Sen. Bob CaseySen. Bob Casey has been a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania for 13 years since his election in 2006. Casey is a member of the Democratic Party. He is assigned to four Senate committees: Finance; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Agriculture; Nutrition, and Forestry; and the Special Committee on Aging. Consequently, this article shows the efforts made by Sen. Bob Casey to fight against global poverty and help poor people. He has been working to pass two significant bipartisan legislation regarding global poverty, as well as supporting people around the world to improve U.S. national security.

Debt Cancellation for Poor Countries to Combat Global Poverty

In 2007, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) introduced the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Act of 2007. Senator Casey sponsored bipartisan legislation to help poor countries that had spent money on repaying debt rather than taking care of their citizens in poverty. He said, “This legislation will help these nations get out of debt and help them free up resources to reduce poverty.” This comment and his support for the bill shows his commitment to reducing global poverty from the early period of his term as a senator.

Global Food Security

With Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Bob Casey introduced the Global Food Security Act in 2016. This legislation required the administration to assist targeted communities and nations to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food and nutrition security. It also emphasizes the importance of enhancing maternal and child nutrition. This act additionally recognizes the importance of tackling global food insecurity for developing countries and the U.S. economy and national security.

Sen. Bob Casey said, “The need to address global hunger is an urgent foreign policy and national security priority. It is in the United States’ best interest to promote initiatives that work to eliminate the causes of food and nutrition insecurity.” Likewise, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act was passed in 2018, introduced by Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. Johnny Isakson. This bipartisan legislation ensures the extension of the Feed the Future initiative until 2023. For example, by 2018, the Feed the Future program helped more than 1.7 million households in 12 targeted countries.

His Support for Women in Afghanistan and People in Syria

To ensure the safety of women and girls in Afghanistan, Sen. Bob Casey introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act. He also has been working to provide help for women who survived domestic violence or other crimes. Moreover, he has supported food and medical support for Syrian people in need because of the war.

As a representative of Pennsylvania, he has made several efforts to combat global poverty and hunger. In the interview by Penn Political Review, he said, “It is critical that U.S. foreign aid dollars be used efficiently and that they provide relief and promote opportunities for poor and underserved individuals and communities around the world.” It is therefore clear that Senator Casey’s efforts are critical in the fight against global poverty. Calling and emailing him to support these bills would be significant. As a result of helping these people, the U.S. can improve national security and economy.

Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Pixabay

End Tuberculosis Now Act
Kosovo is a country in southeastern Europe that declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. It is Europe’s youngest nation, but also one of its smallest and poorest. Kosovo ranks 137th in the world for GDP per capita and the country’s overall budget is just above $2 billion. Despite the fact that Tuberculosis (TB) is a completely preventable, treatable and curable airborne infection, the virus continues to spread throughout developing nations—including Kosovo—killing more people per year than any other infectious disease. The End Tuberculosis Now Act seeks to address this silent pandemic by refocusing U.S. efforts towards effective TB prevention and treatment in Kosovo and other developing countries. Neither the House nor Senate has held a vote on the End Tuberculosis Now Act since its introduction in August 2019. Kosovo demonstrates the importance of this act and why Congress needs to address it.

Kosovo’s Tuberculosis Rates

Among its neighbors in southeastern Europe, Kosovo has one of the highest TB infection rates, trailing only Moldova and Romania. From 1999 to 2006, total TB cases in Kosovo were declining. This progress has since stopped, with infection rates plateauing at the rate they were in 2006. A limited budget has severely hampered Kosovo’s efforts to combat and eradicate TB.

Kosovo’s insufficient health system is one reason behind the country’s spread of TB. A majority of Kosovo’s residents are dissatisfied with their health service. In addition, the nation’s top health authority is not responsible for contact tracing, testing, treatment or any other method that people use to combat TB. Instead, non-governmental organizations have received this responsibility, resulting in a lack of central planning. The End Tuberculosis Now Act would refocus USAID efforts on TB prevention and treatment in developing nations like Kosovo, providing a unified example of how to properly stop the spread and financially support affected individuals.

