Information and stories on awareness.

Facts About Joseph Stalin
Born on Dec 18, 1878, Joseph Stalin served as the Soviet Union’s Premier and the General Secretary of the Communist Party. Here are 10 horrendous facts about Joseph Stalin.

10 Horrendous Facts About Joseph Stalin

  1. As the Communist Party’s General Secretary, Stalin conducted so-called purges throughout the 1930s during which his administration imprisoned, exiled or executed political enemies and ethnic minorities. The time between 1936 and 1938 was the Great Purge and Stalin had approximately 750,000 people executed and sent millions to forced labor camps. In a forest by Toksovo, a small town near St. Petersburg, human rights workers discovered a mass grave of more than 30,000 victims in 2002.
  2. The First Plan, implemented in 1928, had a motive to modernize the Soviet Union’s industry. Stalin introduced the concept of collectivization by taking control of farmers’ lands. As a result, many farmers had to move towards cities for work. Stalin created state-run farms in the usurped lands and introduced time-specific quotas for the remaining farmers. These farmers could not eat the food they produced unless they reached the quotas they had to send to the cities. Subsequently, between 7 and 8 million people died on these rural lands from starvation and severe working conditions.
  3. Stalin designed and nurtured a famine throughout Ukraine between 1932 and 1933 that resulted in the death of approximately 7 million people. The Communist Party specifically targeted Ukraine for its efforts in gaining independence from Soviet rule. Stalin enforced quotas on Ukrainian farms to agricultural products to the Soviet Union. These quotas continued to increase until there was not enough food to sustain Ukrainian populations. When Ukrainian Communists appealed to the Soviet administration, Stalin used military force to purge the Ukrainian Communist Party and subsequently sealed Ukraine’s borders to prevent the shipment of food into the country. Additionally, Soviet forces confiscated all food sources from private Ukrainian residences.
  4. In 1919, Vladimir Lenin established the first Soviet forced labor camps. However, these camps, called the Gulags, did not reach full notoriety until the early 1930s under Stalin’s rule. Prisoners at the Gulags had to work at least 14 hours of demanding physical labor every day. These tasks included felling trees and digging frozen Soviet lands with rudimentary tools or mining coal and copper by hand. Prisoners received food based on how much work they completed in a day, however, even a full ration was insignificant. This labor force comprised of robbers, rapists, murderers, thieves and political enemies. Yet the majority of the prisoners were those the Soviets arrested for petty theft, lateness or unexcused absences from work.
  5. During Stalin’s early reign, the communist regime promoted the elimination of religion by confiscating church property, belittling religious beliefs and believers as well as promoting the indoctrination of atheism in schools. The Soviets exected the majority of the Russian Orthodox Church clergy and followers or sent them to the Gulags. The communist regime almost completely blocked the practice of Judaism instigated the systematic suppression of Islam until 1941.
  6. One of Stalin’s most heavily used tactics of oppression was censorship. Stalin cultivated a personality cult of artists that the state forced to create work that glorified the dictator. Those who read literature, viewed paintings and listened to music that the Soviet administration did not approve would have to go to the Gulags. Many artists committed suicide or attempted to flee the country in response.
  7. The Communist Party strictly controlled Education in the Soviet Union and based it on indoctrination. The government dictated which subjects schools could teach and test on. Teachers would teach History classes using materials that Stalin appointed, like the book A Short History of the USSR.
  8. Children received encouragement to join youth organizations outside of schools. Three tiers of these organizations existed: for 8 to 10-year-olds, there were the Octobrists; for 10 to 16-year-olds, the Pioneers; and for 19 to 23-year-olds, the Komsomol. Such organizations taught children how to be good communists. Stalin’s motive behind these youth clubs was to indoctrinate Soviet children into unquestioning obedience to the Communist Party. Further, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, children as young as those in the Pioneers tier received arms to defend the State.
  9. Stalin’s rule of the Soviet Union deported over 1.5 million people. The majority of these people were Muslim. Reasons for deportation included resisting Soviet rule, ethnicity, religion and collusion with Germany’s occupational forces. The Soviets had deportees rounded up in cattle cars and taken to resettlement locations like Siberia or Uzbekistan where almost two-fifths of resettled populations died.
  10. Following World War II, Stalin began a press campaign of attacks on Jewish culture and Zionism. In 1948, the Jewish Antifascist Committee, an organization promoting Soviet policies, Stalin’s forces had it disbanded and its chairman assassinated.

