Varsha Sathappan: Health is the Greatest Gift Age: 18Hometown: San Jose, CaliforniaYears of Girl Scouting: 9
Kodikottai is a town in Southern India so small that it doesn’t even exist on Google maps. While visiting her family there last year, Varsha saw firsthand the huge disparities that exist in the world with regard to healthcare access. Vallal Mena Hospital, the local outpatient clinic, did not have an inpatient ward, a place for mothers to stay after giving birth, or an adequate supply of medicine. Locals suffered as a result; some children had never even been seen by a doctor.
How Varhsa is Changing the World:
Varsha believes in the Buddhist proverb that says “without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering—an image of death.” The first thing the hospital desperately needed was a ward. So, with the support of her council, Varsha raised $19,000 to build one. The ten-bed ward now serves between 70 and 80 patients every day, and as word of Varsha’s project spread, additional donors jumped in to help expand the hospital’s services, which now include an ambulance!
Varsha also organized a pediatrics camp with the help of doctors from the US, including her own mom. Many kids with unidentified hearing, vision, or cardiac issues were seen and treated.
Varsha faced some serious hurdles during her project, from the land and construction permits she had to obtain to the local officials who just wouldn’t take a teenage girl seriously. But through patience, maturity, and awesome management skills, Varsha showed the world how much a teenager can really do!
Varsha participated recently in a medical internship program for high school students looking for international experience. She will be studying medicine at Rice University this fall, and continuing to organize pediatric camps. Girl Scouts will honor Varsha and her fellow National Young Women of Distinction on Sunday, October 19 at our 2014 Girl Scout Convention.
"I cannot tell you how much this means to me," says McGraw. “I was a Girl Scout growing up my entire life, and was a Brownie troop leader before I even had children. We all must be diligent and passionate in our support for girls and it begins today.”
In her first official act as spokesperson for Girl Scouts, Robin produced a public service announcement (PSA) alongside our very own Anna Maria Chávez. Robin urged people to volunteer by visiting girlscouts.org, bringing attention to the 30,000 girls still waiting to be Girl Scouts.
“Girl Scouts is lucky to have such a passionate and notable alumna and former troop leader come back to us in this new capacity,” says Chávez. “Robin is an example of what we need from more adults – a commitment to our nation’s girls. As a volunteer, she had the unique opportunity to positively impact young girls’ lives, and as we work together to increase the number of volunteers so more girls can become Girl Scouts, she again will have a direct impact on building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
If you’re anxious to see more from Robin, tune in to a special episode of the Dr. Phil show airing Friday, September 19, featuring Anna and twenty girls from Girl Scouts of Greater LA. And last but certainly not least, Robin is slated to be a featured speaker at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah!
Let’s all get ready for Robin!
Los Angeles nongovernmental organization to send protective equipment and cleaning supplies to Liberia
Los Angeles, Calif., September 16, 2014— Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based international relief agency, today announced that it will send a shipment of Ebola relief supplies–containing more than 6,000 pounds of personal protective equipment including 50,000 N-95 masks and 50,000 pairs of latex gloves, as well as hospital grade cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and disinfectants–to West Africa this week. The Ministry of Health in Liberia has pre-cleared the shipment and will use the supplies to aid in treating those infected, isolating the outbreak and combating the further spread of the disease.
The organization will also aid other local groups, including West African expatriate communities in the Southern California area, by coordinating the shipment of those groups’ relief supplies by sea and potentially as part of future airlifts.
Operation USA’s deployment comes on the heels of the President’s announcement that the U.S. government will lead a major relief initiative in West Africa called “Operation United Assistance,” which will send more than 3,000 military medical personnel to the area in an effort to curb the spread of Ebola.
“We are grateful to President Obama for addressing vital needs in Ebola-ravaged countries, but the massive amount of supplies needed to support thousands of health workers and military personnel in the field will take up a great deal of the available airlift capacity heading to the area,” said Richard Walden, President and CEO of Operation USA. “As a private NGO, we’re fortunate to have secured transportation for this shipment—but, it’s important for the public to continue to support and fund ongoing relief efforts through private organizations, which are crucial to the fight against Ebola and which will not benefit from ‘Operation United Assistance’ funds.”
