Artwork From SOS Children's Villages

Artwork From SOS Children’s Villages in the Philippines

Since its inception in 1949, SOS Children’s Villages have worked to ensure that every child has a family and a home. Founded by Hermann Gmeiner, the first SOS Children’s Village was built in Imst, Austria with the vision that every child belongs to a responsible and secure family. As of 2013, SOS Children’s Villages is present in 133 countries and territories improving the lives of 2.2 million children and adults around the world.

In August 2011, the children and staff of the SOS Children’s Village in Mogadishu, Somalia were forced to evacuate a fourth time as war disrupted the area. They were not able to return until December 2012. Ahmed Mohamed, director of the SOS Children’s Village in Somalia, acknowledges that experiencing 20 years of armed conflict and an unstable government is detrimental to a majority of the Somali population and that SOS brings hope to children and families. In a class exercise in the village, children were asked to write letters abroad to illustrate what life is like in Somalia. Ali, a student, wrote that the conditions became safer and less worrisome in Mogadishu after the effects of SOS Children’s Village.

SOS Children’s Villages, inspired by friends and sponsors, has set a target to double the capacity to provide assistance to children by 2016. Siddhartha Kaul, the organization’s newly elected president, calls for increased sponsorship to help reach this goal of providing permanent caring family environments for one million children. Kaul speaks of faith and hope in attaining their 2016 goal, reflecting that, “for 63 years, supporters have responded to our work with tremendous faith and we seek their continued help.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: SOS Children’s Villages
Photo: Pinterest

The U.N.’s High-Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda met last week in Liberia to discuss the continuing goal of diminishing global poverty. The panel, which is co-chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron, includes 27 world leaders and is responsible for generating ideas to challenge poverty after the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  A series of three meetings are scheduled, and the panel is set to reconvene in May 2013.

The panel will create goals to combat poverty beyond 2015, and will do so by hearing from local communities, charities, corporations, and experts in international development to formulate their priorities for fighting global poverty in the future. The panel is also encouraging comments and suggestions from individuals, and has set up two avenues for citizens to express their opinions and ideas – My World, a survey of global issues, and World We Want 2015.

Although the panel has three general areas of interest – environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic improvement – the primary focus is specifically on Africa. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also co-chair to the panel, stated, “Through robust consultations, we are hearing what the world considers a reasoned, practical development agenda that can successfully eliminate the myriad dimensions of poverty by 2015 and beyond.”

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: AllAfrica





The Adventure Project, founded in 2010 by Becky Straw and Jody Landers, invests in social enterprises to end global poverty across the world.

The Adventure Project comes up with low-cost, yet high-impact solutions that lead to the creation of jobs that improve communities and save lives. The Adventure Project provides necessary support to local community members to enhance their skills to develop products and services. The support from the Project helps communities become profitable entrepreneurs and creates successful, sustainable, social ventures that are beneficial to their entire community.

In this way, The Adventure Project sets itself apart from many other nonprofit organizations. Instead of providing direct monetary charity that might not directly benefit members of the community in long-term development, The Adventure Project helps impoverished individuals personalize and gain their own skills and businesses that allow hard work and hands-on involvement in their own development. Therefore, community members create the solutions to their distinct issues.

The founders’ hard work is evident through their difficult journey to make The Adventure Project the success that it is today. Co-founder Becky Straw maxed out her credit cards, stayed on friends’ couches, and devoted several hours to develop, build, and find the financial structure necessary to create a successful business plan. Co-founder Jody Landers used her adoption of two children for Sierra Leone as a catalyst for devoting her life to humanitarian work via The Adventure Project. The founders’ passion for investing in social capital has created a positive impact for many donors and recipients.

And now, through the Adventure Project, Becky Straw and Jody Landers, as well as their many partners, offer people the opportunity to reach their own goals and become successful on their own by investing in social enterprises to end global poverty.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: Business Insider

Earlier this week, the new Secretary of State John Kerry gave a brief talk to a group of college students at the State Department, where he stressed the importance of U.S. foreign aid in fighting poverty and terrorism. Kerry started by polling the auditorium and asked the students how much of the annual budget they thought is allocated towards the State Department, foreign affairs, and foreign aid.

Kerry went on to state that many Americans think that the amount of funds spent on foreign aid totals around 50 to 30 percent of the national annual budget, when in reality, foreign aid is allocated a mere 1 percent. He then went on to remark that he considers foreign aid spending “absolutely an investment,” and explained the real return on investment that is gained, although it is not always quantifiable.