As seen by the aforementioned 10 facts about Joseph Stalin, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union created immense suffering and strife under Stalin’s reign. Scholars and historians assert that between 20 and 60 million people died as a result of Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship.

Bhavya Girotra
Photo: Flickr

 

Five Israeli Charities
Despite its successful economy, Israel’s poverty rate is higher than average at 21 percent of the population below the poverty line. Many families in this percentage struggle for food and basic necessities, even with Israel’s government programs meant to assist the underprivileged. Fortunately, several nonprofit organizations within Israel devote themselves to helping the poor. Here are five Israeli charities that break the poverty cycle.

Yad Eliezer

One of Israel’s top poverty-relief charities, Yad Eliezer has provided for Israel’s poor for almost 30 years. At its founding, it intended only to deliver monthly baskets of food to families in need. Since then, the organization has grown to encompass 19 social service and economic programs devoted to aiding over 18,000 Israeli families per year. These programs include the distribution of food, clothing and household items, as well as job training and child education. Its efforts for economic recovery and social welfare have broken the poverty cycle for over 20,000 families living in Israel permanently.

Yad Ezra V’Shulamit

Another well-known charity among Israelis is Yad Ezra V’Shulamit and it also began as a hunger-relief charity in 1998. Today, it provides food to thousands of Israel’s poor. While food delivery remains a focus of the organization, it has since expanded its efforts towards humanitarian services, focusing on individual empowerment through tailored rehabilitation as well. These services include academic tutoring, after school educational programs, professional guidance and activities for at-risk teenagers. The extracurricular programs offer assistance in building self-confidence and ultimately future success, subsequently bringing these individuals out of poverty for good.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is the country’s leading food rescue organization. Emerging in 2003 under the precursor name Table to Table, Leket Israel saves and collects the surplus of agricultural harvests and cooked meals, then distributes them to families in need. In doing so, it ensures that excess food does not go to waste and removes the problem of food insecurity. Members of its staff make sure that hungry families in Israel receive healthy, nutritious produce and meals and that the food is up to par with safety regulations. Today, Leket Israel is the largest food distribution network in the State of Israel.

Lev Lalev

Based in Netanya, Israel, Lev Lalev focuses on feeding and sheltering disadvantaged Israeli children. Primarily a Girls Orphanage and Children’s Home, the Lev Lalev Charity Fund provides the girls with not only food and shelter, but also individualized therapy, mentoring, tutoring, clothing and summer camp activities. The organization also supports the girls through adolescence and adulthood, arranging religious and cultural events for them, such as Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings and meals for religious holidays.

Meir Panim

Meir Panim is a relief organization that runs multiple projects to ensure that no Israeli suffers from hunger and existential distress. Meir Panim runs soup kitchens, restaurant chains, children’s programs that offer academic assistance as well as food, activities to promote distressed youths and food packaging programs. In addition, it provides food cards and redistributes furniture and second-hand equipment to people in need.

In short, these Israeli charities have helped and saved thousands of people from poverty. Donation funds from Israeli citizens, as well as some of the organizations’ international branches, allow these charities to continue their good work and break the poverty cycle for yet more individuals and families in need.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in ArgentinaWith political uncertainty and inflation rising, homelessness in Argentina is growing. In Buenos Aires alone, 6.5 percent of the population is homeless. This translates to approximately 198,000 people. This problem is not specific to the nation’s capital either. In fact, a report from the National Statistics and Census of the Republic of Argentina estimates that up to 5 million people are homeless (approximately 10 percent of the overall population).

