Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Power of a Deed

It is not difficult to find need in the world.  It is right at our back doorstep and spans the world.  One finds it in urban slums and in some of the most beautiful settings in the world.  Four miles from where I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan lies the poorest congressional district in the nation.  As the pajamas flow into Bennison Gives, sometimes I am struck with anxiety about how I can continue to give, but need presents itself at home and abroad, both a sad commentary on inequality in the world and an opportunity to make a small difference.

In many moments I question our giving - wouldn't it be better to give medicine, or aren't there bigger problems to tackle?  I keep coming back to the idea that whatever it is, it is better to do something.  We can all make a difference, and even the smallest gesture has bigger implications.  Not just cozy jammies for a good night's sleep but the love, caring and compassion that go with it.

I am so grateful to witness each week acts of kindness from women all over the country who spend their time and energy and love collecting and cleaning and folding and sending us pajamas for children in need.  When I open the packages and read the notes I feel the love, and I have seen children and families light up when receiving pajamas.  So many of the beautiful photos we have illustrate this joy and gratitude.  So my motto is: do SOMETHING.  Any act of kindness matters, and the intention behind these actions is felt and is as real as any tangible action.

This all reminds me of an article I read in the New York Times last summer by Shmully Hecht called "The Power of a Deed."  The piece is about Rabbi Scheerson, "who reminded us that every person and every good deed is important.  He embodied the concept that Judaism was summed up in a single act of unconditional kindness and pioneered a global movement based on this ideal."  I loved the article so much I look a picture:

A single act of unconditional kindness.  Every good deed is important.  Do SOMETHING.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Giving: Hope for Bangladesh

I am so excited to announce or latest giving partner Hope for the Women and Children of Bangladesh www.hopeforbangladesh.org.

This amazing organization was started by Dr. Iftikher Mahmood, a doctor from Bangladesh who for the last 20 years has been building clinics and hospitals in his native country where there is so much need.  We are thrilled to be sending pajamas to children in Bangladesh in December.

I learned so much in my conversation with Ashley Pugh from HOPE about the challenges facing women and children in Bangladesh.  One of the problems that HOPE tackles is the prevalent issue of obstetric fistula from which many women suffer.  I learned that the average marriage age in Bangladesh is 18 or 19, but in the rural areas Hope serves, they estimate that the age is closer to 15 years old.  Several factors lead to the prevalence of fistula - a severe tearing or hole between the rectum or bladder and the vagina due to prolonged labor, sometimes up to 7 days.

1)  The young age of the women/children getting married means that they are small in stature, and this makes labor difficult
2)  Most women (up to 90%) deliver at home under the supervision of unskilled family and friends
3) In places like Bangladesh with high rates of malnutrition, the birth canal is weaker just as any muscle weakens without proper nutrition

I was struck in my conversation with Ashley, as I have been in other instances, with the powerful role that malnutrition and cultural norms (such as early marriage and home births), play in creating such enormous challenges for young women.  Many of these factors also contribute to infant mortality, especially traditions of birthing outside of clinical settings, even when they are available.

HOPE is doing amazing work in repairing fistulas and in providing pre-natal care and safe births.  They are embarking on a program to incentivize women to come to the clinic for care.  This reminded me so much of the "baby bundles" we have seen in other places - see my previous post on this in Sierre Leone and even in Finland.  Offering incentives to women - a package of supplies for newborns, including infant pajamas, has far more benefits than simply the gift itself.  Knowing they will receive a gift of much needed supplies for their babies motivates women to get to a clinic to deliver, a fact that can have enormous benefits, even life saving benefits, for mother and baby.

Please check out Hope for the Women and Children of Bangladesh on their website

www.hopeforbangladesh.com, and see photos on their Facebook page.

This is one of the beautiful young fistula patients Hope healed, I love seeing this beautiful smile and can't wait to see your pajama donations on these precious children in Bangladesh.

We are selling on Amazon!

We are excited to have the opportunity to sell our beautiful, 100% Pima cotton sleepwear on Amazon!  

Check it out - great promotions in time for the holidays.  And your purchases help to fund our giving to children around the world.

You BUY, We GIVE.  Together we can make a world of difference!!