Young refugees found a creative way to spread information about Coronavirus in their settlement.
World Vision
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World Vision

Songs have a habit of getting stuck in your head — especially ones you like. They can be powerful ways to spread — and remember — important information. (Remember when you learned your ABC's through song in Kindergarten?)

That's why at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda, some young people are using their creativity to raise awareness about the coronavirus by writing songs about it.

"For months now, awareness campaigns have been created," says David, a teenager who lives in the settlement. "These include posters, radio messages and public messages." World Vision Uganda, for example, has been going door to door to drive awareness in settlements, using mobile public address systems and megaphones.


But young people like David in the settlement are taking things one step further: they're recording the songs and sharing the music at food distribution points so everyone hears their messages. For them, music is not only a creative outlet: it is also a powerful way to engage with and protect their vulnerable community from this deadly disease.

"Children and young people are amazing. We see time and again, all over the world, they are not helpless, hidden victims. So often in a crisis, they are hidden heroes," says Dana Buzducea, World Vision's Global Head of Advocacy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 7.9 million people around the world have caught COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As of June 16th, the disease had killed 434,796 worldwide. 181,903 of these cases were in Africa; 823 of those were in Uganda where the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is located.

People and children living in refugee settlements, like this one, might be particularly at risk for COVID-19.

There are 1.4 million refugees in Uganda with the majority having fled a civil war in South Sudan. 270,000 of those refugees live in Bidi Bidi Refugee camp; more than half are children. Many became separated from their parents when they fled the conflict and have had to learn to take care of themselves. Others might have a grandparent with them — but since COVID-19 is particularly deadly to elderly adults, they're also now at risk of being alone if the virus takes hold in the camp.

World Vision

This is why in March, World Vision asked that countries hosting high numbers of refugees, such as Uganda, be given special and urgent support because of the potential impact of the disease, both directly and indirectly.

"The disease might not kill as many children from the available statistics but the impact on them is great," Brenda Madrara, project manager at World Vision, said in a recent article. "In our foster programme, we train and facilitate foster parents to take care of these vulnerable children. This is now difficult because everyone is scared and they only want to take care of their own, without any extra responsibility."

In other words, because of the lockdown, money, food and other resources are already stretched thin. Bringing in a child to care for — especially one that might be infected — is scary.

This is the reason it's so important to prevent the rapid spread of the virus in these settlements. World Vision is currently working with The Office of the Prime Minister to respond to the urgent needs to help stop the spread of the virus, such as soap, hand washing facilities and personal protective equipment for health workers.

Information campaigns can still go a long way: the more people know about the virus, the better they can protect themselves. That is why the music that these young people are creating is so important at getting the message out there. It's also why World Vision has partnered with Hashtag Our Stories to help the kids in the settlement share their stories using smartphones — after all, that's how David was able to tell the world about these songs.


To learn more about World Vision, how they are supporting children impacted by the virus, or help in their efforts, visit their Hidden Hero page.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

President Trump has exited the White House as the first president in 100 years to not have a pet. President Biden is bringing the presidential pets tradition back, but with a special "first" of his own.

Champ and Major, the Bidens' German shepherds have officially moved into the White House, with Major being the first rescue dog to live there. The Bidens adopted the now 3-year-old good boy from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018.

Anyone who's ever moved with a pet knows that transitions can be tenuous. New sights, smells, and sounds, in addition to the change in routine, can be stressful for animals. And when you're a human who is not only moving into a new home, but also starting a new job as the president of the Untied States, you might need a little time to adjust right along with your pets.

That's why the Biden family took some time to fully transition their two dogs into the White House this week. Though the president and first lady moved in on January 20, the first doggos didn't officially move in until five days later, after a gradual introduction to the building and grounds to get them used to their new home.

They sure do look happy to be with their people in The People's House now, though.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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