Follow Interface on Twitter

20 May

With social media being all the rage you can now follow our work at www.twitter.com/scottlazerson & www.twitter.com/interfaceorg.  From dinner with 14 of the First Ladies of Africa to talking global philanthropy with Paris Hilton at her house to trekking up mountains in Guatemala to deliver meals & toothbrushes into school lunch feeding programs you can now know exactly what we are doing by adding us on your Twitter!

Actor Simon Rex teaching chilldren in Guatemala how to brush their teeth

Actor Simon Rex teaching children in Guatemala how to brush their teeth

Delivering Meals to Tzununá, Guatemala

11 May

In Guatemala, the face of poverty and hunger is young, indigenous and rural. Guatemala, with the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, faces a serious challenge to reduce chronic undernutrition, currently at 49.3% among children under 5.

The Interface Foundation took two of our supporters Ami Manning & actor Simon Rex to visit the village of  Tzununá during the week of May 3.  Thanks to Stop Hunger Now we delivered 800 meals into mother/child care programs. 

The women of the village even helped us carry the meals to the center where we distributed them.

The Women of Tzununá Carrying Meals to Distribute

The Women of Tzununá Carrying Meals to Distribute

Modern-Day Slavery

28 Apr

There are more slaves on the planet now than at any time in history—an estimated 27 million. In South Asia alone, nearly 10 million people languish in debt bondage. As many as 2 million people have been trafficked into prostitution or forced labor. Mass atrocities, meanwhile, have claimed some 20 million lives in more than 25 countries in the past half century. The ongoing crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan has left hundreds of thousands of dead and has displaced more than 2.5 million people. Across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and similar violence threatens millions more.  Please visit, www.humanityunited.org to learn more…

Children In Northern Uganda

Children In Northern Uganda

A Night To Make A Difference

24 Feb

Last night the world watched Hollywood as they honored their finest and I had the chance to join Leeza Gibbon’s 2009 Oscar Night “party with a purpose”.  This was a first-of-its-kind event that brought together stars from film, TV, music, sports and fashion to celebrate the worlds of celebrity and charity.

There was a live telecast direct from the iconic Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills with celebrity contributors serving as “Ambassadors of Change” — they included Larry King, Jessica Beil, Tony Hawk, Slash & Perla Hudson to name a few.  These stars lead by example and use their “celebrity” for the greater good.

 The Interface Foundation joined Leeza Gibbons & her Leeza Gibbon’s Memory foundation to take the global stage of Oscar Night & used it to put the focus on advocacy, philanthropy and volunteerism with the first ever A Night to Make a Difference.

Thanks to Brooke Burns, Cheryl Burke, Chevy Chase, Academy Award® Nominee Danny Boyle, David Foster, Academy Award® Winner Forest Whitaker,  Hilary Duff, Jessica Beil, Mel B, Paris Hilton, Olivia Newton John, Slash & Perla Hudson, J Ambrozic, Teri Hatcher, Thelma Huston, Tony Hawk for using your voice for the good of humanity!!!

 

 

Philanthropy at Paris Hilton's Birthday Party

16 Feb

Eradicating hunger is a global priority and the Interface Foundation partner organization Stop Hunger Now is leading the way.

This past week my dear friend Paris Hilton called & invited me to her birthday party.  I found this to be the perfect opportunity to share with her close friends the mission of the Interface Foundation–to leverage the power of business & celebrity for the benefit of high impact public charities achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

At her party, I carried around a bag of food that I had the opportunity to package with others at the Stop Hunger Now Million Meal Event at UNC Chapel Hill.  With a house  full of beautiful & famous people like Hayden Panettiere, Nicky Hilton, Kevin Connolly, Simon Rex, Russell Simmons, the guys from Three 6 Mafia, Joy Enriquez, the new pop duo group Main Street, music producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, J Ambrozic, businessman Robert Earl who owns Planet Hollywood, publicist Elliot Mintz, Laura Harring, comedian Andy Milonakis to name a few it couldn’t be more fun or a better opportunity to talk about our philanthropic work.    Everyone was interested to the point that email addresses & mobile phone numbers were given because they all want to help the process.  Kevin Connolly of Entourage volunteered, as Simon Rex talked up Interface, to go on a trip to Guatemala or Africa.  Who said global philanthropic work cannot be fun???

