Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Chitundu Primary School

For over three years now, charity: water has been bringing clean drinking water to people in need all over the world. Their projects including building new drinking wells & rehabilitating old ones in villages, clinics, sanitation facilities, and yes, SCHOOLS in 16 different countries, including 10 schools in the Central African Republic, 2 schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 43 schools in Ethiopia, 11 schools in Honduras, 11 schools in Kenya, 1 school in Malawi, and 7 schools in Tanzania.

Below is the harrowing account from workers at charity:water, volunteering in Chileka a southern district outside of Blantyre, Malawi, and their experience with STUDENTS from the Chitundu Primary School. And there's just one thing they left out, that we want you to know: SCHOOL UNIFORMS are a REQUIREMENT in order to attend most schools in Malawi, so think about the thousands of children that could benefit from charity water's efforts if they were provided with a FREE SCHOOL UNIFORM to attend a school where a new drinking well, providing clean water to the students, suddenly become available to them. Think of the thousands of children that could benefit from FREE SCHOOL UNIFORMS that could them into a classroom to gain an education that gives them the opportunity to realize their potential... and their worth. 

From the Field | Southern Malawi, February 6th, 2008

"We're walking through a corn field in Chileka in a southern district just outside of Blantyre, Malawi. It's 5 a.m. and the sun is mildly peeking through the mountains. The five of us quietly follow two young girls as they walk to collect water, rocks crunching under our feet. Carolina and Tabia are 12 and 14, and they're showing us their water supply.

Walking single file, they're careful not to step on loose rocks along the steep slope. The path weaves through rows of maize - it's harvest season and tall crops provide protection from the sun. The girls pause along the way, careful not to slip as they gracefully hop over large gaps where the earth has split. After a good 15 minutes, we fall behind, run out of breath and wonder aloud how they will get the full buckets back up this path. 20 minutes later, we arrive at a water hole. A hand-dug pit in the earth that's about 2 feet in diameter, has filled up with run-off water overnight.

It hasn't rained in a few days, so the water is deceptively clear. When the rains do come, they'll wash mud and dirt down the mountain, and flood the water hole with bacteria, animal waste and disease.

The rainy season brings with it frequent outbreaks of cholera and diarrhea, especially among the children here. Yet the girls calmy fill up their pails and we begin the climb back up. Each of us are thinking the same thing - we can't imagine drinking that water, let alone carrying 40 pounds of it through steep mountains.

Back at Carolina and Tabia's house, the girls get ready for school. Their mother says goodbye to us and piles freshly harvested stalks of corn into our hands. This is all she has, and she offers it to us in thanksgiving. Although we haven't done anything yet, she smiles, hopeful that we'll return with a solution. We promise to try.

The Chitundu Primary School has 205 students, who all rely on a distant well that they share with a nearby village. We follow Carolina and Tabia again, as they make their second long walk of the day to fetch water. This time they're awake with giggles, lost in a group of girls in uniforms, blue and yellow pails in hand. Upon arrival at the well, they must compete with the older women of the village, and default to waiting their turn at the pump. The well is down a hill and through another field, and they miss half an hour of class today. Chitundu Primary School needs their own well, but with the overwhelming need in Chileka county, and a reachable well in the area, it's at the end of a long list. So they wait.

Over the last 6 days, we've seen an overwhelming need here.

We've walked with women to ponds and rivers. We've hiked for an hour in the Neno district to a village that got dirty water from a crude hole in the dirt. We've met two women in Chileka who walk seven times daily up and down a steep mountain carrying water, one pail at a time. We followed Carolina and Tabia on their daily walks.

Through our local partner Water For People, charity: water has funded 10 well rehabilitations in Malawi, and 6 new wells that are being completed." - Viktoria Alexeeva

You can watch the video by clicking here

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sharp Drop in Aid to Basic Education Jeopardizes School Chances for Millions

A sharp decline in aid to basic education to developing countries threatens to reverse progress towards the international goal of universal primary schooling.

This is the stark conclusion drawn Posting by UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report Team.

