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2015 October


Currently the Mukaliakwa Primary School, In Zambia has one pit latrine for 850 boys and girls, including teachers and staff. We would like to build 4 latrines (one for each gender for both students and staff). For $5,000 you donate toward one pit latrine. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to construct at least 4.

Foods to Help Reduce Glaucoma Risk

By Chris Kilham Published September 10, 2014

EyeGlaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among adults. The disease involves an increase in pressure in the eye, which distorts the shape of the eyeball, damaging the lens of the eye, and resulting in blindness. This disease can be mitigated to an extent with eye drops, and cannabis, too, has shown to be of help. Sadly, many people go blind due to glaucoma.

Now a study has shown that eating the right foods may help to reduce the risk of glaucoma, prevent the disease, and help people to maintain healthy eyesight longer in life. Researchers reported their findings in the Archives of the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology.

Doctors have known for some time that too much salt can increase overall blood pressure, leading to increased intra-ocular pressure in the eyes, exacerbating glaucoma. Therefore, moderate salt consumption has been a standard dietary recommendation for those with, or at risk for, glaucoma. But the Spanish study goes further, examining the diets of people in two American ophthalmological studies, and in one study from Rotterdam.

According to these large population studies, intake of foods rich in retinol— a form of vitamin A— helps to reduce the risk of glaucoma. Retinol-rich foods include milk, liver, cheese and butter. Interestingly, there was no evidence that a diet rich in dietary fats has any role in the promotion of glaucoma, even though it is well established that, in general, excessive intake of fats contributes to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Digging deeper, the researchers saw a correlation between lower rates of glaucoma and higher consumption of leafy green vegetables (notably cabbage), carrots, fruits and fruit juices in general, and especially orange-colored fruits such as peaches and apricots.

The Spanish study also recommended high antioxidant foods including green tea, chocolate (the darker and more bitter the better), coffee (skip the sugar and go easy on the cream), and regular black tea. At the same time, they cautioned that those who have well-established cases of glaucoma should consume little or no caffeine, as that can increase intraocular pressure and exacerbate the disease.

To a great extent, the study highlighted the benefits of the usual suspects. Leafy green vegetables and colorful foods are cited for their protective, disease-preventing benefits, due largely to their concentration of beneficial antioxidants. Flavonol-rich foods, notably tea, green tea, coffee and chocolate, offer preventive benefits that extent to glaucoma. And red wine, with its significant antioxidant load, is also recommended.

In the glaucoma study, the researchers provided a seven-point set of guidelines for reducing risk. They are:

1. Consume abundant amounts of colorful fruit and vegetables.
2. Avoid high intake of salt in patients with hypertensive glaucoma.
3. Refrain from high-calorie diets (restricting fat) to avoid an increase in body fat.
4. Consider eating fish or nuts rich in omega-3 PFA, which appear to reduce risk.
5. Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid in a single take. It is preferable to drink small amounts in the course of the day.
6. Consume moderate amounts of red wine, black chocolate and green tea.
7. Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages into reduce increased blood pressure if you already have glaucoma.

Hundreds of years ago, Hippocrates, regarded as the father of modern medicine, said “Let your food be thy medicine.” Our grandmothers said pretty much the same thing. Now it appears that even with a leading cause of blindness, this advice is sage indeed.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at


Africa’s Education Crisis: In School But Not Learning

EyeIt’s unfathomable that of Africa’s nearly 128 million school-aged children, 17 million will never attend school. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that another 37 million African children will learn so little while in they are in school that they will not be much better off than those kids who never attend school. As a consequence, the prognosis for Africa’s future economic growth and social development is poor.

These numbers come from the new Africa Learning Barometer created by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings. Our objective was to identify a baseline assessment of learning in Africa by using the existing data. Using data from regional examinations, such as Programme d’Analyse des Systèmes Educatifs de la CONFEMEN (PASEC)and Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) , and national assessments of 4th or 5th grade students, the barometer provides a picture of the state of learning for 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In each of these assessments, we identified a cutoff point at which students scoring below that level were learning so little that they had no value added to their education. While these tests do not even begin to scratch the surface on the values, knowledge and skills that children should learn in school to live healthy, productive lives, they do provide some basic indications about the state of learning in the region.

The findings are astonishing. There are seven countries in which 40 percent or more of children do not meet a minimum standard of learning by grades 4 or 5. In countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia, over half of in-school students are not learning basic skills by the end of primary school. Through the barometer we aggregate the total number of children not learning based on out-of-school children at the end of primary school, children who are likely to drop out by the 5th grade, and those in school but not learning. The results are distressing. Under the current model, half of sub-Saharan Africa’s total primary school population – 61 million children – will reach adolescence without the basic skills needed to lead successful and productive lives.

The barometer also points out the massive inequalities between the rich and poor. Looking at the rates of extreme education poverty in the region, the percentage of adults with less than two years of education show the disadvantages that poor, rural students face in accessing education in comparison to their rich and urban counterparts. For instance, in Ethiopia, 68.3 percent of the poorest quintile of the population lives in education poverty, compared to only 13.8 percent of the richest.

While there is much reason to celebrate the progress in education that Africa has made over the past decade, the barometer shows us that there is a deeper learning crisis that needs to be addressed. Unless African governments and the international community work together and act now to raise standards and improve learning outcomes, the potential of tens of millions of African youth will be wasted and Africa’s social and economic progress will stagnate.

Please explore the data and trends from the Africa Learning Barometer to learn more about the education crisis in Africa.