We at Interface continute to support relief organizations such as Stop Hunger Now which have the means to deliver meals into school feeding programs that sustain lifelong change.. 

In the midst of  cotton candy, sliders, sweet potato fries, and a huge birthday cake,  we hit a home run in sharing the vision of Interface.   

Happy Birthday Paris & thanks for letting your party be a chance to share our philanthropic vision of ending hunger in our lifetime with all your friends.  The cake was amazing…

The Girl Effect

30 Dec

Several months ago I saw this great You Tube clip that addresses Millennium Develpoment Goal 3 of promoting gender equality and empowering women. 

As the Interface Foundation looks to help high impact foundations eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2009 and in all levels of education no later than 2015 this video shows the powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society.

Time to Reboot America

27 Dec

I never tire of the words of New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman!  If you didn’t get to read his great Op-Ed piece take the time!!  Here’s to “rebooting America”!!!!!

 

“I had a bad day last Friday, but it was an all-too-typical day for America.

It actually started well, on Kau Sai Chau, an island off Hong Kong, where I stood on a rocky hilltop overlooking the South China Sea and talked to my wife back in Maryland, static-free, using a friend’s Chinese cellphone. A few hours later, I took off from Hong Kong’s ultramodern airport after riding out there from downtown on a sleek high-speed train — with wireless connectivity that was so good I was able to surf the Web the whole way on my laptop.

Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. The ugly, low-ceilinged arrival hall was cramped, and using a luggage cart cost $3. (Couldn’t we at least supply foreign visitors with a free luggage cart, like other major airports in the world?) As I looked around at this dingy room, it reminded of somewhere I had been before. Then I remembered: It was the luggage hall in the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. It closed in 1998.

The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.

All I could think to myself was: If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.”

My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering. These rocket scientists and engineers were designing complex financial instruments to make money out of money — rather than designing cars, phones, computers, teaching tools, Internet programs and medical equipment that could improve the lives and productivity of millions.

For all these reasons, our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.

That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.

It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs.

John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon. Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard. “

Compassion During the Holidays

26 Dec

 “I hope that this Holiday Season we can show grace to those less fortunate, just as God showed it to us.  By serving those in need and through other acts of love and compassion, we can honor God’s goodness and affirm the immeasurable value God places on the sanctity of life. 

We send our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas.  May you be surrounded by loved ones and blessed by the Author of Life during this joyous holiday and throughout 2009!!”

A Lazerson Family Christmas

A Lazerson Family Christmas

NextAid : Making A Difference in the lives of African children

18 Dec

On my recent trip to Africa I had the chance to visit my friend Lauren Segal’s www.NextAid.org Foundation project in Dennilton, South Africa.  This earth friendly sustainable village  serves as a beacon of hope in a community that has been devastated by AIDS. The village is place where resources are concentrated, where aid is efficiently distributed, where environmental education is emphasized, and where  youth reach their individual and collective potential.

NextAid is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization committed to developing and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges facing African children.

NextAid’s mission is to promote community-driven, environmentally sustainable, economically and socially empowering responses to the AIDS orphan pandemic.

NextAid collaborates with individuals, businesses and nonprofits to produce creative, culturally-rich, awareness-raising projects and music events involving technology, the arts, public education projects,and volunteer opportunities.

If you are ever looking for a project to get involved with I can guarantee your experience with Next Aid will be life changing!!  Call Lauren & let’s keep making the world a better place!!

Lunch with 200 children in Dennilton, South Africa

Lunch with 200 children in Dennilton, South Africa

Justice in Rwanda

18 Dec

Last summer I fell in  love with the country of Rwanda.  The people, the food, the beautiful landscapes.  I specifically remember looking into the sky & seeing cloud formations I had never seen before — those clouds brought a strange sense of peace to me  yet I felt the bloodstained ground on which I stood  screaming from one of the worst atrocities committed by mankind: the 100-day genocide of 1994 .