Kosovo and COVID-19

For some of the same reasons it struggles with TB, Kosovo is also struggling to stop the spread of COVID-19. Compared to its neighbors, the country’s pandemic response is falling short. Kosovo is much smaller than Albania, Montenegro and Greece, but has many more COVID-19 cases and deaths than these nations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the aforementioned weaknesses in Kosovo’s healthcare system. For example, temporary medical facilities built to increase the nation’s hospital capacity have not been properly set up to prevent COVID-19 transmission between healthcare workers and infected patients.

No matter how valiant Kosovo’s efforts to combat COVID-19 are, the country is ultimately limited by its $2 billion yearly budget. The same is true when it comes to their fight against TB. Kosovo simply lacks the capital to properly test, treat and prevent the spread of both COVID-19 and TB. The End Tuberculosis Now Act will give developing nations like Kosovo a better chance of defeating TB while teaching them how to tackle similar pandemics.

Putting the Tuberculosis Fight on Hold

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes center stage, the fight against TB has been put on hold across the world. Despite this, TB has continued its spread. Approximately 80% of worldwide programs to combat the disease have experienced disruptions in their supply chains since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manufacturers of TB tests have pivoted to developing COVID-19 tests, reducing the overall availability of TB testing. This means massive drops in diagnosing TB. In one year, an infected individual can spread the virus to 15 people, making the diagnostic process extremely important. As testing capacities decrease, TB will continue its spread unabated in developing nations. Kosovo was already struggling to contain TB before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could now get much worse. The End Tuberculosis Now Act is a critical component in increasing testing capacities in Kosovo to combat the spread of TB.

More Important Than Ever

TB is a preventable and treatable disease, yet it continues to kill more people worldwide than any other infectious disease. The End Tuberculosis Now Act would increase investments in TB prevention and treatment measures while saving countless lives in developing nations like Kosovo.

Furthermore, the bill would ensure that nations and non-governmental organizations receiving aid from USAID would stand by their commitments to eradicate TB. This refocusing of aid would provide the World Health Organization and the Stop TB Partnership with more resources to fulfill their missions.

Moving Forward

Kosovo’s continued fight against TB demonstrates the importance of the End Tuberculosis Now Act. The bill, introduced in August 2019, would save lives in developing nations and help combat a completely preventable and treatable disease. Congress must pass this bill to increase the quality of life for the world’s poor and help eradicate TB in developing nations.

Marcus Lawniczak
Photo: Flickr

Water Disparities in NigeriaIn Nigeria, clean water does not always receive treatment as a public good available to everyone. Instead, access to clean water depends on the neighborhood a person lives in. As a result, the dangers of waterborne diseases affect low-income areas disproportionately. Additionally, clean water is a privilege pertaining to socioeconomic status rather than the public good it should be. Water disparities in Nigeria often affect those who need the most help.

The Problem of Water Contamination

Adriel Garrick, who grew up in Nigeria, knows about water inequality. Garrick told The Borgen Project that “When [she] was young [she] had a friend diagnosed with Typhoid,” an infection that drinking contaminated drinking water or food causes.  She also said that “[Her] friend did not know he was drinking polluted water, and he was in the hospital for about three weeks, then later passed away.”

Death from water contamination is not unusual. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, as of 2015, 42.7% of Nigeria’s rural population and 19.2% of its urban population lacked clean, reliable drinking water. Diarrheal diseases, usually from contaminated drinking water, are the fifth leading cause of death in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s rural population is in a worse situation than the urban population for one reason: wealth. Wealth is a massive determinant of who gets clean drinking water there.

Water Supply System in Nigeria

According to Chidozie Nnaji, a researcher at the University of Nigeria, Nigeria does not treat drinking water as a social right. “The government provides water for the highly placed and charges them peanuts, but the same gesture is hardly extended to the generality of the masses who have to provide (purchase) their own water,” Nnaji told The Borgen Project. “Water is perceived as a social right for the highly placed, but as an economic good for the rest of the people. What an irony!”

Nigeria has a privatized water supply, contributing to disparities between the access of the wealthy and the poor. “Privatized water supply in developing countries is known for little infrastructure investments, neglecting low-income areas, and prioritizing profit over service quality,” Ismaila Rimi Abubakar, an associate professor at the University of Dammam, told The Borgen Project.

Not only can privatized water add to economic disparities, but it is also often unhealthy. Water vending is not a sustainable solution, according to Abubakar.

“Water vending is supposed to be a stop-gap solution to water outages or for households not yet connected to piped water supply,” said Abubakar. “Water vendors have now become the primary source of water for numerous households, . . . they should not be allowed as a long-term solution. . . . Water vendors and packaged water are expensive and not free from contamination.”

