May 2020

Check out the latest update on the University Massachusetts Transportation Center (UMTC) and Sara’s Wish Foundation (SWF) Safe System Innovation Grant from the National Safety Council to design and test a national motivational campaign to increase seatbelt usage on motor coaches.

April 2020

2015 Global Humanitarian Award recipient Dr. Nahid Bhadalia, an infectious disease specialist, assumes national prominence during the CORVID-19 pandemic crisis.  Nahid is an associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, and the medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.

On February 9, 2020, Nahid published an op-ed for The Atlantic warning about the burden of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare systems based on her experiences as a physician on the frontlines of past epidemics.   She called for the need for the international community to invest more in healthcare in the most vulnerable countries to maximize the likelihood of containing outbreaks. Even after COVID-19 reached the status of a pandemic, Nahid continues to stress the importance of containment and mitigation strategies for healthcare workers, governments, and citizens, advocating also for the importance of COVID-19 testing in containing the virus.

Nahid is a regular contributor to MSNBC and other news outlets during this pandemic crisis. 

December 2020

Sara’s Wish Foundation is pleased to announce an endowment fund agreement between the Foundation and the University of Massachusetts.  The purpose of the fund is to provide scholarship support for undergraduate students pursuing study abroad experiences. Eligible recipients will have demonstrated financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid and will pursue experiences related to education, health care, public service, service learning or environmental sustainability. Preference will be given to female students.

November 2019

Sara’s Wish Foundation continues to collaborate with The Forum on Education Abroad by providing $5000 a year in scholarship support for college and university study abroad administrators who enroll in the Forum’s professional certification program.  Offering this scholarship is one way the Sara’s Wish Foundation fulfills its mission to “sustain Sara’s living spirit by promoting travel safety standards and practices around the globe.”  We know that the professionals who have participated in the Forum’s certification program have then been able to advance their knowledge and skill in applying the Standards of Good Practice in Education Abroad to help to ensure a safe and meaningful education abroad experience for students.

April 2019

Sara’s Wish Foundation and the UMass Transportation Center Secure Safe System Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition.  

Prestigious annual grants are given to organizations focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050.

Amherst, MA – Sara’s Wish Foundation (SWF) and the University Massachusetts Transportation Center (UMTC) are proud to announce they have received a Safe System Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition to advance the SWF and UMTC collaborative effort to end traffic fatalities by 2050.

This grant will help SWF and UMTC continue creating an effective national motor coach seatbelt educational campaign “kit” to increase seatbelt usage on motor coaches. The kit will be distributed to motor coach operators and include easy-to-implement templates of actions. These include formal announcements made by the motor coach driver, a video via an in-vehicle monitor or internet-based application, promotional banners at the entrance to the motor coach and in the terminal waiting area, text or email messages sent to riders, digital messages promoting seatbelt usage when tickets are purchased online as well as a simple message printed on the ticket and also attached to the back of each seat: e.g., “Be Safe…Sit, Click and Ride.”

“The expectations,” stated SWF President Anne Schewe, “are that this campaign ‘kit’ will enable motor coach operators to make passengers aware of the benefits of wearing seatbelts and that this awareness will convince passengers that seatbelts can save their lives and reduce the severity of injuries in crashes. This in turn is expected to lead to increases in motor coach seatbelt usage.”

“The need to continue to focus on promoting seatbelt usage especially along our busy, high speed highways is of paramount importance,” says UMTC Director Professor Michael Knodler, “and it makes good sense in light of the fact that all new buses since 2016 are required by law to be equipped with seatbelts, a multi-million dollar investment made annually by motor coach operators. Based on a small, preliminary survey conducted jointly by SWF and UMTC, current seatbelt usage on motor coaches may be on the order of 1%.”

“With as many as 40,000 people killed each year in motor vehicle crashes, now is the time for bold and innovative action,” said Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Once again, the selection panel had an impressive pool of applicants, but this year’s winners stood out because of their logic-based, proven strategies. We look forward to watching their progress on our shared journey to zero roadway deaths.”

To qualify for a Safe System Innovation Grant, an organization must clearly explain how its program will improve safety on the roadways, set a timeframe for the reduction in deaths and injuries, outline how the program will be evaluated, and detail how the organization intends to reach its target audience, among other elements.

