Friday, April 29, 2016

World Wish Day

Today is World Wish Day. What is it that you wish for most in the world? A new phone? A better car? A new job? Or are you focusing on bigger issues such as ending war or the refugee crisis? 

In the West, we complain about absolutely everything. "My phone battery barely lasts a day" or "It's raining and I've forgotten my umbrella". We just love to moan about the most trivial of things! This has spawned various comedy social media accounts that dedicate themselves to collecting these funny little annoyances, and are now well known as being #FirstWorldProblems.

But what if the worst problem you had wasn't that you couldn't decide what to buy with your birthday money, but in fact was that you had 5 children to support with a paltry income of around $1 a day? In that situation, would you find these #FirstWorldProblems funny or insulting? We aren't saying that you should be ashamed of tweeting comedically about small annoyances in your life: humour is one of the best things in this world and makes the world a little brighter when everything else seems dark. However, we should stop and think about the conditions about which other people around the world are living in and compare how our lives differ, rather than only looking inward. By only thinking of our own problems, we become numb to the suffering of strangers and forget our humanity.

This fantastic video featured below brilliantly highlights how insignificant most of our problems are compared to those of people living in deprived conditions:

Most of us are so lucky to live in countries where we have no real problems. We can go to bed with full bellies and sleep peacefully knowing that we are not in a war zone, we have jobs to go to in the morning and that our government will support us if we fall on tough times.

Through our work with women and children in West Africa, we have seen many of these real problems first hand. We have seen mothers beg us for clothes for their children, hundreds of people queuing up outside our Medical MOT events desperate to receive treatment, and children terrified when they see a teddy bear for the first time. We have seen children that have lost both their parents due to violence in their homes from terrorist groups, who we are desperately trying to help with the support of the Kano State Government in Nigeria. 

In response to what we have seen, we have tailored our programmes for women and children in rural villages to solve these problems. Through micro-finance, medical outreach and educational projects, we are empowering the African woman to support herself and her children and break out of the cycle of poverty

Today, on World Wish Day, we implore you to think about what people living in poverty would wish for. Do you have the power to make their wishes come true? 

What you are able to yourself do may surprise you. Even just the smallest donation can make a big difference to someone's life! Did you know that it only costs £10 to ensure that 1 African villager has access to a doctor and the medicines they need on a Medical MOT? For the cost of the equivalent of 1 month's media streaming subscription, you could have potentially saved a life.

You can make change happen. Donate today. 
Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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Friday, April 15, 2016

The Problems With #Africa

This week we read a really interesting article about the best African Instagram accounts to follow. As we read more and more, we decided to search into the hashtag #Africa and we weren't surprised by the images that we found. 

Despite our efforts we couldn't avoid pictures of Lions, Leopards, Tigers, Zebras… YAWN.
We love animals but there’s more to Africa than taking a picture of a sunbathing lion or even worse a deeply sedated tiger selfie. The next most frequent photo was the classic sunset, the photo’s could almost be a screenshot from Disney’s The Lion King. African sunsets are lovely and can make a beautiful photo, but the images we capture of Africa have a deep impact of how we view an entire continent. 

So why are they more damaging than they seem? These images create a negative cultural stereotype, this is because this kind of representation creates a an assumption of what is normal within a culture. The images of war, starvation, hunger, wild animals and disease dominate the national image of Africa within western imagery. An article ‘Media Representation of Africa: Still The Same Old Story’ by Micheal Mahadeo explained:

"We hear about famines and coups, but not the rejuvenation of its cities and the cultural vitality of its village life...about oppression and massacres, but not education, economic self-help and political development... about poaching and habitat destruction, but not ongoing active efforts at conservation, reforestation and environmental awareness.’
Of course, war and poverty remain issues for a continent of over 1 billion people but that doesn’t mean that Africa isn’t home to so many other images that could be shared."

Within social media and the internet there a pockets of African artists, museums and bloggers who are using new hashtags such as #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou to share powerful and positive images of the continent. 

Here’s some alternative accounts to follow on Instagram that are posting images that challenge and make you rethink your ideas about Africa: 

A visual subversion of the African image with beautiful and empowering imagery.

A West African volunteer organisation documenting a more positive image of poverty 

The mission of panAFRICAproject is to create a visual portrait of modern Africa.

If you know of any more Instagram accounts we should be following, please comment below!
Holly Macdonald Web Developer

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Poverty, Pregnancy and Gender Inequality

A new practice has started in Nigeria where women have chosen to give birth in churches rather than in the safer environment of maternity clinics. This might sound like madness when the chances of a woman dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria are 1 in 13.
It’s easy to dismiss the cultural significance of the church being a safe haven for women, one woman describes why she has opted for a church birth, "they do fasting and prayer here, and if you are pregnant you need to go to the place where there is God and there is daily fasting and prayers. Child delivery in a church is a emotional and traditional belief.

