Save One Life

Earthquake in Nepal

I was shocked to learn Saturday morning that a powerful earthquake struck
Nepal, the small, peaceful republic that is cradled in the Himalayas. With
eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, Nepal is rift with geological
wonders, which draws mountaineers and adventures seekers annually.
Officials this morning are estimating over 4,000 have died, with
many more injured. The quake is Nepal’s most powerful in decades, and struck 80
kilometres east of Pokhara, about half way between the town and the capital
Neeraj, who has hemophilia
I know many people in Nepal. The hemophilia community there is a
tight knit group, effective and efficient, and dedicated to patients. The Nepal Hemophilia Society (NHS) was
formed by a volunteer group of patients with bleeding disorders and parents in
1992. There are an estimate 3,000 people with hemophilia in Nepal, but only
several hundred have been identified.
I last visited in 2001, and was impressed then with how they operate.
Of course, they don’t

buy factor. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the
world, ranking  145th
of 187 countries on the Human
Development Index
(HDI) in 2014. Project SHARE has been donating
factor for many years to help.

Save One Life also operates in Nepal. We sponsor many children, and
look forward to sponsoring a camp for them next year. In fact I was just on the
phone last week with colleagues, discussing a trip to Everest’s base camp. Base
camp was struck by an avalanche as a result of the earthquake, and 18 people
died. This is the worst single-day disaster in Everest’s history.
Sponsor Sandeep!
Sponsor Pranip!
hope to hear soon from our Nepalese colleagues and reach everyone who sponsors
a child in Nepal to let you know how they are doing, and to set up a special
fund if needed. There are two children from Nepal waiting for sponsorships, if
you want to do something today, now to help. Please consider sponsoring those children, to help support them, in a country that is was already having trouble
supporting its people, and now is crushed by the aftermath of this massive

March’s Child

I remember the Boston Globe column called “Sunday’s Child,” which profiled a beautiful child every Sunday in the Boston area in need of a foster home, in the hopes it would end in adoption. Let’s call this week’s blog post “March’s Child.” We have children with hemophilia in need of sponsorship!

It’s March, Hemophilia Awareness Month, and yet there are children in developing countries who lie at the fringe of our community, unaware that it’s “their” month, poor, suffering, waiting for help. We do our best to provide factor to these children through Project SHARE. But did you know you can sponsor one of these children through our sponsorship program Save One Life?

Helping us promote our cause is the amazing Chris Bombardier, who just spent 3 weeks in the wilderness, summiting Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia. Yup, he flew all the way there, and suffered up that enormous mountain (the highest in Oceana–a stand-in for continent Australia) and #5 on his Seven Summits Quest) to raise awareness for hemophilia in March and for Save One Life in particular. How is that for sacrifice and dedication?

Most of us don’t need to go to such an extreme, though Chris so kindly asked me to accompany him (I would have if I didn’t have so much hemophilia-related work going on right now). We can just sponsor a child at only $22 a month. We are trying to get a mere 31 children sponsored in March, one for each day. We’ve almost reached our goal! Just FIVE more! We even have their photos below. Please consider helping us reach our goals to help give them a better life! It’s Hemophilia Awareness Month: Thanks to those who have pledged sponsorship! We hope more blog readers will rally to help these deserving children; what better month to make a pledge than March?

You can read more about Chris’s amazing climb here!

Laurie Kelley, founder,
Save One Life

Add caption

Great Book I Just Read
Eiger Dreams: Ventures of Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer

From the mountain-climbing author of Into Thin Air comes nine gripping and informative stories about historic mountain climbs and the intriguing people who climb them. He covers K2, Denali, Everest and the Nordwand (Eiger) interspersing modern day adventurists and alpinists with history of climbing for each mountain. Krakaeur is a great storyteller: no nonsense but infusing his stories with awe, respect and love of the mountains. He also includes his own struggles with each mountain while portraying others’ climbs. Four/five stars.

Summiting to Save Lives!

March is Hemophilia Awareness month! But you already knew that.
What you might not know is that a brave young Denver man with hemophilia is making

Chris climbing Denali (Mt. McKinley)
Chris Bombardier is doing something no one with hemophilia has ever done before: summiting Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia.
Why this mountain? After all, the man lives in Denver, a mile-high city. (Yes, he has that to his advantage; lots of extra red blood cells to help with altitude). Carstensz Pyramid will be Chris’s fifth mountain in his goal is to become the first person with hemophilia to climb the highest peak on each continent, aka The Seven Summits.
Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Mt. Elbrus in Russia. Mt. Aconcagua in South America, and Mt. McKinley in the US: been there, done that for Chris.

