Mark Arnoldy has founded NepalNUTrition which strives to save malnourished children in Nepal, Co-founded and serves as Co-President of GlobeMEd at the University of Colorado Boulder, has traveled to Nepal five times, China twice, Haiti once, and additionally he launched and co-directed CU-Boulder’s official campaign to raise $100,000 in response to the Haitian earthquake and raised over $100,000 to date in one month through coordinating more than 30 events with the support over 25 student groups and community organizations. Mark has been awarded a position for this summer at Harvard University in the Global Health Effectiveness program, “Taught by my real life hero, Dr. Paul Farmer,” has worked in the Orbis Institute, was awarded at the Clinton Global Initiative University, understands Nepalese issues better than most, and will graduate in May with B.S. in Psychology / Pre-Medicine and certificates in Leadership, Neuroscience, and Business, then he plans to spend two years in Nepal in order to save the lives of malnourished children.
Mark is only 23 years old, and accomplished all of this in only four years, after arriving at CU-Boulder.
The first time he traveled to Nepal, at the age of 20, he went “to explore starting an education program for Orbis at the request of a Nepali friend.” Back then he was just a guy looking to see how he could help, but when you mix that with a caring, compassionate and incredibly energetic determination, an incredible chemistry bubbles into huge positive actions taken.
“I had been working with David French at the Orbis Institute” (www.orbisinstitute.org
) (an educational leadership programs designed to advance awareness, critical thinking, and action, for future generations to address the global challenges of the 21st century) “and had traveled to China to teach English. A friend of mine from Nepal suggested we visit Nepal. Before spending two months in China, we visited Nepal for two weeks.” It was then that Mark discovered the serious issue of child and youth malnutrition.
He also discovered the lifestyle of the Nepalese people. “About 26% of the population lives on a dollar a day. 62% live on two dollars a day. About 80% live in rural settings.” The sum result of this knowledge is that the vast majority of Nepalese people are living deeply in poverty. There are both cultural and social factors that contribute to the severe malnutrition: remote locations – many at altitudes or in environments where foods cannot be predictably grown, floods, mudslides, lack of education about nutrition, access to food, infections including worms, diarrhea and other water born issues. “One if four women of childbearing age is malnourished,” Mark said. “I didn’t get distracted by the question ‘why’ things are they way they are; I just wanted to figure out a way to make it inexpensive enough to get to these children to save them. The longer-term solutions are being addressed by other organizations.”
Mark began researching ways to literally save the lives of tens of thousands of children. He discovered a nutrient-fortified peanut butter produced in France, and launched NepalNUTrition. “The peanut butter is packed in 92 gram packets, similar to high energy gels that athletes use. This isn’t food; it is essential medicine for malnutrition. Two packages per day, for eight weeks, that can be administered at home is the alternative to the only other program which demands a child travel far from home to a clinic for four to six weeks, each child must be accompanied by a parent, who often cannot leave other children or travel such distances, and is at a cost of $300+. Instead, the peanut butter product costs 40 cents per packet; that’s only 80 cents per day, a fifth the cost, and doesn’t require the child to leave their home. Additionally, there are 48,000 community volunteers already in place that look over approximately 80 homes each.
“I am so committed to this that I was ready to put my own money into the program.” He knew, however, that wasn’t the way to help the children and families of Nepal. “I went to the Clinton Foundation,” (www.clintonfoundation.org
) (the Clinton Global Initiative is a project of the Clinton Foundation that brings together a community of global leaders, university students, and private citizens to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges, including poverty alleviation, climate change, global health, and education,) “and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University. You have to have specific plans; mine was selected from 1000 and I was awarded $5000. President Clinton mentioned NepalNUTrition
on the Larry King Show,” Mark said with a satisfied smile.
On Mark’s fourth trip to Nepal in March of 2009 Mark worked with Anil Parajuli, founder of Himalean Healthcare (HHC) which runs a community hospital. “Anil is an Ashoka Fellow.” (www.ashoka.org
) (Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society.) “He is a part of a social network of top change makers, and was recognized as one of the top 15 individuals to make a social impact in Nepal.” Mark was savvy enough to recognize that rather than making NepalNUTrition
yet another non-profit, and be subject to additional costs for forming a 501-C3, instead he works within HHC.