UNICEF’s Solution to Clean Water

The United Nations Children’s Fund has been working with the Nigerian government since 2005 to implement the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. The program aims to provide clean water to all of Nigeria and implement hygiene education and sanitation facilities. WaterAid is a global federation of nonprofits. It has an initiative working with the Nigerian government to provide clean water and sanitation to families who need it most.

Safe, clean water is a necessity for all people, not a privilege. Given the disparities in access to clean water in different economic sectors, it is clear that Nigeria is experiencing a crisis that will not be resolved until the country as a whole is able to claim clean water and the physical health that depends upon this resource as an essential human right.

Sophia Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Anti-Poverty Movement
The Borgen Project has published this article and podcast episode, “Creating an Anti-Poverty Movement with Clint Borgen,” with permission from The World Food Program (WFP) USA. “Hacking Hunger” is the organization’s podcast that features stories of people around the world who are struggling with hunger and thought-provoking conversations with humanitarians who are working to solve it.

 

When you ask nonprofit founders how their organization began, spending months on a fishing boat is rarely the answer. But that’s exactly where Clint Borgen developed his dream for The Borgen Project, an NGO that fights global poverty through advocacy and civic engagement. His ideas weren’t pulled completely from the sea, rather, they were inspired by unique global experiences that made him passionate about garnering more U.S. political attention on the issue of global poverty.

Nearly 20 years later, The Borgen Project has evolved from a sketchbook of plans to a nationwide campaign with volunteers in 931 cities. It advocates, mobilizes and educates to improve the living conditions of people living on less than a dollar a day.

Intrigued by his organization and career, we caught up with Clint at his home in Seattle. We asked him more about that fishing boat and his prior experiences – and how The Borgen Project is currently working to change the world.

Click below to listen to Clint Borgen’s story about The Borgen Project’s foundation and its work in the present day.

 

 

Photo: The Borgen Project

Following­ the eruption of violence in 2018, Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America, has seen its economic progress stagnate and its domestic life falter. The additional unrest is making Nicaraguans more vulnerable to violence and instability. While Nicaragua’s overall crime rate is low, certain areas, like the rape of minors and political violence, are high. These 10 facts about violence in Nicaragua provide a glimpse after one year of conflict.

10 Facts About Violence in Nicaragua

  1. Political violence occurred in 2018 in response to the government’s social security reforms. Protests occurred between April and July, and the government responded brutally. More than 300 people were killed and hundreds detained during three-month anti-government protests where citizens demanded that President Daniel Ortega — who has been in power since 2007 — step down. In the subsequent six months, the government arrested and jailed opposition leaders and those who challenged his authority, his human rights abuses, his consolidation of power and his low 10 percent approval rating.
  2. Sixty thousand Nicaraguans have sought asylum from the violence in Costa Rica. In July 2018, Costa Rica alone received about 200 requests by Nicaraguans for asylum per day. The U.N. is seeking to support countries who take Nicaraguan refugees.
  3. Violence between protesters and government-sponsored paramilitary groups disrupts access to resources. Roadblocks appear without apparent reason, mostly around cities, and limit the availability of food and fuel.
  4. Civil unrest continues unpredictably. Although protests are forbidden, they occur and government forces respond with violence. The poor infrastructure in parts of the country limits the potential of international assistance.
  5. Access to healthcare is limited due to the unrest. Government hospitals are understaffed and frequently deny treatment to suspected protestors. Ambulances are unreliable, denying treatment or not visiting certain areas.
  6. Sexual assault, especially against girls, is common. More than two-thirds of the 14,000 rapes reported between 1998 and 2008 were committed against girls under the age of 17, and nearly half of them were under the age of 14. More recent statistics during Ortega’s presidency are unavailable, but anecdotal reports suggest that gender-based violence is widespread. A stigma follows survivors of rape, but not perpetrators. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed grave concern.
  7. Domestic violence against women is controversial in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan Constitution contains both protections against and provisions for violence against women under certain circumstances, like marriage. Legal dialogue has fluctuated through the 2010s. In 2012, in response to high levels of femicide and little legal response, a women’s rights group pushed through Ley Integral Contra La Violencia Hacia Las Mujeres (Law 779) expanding the legal definition of violence against women, establishing specially-trained prosecutors to hear gender-based violence cases and further protect victims. Since then, 779 has been systematically weakened by a series of legislative and presidential decrees. Local conservative legislators and religious leaders see 779 as potentially destructive to families if women could seek reprisal for domestic violence. Although rape is illegal, domestic/intimate violence, child-marriage and dating violence is still high.
  8. Violence is hurting Nicaragua’s economic growth. Between 2014 and 2016, poverty in Nicaragua decreased from 29.6 to 24.9 percent and extreme poverty from 8.3 to 6.9 percent. But due to the social and political unrest since April 2018, the economy contracted in 2018 by 3.8 percent. The World Bank supported Nicaragua through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, to support poverty reduction measures in the country.
  9. Violent street crime is spotty, but regional, and is greater in urban areas after dark. Street crime is more prevalent in Managua, Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, San Juan del Sur, Popoyo, El Transito and the Corn Islands.
  10. The homicide rate is low and falling. The homicide rate held steady with 15 in 100,000 people 2014-16, but it fell to 6 in 100,000 in 2018—far lower than comparable economies. Men commit homicide six times more frequently than women and people ages 15-26 are the most likely to commit homicides.