According to the Social Debt Observatory of Pontificia Universidad Católica, while the national poverty rate was 29 percent in 2015, the current poverty rate is 35 percent. Rising homelessness is only the most visible manifestation of Argentina’s current economic crisis.

Economic Downturn

Recently, inflation reached 54 percent, while the peso fell by 30 percent. This depreciation follows Argentina’s recent primary election, which showed support for opposition to the current president, Mauricio Macri. Fearing these results indicate future political upheaval, international investors retreated from the market and caused the peso’s sudden drop in value.

On top of the decreased spending power of Argentines, the government recently discontinued subsidies for utilities and public transportation. Rising prices hurt average Argentine households.

Within the past year, the price of natural gas rose by 77.6 percent. Electricity and water suffered similar price jumps, rising by 46 percent and 26 percent respectively.

As Matias Barroetaveña, the director of the Center of Metropolitan Studies reports, seven out of 10 families consider basic utilities to be a strain on their finances. With the cost of living inflating, it is not surprising that homelessness in Argentina continues to rise as well.

The Reality

Homeless families and individuals end up living primarily in makeshift shelters around urban areas: in plazas and parks, as well as outside shopping malls and bus stations. There aren’t enough shelters around Buenos Aires to handle the homeless population; all of the current shelters are at capacity. Additionally, shelters divide everyone by gender, so families often forego them in favor of staying together.

Free meals from soup kitchens and similar organizations are staples for many as well. The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) projects that food prices will increase by 80 percent by December. INDEC also expects the situation will worsen, so that one out of every 10 Argentines will experience extreme poverty or homelessness by the end of the year.

Helping the Homeless

Project 7 (Proyecto 7 in Spanish) helps homeless individuals in Buenos Aires and works to raise awareness about homelessness. In addition to distributing donated clothing and supplies, Project 7 works on various initiatives to give voice to homeless people. Through initiatives, such as “La Voz de la Calle” (The Voice of the Street), Project 7 offers alternate ways to think about and discuss homelessness in Argentina.

According to Horacio Ávila, co-founder of Project 7, one of the most difficult aspects of homelessness is the psychological toll. As he puts it, “when people live on the streets, they feel like they’re a waste of space like they deserve to be there. Your opinion of yourself is so low.” Project 7 not only improves the living conditions of the homeless but also supports legislation addressing the homelessness problem on a national level.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Wikimedia

Best Poverty Reduction Programs
In the global fight against poverty, there have been countless programs to effectively downsize this issue. Poverty reduction programs are an important part of the fight against poverty and because of this, countries should be able to cooperate and learn from one another. Thankfully, with the help of the U.N., the world has been making progress in terms of cooperating to implement good poverty reduction programs. In no particular order, these are the five countries with some of the best poverty reduction programs.

Five Countries with the Best Poverty Reduction Programs

1. China

For the Middle Kingdom, poverty reduction is a key contributing factor to its rapidly growing economy. China has helped reduce the global rate of poverty by over 70 percent, and according to the $1.90 poverty line, China has lifted a total of 850 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2013. With this, the percentage of people living under $1.90 in China dropped from 88 percent to less than 2 percent in 32 years. China’s poverty reduction programs have also benefitted people on a global scale by setting up assistance funds for developing countries and providing thousands of opportunities and scholarships for people in developing countries to receive an education in China.

2. Brazil

Brazil has taken great steps in reducing poverty and income inequality. Brazil has implemented programs such as the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program) and Continuous Cash Benefit. Researchers have said that the Family Grant Program has greatly reduced income disparity and poverty, thanks to its efforts of ensuring that more children go to school. They have also said that beneficiaries of this program are less likely to repeat a school year. Meanwhile, the Continuous Cash Benefit involves an income transfer that targets the elderly and the disabled.

