Tag: African Philanthropy

Professor and Poet Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Mellon Foundation

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Elizabeth Alexander (photo via elizabethalexander.net)

by Robin Pogebrin via nytimes.com

Elizabeth Alexander, whose memoir was a finalist in 2016 for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and who wrote and recited an original poem at Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural, will be the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest humanities philanthropy.

“All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does,” said Ms. Alexander in a telephone interview, citing areas like higher education and scholarship, arts and cultural heritage, and diversity.

She added that “arts and humanities are not the most protected entities right now.”

Ms. Alexander succeeds Earl Lewis, who has served since 2013. She will start in March, becoming the foundation’s first female president.

“She has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision,” Danielle Allen, the foundation’s chairwoman, said in a statement, adding that Ms. Alexander “brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose.”

Ms. Alexander, who has written six books of poetry and two essay collections, was most recently a humanities professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Before that, she served as the director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation, where she helped design Agnes Gund’s $100 million Art for Justice Fund.

“This appointment is a milestone in the history of American philanthropy,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. “It’s the combination of being both rooted in the arts and grounded in the humanities and understanding philanthropy that is going to make her a success.”

Ms. Alexander has also worked closely with the Poetry Center at Smith College; the nonprofit Cave Canem, which trains aspiring poets; and Yale University, where she spent 15 years on the faculty and helped rebuild the African-American Studies department.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/arts/design/mellon-foundation-president-elizabeth-alexander.html

How a 3-D Printed Arm Gave Hope to Daniel Omar, a 12 Year-Old Maimed in Sudan Bomb Blast

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Story via CNN: article by Mick Ebeling, founder of Not Impossible Labs and The Ebeling Group.

It’s a good thing I didn’t know exactly how dangerous a trip I was embarking on, because when I left home in October 2013 to fly to Sudan, I was scared enough. What I had committed to was, quite frankly, the most “impossible” thing I’d ever tried to accomplish.

Three months earlier, over dinner, I’d learned about a doctor in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, Dr. Tom Catena, who was treating thousands of people — many of them children — who’d had limbs blown off in the Sudanese government’s bombing raids. By coincidence, we’d just posted an article to our website about Richard Van As, an amazing inventor who created a low-cost, 3-D printed prosthetic hand. So, over a second beer, I raised the possibility — wouldn’t it be cool if we brought printers over to Sudan and made arms for these kids?

The story might have ended there — one of those plans you cook up over dinner and forget by breakfast. Really, what can one person do in the face of such widespread sorrow thousands of miles away?

But when I got home and looked up Dr. Catena, I read about one of the patients he’d treated: Daniel — a 12-year-old boy who, in attempting to protect himself from an aerial attack, wrapped his arms around a tree. The tree protected his body, but both his arms were blown off by the bomb that exploded those few meters away.

Watch this video

The amputation and hospital treatment had saved his life, but when Daniel woke and realized what had happened he said he wished he would have died. It was one of the most heart-wrenching stories I’d ever read.

It was 11pm. I looked down the hallway to where my three boys were sleeping and thought, “What if it were my kid?” What if this happened to them and somebody out there could help them — and didn’t?

In that moment, I realized I couldn’t just close the computer, get a glass of water and go to bed. I had to do something.

Going to Sudan try to help thousands of people was way too daunting. There was no way I could get my head around that.  I couldn’t help the many. But I could help one.  I could help Daniel.

Crash course in 3D printing

Mind you, at the time I knew very little about 3-D printing, and even less about prosthetic arms. So I did what I always do: surround myself with smart people, shut up, and absorb their brilliance. I brought together all the experts — including the great Van As himself — to give me a crash course in 3-D printing and prosthetic arms.

Step 1: 3-D print the files.

Step 2: Soften orthoplastic in hot water, then wrap it around the patient’s limb to mold the custom-fitted, medical-grade, breathable plastic that will anchor the printed components.

Step 3: Attach the hand and the gauntlet, and thread the cabling through each digit, running it back to an attachment point behind the patient’s wrist or elbow. The motion of the wrist (up and down) or elbow (side to side) then pulls on the cabling and draws the fingers to a close. In short, the cables tense and release around a pivot point.

Continue reading “How a 3-D Printed Arm Gave Hope to Daniel Omar, a 12 Year-Old Maimed in Sudan Bomb Blast”

Singer Akon Aims to Bring Electricity to 1 Million Homes in Africa Through “Akon Lighting Africa” Initiative

Singer Akon. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Singer Akon has launched an ambitious endeavor that aims to improve the lives of over one million people in Africa.  His new initiative, “Akon Lighting Africa”, hopes to bring electricity to one million households by the end of 2014 to help promote energy sustainability and sufficiency throughout the continent.  “The lack of electricity is currently a major problem in Africa,” reads the website for the campaign. “A significant number of households in rural areas and even urban cities do not have access to electricity. This is a real obstacle to Africa’s Sustainable Development.”

Akon, who is Senegalese-American, has partnered with local charities and corporations to aid in the efforts of the campaign by addressing Africa’s energy issue and installing solar equipment in households.  The “Right Now” singer will travel and meet with leaders in nine countries in nine days to discuss the project including Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo and the Ivory Coast.

Learn more about Akon Lighting Africa here.

article by Lilly Workneh via thegrio.com