According to the latest figures from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) for 2007, total aid commitments to basic education declined from US $5.5 billion in 2006 to US $4.3 billion in 2007, representing a decrease of nearly 22%.

UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report 2009 warned that the world will fall short of goals agreed by the international community at Dakar in 2000. There are currently 75 million children out of school; many millions more drop out before completing primary education. Projections indicate that the target of universal primary education by 2015 will be missed by at least 30 million children.

“Aid to basic education has played a vital role in getting millions more children in to school, in training teachers, in building classrooms and in other tangible results seen over the last decade,” said Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General. “The drop jeopardizes this and future progress towards the Education for All goals.”

A huge fall in bilateral aid commitments to basic education between 2006 and 2007 is behind the drop, with a decline by 31% in real terms to below US$3 billion in 2007. Behind this striking downward shift are some important changes in individual donor commitments. While the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had registered sharp increases in 2006 to their aid to basic education, these commitments were significantly lower in 2007. Apart from the United States, whose aid to basic education rose substantially in 2007, too few bilateral donors stepped in to fill the financing gap. Aid to education from multilateral agencies did rise over the same period, but it was not enough to counteract the large drop.

“The concentration of aid to basic education among just a few donors means that financial assistance for countries is highly unpredictable, states Kevin Watkins, Director of the Global Monitoring Report. “It also poses serious questions about the commitment of donors as a group to meet the pledge made at Dakar.”

The Report argues that donor pledges made at the 2000 education conference are not being met. Having risen from 2000 to 2004, aid to basic education had stagnated since 2004 before this sharp drop. The priority given to basic education in sector aid is particularly weak. Only 5% of all sector aid went to basic education in 2007 – the lowest level since 2000.

These disappointing figures contrast with other more positive trends also revealed in the OECD-DAC data. After two years of decline, the good news is that total net aid increased by more than 10% in 2008. However, there are question-marks over how much of this will be allocated to education..

There are also worrying signs that the global economic downturn may threaten all aid levels. Increased pressure on budgets and slower economic growth means that overseas aid measured as a proportion of national income could suffer substantially. This could represent a loss in aid to education of up to US$1.1 billion by 2010.

“This is not the time to be cutting aid to basic education,” commented Mr Watkins. With the economic downturn pushing millions of vulnerable households into poverty and putting budgets under strain, donors should be providing a fiscal stimulus aimed at keeping children in school.”

Mr Watkins added that the Spring meeting of the IMF and World Bank provides an opportunity to reverse the decline in aid to education. “It’s important that the meeting goes beyond the recycling of commitments and pledges that were made at the G20 summit to deliver real results” he said.

According to the Report, an estimated US $11 billion is needed in aid annually to reach key education goals in the world’s poorest countries. In 2007, aid to basic education in these countries was just US $2.6 billion, at least 4 times less than what is needed – and an infinite fraction of the trillions of dollars injected into banks and industries hit by the global economic crisis.

UNESCO is calling for aid donors to deliver the finance urgently needed to protect the world’s poorest from the devastating effects of the crisis. According to the organisation, both donors and governments must ensure that budgets to education and other social services are maintained.

“Millions of children stand to be hardest hit by the crisis, and face irreversible long-term consequences if denied health, nutrition and education”, states Matsuura. “We must invest in their future and provide them with the education they need to end poverty and improve their lives.”

Source:Press Release No.2009-35

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jesse Kamm: Designer Hopeful, At Least We Hope So That Is....

"Born to a potter and a ragtime guitar player, it’s no wonder why Jesse Kamm turned out to be an arts and crafts wunderkind. The model-turned-designer, who splits her time between Los Angeles and an eco-conscious reserve in Panama, spins one-of-a-kind dresses and separates with understated silhouettes and hand-sketched, nature-inspired graphics, from soft cotton and silks."  - excerpt taken from "Yes We Kamm", NYLON Magazine

"Designer Jesse Kamm, has one of those enviable, Sundance Channel-worthy lifestyles. The L.A.-based designer fashions her cool-girl separates out of hand-printed silks, cruises through Hollywood in a custom bio-diesel Mercedes Benz, and spends half the year in Panama, on an eco-conscious reserve she and her husband recently purchased with actress Alison Lohman and other green-minded pals."  - excerpt taken from Glam Chic, "Listmaker: Jesse Kamm"

What makes her so special to us?  Well, for starters, all the textiles that she uses are her own designs.  And then there's the part where she's a one-woman show, and yet she's been able to pull it off with flying colors.  