You might yourself be questioning why a mother might choose put her child at such risk, but consider that in Nigeria only 20% of health care facilities offer emergency obstetric care and only 35% of deliveries are attended by skilled birth attendants. The haven of a religious community might seem more ideal to an alien environment of needles and medicine.
Maybe the question we should be asking is whether so many men in Nigeria would be allowed to die if they were the ones bearing the children?

Some people think the solution to poverty is just for African women to “not get pregnant”. Even within this argument the blame is directed at the woman as being the source of the problem. No women should have to fear becoming pregnant and or be ashamed of it. A new hashtag #PovertyisSexist has been trending across Twitter recently, highlighting the gender gap to world leaders and asking them to put women at the heart of decisions on tackling poverty.

Melinda Gates, founder of #PovertyisSexist, explained:

‘Poverty disproportionately affects women around the world. Just with HIV/AIDS, 74% of new infections are in women. In fact, they're young girls, between the ages of 15 and 24. Or if you ask, who has the chance to move into the city and get a good job out in the developing world? It's a man. Who's left to care for the kids back at home? …Childbearing, I mean, if there's no place to go to deliver your baby, then you're the one that's delivering in those unhealthy circumstances. Or if you can't get access to family planning, your chances of surviving and being able to bring your kids up if they come one right after the other, that locks you into a cycle of poverty.’

Still unsure that gender inequality is linked to Pregnancy and Poverty?

Here are some more hard hitting statistics:
  • Girls account for 74% of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa
  • 40% of women on the African continent suffer from anaemia, which results in 20% of maternal deaths

Women are fighting against the odds to escape poverty and that’s why Ripples Foundation aims to not blame the women, but to empower her by providing her with skills she needs to raise herself and her children out of poverty.
Ripples Foundation believes in investing in women as a solution, by giving her opportunities to develop her own business so she can provide for her family.
You can provide them with support they need and donate to Ripples Foundation today. You can provide support to rural African women and their children, with your help they can get the right tools so change can happen within their communities.

To donate online please visit
Your donations will help village women build enterprises, provide medical services to rural communities and educate youths through skills and training.

Let’s empower women in poverty!

You can make change happen.
Holly Macdonald Web Developer

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Renaissance of Henna: Beauty and Medicine

Henna is an ancient herb of grace and healing whose applications date back to antiquity, but which modern day science is only now discovering.
Humans have been fascinated with body decoration from the beginning of creation. Henna has been used for body art and hair dye since time immemorial. It has enjoyed recent renaissance cutting across societal boundaries so that its use has evolved from a simple religious and cultural tradition, to an international and intercontinental body art. The healing and curative properties have led to its application in not only cosmetics, but in therapeutics as well.  
Applications of Henna
Henna is a plant that is native to the tropical savannah in Africa. Henna has been used by a wide variety of cultures and religions for thousands of years. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and others use henna for celebrations and festivities. Regions where henna is or has been practiced include North Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, sub – Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

Henna produces a reddish-brown dye called Lawsone, which has been used to dye the skin, hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool (the major component of which is protein). Lawsone is primarily concentrated in the leaves, though, whole, unbroken leaves will not produce the stain. The leaves are milled and sifted to a very fine powder form and then made into a paste, before application. The use of henna has been found in Islam and has been practiced by Muslims for centuries.
Body Art
Although the use of henna has branched out since its discovery, its most popular use is still beautification. It is entirely a feminine affair and is done mostly during festivities such as weddings, Eid celebrations, births, and so on. In Northern Nigeria, during wedding celebrations, a separate day is set aside for henna, where the bride, her friends and family come together and get hennaed. Various intricate designs are created with the most complicated patterns designed on the bride. Indians and Arabs also make henna an occasion during festive seasons.
Currently, henna is used as a tattoo dye especially in Europe and North America. The henna powder is mixed into a smooth paste, which is then used to make beautiful body art. The henna patterns vary from the lacey vines of India and Pakistan to the bold African geometric patterns to the Arab floral designs.
Henna is used mostly to decorate the hands and feet. Recently, pregnant women have also taken to decorating the abdomen with intricate henna patterns. Some cancer patients that have developed hair loss as a result of chemotherapy have found a new way to make a fashion statement by making beautiful and exquisite designs on their scalps.
With new trends in fashion, henna design has blended well with time. Current designs reflect a commingling of artistic traditions from Europe with those of the Islamic world, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent. The art is currently growing in complexity and elaboration, with new innovations in glitter, gilding and fine-line work.
Henna as a Medicine
Henna is mentioned as a valuable medicine in Egyptian hieroglyphs and in the writings of Theophrates, a disciple of Aristotle (History of Plants). Modern scientists have found henna to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-hemorrhagic and analgesic. Dr Hussain al Rashidy, after using henna in medical practice for many years, describes it as the ‘Magic Plant’.
The curative properties of henna are many, with it having healing affects on: 