“I can tell you that you could quantify it in troops that you don’t have to send somewhere, lives that are not lost because you managed to create a relationship with a country that resolves its problems peacefully and that doesn’t spill over into another nation, whether it’s a Mali or the problems we’re seeing in Egypt now or Syria. The ability to be able to help people to make peaceful transitions and to move their economies to open, accountable economies that engage with the rest of the world makes a world of difference to the lives of people in that country and everybody around them,” stated Kerry.

The Secretary of State also mentioned North Korea and the current state of human rights in the country, along with the current military actions towards additional missile tests and perhaps even nuclear activity, saying that the people of North Korea “desperately need to become more open and connected to the world.”

Kerry went on to mention the success of PEPFAR, the U.S. government’s initiative to curb the spread of AIDS, and how it has saved the lives of around 5 million children and increased health infrastructure throughout Africa. He also noted that the United States is in a unique and favorable position to have a military strong enough to “push back against evil and terrorism” and still have the ability to build up those same countries and give them democracy, freedom, and increased infrastructure.

Addressing the frequent question of why the U.S. has to be involved in so many global issues, he answered, “Because America, throughout the 20th century and now moving into this century, has proven again and again that there is an indispensable capacity to help bring about peace, find a way for people’s rights, their individual human rights to be able to be protected and to be able to live better lives.”

In support of his answer, he gave several examples of past instances where the U.S. has intervened and improved upon the situation – Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, and The Dayton Peace Accords, namely.

Kerry conceded that although U.S. foreign involvement has improved people’s lives and countries in several instances, it is “not perfect” and that mistakes have been made in the past, but also acknowledged that the foreign issues that we face today are much different than they were during WWII, when the U.S. had obvious and clear-cut enemies. Kerry mentioned the U.S. aid that was given to Germany and Japan to rebuild post-WWII and said that was the “best decision we ever made,” and went on to state that foreign policy is all about making difficult decisions like this in order to build for the future.

Kerry went on to state that now, more than ever, is the time when the U.S. needs to continue its nation-building and international development efforts, especially in the tumultuous Middle East, where a majority of the population are young adults facing unstable governments and poverty. He went on to mention the need to persuade Congress to continue to support nation-building efforts, despite heavy budget deficit talks here at home.

In wrapping up his speech, the Secretary of State asserted that the major challenge of U.S. foreign policy moving forward would be “to help these folks be able to find the kind of opportunity that you have and that a lot of other people strive for in different parts of the world. Our challenge is not to retreat and go inwards and say, ‘Oh, let them fight it out, it doesn’t make a difference.’ It does make all the difference in the world, as we saw in Afghanistan, where if you leave people to their own devices, a lot of extremists will just organize themselves and make life miserable for people somewhere.”

Secretary of State Kerry encourages foreign aid because of the massive, global impact it has. With increased advocacy and awareness, hopefully a more diverse group of legislators and policymakers will start to do the same.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: State Department


End Poverty 2015
Over the past decade, the developing world has seen much progress in the fight to end absolute poverty. Recent research has predicted that the end of absolute poverty could occur within our lifetime by the year 2030.

Drawing on previous research done, Martin Ravallion, former director of the World Bank’s research department, assessed how long it would take to “lift one billion people out of such extreme poverty.” In 1990, 43 percent of the population of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. By 2010, that number had dropped to 21 percent. This was attributed to strong GDP growth over the past decade in East Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, three regions accounting for the bulk of absolute poverty. If this rate of growth continues, we may expect to see as little as 0.2 billion people in absolute poverty by 2027.

As of 2012, 1.2 billion people around the world still live on less than $1.25 a day. Essentials such as shelter, clothing, and proper health care and education have to be forgone to afford food to eat. Though Ravallion’s research indicates a good outlook, there is still much work to be done. To maintain this path, what is needed is ongoing success in poverty reduction, including maintaining “the conditions for continued, reasonably rapid, economic growth.” Poor people need ongoing access to schooling, health care, job opportunities, and financial resources in order to sustain this economic growth.

Charles Kenny, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, believes that it should be the concern of the rich world’s policymakers to keep this outlook consistent. He cites a need to continue providing financial aid and support to poverty reduction policies, along with increasing economic trade with the developing world, increasing immigration from poor countries, and supporting the development of new technologies. Ivan Lewis, Shadow Secretary for International Development, emphasizes a need to focus on this goal of ending absolute poverty. “In the next 20 years we should judge the scale of our ambition and our commitment primarily by whether we can change the life chances for the poorest 20 percent in every country, and those trapped in the misery of conflict-ridden states,” said Lewis.