Heather Hughes
Photo: U.N.

How the U.S. Benefits from the Summer Work and Travel Program
When universities go on break for the summer, college students from the United States usually go on vacations, travel or rest. Many students from the rest of the world travel as well, but they have other various options. For example, the students can come to the United States on visas that allow them to work in the country for three to four months during their break from university.

Summer Work and Travel Program

The program that allows students to come and work in the U.S is called the Summer Work and Travel Program. This program is under the broader J-1 visa category. Initially introduced as a cultural exchange program, it started in 1961 with the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. The J-1 type visa exchange is meant to encourage the “the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts and science.” Over the last 10 years, over 310,000 individuals from 200 countries have visited the U.S. through the program.

What the Program Means for Participants

The students who choose to participate in the program are really serious about it. It requires a good deal of dedication to the process, some serious preparation and a considerable investment of funds to be able to apply for a visa. The requirements that participants need to meet include English language proficiency, full-time enrollment in a post-secondary educational institution and a secured job offer prior to traveling.

Toni Kovachev is a student from Bulgaria who has been to the United States three times as a J-1 participant. “Working in the states can be described as exhausting but having a lot of fun at the same time,” Kovachev shares with The Borgen Project. The decision to participate in the program came with his choice of a higher education institution.

Kovachev needed to find the means to be able to attend the American University in Bulgaria, a private liberal arts college, and the Summer Work and Travel Program made that possible. During his time in the U.S., he has been able to earn enough money for his tuition and improve his English language skills. Kovachev says, “It was a choice that changed my life and I am so glad that it happened that I went three summers already.”

The Summer Work and Travel program is an opportunity for international students to share their culture with different people and experience U.S. society and culture. These exchange of ideas, stories and ways of life are enriching for both sides. Being exposed to people from different backgrounds generates respect, understanding and tolerance towards others.

How the U.S. Benefits From Summer Work an Travel Program

Over the last two years, the program has been under scrutiny and criticism. The disapproval comes from the fear that visitors take job opportunities away from American youth. But these criticisms are misguided. J-1 students supplement the local economy during seasonal peak times or when American workers are not available. They help businesses to be more productive by being able to offer more and better services.

The students who obtain their visas to work in the U.S. for the summer usually occupy seasonal jobs in the hospitality sector. The majority of them are concentrated in the Southeast of the U.S. with Massachusetts and New York hosting the most J-1 students. Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown and Nantucket experience an influx of visitors and tourists over the summer. Without international students cleaning hotel rooms, busing tables in restaurants and restocking supermarkets, businesses in those places would not be able to keep it up.

The program is beneficial for both the countries of origin of the J-1 students as well as the United States. A report commissioned by the Alliance for International Exchange shows that the majority of participants come to the U.S. to experience and learn about the way of life that then results in their positive opinion regarding the United States.

Almost all students reported that they believe they have obtained skills that would help them in the future. To add to that, 92.1 percent of employers agreed that the Summer Work and Travel Program participants improved the workplace. The estimated contribution of J-1 students to the economy in 2016 was around $509 million.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr


Although each shift in U.S. Presidential administrations inspires increases in civic participation by citizens, President Trump’s election in 2016 may prove to be one of the most inspirational of all. For the average citizen with no history of political advocacy, determining how and where to start can feel overwhelming, but knowing how to attend town hall meetings is as easy as following this step-by-step guide.

