Zambia, Southern Africa

World Bicycle Relief distributes its first of 50,000 bikes to children in Zambia, Southern Africa.

World Bicycle ReliefU.S. charity organization – World Bicycle Relief, distributed its first of 50,000 bikes to children in Zambia, Southern Africa. Over the course of three years, World Bicycle Relief, partnered with the non-profit group World Vision, plans to spend around $7.5 million to reach its goal of handing out 50,000 bicycles to make it easier for thousands of children to get to school.

In order to get an education, many children in Zambia walk to school before the sun comes up, and return home after the sun goes down.  Lack of safe, reliable transportation is one of the reasons children in developing countries don’t get to school. Those that do make it over long distances, often arrive too tired and hungry to learn.

“Absenteeism has been our biggest challenge,” said Ndapula school official Amos Muliswa.  “It has dogged us ever since we established this community school in 2003.”  Many children are unable to attend class, not because they don’t want to learn, but because of the 10 to 20 mile commute.

Children shed tears of joy as they received the gifts.  World Bicycle Relief also plans to give bikes away in Zimbabwe, Kenya and other third world countries.

Feel-Good Foods

Feeling grumpy, stressed or down? Try these mood-improving foods:



Research has shown that the smell of lemon significantly improves mood.  Not only is it mood-enhancing, but because of its high Vitamin C content, lemon has been publicized as an alternative medicine for the digestive system as well as the immune system.



Research shows that women who experience moodiness from premenstrual syndrome may have an underlying condition where calcium isn’t used properly by the body during times of low estrogen in the menstrual cycle. Consuming at least 1000 mg of calcium each day has been found to effectively alleviate depression and anxiety in women who experience PMS. Plain yogurt is actually one of the most concentrated sources of the mineral at 488 mg calcium per cup.

dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate:

Chocolate has the optimal combination of sweet flavor and creamy texture to cause a very effective release of endorphins, which are mood-elevating hormones. Cocoa and dark chocolate contain significant amounts of antioxidant flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow in the brain. Yum!



Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of omega-3s, which are an important component of cell membranes and are vital for brain cells to function well. They also rank higher than other nuts in terms of antioxidants, which help to protect cells from damage.

Now off to happy eating!!

New Russian Arctic Park to Protect Key Polar Bear Habitat


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will create a new park in the Arctic, a central area for the Barents and Kara Sea polar bear populations. The ‘Russian Arctic’ park is located on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, a long island that arcs out into the Arctic Ocean between the Barents and Kara Seas. It also includes some adjacent marine areas.

The World Wildlife Fund has long been lobbying for the park, which is also a key area for walrus, wild reindeer and bird populations. The park creation excludes all industrial activities. The WWF focuses on protecting critical habitats for endangered species by working to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment, and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

For more information visit

16-Year-Old Discovers Breakthrough in Current Environmental Problem

Boy Discovers Microbe That Eats Plastic

PhD's have been searching for a solution to the plastic waste problem, and a16-year-old finds the answer.

PhD's have been searching for a solution to the plastic waste problem, and 16-year-old Daniel Burd finds the answer.

It’s not your average science fair when the 16-year-old winner manages to solve a global waste crisis. But such was the case at the Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, where Daniel Burd, a high school student, presented his research on microorganisms that can rapidly biodegrade plastic.

Plastic, one of the most indestructible of manufactured materials, will eventually decompose, however it takes about 1,000 years. This means there must be microorganisms out there doing the decomposing. Could those microorganisms be bred to do the job faster? That was Daniel’s question which he put to the test by a very simple and clever process of immersing ground plastic in a yeast solution that encourages microbial growth, and then isolating the most productive organisms.

The preliminary results were encouraging, so he kept at it, selecting out the most effective strains and interbreeding them. After several weeks of tweaking and optimizing temperatures, Burd was achieving a 43 % degradation of plastic in six weeks, an almost inconceivable accomplishment.

With 500 billion plastic bags manufactured each year and a Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch the size of Texas that grows more expansive by the day, a low cost and nontoxic method for degrading plastic is the stuff of environmentalists’ dreams.


Hooray for LIFELONG Learning!!

96-Year-Old Grad Student

Chao Mu-he

In Taipei, Taiwan, 96-year-old Chao Mu-he received his master’s degree in philosophy this past weekend.  Better known to his classmates at Nanhua University as “Grandpa Chao,” this lifelong learner decided to begin graduate school after being told he was too old to continue as a volunteer at a local hospital. In order to withstand the demand of his classes, Chao said he was able to compete with younger students who had a better memory than his own by “pulling all-nighters before exams.”  Students commented on “Grandpa Chao” as “a polite and modest man, who got on well with fellow students and paid great respect to younger teachers — making a deep bow before addressing them.”

Born on July 4, 1912, Chao Mu-he just might be the oldest student to obtain a master’s degree.  Chao is uncertain about his future plans, but states that he just wants “to stay healthy.”

Single Mom Shares £7.5m Lotto Winnings with Ethiopian Orphans

“Because of my good fortune, I will never have to worry about money again, but these children have been left vulnerable and orphaned by problems that aren’t their fault.” Jane Surtees

Jane Surtees Shares £7.5m Lotto Win With Orphans In Ethiopia

Jane Surtees Shares £7.5m Lotto Win With Orphans In Ethiopia

Jane Surtees, a single mother of five, was thinking of more than herself when she scooped up a £7.5 million jackpot. After receiving her winnings, Jane immediately set out plans to help orphaned children in Ethiopia.

