All posts in Podcasts

Dean Kamen

New Documentary Profiles Inventor Doing Good

I recently watched a new documentary about inventor Dean Kamen. He’s the guy who invented the Segway, that impressive but only moderately successful people mover. Read more…

karlan-headshot

Demanding More Than Good Intentions

A lot of people ask me what factors they should consider when deciding which charities to support. It’s a tough question. And an important one. So I turned to one of the experts. Read more…

Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins

Ball Generates Electricity for Poor Kids…Until It Breaks

I’m so happy to bring you our first story produced by an outside contributor. Reporter Jennifer Collins’ investigation was made possible by the generosity of Tiny Spark’s Kickstarter backers. Read more…

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Should Volunteers Who Live in Poverty Be Paid?

Across the developing world, many international charities rely on local, volunteer staff to perform all kinds of work. Many volunteers provide low-level assistance to organizations. However, thousands of volunteer healthcare workers are bringing vital skills and expertise to rural areas, which suffer from a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.

Many praise the “volunteer spirit” that makes rural healthcare possible, but what about the well-being of the volunteers themselves, many of whom are poor? Read more…

Jeffrey Sachs speaks at anti-poverty rally at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo Credit: Kevin Tsui

Tracking One Man’s Quest to End Extreme Poverty

Jeffrey Sachs has twice been named among TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. The New York Times Magazine once described him as “probably the most important economist in the world”.

Sachs has devoted much of his career to figuring out how to end extreme poverty across the globe. He says if you give even the poorest communities enough money and resources, extreme poverty can actually be eradicated. Read more…

Long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets

Bed Nets – A Simple Idea Proves Complicated

My first Tracking Charity story with PRI’s The World investigates a seemingly simple and promising technology: the insecticide treated bed net. Hundreds of millions of nets were distributed across Africa as part of a multibillion dollar campaign to fight malaria. The nets were supposed to last from three to five years and protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

My story from the African nation of Malawi shows how growing insecticide resistance is now compromising the power of the nets. And I meet many families who say their nets became riddled with holes after less than a year of use. Read more…

Play-Pump

An Idea Sparked in Africa

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about the impetus behind Tiny Spark.

For several years, I worked as a public radio and television correspondent in Africa. During that time, I traveled around the continent, seeing a range of social enterprise initiatives and aid programs on the ground, each meeting with varying degrees of success. I also discovered that well-intentioned ideas, poorly executed, can actually do harm. Read more…

The above photo shows a Haitian woman undergoing surgery in a parking lot without anesthesia. Photo Courtesy: Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Haiti’s Medical Volunteers – Helping or Harming?

Doctors and nurses responded when Haiti was shaken by a deadly earthquake in 2010.

From across the United States and around the globe, an untold number of men and women took leave from their jobs and flew to Haiti to provide assistance to the injured.

In our latest episode, Tiny Spark takes a look at the quality of care those volunteers provided.  While they may have been well-intentioned, medical volunteers’ lack of specialized training would sometimes have severe repercussions for patients. Read more…

TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie.

TOMS Shoes: A Closer Look

TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, says there are millions of children around the world who are in need of shoes. He’s based his entire business model on this premise. Mycoskie’s for-profit company has enjoyed handsome gains by getting consumers to buy into his idea. In our story, we question whether Blake’s assumption is accurate and if it is, whether giving children free shoes is the best solution. Read more…

Mark Goldsmith

In Praise of ‘Lost Causes’

In this holiday edition, we explore what happens when someone refuses to accept the idea of a “lost cause” and instead gets down to the work of transforming a troubled life. Read more…