  1. Identify your political representatives. Your Congressional representatives comprise two Senators and one Representative. To find them, visit https://borgenproject.org/call-congress/ and plug your zip code into the box under step one to go straight to the Congressional directory.
  2. Find the next town hall meeting near you. From the directory, you can visit each Congressperson’s official website. Once there, look for a link labeled “Events,” “Meet your representative” or something similar. If you cannot find anything specific, scan the page for a “Contact Us” link and call or email the Congressperson’s staff for information on the next town hall meeting happening near you. Other third-party organizations such as Town Hall Project have streamlined many of these steps to make it even easier to determine how to attend town hall meetings.
  3. Prepare for the meeting. This step is vital to getting your point across and being taken seriously. Research your topic as well as your Congressperson, and be prepared to make an “elevator pitch” about your feelings on the issue. Your opinion is important, but to your Congressional representatives, your well-informed opinion that takes their position into account is unforgettable.
  4. Tell your personal story. Town hall meetings offer the chance to connect with your Congressperson in a human, immediate way. Explaining why you feel passionate about an issue because of its direct effects on you, your friends, or your family is a surefire way to make an impact.
  5. Be polite. There is a fine line between an impassioned plea and a Twitter-worthy rant. Rudeness, insults, or reminding your Congressperson that your tax dollars pay their salary will only damage your credibility and sever the lines of communication.
  6. Talk to the staffers. Staffers will always accompany members of Congress in meetings as part of their administrative duties. Take the time to seek them out. Introduce yourself by asking for their business card and explaining briefly why you chose to attend. Even if you do not get an opportunity to speak directly with your representative because of time constraints or a large volume of participants, talking to the staff can get your voice heard by your representative.
  7. Bring your friends. There is strength in numbers. Bringing a group of friends to the meeting will not only ease any anxiety you may feel, it will provide a visual demonstration to your representatives of how many other voters support your stance on an issue.
  8. Follow up afterward. Send additional emails and make follow-up phone calls to your Congressional representatives’ offices and state that you were in attendance at the recent town hall meeting. Better yet, put the next meeting on your calendar and repeat the whole process. This lets your Congressperson know you mean business, and you will continue to show up until your issue is resolved in a mutually satisfactory manner.

Using this guide to know how to attend town hall meetings will put you in a centuries-long tradition of civic involvement.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

Ways to Help the World's Poor

Ways to Help the World’s Poor

Do you want to know some easy ways to help the world’s poor? Well, here are 10 simple ways to help the world’s poor, which can often be done without even having to leave your home!

 

1. Donate

One of the quickest and most obvious ways to help the world’s poor is to donate to charity. Click here to donate to The Borgen Project.

 

2. Call Congress

This way to help the world’s poor is surprisingly simple. Every person in the United States has 3 representatives in Congress (2 Senators and 1 Representative in the House). By calling these 3 peoples’ offices each week, individuals can show the Congressmen the issues that they care about. Calling your Congressmen is a simple process. Generally, an intern will answer the phone, or you can leave a message after hours.

The message you need to say is simple: “My name is ___, I live in ___, and I want to raise the funding for helping the world’s poor,” or something similar. As few as 7 people calling in can make a Congressman change his mind on a bill: Congressmen want those they are serving in the U.S. to be happy so if you let them know what you want, they are more likely to listen. Go here for more detailed instructions.

 

3. Inform Yourself

This is one of the simplest ways to help the world’s poor, and also it helps you to do the other things more effectively. Basically, all you need to do is stay informed on the issues. Pay attention to what is happening in Congress and read up on current poverty-related events. It may surprise you to find out that poverty has made some great strides in the past few years. Indeed, in the past 20 years, the world’s undernourished has decreased by 50%. Life expectancy has also increased by 1/3.

(Browse The Borgen Project to find out more interesting facts about poverty).

