Category Archives: Doctors Without Borders

Plumpy’Nut Forever!

We did it. Albeit a bit quietly. This year we hosted the 5th annual fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders using the spectacular Janus Charity Challenge venue in Chicago. It wasn’t our most stellar year for fundraising – – the competition for “charity dollars” has been fierce. But we did our best. Our esteemed athlete, Philip, came back for another year of hard work and dedication in support of the nutritional fund.  Mr. Silly Pants and his company did another year of “Jeans Friday” and collected funds for our effort. Every single dollar counts and every single donation made this campaign succesful. We celebrate year 5 with $2870.  That’s a lot of Plumpy’Nut. And this year it has some extra personal meaning for our family — and I’ll leave it at that. Plumpy’Nut NEEDS to be accessible to children in need. It saves lives. We.Know.This.

You want to see the kind of results we managed to be a part of? Check this out:

This little face needs no words.

We’ll do it again next year. Watch for OUR 6th ANNUAL TEAM PLUMPY’NUT for Doctors Without Borders!

Thank you. Truly.



Tri-ing times 3, that is. It’s the season of triathlons and I am HARD at work. NO! I’m not doing 3 triathlons, but I am advocating for 3 important charities through the Janus Charity Challenge. As the weeks advance, there are days I wonder if I might switch places and trade the fundraising for the physical task of a Tri. No. Scratch that.I’m still in the thick of training for my little bitty 5K through the couch to 5K program. My legs ache as I type this from week 7 day 2! Yeah, NO tri for me.

The first Tri has come and gone – and we have results. Fairy Godmother and I organized our 4th annual Team Plumpy’Nut for Doctors Without Borders Fundraiser (see here, here, and here for 1, 2, and 3). The Janus Charity Challenge  ‘switched teams’ and relocated their resources with the Lifetime/Toyota Triathlon series. Thus, our favorite local venue, the Wisconsin Ironman, was replaced by our neighboring state’s Lifetime Chicago Triathlon. Not intimidated, Fairy Godmother  and I recruited a lovely local man who was using the Chicago Triathlon as his ‘taper’ for the fabulous Wisconsin Ironman. His TAPER! We raised over $14,000 for Doctors Without Borders – feeding over 466 kids in the Horn of Africa. We are THRILLED with our result of FOURTH PLACE and a $500 additional cash award for Doctors Without Borders.  We were beat by competitors who had triple digit fundraising totals – we could not be prouder of our grassroots effort to bring compassionate care and nourishment to our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa. It was a WIN for our Team Plumpy’Nut. I celebrated with Mr. SillyPants and Blueberry by camping out in Lot 60 during the Ironman WI event. Fairy Godmother worked “officially” for the Ironman – supporting athletes as they ran through our beloved Camp Randall on the last 8 mile leg of the entire venue. Our fabulous athlete wore his MSF jersey during the bike and ran past me in his bright yellow running shirt. We held hands, exchanged smiles, and our family cheered for his big heart and a strong finish. That run is grueling. The whole dang Ironman is grueling.

During training Philip asked me about rules for finishing the Tri in Chicago. He said, “if mother’s in East Africa are carrying their dying children for months in search of food and help, I can crawl on my hands and knees to the finish line.” I was moved by his spirit and his determination for solidarity with the families stricken by one of the worst famines of our time. Thank you to Philip for his courage and determination. YOU are a WINNER.

Just for kicks, here is an image of Blueberry’s FIRST Ironbaby campaign. It’s fair to say, you’ve come a LONG WAY BABY! We are looking forward to our 5th annual campaign next year!

Of course, I never argue with a good idea, and I’ve been working on bringing some other stellar nonprofits to the Janus Charity Challenge at other venues. Enter Mudula Water Project and the Mudula Mamas. 3 amazing women are traveling to Dallas from across the US to join together for one cause – WATER. I am so excited about this Tri team and their dedication to bring water to over 10,000 people in Ethiopia. Each woman will do one leg of the race – my small part is simply that I’ve joined their effort by bringing them into the Janus Charity Challenge. This is an event WE NEED to dominate (please help!).  2 weeks until the race – so don’t delay!