Rapid economic growth is occurring throughout the world. The world average GDP per capita and life expectancy is increasing and infant mortality is declining. Literacy and access to the internet and safe drinking water is on the rise. Matt Ridley, a British author and journalist, writes in his book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, “I am a rational optimist: rational, because I have arrived at optimism not through temperament or instinct, but by looking at the evidence.” For now, we can all be rational optimists.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: FAO The Globe And MailThe GuardianWorld Bank
Photo: End Poverty 2015

matt damon water_opt

The premise of’s new video campaign is simple; until there is clean water and sanitation for all of the world’s citizens, rich and poor, Matt Damon is on toilet strike. However, the campaign also points to an emerging trend of using comedy in charity campaigns.

Traditionally, nonprofits attempted to use the sheer power of statistics accompanied by heart-wrenching images to support their cause. In a changing media climate, organizations are realizing that the way to attract the public’s attention is to not only appeal to pathos, but to make them laugh. is attempting, like most advertising firms, to make an online viral video. If viewers find the video entertaining enough, the impacting message of the campaign will quickly spread. This mode of communication differs drastically from a strictly television or radio campaign that relies on a viewer coming into contact with the message at a certain time in a certain place. Online videos can be viewed at one’s own convenience and on mobile devices making them readily available to anyone with internet.

Mike McCamon, who runs’s community outreach program, explains that the intent of this non-traditional PSA is to get more people engaged and interested. Once the viewer is hooked by the video, the traditional non-profit mode of operation comes into play on the organization’s website. There are a slew of statistics and images that highlight the importance of the company’s vision of “the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water”.

The message behind and Matt Damon’s toilet strike is a crucial aspect of development, but the video also points to a trend that is larger than a single nonprofit organization. If nonprofits can successfully blend humor with their important and often moving campaigns, they are more likely to attract attention to their cause and help more people in poverty, and in this case, those without clean water and sanitation.

Access the video here.

Sean Morales
Source: Los Angeles Times
Photo: NYDailyNews

Through the love of skateboarding, an unexpected collaboration between two organizations has brought together a melting pot of activities, cultures and a life-changing experience. It’s been said that the love of a sport can erase all boundaries; a fact that could not be truer for the organization ‘Skateistan’.

Started in 2007 by Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich, Skateistan has a plain and simple goal: to use skateboarding as a tool to empower girls and working children around the world. They now operate in Pakistan, Cambodia, Kabul and plan to open workspace in a second city in Afghanistan. Making skateboards serves a higher purpose than just a fun activity; it also gives children a creative environment where they can learn about craftsmanship, geometry, teamwork and leadership.

Skateistan provides both skateparks and classrooms. They ensure the safety of all the children and young adults who use and run their facilities, an invaluable gift to those living in tumultuous communities. Through workshops, students learn the basics of building a skateboard. They work together to transform their ideas into a tangible product, showing off their imagination and work ethic.

Recently, Skateistan started a cross-cultural relationship with Native American skateboarders from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Through the program “Connecting Dots”, both groups of skaters will design 10 skateboards based on the other group’s culture, symbols, and heritage. The skateboards will be on display throughout America, with Skateistan hoping to secure an exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

This is an opportunity not just for the children in Afghanistan to learn about a completely new culture, but to develop important skills such as task delegation, accepting ethnic differences and successfully finishing a project.

So much can be said about organizations such as Skateistan. All it takes is for one passionate person to be able to convince those around him of the impact that they can make in a community in dire need of a powerful force to engage its youth.

There are no formal handshakes or political debates. The matter and means are simple: give children an outlet for creativity and leadership development. Changing their lives at a basic level can have such a strong impact on their individual abilities that in their own right, these children will change their circumstances and “break the cycles of poverty and exclusion” in their communities.

Deena Dulgerian


Climate Change Hits Hard in China
The world is changing in optimistic ways. Rates of malnutrition have halved in twenty years, infant mortality has halved in fifty years, and literacy rates have increased 33 percent in twenty-five years. The efforts of an international infrastructure founded on aid and education are paying off.

But there is still more progress yet to be made.

In 2013, global climate change is an irrefutable fact of life. Comparable to the important work of anti-poverty advocates is the work of environmentalists. As our world changes, experts have recommended that industrialized nations cut their carbon emissions greatly in order to stabilize the planet’s temperature and control some of the long-term implications of that shift.

These cuts are not only for developed nations, however, but also for those whose markets are still developing.

