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Making Change Happen, on a Deadline

By Tina Rosenberg

The PreFabricated Building Parts Production Enterprise in Addis Ababa is a state-owned company that makes concrete walls and other structures, mainly for the Ethiopian government’s low-cost housing program. Public-sector construction companies in the third world are not generally known for energy, flexibility, risk-taking or creative thinking. PreFabricated, in other words, does not seem like the kind of business that would or could do astonishing things in a hurry.

Like many companies in AIDS-wracked Ethiopia, PreFabricated had an AIDS policy, which included extra pay for its H.I.V. positive workers so they could buy more food. In March, 2008, the company decided to do more. It set a goal of persuading 70 percent of its employees — 700 people — to get tested for H.I.V. in 100 days.
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Drugs, Risk and the Myth of the ‘Evil’ Addict

By Tina Rosenberg

My column on making Naloxone available over-the-counter to reverse overdoses drew many plaudits and two main strands of criticism. One group argued that addicts aren’t worth saving and we need to cut the drug supply; the other said that Naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan, is too risky to be available without a prescription.

Let me address the second argument first. More than 50,000 Naloxone kits have already been distributed to drug users, pain patients and their loved ones in the United States and 10,000 successful overdose reversals have been reported.
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For Many, a Life-Saving Drug Out of Reach

By Maia Szalavitz

Mark Kinzly saved two lives this week. But he wouldn’t have been here to help if a friend hadn’t once done for him what he’s now repeatedly done for others — provide overdose victims with Naloxone, the antidote that revived them.

Overdose now kills more people in the United States than car accidents, making it the leading cause of injury-related mortality according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths — 37,485 in 2009 — could be cut dramatically if Naloxone were available over-the-counter and placed in every first aid kit.
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The Health Payoffs of Time Banks

By Tina Rosenberg

Friday’s Fixes post about time banks resonated with readers.  Time banks are local organizations that allow people to use their skills to help others by exchanging hours instead of money. You earn time dollars by, say, taking a neighbor to the doctor, and spend those time dollars on the same number of hours’ worth of other services, such as computer repair or singing lessons.  Strikingly, very few readers talked about what they could get from time banks; most  responded to the possibility of giving.  “The chance to help others and feel good about myself makes the bargain seem better than I thought possible,” wrote Ajasys from Vancouver, Wash. (41)  — a typical comment.
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Where All Work Is Created Equal

By Tina Rosenberg

School went badly last year for José, Angel and Estefani. The 8-year-old twins and their 7-year-old sister are recent immigrants to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. In part because they didn’t speak much English, late in 2010 all three were notified they were in danger of failing.

But their fortunes changed in January. They began going to the Fort Washington Library every Saturday for two hours of one-on-one tutoring from Elayne Castillo-Vélez, her sister, Sharon Castillo, and their grandmother, Saturnina Gutiérrez. The children had lost confidence and didn’t feel that more hours spent with school books would produce anything, said Castillo-Vélez. “There were times when all they wanted to do was talk about their week,” she said.
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Rock Is Not the Enemy

By David Bornstein

On Friday, I wrote about an organization called Little Kids Rock, which has helped to revitalize and broaden music education in more than a thousand schools by encouraging children to learn to play popular music, form bands and compose their own songs. The column sparked a little bit of a culture war: some readers were aggrieved by the idea that children should learn popular music in schools, others suggested that classical composers would love rock ‘n roll. Some feared that teaching pop would “dumb down” music education, others felt it was vital to make music education more relevant to children. I’d like to clarify some misconceptions and explain why I think the program is a valuable addition, rather than a threat to the classical tradition.
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Beyond Baby Mozart, Students Who Rock

By David Bornstein

With school underway, I asked my eight-year-old son this week if he had any interest in learning guitar. He said he’d prefer the piano. I was pleased, but hesitant. I had my own stint with after-school piano lessons at age eight — plinking out notes from classical pieces that were foreign to me. My progress was agonizingly slow and I gave up within months.

Music education hasn’t changed fundamentally since the 1970s. Students are still taught to read notation so they can recite compositions that they would never listen to on their MP3 players or play with friends. The four “streams” in music education — orchestra, chorus, marching band and jazz band — have remained constant for four decades, while a third generation is growing up listening to rock and pop music. And my experience as an eight-year-old is all too common. Many children quit before making progress with an instrument, then regret it as adults. Others play violin or trumpet for the school orchestra or band, then drop the instrument after graduating from high school.
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Beyond Refugee Camps, a Better Way

By Tina Rosenberg

In Friday’s Fixes column, I wrote about alternatives to keeping refugees in camps for years. The hundreds of thousands of Somalis streaming today into the camps in Dadaab, Kenya, are getting lifesaving food, medical care and shelter.  Camps like Dadaab are designed for emergency care and do it well — but most refugee situations are long-term.   Camps condemn refugees to years, maybe decades, of dependency.  There are people in Dadaab who have not stepped outside the camp since it opened in 1991.
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For Refugees, the Price of Dignity

By Tina Rosenberg

Somalia is now suffering its worst drought in 60 years. A quarter of the population has fled famine and conflict, heading west into Kenya. More than 1,300 people a day stream into the complex of refugee camps at Dadaab, Kenya, which is now housing more than 430,000 people in camps designed for 90,000. Many Somalis arrive near death after journeys of weeks with little food. Large numbers of them are children, often without parents.
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