This will be  his most technical climb yet–that means hard!  Carstensz Pyramid is the highest mountain in Oceania standing at 16,024 feet above sea level. The mountain is in a remote area of Papua, Indonesia and the climb will involve specialized skills such as rock climbing, rappelling, and a tyrolean traverse. Chris will end the climb with a 4-5 day trek through an isolated region of the Papua jungle.

And he asked me to come with him, mentioning there were a lot of leeches and snakes in those there “isolated regions.” I wanted to go, believe me. One day I will go with him (though we are now narrowed down to Antarctica and Mt. Everest. I have to remind him I am twice his age), if only to base camp.

Chris infusing on a mountain top!

Chris left Friday, March 6 and has just landed in Bali. He is psyched and raring to go!

You can follow him for the next three weeks on his blog:

Quick background: The Seven Summits Quest began when Chris traveled to Kenya on a work-related trip. While there, he witnessed the difficulties of those living with hemophilia in less developed regions of the world and decided he wanted to do anything he could to help. Chris declares, “Of course I look forward to standing on the summits of these incredible mountains and feeling the accomplishment of doing it with hemophilia. I want to show young people with hemophilia what’s possible. Our world is an amazing place, and I don’t want people with hemophilia to think they have to live in a bubble. I want them to get out and experience life to the fullest!” But, more importantly, Chris is committed to spreading the word about hemophilia and raising people’s awareness of the huge disparity in care that exists in the world.
And I add proudly that Chris is a board member of Save One Life, the nonprofit I founded in 2001 to help support the world’s poor with hemophilia. We have about 1,400 children and young adults

enrolled, who receive direct funding, scholarships, camp funding and microenterprise grants!

Deepak Das of India, whose leg was amputated last year due to an untreated bleed

And in March, Chris is going to dedicate each day to a child in need. Our goal is to get 35 more sponsored. They are waiting on our website:

Chris is taking risks at great expense to highlight the need of those in impoverished countries, where factor is limited or nonexistent. Please help support his climb by sponsoring a child today!

New Year Blessings: Dreams Can Come True!

When it’s a new year, we tend to make goals, lists, things we want to accomplish. I love doing this myself, and I love bringing other’s goals to fruition. That’s pretty much our aim at Save One Life, to assess needs, meet needs, and offer people with bleeding disorders who
live in the most difficult of circumstances hope and even a new beginning.
I recall meeting Jitendra, age 14, in India in November 2012. I met a group of mothers and fathers and their children on the trip in Bhubaneswar, in Orissa, one of the poorest states in India. It is rich in history though, with so many ancient temples, deemed World Heritage sites.
Though I met many families that day, one truly stood out. A father with a driven, intense, haunted look in his eyes. We enrolled his son, Jitendra, and I asked the father his story: what had happened to them, what was the greatest challenge they faced? Usually we hear that there is no factor, they have little money, the child misses school. This father’s
story was different.
He was living in a tent with Jitendra, as a homeless person, as floods had washed away their home. (And by home, I mean probably a thatched roof hut. They live 150 kilometers away from the hospital. The father works on a farm, and must travel far away form his only son each day.
I was stirred by the intense look on his face; his eyes seemed to bore into me.
When I asked him what one thing would
make your life easier, expecting him to say free factor, he said emphatically and without hesitation: a vegetable selling business, to open a roadside
vendorship, to be near his son. Awesome
answer. Needs 50,000 rupees ($1,000) to start. That is an enormous amount of money for him, about one year’s salary.
Can you imagine if someone gave you one year’s salary, and you were homeless? The temptation is always there to drink, have fun, squander it. Not this guy. He used the money Save One Life gave him from its Micro-Enterprise Grant program to open the stand, and earn his own living. Now he is near his son and doesn’t have to be away on the farm working. What a Happy new year for him!
And even better? The Orissa government, one of the poorest in India, is buying factor. Not a miracle, but the result of intense lobbying by the hemophilia chapter there and its leadership—a young man
with hemophilia named Chitta.
If they can achieve those new year goals, imagine what we here in the US can do!
Visit to learn how you can help the poor with hemophilia!