Jane travelled to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and headed straight to the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home, which cares for 120 orphans. The youngest is three days old, the oldest 17 years. The cramped orphanage is run purely on donations and can only feed the kids three small meals a day. Meat is a once-a-week treat and toys and books are scarce.  Jane was struck by how contented the kids seemed despite having so little.

Jane was especially touched by the life of 15-year-old Workeneh Fanetay. After losing his parents to tuberculosis when he was just four, he had to bring up his two-year-old brother alone. One of many homeless children in Addis Ababa, he bought minimal food with money he earned running errands on a building site and helping neighbors. Since joining the Children’s Home 18 months ago, Workeneh and his brother have moved into a modest mud house, planted vegetables on their plot and both attend school.

Close to tears, Jane disclosed her gratitude for the opportunity to meet such amazing children.

“What I have seen in Ethiopia will stay with me for the rest of my life…To have the opportunity to come here and see and feel the pride these children have is incredible.” -Jane Surtees

Thought For The Day

 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.    

Theodore Roosevelt


Who Wouldn’t Love an 800lb Grizzly Bear for a Best Friend?

A heart-warming story about a very special  bond between a man and a bear…

Gifted at Giving

With a big heart and a hefty amount of determination, an eleven-year-old fifth-grader leads her school in philanthropy.


Kayla Matzek, a fifth-grader at Kingston Elementary School in Hesperia, California, felt moved to help when she discovered that a young boy with leukemia was in need.  She began by selling Otter Pops in her front yard, along with holding car washes after school.  Young Matzek put her fundraising goal at $1,000 when she decided to hold a school-wide fundraiser.  Matzek organized a committee with six other students and actively worked at achieving her goal.

Matzek collected over $1,200 to help Evan Hutchison, a 9-year old boy battling high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Many students and their families contributed to Matzek’s fundraising efforts.  One family brought in a box of more than $200 in change into the classroom, explaining that their family had decided to use the funds to help Hutchison instead of putting it toward their family vacation.

“It was fun, and it felt good to help other people.” –Kayla Matzek

Seeds of Peace – Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders


‘What began in 1993 as a camp program with 46 Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian teenagers has expanded into a global operation with offices in over ten cities around the world and nearly 4,000 young leaders working for peace, whom we call ‘Seeds.’  Fifteen years of conflict resolution programming has produced an impressive cadre of Seeds working in international affairs, politics, business, medicine, nonprofit and media.  Headquartered in New York City, Seeds of Peace has offices in Amman, Cairo, Gaza, Jerusalem, Kabul, Lahore, Mumbai, Otisfield, Ramallah, Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C.’

‘This comprehensive system allows participants to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills – all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.’

An amazing example of this work:

Israeli and Palestinian Seeds Unite for the First Time Since War in Gaza, Southern Israel

Israeli and Palestinian Seeds Unite for the First Time Since War in Gaza, Southern Israel

‘For the first time since violence broke out in January 2009, over 100 young Israeli and Palestinian Seeds came together for a bi-national meeting to discuss the conflict and rebuild what had been lost during the war – namely, trust and a shared commitment to work for peace.’

‘For two days, Seeds from the ’06, ’07 and ’08 camp years participated in dialogue, team building and group challenge activities with friends from ‘the other side.’  The event in Netanya was the first time the two sides were brought together to discuss the war in Gaza and southern Israel.  It provided Seeds with a significant opportunity to talk together about their experiences of the war, work through their anger and disappointment, and ultimately renew their connections with each other and their commitment to search for understanding.’


Laid-Off Workers Standing Strong


With plenty of spare time and a deep sense of community and hope, a group of laid-off workers have banded together to help their community.  This highly valuable Portland, Oregon organization has grown to more than 100 members and has taken part in more than 60 community projects. 

“Imagine, you lose your job and now there is little or no money coming into the household. Now imagine, your roof starts leaking or your sink backs up. Now, not only do you have a potential emergency on your hands, but you have no money to hire someone to fix it. That’s why our mission was to offer anyone help, of any kind. From fixing a broken fence to putting on a new roof. From replacing an outlet to helping with yard work. Whatever the task, we wanted to assist anyone who asked for help…”

 “We realize that every single one of us has something to offer. Every person on Earth has a skill or some experience that can help someone else. In these dark times, we need to stand together, act together and help one another in our greatest time of need.”

 For more information, great ideas and a list of these inspiring projects check out their blog @

 Find volunteer opportunities in your own area through

Space, The Final Frontier

‘To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before…’

Intelligent Life Could Be Thriving On 40,000 Planets


The next frontier could very well be thriving with intelligent life.  Although this has always been a presumable thought, researchers have now calculated that up to 37,964 worlds in our galaxy are hospitable enough to sustain creatures at least as intelligent as ourselves.

Astrophysicist Duncan Forgan has created a computer program that collects data from all planets known to man and has worked out what proportion would have conditions suitable for life; including factors such as temperature and availability of water and minerals.  This data was then extrapolated across the Milky Way.

Mr. Forgan, who believes it will take 300 to 400 years for us to make contact with our far away neighbors, said: ‘Most of the other planets we have looked at are older than our own – so I would expect to see more advanced civilizations than ours existing.’

live long, and prosper