The piece that makes me wildly giddy is that shortly after this event I’ll be heading to ETHIOPIA with the Mudula Water Team. How cool would it be to have fundraised nearly all of our funds? Hmmmm? No amount of donation is too small. And, for those of you who can make a larger donation, please do. I promise the BEST PICTURES EVER of Mudula Ethiopia and nearby communities that will have access to the water from this gravity well. Plus, I really want to see THIS TREE and know I’ve had a small part in changing the lives of these kids. The Janus Charity Challenge in Dallas is a deal maker for me. I brought this team together with the hope that we’ll rock the charity win  – we need your help to do this.

Last, but by no means least, Los Angeles is hosting an AHOPE for Children athlete at the LA Triathlon on September 25th. Y’all know how much I LOVE AHOPE for Children. Nick is bringin’ that love to the water, bike, and pavement when he Tri’s for AHOPE.  I blogged about all the reasons I love this non-profit and THEN I went ahead and accepted a seat on their Board. Yep. I did. I’m helping connect families with AHOPE and AHOPE with families. Be my connecting families, ok? Help us put the programs in place that AHOPE knows bring kids into better health and bigger hope. And remember how I said I’m traveling to Mudula? Well, I’ll be visiting AHOPE Ethiopia too. I am SO EXCITED to be there, back in the orphanage that received a donation that Waffles so carefully prepared when we traveled to Ethiopia to become Blue’s family. We had 5 travelers, which meant 5 personal bags and 5 bags full of donations.   This photo is circa 2008 —-> Blast from the past – it’s funny how the past becomes my present in my ‘becoming.’

Whew! 3 athletes and 3 venues. There are 2 remaining in which you can make a difference and help us win charity purse $!!!!! Mr. Sillypants, who is wise, has said to me, “Ms. Plum, it’s your job to make the offer, but you don’t get to decide who takes you up on the offer.” I know he’s right, but I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME UP ON THIS OFFER!  I do. It’s personal. I’m petty like that.

Make sure you get it done before the deadlines:  AHOPE before September 24th. Mudula Water before Oct 1.               Amaseganalou.

Food for thought – the luxury of the well fed

The expression “food for thought” is a privilege of the language of the elite.  If you’re hungry, food is about survival and certainly not a matter of cerebral jumping jacks or playful linguistic exercises.

I’m worried today. The ‘food news’ from the Horn of Africa is ramping up – food insecurity is on the rise. When food is in scarce supply, suffering is an every day experience.

The BBC reported this: “the eastern Horn of Africa “has experienced two consecutive seasons of significantly below-average rainfall, resulting in one of the driest years since 1995”. They added that the crops have failed and local cereal prices remain very high. The food reports from fewsnet are featured on the USAID page and include a map of the areas under serious threat of devastating famine.

I have a pretty good sense that this blog is read by a number of adoptive families who have been entrusted the care of children from the areas in crisis on the map. If your families are like our family, we made some promises to our Horn of Africa beloveds. Those promises were both explicit (you will know our son through annual communications) and implicit (we promise to care for the future of Ethiopia – in word and in deed). Thus,  I’m worried. More worried than usual. Ramped up worried. And, we promised to carry our worry into action.

I received this report from a friend on the ground in the area where my son was born: “There is drought in Southern Ethiopia because the rain was too late this year. [The rain] is started but farming inputs like fertilizers and seeds are so expensive. Most people do not able to farm their lands. Also the price for the foods are tripled because of bad policy of gov. and inflation. The free market policy give right to elites to do what they like. This time there is no sugar and cooking oil in [ southern area village] even for expensive prices. It is difficult time for children and aged people. Some children are in an urgent needs. We do not know what is going [to happen]. ”

This picture was attached to the e-mail to demonstrate concern for conditions in southern Ethiopia- – the skin around the knees is loose and showing signs of malnutrition. I can see it. And I’m scared. For a family I love. For the people I love. For the work of social justice and food security everywhere. I don’t HAVE to know them to care…but in this case the knowing, the heart link, makes me weep. Injustice sucks.