  • Burns
  • Chronic wounds and ulcers
  • Nosebleeds
  • Herpes simplex and smallpox
  • Skin conditions such as scabies and pimples
  • The nervous system
  • The circulatory system
  • The digestive system
  • And even more!
Henna has been used effectively in the treatment of viral infections. The antiviral properties of the plant should definitely be explored further as it could even prove a breakthrough as a treatment for HIV!
Henna Perfume
Henna blossoms are fragrant and have been used to create perfume. When the blossoms are placed in a woolen garment, they perfume it and prevent moths.
However there is a dark side... Black Henna
In an effort to produce darker, more detailed and longer lasting designs, a lot of synthetic chemicals have been added to natural henna. These include: PPD, dispersed orange dye, chromium, etc. Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical used mainly in photographic developing solutions, photocopying and printing ink, black rubber, grease, etc. It is not – and never was – intended for use as a tattoo dye. It is not meant for skin contact for long periods of time. 

Unlike the natural henna dye, which stains only the upper layers of the skin, PPD is a toxin, penetrating deep into the skin and then travels through the bloodstream. Toxins accumulate in the liver leading to liver and kidney damage and many other health problems. Allergic reactions include asthma, blistering, intense itching, permanent scarring and permanent chemical sensitivity. When using henna, always be careful to test a small patch of your skin for allergic reactions first, and always use natural henna where possible.
Henna art is what is meant to be – a beautiful, natural, temporary stain. If you want a henna tattoo, appreciate it for it's beautiful, earthy colours.
Dr Maryam Nasir Aliyu Web Developer

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Guide To Donation Tracker

Have you ever wondered how charities track all the donations they receive? Where do they all go? Here at Ripples we understand that when you donate items to us, you have the right to want to see where they end up and if they are being put to good use. That is why we list all of our donations online for everyone to see and track where they are now. Our donation tracker is located on our website where you just have to click on the Donation Tracker button on the main menu.

You will be directed to the sign in screen for Canvus, the external application we use to track our donations. We have created a log in for guest visitors who are simply curious to see what items we have:

Password: Guest1 

Users from companies that have donated items can also sign up for their own account as part of their organisation by clicking Sign Up Here.

Once you have logged in or signed up, you will be greeted with the home page which as you can see lists all the items that have been donated to us. Each item is listed by name and the details provided include the numbers of each item that we have, along with a photo of the item where possible, the delivery date, name of who donated that item and the category of item it belongs to. Categories include clothes, education, medical and more.

As soon as any new items arrive in our UK warehouse they are uploaded onto this database.

So let's test this out.

I am from the organisation Inkind Direct and I want to track an item that I have donated. I simply go to the drop down menu for manufacturer and click Inkind Direct.

This will now exclusively list all the items that Inkind Direct have donated. Now we can get more specific. Let's narrow down our search to the area of Household Items using the drop down menu for Area. 

I still can't find what I'm looking for, but I can still narrow my search down even further by typing the name of the item that I'm looking for into the search bar on the left hand side of the menu. I'm looking for toothpaste.

Here you can now see that all items with the term toothpaste appear in the list. 

Now I simply click on the item I have been looking for: Arm & Hammer Enamel Toothpaste. This brings up a new page that gives you the information you need about the item.

You can see a photo of the item here as well as various other details. On the bar at the bottom you can find information about the location of the item. Where the location says Ripples, this means that the item will be used on our projects in Africa, not the UK. You can also filter your item search in terms of product location back on the main menu.

It's as simple as that!

Donated items are essential for Ripples Foundation as they help us enormously to deliver more great projects for the women we support. Donated items can include medical equipment, clothing, furniture, household items and anything else that will be useful on our projects in Africa and the UK.

Donated medical equipment is a god-send for our medical teams in rural villages on our Medical MOT Programme, and IT equipment such as computers offer villagers the chance to become IT literate. Your donated items could make a real difference to someone's life.

To donate items to Ripples Foundation, kindly email with your offer and our team will be happy to help.

You can make change happen.
Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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