Cambodia: From the Killing Fields to a Land of Hope

Laurie in a tuk tuk
After breakfast on Saturday October 4, I went with the “tuk tuk” driver to pick up Sithan. The tuk tuks are autorickshaws—motorcycles with rickshaws attached to them. Sithan is the 33-year-old president of the Cambodian Hemophilia Association (CHA), who has hemophilia. He was to join me today for a tour. When we got to his home, he met us at the gate not looking well. Pale, tired… he was bleeding from a serious dental extraction last week and it was really bothering him. We brought factor for him on this trip, and he had already used several vials, but now
needed rest.
The stupa 
So I went alone to the Choeung Ek Memorial, the “Killing Fields,” so dubbed by Dith Pran, theCambodian journalist who was portrayed in the movie The Killing Fields. This would be my second visit to a genocide
site (my first was in Rwanda earlier this year).
The tuk tuk ride was insanely wild, like being on a run away roller coaster. We jostled through
the streets of Phnom Penh, dodging cars, motorbikes and other tuk tuks. The tuk
tuk is open-sided, with a roof. The wind whipped my hair; the air is
gritty with pollution. I can’t help but think I’m in a little cart at a
low-budget Asian Disneyworld, on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Motorbikes, carrying
young ladies with pink helmets, young men with intense looks wearing surgical
masks, even children—some sandwiched between the father driver and mother
passenger, sound asleep—swarm the cars and tuk tuks like ambitious bees.
Contributing to sensory overload are the odors: diesel fuel, thick, acrid
exhaust from vehicles; sudden sour smell of rotting garbage as we cross a bridge;
a surprise charcoal smell laced with delicious scent of roasted beef.
Mass grave of 450

My driver took back roads and alleys, some of which were nothing but huge mud puddles from the
rain. I actually started feeling really queasy and nauseated. I was glad that Sithan stayed home!
We arrived after 40 minutes and the driver sat in the lunch area while I paid the $6 admission
and picked up a headset and started the tour. Overhead was a brilliant blue sky
with a glaring sun basking us in 90° sunshine. Directly in front of me was the
huge stupa, or Buddhist temple. The soothing and paternal voice on the headset said to go there last. The narrator himself survived the vicious Pol Pot regime and felt honored to be able to
narrate what happened. There were many killing fields throughout Cambodia but
this was one of the most famous. There wasn’t much to see; some signs informed
us of what once stood there—the area where trucks would disgorge prisoners
(prisoners! They were men, women and children, average citizens), the place
where prisoners would be registered.
But there were graves of hundreds of victims, vaguely protected by a
small stockade around each mass grave. The first grave contained the remains of
450 victims; a sign told us that each time it rains, more remnants are
unearthed. It is not unusual to find human teeth or small bones still, after
all these decades. Clothing was displayed, and the bones of victims. As I
listened to my headset, a one-legged, dirty man stood by a tree; we were separated
by a wire fence, that’s all. He was begging, begging in his own country. I
handed him a $5 and he asked, “America?” And I nodded and smiled.
The Killing Tree
The Pol Pot regime
and his Khmer Rouge fighters took control of the country from 1975-1979, in the
attempt to create a Communist utopia. Pol Pot believed it was possible for
Cambodia to be self-sufficient, and in the process, dragged his country back to
the Stone Age, where everyone had to work communal farms, with no equipment or
machinery. All foreigners had to leave. Next came the purge of any
intellectuals: doctors, teachers, lawyers. Anyone educated was at risk of being
tortured and killed, and this was done in crude and primitive ways. Eventually
victims were brought to the Killing Fields, where they were murdered. Whole
families were wiped out. These are sites where unspeakable atrocities took
place. I reflected that from 1975-1979, the years I was in college, enjoying
life, going to dances, studying, eating, having fun… an entire generation in
Cambodia was being wiped out. While I slept peacefully in my bed each night, Cambodian
children were starving, dying, mothers and families were being tortured. They
were living in hell, imposed on them by their own rulers.

Stockade fence with prayer ties

I approached one
mournful monument, a tree, where babies were bashed to kill them, then tossed
into an open grave. The tree was decorated with little wrist ties of many
colors (you receive the ties when you make an offering at a Buddhist temple).
They looked like little yarn butterflies fluttering in the wind. The graves were
simple, marked with hand-carved signs. The bones, like those in Rwanda, were
out in the open. Nearby, a huge tree stood, a survivor, a mute witness to the
atrocities from the past. On it the Khmer Rouge rigged up loud speakers, over
which was played constant, loud propaganda from the screeching voices of the uneducated soldiers. The loudspeakers also covered up the screams of victims.

