Friday, August 12, 2016

Kip Keino: A Star In Many Ways

Many of us are halfway through the Olympic Games -- cheering on our favorites and celebrating the medals given to the impressive athletes excelling at their sport. But today is also International Youth Day, and last week the Olympics presented a special award to someone whose life has impacted hundreds of children.

Kipchoge Keino won two gold medals and two silver medals at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, breaking track world records and becoming an international star almost overnight. His most important work didn't start until he retired in 1973, when he returned home to Kenya and began working with children to provide them with greater access to education and opportunities.

Kip Keino with the orphans he raises in Kenya, via CNN

With his wife, philanthropist and nurse Phyllis Keino, Keino began an orphanage for children in Kenya, which later led to the creation of schools to provide them and other children with an education. Now, he also runs a training center for students who want to become athletes, in addition to the schools and orphanage.

Keino's work has impacted hundreds of children, and the Olympics Laurel award is sharing his work with the world.

In this video, listen to his story as he reminds us that "this is the thing we need, to be able to assist those needed children in our society, we need to build this world to be a better world."

The Olympics show us how our athletes are not just competitors. They can change the world. And someday, some of these children will become our Olympians, and will change our children's world.

Today, on International Youth Day, let us honor Kip Keino, whose work is empowering children to become our future Olympians, leaders, and heroes.

--Mackenzie Malia
AAVia Foundation Co-Founder & President

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Happy World Water Day!

Water is a vital part of our lives. It's there when we brush our teeth, wash dishes, grab a quick drink, and hose the lawn. But for many children in rural regions of Bolivia, it's hard to find access to clean water, and even harder to stay healthy when the only available water is contaminated.

Yesterday we celebrated World Water Day, a day to remember the importance of water in our lives, and learn how we can help others access water. For the AAVia Foundation, this day reminds us to be grateful for the water that we have here in the United States.

So, what can we do to help Bolivian children have access to clean water?

A child practices hand-washing in Ancocagua, Bolivia. Photo by Nia Haf Photography

The AAVia Foundation is proud to support Clean Hands, Healthy Schools, a hand and dental hygiene program run by the School of Nursing at Pucarani, Bolivia. Led by 50 of the nursing students and their instructors, the program teaches elementary school children about the importance of using clean water, washing their hands, and brushing their teeth.

Clean Hands, Healthy Schools gives these children valuable knowledge that helps them prevent basic illnesses throughout the rest of their lives. The lessons include:

  • How to sterilize water for use
  • When to wash hands
  • Hand-washing methods
  • How to brush teeth
  • How to use hand sanitizer
  • When to use nail clippers

As well as hand-washing practice with the nursing students, and follow up visits to ensure that the lessons are being implemented by the children and their families.

A nursing student helps a child wash hands in Cohana, Bolivia. Photo by Nia Haf Photography

In 2015 Clean Hands, Healthy Schools worked with 10 elementary schools, teaching over 500 children while also providing the same education to their teachers, parents, and village leaders. In 2016, this will continue to grow to reach more schools and more children.

Each one of the children receives a pack of supplies to help them continue their healthy habits: a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a hand towel, and a pair of nail clippers. Funding from the AAVia Foundation made these packs and various education supplies possible.

Kids in Cohana, Bolivia practice hand-washing. Photo by Nia Haf Photography

We look forward to continuing their work with this incredible program to continue providing this vital education to children. Together, we can give these kids the healthy habits that will change the rest of their lives.

Funding for the Clean Hands, Healthy Schools program is made possible by your tax-deductible donations. Thank you for your support of these children.

--Mackenzie Malia
AAVia Foundation Co-Founder & President

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Monday, February 29, 2016

A Lake Disappears

Once the second largest lake in Bolivia, Lake Poopó is located in west-central Bolivia in the Altiplano mountain region at over 12,000 feet above sea level. Fed by mountain runoff from the Andes, the beautiful lake supported the region's fishing economy, especially for the several thousand people living in several nearby villages.

In December 2015, Lake Poopó was declared officially dried and is now considered a lakebed. Lakes dry up for numerous reasons: climate change, geological changes in the region, and human activities can all alter bodies of water. Tributaries change course over time and slowly stop feeding into a lake. Water is diverted by companies for industrial use. Mountain runoff diminishes and provides less water to keep the lake full. In the case of Lake Poopó, there appears to be a combination of factors.

The lake in April 2013 (left) and January 2016 (right)
The lake in April 2013 (left) and January 2016 (right), via

Regardless of the reasons, the loss of Lake Poopó changes the lives of the people who live in the region. Already struggling as the lake had diminished over the past decade, the nearby villages are losing inhabitants as many decide to leave and make a new life somewhere else.

The lake could return (as it did after drying up in 1994) but thousands of people are still being displaced, especially the families of fishermen who depended on the lake's resources for their livelihood.

Fisherman Rene Valero stands in his boat in the Poopó lakebed, via

The Poopó lakebed will become a new landmark over time, becoming a part of the Bolivian landscape just as the lake had been for so many decades. As the nearby families relocate and find new ways to survive, local NGOs are already assisting in various ways. Their work reminds us that even as circumstances and geography change, we must continue to help each other. It will take time, but with support and resources, displaced families can build new lives.

--Mackenzie Malia
AAVia Foundation Co-Founder & President

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