3. Canada

Canada has implemented poverty reduction programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the National Housing Strategy. The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly benefit for low-income senior citizens. This program helped nearly 2 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the National Housing Strategy in an investment plan for affordable housing that intends to help the elderly, people fleeing from domestic violence and Indigenous people. With its poverty reduction programs in place, Canada reportedly hopes to cut poverty in half by 2030.

4. United States

Although the United States has a long way to go when it comes to battling poverty, it does still have its poverty reduction programs that have proven to be effective. According to the Los Angeles Times, programs such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have all helped to reduce deep poverty. In particular, people consider the Earned Income Tax Credit to be helpful for families that earn roughly 150 percent of the poverty line, approximately $25,100 for a four-person family. Social Security could help reduce poverty among the elderly by 75 percent.

5. Denmark

Denmark has a social welfare system that provides benefits to the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly, among others. People in Denmark are generally in good health and have low infant mortality rates. Denmark also has public access to free education, with most of its adult population being literate.

It should be stressed that none of these countries are completely devoid of poverty, but they do provide some good examples of how governments can go about reducing this issue. With the help of organizations like the USAID, it is clear that this is an issue many take seriously.

Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Cervical Cancer in Thailand
Cervical cancer is one of the greatest threats to women’s lives globally. With an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018, it ranks as the fourth most frequent cancer in women. In the South-East Asia region, it is the third most common type of cancer. Last year, there were an estimated 158,000 new cases and 95,766 cervical cancer-related deaths in the region alone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the countries in this region to speed up their efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030. Thailand, one of the countries in the South-East Asia region, has made great strides towards eliminating the disease in the past two decades. Here are seven facts about cervical cancer in Thailand.

7 Facts About Cervical Cancer

  1. Twenty years ago, cervical cancer was the most common cancer for women in Thailand. Currently, it is the second most frequent cancer among women in Thailand behind only breast cancer. It is estimated that every year 8,622 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Thailand and that 5,015 die from the disease.
  2. According to amfAR, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cervical cancer cases. This makes HPV the leading cause of cervical cancer among women in Thailand. Other factors that could cause cervical cancer are smoking, HIV and hormonal contraceptive use.
  3. In the last decade, cervical cancer in Thailand has seen the largest decline in incidence compared to the other four leading causes of cancer deaths for women. One can largely attribute this to the Safety, Acceptability, Feasibility and program implementation Effort (SAFE) which Thailand adopted in 2000.
  4. The SAFE approach is a single-visit method in which patients receive screening for cervical cancer and obtain treatment if necessary. This makes it cheaper than other screening methods since it does not require advanced equipment. The ease of implementation has seen 32 Thai provinces take up the SAFE approach.
  5. One reason the SAFE method yielded such great results was that nurses in the country were tasked with doing cryotherapy. This was important because, at the time, the ratio of doctors to patients was low at about one doctor per 60,000 people. As of 2018, that ratio had improved to one doctor per 2,000 people.
  6. In June 2018, the U.N. awarded Thailand with the UN Public Service Award for its initiative to provide cervical cancer treatment to women in rural areas.
  7. Another measure taken to prevent cervical cancer in Thailand is the provision of the HPV vaccine to girls aged between 10 and 13 years. Thailand is one of four countries in the South-East Asia region to have introduced the HPV vaccine nationally.

It is quite possible that Thailand will meet the WHO’s request to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030. The country is a good example to other low and middle-income countries on how they can deal with the disease.

– Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Pixabay

Health Costs of The Syrian Civil War
The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, has led to a monumental refugee crisis, hundreds of thousands of deaths, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and destabilization in the Middle East. Yet another devastating effect of the war is the health consequences for people still living in Syria. Civilian doctors and nurses in active war zones face significant challenges not encountered in peacetime. These include a massive amount of trauma victims, shortages of medical equipment and personnel, infectious disease epidemics and breaches in medical neutrality. Here are 10 health costs of the Syrian civil war for the Syrian people.

