Awana Clubs International
In Nepal, a nation that is 95 percent Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim, Awana is having a powerful impact.
10 year old Laxmi lives with her widowed mother and her brother. Laxmi's mother is very religious, fasting twice a week, but as a widow, she is not accepted by her neighbors. Even as a child, Laxmi could see that the other adults were unkind to her mother and said cruel things to her.
In the midst of this painful situation, Laxmi's friend invited her to church. "I loved the teaching of Sunday school," Laxmi recalls. "But when my mother (learned) about it, she punished me."
God led Laxmi to a Christian radio program from a partner of Awana, Trans World Radio, filled with singing and Bible teaching. "I love to listen to this radio program. I have learned that Jesus loves the children. We have to love Him and obey His words."
"I can't go to church now, but I have made a decision that when I grow up I will go to church. I believe that someday my mother will come to know the truth. Please pray for me."
Laxmi is part of a growing number of children being led to Christ in Nepal. In fact, in November of 2012, an Awana day camp reached 3,200 children, and 555 of them accepted Christ as their Savior.
When the village of Cojobal, Guatemala, partnered with Child Aid this year, it became the 50th community to take up the torch of literacy through our Reading for Life program. Cojobal's tiny school has 12 teachers and 245 students. That may seem like a drop in the bucket when it comes to tackling a nationwide illiteracy problem, but with more villages joining our effort than ever before, that bucket is beginning to fill.
"Over the past three years," says Child Aid cofounder Rick Carroll, "our program has grown dramatically in Guatemala. We had 26 community partners in 2009, and this year we are working with more than 50."
Child Aid's Reading for Life program is transformative for remote indigenous villages that lack educational resources and have nowhere else to turn for support. In these places, teachers are often young and have limited training. For most of them, teaching children to read is an ongoing struggle, especially when they lack books and teaching materials. In places like Cojobal, indigenous children drop out early, and most fail to learn to read beyond the simplest of sentences. When village teachers hear about our work, many are quick to contact Child Aid.
"More communities than ever are coming to us and asking that we work with them," says Sam Hendricks, Child Aid's Executive Director. "It's exciting. But it's tough. Our challenge is finding the funding to meet the growing demand for our work. Currently, the only real limit on the number of kids we can help is just that – funding."
Next year, Child Aid expects to work in 55 communities. It's difficult but rewarding work that requires long-term commitment on our part. But it's paying off.
Ayim thanked the BWA for the concerns it has shown for the welfare of the country and acknowledged the important work done by Nigerian Baptists. He stated that the government is taking all possible measures to tackle extremism and promote peace and development across the nation.
"We're creating real educational opportunity in these places," says Carroll. "And we'll keep on doing it, village by village, until we feel the work is done."
Leukemia Research Foundation
This past weekend more than 100 people braved freezing rain and sleet to get blood cancer information provided at the Leukemia Research Foundation's Annual Town Hall Meeting.
Patients and family members questioned a panel of experts gathered at the Conference Center of LifeSource in Rosemont, Ill. The annual program hosted by the LRF was moderated by Karina Danner-Koptik, RN, MSN, APN from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. The panel included Rose Catchatourian, M.D. from the John H. Stroger Hospital, Olga Frankfurt, M.D. from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Ammar Hayani, M.D. from Advocate Hope Children's Hospital, Nobuko Hijiya, M.D. from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Patrick Stiff, M.D. from the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at Loyola University Medical Center, Wendy Stock, M.D. from the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Parameswaran Venugopal, M.D. from Rush University Medical Center.
The panel addressed questions from the audience, touching on everything from the benefits of clinical trials, to emerging therapies, as well as long term outlooks for specific diagnoses of leukemia and lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma.
AIDS Research Alliance of America
In June 2014, AIDS Research Alliance of America (ARAA) reached an important milestone: They conducted their first leukapheresis procedure, working with an HIV-positive patient to extract white blood cells, which harbor the rare HIV reservoir cells, from his blood. Why is this important? Because the reservoir cells are what prevent doctors from curing HIV/AIDS. By having a sample of these cells, ARAA will be able to advance their studies, testing prostratin's activation efficacy on the reservoirs.
On a Tuesday morning, Eric, ARAA's study volunteer, came into our clinic to have his white blood cells extracted by an apheresis machine. After four hours, ARAA's technicians had generated what they needed to perform the next step in the prostratin studies: a "leukopak," or a solution of white blood cells. These white blood cells contain the HIV reservoir cells. Only about five percent of these white blood cells are memory CD4 T cells, and of those, only one in a million harbors latent HIV.
AIDS Research Alliance's ability to generate a leukopak of white blood cells from an HIV positive volunteer is unique. Not many research labs have the ability and machine to procure white blood cells from HIV positive volunteers, and very few research labs have the capability to generate this cell sample in-house.
This is an important step in cure research, which will help the scientific community better understand how we can eliminate the reservoir, and cure HIV/AIDS. Eric explained why he was participating in this research: "I watch The Walking Dead. When I watch it, I think about what would happen to me if society fell apart, if hospitals shut down and we didn't have access to HIV medications. I would be dead. Finding a cure means survival."