SNAP 2008

One incredible guy

Kim and I met the most incredible Doctor last week at the SNAP Conference. Paul Williams is a true inspiration who left London to join a hospital in Uganda. He is doing an amazing job in incredibly tough conditions. 

Read his story below and if you can, send him some support. 

Bwindi Community Hospital ( is set in the hills of South West Uganda, close to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of half of the world’s mountain gorillas. It is a new Hospital in a poor, rural part of Uganda where previously malaria, malnutrition and HIV were the biggest killers. We have had success in reducing rates of malaria through the bed net program that I talked about, and have recently opened a high quality child health and nutrition unit at the Hospital – a 27 bed ward with a feeding/cooking area, a demonstration garden and a special care baby unit.

HIV is a big problem, but there are some things that can be done. George Bitti is a 50 year old retired headmaster who was dying from AIDS in 2004 – he was bedridden for almost a year. He sold his last piece of land to buy antiretroviral drugs, and started to make a recovery. Now he is fit and very, very well. He works in the HIV team in Bwindi as an ‘expert patient’ teaching others about the disease in schools, on the radio and in the Hospital. I lead an HIV/AIDS & TB team of 12 people who have tested 10,000 people for HIV in the last year, and look after more than 800 HIV positive patients in five locations. We have good access to ARV’s and are able to keep our patients alive and well with the disease.

I run the Hospital, and have been there for three years. It has grown from a small clinic to a medium-sized Hospital in a short time, and what used to cost $60,000 a year to run now costs more than $300,000. This is small by Western Standards – considering that for this we have a 60 bed Hospital, employ 80 staff, have a lab and x-ray, deliver 600 babies a year in the Maternity Unit and have a community health program that reaches into 250 villages through trained community health workers. But it is a HUGE amount of money for me to try to raise each year to keep the Organisation running.

We are really struggling for money at the moment. We do have a longer term plan to introduce a community health insurance so that the local people all make small contributions each month that provide a basic level of health care. In an area where many whole families live on less than $1 a day (and gas is now $5 a gallon, sugar is $2.10 a pound) this will not yield a lot of cash, but it is important not to be over-dependent on outsiders.

Anything that you can do to help would be really appreciated. We need money to pay the Ugandan staff who do almost all of the work, and will be able to give full accountability and receipts. For more information about the Hospital:

  1. Look on the website at
  2. Watch the 5 minute video as a link from the site
  3. Read the annual report as a link form this site
  4. If you are really interested then the Strategic Plan and Budget for 2008/9 are also on the site

 A small donation can go a long, long way. A larger donation can run an entire part of the Hospital

  • A mosquito net that three children will sleep under to protect them from malaria costs $5
  • $250 pays for a months salary of the nurse who runs the program that prevents HIV being passed from mother to child that I presented on Thursday at the conference
  • The two Ugandan doctors who we employ in the Hospital are both superb, but it costs us about $1500 a month for each of them
  • To run the entire HIV/AIDS education, testing, prevention and treatment program for a year costs $60,000  


In the US there is a 501(c)3 organisation started by the Founder of the Hospital which sends 100% of money donated straight to the Hospital bank account. I approve all expenditure in Uganda, and we have a full-time accountant at the Hospital who is good and very tough.

Details on how to donate can be found at All donations are sent a receipt and are tax-deductible. We would send larger donors regular reports about the work that they were directly sponsoring.

Thanks so much for your help – and please email me any questions



Dr Paul Williams

Medical Superintendent

Bwindi Community Hospital

Telephone +256 703342891

Click on this link to join the Bwindi Community Hospital  ‘cause’ on Facebook

SNAP 2008, TED Talks

SNAP 2008 Day One

Naomi Wolf rounded out the speakers. Her thesis was that there are 10 easy steps for a leader to take to become a dictator. She based the theory on what one could learn from Germany, Chile, Czechoslovakia and others. 

Got a pen? Here we go. Brackets offer progress update for the US…

1. Invoke a real or imaginary terrifying threat (9/11 – check)
2. Create a prison system outside the country and outside the law (Gitmo and others – check)
3. Create a paramilitary force that operates outside the rule of law (Blackwater  - check)
4. Create surveillance apparatus of citizens (Check  - there are one million Americans on the list with 20,000 added each month. If you get an "SSSS" on your Boarding Pass from the friendly TSA folks next time you travel, you are so in trouble)  
5. Infiltrate citizen groups (More work needed here please America – apparently the ACLU has been infiltrated but I need more evidence) 
6. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens (More effort here too please) 
7. Target key people (More work here…two examples: the Dixie Chicks (did Clear Channel actually think you could physically burn all those CD's?) Bill Maher)
8. Start restricting the media (Amy Goodman and "RNC 8" all arrested at RNC last month – check)
9. Recant criticisms of Administration as espionage and treason (Check, check…who knew a missing lapel pin could make you unpatriotic?) 
10. Subvert the rule of law (White House ignore Congress and subpoenas. And who doesn't love a good signing statement ? – check. 

It was very timely given that moments before Naomi started, Blackberry's and iPhones buzzed with the news that McCain had pull the pin on his campaign and was evidently heading to DC to save the world. 
SNAP 2008, TED Talks

SNAP 2008 Day One


Papa Jaime was the highlight for me on Day One. This man has single-handledy taken kids off the streets of Columbia and given them an education and a life they could have never imagined. He had the whole place in tears as we saw the work he is doing. He touches the lives of over 6,000 people every year. 

It was an extraordinary presentation and impossible to convey the gravity of it on a blog. 
Needless to say it has Kim and I thinking a lot about what we're doing now and what we could do down the road. 