10 Health Costs of the Syrian Civil War

  1. Because of the war, Syrian life expectancy has plummeted by 20 years from 75.9 years in 2010 to 55.7 years through the end of 2014. The quality of life in Syria has also worsened. As of 2016, 80 percent of Syrians are living in poverty. Moreover, 12 million people depend on assistance from humanitarian organizations.
  2. The civil war devastated Syria’s health care infrastructure, which compared to those in other middle-income countries prior to the war. By 2015, however, Syria’s health care capabilities weakened in all sectors due to the destruction of hospitals and clinics. The country faced a shortage of health care providers and medical supplies and fear gripped the country.
  3. The Syrian Government has deliberately cut vital services, such as water, phone lines, sewage treatment and garbage collection in conflict areas; because of this government blockade, millions of Syrian citizens must rely on outside medical resources from places like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. In 2012, the Assad regime declared providing medical aid in areas opposition forces controlled a criminal offense, which violates the Geneva Convention. By the following year, 70 percent of health workers had fled the country. This exodus of doctors worsens health outcomes and further strains doctors and surgeons who have remained.
  4. The unavailability of important medications presents another health cost of the civil war. Due to economic sanctions, fuel shortages and the unavailability of hard currency, conflict areas face a severe shortage of life-saving medications, such as some for noncommunicable diseases. Commonly used medicines, such as insulin, oxygen and anesthetic medications, are not available. Patients who rely on inhaled-medications or long-term supplemental oxygen often go without it.
  5. A lack of crucial medications has led to increased disease transmission of illnesses, such as tuberculosis. Furthermore, the conditions Syrians live in, for instance, the “tens of thousands of people currently imprisoned across the country… offer a perfect breeding ground for drug-resistant TB.”  Indeed, the majority of consultations at out-patient facilities for children under 5 were for infectious diseases like acute respiratory tract infections and watery diarrhea. According to data from Médecins Sans Frontières-Operational Centre Amsterdam  (MSF-OCA), the largest contributor to civilian mortality was an infection.
  6. In addition to combatant deaths, the civil war has caused over 100,000 civilian deaths. According to the Violation Documentation Center (VDC), cited in a 2018 Lancet Global Health study, 101,453 Syrian civilians in opposition-controlled areas died between March 18, 2011, and Dec 31, 2016. Thus, of the 143,630 conflict-related violent deaths during that period, civilians accounted for 70.6 percent of deaths in these areas while opposition combatants constituted 42,177 deaths or 29.4 percent of deaths.
  7. Of the total civilian fatalities, the proportion of children who died rose from 8.9 percent in 2011 to 19.0 percent in 2013 to 23.3 percent in 2016. As the civil war went on, aerial bombing and shelling were disproportionately responsible for civilian deaths and were the primary cause of direct death for women and children between 2011 and 2016. Thus, the “increased reliance on the aerial bombing by the Syrian Government and international partners” is one reason for the increasing proportion of children killed during the civil war according to The Lancet Global Health report. In Tal-Abyad’s pediatric IPD (2013-2014) and in Kobane Basement IPD (2015–2016), mortality rates were highest among children that were less than 6 months old. For children under a year old, the most common causes of death were malnutrition, diarrhea and lower respiratory tract infections.
  8. The challenges doctors and clinicians face are great, but health care providers are implementing unique strategies that emerged in previously war-torn areas to meet the needs of Syrian citizens. The United Nations (the U.N.) and World Health Organizations (WHO) are actively coordinating with and international NGOs to provide aid. The Syrian-led and Syrian diaspora–led NGOs are promoting Syrian health care and aiding medical personnel in Syria as well. For instance, aid groups developed an underground hospital network in Syria, which has served hundreds of thousands of civilians. These hospitals were “established in basements, farmhouses, deserted buildings, mosques, churches, factories, and even natural caves.”
  9. Since 2013, the Médecins Sans Frontières-Operational Centre Amsterdam (MSF-OCA) has been providing health care to Syrians in the districts of Tal-Abyad in Ar-Raqqa Governorate and Kobane in Aleppo Governorate, which are located in northern Syria close to the Turkish border. The health care MSF-OCA provided included out-patient and in-patient care, vaccinations and nutritional monitoring.
  10. New technologies have enabled health officials to assist in providing aid from far away. For instance, telemedicine allows health officials to make remote diagnosis and treatment of patients in war zones and areas under siege. One organization that has used this tool is the Syrian American Medical Society, which “provides remote online coverage to nine major ICUs in besieged or hard-to-access cities in Syria via video cameras, Skype, and satellite Internet connections.” Distance learning empowers under-trained doctors in Syria to learn about disaster medicine and the trauma of war from board-certified critical care specialists in the United States.