As of Wednesday, the official death toll had climbed to 2,400 across five countries. Experts fear the true impact may be far greater and could reach hundreds of thousands of deaths before the end of the year.
Operation USA previously responded to an Ebola crisis in The Congo (then known as Zaire) in 1995, sending an airlift of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to Kikwit General Hospital, where a localized outbreak killed 245 people.
HOW TO HELP:
Donate online at donate.opusa.org, by phone at 1-800-678-7255 or, by check made out to Operation USA, PO BOX 36188, Los Angeles, CA 90036-0188. Donations can also be made via text message: text AID to 50555 to donate $10. Text donations are collected for the benefit of Operation USA by the mGive Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.mGive.org/t.
Corporate donations supporting recovery efforts– personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and protective suits, hospital-grade cleaning supplies, water purification supplies, and electric generators–are also being requested. Only new items in bulk are being accepted at this time. Transportation assistance–domestically and internationally by land, air and sea–is also being requested. For more information call 1-800-678-7255.
United Airlines air miles can be donated to Operation USA to support relief worker travel through United Airlines’ Charity Miles program at www.united.com.
About OPERATION USA:
Founded in 1979, Operation USA helps communities alleviate the effects of disasters, disease and endemic poverty by providing privately funded relief, reconstruction and development aid throughout the world. The Los Angeles based non-government organization offers material and financial assistance to community-based organizations that promote sustainable development, leadership and capacity building, income generating activities, education, health services, and advocacy on behalf of vulnerable people.
Richard Walden, President and CEO of Operation USA, is available as an expert source on disaster recovery as well as effective approaches to combating disease outbreaks.
Mary Dolan or Richard Walden
For as long as she can remember, Selma Rutledge has worn a piece of Girl Scouts insignia on her clothing. Whenever prompted by women, young and old, she always remarks, “I am a Girl Scout! Follow me!”
A longtime volunteer with the Gateway Council in Florida, Selma’s involvement with the Girl Scouts began after a life-changing event that no parent ever wants to experience. “It was 1979, and I got a knock at the door. The police came to say that my son, who was on a trip at the time, had drowned,” Selma recalled. “But at that very moment, this voice came to me and said, ‘You have many sons and daughters. Pay it forward.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
That little voice in Selma’s head propelled her to give back to the youth community in Jacksonville for 35 years and to make an impact on their lives. “Every child, every girl I see, I want to tell them you can make it,” said Selma. “Don’t say you can’t until you put forth the effort.”
As one of the oldest active volunteers of the Gateway council, Selma continually reaches across all boundaries and lines to make sure every girl has the chance to be a Girl Scout. In particular, through the S.H.A.R.E. (Show Her a Real Experience) program, she has helped to raise over $30,000 in the last two years which goes right to providing financial assistance to girls who want to join Girl Scouts, but couldn’t without your support. As a tribute to her fundraising efforts, a stage at North Fort was named the Selma Rutledge Stage, after her.
When lauded for her hard work, Selma humbly remarked, “I try to do the best I can. It’s not all about me; it’s about the girls. As they grow, it helps me to grow. I’m much older, and I need to see them come in behind me and continue serving.”
Selma is also the recipient of numerous local appreciation awards, including the Sustaining the Mission Award, Outstanding Leader Award, and the Thanks badge. She hopes that, through leading by example, she can inspire others to do the same. “Through Girl Scouts, young people can learn a lot by dealing with the girls. They can become great leaders,” said Selma. “If they see they can do something that can help somebody along the way to improve the world, then that’s it.”
Though Selma may be 81 years old, to her age is nothing but a number. “I walk two miles every day to stay active,” Selma said. “My children call me the roadrunner.” And she has shown no signs of slowing down.