Eventually I came to the stupa. It is steady, solid, soaring… and stacked with skulls. Perched on the corners of each section are stone mythical creatures in Hindu religion: Garuda,
the winged birdman who carries Lord Vishnu. And Naga, a dragon/snake that is Garuda’s enemy. That they appear together here denotes peace. After removing my shoes respectfully, I climbed the marble stairs, which are strangely cool, even in the suffocating heat.
Facing me is a clear, acrylic wall, encasing thousands of skulls, bleached
white, stacked neatly. Each skull has been analyzed and marked with a color dot to denote its sex and how the victim was killed. They were killed in many
different ways but all primitive: cleaning rod was a favorite method. You can
look at eye level into these skulls, which were once peaceful, innocent people,
mothers and fathers, young men and women. You feel like talking to them,
apologizing, wishing they could have a chance at life, a normal life. Buddhists
believe in reincarnation, and looking at the bashed and pierced skulls, you
want to believe this is true for their peace. So few of us ever get to see a human
skull. When you gaze at one, emotions aside, you marvel at its architecture:
the nasal passage ways are intricate and refined, thin sheathes that capture
minute scents; the occipital bones are strong and full of character, creating
almost a surprised look. You’re reminded that each of us has one of these hollow-eyed,
whitened shells within us too, and, Caucasian or Khmer, we all look pretty much
the same once the skin is gone.
It started to downpour as I left, as the heavens opened and “threw down their spears.” (well,
it was stars in the poem) The driver unfolded the tuk tuk’s side canvas to
protect me from the rain, but with him driving, and other motorbikes and tuk
tuks throwing up water and mud, it was pretty messy, and yet refreshing as the
temperature has been a steady and muggy 90°.
Monday October 6, 2014
We’re in Siem Reap today, where the ancient temples of Angkor Wat are, a World Heritage site (though better known in the west for being the location of the filming of “Tomb Raider”). After a great breakfast in the hotel, where they cater to your every need, Martha, Sithan and I headed in a tuk tuk to the Angkor Children’s Hospital nearby. Already 20 children and their
families were waiting for us. Cambodians are a truly beautiful people. I loved seeing the little children’s faces turned up at me, mixing shyness with
Martha gave a presentation about
Save One Life to the audience while Sithan translated. It was a long day in some ways:
sitting in a hot meeting room, tightly surrounded by incredibly impoverished, often illiterate, families whose children have bleeding disorders. We were only going to interview three families, but instead, we decided on the spot to interview them
all! So sitting in chairs that are like elementary school chairs, with a small tabletop attached, we divided up the families. Soreng, the social worker, took
some; Martha and Sithan took some; and the Dr. Sing Heng and I interviewed some. It took about two full hours, maybe more.
I also photographed them all. I handed out the gift bags, which were an
enormous hit—each child received an authentic Beanie Baby and some toiletries
and candy. The kids were adorable and mischievous, giggling and casting glances
at me, some brazenly looking and smiling. We connected with almost all.
As we interviewed, sweat constantly slid down our backs, dripped off our hair, but what an honor to meet so many! The local volunteers here did a great job mobilizing the families. The families were given meals in Styrofoam boxes, for which we paid. The hospital would kindly cover
their transportation costs.
The stories are sad; some heart-breaking. One boy with hemophilia, about 20, has mental issues; his
mother is partially paralyzed. They are very poor and have such hard lives. All these children will be available for sponsorship through Save One Life.
Cambodian Hemophilia Society (in Siem Reap), with Martha and Laurie
It was tender, and heart breaking.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, almost defeated when facing the crushing truth
of poverty and hemophilia. Will we ever make a difference? And then, I think, if
we were not here, who would help them? Just $22 a month can truly change their
lives. We’ve seen it happen in other counties, and we are going to see it happen
in Cambodia.
(Do you see a child you want to sponsor? Visit
Great Book I Just Read
Survival in the Killing Fields [Kindle]
Haing S. Ngor
Ngor is famous for portraying the journalist Dith Pran, the subject of the 1984 movie The Killing
Fields, which won Best Picture, and earned Ngor, who was not an actor, Best
Supporting Actor. Ngor himself escaped the Killing Fields, but spent four years
working hard labor and starving on a communal farm. He had to hide his
profession as a doctor or he would have been killed. He was tortured several
times, brutally, and endured chronic starvation and deprivation. The story is
an easy read technically, but difficult emotionally. He reveals all that he
experiences from the point of view of the victim; he didn’t understand what was
happening, never heard of Pol Pot, and could only focus on survival. Eventually
he escapes in the last throes of the regime, when the North Vietnamese invaded,
and enters Thailand. He makes his way to the US, a broken man, angry, but still
surviving. Though he became a Hollywood overnight sensation, his life still did not go
easy. This should be required reading for high school students, and any fan of
history and survival. Four/five stars.
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