I’ve got an e-mail in at Doctors Without Borders to see who is on the ground and where in Ethiopia. More generally, where around the Horn of Africa, too.

I wanted you to know. All of you. I don’t have a plan of action. Yet.

I’m doing some serious work to recruit a triathlete who will compete in Janus Charity Challenge’s  new venue – the Life Time triathlon.  Janus is  now partnering with the Life Time triathlon series. I’d like to have an athlete for MSF and an athlete for AHOPE for Children compete for the charity purses in the Life Time triathlon events. Do you know any athletes registered for a Life Time triathlon? If so, we could tackle getting some food aid to the people of the Horn of Africa and some support to the vulnerable children and the families who are supported by AHOPE for Children. You can read what seems like a bazillion posts on this blog (search for Doctors Without Borders/ Plumpy’Nut/ and Janus Charity Challenge) to learn more about the history of how to raise money through the Janus Charity Challenge. (Edited to add – we have an athlete for MSF! It’s our 4th annual fundraiser!). Live link here:

It’s not like I don’t have enough on my plate already…. see, right there! Another example of the language of privilege as I think about what to do and how to mix and mesh the concerns of my community right here in my neighborhood and over there, in the neighborhood in which he was born. Today is pressing upon me. Today there is no ‘food for thought’, only ‘food for life.’  Let’s figure it out – let’s do the work. Fill the plate.

A Plumpy Podium!

We’ve crossed the finish line. Well, more accurately, Swimstef crossed the finish line. She FINISHED. Do you hear me? She completed the Ironman Wisconsin. Hey, just showin’ up at the start makes all the athletes winners in my book. Swimstef finished and we are so proud of her! She fought through some grueling conditions.That’s devotion. That’s committment.

But the brutal and inspired physical efforts of the Ironman aren’t Swimstef’s only accomplishments—brace yourselvesTEAM PLUMPY’NUT FINISHED 4th IN THE JANUS CHARITY CHALLENGE! We raised $13,875 and have won an additional $4,000 additional caash award for Doctors Without Borders! (Insert INSANE clapping here!). This is our BEST Team Plumpy’Nut finish EVER.

Here’s the story in pictures:

Our intrepid athlete

The cutest sign maker EVER

Plumpy’Nut Hungarian Support Staff

The Truth Baby – AMAZEBALLS!!!

Notable accomplishments: Our 3rd annual campaign makes our total donation to Doctors Without Borders about $60,175. We had the good fortune of having year 2’s donations ‘matched’ as a part of a special Doctors Without Borders opportunity. Awesome! Our total kid count hovers around 1200 kids who have gotten access to life saving nutrients through our donations. Our fundraiser has been focused on the needs of Ethiopia, and none of our fundraising money has gone to our sponsoring athlete or their cheering crew (me and fairygodmother). It’s ALL for Doctors Without Borders. Finally,  rest assured YOU WILL be invited to participate next year, when we sponsor our 4th Annual Wisconsin Ironman Team Plumpy’Nut fundraiser .

Look for us next year  – we’re counting on your support! Our 4th Annual campaign is just around the corner! (search Plumpy’Nut and/or Doctors Without Borders in the search box – you’ll find details about all 3 campaigns and lots of great information about why Fairygodmother and I return year after year to support Doctors Without Borders).

It’s your last day….and might LITERALLY be theirs

We are in the last 24 hours of our Plumpy’Nut Team fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders.  It’s ends tomorrow morning. This is it for our 3rd annual fundraiser. We’ve been working hard to get the word out. I don’t want to fill this blog entry with text explaining the fundraiser. Let me just direct you immediately to our donation site:

Tomorrow SwimStef will do the Ironman Wisconsin – her effort honors families everywhere. Or Team Plumpy’Nut effort honors families in crisis – families walking in dire circumstances to nutritional feeding stations – families carrying dying children. I’m not being dramatic. This is real.