“Though global warming began with industrialized countries, it must end—if it is to end—through actions in developing ones,” writes The Economist. Particularly implicated are the economic giants of Asia – India and China, with The Economist citing that India, “accounted for 83 percent of the worldwide increase in carbon emissions in 2000-11,” with China claiming a quarter of the globe’s current carbon emissions.

Climate change is nothing new and has been happening steadily since the Industrial Revolution, with the past ten to twenty years seeing some of the fastest rates of change during the anthropocene. Members of industrialized nations have the privilege of heating, cooling and water upon demand that most of the world does not, and may not have noticed the shifts in seasonal weather patterns that have been occurring. Therefore, while developed nations have cultivated a culture of excess, life has only gotten harder for the lives of those in developing nations since the Industrial Revolution.

Now, however, officials have recognized that the facts are the facts and that we’re all in this together.

In a new book titled “Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change,” by Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian, the authors raise the point of the responsibilities of developing markets to expand responsibly while developed markets must constrain themselves into sustainable practices.

“The trouble, as the authors admit, is that emissions cuts will also be costly for China and India. Messrs Mattoo and Subramanian estimate that if the two countries were to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2020 (compared with doing nothing), their manufacturing output would fall by 6-7 percent and their manufactured exports by more than that. As still relatively poor countries, they are less able to bear the pain.”

While all of us bear the blame for the state of our planet, it’s the duty of governments to care about climate change and for both local and international communities to take action. Sustainable technologies, reducing the waste of valuable resources such as food and energy, and investing in sustaining the biodiversity we still have left are all great ways to start, and projects that we can all be a part of.

So, Borgen readers, this author’s advice? Pick up the phone and call your representatives. Make a difference and be part of a solution.

– Nina Narang

Source: The Guardian
Photo: China Daily


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering one of the most useful courses available for free online. As open educational resources, or OERs, are gaining more and more popularity, creating classes on subject matters that affect everyone globally is a sure way of increasing an OER’s audience.

Introduction to Sustainability is taught by Dr. Jonathan Tomkin, a man with as much research experience as any top university department could wish for. He has studied the interaction between climate change, glaciers, and landscapes in areas such as the Swiss Alps, Patagonia, Antarctica, and the Olympic Mountains.

The 8-week-long course which starts on March 11th will debunk common myths on the future of the earth’s survival and discuss ideas on how science, the economy and societies can alter the future. The concepts of this course provide the foundation for furthering our understanding of sustainability through cross-disciplinary studies. With a comprehensive education on population growth, engineering, ethics, global change, resource limitations and cultural history, students in this class will develop a clearer vision of the different options humanity has for the foreseeable future.

Environmental ideology is becoming a more influential part of our lives. Whether for policymaking in the Western world or teaching farming methods in a third world country, sustainability techniques are as unique as the people who use them. What works in America obviously wouldn’t have the same effect in India or even New Zealand. The 8 weeks of study will cover topics ranging from temperature statistics and trends to the idea of the “disappearance of the third world”, and even the role of ethics in sustainability.

For those who may not have the time to manage the 8-10 hour weekly workload, Dr. Tomkin has made the course textbook, which he co-authored, available online for free (and yes, even in tablet-reader format). Such open-access resources can benefit people globally and drive a more informed and educated response to critical global issues such as environment and sustainability.

In order to understand what changes need to be made to level the playing field for all humans, whether they live in poverty or comfortably in a Californian suburb, universities need to dedicate more class time and teaching positions to such topics and also make them widely available through the dozens of technological mediums for people living in any part of the world.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Coursera
Photo: Palm Beach Schools

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 870 million people throughout the world do not have access to food. Investment in farmers and agricultural programs in developing nations is heavily encouraged by the FAO in order to help alleviate the issue.

José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the FAO, stated that more agricultural investment needs to take place. Strategic investment has already proven to be one of the most effective means of combating global hunger. He asserted that not only is more investment needed but that investment needs to be “better.”

Graziano da Silva adds that national governments and the global community should be pushed to create a healthy economic environment where farmers have more access to investment, capital, and sustainable technology. He went on to praise Germany for its efforts since the country spends nearly 700 million euros annually on food security in developing countries.

Graziano da Silva’s remarks come just after the Institution of Mechanical Engineers announced that around 30-50 percent of all food produced globally is never eaten. His comments are also before the anticipated Agricultural Ministers’ Berlin Summit 2013, where greater food production efficiency and eradicating global hunger will be a frequent topic of discussion.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: Blue & Green Tomorrow