Conditions on the ground in Syria make it more difficult for Syrian citizens to receive vital medical aid from health care workers. Many people and organizations are working diligently to help injured and sick Syrians, however. These 10 health costs of the Syrian civil war illuminate some of the consequences of war that are perhaps not as storied as the refugee crisis. While aiding refugees is an undoubtedly worthy goal for international NGOs and governments, policymaker’s and NGOs’ agendas should include recognizing and alleviating the harm to those still living in Syria.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

Startup Companies in India
With a booming population and competitive economy, India has made a mark in the global playing field. However, nearly 60 percent of India’s population lives on $3.10 per day and 21 percent (250 million people) live on $2 per day. The uneven spread of wealth leaves many people in poor living conditions. The top 1 percent of Indians own 58 percent of India’s wealth, meaning 16 people own the wealth of 600 million people. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of the population still lives in rural villages and work labor-intensive jobs with minimal profits.

The extremely high growth rate of the population leads to a strain on resources. This leads to growing illiteracy and a lack of health care facilities and services. Some expect the total Indian population to reach 1.5 billion by 2026 which means the country will require 20 million new jobs to sustain its people. There is now a desperate need for a better solution to pull people and their families out of poverty.

The Nature of Startup Companies in India

The economy in India continues to compete on a global scale as highly intellectual individuals are progressing with new businesses and startups. In fact, India is the home of 48 million new businesses, which is more than twice the number in the United States at 23 million. The startup companies in India have unlimited access to software and intelligence, making it a competitive playing field. Due to the startups, India has the fastest growing economy and market place in the entire world, taking over China and the United States.

The number of startup companies in India is continuing to grow from 3,100 companies in 2014 to an expected number of 11,500 companies by 2020. The current day and age make India an ideal place of startups as entrepreneurs have access to the internet, educational initiatives and experienced mentors. All of these factors improve the success of startup companies. India has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, which was worth over $32 billion in market valuation in 2017. The ever-growing field has drawn in numerous foreign investors leading to a 167 percent growth in 2016 alone.

How Startup Companies Create Jobs

The Indian government has recognized the growing startup companies and has created a plan for ‘New India.’ This involves encouraging employment among the youth. The millennials in India can take advantage of the possible employment ventures as startups create an open atmosphere for innovation. With new information trends every year, these creative companies are creating jobs for people and reducing poverty as people can better support themselves and their families. The startups alone create one billion jobs for millennials. Companies such as Flipkart, Ola and PayTM have an equity of $1 billion, inspiring young entrepreneurs to take risks and start companies. In 2016, India had the most job creation of all countries in the Asia and Pacific Region.

What Now?

Despite the high poverty rates in India, there are new opportunities emerging for people to improve their living conditions. The startup companies in India are extremely successful and allow for families to improve their financial standings. The nature of the startup ecosystem makes it easier for people to start new businesses and become successful. Startup companies in India are changing lives and the same could happen in other countries.

– Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Côte d'IvoireCôte d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, is a West African country with one of the fastest-growing economies in the continent. However, its life expectancy at birth is one of the lowest in the world. Here are seven facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire.

7 Facts About life Expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire.

  1. According to the CIA World Factbook, Côte d’Ivoire’s life expectancy at birth is 60.1 years. Out of the 223 countries measured, Côte d’Ivoire ranks 209. This is 30 spots lower than its GDP per capita ranking.
  2. One of the main causes of Côte d’Ivoire’s low life expectancy is its alarmingly high infant-mortality rate. An estimated one out of every 16 babies born in Côte d’Ivoire dies, making it the number one cause of death in Côte d’Ivoire. This is the 14th highest rate in the world, but over the last 20 years, there has been a considerable improvement. According to Niale Kaba, Côte d’Ivoire’s planning and development minister, the country’s infant mortality rate has fallen from “112 for every 1,000 births in 1998 to 60 per 1,000 in 2016.”
  3. Côte d’Ivoire’s life expectancy is also being suppressed by its high birth rate and lack of quality health care for both newborns and mothers. The average age of a mother’s first birth in the Ivory Coast is roughly 19 years old and each woman will bear almost four children, on average. However, only 59 percent of births are overseen by a skilled birth attendant. The young age of mothers and the lack of health professionals guiding them through their pregnancies contribute to the Ivory Coast’s ranking of 12th highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
  4. A considerable lack of accessible sanitation facilities and clean water makes much of the Ivory Coast’s population susceptible to disease. Around half of the schools in Côte d’Ivoire do not have toilets or water, forcing students to walk up to a kilometer just for clean water. Additionally, 60 percent of families do not have the means to regularly wash their hands with soap and water. These dangerous conditions increase the likelihood of death from preventable diarrheal diseases, which are the sixth deadliest condition in Côte d’Ivoire.
  5. Alarmingly, 24,000 people die from HIV/AIDS in Côte d’Ivoire each year, the 10th highest rate in the world. While it no longer causes the most deaths in the Ivory Coast, every day five teenagers are infected with HIV/AIDS. Modern scientific treatments like antiretroviral therapy have been remarkably successful at combating this crisis, but less than 30 percent of HIV-positive children in Côte d’Ivoire are receiving the medication they need to survive. The lack of health care for these children is one of the main drags on the country’s life expectancy, with more than 50 percent of HIV-positive children not on medication dying before the age of 2.
  6. Education is one of the main drivers of increased life expectancy. Unfortunately, only 65 percent of Ivorian children are completing primary school. Additionally, less than half of the country is literate mostly due to prohibitive fees associated with schooling which excludes poor families. This lack of education severely limits the economic opportunities for the entire country. Experts agree that improving education in Côte d’Ivoire would increase the number of skilled laborers and lead to higher wages, a better quality of life and improved life expectancy. The International Cocoa Initiative has worked with over 600 communities to help get more children out of the fields and into school. They have seen a remarkable 20 percent increase in school participation rates, showing that there is hope for the future generations of Ivorians.
  7. UNICEF has been crucial in helping the people of Côte d’Ivoire, funding numerous programs that have produced a substantial quality of life improvements. Whether it be offering HIV/AIDS testing, providing community wells or helping children escape dangerous working conditions, UNICEF is making a difference throughout the Ivory Coast. Groups like Action Against Hunger have followed in UNICEF’s footsteps, partnering with Côte d’Ivoire’s government to help run 12 community health establishments and providing 29,900 families with access to clean water.

While these seven facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire can be hard to grapple with, there is evidence that conditions are getting better. Improving access to education, medicine, healthcare and many other necessities will undoubtedly help pull millions of Ivorians out of poverty. With help from the international community, 20 years from now an article titled 10 facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire might not look so glum.