SNAP 2008, TED Talks

SNAP 2008 Day One (Yet more)


There were two speakers that really moved me. 

The first was John Perkins, author of New York Times best seller: "Confessions of an Economic Hitman". 
John spoke at last year's conference but this year he laid out some specific examples of how the system of "economic development" works. The book is a must read. 

As he spoke of events that took place 28 years ago, his voice trembled.

Here are the nuts and bolts of how it works…

1. US finds a third-world country (Ecuador,Indonesia, Seychelles, Saudia Arabia) with resources it covets (eg:oil)
2. US convinces third-world country to take a loan to help "develop" the economy
3. World Bank sets up loan with crazy silly interest rate 
4. Money goes straight to US companies to build stuff (powerplants, infrastructure) in third-world country 
5. Third-world country is left holding debt they can never repay with no actual economic development to show for it
6. Default happens and US moves in with demands that third-word country co-operates with the US: votes with the US at the UN or provides US with troops for the upcoming pre-emptive strike. This is what John did. Go in and corrupt a country's leaders. 
7. If John failed, the Jackals go in and take out the leader. 

He failed twice. In Ecuador and Panama in 1981. Both those leaders were taken out. 

The deal done with Saudi Arabia was called the deal of the century. The US committed to keep the House of Saud in power if they:

1. Never increased the price of oil to a level unacceptable to US oil companies (not you and me btw) 
2. Only ever trade oil in USD 

They then thought they could do the same in Iraq with Saddam. They failed to corrupt him so in went the Jackals but his security was excellent. Even when they co-opted his security guards, they couldn't tell who the real Saddam was and who were the look-a-likes. As we know, the US military went into Iraq in 1991 and took out Saddam's military. They thought this would convince Saddam to turn but he still didn't. Cue 2001 invasion…

At this point, you may think this is all very conspiratorial. Go read the book. John has just released the movie: Apology of an Economic Hitman which looks great.
SNAP 2008, TED Talks

SNAP 2008 Day One (There’s more, so much more)

But that's not all. Did you know that the people who live in four particular places on planet earth live significantly longer. In this session aging I learnt that:

1. 10% of how long we live is dictated by DNA. So 90% is all about how we live.
2. The human body is programmed to make it to 90 to 95 years of age. For the 75,000 American Centarians, they hit the genetic lottery
3. We have 35 trillion cells in our body that flip over every 8 years. But every time they are renewed, there's a bit of an error and aging begins. Aging accelerates every 8 years, so a 60 year old is aging 100 times faster than an 8 year old.
4. The average American will spend the last 3 years of their life in the dying process and will consume 90% of their total lifetime health cost. 
5. The average person from these four areas will spend just 6 months in this process and a fraction of the cost
6. In the US, youth is celebrated, In Sardinia and Okinawa where there is the highest proportion of centarians, the elders are revered.
7.  The "Grandmother Effect" proves that if a Grandmother lives with her children and her children's children, the grandchildren are physically healthier. 
8. The two most dangerous years for people: the year you were born and the year you retire.
9. There is no word for retirement in Japan.

So how do you add 14 years to your life? 

1. Surround yourself with good people – the right tribe. If your 3 closest friends are smokers for example, you are nearly guaranteed to follow their lead.
2. "Hara Hachi Bu" – a Japanese phrase said before each meal that means, "only eat until your 80% full". 
Eat Tofu, beans, nuts and plants and have red wine every night.
3. Right outlook. Get purpose in life and downshift at the end of each day. 
4. Move naturally. Exercise programs fundamentally do not work. De-convenience your life and move more in daily life.

In short, create an environment that promotes and reinforces good behaviors and create values to live by and stick to them. 

That's quite the to-do list!

SNAP 2008, TED Talks

SNAP 2008 Day One


(Emcee, Peter Roy: Past President of Whole Foods Market ) 

What a day! SNAP 2008 Day One had an amazing roster of speakers. We had everyone from Matt Bai – New York Times political analyst to Naomi Wolf. Terrific 20 minute talks interspersed with some amazing video pieces and musical acts. It's the TED talks on speed! There was so much content offered I could take the next week and blog 24/7 on what was presented. I can't do that, so I present to you the Cliffs Notes version…

In a nutshell, I learnt that: 

1. Right brain thinkers (artistic, entrepreneurial, intuitive, empathetic, understand context not text) will now take over the world from the left brain thinkers (logical, linear, sequential analysis, engineer / lawyer type, spreadsheet loving MBA holding quant types) who have dominated to date. So by 9.20am, my MBA envy was all but gone and to all those blokes who derided my liberal Arts education, look out!
2. 70% of corn in the US is GMO and most of that is Monsanto's "BT Corn". This corn is registered as a pesticide not a food. Oh boy. 
3. Mushrooms can save the planet. 
4. Biologically, women look at food the way men look at sex. This proved a personal theory I have had for years!
5. 1950's marriages looked like McCain – Monica Lewinsky. Present day marriages look like Hilary Clinton – Bill Clinton 
6. In politics, we have left the age of persuasion (read an article and I am open to be persuaded to this new point of view) to the age of confirmation (read the first 10 lines and if it confirms my current opinion, I keep reading. If it doesn't, then I search out content that does). I am so guilty of this… 
7. The problem with the current election (other than it may have just been cancelled) is that it is all tactical (slogans, framing) and not about the substance of what a particular candidate will do once in office.  
8. This guy is the next big thing in music – amazing voice. He makes John Mayer look like Mickey Mouse.