You want to know how I know this is real? Here is an excerpt of a note an MSF doc wrote to my friend. He’s working in a location in Africa where many families are suffering unimaginable PAIN.  Prepare yourself:

“For the second time in less than a week, a mother tells me that she knows I did everything I could.  The sickness had been going on too long and was too strong. It’s early morning, before sunrise, and I’ve been called in by the medical team because they couldn’t wake the woman’s daughter.   

Her little girl was a year old and had been brought in by our outreach team a little less than a week ago.  So unbelievably wasted and emaciated, she weighed nine pounds.  She had no hair and her face appeared shrunk-wrapped in cellophane skin, her sunken eyes and cheeks shaped by the skull bones beneath.  The skin on her abdomen was so thin, it was translucent. I could even see the white fascial layer of her abdominal wall.  She looked almost alien.  Nine pounds.  I’ve delivered newborn babies that big.”

Please consider donating your pizza fund for Friday night – if I had 100 folks do this we would top $10,000. If more did this, we’d meet what we raised last year (see note below). I can’t do this alone. I need  your help. Thank you.

*FYI, last year we raised $12375  and doubled the amount due to a nutritional fund matching program that was in place last fall (but is NOT currently)- then we added $1000 in award money to our total. As Tesi would say, ‘amazeballs!’  If you need to know more about our efforts, you can look here.

Plumpy’Nut – It’s our 3rd Annual Campaign for Doctors Without Borders!

As many of you know, I support/cheer/organize an annual fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders as part of the Janus Charity Challenge & Ironman Wisconsin competition.

This is an amazing fundraising opportunity in which Ironman athletes compete to raise funds for their chosen charity – top fundraisers receive additional charity dollars from Janus (as in, Janus Funds). Not one penny of your donation goes to the athlete, the Ironman event, or Team Plumpy’Nut – it ALL goes to Doctors Without Borders. 

This is a direct, effective, immediate way to support children suffering from serious malnutrition in Ethiopia, in Niger, in Chad, in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka…and the list goes on. This year, our effort coincides with a Doctors Without Borders campaign to raise awareness about the global nutritional crisis with their “Starved For Attention” media campaign. :

Team Plumpy’Nut takes our support of this life saving nutrition seriously. In our recent conversations with Doctors Without Borders we learned that it costs $50 to provide a 6 week supply of this nutritionally dense food to save the  life of a child (last year the cost was $40 – but supplies and cost have increased). If you don’t know about Plumpy’Nut, and you want to learn about it, there is a great piece on this ‘ready to eat’ food source on the MSF website:  and a  CBS news piece here.  You might like to read this – How a small amount of food can make a big difference!

Finally, and importantly, please visit our athlete’s donation page and make  your contribution to Doctors Without Borders NOW! $50 can provide a six week supply of Plumpy’Nut – YOUR DONATION can literally save a starving child from death. Please consider making a donation to save the life of a child!  Donate here:  We make a difference – one donation at a time!

Team Plumpy’Nut thanks you for your support and encouragement in our yearly fundraising campaign! YOU ROCK!

At it Again – Redux – Double Down

Update on Food Aid to Ethiopia using Doctors Without Borders as Your Charity
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Donations must be made online and/or mailed by Sunday Nov. 1 to qualify for matching funds!
Why, you ask? Ethiopia and Kenya have been all over the news. Hear it on public radio, read it on CNN, listen to local programs discussing the world food crisis. Even my freshman high school students brought the news to me – “Hey Ms. Plum, did you see the news last night about the straving people in Kenya? They mentioned Ethiopia too.” When the kids see it, hear it, read it, I know mainstream media is perking up their ears and taking note; the situation MUST be bad.
Lots and lots of adoptive families writing on adoption forums are asking, “what can we do – how can we help?” My classroom is talking. My friends are asking, “did you know?”  One mama made this video  and has inspired average folks, just like us, to think about how to help and compelled helping hands to unite. The conversations are laced with deep compassion for families who are suffering, for children having love but needing food. Adoptive parents are worrying about first familles. Waiting families are aware of the tragedies that are touching the lives of those they await. People who work for social justice are concerned – and aware.