The SWF and UMTC program will include: “before” seatbelt usage counts along motor coach routes in selected locations in the United States; the development of a comprehensive plan to educate motor coach passengers about the benefits of wearing seatbelts and to persuade passengers to wear their seatbelts (where installed); implementation and evaluation of the comprehensive plan with the aid of “after” seatbelt usage counts; post-implementation focus groups; and the final preparation and distribution of the campaign “kit.” It should be noted that SWF and UMTC have a long history of working with U.S. DOT agencies including Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Federal Highway and Transit Administrations as well as the American Bus Association, United Motor Coach Association, Greyhound, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and other motor coach industry stakeholders.

The Road to Zero initiative was launched in October 2016 as a joint effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the National Safety Council. The goal is to eliminate roadway deaths by 2050. The Department of Transportation committed $1 million annually from 2017 to 2019 and an additional $500,000 in 2018 to fund Safe System Innovation Grants, and the National Safety Council is managing the grant process.

For more information about the Road to Zero, please visit

Sara’s Wish Foundation board member Will Kohler visits the Elizabeth Magnolia tree on Georgetown University’s Healy lawn dedicated to Sara.

November 2018

The work of Sara’s Wish Foundation focuses on the promotion of safe travel both nationally and internationally as well as the support for humanitarian work across the globe.  The year 2018 has proved to be a particularly remarkable one for us, and we are excited to share these accomplishments with you.  The feedback we receive from so many people re-affirms our resolve to invest our resources in these important activities, thanks to the support of Sara’s Wish friends like you.

We continue to make progress with Sara’s Wish’s seatbelt initiatives on two fronts.  Last year we reported that the retrofit seatbelt design was licensed to American Seating, the major company producing seatbelts in the United States.  American Seating is developing the prototype and will crash test this with an actual bus.  While such efforts are taking time, this initiative is making good progress

Also, last year we reported that Sara’s Wish partnered with the UMass/Amherst Center on Transportation to host a “Safety Summit” in Washington (October 2017) in order to build a campaign to persuade motorcoach riders to “Buckle Up” while traveling on a bus where seatbelts are available.  A low estimate of 15% of passengers use safety restraints, yet annually 21 bus passengers perish and almost 8000 are injured.  A Task Force has been assembled to guide this motivational campaign.  With the cooperation of Peter Pan Bus Lines, Sara’s Wish and the UMass Transportation Center are conducting a pilot test to market buckling up.   Researchers are riding bus routes to determine our benchmark of the percentage of passengers wearing seatbelts. Then, in 2019, passengers will be exposed to marketing items – banners, video on bus, labels on bus seats, and the like – to urge clicking their seatbelts.  A logo and slogan “Be Safe…Sit, Click and Ride,” have been designed.  Passengers will see this message multiple times as they begin their motorcoach ride.  Measures of seatbelt usage will be taken to gauge success.  The goal is to develop tool kits for bus operators to use in urging their passengers to wear their seatbelts.  We can save lives and prevent injuries by increasing seatbelt usage on motorcoaches!

**To read “all the news that’s fit to print” from Sara’s Wish Foundation in 2018 CLICK HERE.

Sara’s Wish Foundation Announces the Recipient of the 2018 Global Humanitarian Award!

Our 2018 awardee, Maria Hetman, is making the commitment of her time and talents to make a substantial difference in the lives of others and for the good of us all.  Here’s Maria’s story:

Maria Hetman first received funding from SWF in 2009, a scholarship that made it possible for her to accept an unpaid internship monitoring war crimes trials for an investigative journalism outlet in Sarajevo. After that, Maria was awarded a fellowship to study in Budapest, after which Maria returned to Bosnia to work for various non-profit organizations.   Maria is now pursuing a second masters’ degree in environmental protection and agricultural food production at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.  This program includes field work and applied research, and, not surprisingly, Maria is pursuing her field work in the Balkan region.  Over the years, Maria has demonstrated remarkable dedication, integrity, and tenacity.  For these reasons, Sara’s Wish Foundation gave Maria an award of $5,000 to help defray the costs of tuition and field study.  In addition, upon receipt of evidence of her successful studies during this academic year and in anticipation of continued significant financial need in the second year when she will be engaged in more extensive and intensive field work, we are prepared to offer Maria an additional award of $5,000 in 2019.

Sara’s Wish Foundation Announces the Recipients of the 2017 Global Humanitarian Awards!