– Myles McBride Roach
Photo: Flickr

10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on CourageFew leaders of change have so successfully exemplified the concept of courage the way Martin Luther King Jr. was able to in his legacy as one of the United States’ most prominent civil rights activists. Keep reading to learn the top 10 Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on courage.

10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Courage

  1. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – From an interview with Dr. King
  2. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love … The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.” – From A Gift of Love, a collection of 16 select sermons delivered by Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – In a speech at a college rally
  4. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – From King’s famous, I Have A Dream speech
  5. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – From a letter written in a Birmingham Jail, April 1963
  6. Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles. Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” – From Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography
  7. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – From “The Domestic Impact of War”, 1967
  8. “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” – From a speech in February 1968
  9. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” – From a speech given in October 1962
  10. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” From A Testament to Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Courage is the first step to growth, especially when the growth occurs in spite of unjust circumstances. Remembering these top 10 Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on Courage quotes may be the perfect catalyst to push one forward on whichever path they choose.

– Fatemeh Zahra Yarali
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities HelpingCelebrities are regularly known for their top hits, exquisite gala ensembles and daily routines. However, there are many celebrities supporting charities and organizations through advocacy, fundraising and donations. Below are five celebrities helping the current HIV/AIDS crisis.

Elton John

British singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Elton John established the nonprofit organization Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in 1992. The Foundation was created to support various HIV/AIDS prevention programs, increase public awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and ultimately end the disease. EJAF prioritizes grant-making and donations and has raised more than $350 million across the world over the past 25 years.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation held their first-ever Midsummer Party on July 24, 2019 to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services and raised six million dollars with the help of celebrity donors from all over the world.

Bill Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in 2000 and is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world. Along with many other causes, the foundation has promised to donate $100 million towards HIV/AIDS awareness and support in India.

At the announcement in New Delhi, Gates said the foundation is dedicated to supporting India’s efforts to contain its HIV/AIDS population at a low level. India currently has only a small population living with HIV/AIDS, and therefore the foundation wants to help terminate the epidemic at the earliest stage possible. Gates has faith that India could be a global leader in developing new and improved HIV prevention technologies.

Victoria Beckham

The fashion designer and former Spice Girl was appointed UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and continues to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment through spreading awareness about the virus. The designer has designed t-shirts for World AIDS Day over the past years and 100 percent of t-shirt sales are donated to the charity Born Free Africa, which works on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

Beckham has also joined the mothers2mothers (m2m) organization in hopes to eliminate pediatric AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She has sold more than 600 pieces of her wardrobe and all proceeds have been donated to m2m and its efforts to help HIV-positive mothers and their babies. Beckham has visited m2m sites in Cape Town, Africa and is determined that a cure to HIV can be found with continuous support.

Rihanna

Singer/songwriter Rihanna was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017 and has helped MAC Cosmetics’ MAC AIDS fundraise over $500 million to help fight the current HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rihanna is a brand ambassador for Mac Cosmetics’ Viva Glam lipstick, in which 100 percent of proceeds are donated towards HIV/AIDS awareness.

Rihanna also took a series of HIV tests with Prince Harry of Wales on World Aids Day in efforts to raise awareness about the virus and to encourage more people to get tested.

John Legend

The singer has taken part in Belvedere Vodka’s #MAKEADIFFERENCE campaign to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. The campaign has created a unique Belvedere Vodka bottle that donates 50 percent of each purchase towards the HIV/AIDS fight.

John Legend has joined 80-year-old South African artist Esther Malanghu in the campaign to help Africa fight HIV/AIDS. Legend has written the song “Love Me Now” that will be used for the campaign and hopes that HIV/AIDS will be completely terminated during his daughter Luna’s lifetime, who was born in 2016.

Celebrities helping, like those mentioned above, know the power of their influence, and they’re using it to positively impact the world by fighting HIV and AIDS.

– Paige Regan
Photo: Flickr