We first met Jesse during the very first Saint Louis Fashion Week back in August of 2007, after previewing her much talked about fashion video "In Full Bloom".  Impressed by her "sophisticated, yet stylish society-girl dresses" in her Spring 2008 Collection (images from the collection are pictured below), I vowed to one day make it out to her studio in L.A. where I could procure one for myself.

Since then, Jesse has been picked-up by Henri Bendel here in New York, and participated in Gen Art's highly-acclaimed New Garde in L.A.  not to mention the fact that she's been featured in so many fashion magazines & style blogs that one begins to lose track...

So when mulling over which designer to bring into the store, naturally my mind went back to Jesse.  Unfortunately when we caught-up with the designer this month, we learned that she is currently on a "baby hiatus" (congrats Jesse on your bundle of joy!), but we're hoping when she reenters the fashion world with what is sure to be a highly-anticipated show, she will also consider being a designer at parker+paige.  

Photos from her most current collection ("la pietra project 2009") are pictured below.  Let us know what you think!  If there are enough fans floating around that want to see her in the store, she may just have to come out of her "early retirement", well... early.  


Thursday, December 10, 2009


PACT is underwear we like having under our skivvies, because they recognize the need for sustainability in fashion and have found a way to help others while advertising this sexy line of lingerie.

When they expand, we want to be ready to go with them, because parker+paige is all about partnering with companies who sponsor non-profits.  PACT has made a promise to stay committed to investing in non-profits no matter how much they grow as a company,and parker+paige has made an almost identical promise by establishing the parker foundation, our 501(c)3 charity partner that will work and grow with us as we continue to expand our mission.  Hopefully, one day, this will mean joining with PACT to outfit children of the future with some pretty narly ensembles.

STAY TUNED! to learn more about our partnership with PACT underwear for the 2011 "uniform drop", right here at & don't forget to come tweet with us when you have a chance!

To purchase your very own PACT underwear, visit our website at  I know my bottom is resting peacfully in its own PACT today ;).

xo xo, paige


PACT Underwear

A sustainably produced undergarment collection is a good fit for nonprofits.

By Ernest Beck 

PACT underwear's branding emphasizes youth, eco-friendliness and style. Graphics by Fuseproject

The multibillion-dollar underwear market thrives on a combination of sexy styles and ads and boldfaced names emblazoned on waistbands. So when Jason Kibbey and Jeff Denby, co-founders of the San Francisco underwear company PACT decided to launch their new line based on principles of social entrepreneurship and sustainable design, they faced tough choices about how far to stray from conventional underwear marketing.

One priority was to create underwear that was not only sustainable but also stylish (thongs for women and snug trunks for men) in bold colors and patterns, all wrapped in eco-friendly packaging. After all, recalls chief executive Kibbey, “What we’d seen before in sustainable underwear was terrible and oatmeal colored, with awful fabrics and so much packaging that they had no green credibility. Innovation and design were missing.” Another concern was establishing a traceable supply chain that stretches from the Turkish farmers who grow the organic cotton for the garments to the Turkish factory that manufactures them with low-impact dyes and finally to the reusable (and ultimately compostible) shipping bags. Moreover, the entrepreneurs opted to donate 10 percent of their sales revenue to carefully selected nonprofits, whose field of activism would directly inspire the design. “We wanted to integrate cause and design, to make a deep connection between the two,” explains Kibbey.