Our 2017 awardees are making the commitment of their time and talents to make a substantial difference in the lives of others and for the good of us all.

Deanna Saylor first received funding from SWF for a neuroepidemiologic screening tool in Uganda when she was a resident at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Now Deanna is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins and the winner of multiple awards for excellence in teaching and leadership. Deanna will be spending the next two years in Zambia where she will develop a neurology residency curriculum and then teach the first round of Zambian neurology trainees. Deanna received an $8500 SWF Global Humanitarian Award. (Photo shows Deanna with a patient)

Julia Rosenberg was a medical student at Cornell when she received her first scholarship from SWF in 2013 to work in a clinic providing medical care to indigenous Mayan families in a remote village in Guatemala. Now Julia is a pediatric resident at Yale where she devotes much of her time to working at the Yale Clinic for Hispanic Children. In October, Julia participated in the “Community for Children” elective working with advocacy groups in the Rio Grande Valley, a border area that poses unique health challenges for immigrants and residents alike. In support of her work with these children, Julia received a $1500 SWF Global Humanitarian Award. (Julia pictured second from right)

Sara’s Wish Foundation 2016  Global Humanitarian Award Recipients

Three amazing young women have been named the Global Humanitarian Awardees for 2016.  All three demonstrate a deep and sustained commitment to projects that have direct and immediate impact on the lives of many in our global community.

SWF scholarship recipients Genevieve Smith (2013) and Kali Basman (2014) are two leaders of Visionaria Peru, a collaborative initiative that partners with local NGOs to offer leadership institutes for disadvantaged adolescent girls as well as economic projects of their design in the girls’ home communities..  SWF awarded Genevieve and Kali  $10,000 to cover costs of both the Leadership Institutes and the Activism Projects.

Watch Karla Mendoza’s video to learn about Refresh Bolivia!

Karla Mendoza received her first scholarship award as a freshman at Harvard College in 2014 for a health service project in Bolivia.   This past summer, with funding  $3500 from SWF, Karla returned to Bolivia.  Her funding was used by the Refresh Bolivia organization to promote “ecosocial” growth related to health and sanitation in rural communities.   The focus of Refresh Bolivia is on building rural/urban partnerships and capacity training in order to improve living conditions through self-sustained initiatives.


Projet Jeune  Staff & Newly Trained    Leaders Celebrate!

Global Humanitarian Award Recipient Nahid Bhadelia Honored by The Fletcher School at Tufts University!

[February 2016] Nahid Bhadelia, who holds three degrees from Tufts, including a MALD from The Fletcher School, has made the study of and the fight against dangerous pathogens her life’s work. This work has propelled her to a job as an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center and to prominence as director of infection control at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory.

Now she is adding further to her life’s work: advocating for and supporting the local health care workers who were so instrumental in helping to contain the outbreak last year and will be instrumental in future epidemics.

For this, and for being at the vanguard of the critical international effort to build better responses to disease outbreaks, Bhadelia has been named the winner of the third annual Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award.

We are SO PROUD!

First New SWF Global Humanitarian Award Granted to Nahid Bhadelia Nahid 2015 cropped

January 18, 2015:   Sara’s Wish Foundation is  delighted to announce that the first recipient of our new award in support of a substantive humanitarian initiative somewhere in the global community. 1999 scholarship recipient Nahid Bhadelia’s proposal was to institute a training program [Infection Control Training for Ebola Survivors – Training the Trainers Curriculum] for up to 80 persons in Sierra Leone on how to appropriately and safely work with Ebola “survivors,” both those who have had the disease and those who have been left orphaned or, in some other way, destitute due to the spread of this infection. The trainings will involve understanding the true nature of Ebola, information on infection transmission and disease control, and critical specifics such as how to put on the personal protective equipment. This training program will create trainers out of those in the workshop and so the web of information and prevention of infection of treatment personnel will expand. We granted Nahid $10,000 for her program, with the funds channeled through the non-profit organization Partners in Health (with which Nahid is affiliated).

Sara’s Wish Scholarship Recipient Nahid Bhadelia Takes Lead in Ebola Mission!