Mark researched the opportunity to locally produce the product but found it more feasible to go through food producers. “Major food businessmen called and said that they wanted to be involved in the production of this product for social, not business reasons. We’re asking them to produce a product for the sale at the lowest price possible. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) would watch over quality and distribution. We ask them that a percentage of revenue be set aside to invest in NepalNUTrition.”
Of course, all this takes financing. Mark is busy trying to secure creative means to raise funds including exploring with others in both Nepal and the U.S. the idea of making a FEED bag with FEED Projects, LLC to produce totes with a marked-up price specifically set to raise funds. “I met with others at the Clinton Initiative; we want to use indigenous fibers for the bag and market them through high-end retail locations as well as retail that appeal to socially conscience people.”
NepalNUTrition is only on one of several issues to which Mark has devoted himself. Mark is a determined individual that has far greater understanding of both business and non-profit operations locally and internationally than most entrepreneurs three times his age. He is currently seeking involvement of others that care about saving the lives of Nepal’s children. “A child can be treated for severe acute malnutrition through roughly $60 using this approach. There are at least 92,000 children with this condition in Nepal, so in a perfect world, if we had perfect coverage through a program, the price tag would be $5.5 million USD for the entire country program. “If you or your organization sees a role in helping NepalNUTrition, please contact Mark Arnoldy. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Working to create health and social justice in the world’s most difficult environments with people that I love, without losing scope of the value of reflection and continuous improvement.
What is your greatest fear?
That I won’t do enough to deliver access to health care to those that are denied it, and that I won’t contribute something novel and needed (in terms of impact) to the field of global health.
What is the trait you most admire in others?
I’m going to cheat and mention a “combo.” People that can execute with a sense of humor and even greater sense of humility are my favorite folks.
Which living person do you most admire?
Dr. Paul Farmer. Please read about him in Tracy Kidder’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains – chances are it will change the way you think about the world.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Simple but true – a long hot shower. I do my best thinking there. It’s one of the only things I miss when living in the areas of the world where a hot shower is true extravagance.
What is your greatest trait?
An ability to operate with genuine intentions.
What is the quality you most like in a person?
I love it when you meet a person, and they give you absolutely no reason to doubt their intentions towards you and towards the world.
When and where were you happiest?
Anytime I am around young, dynamic, innovative, and driven changemakers. I’m very privileged in the sense that this happens quite frequently.
Who or what inspires you?
A young Nepali girl named Sharmila Rai that is near and dear to my family. At 15, she keeps her family afloat through supporting her father’s business, gets some of the highest marks in her classes, tutors her younger brother and sisters, and wants to grow up to practice medicine for the rural poor in Nepal. She rarely sleeps more than 6 hours a night. I think of her when I think my own tank has hit empty.
The absurdity of the world also drives me. How can it be that over 1 billion people go to be hungry in the 21st century? An even better question is: How can this be when we now have so much capacity to alter the way our systems impact each other? See my motto: “Morality must march with capacity” taken from arguably one of the greatest Americans to ever live that very few know of, Jim Grant.
Who are your real-life heroes?
Dr. Paul Farmer, the late Jim Grant, Martin Luther King Jr. and a long, long list of social entrepreneurs.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Somehow I have lucked into surrounding myself with really, really incredible people that I owe most all (if not all) of my “achievements” to.
Where would you like to live?
Currently, a life moving between Nepal and a few big cities in the U.S. (San Francisco, New York, Seattle) would be ideal. I’m trying to end up in medical school in or near one of those cities so that I can maintain that lifestyle of working in both worlds.
What is your most treasured possession?
My hard drive. It holds my memories, my writings, and is the primary tool through which I record my life.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their tireless support. Many of my friends are quite unreasonable in a lot of ways. We often work 18+ hour days for no money at all on bold projects that carry a lot of risk. So we do our best to support each other without at a moments notice whether it’s editing a document, making an email introduction, or critiquing a strategic plan. This kind of support is a vital act of solidarity.
What is it that you most dislike?
Disbelief in the idea that we can create a better world – the cynicism that leads one to think that we can’t solve the world’s greatest problems with “win-win” solutions.
What is your greatest regret?
I blew an opportunity to talk with Dr. Paul Farmer at a Global Health Summit last month. It might not be my biggest mistake, but it’s certainly fresh in my mind!
What is your motto?
“Morality must march with capacity.” -- Jim Grant