I acted, with my social justice sidekick, Amber, in the best way we know how: We called Doctors Without Borders this week to find out what we can do and how we can make the most of our doing. I’m talking about doing with $10 or doing with $1000. Every dollar counts, and now it counts double. I’m not kidding. Right now MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has a matching program that will DOUBLE any donation. There are instructions below. Please read and give.

First, if you’d like to donate by check simply write a check to MSF at the following address:

Doctors Without Borders USA
ATTN: Charlie Kunzer
333 Seventh Avenue, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10001

In the envelope should be a note to Charlie stating:
your name
donation amount
Statement that this donation is for Meghan and Amber’s Fundraiser
and should be dedicated to nutritional fund AND Janus Charity Challenge 2010

*Amber and I need to keep track of donations for the Janus Challenge, so if you could, please leave a comment with your info as stated above, I won’t publish it, and it will be entirely confidential (sorry folks, just don’t want to put my e-mail out here on blogland).

If you do this by credit card donation, please make the donation at the MSF website here:
Click on donate online. Or if you want to donate by phone, click on the donate by phone link.
Then send Charlie an e-mail at her address  with the the following information:
your name
donation amount
Statement that this donation is for Meghan and Amber’s Fundraiser
and should be dedicated to nutritional fund AND Janus Charity Challenge 2010

*Amber and I need to keep track of donations for the Janus Challenge, so if you could, please leave a comment with your info as stated above, I won’t publish it, and it will be entirely confidential (sorry folks, just don’t want to put my e-mail out here on blogland).

If you do this soon (as in, in the next few weeks) GREAT things happen:

1.Your donation is MATCHED by an MSF donor who set up a match fund for any money going into the nutritional fund: Plumpy’Nut and Ethiopia are the primary beneficiaries of the nutritional fund. 85-95% of nutritional fund monies end up in Ethiopia.

2. Your donation counts towards our annual fundraising campaign thru the Janus Charity Challenge – and we get to count the matching funds too – I mean…WOWOWOW.

Thus, next year in September we can make our donation report and hopefully win dollars to be added to the MSF nutritional fund. (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, comment and ask about the 3rd annual fundraiser largely supported by readers just like you – or scroll through former posts).

*about 85-95% of nutritional fund donations actually ends up at feeding stations in Ethiopia – this is our strategy and we are so excited! Because Ethiopia has a history of temporarily kicking aid organizations out of Ethiopia now and again, this strategy means monies don’t sit in a fund that can’t be flexible – MSF can direct nutritional fund money to feed Ethiopians in Sudan, for instance (something they did for 3 weeks this past summer).

**it is not my intention to nose into anyones donation business, so please understand I’ve asked for a comment on the comments section of my blog about your donation ONLY so that I can track donation totals (side by side with Charlie) for 2010 verification for Janus Charity Challenge totals. These totals are my job to report to Janus and then Charlies verifies the totals to Janus Funds. I assure you strict confidentiality and will not share your personal information in any way with anyone. Of course, feel free to chat up your own personal actions here in any way you would like – including your personal strategies that might lie outside of MSF.

Please please ask if you have any questions. I am fully aware that charities are competing for our charity dollars. This very specific information that DOUBLES YOUR DONATION and allows me to begin the 2010 campaign extra early (um, like 10 months early). I hope to harness your concern today to make a difference in Ethiopia RIGHT NOW!

My stat counter says I get about 100 hits a day – so I’m hoping to see some of you in a private comment 🙂