In 1999, Nahid Bhadelia received a $2000 scholarship from Sara’s Wish Foundation, a grant which supported her travel to India where she worked to increase AIDS awareness.  Nahid had just graduated from Tufts University when SWF gave her this scholarship; SWF could see in this young woman the kind of courage, competence, and determination needed to make a difference in our global society.  Today, Nahid is one of three American physicians who has traveled to Sierra Leone, under the auspices of the World Health Organization.  While this mission is chiefly humanitarian, it is directly related to Nahid’s role in Boston where she is the Infection Control Director for Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories.

We are so proud of you, Nahid!  For more information, go to The Boston  Globe article :

Second New SWF Global Humanitarian Award Granted to Maia Freudenberger (July 2016)

Maia, our second New SWF Award recipient, has distinguished herself as a humanitarian and educator in ways that are extraordinary for one so young. A 2013 graduate of Haverford College, Maia received her first scholarship from SWF that year in support of her establishment of a leadership, service, and mentorship program for young adolescents in a school district in Madagascar. That initiative, “Project Jeune Leader,” has become so successful in the past two years that it is expanding to multiple locations in Madagascar and has secured major funding from the Principality of Monaco. However, bridge funding was needed, and Maia received a $6,000 award from SWF. With its high quality design and responsible impact analysis, we are confident that Project Jeune Leader can serve as a model for educating adolescents about health, safety, and personal responsibility across the global community.

Check out Maia’s video, a wonderful way to learn more about the work of “Project Jeune Leader” in Madagascar, and to hear Maia’s statement of appreciation to Sara’s Wish Foundation.

Maia Freudenberge picture


Project Jeune Leader staff and newly trained mentors celebrate!

Maia Freudenberger

New!!!! Global Humanitarian Award Opportunity Available to Past SWF Recipients!

    • Since 1998, we have provided financial support for a total of 175 young women!
    • These young humanitarians have made a difference in 65 countries across every continent (except Antarctica, of course)!!
    • As a result of generous donor support, Sara’s Wish Foundation has given a total of $243,750 in scholarships!!!
    • Beginning in the Fall of 2014, ALL 175 recipients of Sara’s Wish Foundation‘s scholarships are now invited to apply for additional funding in support of their humanitarian work across the global community.
    • Note:  We are no longer offering funding support to new candidates.  Only those women who have received financial support from SWF in the past are eligible for this award.   For more information, contact us at!!!! Global Humanitarian Award Opportunity Available to Past SWF Recipients!
      Since 1998, we have provided financial support for a total of 175 young women!
      These young humanitarians have made a difference in 65 countries across every continent (except Antarctica, of course)!!
      As a result of generous donor support, Sara’s Wish Foundation has given a total of $243,750 in scholarships!!!
      Beginning in the Fall of 2014, ALL 175 recipients of Sara’s Wish Foundation’s scholarships are now invited to apply for additional funding in support of their humanitarian work across the global community.
      Note:  We are no longer offering funding support to new candidates.  Only those women who have received financial support from SWF in the past are eligible for this award.   For more information, contact us at!!!! Global Humanitarian Award Opportunity Available to Past SWF Recipients!
      Since 1998, we have provided financial support for a total of 175 young women!
      These young humanitarians have made a difference in 65 countries across every continent (except Antarctica, of course)!!
      As a result of generous donor support, Sara’s Wish Foundation has given a total of $243,750 in scholarships!!!
      Beginning in the Fall of 2014, ALL 175 recipients of Sara’s Wish Foundation’s scholarships are now invited to apply for additional funding in support of their humanitarian work across the global community.
      Note:  We are no longer offering funding support to new candidates.  Only those women who have received financial support from SWF in the past are eligible for this award.   For more information, contact us at

Sara’s Wish Foundation now Partnering with The Forum on Education Abroad

[October 2016]  SWF is now offering funding support for college faculty who enroll in the Forum’s training program for study abroad advisors. In addition, we look to this partnership with the Forum as a way to “spread the word” more extensively in the study abroad community about our  SWF “Travel Tips,” through links connecting our two websites as well as through SWF participation in Forum conferences.  Our 175 scholarship recipients have contributed such valuable travel tips, ones that are particularly useful for student travelers.   We are confident that our collaborations with The Forum will broaden the reach of Sara’s Wish Foundation in the ways that we have already identified and, indeed, in more ways that we’ve only begun to imagine!  (Check out the website for The Forum on Education Abroad at

Sara’s Wish Foundation Tackles Retrofitting Existing U.S. Motorcoaches with Seatbelts

After a number of years of debate, in December, 2013 the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act [MESA] which mandates beginning in 2016 all U.S. motorcoaches must have seats with three-point safety restraints. However, the 30,000 existing buses on the road today were not mandated to be retrofitted because of the estimated cost of such a retrofit…$40,000 to $80,000 per 54-seat bus. Such an expenditure would compel a large portion of the 3500 independent motorcoach companies to go out of business.

