Partners &
Projects
Get Involved Contribute

Archive for May, 2010

WSAID and the Leishmaniasis Project

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

By Murali Bashyam

We like to bring people and organizations together to help achieve common goals.  So when Deborah Loercher, President of Anoroc Agency, told me that I need to speak with Maria Corena-McLeod, a Director with the World Solutions Against Infectious Diseases (WSAID), I immediately jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Maria and her work with WSAID.

WSAID is the first non-profit organization dedicated to finding and implementing integrated, self-sustainable solutions to infectious disease control in affected communities. Their mission is to create strategies to provide education, research support and technical assistance to improve human health and decrease disease transmission and its causes worldwide.  Since one important mission of Friends Unite is creating sustainable health programs, I thought a strong nexus might exist between our two organizations.

During our conversation, Maria told me about the interesting and creative ways WSAID was working to combat infectious diseases in communities around the world.  I was also impressed by the passion Maria had for her work with WSAID, and the aggressive approach she took in partnering with others to advance the mission of WSAID.  We  agreed that since both our organizations are based on teamwork and share a common mission, we should find opportunities to work together.

A few days later, Maria called me about partnering on a project to educate communities in Haiti and Africa on the Leishmaniasis disease.  Leishmaniasis is transmitted by infected sand flies and causes severe skin sores in humans.  In its most extreme form, called Visceral Leishmaniasis, it can spread to vital organs and cause death if it is not treated properly.  Although there is no vaccine to combat Leishmaniasis, the best way to prevent it is to treat the infection before it spreads.

WSAID’s novel plan is to use soil samples collected near animal enclosures in proximity with human dwellings to develop a low-cost method for identifying Leishmania parasites and sand fly vectors.  Once the  Leishmaniasis ‘hot spots’ are identified, we can educate these communities and local Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) on the Leishmaniasis disease, how to identify it, and how to treat it.

We will be submitting this proposal to the Gates Foundation for Phase 1 funding this week.   If approved by the foundation, WSAID, Friends Unite, and others will implement this plan to help prevent the spread of the Leishmaniasis disease.  In the meantime, we urge you to read this informative web site created by Alejandro Tobon, a young Scientist from Columbia who has developed creative ways to educate the public on the Leishmaniasis disease.

How Can We Make a Difference?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

By Pam Prather

When I first met Abraham Lueth about 6 or 7 years ago, it was because someone told him I worked in an immigration law firm.  If I remember correctly, he wanted some help with an application for a travel document. We would run into each other now and again, and I slowly came to know of his work building a school back in Sudan.

Located in Northeast Africa, Sudan had witnessed over 20 years of brutal civil war.  During that time, thousands of Sudanese refugees came to the United States.  Abraham was one of them.  I thought it was amazing that a man who had come to this country as a refugee (not too many years before) had achieved so much.

In addition to the extremely difficult task of assimilating into life in the United States, he was working full-time and raising a family.  And yet through his gratitude for the chances he’d been given, and the concern for those back home who weren’t so lucky, he found the time, the energy, and the determination to give back to the community and its children that he had to leave behind. He built them a school.

By building this school he transformed the life of a whole village.  I won’t go into all the details. You can get those by reading about the Southern Sudan Fellowship on our website. I just wanted to pose a question to you, and suggest an answer.  Can one person bring people together to help improve the lives of others? Yes.  Abraham Lueth did it.  And all of us can too.