 

4. Build Buzz/Raise Awareness

Now that you’ve done your research, you can use your new information as tools to build buzz or to raise the awareness of those around you. If you care about the world’s poor, you can be sure that other people do too, but may just be unaware of how they can help. You can share info on different poverty-fighting organizations with your colleagues, family, and friends (see 1. Donate for ideas). You can also call into radio shows, write to editors, speak locally about the cause, send ideas to the media, or anything else that may bring the idea of helping the world’s poor to the forefront of people’s vision and thoughts.

 

5. Social Media

Recently, social media has become one of the most fantastical ways a person can help the world’s poor (among other ventures). This is perhaps the easiest way to help, as well. Many Congressional leaders (your members of Congress) have Facebook pages, Twitters, or websites. All you need to do is either post on their pages to bring up the idea of helping the world’s poor, or post on your own about the various issues. Also, you can easily follow many different organizations, including The Borgen Project, and retweet them or post about them on Facebook or other websites. Overall, your voice will be heard. (The Social Media of Congress can be found here and here). (Also, follow us on Twitter!)

 

6. Get Political

Although you can call Congress or post on their Facebook pages, there are other ways to help the world’s poor and to “get political.” If you are willing, you can always arrange a meeting with Congressional staffers to tell them what issues (like reducing global poverty) you are interested in. You can also mobilize those around you; just one person calling into Congress will make a difference, but if multiple people in an area call Congress about the same issue and around the same time, there will be a bigger effect. Finally, you can “bird dog” Congress, which means to go to where a legislator is speaking, and ask them publicly about poverty (For example, “What are you doing to help poverty?” or “Will you support helping reduce global poverty?”, etc).

 

7. Fundraising

Another one of the ways to help the world’s poor is fundraising. Contact people about various organizations to donate to, or use sites like Crowd Rise to start a campaign. You can also run marathons or accomplish other feats as a way to raise money, as long as you ask people to be your sponsor. You can also ask for donations to different charities rather than receiving gifts for your birthdays, weddings, or other events.

 

8. Be a Consumer with a Cause

One of the surprising ways to help the world’s poor is simply by being a consumer, or something who buys things. This can be done by buying products from websites that donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, or from nonprofit organizations that sell shirts or other merchandise to help the cause. The Borgen Project even has a Visa Card that has no annual fee, and some unique card designs. Basically, when possible, buy from places that will help the cause.

 

9. Arrange Events

One of the harder ways to help the world’s poor is arranging events. Of course, this does not need to be too difficult: you could host parties (or movie/TV show marathons with your friends!) and have a $5 (suggested donation) to get in. This can be done by living your life as normal, but adding in charity donation so that everyone can get involved. On the other hand, you can also host poverty-based events or parties with the pure purpose of raising awareness on poverty and discussing its issues. Finally, you can have a “non-event” event, where instead of going out that night, everyone donates a certain amount and stays in.

 

10. Volunteer

Finally, one of the most difficult (but, arguably, most rewarding) ways to help the world’s poor is through volunteering. This can encompass many different things: volunteer for a political campaign, volunteer for a nonprofit organization, volunteer for a movement to fight poverty or grab an internship. Personally, I am an intern writing for The Borgen Project; I do not get paid, but it helps get the message out to the world. Overall, you can find volunteer opportunities online (for example, through Idealist), but there are also local opportunities that may be available if you ask around.

To see even more easy ways to help the world’s poor, look here.

– Corina Balsamo

Source: The Borgen Project
Photo: Flickr

news
Everyone has heard the phrase “ignorance is bliss” when they were younger. And it’s not a phrase that anyone can fully understand until they are suddenly faced with the gift of knowledge, and the world seems to fall out from underneath them.

Because it really is bliss, to live blandly and emptily and unaware of the world around you.

It’s hard for anyone to force themselves to become informed because it seems that by choosing to learn more about the world, what a person is really forced to do is to learn about all of the bad in the world and to be bombarded with negative images of all the horrific things that happen on the planet we inhabit every day.

Sometimes it feels like a wonder that anyone reads the news or tries to keep up with the times — every day it’s something new and uniquely terrible.

And it doesn’t help that sometimes all of this tragedy does is reinforce the idea that an individual is like a tiny drop in a massive bucket, not capable of making much of a difference. So we don’t educate ourselves because all it will do is make us sad, and what can a single person do anyway?

As Steven Shepherd states in a scholastic article on the perpetuation of ignorance, “Maintaining unfamiliarity is an ideal way to protect the psychologically comfortable (even if inaccurate) belief that [someone else] is taking care of the problem.”