Today the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda brought some justice to the people of Rwanda & the world  through the conviction of the genocide mastermind.  Some 14 years later we are seeing that justice can & should prevail.

Trio found guilty of Rwandan genocide

(CNN) — The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday convicted the “mastermind” of the Rwandan genocide and sentenced him to life in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Theoneste Bagosora, right, and his co-defendant Anatole Nsengiyumva, left, arrive in court.

Theoneste Bagosora, right, and his co-defendant Anatole Nsengiyumva, left, arrive in court.

It is the first time the tribunal has convicted high-level officials for the 100-day genocide in 1994 which left an estimated 800,000 people dead.

Theoneste Bagosora, 67, a colonel in the Rwandan army, was found guilty along with two other men — Major Aloys Ntabakuze and Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. All were sentenced to life in prison.

The tribunal — located in Arusha, Tanzania — acquitted General Gratien Kabiligi, the former head of military operations, and ordered his immediate release.

CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour — who covered the story — called the verdicts “a real turning point and a milestone in justice.”

“It sends a message that right up the chain of command, you cannot hide,” Amanpour said.

The court said Bagosora was a key figure in drawing up plans for the genocide.  A Hutu, Bagosora was convicted of ordering Hutu militia to slaughter rival Tutsis.

The massacres began after a plane crash on April 6, 1994 that killed the presidents of Rwanda and neighboring Burundi. The court said the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired from the airport in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

Bagosora decided the military should take over and he refused to involve the prime minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, in any discussions, the court found.

April 7, while Bagosora held a crisis meeting with top military officials, the prime minister was arrested, sexually assaulted and killed by top members of the Rwandan Army, the court found.

That made Bagosora the head of all political and military affairs in Rwanda, and in that capacity, he was at the top of the chain of command.

The same day the prime minister was killed, the court said, army personnel confined and killed four important opposition leaders — including the president of the constitutional court and government ministers — and murdered 10 Belgian peacekeepers who had been dispatched to the prime minister’s residence.

The court found Bagosora bore responsibility for those and other killings because he commanded those who carried out the crimes.

“Bagosora was the highest authority in the Ministry of Defense and exercised effective control of the Rwandan army and gendarmerie,” said Presiding Judge Erik Mose. “He’s therefore responsible for the murder of the prime minister, the four opposition politicians, the 10 Belgian peacekeepers, as well as the extensive military involvement in the killing of civilians during this period.”

ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said the convicted men “prepared, planned, ordered, directed, incited, encouraged and approved the murder of innocent civilian Tutsis.”

The killings were carried out by military personnel on the orders of Rwandan authorities including Bagosora, the court said.

The court found that from April to July 1994, Bagosora exercised authority over members of the Rwandan Army and their militiamen, who committed massacres throughout Rwanda with Bagosora’s knowledge.

“In all the regions of the country, members of the Tutsi population who were fleeing from the massacres on their hills sought refuge in locations they thought would be safe, often on the recommendation of the local civil and military authorities,” the indictment said. “In many of these places, despite the promise that they would be protected by the local civil and military authorities, the refugees were attacked, abducted and massacred, often on the orders or with the complicity of those same authorities.”

The indictment against Bagosora alleged he had been opposed to concessions made by his government to Tutsi rebels at 1993 peace talks in Tanzania, and had left the negotiations saying he was returning to Rwanda to “prepare the apocalypse.”

The U.N. established the tribunal in late 1994. The trial began in April 2002 and has been deliberating since June 1, 2007.

During the trial, the court heard 242 witnesses — 82 for the prosecution and 160 for the defense.

The three convicted men will be held in the tribunal’s custody until a state can be found to house them.

The genocide’s impact is still be felt today, with recent fighting in neighbouring Congo blamed on lingering tensions from the slaughter.

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda says his forces are fighting to defend Congolese Tutsis from Hutu militants who escaped to Congo.