Sara’s Wish Foundation and the University of Massachusetts College of Engineering have been developing over the past decade a patented portable seatbelt. And the understanding of this portable invention allowed the engineers to adapt the design to a lower cost, now provisionally patented, retrofit design that would reduce costs of a retrofit to less than $10,000. Anne and Charlie Schewe along with their College of Engineering partners in the design, Professors Sundar Krishnamurty and John Collura, have been working in Washington to gain the support of key constituencies. All organizations and agencies have voiced strong support for this Sara’s Wish Foundation initiative. While governmental and industry organizations supported no retrofit in the MESA bill, they strongly preferred to have a motorcoach retrofit but were compelled to oppose so as not to drive many bus companies out of business. SWF and its partners have the backing of the American Bus Association and its president, Peter Pantuso, has attended numerous governmental meetings with SWF to show support. The retrofit team has met with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the National Safety Transportation Agency, and expects to meet with the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, himself to voice SWF’s concern for the retrofit and the solution that it has. We are getting traction for our efforts in this retrofit initiative…and as always, hope to save lives in Sara’s name. That, we believe, is Sara’s wish!

The University of Massachusetts’ College of Engineering through the assistance of Professor John Collura recently has received an award of $50,000 from the State of Massachusetts Department of Transportation that will allow completion of the final aspects of the retrofit design as well as the crash testing of the design. American Seating Corporation, the largest motorcoach seating manufacturer, has graciously provided a bus seat for testing. So this retrofit initiative is in fully “on the road” during 2015.

2012 Scholarship Recipient’s Documentary Previewed at Yale University Conference

Trisha Pasricha is a medical student at Vanderbuilt University, and the recipient of the Inga Tocher Scholarship from Sara’s Wish Foundation in 2012.  Trisha spent last summer in Namibia where she created and produced a documentary about the training of doctors  at the first medical school in that country.  (Trisha also produced the fantastic travel safety video that you can access on our Sara’s Wish homepage!)  Anne Schewe and Wendy Kohler had the privilege of joining Trisha at a preview showing of her documentary “A Doctor of My Own” at a major medical conference in April at Yale University.  The audience was wowed!  (Coincidentally, a member of that audience was another SWF scholarship recipient from  2011:  Hilary Robbins!)

trisha talks at yale

Trisha talks at Yale

Trisha Pasricha talks about her documentary at the conference at Yale University.

trisha and hilary at yale

Trisha and Hilary at Yale University

Check out Trisha’s documentary.

Anne and Charlie Schewe interviewed by USA Today about travel safety after another student is killed while on  Semester at Sea:

Follow this link to read about the tragic story of the death of Casey Shulman.

Sara’s parents were contacted by USA Today and Anne was quoted .  Thought you’d like to see this article.  Note that they point to Sara’s death in 1996 as the turning point to improving safety in study abroad.

Exciting News about Mary Jo Pham, SWF Scholarship Recipient from 2009 (Cambodia): 

Mary Jo A. Pham is a second-year student pursuing a M.A. in International Communication, with a concentration in Public Diplomacy and Social Change. Her research interests include statecraft, gastrodiplomacy, popular communication, and social change. Mary Jo graduated from Tufts University in 2011 with a B.A. in international relations and a minor in Chinese.

Prior to beginning her studies at the School of International Service, Mary Jo volunteered, worked, and studied abroad in Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. She has over 7 years of experience in print, online, and radio journalism and has published over 150 news articles through her work as a contributor for Fortune, NPR New England, and The Republican newspaper in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. Most recently, Mary Jo published “Food as Communication: A Case Study of South Korea’s Gastrodiplomacy” in the 2013 Spring volume of the Journal of International Service. Mary Jo received a SWF scholarship in 2009, funds which enabled her to work in Cambodia in a foreign service internship.  She is a 2010 recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship and will join the U.S. Foreign Service as a public diplomacy-coned officer following her graduation in May 2013.