The average consumer of news underestimates how much of a difference they are able to make but not the power of other individuals to make a difference. By assuming that other people will take care of the world’s problems, they effectively admit that it is only through the power of people that change will be affected.

The fact of the matter is, in some sense, we are all individual drops in a bucket. But it is only if every drop agrees to do its part that we can and will make the world a better place. As Edward Everett Hale once said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

Once a person decides to make an active effort to change the world, then possibilities start to open up. “Seek and you shall find,” as the saying goes. There are causes and charities that are always accepting donations (use a website like Guidestar.com to verify the legitimacy of the organization, and check to see how much of their money goes toward the cause and how much to areas like administration).

There are rallies to attend, there is awareness to raise, there are petitions to sign, and there is understanding to spread. Because, though ignorance may be bliss, knowledge is power, and compassion is the most vital ingredient of our humanity.

The Borgen Project itself is a perfect resource for finding ways for the informed person to make a difference. Our “30 Ways to Right a Wrong” page is full of excellent ideas for anyone who wants to start making an active difference.

Pretending the problems of the world don’t exist won’t make the problems any better. In contrast, every individual who decides he or she is going to do what he or she can to right wrongs will make the problems better.

So yes, depressing news stories continue to flood the media waves can be depressing, however we should still pay attention:

  • Because it’s our responsibility to uphold the principles of humanity.
  • Because it is the only way that we can start to address problems.
  • Because by breaking out of our false sense of security, we can create a real sense of security all throughout the world. Our individual bubbles of privilege can be expanded to include all of the people across the earth.

Emily Dieckman

Sources: Before It’s News, APA
Photo: Pittsburgh Parent

Five Charities that Make a Different Kind of DifferenceCharities all work to accomplish different goals and, while their goals are all admirable, some seem to stand out a little more than others. The traditional philanthropic method typically involves collecting donations to be spent on aiding a group or cause either by giving away the raised funds or purchasing specific goods to give to those in need. While this charity formula is not wrong, there are other non-traditional ways to do good. Take a look at these five organizations that make a different kind of difference with your donation.

1. Development Media International (DMI) — DMI creates and broadcasts radio and television programs that help educate and encourage people to adopt healthy practices that can improve a community’s standard of living and individuals’ longevity. Instead of using their funding to distribute soap for hand washing or toothbrushes, they teach simple practices that can make long-term differences, practices that can be taught to children and passed along through generations.

2. Kiva — Kiva is a nonprofit that works to alleviate global poverty through individual micro-loans. Donors invest in the form of a small personal loan for individuals to accomplish a project or improve their businesses. Microfinance institutions allow individuals and communities to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools to be economically successful.

3. The Global Alliance For Improved Nutrition (GAIN) — GAIN is an organization that works to eliminate iodine deficiency, which can lead to impaired cognitive development and is common in developing countries. GAIN’s Universal Salt Iodization program uses the funds they raise to provide technical assistance, supply needed equipment and train government officials. In addition, salt producers monitor the results of changes made in developing countries. GAIN targets the root of iodine deficiency and funnels its efforts toward rectifying it instead of simply managing the consequences.

4. VillageReach — VillageReach is a nonprofit that develops, tests and implements new systems, technologies and programs that improve health in rural or poor communities. In the past few decades, there have been great advancements in the medical field, but because of a lack of access to clinics, medicines and trained professionals, many people in the developing world are isolated from these advancements and do not reap the benefits of improved health and healthcare.

This is where Village Reach comes in; instead of focusing money on more vaccines or more doctors, they focus on removing barriers that stand in the way of communities receiving the healthcare they need. VillageReach partners with institutional stakeholders, such as governments and global health partners, to implement the change needed to extend the reach of adequate healthcare.

5. The Borgen Project — Donations made to The Borgen Project have the intention of alleviating global poverty. While your donation will not directly purchase a meal for a hungry child, it has the power to feed, clothe and provide power for an entire community or country. Funds that are raised by The Borgen Project go toward program services, and fund development and operation expenses. This means that donations are used to fuel the machine that pushes political leaders to allocate funds in a way that benefits those living in poverty in developing countries. So your five dollars could influence the U.S. government to pass legislation that provides millions of people with clean drinking water.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Give Well, KIVA, Village Reach
Photo: Flickr