PACT's patterns are influenced by the nonprofit groups to which the company donates 

The idea for PACT was hatched while Kibbey and Denby were pursuing MBA degrees at the University of California, Berkeley, and presented their underwear project at a student design competition that was judged by the San Francisco designer Yves Béhar. After graduating, the two created a design venture with Béhar’s studio, Fuseproject, which has an equity stake in PACT and is responsible for branding and marketing as well as design. Béhar says he always wanted to do an underwear line because the market was ready for a fresh, sustainable approach. “You go to a store and search through boxes for the right size and shape while looking at perfect bodies, it’s ridiculous,” he explains. “It’s like an old fashioned retail environment.”

Béhar didn’t tinker much with basic underwear forms. PACT’s are “not sexually enhanced,” he jokes. And while one surfer dude appears on PACT’s website, the brand’s models don’t resemble moonlighters from Abercrombie & Fitch ads. But Béhar did reduce the PACT label size to a mere 5 millimeters, a reversal of the usual “wearing a billboard on the most intimate part of your body,” he says. More attention was given to color and pattern inspired by selected nonprofits. For Oceana, the pattern linked to a global ocean conservation organization, Behar chose blue hues and stylized undersea flora based on a Japanese woodcut. For 826 National, which is connected to a program to encourage young writers, words were strung together to resemble a grove of trees.

The packaging can be recycled and ultimately composted

The nonprofits in the initial marketing push were chosen to overlap with PACT’s target demographic of urban, well-educated, youthful consumers. The organizations, Kibbey explains, “had to resonate with our customers, and have a strong visual brand identity. We didn’t want anything dreary or depressing which wouldn’t fit with our design sensibility.” Oceana, for example, uses market-based advocacy methods while 826 National counts writer David Eggers as a founder (that design is the current bestseller).

Eventually, PACT hopes to link up with eight to ten nonprofits and possibly extend the line to socks, T-shirts and denim. With its underwear priced at between $22 and $26 a pair, PACT should provide a continuing stream of revenue to worthy endeavors.

Friday, December 4, 2009

parker+paige is so impressed with charity: water

This year, I had the chance to attend the 4th Annual Charity Ball to benefit charity: water over the holidays at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York, NY on December 14, 2009.

It wasn't just Adrian Grenier of HBO's Entourage (or his rockin' real estate agent of a mom in attendance, who was very sweet to compliment me on my holiday-inspired cocktail dress), or the awesome family that joined founder, Scott Harrison, on stage to kick-off their live auction by pledging to match the audiences donations dollar for dollar (with a cap, of course, only it was ONE MILLION DOLLARS!), or the amazing experience of walking the gallon jugs of water on a side-stage to let guests feel what the weight of having to transport your own drinking water home with you everyday is like for so many people on this planet, but really a combination of all these things and more that struck me as a well put together event.
Check-in was smooth, coat check was coordinated, the open bar gave you options, the artwork from charity:water's trips abroad were fantastic, and even though the loud auction got really, REALLY loud it was all for a good cause, so I was happy to cheer away (and lose my voice!) in the hopes that more clean water would be available to people in 2010 than ever before, thanks to charity: water's efforts.

To-date, charity: water has already built new drinking wells that provide safe, clean drinking water to 7 schools in Tanzania, 11 schools in Kenya and Honduras, 43 schools in Ethiopia, 10 schools in the Central African Republic, 2 schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a school in Malawi.
And I KNOW they're not stopping there, which marks just one of the ways in which charity: water makes the perfect partner for parker+paige as we try to identify villages where children are required to wear a school uniform in order to attend, and children in that village aren't able to attend these schools because they can not afford the direct costs that a school uniform would cost for their family.

I know my friends (Corinne Levy, Nicky Spielberg, and Nicki Kalokerinos pictured above) and I had a wonderful time at the 4th Annual Charity Ball, and for those of you who missed it your chance will come December 2010 as charity: water hosts its 5th Anniversary Benefit, and I also know they'll out-do themselves again next year!!
In the meantime, you can check-in on charity: water's activities and progress by visiting their website at where they'll have future events listed and stories from the road, tracking their progress to bring clean drinking water to everyone on the planet.
You won't want to miss out on this unique opportunity to get involved with a one-of-a-kind charitable organization, that is serving so many in need and serving to inspire the team at parker+paige!